Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review

December 30, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8.000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


China: Research universities as leaders or followers?

December 16, 2012

From University World News:

China harbours huge ambitions for its universities and has achieved a truly remarkable expansion and elevation of higher education since reforms were announced in 1998. But the country’s universities cannot become world leaders unless they are set free from state control.

By John Aubrey Douglass, senior research fellow at Berkeley – extracts from “China Futurisms – Research universities as leaders or followers?”:

Are research universities simply reflections of the society that gives them life, subject to local cultural and political norms? Or are universities societal leaders, a place for cutting-edge thought and debate?

This is a question that is not openly discussed by ministerial or academic leaders in China. Rather, this underlying question is a source of tension that will likely emerge slowly and more openly as the central government continues its uneven progress toward greater economic liberty.

To date, China’s universities have been largely followers on a global playing field, constrained and shaped by a state-driven political culture and complicated by world events, including the Arab Spring.

Yet there are indications that this will change.

Globalisation, including increased interaction with university faculty and leaders in the United States, European Union and elsewhere, is creating a consensus among China’s academic leaders that increased institutional independence, including new levels of academic freedom and improved internally generated quality control, will be necessary for their universities to fully mature.

But this will be a slow process, shaped by Chinese societal norms and the still-dominant hand of the national government.


Povl Tiedemann

December 2012


China: 1,000 university leaders to receive ‘upgrade’ training abroad

December 16, 2012

By Yojana Sharma, University World News.

China is stepping up its overseas training programme for presidents and vice presidents of public universities as it looks to upgrade higher education to compete with world-class systems and top universities internationally.

Some 1,000 university presidents and vice presidents will be sent to the United States, Britain, Australia and Germany for leadership training courses beginning this month, under a new 80 million yuan (US$12.8 million) programme over five years, the Ministry of Education has announced.

China’s Vice-minister of Education Hao Ping said in mid-November, in remarks carried by the official Xinhua news agency, that the training would help university presidents to understand how higher education in developed countries has evolved and to learn about university management reforms.

In addition, overseas exposure for university leaders would help boost exchanges with institutions abroad, Hao has said.

The leadership scheme will be funded by the philanthropic Lee Shau Kee Foundation, created by the Hong Kong billionaire businessman of the same name, and the Pei Hua Foundation set up by a large number of wealthy Hong Kong businesspeople, including Lee Shau Kee, to train Chinese personnel.


Povl Tiedemann

December 2012

Role of assessment contested at Educa conference

December 9, 2012

By Michael Gardner, University World News

Radical modernisers and educational traditionalists clashed at this year’s Online Educa Berlin (OEB) conference in Germany’s capital. Donald Clark, a director of the United Kingdom’s University for Industry, called for a new approach to accreditation.

Addressing the motto of this year’s OEB, “Reaching beyond Tomorrow”, participants discussed the motion that “a ban on diplomas and degrees awarded by schools and universities would have a positive impact on competence development and lifelong learning”.

Clark referred to two critical aspects in this context – developments in technology and their impact on course provision, and growing youth unemployment.

He maintained that the internet and the increasing use of other modern technologies was changing the way people were learning, and said: “There’s been more pedagogic change in the last 10 years than in the last 10,000 years”.

He criticised higher education for its largely unchanged approach to accreditation. “The price keeps on rising, but the product remains the same,” Clark said, adding that “education sticks with knowledge, not skills, because it’s easy to test”.

However, Clark called into question whether such knowledge was really relevant in today’s workplaces, and whether degrees and diplomas actually reflected the acquisition of the skills needed for the modern labour market.


Povl Tiedemann

December 2012

Statement addressed to heads of state and government attending the ‘EU Budget Summit’

December 1, 2012

Extracts from EUA release

By Professor Maria Helena Nazaré, EUA President


The ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’ goals of achieving smart and sustainable growth have to be built on enhancing research and development, human resources and skills to deliver the new products and services that Europe must offer to remain globally competitive.

Europe’s global regional competitors are not waiting. They are investing heavily in universities and the next generation of young people who will be the innovators of tomorrow.

In Europe today we are at risk of marginalising ourselves and losing out in the competition through creating a ‘lost generation’ of young people as a result of under-investment in higher education and research.

The European University Association (EUA) has three messages for Heads of State and Government at the EU Budget Summit:

  • A business-as-usual approach on the EU budget allocations for ‘juste retour’ purposes will not be good enough. The frequently stated political rhetoric which places emphasis on the central role of education, research and innovation in Europe’s future competitiveness needs to be backed up by commitment and action by EU Member States.
  • Increased investment in higher education and research to mobilise the potential and capacities of present and next generations of young people is the ‘sine qua non’ for Europe to exit the economic crisis and achieve future prosperity.
  • EU-level investments are essential as a counter-balancing force when the economy is weak, and to act as catalysts for economic re-structuring and growth.


Povl Tiedemann

December 2012