Overseas briefing

December 3, 2009

China

Graduates face scramble for jobs

The record number of students graduating from Chinese universities is likely to pose "severe challenges" to the job market, the country's Education Minister has warned. State news agency Xinhua quoted Yuan Guiren as saying that universities should offer next year's record 6.3 million graduates more training in job hunting and adjust their programmes to the market's needs. However, the number of graduates who found jobs saw a year-on-year increase despite the global economic downturn, he added. A total of 130,000 graduates from Chinese universities and colleges are expected to join the Army this winter.

United States

Protests greet California fees hike

A fees hike at the University of California in the wake of state budget cuts has stirred up student protests. A meeting of the university's board of regents held at UC Los Angeles approved a plan to raise undergraduate fees by 32 per cent next autumn, The New York Times reported. The newspaper said that "hundreds of students from campuses across the state demonstrated outside, beating drums and chanting slogans against the increase". About 70 students occupied UC Santa Cruz's main administrative building for four days in protest at the rise, which critics say will hit ethnic-minority students particularly hard. Mark Yudof, the university's president, said California's budget cuts had left it no choice but to raise fees.

Canada

Break language cycle, sector told

Universities should ensure graduates are bilingual to break Canada's costly cycle of training and testing for middle-aged federal workers, according to the country's languages chief. Graham Fraser, the Languages Commissioner, said universities and the Government should work together to develop "equivalencies" between language exams so that graduates who apply for public-service jobs are already tested for the various levels of language proficiency demanded by the state, the Ottawa Citizen reported. The newspaper said that an "industry of 40 to 50 private language schools has sprung up" that provides training for the Government's languages test, with an emphasis on examination strategy rather than grammar and vocabulary. The Citizen added that Mr Fraser, who wrote a book on bilingualism - Sorry, I Don't Speak French (2006) - before becoming Commissioner, "has long felt universities are the missing link in entrenching bilingualism in the federal workplace".

Australia

Investment values crash

Australian universities have reported a "significant deterioration" in their financial results owing to the declining value of their investments, it has been reported. The Australian said that the operating results for all universities receiving Commonwealth Grant Scheme block grants fell from a surplus of A$1.4 billion (£780 million) in 2007 to one of just A$364 million last year, a 74 per cent drop. Just three institutions' investments grew in value: Flinders University in Adelaide; the University of Technology, Sydney; and the University of Tasmania. In contrast, the universities of Melbourne and Sydney each wrote off more than A$200 million, and the Australian National University suffered a paper loss of A$160 million, The Australian said. Meanwhile, the newspaper added that the University of Ballarat in Victoria has seen "an extraordinary increase" of more than 540 per cent in international student-fee revenue since 2004, compared with a sector average of 51 per cent.

Vietnam

Technological team-up

A new university specialising in science and technology is to be set up in Vietnam under a partnership with the French Government. The university will be known as USTH and will be located near the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, University World News reported. A partnership agreement was signed this month in the capital by Nguyen Thien Nanh, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education and Training, and Valerie Pecresse, France's Minister for Higher Education and Research. USTH is scheduled to begin operations in 2010 and will have an eventual student roll of 8,000. A consortium of more than 30 French universities is working on the deal.

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