Overseas briefing

August 7, 2008


Drive to double overseas numbers

The number of overseas students at universities in Japan will more than double if targets the Government has set for the sector are achieved. At present there are about 120,000 foreign students in the country, which lags behind rivals such as the US and UK, but the aim is to increase that number to 300,000 by 2020. "The plan is part of our globalisation efforts at Japanese universities," Education Ministry official Ryuichi Oda told the International Herald Tribune. "We would like to provide as much governmental support as we can." Among the proposals to boost student recruitment are plans to simplify immigration procedures and workshops on study opportunities at embassies abroad. The Government has also called on universities to hire more English-speaking teachers and to offer more Japanese-language classes for foreign students.


Bid to link access equity to funding

Universities could be shamed into improving their widening participation programmes under plans for a "national equity performance fund" in Australia. This would reward universities for their efforts to recruit students from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds and be coupled with a performance ranking system that would expose to public scrutiny institutions' achievements and failures, The Australian newspaper reported. Marcia Devlin, chair of higher education research at Deakin University, said universities would address these issues properly only "if there is money attached and there are reputational consequences".


Prized title is losing its shine

A once-coveted prize of "deemed university" status is becoming increasingly common in India after the title was awarded to a record number of institutions. In the last four years, 34 institutions - 28 of them private - have won the status, which allows them to act largely free of government interference. Traditionally, deemed university status was awarded only to institutions that had been operating for 25 years, but this is no longer the case. Some observers think unworthy institutions are gaining the title and devaluing the sector as a whole. The All India Federation of University Teachers' Organisations told The Wall Street Journal that it objected to the "mushrooming" of deemed universities as a result of "relaxed guidelines".


Students more open about sex

Students' sex lives have shone light on changing attitudes in China, a survey has found. In a country where the traditional view that couples should not have sex before marriage is still widely held, The China Daily reported that a survey of students found that 40 per cent of those interviewed did not mind losing their virginity before marriage. "We found that male students had a more open attitude towards sex and virginity than the female students," researcher Li Jiangxue said.

United States

A hack at a higher grade

A student has been accused of hacking into his college's computer system to try to change his grades. Christopher Fowler was charged with computer trespassing after an incident at Georgia Highlands College in the US. The 19-year-old is also accused of unlawful eavesdropping after accessing an internet telephone system operated by the college, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The alleged breach was spotted by a member of faculty who reported that another person had used his account to log on.


Stewed shrew's insight on booze

Researchers at a German university believe that the drinking habits of a boozy shrew may shed light on why humans began drinking alcohol. Giant flower clusters containing nectar that ferments to produce alcohol as strong as beer have become an essential part of the diet of the pen-tailed tree shrew, which is related to the ancestors of primates. The study's leader, Frank Wiens of the University of Bayreuth in Germany, said the shrew's habits may help us to understand the evolutionary forces that drive humans to drink, the UK's New Scientist reported.

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