News in Brief

June 24, 2010

United States

Feds mull over for-profit cut-off

The US government has delayed its decision on whether to allow federal money to go to for-profit colleges whose graduates do not earn enough to repay their loans. In the original draft of new rules, the Department of Education suggested cutting off federal aid to courses whose graduates could not repay their student loans within 10 years at 8 per cent of income. The New York Times newspaper said: "For-profit colleges get the bulk of their revenues from federal aid, and their students are far more likely to default on their loans than those at non-profit or public colleges. With for-profit colleges booming, and getting $20 billion (£13.5 billion) in federal aid, the government has been taking a closer look at how that money is used." The Career College Association, which represents for-profit institutions, lobbied against the original plans, arguing that they would lead to the closure of important job-training courses.

Sri Lanka

Body roots for foreign branches

Moves by the Sri Lankan government to allow foreign universities to set up branch campuses have won backing. The country's National Education Commission (NEC) has developed plans to "promote non-state degree-awarding institutions as part of the country's national policy framework on higher education and technical and vocational education", the Lanka Times newspaper said. S.B. Dissanayake, the higher education minister, recently told the Sri Lankan Parliament that foreign universities would be allowed to set up branches to increase capacity. A.V. Suraweera, NEC chairman, told the media that the commission, which makes recommendations to the government on education policy, would ensure that non-state institutions were subject to quality and accreditation arrangements.

Australia

Assaults and financial battering

The fallout from a series of attacks on Indian students has contributed to a A$400 million (£234 million) drop in Australia's income from the international higher education market. Other key factors include the government's crackdown on private colleges and the high value of the nation's dollar, The Australian newspaper reported. Universities Australia forecast a 16-20 per cent drop in the number of visas issued for higher education study. Glenn Withers, the umbrella group's chief executive, said the longer-term intentions of the government were "sound and sensible", but transitional arrangements were "clearly in need of major improvement". He added: "New policies to correct past regulatory errors are now instead causing excessive retraction."

Malaysia

Academy's part in war on terror

Universities are to be enlisted as part of government efforts to stop Islamic militants using Malaysian campuses as recruiting centres. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the country's deputy prime minister, said police would hold a special briefing for university administrators in light of the recent deportation of 10 foreigners who had tried to recruit Malaysian students to wage holy war overseas. The militants were detained earlier this year for trying to revive the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) by attracting new members from Malaysian universities, the Reuters news agency said. JI has been linked to al-Qaeda and blamed for major attacks in the region. "A special briefing will be given ... it will discuss the form of cooperation that can be taken among all parties to curb this unhealthy trend," Mr Muhyiddin said.

China

Beijing's welcome mat

The number of overseas students being accepted by universities in Beijing is growing as the Chinese government steps up recruitment. "The Ministry of Education has introduced the 'studying in China scheme' to foster the quantity and quality of foreign students," the Xinhua news agency said. "It aims to accept 500,000 foreign students in China by the end of 2020." Xinhua looked at the example of Zhang Guohui, a Canadian-born 23-year-old who accepted a place at Renmin University after being "swept off his feet by Beijing's glamour". "Mr Zhang is one of an increasing number of foreign students studying at universities in Beijing," Xinhua said. "In 2008, there were 60,000, but this is expected to jump to 80,000 this year."

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