News in brief

February 28, 2013

Indian pipeline running dry

The number of Indian students starting at Australian universities has dropped by almost a quarter, according to government body Australian Education International. In addition, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s quarterly report shows that visa applications from India fell by 43 per cent in the second half of 2012 compared with the equivalent period in 2011. Recently, most of the visas issued to Indian students have gone to those already in Australia looking to extend their studies. However, even these applications have declined by 52 per cent, while the success rate for Indians applying from Australia has dropped by 55 per cent. The “inflated pipeline we had left over from around 2009”, when international education was booming, “is now basically running out”, international education expert Iain Watt told The Australian newspaper.

United States
Gift horse? Try stampede

A US university has become the first to fundraise more than $1 billion (£653 million) in a single year. In the Council for Aid to Education’s annual college fundraising survey, Stanford University achieved the milestone, topping the table for the eighth successive year. In the 2012 fiscal year, about 3,500 colleges and universities raised $31 billion, 2.3 per cent more than the previous year. In total, Stanford raised $1.035 billion, followed by Harvard University ($650 million), Yale University ($544 million), the University of Southern California ($492 million) and Columbia University ($490 million), the study found. Stanford benefited from a surge in donations at the end of its multiyear Stanford Challenge campaign, which netted $6.2 billion in total.

Running to stand still

The province of Quebec must hire at least 800 extra academics and invest a minimum of C$300 million (£193 million) a year to maintain even a measure of quality at its universities, according to a study. The report by the Quebec Federation of University Teachers says that the disparity between the number of students and academics is growing, while administrative costs have soared in comparison with expenditure on teaching. Max Roy, the union’s president, said that with the number of professors dwindling, the quality of teaching was diminishing, the Montreal Gazette reported. The survey shows that while total pay for administrators and managers increased by 154 per cent from 1997-98 to 2008-09, total expenditure on academics’ salaries rose by only 58.5 per cent in the same period.

Not closing, but upgrading

Greece’s higher education minister has stated that a university will become a focus for attracting international students under his restructuring plan for the country’s higher education system, after the institution was wrongly reported to be under threat. Constantinos Arvanitopoulos confirmed a continuing role for the International Hellenic University under his Athina plan to rebuild Greek higher education, adding that the institution would have greater scope. The university “will be upgraded to perform an additional role”, he said. “We intend to establish the…university in Thessaloniki as the central node of a network of the chairs of Greek studies abroad. It will be supported as an academic institution that attracts international students, which it is already doing, with graduate programmes taught in English modelled on the European University Institute in Florence.”

Guilty as charged

A commission charged with considering examination tampering at an Indian institution has concluded its deliberations. The University of Madras has found 16 officials guilty of interfering with candidates’ mark sheets and cards for its BE/BTech and Institute of Distance Education examinations in May and June 2011. The K. Aludiapillai Pillai commission, appointed by the university in December 2011 to consider the case, delivered its findings last week, based on initial evidence from a previous inquiry that indicted 30 officials, The Times of India reported. R. Thandavan, the vice-chancellor of Madras, called the scandal an “academic crime” and said that the charges against the officials had been proved justified.

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