News in brief - 22 August 2013

August 22, 2013

Eastern Europe
Foreigners like their medicine

Institutions in Eastern Europe are taking in more and more medical students from abroad. According to data from the Unesco Institute for Statistics, countries in the region have had a surge in interest from foreign students, with numbers rising as much as 80 per cent over a five-year period. In Hungary, the number of foreign students rose by just over a fifth between 2005 and 2011, from 13,601 to 16,465. Polish institutions recorded a jump of 80 per cent between 2005 and 2010, The New York Times reported. The Czech Republic took in twice as many foreign students in 2011 as it did in 2005, while Slovakia notched up a fivefold rise, according to the Unesco figures. Eastern Europe is a popular destination for medical students. Data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development show that in 2010, overseas students accounted for 30 per cent of enrolments in “health and welfare” fields in Polish universities, while in Slovakia 45 per cent of foreign students were taking health subjects.

United States
Motion to strike tenure

An American Bar Association panel has tentatively welcomed plans that would remove academic tenure as a requirement to accredit law schools. The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted to proceed with proposals to drop the tenure requirement, although one variation on that idea would retain some job security for faculty, The National Law Journal reported. Many council members argued that the tenure requirement had driven up the cost of legal education, restricted administrative innovation and protected underperforming staff. “The biggest financial issues we have right now are our fixed costs, and our fixed costs come from tenured, salaried professors,” said Maureen O’Rourke, dean of Boston University Law School.

‘Bastard child’ wants some love

International education is treated like the “bastard child” of Australia’s export industry, a coalition of education groups has stated. In a communiqué, the collection of six education groups – including the International Education Association of Australia – claims that international education lacks political ownership, coherent policymaking, marketing and promotion and proper recognition of the changing realities of the market. It calls on the next federal government to create a high-level ministerial council on the issue, to overhaul visa charges and to follow a rational and considered approach to the regulation of low-risk private providers, The Australian reported. “International education in Australia is at a crucial turning point,” the communiqué states.

Not provincial at all

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan’s chapter in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has created a working group to reform higher education. An HEC official said that the group’s purpose was to examine and advise the Education Ministry in drafting reforms and to contribute to the “sustainable development of society”. The group has also been asked to conduct an “academic audit” of every state-run university in the province. Among reforms to be explored include annual performance evaluations of vice-chancellors of public institutions. The working group will also look at governance, research quality and academic freedom, The Express Tribune reported.

Stay, have some more shekels

Israeli universities will offer star academics higher salaries to stop them being lured away by more lucrative offers from overseas. The upcoming academic year is to be the first in which some university faculty will be employed under individual contracts, not collective agreements, to allow institutions to make more appealing offers to Israelis who now work abroad. It will also allow university administrators to boost the salaries of senior faculty members by up to 30 per cent, Haaretz newspaper reported. In a letter sent to university presidents, Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Council for Higher Education, said the prime reason for allowing individual contracts was to assist in recruiting and preventing brain drain among “faculty that are experts in their field for whom there is strong competition with the best universities abroad to hire them”.

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