Framing International Education

Ten days ago or so, I was in Sydney for the annual Australian International Education Conference. I’ve seen some very interesting presentations here, some real eye-openers. I’ll discuss some specific sessions here later (I’ll wait until the presentations are available on the website). Now I just want to share some general impressions. Most remarkable for me was that the economic framing of international education now seems to be widely accepted. When I lived in Sydney some years ago, my perception was that the government and parts of university management occasionally dropped terms like…Read more …

Interactive Higher Education Policy [or HigherEd 2.0]

Both the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEST) of the Australian Commonwealth Government and the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) of the British Government are looking for news to organise and coordinate their higher education sector. For this, they have started a similar initiative. Both are relying heavily on input from the field and the broader society to get new ideas, and probably to receive more support for their future polices. Yet, there are some differences as well. In its Review of Higher Education, the Australian government has asked…Read more …

Is the UK going Down Under?

During my years in Sydney, the issue of language skills and foreign students has come up repeatedly. The claim was that the financial reliance on foreign students had forced Australian higher education to accept students that lack even the basic English language and communication skills. Most critical on this issue is probably Bob Birrell, Director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University in Melbourne. Last year he published a study finding that one in three overseas students which were granted permanent residency after graduating from an Australian university does…Read more …

Sydney Places I Liked

One more week in Sydney and then I'll return to the Netherlands. It's been three years since I first set foot on Australian soil to start my postdoc at the University of Sydney.  And those were three good years. That was of course because of the great Aussie people, but it also had to do with Sydney's great places. Here are a few that I will definitely miss... First an outer Sydney location. Actually, I love all of them, simply because Sydney is surrounded by beauty. At the East there are of course…Read more …

So where the bloody hell are you?

I'm not sure whether this is a bad thing for education or for tourism. The Australian reports that education has replaced tourism as Australia's biggest services export and has become the country's third top export overall, increasing by 21 per cent in 2007 to AUD 12.5 billion. The Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures that show that revenue generated by foreign students in this country overtook tourism and was just behind coal and iron ore. I remember that - when I became interested in international education about eight years ago - Australians used…Read more …

Suharto and a former PM of Australia

A lot has been said about Suharto's legacy in the weeks before and the week after his death. Those who think highly of him point to his economic successes and his achievements in poverty alleviation. His critics of course refer to his human rights record: the killing of more than half a million in the aftermath of the 30 September movement, his invasion of East Timor and the political repression during his 32 year rule. In the reactions to his dead in Australia the second version of Suharto's legacy clearly was the dominant…Read more …

All the best for 2008!

It's that time of the year again. Looking back upon the things that happened and thinking about the things to come. Sydney is busy preparing for the new year's eve celebrations and so am I. But at the same time I'm thinking about the changes that are going to come in 2008. And there will be some important ones. First of all, I'll be moving back to the Netherlands. After three years, my fellowship at the University of Sydney is coming to an end and so is my stay in wonderful Sydney. As…Read more …

Secrecy and Accountability in the UNSW Asia Aftermath

I mentioned before that it has been difficult to find out the real reasons for the UNSW Asia closure in Singapore in May this year. The University of New South Wales has not exactly followed a transparent strategy in this issue (for my interpretation of the events, look at this post). A similar level of secrecy seems to be applied to the further handling of the case. This week the Singapore Straits Times reported that the University of New South Wales has agreed to repay some 25 million Australian dollars to Singapore. The…Read more …

An OZ Higher Education Revolution?

Even though I am currently in Europe - the Netherlands and Portugal to be exact - I have been following the developments Down Under closely. The victory of Kevin Rudd and his Labor Party cannot exactly be called a surprise, with Labor having led the polls ever since Rudd became leader of the opposition. But what is the meaning of this new leadership for Australian higher education? Will Rudd's election really bring about the 'Education Revolution' that he promised? First of all, I'm happy that there is a change! After more than 11…Read more …

Earth From Above

While walking through Darling Harbour yesterday - visiting the Fiesta Festival - I had a look at the Earth From Above exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Some of you might have already seen it since the exhibition has been traveling around the world the past years. I thought it was pretty amazing... Below are a few of my favorites. Click on the pictures to see the larger versions and the stories that go with them, or go here to see them all. Worker resting on bales of cotton, Thonakaha, Korhogo, Ivory Coast: 225Read more …

De-mystify Public Policy for Higher Education

Yesterday evening I attended the first seminar in the new Higher Education Colloquium Series organised by the Faculty of Education and Social Work of the University of Sydney. The first presentation - 'trying to de-mystify public policy for higher education' was given by Geoff Gallop, director of the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney and former Premier of Western Australia. He made several interesting observations and recommendations. Todays higher education section of The Australian emphasised his plea for further deregulation of the sector. Although the Australian system is very market…Read more …

Graduates and the Australian Labour Market

Meanwhile, in Australia a discussion is going on about the supply and demand of graduates. Are there enough university graduates or too few, or maybe even too many? And if there is a gap between supply and demand, how can this gap be filled by changing the supply? Or is there simply no such thing as an oversupply of high quality graduates in the knowledge economy? Bob Birrell, Daniel Edwards and Ian Dobson from Monash University published a paper emphasizing the widening gap between demand for and supply of university graduates. 196Read more …

UNSW Asia: the conjuncture of events

(update below) Fred Hilmer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, looks back on the UNSW Asia debacle. One of the question that I asked in my post immediately after UNSW's announcement was about the real reason for UNSW's sudden departure. Much news has been reported since, but none of the explanations can fully explain it. Hilmer points to the low enrollment numbers as the reason and the fact that the Singapore Economic Development Board wasn't willing to accept their rescue plan.Today it was also reported that high fees led to the…Read more …

‘Competitive’ salaries in academia

In both the Netherlands and Australia the salaries of the top university leaders lead to controversy. The Australian reports that all but one of the leaders of Australia’s Group of 8 Universities earn more than 600,000 Australian Dollars (378,000 Euros). Top earner was John Hay of the University of Queensland with 655,000 Euros. But the Australian found even higher figures for La Trobe University where someone (probably the former VC) received over 930,000 Euros! In the Netherlands, the salaries and bonuses in the public sector are a hot issue as well. Many claim…Read more …

Group of 8: Seizing the Opportunities

The Group of 8, the group of Australia's leading universities (or self proclaimed Ivy League) has today shared its vision on the future of Australian higher education, or better, what needs to be done to keep it dynamic and competitive. According to the Go8, the current system was designed for a past era and does no longer provide the right framework for universities to perform in a global knowledge economy (something that National University of Singapore president Shih Choon Fong seems to agree with).The current Australian higher education and research system is under-resourced…Read more …