Wednesday, September 15th, 2004
Australia 1, Canada 0
British University in Dubai Opens
Dollars Over Degrees?
Travel Within West Africa
LET’S GO CANADA – Australia 1, Canada 0
How important are timely responses from education institutions for students? For a Canadian living in Malaysia, the communication practices of a Canadian versus an Australian institution have her heading to Brisbane. The student (who declined to be named) contacted a large Canadian university via e-mail to inquire about its creative writing program and admission to the Fall 2004 semester. After several months, she received a terse response, saying that she had missed the application deadline and was told to try for the following session. The student’s original e- mail was sent, in her words, “way before the deadline.”
On the other hand, she received close, personal attention from the Australian university. Her questions were answered in an e-mail she received days after sending her original inquiry. The university also followed up by telephoning the student (who was still living in Malaysia), to ask if the information provided was thorough enough and if any other questions could be answered. According to the student, that “little extra time spent in helping me with things was a major deciding factor in my final choice.”
Not an isolated incident, this anecdote reflects the growing gap between Canadian and Australian international student recruitment practices.
ABROAD PERSPECTIVE – British University in Dubai Opens
The British University in Dubai (BUiD) is the newest education provider entering the Knowledge Village in the United Arab Emirates. As an overseas university, BUiD differs in its approach from the seven off-shore campuses currently operating in the Village, each affiliated with their respective home institutions. According to its website, BUiD wants to “make a distinctive British contribution to the higher educational system in the United Arab Emirates through the creation of a high quality research-led university.”
This “distinctive British contribution” is to only grant research-oriented Master’s degrees, making it the only institution in the Village to offer such programs. Kamal Lakhiani, Higher-Edge’s Dubai Manager says one of the advantages BUiD has over its Knowledge Village neighbours is “the flexibility to create joint programs with different universities;” BUiD currently has agreements with three British institutions. Lakhiani notes that as a new university, BUiD lacks “its own brand name.” Students who earn degrees from branch campuses are guaranteed the name recognition of the parent campus, something BUiD will have to overcome as a newcomer to the higher education field. The University received accreditation eligibility status in late August 2004.
Source: “http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/44364.html,” Ameinfo.com, August 26, 2004
OVER THE COUNTER – Dollars Over Degrees?
“Sign your cheque and receive your degree” seems like a slogan for an online diploma mill, but perhaps the same could be said about some authentic universities. In China, government officials who “donated” to Tianjin University received legitimate degrees; they only had to sit a special class or write a special exam. In England, The Observer reports that the head of Bournemouth University’s design, engineering and computing department used the amount of income a student generated to justify passing those who were failing. The same article also writes, “university staff are being put under increasing pressure to pass foreign students studying for masters’ degrees because the income is keeping many universities afloat.”
Source: “http://learning.sohu.com/20040907/n221916790.shtml,” Sohu.com, September 7, 2004
“http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/aug/01/universityfunding.highereducation,” The Observer, August 1, 2004
GLOBE TIPPING – Travel Within West Africa
For those flying into West Africa, consider staying airborne if travelling within the region. Given the proximity and average size of the countries (Nigeria being the exception), travelling via land may seem a logical option. In reality, the number of obstacles to overcome can make the journey an arduous experience. For instance, a trip from Lomé, Togo to Accra, Ghana (a distance of about 160 kilometres) can take a full day, punctuated by tedious border checks, harassment and solicitation for kickbacks by border guards. Customs officials and police at roadblocks may make you unload and unpack every little package in order to delay you for hours. Unless one is up for an adventure, flying between West African countries is the safe and most reliable option.