Overseas briefing

July 23, 2009

Australia

Enrolment crash may cause crisis

A report warns that Central Queensland University (CQU) could face financial trouble after a dramatic drop in student numbers. The analysis, by the Queensland Treasury Corporation, says that funds for general operations at the institution could run out during 2011, according to The Australian newspaper. John Rickard, vice-chancellor of CQU, blamed the Government's decision to focus on vocational degrees for a drop in international student numbers. However, CQU's domestic student numbers are also 16 per cent below its funding quota. If cuts are made in line with this lower-level enrolment, the university's deficit could rise by A$26 million (£12.7 million) between 2009 and 2012.

United States

Loans overhaul in the House

A Bill going through the House of Representatives could lead to root-and-branch reform of America's student-loans system, saving the taxpayer $87 billion (£53 billion) over the next decade. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the plans would see the present system of bank-based guaranteed student loans scrapped and replaced with a government-run direct-loan scheme. The proposals would provide extra mandatory cash for federal Pell Grants aimed at low-income students. In addition, the current system of Perkins Loans, which provide low-interest loans to needy students, would be expanded from $1 billion a year to $6 billion a year.

Taiwan

Dragon's lure poses no threat

The director of Taiwan's Department of Higher Education does not believe that talented Taiwanese students will be lured to China despite plans to allow Taiwanese students to apply to Chinese universities without taking special entrance examinations. Ho Cho-fei made the remarks after Yuan Guiren, the Chinese Vice-Minister of Education, announced that students would be able to apply for places at Chinese universities using the results from Taiwanese college entrance exams, the Taipei Times newspaper reported. "Those who want to go will go anyway, but most will stay," Mr Ho said, citing a survey conducted by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. It shows that up to 80 per cent of respondents would not send their children to study in China.

India

First Lincoln, tomorrow the world

Campuses are to be opened around the world by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to cater for increasing demand for courses that it has syndicated to institutions in Europe and Africa, The Times of India newspaper reported. "We will be setting up the first centre in the UK, which will be offering courses in history and Indian performing arts in collaboration with the University of Lincoln," V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, vice-chancellor of IGNOU, said after the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding. "People in developed countries are eager to learn about Indian history, culture, art and dance." IGNOU already runs courses in 39 countries worldwide.

Canada

Visa danger for foreign students

Visa regulations introduced in Canada to stem the flow of refugees have raised concerns in the academic community. The Government made a surprise announcement that all visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic will need visas to enter Canada, which it said was necessary to crack down on bogus refugees. However, the change is likely to affect thousands of foreign students, especially those planning to take short language courses this summer. One Mexican student who has a place at the University of Alberta told the Calgary Herald newspaper: "I need to move fast - I can't afford to lose my MBA. I've already quit my job."

Namibia

Africa comes first, says PM

Nahas Angula, the Prime Minister of Namibia, has called for the "transition generation" of political and educational leaders emerging across Africa to adopt a "bottom-up" approach to higher education, with research strategies focused on the needs of Africans rather than international concerns. Mr Angula cited such issues as health, poverty and unemployment as factors that must be addressed by universities, New Era newspaper said.

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