First, there was an interesting statement of Australia’s Minister of Education Julie Bishop. She claims that uniform degree structures, a diploma supplement and international recognition of qualifications are among radical changes Australia needs to adopt to meet competition from a powerful higher education bloc forming in Europe. She warns that if Australia does not align itself with the changes taking place in 45 European countries under the Bologna Declaration, it will be left out of the tent. The risk is that students will no longer want to study here and those who graduate from Australian universities will find it harder to have their qualifications recognised overseas.
“The Bologna process seems likely to have a profound effect on the development of higher education globally,” the paper says, acknowledging that other continents are considering it. “Lack of movement on Bologna compatibility will make it harder for Australia to demonstrate to the Europeans its bona fides in this area.”
Julie Bishop expressed her concerns at a meeting of 30 education ministers from the Asia Pacific in Brisbane where they discussed their response to the challenges posed by the European Bologna Process. I have heard some people in Southeast Asia also expressing an interest in joining the process or starting a similar regional process in the region.
I haven’t read much about this issue in Europe or Australia. Australia has some respected academics that maintain a weblog. Some examples from political science and economics are John Quiggen from the University of Queensland and the group blog ‘Larvatus Prodeo‘ maintained by Mark Bahnisch of Griffith University. Some in Australia even argue that academics should blog or be damned (but obviously his arguments are rather weak and one-sided). And of course there are the Sydney Uni students blogging their way through campus life.
In the Netherlands I have not yet come across many academic bloggers. I think some members of the popular group blog Sargasso are academics. One of their new members, a female scientists that goes by the name of Akufu, keeps an individual academic weblog as well. If anyone is aware of any other Dutch academic bloggers, let me know!
A final thing that caught my attention is not so much a current issue but is something that has astonished me for some time now. For my own research I keep track of the news related to higher education and science in Southeast Asia and especially Malaysia and Indonesia. What amazes me about the mainstream media in Malaysia is their extensive coverage of higher education related issues. Higher education (and education in general) takes in such an important position in Malaysian society and politics that issues related to the quality of their universities are widely reported. The issue about university rankings for instance was widely discussed in the Star. The recent resignation of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya and the search for his successor also featured prominently in this newspaper. This week, the selection of a few bright Malaysian students by a range of reputable US universities was shared with the rest of the nation (thanks goes to the Education in Malaysia blog for keeping me up to date).