News in brief

July 1, 2010

South Korea

Failure to meet the (pay) grade

Professors who fail to meet expectations face a wage freeze under a performance-related pay regime unveiled by the government of South Korea. From 2015, professors at state-funded universities judged to be in the bottom 10 per cent for performance will have their wages frozen. "But the top 20 per cent will receive up to two times the average performance-based salary as a bonus, with those who produce groundbreaking research results receiving as much as four times the average performance pay," The Korea Times newspaper reported. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology unveiled the "guidelines" for staff at the country's 41 state universities. The system will be introduced for new professors from July this year, then expanded to cover all teaching and other staff in 2015, covering 16,000 workers in total.


Two cheers for anti-TEQSA plan

Proposals to exempt Australia's leading universities from supervision by a new regulator have won qualified support from the sector. Ross Milbourne, vice-chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney and chairman of the Australian Technology Network of universities, wrote a letter to Christopher Pyne, the opposition education spokesman, backing the plan - but not without caveats. In the letter, Professor Milbourne says that exempting some universities from oversight by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has the potential to "divide a strong Australian sector and marginalise many of the nation's universities". But he adds: "Indicators such as financial health and verifiable research and education outputs could be used as a basis for exemption for a period of time, with a period of re-examination to follow."


Scholars won't toe central line

Finding academics willing to work in the dozen new central universities proposed for India is proving to be hard work. The Times of India newspaper reported that the plans had "failed at the first step" because of the recruitment problems. "The situation is critical: in many institutes, merely half the staff positions have been filled," the newspaper said. "The worst defaulter in the group is Delhi University, which has less than 50 per cent of the faculty members it ought to have." One unnamed member of staff at an Indian Institute of Management said: "I know that a for-profit organisation can pay more than an educational institute, and that is the case around the world. But my point is: when will India start paying attention to its teachers?"

United States

For-profits under greater scrutiny

The debate over public funding for private for-profit colleges continues in the US, with Democrats calling for a government investigation into the institutions. A letter signed by the chairmen of the Senate and House education committees asks the federal government to investigate for- profit institutions in terms of both quality and finance, The New York Times newspaper reported. "Recent press reports have raised questions about the quality of proprietary institutions," says the letter. "These questions stem from the rapid growth of this industry over the past few years, the reported aggressive recruitment of students by such institutions, increased variety in the delivery methods used to provide education to students, and the value of the education provided by such institutions."


Overthrow 'colonial' model

African universities have been urged by a former president to ditch the "colonial" model and tailor their courses to the entrepreneurial needs of the modern world. Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, made the comments during a visit to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the Daily Nation newspaper reported. "Our universities should start rethinking how to enable people to acquire the skills to become entrepreneurs in a competitive world," Mr Obasanjo said. "The education system that we inherited from our colonial masters should now be customised to suit our current needs." The former president added that "this is a century for Africans, but ... Africans should come up with their own policies of development, because they understand their needs."

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