When the East and Central European countries joined the European Union in 2004, foreign direct investment increased and trade with E.U. partners flourished. For the young, membership opened the door to participation in E.U educational programs like Erasmus and student exchanges between European universities. The opportunities were huge.
Then came the global financial meltdown and its aftermath, a systemic banking and debt crisis and economic stagnation across most of Europe.
Among the newest E.U. entrants, Latvia and Hungary needed help from the International Monetary Fund to save their banking sectors from collapse, and amid ongoing pressure for budgetary rigor, several governments in the region moved to cut planned spending — including expenditures on education. Read More...
Training for teachers in higher secondary education (comprising Gymnasien and similar institutions) is usually supposed to take nine semesters and covers at least two subjects. The old first State Exams concluding the courses have largely been replaced by Germany’s new bachelor and masters degrees.
The second State Exams follow a 12- to 24-month internship (Referendariat) at a school, accompanied by further theoretical training at a teaching seminar (Lehrseminar). The second phase of training prepares candidates for a civil service career as a teacher.
Study programmes for other teachers (at primary schools or secondary education institutions) follow the pattern above, but are shorter, lasting seven to a maximum of nine semesters. Teacher training programmes are run at universities and similar higher education institutions up to the first State Exams.
The new structure, based on the Bologna reforms, incorporates two phases at university level, and a further 12- to 24-month preparatory stage at schools. Read more...
By Rahul Choudaha. International student recruitment has become increasingly competitive as institutional budgets continue to shrink. More than ever, higher education institutions are expected to recruit quality students in a short period of time.
Most institutions rely on traditional source countries to achieve this goal, as penetrating an existing market for enrolment growth is a less costly route in terms of effort, expenditure and time. As a result, students from China, India and South Korea are overrepresented on campuses. On some, Chinese students make up over half of the non-domestic student population. This is the case at the University of Iowa, where Chinese students comprised more than 70% of international undergraduates in 2011.
There is increasing pressure on institutions to attract international students from a broader range of countries, as they look to diversify their student bodies. A recent research report published by World Education Services aims to address the information needs of higher education institutions by systematically identifying key emerging markets and offering near-term strategies to successfully nurture them.
By Carolina Jimenez. Recent research by the British Council in Spain, which reviews the UK-Spain higher education relationship, shows evidence of a dynamic and varied range of cooperation.
Activities – including long-term student mobility and recruitment; research cooperation; student and staff exchanges; and interesting transnational education agreements (including joint and dual degrees, validation and various programmes of articulation) – all contribute to offer students highly competitive education models. Given the social, economic and political impact of English and Spanish (see the British Council Spain and Instituto Cervantes’ joint publication, Word for Word), there is clear motivation for both UK and Spanish universities to embrace collaboration and reinforce current ties.
By Grace Karram. For those planning to attend university in Ontario, entrance applications were due this week. Across Canada, the autumn news cycle has traditionally focused on which university to choose.
But this year, in the wake of October’s higher education rankings, the conversation is about how to make Canadian universities better, rather than which one is best for you. There is a certain dissatisfaction being vented against everything from low-tech pedagogy to decreasing research funding. But the loudest conversation when students and parents are involved is the relevance of degrees and employment of graduates.
This discourse, however, rings a little hollow in an era of open courseware and seemingly infinite educational choice. The pessimism about Canadian universities is largely in reaction to the overall decrease in rankings put out by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings in October.
In other places, infrastructure may be better and populations higher but the regional will to change things for the better may have been hampered by years of under-investment or political inertia. A recently completed three-year European Union (EU) project has brought together higher education, business and the public sector to focus on the needs of regional economies in geographically remote areas, where traditional industries are often in decline. Led by Cornwall, one of the UK’s peripheral regions, the University Collaboration in Regional Development Spaces project – or UNICREDS – has developed important insights into how higher education can play a key role in boosting struggling economies by working with businesses and public sector partners.
As Project Manager Nicolas Wallet says: “If policy formers take just one lesson from the findings of this project it should be that when higher education works closely with businesses and communities, and with governments and administrations, it can not only transform regions, it can make that transformation sustainable.”
As well as Cornwall, UNICREDS partners were drawn from several regions of Europe including the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Northern Sweden, the South Ostrobothnia region in Finland, Southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, the North Central Region of Bulgaria and the North Great Plain region of Hungary. UNICREDS partners have worked closely together, identifying examples of current good practice from their regions, some responding to unique circumstances but many providing generic lessons for national and pan-European decision-makers.
The strength of these lessons is that they are not based on a single region’s experience, but on practice shared, considered and debated across seven quite different European regions.
Sharing good practice across regions
One of the principal UNICREDS partners has been the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC), an unusual partnership of six UK higher education institutions operating in the far south-west of the country, using university-level education to help local people, businesses and communities to thrive. For us at CUC, the UNICREDS project has been about learning from on another and we’ve had a clear focus on using those lessons locally.
In Finland you’ll find world-class forestry research, developed in collaboration with industry and directly reflecting the local economy. Scotland funds some very small higher education centres at the heart of remote island communities, enabling people to gain higher-level skills without leaving their local areas and helping keep those communities sustainable.
Across Europe, innovation centres where businesses and universities can collaborate, and shared campuses where two or more universities collaborate to provide excellent facilities, are now part of the landscape, as they are here in Cornwall, and UNICREDS has helped us all to get the best from these innovations. The project’s closing conference took place on 25 October in Cornwall and attracted more than 50 delegates from across Europe to see how new initiatives based on outcomes from the UNICREDS project are already influencing regional policy.
