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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 21; June 9, 2010

Let’s Go Canada

Ghanaian college announces Canadian partnership

Abroad Perspective

New Zealand Looks for Foreign Tuition ‘Lifeline’

Over The Counter

India’s foreign universities. More time and more money.

Globe Tipping

Bon voyage to Bangkok?

1) LET’S GO CANADA – Ghanaian college announces Canadian partnership

During the inaugural ceremony and matriculation for the first round of 60 students at Accra’s Radford University College, Founder and Chairman of the College, Nana Worae Wiredu announced a newly signed partnership with Canada’s University of Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

Coming at a time when Canadian universities are being criticized over their lack of support for student exchange opportunities*, such a partnership has the potential to open more doors for Canadian students to gain overseas experience during their degrees. According to Wiredu, the exchange of students, staff and faculty will start from next academic year (2011).

Speaking at the same event, Ghana’s Minister of Education, Mr Alex Tettey-Enyo, also announced his encouragement for the establishment of more accredited private tertiary institutions in his country. These new institutions, he hopes, will increase the enrollment of qualified students.

Currently, he says, all the country’s public tertiary institutions put together – including universities, polytechnics and professional trading colleges (such as those in the areas of education, nursing, forestry and agriculture) – can not accommodate even half of the country’s qualified candidates who seek admission. Private tertiary institutions, on the other hand, enroll just 5%.

Sources: “Ministry to encourage Private Tertiary establishments”. Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, May 31, 2010.
* “Fewer than 3% of undergraduates opting to study abroad, study finds”. The Globe and Mail, May 26, 2010.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVE – New Zealand Looks for Foreign Tuition ‘Lifeline’

With thousands of Kiwi students struggling for admissions to their own universities, the New Zealand government recently announced its hopes to attract more international students to the country.

The move comes only a year after New Zealand’s financially strapped institutions began upped entrance requirements which reduced their in-country enrollments. Due to a government funding cap on the number of local students that university’s can admit, the intake of local students is likely to continue to shrink.

On the other hand, there is no limit as to how many foreign fee-paying students are allowed to enroll in the same universities. So with approximately 100,000 foreign students currently attending New Zealand institutions (accounting for 12% of its university revenues – compared to neighbouring Australia’s 20%), the government hopes are for an increase of international tuition fees to act as a lifeline for the currently struggling university sector.

It is an announcement that has been met with stiff criticism within the country.
Labour tertiary education spokeswoman Maryan Street, called the Government a “cheapskate” over its decision.

“I have no problem with universities having international students,” Street explained, “but there will be a problem if the arrival of international students squeezes out New Zealand students. We have got New Zealanders knocking on universities’ doors and having them closed in their faces.”

New Zealand Students Associations Union co-president David Do, on the other hand, stated his own concerns about foreign students being treated as “cash cows” in the situation – rather than clients who need to be impressed.
“They come here because of the reputation of the education system”, he explained. “If the standard drops they will go to other countries. The Government needs to give more funding.”

Source: “Concerns Kiwis will be shut out of uni”. The Dominion Post, May 31, 2010.
3) OVER THE COUNTER – India’s foreign universities. More time and more money.

With the recent approval of India’s controversial Foreign Education Providers Bill, excitement ran high that soon, top-class foreign universities would be flocking in to open up branches on Indian soil. However, the early excitement is running smack dab in to the reality.

In a recent Forbes India article*, the following explanation was offered, in an attempt to explain why the “big name” universities, such as Harvard, Cambridge, Yale, or Stanford, “won’t be coming anytime soon”.

“These institutions,” wrote authors Neelima Mahajan-Bansal and Shishir Prasad, “have built themselves over hundreds of years. They will not risk cutting down on quality by creating a satellite campus that does not live up to the quality that they can offer on their home campus.”

There is interest from some foreign universities, but with India having the need for 22 million seats for colleges in 2014 (up 8 million from the number it currently sends) – this is not a solution to the dearth of quality post-secondary education in India.

More time and much more money is required.  India’s National Knowledge Commission estimates that fifty world class universities can be set up in the “medium term”, and if each of these universities then manage to enroll 10,000 students, the cost is assessed at $3 billion USD. Even that staggering price tag will only result in a half million new university seats – far short of the many millions of new classroom seats required.

The same Forbes article did, however, offer an alternative suggestion: for-profit universities.

Citing the likes of China, Malaysia, and Singapore as leading examples in this field, the authors offered the following suggestion as to India’s own way forward:

“One should be able to start and close an institution in a much easier way (of course, in a regulated manner). Similarly, individual institutions should have the freedom of deciding what to teach and how to teach, and how to fix the fees and manage costs…The other big revamp needed is in the accrediting infrastructure. [Human Resource Minister, Kapil] Sibal has been proposing a National Accreditation Regulatory Authority. Every institute will have to go through mandatory accreditation.”

*Source: “Why they won’t come to teach you from Harvard”. Forbes India, April 16, 2010.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Bon voyage to Bangkok?

Recent violent confrontations between anti-government ‘Red Shirt’ protesters and the Thai military led to dozens of deaths and reduced some of Bangkok buldings to charred ruins. Although things have calmed since the government-forced dispersal of protestors on May 19, there are still areas affected by the events, with armed soldiers and in place. So, if you’re planning a trip to the “City of the Deity” anytime soon, you’ll likely want to keep yourself up to date with any new developments. 

During the confrontations, many buildings were damaged, public transportation systems and shopping areas were closed, and a number of hotels were temporarily locked down. However, as of last week the vast majority of Bangkok was safe to visit.  Its international airport was unaffected by the protests, and continues business as normal. Things are slowly falling back into place, though a state of emergency remains in a number of provinces in the north and east of the country (where most ‘Red Shirts’ hail from), so be aware of any curfews, checkpoints, and restrictions that may be put into place. The good news for travelers however, is that many popular tourist areas in the capital city remained largely unaffected throughout the violence, including the famous Khoa San Road and Chatuchak Weekend Market.

If you would like to find more up-to-date information on the situation – as it is possible that things could change at any moment – be sure to check out the Bangkok Post for its ‘Breaking News’ box, and both the BBC’s Asia-Pacific pages and IHT’s Asia pages have regularly updated reports, as well as extensive background information. Bangkok-based blogs, Bangkok Pundit and are also good, frequently-updated sources of information on news events in the city.

And in the event that conflict does flare up again, Twitter is always a good source of minute-by-minute news. Tweets you might want to watch out for include those of BBC journalist Alastair Leithead, freelance journalists Andrew Marshall, Newley Purnell and Patrick Winn, and bangkokpundit
For more travel-specific tips and discussions, you can also visit Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree site.

Sources: “Is it safe to go to Bangkok?” Lonely Planet, May 21, 2010.
Thailand Travel Advice and Advisories – Government of Canada, June 7, 2010.


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