Overseas briefing

February 21, 2008

Australia

Big pay reduces student numbers

The Australian resources boom is being blamed for falling university applications. Applications fell more than 2 per cent this year, a decline attributed to the overheated labour market linked to an industrial expansion exploiting the country's rich mineral deposits. Peter Coaldrake, vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, said the boom, which has seen 18-year- olds earning up to A$130,000 (£60,000) driving heavy machinery, was "really dampening demand" for university places, The Australian newspaper reported.

Zimbabwe

Education system in ruins

The education system of Zimbabwe has crumbled with the collapse of the country's economy since the millennium, the Financial Gazette reported. It quotes Promise Mkwananzi, a former president of the Zimbabwe National Student Union, saying that the country was faced with a "sharp decline in public expenditure on higher education, deteriorating teaching conditions, decaying educational facilities and infrastructure, perpetual student unrest, erosion of university autonomy, a shortage of experienced and well-trained teaching staff, lack of academic freedoms and an increasing rate of unemployment among college graduates". The student union also reports that a blood donor session at Midlands State University found that 95 per cent of blood donated by students tested positive for HIV.

United States

Bridge to business acumen

A drive has been started to tackle a worldwide shortage of business school faculty members. The US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is endorsing efforts to swell numbers through its Bridge Programme, the Financial Times reports. The programme aims to prepare senior business executives for professionally qualified faculty positions and is intended to equip them with teaching and course development skills.

Bahrain

New standards imposed

Private higher education institutions in Bahrain have been given a deadline to meet new standards or face being shut down. Majid al-Nuaimi, the Education Minister, said institutions had until in June to comply with new financial and academic requirements, Gulf Daily News reported. He said: "Private higher education institutions are being dealt with according to a professional law, which obliges those institutions to fulfil certain financial and academic requirements and criteria ... In addition, they have been given three years to fulfil building and educational facilities requirements."

United States

Lawsuit on tuition fees abroad

Tuition charges levied by US colleges when students are on study-abroad programmes are under the spotlight once again thanks to a recently filed lawsuit. The father of a student at Wheaton College, Massachusetts, has accused the institution of making "unfair and deceptive" charges, the Chronicle of Higher Education has reported. The lawsuit relates to full tuition, room and board charges levied while his daughter was studying in South Africa for a year, where the costs incurred were far lower. The father is seeking a declaratory judgment with implications for the longstanding practice in US higher education of charging "home school" tuition for credits earned overseas. The lawsuit comes at the same time as an ongoing investigation by the New York Attorney General into relationships between colleges and providers.

Australia

Foreign students 'exploited'

Many overseas students in Australia cannot afford to eat, are paid below the minimum wage and are among the most exploitable group in the country, according to new research. The study at Monash and Melbourne universities found that more than a third of overseas students struggle financially, and 60 per cent had jobs paying below the legal minimum wage. The findings come as education overtakes tourism as the nation's biggest services export, increasing by 21 per cent in 2007 to A$12.5 billion (£5.7 billion), The Australian reported. International student enrolments rose by 18 per cent last year to more than 450,000.

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