“The improvement of the quality of universities has paved the way for the enrollment of foreign students. 14,000 foreign students from 92 countries are currently studying at Iran’s universities. And if we include the 12,000 foreign students studying at Al-Mustafa (International) University, a total of 26,000 foreign students are studying at higher education institutions in the country,” Daneshjoo said in a speech at a graduation ceremony of a number of foreign students of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, which was held on Friday, Farheekhtegan English weekly reported. Read more...
Human Resources Development Minister M Pallam Raju is on a visit here to influence Australian universities and vocational institutions to deepen ties with the Indian education system.
Apart from Melbourne, the minister will visit Sydney and is expected to meet officials of various universities and vocational institutions during his trip. Read more...
When I was young, French was the only foreign language on offer in my high school and college. Today’s students have as many as nine foreign languages to choose from: Arabic, French, German, Mandarin, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Tibetan.
Various universities across the country such as M.S. University of Baroda, Kerala University and Mumbai University have been conducting credit and semester-based programmes in German Studies for several years now. Germany has been the most proactive in spearheading the study of its national language across India. “Studying German is easy for Indians who are multilingual.” says Herr Bernhard Steinrucke, Director General of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC). Read more...
Following the ASEAN-QA Training Workshop in Potsdam, Germany, 15 participants from the national accreditation bodies of 9 Southeast Asian countries met again for the Third Phase of the ASEAN-QA Training Workshop – External Quality Assurance (EQA) Track in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The training was hosted by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) from 25 February 2013 to 1 March 2013.
The training workshop was jointly conducted by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), and the University of Potsdam, Germany together with partners from Southeast Asia and Europe, i.e. the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN), the ASEAN University Network (AUN), the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and the Southeast Asian Ministries of Education Organization Regional Institute of Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO RIHED).
La Note Campus France Hors-Série n°6 réactualise les données publiées en juillet 2011 dans la Note n°32. A l’instar de plusieurs précédentes Notes consacrées à la mobilité des étudiants de différentes parties du monde (d’Afrique, du Moyen-Orient, d’Amérique latine et d’Europe), elle présente un focus sur la mobilité internationale des étudiants d’Asie et d’Océanie.
Une carte de la mobilité des étudiants en provenance de et vers l’Asie permet de visualiser l’importance de la mobilité de cette région du monde. Les chiffres de la mobilité sortante des étudiants d’Asie et d’Océanie indiquent où vont en priorité les étudiants asiatiques en mobilité. Cette partie est suivie d’un descriptif des actions des 6 principaux pays d’accueil de la région en mettant en lumière les politiques d’attractivité développées par chacun de ces pays à l’attention des étudiants internationaux. La troisième partie se concentre sur les étudiants d’Asie et d’Océanie en France avec des commentaires sur les douze pays d’origine les plus importants. Une quatrième partie donne une information succincte sur les manifestations organisées en 2013 et les programmes de bourse, complétée par les contacts à l’Agence et la liste des Espaces Campus France pour la zone. Enfin, le détail des fiches statistiques pour les 16 pays de la zone se trouve à la fin du document.
L’Asie, au cœur de la mobilité étudiante mondiale
L’internationalisation de l’enseignement supérieur s’accompagne depuis une dizaine d’années d’une forte progression de la mobilité étudiante dans le monde. Avec plus de 4,1 millions d’étudiants internationaux en 2010, leur nombre pourrait atteindre 5,8 millions en 2020 et 8 millions en 2025 (+137% par rapport à 2009). Le basculement du centre de gravité mondial vers l’Asie place cette région du monde au cœur de la mobilité étudiante mondiale. Première région d’origine des étudiants internationaux dans le monde, l’Asie constitue un vivier mondial de talents. Elle est également devenue une nouvelle région d’accueil des étudiants internationaux. En quête d’excellence universitaire et de visibilité internationale dans les classements mondiaux les universités asiatiques ambitionnent de jouer un rôle de premier plan sur la scène universitaire mondiale.
• Première région d’origine des étudiants internationaux dans le monde
- Les étudiants asiatiques représentaient 52% de l’effectif mondial d’étudiants internationaux en formation à l’étranger en 2010.
- Quatre pays d’Asie figurent parmi les cinq premiers pays d’origine sur le plan mondial: la Chine (1ère avec 15% du total), l’Inde (2 e avec 6 %), la Corée (3e) et la Malaisie (5e).
- Les principaux bénéficiaires de cette mobilité sont les pays anglo-saxons: Etats-Unis et Australie en tête, suivis par le Royaume-Uni. La France se positionne au 7e rang.
