Questions on the UNSW ASIA debacle

After three months in operation, the Singapore adventure of the University of New South Wales has come to an end. Another 22 million Singapore dollars down the drain. The decision to establish a branch campus in Singapore was taken in 2005 and already led to some commotion at that time (see this post). In 2005, UNSW from Australia and the University of Warwick from the UK were the only two foreign universities granted special status by the Singaporean Government (through its Economic Development Board, EDB) to set up a fully fledged independent teaching…Read more …

The HEEF: Economist’s interpretation

The Economist has an article on the Australian budget which was presented a few days ago. In my previous post I highlighted one item in that budget: the Higher Education Endowment Fund. In this fund, the government will deposit 5 billion Australian dollars, securing future funding of around 300 million a year (and more if the fund will grow in the future). The board of the fund will select 'strategic investment proposals which provide quality infrastructure and support Australian Government policy with respect to diversity, specialisation and responsiveness to labour market needs'.I though…Read more …

The Higher Education Endowment Fund

Earlier this year, Kevin Rudd - leader of the Australian Labor Party - promised the country an education revolution if they would be voted into power (elections are later this year). Today, Peter Costello - treasurer of the current government - has tried to outdo Rudd in the new budget that was presented today. It's already been dubbed the education budget.One of the most innovative items is the creation of a Higher Education Endowment Fund. The government shall set up the fund and put in an amount of 5 billion Australian dollars (4…Read more …

Higher Education and Statistics

The OECD has issued its latest Factbook. The OECD factbook 2007 contains a large amount of indicators on issues ranging from economics to the environment and from population to health. And of course on higher education. Some time ago I've been critical about the presentation of some of the OECD higher education statistics, but I must admit that they do a great job in collecting them. The OECD is without doubt the best source for cross-national statistics in the fields of higher education and science & innovation.But of course you can do a…Read more …

Aussie news bites

Time for some higher education news from down under.The biggest event the past week was definitely the launch of Melbourne University - New Style. The so-called Melbourne Model is based on six broad undergraduate programs followed by a professional graduate degree, research higher degree or entry directly into employment. In simple terms, what happened is that the old English model was exchanged for the American one. Of course this was accompanied by protests since according to some the university has decided on this move because of a lack of funding and others claim…Read more …

Legrain on immigrants

Tonight I attended a lecture (in the Sydney Ideas Series) from Philippe Legrain on his latest book: Immigrants: your country needs them. It was also the occasion of his Sydney book launch but luckily - in this open world - I ordered the book a month ago from the UK (and thereby avoided the high Australian book prices).   Legrain's lecture will be available on the University of Sydney podcasts site, but here's a short impression of both book and lecture. In short, Legrain's message is: Let them in! Because it's better for…Read more …

…and keep your tray table and seat in the full upright position

For my flight to the United States I took some news articles that might be of interest and on which I might post later on. Here's a list of what I thought might be worthwile:An article on the risks that Australian universities are taking by focusing so (too?) heavily on the international student market. Universities are risking their academic reputation by rushing into dubious offshore ventures and are leaving themselves financially exposed as the boom in overseas students tapers off. A report from NSW Auditor-General Bob Sendt finds universities have become too reliant…Read more …

The 7 secrets of doctoral mediocrity

Many, many, many books have been written on how to obtain a Ph.D degree or how to write a Ph.D thesis. I'm not really into self-help books, but I heard that some books are really helpful. In the Higher Education section of The Australian, Maria Gardiner and Hugh Kearns of Flinders University share their 7 secrets of doctoral success.During the past 15 years the pair has studied why students battle with perfectionism, over-commit, self-sabotage and lose motivation and focus while writing a PhD. They offer free workshops and seminars to Flinders University PhD…Read more …

Around the World in 1 Post

I haven't had the time to write many posts this week. Besides, I did not come across any news items of real urgency this week. However, a few items caught my attention.***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…Read more …

Unhappy Chardonnay Socialists

A survey of Curtin University compares the happiness of people in all electorates in Australia reveals that the Sydney Inner West, covering Annandale, Leichhardt, Petersham, Newtown, Marrickville and Summer Hill, tops the national list for all-round UN-happiness. The Sydney Morning Herald wonders:"is it aircraft noise, John Howard's long reign, or being overworked and underpaid that makes the so-called chardonnay socialists of Sydney's Inner West the most disgruntled people in Australia?"I must admit that I was surprised by the findings. Arriving in Sydney almost a year ago, I immediately loved Newtown and lived there…Read more …

Micro-Managing Red Tape

Rumour has it that the Australian universities will soon start a new assault on red tape and over-regulation. They claim that government bureaucracy is wasting millions of taxpayers' dollars a year. In their vision for Australian higher education (Our Universities: Backing Australia's Future, released in 2003) the Howard government agreed that:"..the reporting requirements of universities need to be streamlined and that the resulting savings should be re-invested in education. Significant reduction in regulatory intervention, to which the Government is committed, will require the development of agreed measures of educational outcomes that can replace…Read more …

Disunity in binarity

In the Netherlands, the discussion about the sustainability of a binary system has again come up. The best examples of countries that have abolished their binary systems are probably the UK and Australia. Maybe the Dutch politicians should take a look at the developments in Australia.Minister Nelson’s  recent push for graduate school universities and the push for students to complete a general degree before entering elite graduate schools at the nation's sandstone universities seems to be a return to a binary system. Maybe not of polytechnics and universities in this case, but a binary…Read more …

Oz Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Medicine 2005 was awarded to two Australians. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Medicine prize for discovering a bacterium that causes gastritis and stomach ulcers, according to the Nobel Assembly of Stockholm's Karolinska Institute.Read more …

White Australia Policy: the story continues

The past months Australia has witnessed an interesting example of the tension between academic freedom and freedom of speech versus the principle of non-discrimination. Andrew Fraser, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Law at Macquarie University in Sydney stirred up a debate on the re-introduction of the White Australia Policy through radio and TV appearances a couple of weeks ago. This time however he is going through the academic channels to get his ideas across.His paper was accepted by the Deakin University Law Review after being peer reviewed. But, after a threat…Read more …