The central result of the project has been clear confirmation that higher education contributes most effectively to regional economic development when it works together with local or regional government and businesses. Known as a ‘triple helix partnership’, this approach has been at the heart of the UNICREDS project. The project identifies innovative ways in which universities can focus on the needs of their local and regional economies in shaping their academic offerings and curricula, their modes of delivery and their research and knowledge transfer activities.
Stimulating demand for university-level activity has been a shared challenge for most of the UNICREDS partners, and the project has also helped identify the most effective ways of encouraging businesses, especially small and micro-businesses, to work with universities and colleges to build competitiveness, increase the adoption of higher-level skills and employ new graduates.
Key policy recommendations
A key component of both the final report and the conference is the wealth of good-practice case studies collated throughout the three-year project.
These act as a ‘toolkit’ for other EU regions facing similar challenges, as well as also providing evidence to support the report’s key policy recommendations, which include:
- A need for the EU to motivate and help universities to contribute to their regional development, in collaboration with regional government and businesses.
- A flexible approach to collaborative working between higher education, business and the public sector.
- Encouragement for policy-makers to provide additional support to overcome the distance, both geographical and cultural, between regional government, universities, businesses and communities.
- The freeing of EU funding from conditions that unintentionally limit access to support for micro-businesses and small and medium enterprises.
- A clear need for the public sector to take a strong lead in establishing a vision and ambition for regional economic development.
‘Smart specialisation’ encourages regions to identify and build on their competitive strengths in research, innovation and higher-level skills. This project has shown how universities working with business, social and community partners can play a powerful role in driving this development in remote regions. The project has now come to an end, but we are confident that the results will have an important impact on people across Europe.
Another UNICREDS partner, Sandra Rothwell, head of economic development at Cornwall Council, has clear views on the project’s success: “UNICREDS has helped to highlight some big opportunities for Europe’s underperforming regional economies,” she says.
“The story that is beginning to emerge is how higher education working effectively with businesses and the public sector is transforming people’s lives, helping their communities grow economically and socially, and helping regions that have struggled for many years to face the future with confidence.” Further information about the project and the final report are available here.
* Sue Brownlow is director of Combined Universities in Cornwall.
* UNICREDS is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and made possible by the INTERREG IVC programme. It involves 14 partners from seven EU regions who share the belief that universities can help transform deprived regional economies into centres of excellence in research and innovation. The aim of the UNICREDS programme is to share knowledge between the member partners, to further develop the triple helix model, and ultimately to lobby EU policy-makers to adopt the model across Europe.
1. Cornwall Council, UK
2. Combined Universities in Cornwall, UK
3. Municipality of Skellefteå, Sweden
4. Regional Council of Västerbotten, Sweden
5. Akademi Norr, Sweden
6. City of Seinäjoki, Finland
7. Frami Ltd, Finland
8. University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
9. South Bohemia Regional Authority, Czech Republic
10. Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, Bulgaria
11. Sofia University, Bulgaria
12. University of Debrecen, Hungary
13. Institutional Maintenance Centre Hajdú-Bihar, Hungary
14. UHI, University of the Highlands and Islands.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved the new decree 73/2012/ND-CP, often referred to as Decree 73, on 26 September. It will come into effect on 15 November and covers education institutions with foreign links from early childhood education to university level.
For higher education, it specifies a minimum level of investment per student, strict rules on teacher-to-student ratios and on minimum English-language proficiency, as well as regulations on teacher qualifications.
It follows a government order earlier this year to seven higher education providers affiliated with institutions in Singapore, Australia and France, to cease operations and pay fines.
They were said to be violating rules and were denounced as unqualified, unlicensed or even operating as ‘degree mills’.
For the first time, a foreign-owned education institution – Raffles Vietnam, run by Raffles Singapore – had its licence to operate in Vietnam revoked in March because of “continuous violations” of the rules, according to official accounts.
Two other foreign-affiliated institutions – ILA Vietnam and ERC Vietnam – were fined US$10,000 each for ‘illegally’ recruiting students onto several degree courses. Read more...
These facts are highlighted in a new “Global Flow of Tertiary-level Students” interactive map published by the UNESCO institute of Statistics (UIS) in Canada last month.
“The surge in internationally mobile students reflects the rapid expansion of enrolment in higher education globally, which has grown by 78% in a decade,” says the UIS, which defines ‘internationally mobile students’ as those who have crossed a national border to study or are enrolled in a distance learning programme abroad...
Several countries have more students studying abroad than at home including Andorra, Anguilla, Bermuda, Dominica, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Montserrat, São Tomé and Principe.
In São Tomé and Principe, for instance, 14% (2,500 students) of its total 18% tertiary-age population is enrolled in higher education institutions abroad. Read more...
The goals include having 10 Australian universities in the world’s top 100 and a school system that is “among the top five in the world”. The white paper says Asian studies will be a core part of the school curriculum and all students will have continual access to a priority Asian language: Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese.
Releasing Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that during this century the Asian region would become home to most of the world’s middle-class and would be the world’s largest producer of goods and services, and the largest consumer of them. Read more...
By Jane Marshall. Five years after former president Nicolas Sarkozy announced Operation Campus, a major initiative aimed at making France a global higher education leader, “no stone has been laid, no building permit registered”, said Geneviève Fioraso, minister for higher education and research, as she relaunched the project last Monday.
The resuscitated project has had a rule change, abandoning private sector funding.
Operation Campus, announced by Sarkozy in November 2007, is an ambitious construction programme devoting increased public investment to flagship institutions.
Pôles de recherche et enseignement supérieur (PRES), regional clusters of universities, grandes écoles and research organisations competed for extra funding totalling over €5 billion (US$6.5 billion).