• Un vivier mondial de talents
Sur les plus de 200 millions de diplômés de l’enseignement supérieur âgés de 25 à 34 ans que compteront l’ensemble des pays de l’OCDE d’ici 2020, 40 % d’entre eux seront originaires de Chine et d’Inde.
• Nouvelle région d’accueil des étudiants internationaux
De nombreux pays d’Asie tels que Singapour, la Chine, le Japon, la Corée du Sud et la Malaisie prennent des initiatives pour renforcer l’internationalisation de leur enseignement supérieur. Visant l’excellence universitaire, ils ambitionnent de devenir des pôles régionaux de l’éducation faisant de leur pays une destination privilégiée des étudiants internationaux en particulier dans le cadre d’une mobilité régionale.
• Une visibilité internationale accrue
L’entrée spectaculaire de l’Asie sur la scène universitaire mondiale s’accompagne d’une poursuite de l’excellence universitaire. Le dernier classement des meilleures universités du Times Higher Education publié le 3 octobre 2012 offre aux universités asiatiques une visibilité internationale accrue. Plusieurs établissements de Chine, Corée du Sud, Taïwan, Singapour, d’Australie et de Nouvelle-Zélande connaissent une forte progression dans ce classement ainsi que dans celui dit « classement de Shanghai ».
Les principaux pays d’accueil des étudiants d’Asie Océanie en mobilité
L’essentiel de la mobilité asiatique et océanienne
Selon l’UNESCO, en 2009, les Etats-Unis, l’Australie, le Royaume-Uni accueillaient 60% de la totalité des étudiants asiatiques en mobilité dans le monde, en particulier les étudiants chinois et indiens qui sont les étudiants les plus mobiles. Les Etats-Unis accueillent par ailleurs un nombre important d’étudiants coréens et japonais (3e et 5e pays d’origine). Quant à l’Australie, elle accueille bon nombre d’étudiants malaisiens, hongkongais et indonésiens. Parmi ces trois pays d’accueil, c’est l’Australie qui enregistre le taux de croissance le plus élevé depuis 2005 (+45%), tandis que le nombre d’étudiants asiatiques au Royaume-Uni a augmenté de 14% en 4 ans. Le Japon accueille 10% des étudiants asiatiques en mobilité dans le monde. Les étudiants chinois et coréens sont les plus représentés dans les établissements japonais. Quinzième puissance mondiale en 2010, la Corée du Sud connaît une croissance soutenue à 6,1%. Son développement économique rend le pays de plus en plus attractif, celui-ci accueille aujourd’hui 50 030 étudiants asiatiques dont près de 80% sont d’origine chinoise. La France est le 7e pays d’accueil des étudiants asiatiques. On assiste à une diversification des pays d’origine des étudiants étrangers: le nombre d’étudiants asiatiques en France a augmenté de 50% depuis 2005. Aujourd’hui, la Chine est le deuxième pays d’origine des étudiants étrangers en France, le Vietnam est neuvième.
En 2009, plus de 60% des étudiants océaniens en mobilité suivent leurs études dans un autre pays de la région (28% à Fidji, 17% en Australie et 16% en Nouvelle-Zélande). Le siège principal de l’Université du Pacifique Sud 1 soutenue par 12 Etats de la zone Pacifique Sud est situé à Fidji. Parmi les 10 premiers pays qui accueillent les étudiants océaniens, la France arrive à la huitième position précédée notamment par les Etats-Unis, le Royaume-Uni et le Japon...
L’Asie, destination phare des campus délocalisés
Les universités asiatiques, engagées dans une course à l’excellence académique et encouragées dans de nombreux pays par une stratégie gouvernementale d’internationalisation de l’enseignement supérieur, se tournent vers des partenaires étrangers pour établir des campus d’universités étrangères délocalisés et des instituts conjoints. Cette forme de coopération universitaire connaît en Asie un développement rapide, elle est au cœur de la stratégie d’expansion des universités de premier plan américaines et britanniques.
Les établissements français sont également bien positionnés dans ce mouvement particulièrement en Chine et à Singapour qui sont les principales destinations d’accueil en Asie des établissements étrangers délocalisés.
• En Chine, des groupements d’écoles, des consortiums et réseaux d’établissements français se sont associés à des universités chinoises pour créer des instituts franco-chinois: Centrale Pékin, l’Institut sino- européen d’ingénierie aéronautique, l’Institut franco- chinois de l’énergie nucléaire, l’Université de technologie sino-européenne de Shanghai ... Parmi les écoles de commerce, SKEMA et l’EM Lyon ont également fait le choix d’une implantation en Chine.
