Archive for October, 2010

Hard facts about soft skills in universities

October 22, 2010

By Lily Philipose, faculty member of the soft skills programme at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.

When 29 ministers of European education met on 19 June 1999 to draft the Bologna Declaration and make a blueprint for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), they set out six objectives. These were: easily comparable degrees, undergraduate and graduate cycles, a common credit system, student mobility, quality assurance’ and a ‘European dimension in higher education’.

The EHEA was put in place in Vienna in March 2010, by which time Bologna priorities were expressed in 10 lines of action. They comprised the previous six objectives and four new points: social dimension, student employability, lifelong learning and a global context.

European universities translated ’employability’ and ‘lifelong learning’ into curricular terms by requiring students to learn skills outside of academic knowledge: personal, practical, social and communication skills they would use for most of their working lives and that were actively sought by employers. The buzzword became ‘soft skills’.

German job advertisements show that employers do look for qualities beyond outstanding grades, scientific or technical knowledge. Last year, for instance, a Siemens job posting called for a qualified candidate who was also “a reliable partner for our customers, feels at ease in national and international consulting projects, can take on current challenges and build new networks”.

Check: Full report on the University World News site

Povl Tiedemann

October 2010

OECD Conference shies away from long-tem solutions

October 22, 2010

By Tunde Fatunde, University World News

Many of the solutions proposed by participants in the OECD’s Institutional Management in Higher Education conference were short term, palliative measures when the deepest crisis in higher education funding since the Second World War means the sector is in need of a kind of Marshall Plan to save it.

The 2010 conference was organised to achieve two main objectives. The first was to encourage stakeholders in higher education to vigorously pursue teaching and research activities with dwindling financial resources – or ‘doing more with less’, the slogan of the conference. The second was to create other avenues to supplement the shortfall of funds that traditionally come from the state, such as endowments, stocks and donations from philanthropic organisations.

One effective response could be a kind of Marshall Plan under which multinational companies contributed a percentage of their profits to bail out higher education institutions, the participant suggested. Since oil and gas companies, banks and weapons corporations were among the greatest beneficiaries of graduates, they should resuscitate the goose that lays the golden egg.

Check: Full report on the University World News site

Povl Tiedemann

October 2010

First foreign-accredited degrees plan in Saudi Arabia

October 18, 2010

By Wagdy Sawahel, University World News
Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to foreign campuses by planning to set up the first postgraduate research institute offering foreign-accredited degrees. The institute will also become only the second mixed-gender university after King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Check: Full report on the University World News site

Povl Tiedemann

October 2010

Ambitious ‘innovation society’ plan in China

October 18, 2010

By Yojana Sharma, University World News

China hopes to raise the quality and quantity of its graduates in its most ambitious programme ever to grow top talent, raising the gross enrolment rate for universities from around 24% to 40% within 10 years and the number of citizens with college-level education in the work force from 9% to 20% overall.

Check:  Full story on University World News site

Povl Tiedemann

October 2010

Plan unveiled to raise foreign student numbers in China

October 18, 2010

Sixty years ago there were just 20 foreign students studying in China. By 2020, there should be 500,000. That’s what will happen if a plan released last week by the Chinese Ministry of Education does what it sets out to do, reports The Independent.

Check: Full report on the University World News site

Povl Tiedemann

October 2010

Youth on the move – EU initiative to support Europe’s young people

October 1, 2010

Youth on the Move aims to extend opportunities for learning mobility to all young people in Europe by 2020. Five million young Europeans are looking for a job. Many of them will miss opportunities because they lack the right qualifications or experience.

The European Commission launched 2010-09-15 Youth on the Move, a new flagship initiative aimed at helping these young people to gain the knowledge, skills and experience they need to make their first job a reality.

The Commission already has a long tradition of supporting mobility through the grants it provides from Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Grundtvig and Marie Curie.

Part of the EU’s new Europe 2020 strategy, Youth on the Move proposes 28 key actions aimed at making education and training more relevant to young people’s needs and encouraging more of them to take advantage of EU grants to study or train in another country. This will increase young people’s employability and access to the labour market.

At present, too many young people leave school early and too few enter higher education, which jeopardises Europe’s future skills base.

Youth on the Move will be instrumental in achieving the Europe 2020 headline targets of reducing the share of early school leavers from 15% to 10% and increasing the share of young people with tertiary education or equivalent from 31% to at least 40% by 2020.

Check:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/news/news2540_en.htm

Povl Tiedemann

September

Postgraduate quality principles adopted

October 1, 2010

By Geoff Maslen, University World News
Assessment of quality in postgraduate education is critical to the success of masters and doctoral students, and to the future of global research within and outside academe, according to a set of principles adopted at an international conference of higher education leaders from 17 countries held in Brisbane in September 2010.

A release from the summit says that in response to growing demands for accountability and greater transparency, academic and research systems around the globe “have intensified efforts to meaningfully assess the quality and outcomes of university education”. But so far, governments, international organisations and the higher education sector have focused efforts almost exclusively on undergraduate education.

“The more specialised nature of doctoral and masters education, particularly in their research components, generally requires that assessment be based on more specific outcomes, such as measurable skills for research, teaching, and other professional activities, as well as theses and dissertations, which reflect the overall quality of training,” the release states.

Check:
Full report on the University World News site

Povl Tiedemann

October 2010