Overseas briefing

November 12, 2009

United States

Million-dollar men and women

The highest-paid private university president in the US received a pay package worth more than $1.5 million (£900,000) in 2007-08. The Chronicle of Higher Education's annual executive pay survey found that 23 private-college presidents made more than $1 million in total, and 110 earned more than $500,000. The highest paid was Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York State, whose pay package totalled $1,598,247. She was followed by David J. Sargent of Suffolk University in Boston, the top earner in the 2006-07 survey, who earned $1,496,593, and Steadman Upham of the University of Tulsa, who was paid $1,485,5. The sums dwarf the salaries of the UK's vice-chancellors. The annual Times Higher Education pay survey, published in March, revealed that Britain's university heads earned an average of £194,000, including benefits, in 2007-08.

Australia

We've room, so give us the cash

Monash University could create an extra 10,000 student places to help meet the Australian Government's expansion targets. The university said there could be room for new students at its Berwick campus in Melbourne, but warned that future funding to underwrite expansion remains uncertain, The Australian newspaper reported. Ed Byrne, Monash's vice-chancellor, said: "The details of how much new funding will be put into the bucket down the line, and the time flows of this, aren't clear. State and federal policies are both supportive, but clearly one can't enrol large numbers of additional students without the cost being met." Professor Byrne said there was spare capacity at Berwick to double student numbers to about 4,000, with further expansion possible over the next ten years.

India

PM unimpressed with system

The Prime Minister of India has highlighted "deficiencies and imbalances" in the country's higher education system. Manmohan Singh made the comments in a speech at his alma mater, Panjab University, after receiving an honorary doctorate in law. He said: "At present, in any year, only about 12 per cent of the students who complete secondary education enrol for higher education. This does not compare at all well with the figure of about 70 per cent in some developed countries." He added: "A major problem that we face is the quality of higher education that our institutions impart. Unfortunately, most of them produce (graduates) who are nowhere near international standards."

Canada

Because they're worth it

International students contribute more to the Canadian economy than lumber or coal exports, a government report has found. Stockwell Day, Minister for International Trade, released a new study at a meeting of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The report, Economic Impact of International Education in Canada, cites the benefits yielded by overseas students who were in the country for longer than six months. It states that they spent "in excess of C$6.5 billion (£3.7 billion) on tuition, accommodation and discretionary spending". The study compares the figure with two key contributors to Canada's wealth - exports of coal ($6.07 billion) and lumber ($5.1 billion).

China

Reform speculation after sacking

The sacking of China's Minister of Education has prompted speculation that reform of the country's universities could follow. Reports suggest that Zhou Ji had become a target for critics of China's education system, which has seen rapid expansion designed to raise literacy rates and build a world-class university system. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress gave no reason for the move, but said that the 63-year-old minister, who is two years away from retirement, would be reappointed elsewhere. The China Daily newspaper said the country's education system had been "plagued with problems, such as under-funding of primary and secondary schools and poor standards in higher education". It is thought that the minister's successor, Yuan Guiren, former president of Beijing Normal University, may offer more progressive leadership.

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