• Singapour, qui affiche sa volonté de se positionner comme un pôle « hub » régional et mondial de l’enseignement supérieur, encourage depuis plusieurs années des établissements étrangers de réputation internationale à ouvrir une branche dans la cité-état. Les écoles de commerce françaises, INSEAD (depuis 2000), ESSEC (depuis 2006) et EDHEC (depuis 2011) sont solidement implantées.
• Au Vietnam, un accord intergouvernemental a créé en 2009 l’Université des Sciences et des Technologies de Hanoi (USTH). Cette nouvelle université publique vietnamienne a été développée dans le cadre d’un partenariat stratégique avec un consortium de 57 établissements d’enseignement supérieur et d’organismes de recherche français. Elle a pour objectif de scolariser à terme 8 000 étudiants en associant étroitement formation-recherche et innovation pour se classer parmi les 200 meilleures universités mondiales d’ici une quinzaine d’années.
La création d’un campus délocalisé peut comporter pour un établissement étranger de nombreux avantages: formation d’étudiants bi-culturels, coopération en matière de recherche associant équipe locale et nationale, création de programmes centrés sur l’Asie (pour les écoles de commerce), profit en termes de revenus, reconnaissance internationale, poursuite de leur cursus dans l’établissement d’origine pour certains étudiants et inversement dans le pays d’accueil.
En contrepartie, une délocalisation à l’étranger implique des investissements lourds, une relation solide, de confiance et équilibrée avec le partenaire étranger, un engagement à long terme ainsi qu’une forte implication de l’établissement d’origine qui doit assurer une présence permanente de ses professeurs dans le pays d’accueil. Pour la France, il n’en reste pas moins que le développement et la pérennisation de ces structures sont essentiels en termes de politique d’influence économique et culturelle et constituent un nouvel enjeu pour la coopération universitaire dans cette partie du monde.
Classements internationaux: la percée des établissements asiatiques
Si les universités anglo-saxonnes continuent de largement dominer les palmarès des classements internationaux, l’Asie fait une percée remarquée comme l’illustrent les éditions récentes des classements du Times Higher Education et du classement de Shanghai.
Le palmarès 2012-2013 du Times Higher Education (THE) marque un mouvement de progression des universités asiatiques (Chine, Corée, Taiwan, Singapour). Deux universités chinoises du top 200 progressent: l’Université de Pékin passe de la 49e à la 46e place et l’Université Qinghua (Pékin) progresse de 19 places, de la 71e à la 52e. La National University of Singapore passe de la 40e au 29e place et la Nanyang Technological University, également à Singapour, de la 169e à la 86e place. La Corée du Sud et Hong Kong se distinguent également dans ce classement à l’image de la Seoul National University qui fait un bond de la 124e place à la 59e.
Ce même classement marque une progression de l’Australie et de la Nouvelle-Zélande: l’Université de Melbourne passe de la 37e à la 28e faisant ainsi son entrée dans le top 30. Sur les 8 universités australiennes présentes dans le top 200, 6 améliorent leur classement. L’Université d’Auckland, seule Université de Nouvelle-Zélande présente dans le top 200, progresse également.
L’édition 2012 du classement de Shanghai par l’Université Jiaotong permet à la Chine, même si aucune de ses universités n’apparaissent dans le « top 100 » de ravir néanmoins au Royaume-Uni la deuxième place du classement avec 42 universités distinguées dans les 500 premières contre 38 pour les Britanniques (150 pour les Etats-Unis).
An Campas rátáil Fhrainc Hors-Serie 6 cothrom le dáta na sonraí a foilsíodh i mí Iúil 2011 i Nóta 32. Cosúil Nótaí roimhe seo roinnt ar shoghluaisteacht na mac léinn ó áiteanna éagsúla ar fud an domhain (an Afraic, an Meán-Oirthear, Meiriceá Laidineach agus san Eoraip), tá sé ag díriú ar an soghluaisteacht idirnáisiúnta na mac léinn Áise agus Aigéine.
Léarscáil de shoghluaisteacht mac léinn agus ón Áise go feiceálach ar an tábhacht a bhaineann le soghluaisteacht an réigiúin. Beidh líon na soghluaisteachta ag dul as oifig na mac léinn ón Áise agus Aigéine le fios mic léinn tosaíochta na hÁise i soghluaisteacht. Níos mó...
The main theme of the 2013 Asia-Pacific Quality Network Conference is: Has external QA made an impact? Looking back at the decade of Quality assurance. The sub-themes are:
• Has EQA made real impact on Quality in higher educational institutions?
