International Higher Education Roundup: 9 January 2012
Research power balance shifts towards Asia
An annual report published jointly by Battelle (a research and development organization) and R&D Magazine has hinted that, in terms of academic research, the power balance may shift towards Asia in the near future. The ‘2012 Global R&D Funding Forecast’ identifies China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and China as the nations which most increased their spending on research and development between 1996 and 2007. Malaysia and Indonesia have made the world’s top 40 in terms of research spending for the first time.
As a whole, Asian nations’ spending on R&D is expected to increase by an average of nearly 9% this year, while the figures for Europe and North America lag behind at 3.5% and 2.8% respectively. Consequently, Asia is predicted to outstrip North America in terms of research spending for the first time this year, accounting for 36.7% of the global total compared to the latter’s 36%. Europe is forecasted to account for 24.1%.
The single-year global average increase of 5.2% is slightly lower than that of 6.5% seen in 2011.
MIT to offer certificates to students using free online materials
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new venture which will see students who enrol on free online courses being awarded certificates for successfully completing them. Students enrolled on the courses will be given access to course materials and lecture videos, and will be able to interact with others on the course and participate in online labs.
They will also be able to interact with lecturers through a system which ranks questions through a voting system. It is intended that easier questions will be dealt with by other students. At the end of the courses, they will take quizzes and tests, which MIT has promised will be as challenging at the ones offered at the university proper, though grading may utilize automatic grading software developed at MIT. The certificates awarded will not carry the name of the university, but that of a separate not-for-profit body being created within MIT. Millions of dollars is reportedly being invested in the project.
In order to make it financially viable, a small charge will be levelled for the actual certificates, though all the materials will be free. MIT has previously offered free courses materials through its OpenCourseWare project. This will be the first time any kind of certification has been offered. Stanford and Carnegie Mellon run similar programs. The first course offered by MIT will begin in spring 2012.
Israel to create centres of excellence to retain talent
Israel has announced plans to create several high-profile research institutes which will play to the nation’s research strengths. ‘The Israeli Centres for Research Excellence’ (I-CORE) project will initially see four such institutes being created, focusing on alternative energy, the molecular basis of disease, cognitive science and computer sciences. The total number of institutes may rise as high as 30 in the future.
The rationale behind the creation of these institutes is the retention of academic talent, which Israel is currently losing to better funded research institutions in Europe and the US. It is also hoped that the institutions may encourage some of the many Israeli researchers currently working abroad to return to the country. Despite concerns about a brain drain, researchers based in the small country have won ten Nobel Prizes in the past decade.
South Korea bans 11 institutions from taking on foreign students
After a four-month investigation into the standard of universities in the country, the South Korean Ministry of Education has barred 11 institutions from taking on any foreign students, as they were deemed not to be adhering to protocol. Offences included not adhering to proper admission procedures, and even allowing students without proper student visas to enrol, meaning that many students at these institutions were under qualified or in Korea illegally. A further 19 institutions have been warned to improve or risk facing the same ban, 12 of which will be required to bring in government approved consultants.
The sanctioned universities, which are mostly outside larger cities, have complained that the investigation put them at a disadvantage, as it was harder to meet the requirements – which included graduates finding jobs and employing fully qualified staff – in the provinces in which they are based. Some universities have sought permission to move in order to improve their performances.
Czech universities reject proposed reforms
A draft bill to reform Czech universities has been rejected by 20 out of the nation’s 26 universities. The academic senates which oppose the proposals have called for strikes and petitions in order to persuade the government to reconsider the proposals.
The proposed changes to which the universities object include making the titles of ‘professor’ and ‘senior lecturer’ only applicable at the university at which the title was granted rather than nationwide, and the introduction of tuition fees of CZK 10,000 (slightly less than US$500) a semester. They also object to the government having ignored 11 proposals made by universities in regard to the reforms.
本文首发于 2012 October ， 更新于 2021 September 。