U.S. Higher Education News for September 23, 2015, Part 2


And here are some items of possible interest from newspapers published outside of the U.S.:


Deeks, Andrew. “With Universities You Get Back What You Invest; Cuts in Funding Will Impact Our Ability to Produce Bright and Adaptable Graduates,” Irish Times 23 Sep. 2015: 14.

Over the past seven years exchequer funding to universities and colleges of education has fallen by 28 per cent while student numbers have increased by 18 per cent. Our student-to-staff ratio of 22 to 1 is now significantly behind the OECD average of 14 to 1.

I continue to be surprised that some influential individuals believe these cuts have enabled efficiencies to be realised. Sorry, that is simply not the case. What these cuts have done is reduce the ability of our universities to deliver a world-class educational experience to the young (and not so young), and to deliver research which affects the economic, cultural and societal health of the country.

Some point to the fact that results–measured by the number of first, second and third class degrees – are not falling, and argue the system has been able to absorb the cuts without any fall in quality. However, degree classifications are just one aspect. When I ask senior employer representatives what they are seeking, they seldom mention degree classifications. They talk about the need for graduates to be bright, adaptable and flexible, to have excellent communication, teamwork and leadership skills, and to have cultural awareness.

Consumer Well-Being

Judging the outcomes of a university education solely on degree classifications is like judging a meal on the solely on number of calories (energy)–a fast food restaurant may well be equivalent in calories to a meal eaten in a five-star restaurant, but would anyone argue that the contribution of the two meals to the well-being of the consumer is equivalent?

The facts are simple. The ability of our universities to develop graduates with the attributes industry and society requires, and to contribute more broadly to society through research and scholarship, is directly proportional to the total funding per student and the research funding received. The appropriate split of funding between public and private sources is a matter for political debate, but it is the total quanta that is critical. . . .


Garner, Richard. “British University Offers US-Style Minor and Major Subjects.” Independent [UK] 23 Sep. 2015: 14.

A leading university is to offer all students the chance to study US-style flexi-degree courses from next year.

Under the new system, students opting for Leicester University will be able to select what they study from a series of “major” and “minor” subject options.

The idea, similar to the system already in place in many leading US universities, is designed to give them a broader range of knowledge and better equip them for the 21st-century workplace.

Paul Boyle, the university’s new vice-chancellor, published the scheme as part of the university’s new strategic plan last night.

“We will identify a series of major courses which offer a standard degree and develop a whole series of minor courses that students can study alongside them,” he said. “It’s the kind of approach employers say they want and we have found that lots of students believe they would benefit.

“For instance, you could study physics as your major and take a language option alongside it–French, German or Italian–which would increase your appeal on the international jobs market.

“We’re a very different system from the United States–but the US does allow a little more flexibility in study at the start of a student’s career.” . . .

Flexi degrees are becoming more popular in the UK with several universities–such as King’s College London, Southampton, Sheffield, Surrey, Keele and Worcester–already offering them, though Leicester’s scheme is thought to offer the most flexible curriculum for students. . . .


Joubert, Jan-Jan, and Neo Gaba. “Nzimande Calls for Free Higher Education.” Times [South Africa] 23 Sep. 2015.

TRANSFORMATION in higher education must go beyond the demographically proportional representation of teaching staff and students–it must also focus on issues such as curriculums, institutional funding and student housing, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said at a press conference yesterday.

Nzimande condemned vandalism by protesting students.

Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus last week barricaded roads and burned cars, calling for more funding for students.

And it was reported yesterday that students at Tshwane University of Technology’s main campus were protesting about the allocation of bursaries by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

Nzimande has convened a summit for next month at which the transformation of tertiary education will be discussed.

He has proposed that higher education be free to disadvantaged students.

He said: “[The government is] committed to free higher education for the poor who are deserving to get it.

“But I strongly condemn acts of violence and vandalism that accompany some of the protests.”

Nzimande said the summit would develop a vision of what “universities should look like today and in the future”.


Lazo, Kristyn Nika M. “Phinma Unit to Set Up 2-3 Asean Colleges before IPO.” Manilla Times [Philippines] 23 Sep. 2015.

Phinma Education Network (PEN), the education unit of listed parent Phinma Corp., is planning to put up two to three colleges within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region before its planned debut or initial public offering (IPO) on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) either in 2017 or 2019. . . .

“Our goal is to put up Phinma colleges all over Southeast Asia. We think we can do it. We want to be in Myanmar, Vietnam, and hopefully Indonesia,” [Chito Salazar, PEN president] added. . . .