• Innovations in quality assurance
• Quality Assurance and student mobility
• Do we need Regional and International accreditation?
• Living with national and global rankings- what is the response of QA community?
• Promoting Quality assurance in higher education as a profession- Learning from Industry
• Internal quality assurance
• Student engagement in QA
In addition, a number of topics will be covered in the workshops and parallel sessions. Following is the indicative list of the topics that will be of interest to the APQN members:
• Assuring Quality of Distance and e-learning programs
• Benchmarking and making of world class universities
• Developing Quality Information Systems
You are invited to present a paper on a topic of your choice related to one of the topics above. Ideas for topics can be drawn from the list of theme and sub-themes, or can be of your own choice. Please indicate how your selected topic relates to the theme of the Conference.
Please find the Call for Contribution here. And send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by February 15, 2013. The online registration has been opened on the page: http://www.apqn.org/events/.
“Responsibility sits with the government to ensure that our highly respected public university system is funded to deliver on the expectations of the community and industry,” said National President Jeannie Rea. The Ernst & Young report, released today, concludes: “The current Australian university model – a broad-based teaching and research institution, with a large base of assets and back office – will prove unviable in all but a few cases”.
Rea notes that the report identifies the main drivers of change which will inevitably bring about this transformation of the sector as:
- The democratisation of knowledge as a consequence of massive expansion of on-line resources;
- The contestability of markets and funding as a direct consequences of declining public investment and the adoption of market design policies to fund and regulate higher education;
- Digital technologies changing the way courses are delivered;
- Global mobility of students and staff; and
- Integration with industry to differentiate programs (through work integrated learning) and to support and fund applied research.
“The NTEU agrees that some of these drivers, namely increasing mobility and the impact of technology, the democratisation of knowledge as well closer links with industry, are inevitable and indeed are already having a profound impact on the way that universities deliver their teaching, research and community service obligations,” Rea says.
“The one driver, however, which is not inevitable in Australia is increasing the contestability of markets. While it might be true that universities face ‘an environment where every dollar of government funding is contestable’, it will be government policy choices that determine how much of that funding is allocated to higher education and our public universities.
“We do, however, agree with the report’s finding that a failure to increase public investment in our universities means that the current model of higher education is becoming unsustainable.”
The NTEU argues that it is now up to the federal government to decide whether it wants a higher education system comprised of a handful of elite research intensive universities concentrated in Australia’s capital cities or to maintain the current system where 38 public universities deliver a broad range of education, research and community service to students and communities who as little a twenty years ago were denied these opportunities.
“There has been a failure of the government to increase public investment to cover the real costs of higher education and to regulate the provision to only those institutions capable of delivering the highest quality of education and research. As Ernst & Young predicts, Australia could end up with a sector comprised of a handful of elite ‘status quo’ universities and ‘niche’ dominators and ‘transformers’ all touting for customers (students),” she said.
“It is the government’s responsibility to make this choice clear to all those involved in higher education as well as the Australian public. If, however, universities are to remain independent educational and research institutions and form a critical part of Australia’s social infrastructure, then they require additional public investment.
“If we are not careful, the Ernst and Young report will be read like a Back to the Future script for the pre-Dawkins era. This is not the way forward to the exciting opportunities enabled by digital technology and global mobility.”
Media enquiries: Carmel Shute, NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media comment: Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President: 0434 609 531 email@example.com.
By Warren Bebbington. UNTER den Linden is old Berlin's most picturesque boulevard. It is a street redolent with history: Napoleon's troops paraded through the Gate in 1806 after defeating Prussia; Hitler led a torchlight parade there when he became Chancellor. The Berlin Wall still divided the city in the early 1980s when I came to study in the State Library, and armed border guards watched from gun turrets at the Gate to see no-one approached too closely.
All that has changed now. Yet one instutution that has survived two centuries is in the rebuilt palace next to the Library: Berlin University, opened in 1810 and now renamed after its founder, whose statue graces the entrance - Wilhelm von Humboldt.
Philosopher, diplomat and admirer of the Enlightenment, Humboldt had travelled to Paris in 1789 during the storming of the Bastille. He was amongst the circle of reformers who, in the wake Napoleon’s occupation of Berlin, were charged with rebuilding Prussia as a modern state. In 1809 he was appointed head of culture and education at the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, and he immediately proposed a reform of the entire Prussian education system, arranging it into three tiers.
He resigned after just 16 months, too soon to see the lower tiers come to reality: the 30,000 free primary schools that spread across Germany, and the rigorous secondary schools (Gymnasien) that still exist today. But he had already implemented his plan for a new kind of university.
