World in brief - 30 January 2014

January 30, 2014

Our man in the GULF

The president of a Singaporean university has been appointed by the World Economic Forum to chair a world higher education body. Tan Chorh Chuan, president of the National University of Singapore, will chair the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) for a two-year term beginning this year. The GULF, which is made up of 25 presidents from universities across the world, was devised by the World Economic Forum eight years ago. It aims to offer university leaders a global platform to discuss higher education issues and research with other leaders of sectors, and also to foster collaboration between institutions. The National University of Singapore is one of six Asian representatives in the group and the only institution from the city state.

See some more of the world

The Australian government has earmarked more than A$5 million (£2.65 million) to help give students the opportunity to study overseas. A total of A$3.4 million has been offered for projects under the International Student Exchange Program, A$1.5 million under the Short-Term Mobility Program and A$800,000 for study abroad by young people in vocational education and training, according to the office of the education minister, Christopher Pyne. New figures from Mr Pyne’s office show that the amount of money allocated for the ISEP is A$1.4 million more this year than the previous year, A$200,000 more for the short-term scheme and A$500,000 more for vocational students, The Australian reported. Monash University’s Trevor Goddard, who manages the institution’s Monash Abroad study abroad programme, welcomed the “bump up” from last year but cautioned that the funding was still below the amount the schemes enjoyed a few years ago.

Functionary leadership

A former chief of police has been appointed the party head of China’s first “bureaucracy-free” university. Li Ming, ex-head of the Shenzen Public Security Bureau, will lead the South University of Science and Technology of China, which was designed to be the country’s first “red-tape-free” higher education institution. The appointment by the Guangdong provincial Communist Party Committee has been deemed “suspicious” by some mainland citizens, however. Mr Li, who also has a background in teaching, will replace the university’s founding president, Zhu Qingshi, who was a key figure in the institution’s creation, the South China Morning Post reported. Mr Li’s appointment has been met with scepticism from some online commentators who question whether a person from the establishment can maintain the university’s non-bureaucratic ethos.

United States
Big sum on the bayou

The governor of Louisiana is lobbying to increase the state’s higher education funding in next year’s budget after years of financial cuts and flat spending on public universities. Bobby Jindal announced last week that he would push for a $142 million (£85.8 million) boost to Louisiana’s higher education budget as part of his state-wide spending plan for 2014-15. “This is a tremendous step forward for the financial recovery of higher ed,” said Clinton Rasberry, chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents, which manages public higher education in the state. Most of Mr Jindal’s request, about $88 million, would come from student tuition fee rises, The Times-Picayune reported. Unlike recent years, however, the governor would not use the extra tuition fee cash to offset other higher education budget cuts.

Goodbye goats, I’m off to study

More and more young people from rural areas in Tibet are going into higher education, according to the region’s education authority. Figures released last week showed that nearly 8,000 young people from non-urban areas passed entrance exams and matriculated last year, accounting for 60 per cent of Tibet’s higher education intake, the Xinhua news agency reported. “Farmers and herdsmen make up 80 per cent of…Tibet’s 3 million people,” said Ma Shengchang, director of the regional education department. “Their children have the same rights to higher education as urban students.” If they “are willing to study hard and further their education after high school, they can attend universities and even key universities”, he said.

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