News in brief

August 5, 2010

United States: for-profits unlikely to flock to UK

Private college operators in the US will focus on growth areas such as Latin America rather than flocking to the UK, it has been suggested. David Willetts, the UK universities minister, last week awarded university college status to the BPP College of Professional Studies, which is majority-owned by the US Apollo Group. However, Dow Jones newswire reported that "despite Mr Willetts' warm words and US for-profit school operators' interest in expanding abroad to counter slowing growth and increased scrutiny at home, the companies aren't expected to flood the UK any time soon". Amy Junker, a senior analyst at financial services firm Robert W. Baird & Co, said US firms may consider the UK more seriously given the new government's attitude, but added: "I'm not sure we'll see tons of companies flock to the UK." Rather, she said, they may wait to see how BPP fares before making their own acquisitions in the UK.

Australia: threats to overseas recruitment

The umbrella group for Australian universities has warned that the sector faces a "perfect storm" of threats to vital international student recruitment. Universities Australia said higher education was threatened by the strong Australian dollar and rising competition, as well as the government's tougher visa conditions and tighter migration rules. UA noted that the government was "properly" enforcing standards, but argued that "perceptions that Australia is no longer welcoming to international students have arisen and universities have been caught up in the collateral damage". UA's warning came as reports suggest that the decline in 2011 student enrolments from China may be worse than expected, with recruitment agents predicting falls of between 30 and 50 per cent, The Australian newspaper said.

India: reserved seats for transgenders

An Indian university has decided to introduce quotas for transgender students on postgraduate courses. The Bangalore University academic council approved the move last week. Vice-chancellor N. Prabhu Dev said: "Transgenders deserve to be treated like others. It's not a caste but a class. The seats reserved will not be transferable." Asked by the council to consider quotas for undergraduate courses, Professor Prabhu Dev said the courses were not under his control, but he would write to the state government about the issue. "He also said the university will address requirements of transgenders, including restrooms and toilets," The Times of India newspaper reported.

Ireland: 'poor pay for education of rich'

Tax paid by less well-off parents is subsidising the university education of the better-off, the president of University College Dublin has said. Hugh Brady said Irish universities were prohibited from charging fees to Irish students "who can well afford to pay", The Irish Times reported. "As an example, I am a father of three teenagers for whom I can afford to pay EUR6,000 (£5,000) each to a private secondary school," he said. "When they enter UCD in four years' time, they will have to pay a modest student services charge and will probably ask me to buy a car with the balance. Meanwhile, the tax paid by less well-off parents will continue to subsidise university education for the better-off, including my children."

New Zealand: rise in international enrolments

The number of international students in New Zealand increased by 7 per cent this year, the country's tertiary education minister has announced. Steven Joyce said international education contributed NZ$2 billion (£936 million) a year to the economy. The rise in public tertiary education enrolments was largely driven by polytechnics, which saw a 15 per cent increase, while universities reported a 4 per cent increase in international student numbers. International students make up about 13 per cent of the student roll in New Zealand universities compared with 20 per cent in Australian ones, The New Zealand Herald said. Mr Joyce said New Zealand universities must keep developing their revenue from international students to compete. "While government investment in the tertiary sector in this country is high by international standards, fee income received from international students is low," he said.

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