Overseas briefing

July 31, 2008


Degree standards may be rising

The university graduation rate in Japan fell to 84.6 per cent in the last fiscal year, according to a survey of 500 universities by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. Some commentators believe that this indicates a rise in graduation standards. In recent years Japanese universities have been criticised for the varying standards of their entrance examinations. The newspaper survey also found that graduation rates varied among higher education institutions between 99 per cent and 46.6 per cent.


Let the rich pay, says magnate

A leading businessman has attacked the Australian Government's move to ban the practice where home students who do not meet entry standards can pay full-cost tuition fees to secure a place at university. Addressing a Melbourne University alumni dinner, Peter Yates, a former head of media company PBL, said that the move would be unfair and would cost A$150 million (£73 million) a year, according to The Australian. "The idea that an Australian can't use their resources to attend our best universities is unfair and inequitable and purely ideologically driven," he said. The Rudd Government has promised to end full-fee-paying domestic places and replace them with 11,000 new government-supported places at a cost of A$100 million a year.


Top academics' perks revealed

Ending the secrecy around top academics' contracts will make it easier for universities to compete for talent, according to Canadian university leaders. McMaster University recently abandoned a two-year legal battle to keep its president's contract secret, following a Freedom of Information request by a local newspaper. Since then, universities across Ontario have released details of their own presidents' contracts. While chief executives' base salaries and the dollar values of their taxable benefits have always been public, their perks of office, some worth millions of dollars, have been under wraps until now. Marc Jolicoeur, chairman of the board of governors at the University of Ottawa, told The Ottawa Citizen that the information that has emerged in the last few weeks would be helpful in recruiting in future.


Mind the foreign-domestic gap

A growing gulf between local and foreign university students in Australia is creating segregated classes, cultural cliques and religious ghettos, according to a higher education expert. Simon Marginson of the Centre for Higher Education at the University of Melbourne was quoted by The Canberra Times as saying that local students tend to work off campus and are not active in student life while international students spent most of their time on campus, generally in the library. "You've got this odd situation with the local students half-disengaged in a way I've never really seen before. The international student industry runs off the back of a reasonably strong local system, which presumes a healthy relationship with the local students ... That's the flashpoint that worries me more than any other - that it could spring back into resentment," Professor Marginson said. International education is an industry worth A$12.5 billion (£6.04 billion) in Australia and foreign students' fees account for an average of 15 per cent of universities' overall funding.


Degree mill crackdown planned

The Government of Tanzania has announced plans for a crackdown on fake universities and "degree mills" in an attempt to curb the widespread use of false academic credentials in the country. The plan was revealed by Jumanne Maghembe, the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, during an announcement of the department's budget estimates for 2008-09.

South Korea

CV cheat's jail term is upheld

A South Korean court has upheld an earlier ruling sentencing a former university professor to 18 months in jail for faking a Yale degree. Shin Jeong-ah used the fake degree to become an art history professor at a Seoul university and win financial sponsorship for a museum where she worked.

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