W-E-B links for Today: US Elections

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of presidential hopefuls. The World & the US elections - Alan S. Blinder analyses whether Americans are ready to stop the world and shut out reality: among Democrats, this may manifest itself in attitudes toward international trade that range from lukewarm support to outright hostility. Among Republicans, it shows up in attitudes toward immigration - and most things foreign - that border on xenophobia. Education & the US elections - Barack Obama, the winner of last week’s Democratic caucuses in Iowa was a favorite…Read more …

The Lisbon Effect

Is it the great food with the wonderful local wines? Is it the amazing scenery? Is it the people? Why is Portugal, and Lisbon in particular, such a good place to come to an agreement? At least, that's what you're bound to conclude if you consider the amount of recent international documents named "The Lisbon ..." Having just spent a week in Portugal (Aveiro) to teach a course on Globalisation and the Knowledge Society for an Erasmus Mundus programme in Higher Education, I conclude it must be a combination of them. The great…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 …

La Résistance

French President Sarkozy's plans for reforming the French economy and the French public sector appears to cause some resistance. From opera employees to fishermen, train drivers, civil servants and postmen, there is hardly a sector that does not complain of some 'right' being eroded. Transport workers are striking over government plans to do away with special retirement privileges; Civil servants will go on strike over a plan to streamline the bureaucracy; Judges and court clerks plan a protest against reforms to the court system; Air France cabin crew have threatened to resume a…Read more …

The Most Powerful Dutch Universities

Dutch newspaper the 'Volkskrant' has published its annual list of the 200 most influential Dutch people. The list portrays the Dutch 'old boys network' that rules the Netherlands through its interpersonal networks and interlocking boards and directorates. Clearly, the strength of weak ties at work; but how are these ties connected to the Dutch universities? Topping the list this year was Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Chairman of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER). His current profile lists chairmanships/memberships of a wide variety of boards and councils, ranging from multinationals to business…Read more …

Brussels Sprouts and Meatballs…

While the rest of the world is concerned with petty issues like the quality of education, access to education, excellence in education, etc, some enlightened patriots with a judaeo-christian heritage xenophobic Dutch Members of Parliament see to it that their Ministry of Education deals with the questions that really matter. Here's a translation of the formal letter to the deputy minister of education [pdf]: Questions of Members Wilders and Bosma for the Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sciences, Mrs. Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart about Halal-meals during a school outing of an ROC (ROC stands for…Read more …

Things have changed

Not many blog posts these days...and that won't change too much in the next few weeks. I'm working hard to finish two papers for two conferences next month in Austria and Ireland. Before the conferences, I'll be in the Netherlands for a few weeks. And talking about the Netherlands... During my frequent short term writer's blocks I stumbled upon this video called "Sex, Drugs and Democracy", a documentary about the liberal nature of Dutch society. At least.... the way it was in 1994. It starts with the usual stuff. By now, everyone probably…Read more …

Asian Godfathers: Collusion of Business & Politics

Another book to add to my ‘to-read-list’: Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Newsweek has an article by the author of the book, Joe Studwell. Studwell had expected that the Asian crisis ten years ago would trigger the transition from crony capitalism to a market free of manipulation by bureaucrats and politicians. After the research for his book, he concludes that he was wrong: The architecture of the Southeast Asian economy remains what it was 10 and 50 and 100 years ago. The domestic economies of Hong Kong,…Read more …

W-E-B links for Today: Truth & Lies

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of truths and lies: World news today - healthcare in the US and who is telling the truth? Michael Moore on CNN, demanding an apology. Education & Science news today - Dr. Carmona and the administration who had instructed him to put political considerations over scientific ones: truth vs. lies, a.k.a. science versus politics. Blog post today: science versus politics was the theme of yesterday's 'great global warming swindle' event. John Quiggin blogs on this hilarious evening and shows how the delusionists were demolished.…Read more …

French university reforms

Nicolas Sarkozy has made higher education reform one of the main issues in his early presidency. In general, the French universities are underfunded and inefficient. Higher education is free (apart from a small registration fee) and funded almost totally by taxpayers money. Universities are state agencies, staff are civil servants and institutional autonomy is lacking. Unsurprisingly, autonomy is the key word of the reforms announced by Sarkozy and Valérie Pécresse, the higher-education minister. She clarified here autonomy plans in the Economist: 161Read more …

Meanwhile in Malaysia…

Meanwhile in Malaysia, 'soft authoritarianism' seems to get tougher. Elections are coming up and since the Malaysian people are not yet ready for open dialogue, voices have to be silenced. So what do you do? First you silence the blogs that cause 'disharmony'. That should be enough since - as Marina Mahathir (yes, the outspoken daughter of...) shows - the government has nothing to fear from the regular Malaysian media.But it was not enough. This news by rising politician Tony Pua should really worry Malaysians. Apparently, instructions were given by some government commission…Read more …

Higher Education Funding in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post reported that the Indonesian Director General for Higher Education, Satryo Soemantri Brodjonegoro would increase the subsidies for universities. The government would disburse a Rp 13.5 trillion (US$1.5 billion) fund next year to subsidize costs at state-run and private universities. Good news for Indonesian higher education? Of course, every extra dollar or rupiah is welcome. But...He admitted that the increase would not cover education costs for university students. "The amount is too small to meet the demands of poor families who want to have access to higher education," he said. In…Read more …

Indonesia Too Democratic?

Can a country be too democratic? Vice President of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla, thinks it can be. The Jakarta Post reports on his visit to China, and it seems like Kalla is quite impressed by what is going on in China. If only Indonesia was a bit less democratic they would be able to make the same progress as China is making."China's strength is that it can plan and implement. Our system, which is too democratic with too much individual freedom that often disregards the rights of others, has made it difficult for us…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 …

The Next (World) Bank President

While Wolfowitz has barely resigned as president of the World Bank, the Financial Times is already speculating about his successor. A quick look at the possible nominations makes clear that World Bank is first and foremost a Bank. The first name the FT mentions is Robert M. Kimmitt, the US deputy Treasury secretary. Kimmitts bio reveals that his experience in the developing world is limited to his military service in Vietnam in 1970-1971. He served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, earning three Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, and the…Read more …