Archive for July, 2013

The rise of English in academe – A cautionary tale

July 21, 2013

By Rosemary Salomone, Kenneth Wang professor of law at St John’s University School of Law – statement in University World News

The rise of English as the global academic language is picking up legal steam in Europe. In late May, amid much controversy, the French National Assembly approved changes to the 1994 Toubon law. Those changes would ease restrictions on courses taught in English at French universities.

The following day, a regional court in Italy went in the opposite direction, striking down plans at the elite Polytechnic University of Milan to offer all masters- and doctoral-level courses in English beginning with the 2014 academic year.

Both developments have unleashed passionate arguments supporting or contesting the move towards English instruction. Percolating beneath this discourse is an inherent tension reflected in separate European Commission calls, over the past month, for internationalising higher education and maintaining instructional quality.

Driving the debate over English are three related forces:

-the articulated need among European universities to remain competitive in recruiting students

-the expressed concern among faculty members to remain relevant in the growing stream of scholarship conducted in English

-the increasing interest among students in expanding their options in a flagging job market where English proficiency carries considerable weight.


Povl Tiedemann
July 2013


European Commission launches new internationalisation strategy

July 14, 2013

By Ard Jongsma, University World News

In an effort to bolster Europe’s position in international higher education, the European Commission has launched a new strategy for the internationalisation of higher education. It promises stronger policy support and financial incentives, and calls on countries to use immigration rules to enhance rather than create obstacles to mobility.

Published on 11 July as a ‘communication’, European Higher Education in the World, the strategy is a comprehensive effort to tackle the challenges of globalisation; it does not simply focus on attracting more foreign students to Europe but also stresses the need to work harder for European students, who for the most part are still missing out on the international dimension in higher education.

“We must promote the international dimension among the 85% of EU students who are not mobile today,” Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said, presenting the communication.

She added that the European Commission viewed internationalisation not simply as a matter of increased mobility. “Universities need to develop more international curricula, promote language skills and expand digital learning opportunities,” said Vassiliou.


Povl Tiedemann
July 2013

Will MOOCs help to democratize higher education?

July 9, 2013

By Karen MacGregor, University World News

The democratization of higher education requires widening access to studies that lead to useful qualifications, and giving people more opportunities to select study programmes themselves and easily design their own courses from the rich pool of material freely available, Sir John Daniel told the “Worldviews 2013” conference last week. The question is whether massive open online course, or MOOCs, will help or hinder that process.

Sir John – former head of the Commonwealth of Learning and of the UK Open University, former assistant director general of education for UNESCO and current senior advisor to the Beijing DeTao Masters Academy – was delivering a keynote address at the conference held from 20-21 June at the University of Toronto.

There were two ways of interpreting the phrase ‘democratization of higher education’, he argued:

-one about widening access
-and the other about students determining the content of their studies.


Povl Tiedemann
July 2013

UNESCO – Rankings and accountability in higher education

July 5, 2013

UNESCO has released a new publication, Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and misuses, which debates the pros and cons of classifying universities. A UNESCO release says the book brings together “the people behind university rankings and their critics to debate the uses and misuses of existing rankings”.

The book arose from the “Global Forum Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and misuses”, the first global consultation on the subject, organised by UNESCO, the OECD and the World Bank in May 2011. This brought together researchers, academics, policy analysts, students and institutional leaders.

The release says the book develops many of the issues addressed during that landmark consultation and is the first in a new UNESCO series, Education on the Move, aimed at bringing the latest thinking in education to specialists worldwide.


Povl Tiedemann
July 2013

OECD – Education at a Glance: Rising numbers with more than one degree

July 1, 2013

Statements from Education at a Glance 2013 released in University World News.

Based on 2011 patterns of graduation, on average across OECD countries 39% of young people will graduate from tertiary-type A first-degree programmes, often called a bachelor degree, and 17% from tertiary-type A second-degree programmes, often called a masters, the Education at a Glance 2013 report states.

For first-degree programmes, the graduation rate equals or exceeds 50% in Australia, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, Poland and the Russian Federation. But the proportion falls to 25% or less in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, China, Estonia, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.

The report says the low graduation rates in Belgium and China are counterbalanced by a higher level of first-degree rates from tertiary-type B programmes. In China, an estimated 16% of young people today will graduate from a tertiary-type A first-degree course and 19% will graduate from a tertiary-type B during their lifetimes.


Povl Tiedemann
July 2013