Humboldt did not want his university to offer a rigid curriculum like the vocational Stuttgart Hochschule where his friend the poet Schiller had passed a miserable time. Nor did he want the traditional university pattern, where the focus was on the study of often ancient books, transmitted by the professor in lectures for students to copy, summarize and memorize, for he was sceptical of granting books unquestioned authority.
He believed the discovery of knowledge was an unending scientific process, and doubted it could be codified in books. Scientific discovery was pursued at meetings of the Royal Society in London and the Prussian Academy Sciences in oral demonstrations, but those he felt lacked the stimulation dealing with students would bring. His aim was to bring objective scientific discovery and subjective student learning together as one. In his 1810 paper “On the Internal and External Organisation of the Higher Scientific Institutions in Berlin,” Humboldt explained his vision of “work on knowledge [Wissenschaft] in the deepest and broadest sense of the word.” Around a seminar table, students would orally report on projects they had chosen to work at under their own guidance. The successful work of one would thus inspire the others: it would be “a collaboration that is uninterrupted, constantly self-renewing, but unforced and without specific purpose.
There would be no curriculum, no exams, and no grades; the learning would be student-centred, with professors present not to lecture but to guide these “inherently undetermined and in a sense accidental activities.” The credential would be a new degree, the PhD, awarded for a dissertation demonstrating original research, orally defended in a seminar. Students would graduate as rational, critical and independent thinkers, ready to follow careers in law, medicine, education or the church.
The professors, appointed and salaried by the State, would be required to give public lectures, but otherwise had “solitariness and freedom” to pursue topics as their curiosity dictated. The State was to refrain from prescribing them particular technical problems: it was to have “the inner conviction that when they achieve their final purpose, they will also fulfil its purposes, namely from a much more elevated perspective.” Basic research would take time, and the university’s autonomy was important.
Needless to say, the student who could at once embark on independent research under his own guidance would require rigorous high school preparation to “bear within himself a yearning to lift himself to science.” And thus a problem was entrenched: while Humboldt had sought to end aristocratic privilege, the Gymnasien remained all-male, elite institutions throughout the 19th century, and thus admission to the university was socially restricted.
Still, Humboldt’s university attracted brilliant professors and students from across Germany, from Schopenhauer and Hegel to Karl Marx and Albert Einstein. It inspired the German research university which, by the Great War in 1914, was admired throughout the world.
To be sure, it was not the only locus for research at the time: Louis Pasteur in France had shown that important and useful science could thrive in free-standing research institutes too. But many British and American scholars were attracted to study in Germany in the 19th century, and the German research university model eventually came to reshape their own universities, from Harvard in the USA to Oxford in the UK.
In Australia, the German research university model was more slowly assimilated, the PhD at last adopted in the late 1940s and 50s. The early 1960s were halcyon days: student: staff ratios were a luxurious 8:1 and many classes were small, offering close encounter with a lecturer.
The students arrived at university generally well prepared by school matriculation classes, and being supported by their families or on scholarships most had no need to work. The attraction of science was especially great; flushed from wartime achievements in the hour of national need, and confident of ongoing government funding for the Space Race and other ambitions, science seemed to offer limitless horizons.
Staff were free to work at applied research or choose to follow their curiosities into long-term basic research, some of which was funded in the R&D departments of commercial companies as well. And not all needed to pursue research: it was accepted that some would be immersed in teaching instead.
Universities catered for the traditional professions, while training for the growing number of skilled occupations and for teachers - where employment opportunities and demand were now strongest - were handled by technical institutes and teachers’ colleges. It was a steadily expanding binary system of higher education, a divide legislated by the Menzies government in 1958, as it later was in the UK in 1963.
No one much complained that just 4 per cent of school leavers attended a university: concerns over social restriction in university participation were yet to become a major issue.
Contrast this with the present situation. Numbers in Australian universities now are huge - more than 1 million students are enrolled. The student: staff ratio averages 20:1, and classes of 1,000 or even 1,500 students are not unknown in first-year subjects.
Few campuses have grown in proportion to accommodate such numbers, and not surprisingly, students are unhappy with their experience, expressing in the national Course Experience Questionnaires and other surveys often modest levels of overall satisfaction. They sit in classes often overtired from outside work, distracted by texting friends on ever-present laptops or smartphones, or even gaming which, as one recent study shows, some believe is a legitimate activity in lectures.
The digital world impacts students in other ways too. For a decade now fewer have bought prescribed textbooks, believing that if the lecturer’s online materials fail to serve, then they can always make do with searching the internet.
