News in Brief

September 9, 2010

United Arab Emirates

'Free zones' need regulation

University branch campuses in Dubai's "free zones" must be regulated or the United Arab Emirates' international reputation could be damaged, experts have warned. Fifty branch campuses operate in UAE developments such as the Dubai International Academic City, many of them offshoots of US universities. However, in a briefing for the Dubai School of Government, Jason Lane, assistant professor of educational administration and policy studies at the State University of New York, says that "the rapid expansion of the private higher education system in the UAE has been accompanied by a delay in government regulation". He adds: "The lack of regulatory clarity creates confusion ... about local degree recognition. Each free zone has established specific requirements about branch campuses having to provide academic programmes comparable in quality to the main campus. However, the enforcement of these requirements has been unequal and sporadic."


Stockholm syndrome: no room

A group of international students resorted to camping in the grounds of Stockholm University last week in protest against a lack of accommodation. The 10 "homeless" students are among a larger group who arrived at the university for the autumn term to find that they had not been allocated rooms, The Local newspaper reported. Kyle Verboomen, international student coordinator at Stockholm University Students' Union, said: "There is simply not enough room in the pot. I would say to the university - do not admit students that you cannot house. It is not nice for the international students to be camping out on the sidewalk with all the Swedish students walking past and seeing them there."


Anglo-Saxon bias?

Job opportunities for overseas students graduating from Australian universities are so scarce that some are now using English names on applications to improve their chances. According to a report on the City Messenger website, student-welfare agency Education Adelaide says that a growing number of students are not being considered because employers think they lack language skills and experience of the Australian workplace. Denise von Wald, chief executive of Education Adelaide, said a number of students had asked her whether they should use Anglicised names on their CVs to boost their prospects. "Studies have shown it's tougher for people with ethnic names," she said. A study by the agency in 2007 showed that about 60 per cent of foreign students found work in their field within a year of graduating, compared with 97 per cent of locals.

United States

Paperless chase

The University of Notre Dame has launched a paperless course that will use the iPad in lieu of textbooks. The course on project management will feed into a year-long study of e-readers at the university, which will see students evaluate the creation, distribution, consumption and utility of electronic course materials in an academic setting. Students will be able to provide feedback on the project on a wiki discussion group as part of the pilot. Although the students are being encouraged to use the iPads for personal tasks such as listening to music, they will not be allowed to keep them: the university-owned technology will instead be passed on to other courses as part of the project.


Beijing hails foreign influx

About 80,000 foreign students are studying at Beijing-based universities this year, 10,000 more than last year. The figures, reported by the Beijing Daily newspaper, follow an increase in the number of overseas students in China as a whole from about 50,000 in 2000 to 240,000 last year. Wu Yunxin, director of the Foreign Student Affairs Office at Tsinghua University, attributed the growth to improvements in the quality of education, the implementation of courses taught in English, plus better facilities and student services. There has also been an increase in the number of scholarships available to foreign students - up from 18,000 in 2009 to about 20,000 this year. The latest figures came as Tsinghua announced a plan to increase the proportion of foreign students in its graduate schools from 7 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020.

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