The company has a long-term plan towards its planned IPO, which includes scouting for potential acquisitions–properties or schools–in the Metro Manila and Davao areas; development and ramping up of newly acquired Southwestern University (SWU) from 2016 to 2017; installing additional units of newly launched high-end senior high school Career Academy Asia (CAA) in Davao and Cebu by 2016; as well as setting up Phinma colleges in Asean. . . .

Besides SWU and CCA, PEN operates four major colleges–Phinma Araullo University, Phinma Cagayan de Oro College Inc., Phinma University of Pangasinan, and Phinma University of Iloilo.

PEN is under Phinma Corp., the listed holding firm chaired by Oscar J. Hilado, who also chairs Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp.

The parent firm’s businesses include manufacturing of galvanized and pre-painted iron sheets (Union Galvasteel Corp.); business process outsourcing for animation services, education (Phinma Education Network), real estate development and real property investment (Phinma Property Holdings Inc.).


Onyango, Emmanuel. “Teachers’ Union Leader Says Free Education Is Possible in Tanzania.” Citizen [Tanzania] 23 Sep. 2015.

An educationist has said free education from primary to university level was possible in Tanzania if the government strictly put taxes and other revenues to proper use.

His reaction comes two days after some educationists including owners of private schools and colleges condemned the idea as perpetrated by some politicians in their campaigns.

The Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (Tamongosco) described pledges by major political parties to provide free education a “vote winning ploy.”

The Ruling CCM and the opposition coalition, Ukawa have announced that they have plans to provide free education if elected in October General Election.

Speaking with The Citizen, secretary general of the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) Ezekiah Oluoch said . . . in a telephone interview that the government has enough resources to enable it fully fund basic education from early primary to secondary school up to diploma levels for teachers training in vocational colleges.

Mr Oluoch who professionally is a teacher said: “The only problem is mismanagement of and no leaders who value education. They are touting the idea of free education without demonstrating their action plan.”

He said the government must invest not less than 5 percent of its GDP in basic education as speculated in the World Bank report.

Tanzania injects only 1.4 percent in education sector.

He said Tanzania is lagging behind compared to other East African countries that have increased their GDP rates in education like Kenya (7.8 percent), Uganda (4.8 percent), Rwanda (5.8 percent) and Burundi (2.2 percent). . . .


Zook, Kristal Brent. “Academics: Leave Your Ivory Towers and Pitch Your Work to the Media; Publishing in Academic Journals Is Prestigious, But Sharing Your Ideas with a Wider Audience Is Exciting and Full of Unexpected Rewards.” Guardian [UK] 23 Sep. 2015.

You may have seen the recent headlines screaming “Spicy foods could help you live longer!” But have you heard of Lu Qi, the associate professor at the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health who co-authored the study?

Qi’s findings appeared exactly as expected according to academic protocol–first in the British Medical Journal, a respected, refereed academic publication, before being picked up by mainstream outlets including the New York Times, Time, and the Washington Post.

But Qi, an expert in nutrition, obesity and diabetes, remained in the shadows. And what’s wrong with that? The system works for researchers and scholars who don’t have enough time (or interest) to write for non-academic audiences. . . .

“One of the things we professors could use is a little journalism 101,” says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and a co-author of a study on adolescents and e-cigarettes that trended widely over the summer. “People always say I’m a good writer, but I’m shy sometimes.” . . .

Kim Yi Dionne, an assistant professor of government at Smith College in Massachusetts and a blogger for the Washington Post [says that] for many scholars, . . . writing for the public “really is a fear of the unknown.”

Stephanie Coontz, a faculty member at the Evergreen State College in Washington state and a frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, agrees, saying that writing for the public forces researchers to work in unfamiliar ways.

“You talk to academics who love these big words … they nod and agree and recapitulate the same three- and four-syllable words and very abstract, complicated phrases”, she says. “It’s not until you force them to explain it in plain English that you realise they don’t even understand it.

“It’s hard to make a complicated idea simple. I’m sympathetic to academics that are nervous about it.” . . .


Posts in This Daily Series from the Last Seven Days:

September 16, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/18/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-16-2015/

September 17, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/19/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-17-2015/

September 18, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/20/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-18-2015/

September 19, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-19-2015/

September 20, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-20-2015/

September 21, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/22/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015/

September 22, Part 1: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/25/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015-part-1/

September 22, Part 2: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/25/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015-part-2/



9 thoughts on “U.S. Higher Education News for September 23, 2015, Part 2

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