They are thus ill equipped to read or understand the research literature in their field, and when an enterprising lecturer refers them to a research article, those that read it come away often mystified and irritated at its obscurity, and seldom energised by the idea of the search for new knowledge. The chance that independent research would play a significant role in such undergraduate teaching seems remote.
Moreover, the promises of e-learning have not yet captured their attention in ways we might have hoped. They love downloadable lectures, for they like being able to review and revise through that format, being free to skip, highlight, or replay passages as they wish - just as their forebears did with a textbook - or even play at double speed, to make the droning of a particularly ponderous lecturer more interesting.
They also like online drills and quizzes where there is instant response. But they complain that other kinds of online learning resources are often poorly executed, boring, or only vaguely related to the subject. Their lecturers are too often not skilled in the full potential of digital resources, using them simply to reinforce or substitute for face-to-face lectures.
For their lecturers, the pressures of research have come to dominate teaching. In an environment where available grant funding is far from adequate, competition is fierce, and calls for measures of “impact” alarm those committed to long-term basic research where no impact may be detectable for many years. Pressure to climb the university ranking tables adds to the focus on research, for most such tables rank research rather than teaching, which they cannot seem to measure directly.
Meanwhile, the cost of researching some of the most important problems has exploded beyond the capacity of any single university to afford. What Australian university could purchase a $200 million Synchotron, or run a Very Large Array at $15 million a year?
In one of the welcome developments of the past decade, this has led to significant partnerships, where universities, research institutes, governments and corporations have formed consortia to jointly purchase and operate research facilities none could afford alone. Some such partnerships have brought institutions together around the world, constructing global research capacity of impressive size.
But “Big Science” demands large numbers of staff too: a particle collider may need a hundred research-only staff to run it, and this stresses further the tension between research and teaching. Such facilities often offer too few properly-funded opportunities for students.
Research-only staff numbers have grown strongly, while nationally research higher degree student numbers have now started to decline, as they find more attractive rewards and more stimulating work outside universities.
Yet despite their massive size, universities cater for a participation rate of no more than 32 per cent in Australia, so some social inequity remains. To achieve the goal of 40 per cent set by government since the Bradley report, let alone the 50 per cent aspiration in the UK, requires yet further expansion. Subjects with 2,000 students perhaps? Anything Humboldt would have recognised will then be very hard to find.
How did our universities come to this? The turning points were in the 1970s. The Oil Shock and the western economic crisis that followed brought the first significant constraints in government block grants to universities in Australia, and with those came the development of more rigorous selectivity measures and quality assurance control in national research grants.
It was the worst possible moment for universities to expand, but a tidal wave of baby boomers reaching school leaving age had already struck: the capacity to accommodate more students was at an end. Entrance quotas were introduced, based on school scores, and for the first time high school matriculation no longer meant a place in university. Tension rose over social inequity in universities, and it was clear the binary systems would not last much longer. The end approached in 1988 (and in the UK around the same time) when under John Dawkins a “Unified National System” came into law. Funding would now significantly increase, but the colleges and technical institutes would all combine or be merged with existing universities; henceforth all higher education institutions would be called universities, and thus all would be required to adopt a research-intensive mission. In Australia and the UK, all higher education institutions were now shaped by a single mould.
Some countries had more nuanced ways of managing the enrolment explosion of those years. By far the most impressive was in the USA, where in California, the State’s university, teachers colleges and junior colleges had been coordinated under a Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960. The Plan mandated a tripartite system under a California Postsecondary Education Commission, in which the University of California would take the top eighth of school leavers, the state teachers colleges (now renamed California State University and focussed on applied research) the top third and the vocational junior (now community) colleges would be open to all who had finished high school and are 18. All three tiers would be tuition-free, and each would have its separate governance. Though now suffering financial crisis, it was a bold, quintessentially democratic solution, which allowed significant and ongoing expansion of higher education, but based on academic merit rather than social class.
What would Humboldt have made of Australia’s universities today? No doubt he would have marvelled at the complex questions and imaginative methods of our research, while likely censuring government for attempts to influence research autonomy. In large research centres he would have thought the lack of a teaching program the same shortcoming he saw in the science academies of his own day.
Likely he would have thought the set curricula and limited scope in many courses a step back to the vocational institutions he disliked. He would have seen the current uses of online resources as little more than continuation of the text transmission model he sought to supersede, and in Wikipedia a compilation of information no closer to spreading true knowledge than the encyclopaedias of the 18th century.
