Tag Archives: Higher Education

Racism-Sexism At South African Universities

It is now almost two decades since the white apartheid regime was forced to agree to end the hated system of life and engage on an equal basis with black inhabitants of the nation. However, in 2009, a report examining higher education institutions discovered wide spread racism and sexism at universities in South Africa. The report noted that policies had been changed but when it came to implementation of those new regulations there was a significant lack of progress. There was also concern as to whether higher education curriculum had been changed in order to prepare students for a society whose values had changed as South Africans moved towards creation of a multi-racial ethnic society.

Higher education institutions have scant difficulty changing policies to reflect a desire for a more diverse student body. But, universities are still controlled by faculty bodies which have vested interests in protecting their values, their friendships, and their interpretation as to what constitutes academic rigor. There is need for higher education to rethink what is being taught in light of the diversity of South Africa.

Indonesian Educators Fear New Law On Universities

A recent law passed by the Indonesian legislature has aroused considerable controversy among educators who fear the unstated implication would be to allow commercialization of higher education in the country. The law passed by the House of Representatives upheld the principles of autonomous campus management and allowed six state universities to raise and manage public funds in exchange for reducing government subsidies. There is fear universities will gradually reduce costs at the expensive of underprivileged students. At present, Indonesia only allocates 0.24% of its GDP to higher education compared to 2.4% in the United States. Many education experts believe the government is trying to reduce its expenditures on higher education by allowing universities to manage their budgets and get in the business of raising money on their own.

A university does not receive money from the corporate world without raising the spectre of ceding control of how it allocates funds. For example, it might lead to pushing business programs at the expense of the liberal arts. It is a tricky slope and only leadership which is committed to academic freedom and creation of universities which play a role in fostering liberal arts will ensure that school is more than learning a trade.

Higher Education Seeks More Money

A group of leaders in higher education took out a two page advertisement in The New York Times to plead for additional money in order to ensure they can remain in business. The distinguished list of college administrators presented their list of how colleges and universities have served America and noted: “Furthermore, since 1986, college tuition and fees have risen nearly three times as fast as the median family income, after adjusting for inflation.” The college administrators insist the rise in college tuition is due to meet inflation and to offset having less money allocated to colleges by state legislatures. Of course, public institutions, not private, depend on state money. It is rather interesting that statement concerning colleges does not include the name of a single university professor, but, then again, what would college professors know about money and the need for more money.

The collection of college bureaucrats make no mention of constant rise in pay for presidents of colleges or the increase in bureaucracy in higher education since it is assumed when university bureaucrats spend money, it is always the right thing to do. They request an expenditure of $40 billion to $50 billion in federal money to make certain the university world is financially OK. Let’s examine the money game. Harvard has over $30 billion in its endowment fund and if you add endowments of Yale, Princeton or a few other wealthy universities there is more than $50 billion lying around.

The United States government is insisting that automobile leaders agree to work for less, should the same principle apply to college presidents seeking federal money? The federal government is insisting the automobile industry can in tune with producing cars that fit into 21st century needs. Would university presidents agree to rethinking the meaning and structure of their institutions in order to create a college education that is in tune with 21st century needs? The European Union is moving toward a three year undergraduate program–any takers for such an idea among those signing the ad? How about requiring Schools of Education to compel their faculties to teach in public schools in order to get a sense of reality?

A simple way for these college leaders to reduce costs for students would be requiring professors to develop textbooks utilizing Internet sources. This alone would save students close to a thousand dollars a year.

By the way, of the 51 people who signed the advertisement, two were women!!! Doesn’t that fact speak volumes as to the desire of these men to reform higher education?

Chinese Students Heading To European Union Over USA

An historic shift has already begun with over a 120,000 Chinese students this past year heading for education in European universities rather than take the more familiar route to the United States. The Patriot Act, and other restrictions caused by America’s fear of terrorism, have made the United States a less desirable destination for young Chinese students seeking higher education. The European Union launched a “Erasmus Mundes” program in 2004 which will have granted $327 million in grants to foreign students by 2009 in order to get them to attend EU institutions. Jan Figel, EU commissioner of Education notes: “When people speak of education,especially higher education, they often think of the US. But actually, universities in the EU are overall, the most attractive because they have a diversity of cultures and teaching methods.” The European Union this week will institute a “fast track” program enabling highly educated immigrants to quickly obtain a “blue card” allowing them to work in the European Union and bring their families. Any student who obtains a B.A. from a EU University will immediately be eligible for a blue card which guarantees all rights such as medical insurance as those held by EU nationals.

Lost in the fears caused by the Patriot Act and the Bush fear program about foreigners is a significant shift in world affairs. America increasingly is becoming more difficult to enter and a less desirable place for highly educated people. The United States for half a century was able to attract and keep hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, but this advantage is slipping away. This is another legacy of the Bush program to create fear in America, but, unfortunately, the fear program is keeping out skilled individuals needed by modern economies.

Turkish Higher Education Leaders Seek Compromise

The Chair of Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YOK), Erdogan Tezic, met with President Gul in an effort to have proposed changes in the nation’s constitution include the ideas of many divergent voices. Tezic had quarreled with Prime Minister Erdogan about proposed changes which would end the ban on women wearing a headscarf and was told to mind his own business. Tezic urged President Gul to slow down the process and reach out to other voices in order to lessen the acrimonious atmosphere which is developing from bits and pieces of changes being disseminated to the public.Turkish higher education leaders are approaching a rather volatile situation in the correct calm manner. A constitution should not be changed by a single party, particularly one that only received 47% of the vote. There is need to make changes reflect consensus views if they are to avoid dividing the Turkish population.