Overseas briefing

February 19, 2009

Australia

Institutions on the city limits

About 20 new out-of-town teaching universities will be needed to hit tough targets for higher student enrolment set by the Government's Review of Australian Higher Education, led by Denise Bradley, former vice-chancellor of the University of South Australia. According to a demographics expert, increasing participation from 29 to 40 per cent by 2020 will require a number of new universities to be built on the outskirts of major cities. Bob Birrell, director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, said that the extra numbers would not be absorbed by existing elite institutions, as they will remain interested in quality not quantity. He told The Australian newspaper: "New campuses will have to be built in locations that best serve the populations with the least access."

Nigeria

Fee hike signalled by minister

Students in Nigeria look set to pay more after the country's Education Minister warned that quality higher education does not "come cheap". Sam Egwu said universities needed more cash to end years of bad management, crumbling infrastructure and academic decline, newspaper This Day reported. Nigeria's higher education sector has increased massively in recent decades, with the number of universities growing from just one in 1960 to more than 90 today. Dr Egwu said: "Quality tertiary education cannot come cheap or free. Students should endeavour to accept to be responsible for some elements of cost."

United States

Student's ID fraud exposed

An Ivy League university student exposed as an identity thief said she was hiding from her abusive family while studying for two years under an assumed name. Esther Elizabeth Reed stole the identity of a missing woman and successfully enrolled at Columbia University in New York. Her secret was uncovered when she admitted federal fraud and identity theft charges that carry a maximum sentence of 47 years in prison. According to court papers, the 30-year-old has pleaded for leniency on the basis of a history of mental-health problems, which she said were triggered by a strict upbringing, during which she was "repeatedly told she was evil", the Associated Press reported.

India

Uncertain future for overseas Bill

Plans to open India up to leading overseas universities have been shelved. According to the Indian Express newspaper, the Foreign Education Providers Bill, which would have enabled foreign universities to set up campuses, has been put on hold. The legislation has been talked about for three years, the paper said, during which time it fell victim to a power struggle by competing political parties. The Government had previously indicated that the Bill would appear before Parliament at the earliest opportunity. But an unnamed official told the Express that it would not be taken to Parliament. "There was no consensus. It is on the back burner."

Japan

Sector needs bigger subsidies

Public investment in Japan's universities must be greatly increased to maintain standards, government advisers have said. In a report to Taro Aso, Japan's Prime Minister, a panel investigating educational reform called for national and private universities to receive bigger public subsidies. It said that the prevailing reliance on tuition fees meant that institutions can be more interested in cash than students' academic ability, the Daily Yomiuri newspaper reported.

Iran

Plans to extend international ties

Iran is to establish universities in seven countries, including Venezuela, Afghanistan and Pakistan, its Government has announced. Universities will also be set up in Syria, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Comoros as foreign branches of existing Iranian institutions. Arsalan Ghorbani, deputy minister of science, research and technology, told the Tehran Times: "The aim of the ministry is to boost international academic ties by establishing universities which will meet world-class scientific and research standards." He said the expansion programme was to encourage international scientific co-operation with Iran's partners.

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