Regulating recruitment agencies

Study abroad for a full degree has developed from an elite to a mass phenomenon. Parallel to this development, we have witnessed a commercialization of international higher education where many institutions have become financially dependent on full fee paying international students. To operate in this (global) market, institutions – and especially the lesser-known ones – now frequently turn to agents and recruiters in order to attract prospective students. Many point to the risks of these third party agents and plea for more regulation or even abolishment. Abolish or regulate? In Inside Higher Ed,…Read more …

Recognition and Mobility in the Bologna Process

Today and tomorrow, the anniversary of the Bologna Process is celebrated. Actually...it is celebrated by most and protested against by some. A consortium of CHEPS, INCHER and ECOTEC was given the task to prepare an independent assessment of the Bologna process. The study was conducted together with experts from the University of Bath, the Bayerisches Staatsinstitut für Hochschulforschung and Nuffic (i.c. myself)). Below is the presentation by Don Westerheijden (CHEPS) of the part I've been working on: recognition and mobility.

German students and the European Court of Justice

German students are stretching the scope of European rules in national higher education systems. The last few years have shown a steady increase of German students in its neighboring countries. The number of German students in German speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland have increased. However, the most important destination for foreign students is the Netherlands with almost 14,000 students in 2006 and at least 16,750 in 2007 (pdf), making it also the largest group of international students in the Netherlands. I recently wrote about a German student, Jacqueline Förster, who claimed Dutch…Read more …

Can institutions be compared using standardised tests?

At the EAIR conference in Copenhagen last month I attended an interesting presentation by Trudy Banta, a professor of higher education and vice chancellor for planning and institutional improvement at Indiana University-Purdue University. Her question was clear: Can institutions really be compared using standardised tests? Policymakers seem determined to assess the quality of HEIs using standardised tests of student learning outcomes. Yet, Dr. Banta claims that such tests do not provide data for valid comparisons and on top of that, they measure other things than institutional performance: Comparing test scores sounds easy, but…Read more …

Classifying European Institutions for Higher Education

I'm on my way back to The Hague, returning from the EAIR conference in Copenhagen. Although lots of interesting new studies and findings have been presented there (some of them I'll discuss in later posts), I actually want to talk about a conference I visited last July in Berlin. This conference (Transparency in Diversity – Towards a European Classification of Higher Education Institutions) presented the results from the second stage of the project Classifying European Institutions for Higher Education, a project that might turn out to have a major impact on European higher…Read more …

On the non discrimination principle (…and its limits?)

Last week, at Global HigherEd, Peter Jones reported on a forthcoming European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in the case of Jacqueline Förster v IB-Groep. This is one of a range of recent cases handled by the ECJ that might have substantial effects for higher education policies throughout Europe. In a forthcoming paper for the European Journal of Education I identified the ECJ as one of the main actors in the institutionalisation of the European Higher Education Area. In earlier posts in this blog I discussed recent cases on the German medicine students…Read more …

The Trisakti Tragedy: 10 years later

It's been exactly ten years today since the Trisakti tragedy took place in Indonesia and the last  remaining foundations of Suharto's 30 year rule started crumbling down. During the month of May in 1998, student demonstrations against Suharto were organised everywhere and several incidents occurred on campuses all over the Indonesian archipelago. But the events on May 12 at Trisakti university shocked many and directly led to the fall of Suharto nine days later. On Tuesday May 12, at around 10.30, thousands of students gathered for a peaceful demonstration on the campus of…Read more …

Meanwhile in Czar Putin’s Russia

Meanwhile in Czar Putin's Russia a university was forced to close down. The St. Petersburg European University - a non-governmental institution offering post-graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences - was told to close its doors because of safety concerns. Officially the closure was because of violation of fire protection regulations. But university employees tell that the university has been closed because of political reasons, reports Kommersand, Russia's daily online newspaper. The fire inspection came to the university after deputies of the State Duma, members of United Russia party, and the general…Read more …

Free Press and Democracy

Here's an example of how democracy will not function without free press. In the wake of the upcoming elections, Second Finance Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, explains in the government controlled media why Malaysians should again put their trust in the Barisan Nasional government led by Prime Minister Badawi: "the country’s per capita income had risen by 40% between 2004 and 2007, from RM15,819 (US$4,163) to RM22,345 (US$6,452). The Barisan Nasional Government is confident that we will get the people’s mandate again, based on the improved economic resilience" A good…Read more …

Presidential Hopefuls and Academic Backgrounds

The remaining Republican and Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidential elections in the United States have followed rather different educational careers. While the Republicans have been trained in some 'typical republican' fields, the Democrats spend their formative years in the elitist private liberal art colleges and Ivy League universities. Although John McCain is very likely to become the Republican candidate, there is still a theoretical chance that Mike Huckabee will be elected. It's no surprise that Huckabee, the most conservative of the candidates, graduated from a college with a strong religious affiliation. He…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 …

Student protests and the rise and fall of Suharto

At the age of 86, Suharto, the former president of the republic of Indonesia has died. Suharto has been in Pertamina hospital since the 4th of January and passed away today at 1.10 PM local time. A week ago, University World News published an article I wrote on the role of student protests in the rise and fall of Suharto. Here is a slightly revised version of the article. For most, Suharto's name is inextricably connected with corruption, collusion and nepotism. Only few will remember him as Bapak Pembangunan (the father of development,…Read more …

Authoritarianism or Participation? That’s the Question!

Is China proving that developing countries are better off under an authoritarian regime that focuses on developing the economy, rather than under a democratic regime that gives emphasis to political participation? It's the question posed by Randall Peerenboom from UCLA in his new book China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? He tries to answer the question by exploring China's economy, its political and legal system, and its record on civil, political and personal rights. Peerenboom's answer is "yes". At the forum of the Far Eastern Economic Review, Nicholas…Read more …

Is Academic Freedom as Precious as it is Believed to Be?

This weeks' edition of University World News has a special on academic freedom. Most of the European coverage in this edition is based on a recent article in the journal Higher Education Policy: Academic Freedom in Europe: A Preliminary Comparative Analysis by Terence Karran. The outcomes of the article raise interesting questions. Not just on the different levels of academic freedom in different countries, but also about the nature of academic freedom and its value. On the basis of comparative data from 23 states within the European Union, the article concludes that academic…Read more …

Iranian students, international security & academic freedom

After 9/11 the number of international students in the US dropped considerably due stricter visa requirements and security regulations. Just now that the US is relaxing the regulations, the Netherlands seems to become more restrictive towards international students, at least those from specific countries. My former university - the University of Twente - this week announced that they had rejected a number of Iranian students and that they will not be able to process new applications from Iranian students. Is the University of Twente (UT) getting paranoid? No! They are acting according to…Read more …