World in brief - 26 June 2014

June 26, 2014

Source: Alamy

United States
Discount tuition for Starbucks employees

Starbucks is partnering with Arizona State University to offer its employees heavily discounted undergraduate degrees. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan will subsidise tuition for the first two years of study, which will be delivered online; fees for the third and fourth years will be covered completely. “Everyone who works as hard as our [employees] do should have the opportunity to complete college, while balancing work, school and their personal lives,” said Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks.

Liberal arts boost well-being

A year of liberal arts education helps adults to become better parents, make more friends and live fuller lives, a major European study says. Based on adults in 10 countries who undertook a year of non-vocational education, the Benefits of Lifelong Learning (BeLL) project found that participants enjoyed greater self-confidence, expanded social networks and an increased interest in doing voluntary work, according to the European Commission-funded research led by Germany’s Institute for Adult Education, which collated results from countries including the UK, Switzerland, Finland, Slovenia and Italy.

Call for national rankings

India’s new minister in charge of higher education is pushing the idea of creating a ranking for the nation’s universities. Smitri Irani called for “a national framework of ranking of universities and colleges suited to the local conditions, circumstances and requirements”. Indian institutions, which have often performed poorly in world university rankings, have long called for rankings that take account of their distinctive nature.

Latin America
Countries club together for science

A group of Latin American and Caribbean countries have signed an agreement to work together to promote science and innovation. The Santiago Agreement was struck in Chile on 10 June 2014 by senior officials from 13 member countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agreement stipulates that countries should “boost the complementary aspects of the innovation and education systems”.

East Africa
Graduates lack skills, say employers

Employers in East Africa have claimed that more than half of university graduates are not prepared for work. A report by the Inter-University Council for East Africa, which covers Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, blamed increasing numbers of graduates coupled with a lack of properly qualified teaching staff. Not only did graduates lack soft skills such as self-confidence and articulation, they also did not have the technical skills for subject-specific jobs, the survey found.

Funding revolt

Most Australians oppose cuts to university funding and increases to student fees, a poll commissioned by the National Tertiary Education Union has found. A cut of 20 per cent to teaching funding and the removal of caps on tuition fees was announced in May’s budget, prompting predictions of increases in fees. The polling shows that 70 per cent of the general public oppose “significant” fee increases, and 65 per cent oppose the funding cuts.

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