Everywhere he would have seen an urgent need to reconfigure teaching for small group seminars, to liberate curricula and timetables for flexible learning, and to reinvent anew the close interaction of teacher and students in an uninterrupted, self-renewing collaboration of discovery.
So what can be done? Fundamentally, we need to affirm the vital importance of small-group learning and close encounter with a teacher in high-quality university learning. By this I mean finding a place in our courses for the self-renewing, open-ended collaboration Humboldt described - the oral seminar or interactive group encounter where students take part in content design, peer assessment, and quality evaluation and where the teacher is a guide and partner rather than a lecturer.
We need to recapture the excitement of discovery in undergraduate programs. There should be some chance even for the first year undergraduate to experience learning through independent inquiry and sharing their findings in a small group. Graduate research training also needs to be made more attractive, finding ways to improve its rewards and widening opportunities for RHD students to work alongside staff in our most exciting research frontiers, including even the most complex of our “Big Science” projects. We need to embed cultivation of the character we wish for in our graduates. Most universities have statements of graduate attributes, some only thinly connected with the actual learning. Every course needs to contribute in some way to producing independent, critical, tolerant and open-minded thinking; to learning the skills of acquiring knowledge by navigating, analysing, and discerning credibility in information sources; and to developing interpersonal and communication skills, motivation, and the personal attitudes and work ethic essential to successful collaboration, discovery and - as it happens - to graduate employment.
We will also need to develop e-learning resources that better support discovery and collaboration. Beyond presentation software like PowerPoint we need easily-usable design tools and software that enable interactive discussion environments, runnable simulations, guided analysis tools, process change exercises for example.
These will enrich face-to-face teaching, and enhance flexible learning, improving a university’s ability to cut loose from set class timetables to serve the growing number of students whose work commitments or geographical location prevent them from attendance.
Inevitably we will also need to intensify academic staff development in teaching, to equip staff with small group, collaborative teaching strategies and new IT skills. Academics typically spend most of their time teaching yet are least trained for it, and often least rewarded for it too. Universities need to professionalise teaching and its rewards, so staff who choose to pursue teaching excellence may enjoy the same status as those who pursue research excellence.
Finally, we need to share the excitement of discovery with the public, by more often placing our leading academics on the public lecture podium or in the media to speak of their work.
Of course, no single model is right for all students: in a truly inclusive university we are unlikely to have Humboldt’s restriction to rigorously-prepared students ready to work independently. As they move towards 40 per cent participation rates, Australian universities will increasingly need to adapt to students of varying aptitudes, achievements and interests. And in any case, ratios of 8:1 are unlikely to be seen again. How then do we simulate the small cohort experience where it is appropriate in the midst of a diverse, mass enrolment?
Some are trying to address this. At UC-Santa Barbara, a university ranked No. 32 in the world (ARWU) with five Nobel Prize winners on its current staff, there are dual paths through undergraduate degree. Most students choose from amongst majors taught in the customary classes; a smaller group, having met additional entry requirements, take independent work from the outset, working closely with full professors.
Santa Barbara calls it “graduate school for undergraduates”; it does not let all have a taste of small cohorts, however. Elswehere content from massive open online courses (MOOCs) is freeing staff time for closer contact with students.
Ultimately, governments need to sanction a broader variety of missions from universities, instead of the single, research-intensive mould.
Universities elsewhere choose their characteristics based on their location and their environment: in the USA over half the 4400 degree-granting institutions focus entirely on teaching.
Australian universities need to be able to choose where they wish to place themselves on the continuum between teaching and research, between transmitting known knowledge and discovering the unknown, between short-term applied and long-term basic research, between cultivating students’ character and deepening their specific expertise, as well as between building international scholarly reputation and building national identity, between serving the professions as they exist and changing their social shape, between partnering with the community and standing apart as its independent critic.
In Australia, we have not suffered from the model described by Harry Lewis in Excellence Without a Soul, where in some elite US universities the leading professors are seen only in graduate seminars, while green doctoral students handle the bulk of undergraduate teaching.
Yet at present Australia staff are not much motivated about teaching. In a survey of academics in 18 countries, US academics had the highest preference for teaching, while Australian had the fourth lowest. Australian students report much less frequent communication with staff than American students, they are less likely to receive prompt feedback, and thus are not motivated to work as hard to meet their teacher’s expectations. All in all, American universities offer students closer interaction with a lecturer. The single mould of government funding which has concentrated Australian focus on research means staff struggle to see teaching as a satisfying alternative.
