Overseas briefing

November 5, 2009

India

Namaste, Uncle Sam

There are high hopes in India that leading American universities will set up partnerships with the Indian Institutes of Technology and other leading higher education bodies, thanks to the sector being opened up to overseas operators. According to the Economic Times newspaper, 31 US institutions, including Duke, Massachusetts and Rochester universities, are sending delegations to India next month. Their interest follows an Indo-American summit on the ways in which US universities can offer courses in India - principally through partnerships with local institutions. The newspaper said there were 250 engineering colleges and 200 business schools in India that were "capable enough" to form such partnerships with American institutions.

China

Elite group backed by ministry

Plans for a Chinese "Ivy League" have won the support of the Ministry of Education. According to Xinhua, the state-run news agency, the Government has backed the formation of "C9" - a group of nine prestigious Chinese institutions, including Peking and Tsinghua universities. The group's members have signed agreements on student-exchange programmes and greater co-operation in postgraduate training in an attempt to bolster the quality and international standing of China's higher education elite. Xu Mei, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, said C9's formation was "conducive to the construction of high-quality colleges".

Europe

Cuts to ERC red tape promised

The European Commission has promised to streamline the organisation and governance of the European Research Council (ERC), the executive research-funding agency, and plans to recruit a "distinguished scientist with strong administrative and managerial experience" to oversee the change. The action is a response to an independent review of the ERC's structures and mechanisms that criticised its efficiency. The Commission has also pledged to initiate a broader debate on European Union rules for supporting research and innovation. Janez Potoznik, European Science and Research Commissioner, said: "Two and a half years after its start, the ERC is regarded widely as a success and an influential component of the European Research Area. We're now announcing steps to help it shift from its pioneering to its mature phase. Our actions ... will further improve the ERC's performance and guarantee its long-term stability."

United States

Obama papers offered a home

The University of Chicago has approached the White House about the possibility of hosting Barack Obama's future presidential library. According to the Bloomberg news agency, the Administration has yet to enter into discussions on the proposal, which comes a year after Mr Obama's election. Robert J. Zimmer, president of the university, said Chicago was "trying to understand the situation" as best it could. But he added that "until the President really wants to talk about it and has some kind of direction he's thinking about", it would be premature to go into more specific details about the plans. Presidential libraries are repositories for papers, records and other historical materials, and have been collected for every US president since Herbert Hoover (1929-33).

Australia

Cricketers aim to bowl India over

Australian cricket stars are on a mission to bolster the reputation of their country's higher education institutions in India. A series of attacks on Indian students in Australia have attracted masses of coverage in the Indian media, posing a threat to one of the Australian sector's most lucrative overseas markets. According to The Australian newspaper, the scale of the coverage may be a reaction to the furore over allegations that Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh racially abused Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test Match in January 2008. Australia's cricket team is currently touring India, while its universities are praying that the spate of attacks on students is over. The University of Wollongong is using former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist to promote it to potential students in India, while fast bowler Brett Lee is acting as an ambassador for Deakin University.

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