Like much else on Unter den Linden, Humboldt University suffered from the years of Nazism. Einstein and other distinguished professors fled and its academic standing plunged, to be rebuilt only slowly during the years of Communism that followed; today it does not feature among the Top 100 of the ranking tables.
And across the world the university model it inspired has all but drowned in the flood of massed enrolments and the weight of research demands. Sensibly, the way forward is going back to Humboldt’s ideal.
Warren Bebbington, inaugural address as vice-chancellor, University of Adelaide.
But the reality is that relatively few non-Chinese students come here. Of the 56,921 full-time undergraduates on University Grants Committee-funded programmes in 2011-12, 1,057 came from Asia, outside mainland China, while 274 came from the rest of the world.
Many universities in North America and Europe have at least the same number of international students enrolled as the total number studying in Hong Kong. This begs the question: Why? Why are so few non-Chinese students coming to Hong Kong? Or, for that matter, why so few from Taiwan? In fact, almost none came from Taiwan before 2008, the year I started to work at City University of Hong Kong.
So, really how internationalised is Asia's world city?
Internationalism needs a changed mindset
The essence of internationalisation is the ability to adapt to new circumstances, initiate cultural changes, overcome resistance to change, learn from other cultures and implement new ideas. It does not mean simply the ability to speak English, as a comparison between Hong Kong and South Korea reveals. South Korea has changed beyond all recognition in the past 20 years, buoyed by the success of companies like Samsung and Hyundai. Its cultural exports, including Korean cuisine, television programmes and traditional medicine, are enjoyed throughout Asia, and its products are used all over the world.
Without a doubt, Seoul is an international city, headquarters to one of the most dynamic economies on earth. But what is interesting is that South Korea's success has not been due to the ability of its people to speak fluent English, just as Japan's economy was not built in the 1980s and 1990s on trilingualism and bi-literacy.
Most visitors to Seoul will agree that people in Hong Kong tend to have greater English language skills. Rather, South Korea's triumph has been to modify its mindset and change with the times. The Koreans have shown that internationalisation is not wholly dependent on language skills; changing with the times is more crucial. In a globalised world, where our actions are heard, seen and evaluated beyond our borders, we must be able to anticipate the need for change at a deep structural, societal and cultural level. Leadership, either by individuals or as a group, should mean standing up to be counted, forging ahead and taking responsibility for change to liberalise our ways of governance and implement creative innovations that raise global standards and benefit humankind.
So what is internationalisation in education, if it is not simply about learning English?
For me, it means more than language skills and exchanges for scholars and students. It means giving our young people the chance to understand their own culture first and opportunities to learn about other cultures. It means establishing curriculum reforms that will create space for knowledge creation, original discoveries and innovative thinking by integrating learning and research. Most important of all, it requires a change of mentality, one that is free of prejudice, open to new ideas, adaptable and all-embracing.
The rise of Asia
Internationalisation isn't a new phenomenon. It has been around since humans first started interacting and finding common causes and ideals. Two thousand years ago, state-to-state exchanges during the Warring States period were the norm before China was unified.
The world continued learning from China until the 15th century and then, after the Industrial Revolution in Europe, the world began to modernise and the West grew in power. But now that East Asia is rising, we can learn just as much from the East as we do from the West, which is why we should develop confidence in our own areas of expertise. Universities in Hong Kong should take full advantage of the city's unique cultural and geographical position to enhance their influence as intermediaries between China, Asia and the West. They should seek cross-border collaborations that develop innovative education programmes and research enterprises with Asian and Western perspectives, and create new paradigms, structures and growth points for global advancement.
Internationalisation grows from our own culture. No matter which way one looks, people in Hong Kong first need to embrace Chinese culture and language, mindful that it is paid greater attention by the rest of the world than ever before. In some ways, since my arrival in Hong Kong, I have felt that the United States is actually closer to China than Taiwan is; and that Taiwan is closer to China than Hong Kong is, in spite of geographic proximity and historical connections. In this regard, the US is more internationalised than Taiwan, which is more internationalised than Hong Kong. Keep in mind, too, that no one is likely to come to study in Hong Kong simply because we use English; otherwise, why are there far more foreign students in Beijing or Shanghai than in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong and its universities have to consider what to offer the rest of the world.
Estimates suggest Asia will constitute about 70% of the global demand for higher education in 15 years time. How are we to respond in the context of internationalisation? Only when a greater number of students from the rest of the world are studying in Hong Kong universities can we say that we are making some progress towards internationalisation.
* Professor Way Kuo is the president of City University of Hong Kong. This article was first published as “Hong Kong as Asia's First City? Not yet” in the South China Morning Post and is republished with permission.