Education: demographics and trends 2009-2010

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China’s Army of Graduates Struggles for Jobs
(NYT) … an unprecedented wave of young people all around China who were supposed to move the country’s labor-dependent economy toward a white-collar future. In 1998, when Jiang Zemin, then the president, announced plans to bolster higher education, Chinese universities and colleges produced 830,000 graduates a year. Last May, that number was more than six million and rising.
It is a remarkable achievement, yet for a government fixated on stability such figures are also a cause for concern. The economy, despite its robust growth, does not generate enough good professional jobs to absorb the influx of highly educated young adults. And many of them bear the inflated expectations of their parents, who emptied their bank accounts to buy them the good life that a higher education is presumed to guarantee.
8 December
Academic rankings
(Globe & Mail) Once top performers in international scholastic tests, Canadian students are quickly being overtaken by their counterparts in China and Korea How Canada is becoming outclassed in school Measured against 65 other countries, Canada places fifth overall in reading, seventh in science and eighth in mathematics in the Organization for Co-operation and Economic Development’s education assessment released Tuesday.
Professor Tony Deutsch cautions: There is a general problem with these exam-based rankings. Schools keen to rank well end up teaching how to do well on the particular exam, rather than the regular curriculum.
7 December
Education: Korea and Finland top OECD’s latest PISA survey of education performance
Korea and Finland top the OECD’s latest PISA survey of reading literacy among 15-year olds, which for the first time tested students’ ability to manage digital information.
The survey, based on two-hour tests of a half million students in more than 70 economies, also tested mathematics and science. The results for 65 economies are being released today.
The next strongest performances were from Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. Breakdown
30 November
At a time when we are being bombarded with information about the long hours students of all ages spend in schools in Asia, and how the West is falling behind academically, this move on McGill’s part appears counter-intuitive.
University considers cutting semesters from 13 weeks to 12
SSMU VP Abaki pushes for the change, arguing that McGill students work harder than their peers
(McGill Tribune) The McGill administration is currently considering a number of changes to the university’s academic calendar, including a proposal to shorten the lengths of the fall and winter semesters by reducing the number of hours students are in contact with their professors.
14 November
French University Rankings Draw Praise and Criticism
A new French government survey that ranks public universities by graduate students’ employment rates after graduation has already earned both praise and criticism from academics.
(NYT) The Ministry of Higher Education and Research surveyed 43,000 graduate students from 63 of France’s 83 universities. The study found that, on average, 91.4 percent of students were employed within 30 months of graduation, rising to 92.3 percent for those with degrees in science, technology or health.
11 November
New leaders are emerging in scientific research
Asian countries including China and Singapore are increasing their spending on scientific research and development, and challenging decades of supremacy in the field by the North America, Europe and Japan, according to a report from UNESCO. In 1990, the three traditional leaders accounted for more than 95% of the world’s research — a figure that dropped to 76% by 2007. The Economist (11/11)
28 September
Saudi Arabia takes westward academic turn
(Financial Times) The kingdom hopes to use US expertise from the Georgia Institute of Technology to help establish its own science and technology research university
22 September
Kiva Starts Student Loan Microfinance Program
On Monday, Kiva announced its latest pioneering effort: a pilot program for higher education student microloans. Kiva is launching its pilot in Bolivia, Lebanon and Paraguay, and has plans to expand into at least fifteen more countries in a year’s time. Its student loans will work in much the same way as its regular loans do: after a lender goes online and chooses a recipient, he or she can track the loan’s progress — from initial funding to repayment. When the loan is repaid, the lender can choose to withdraw his or her funds, or re-lend to another student or entrepreneur, and continue the lending cycle.
9 September
[UK] Plan for graduate high-fliers to pay premium levy
(FT) Government officials are considering a plan to make graduates who become big earners pay a premium for their education as the coalition seeks ways to find extra money for universities
5 September
The End of Tenure?
At a time when nearly one in 10 American workers is unemployed, [tenured professors] (the complaint goes) are guaranteed jobs for life, teach only a few hours a week, routinely get entire years off, dump grading duties onto graduate students and produce “research” on subjects like “Rednecks, Queers and Country Music” or “The Whatness of Books.” Or maybe they stop doing research altogether (who’s going to stop them?), dropping their workweek to a manageable dozen hours or so, all while making $100,000 or more a year. …
That sketch — relayed on numerous blogs and op-ed pages — is exaggerated, but no one who has observed the academic world could call it entirely false. And it’s a vision that has caught on with an American public worried about how to foot the bill for it all.
27 August
A costly lesson
If “executive” MBA programmes are not much different from their full-time counterparts, how do business schools justify charging twice the price?
(The Economist) Perhaps the best answer to the question about price differential lies not in the quality of teaching or faculty or even in the standard of accommodation, food and wine. Instead, the premium comes down to the doors that an EMBA opens. More honest graduates admit that the most valuable thing they got from their business school was not any classroom lesson or insight, but membership of an exclusive club. And while a full-time MBA might give you access to the junior branch an EMBA gives you a lifetime pass to the senior common room itself.
25 August
The language crisis in British schools
For the first time ever, French has slipped out of the top 10 of the most popular subjects at GCSE – the most obvious sign of the seemingly inexorable slide in languages take-up in schools, which employers say will damage British students on the international jobs market.
20 August
Minister’s ‘segregation’ warning as independent schools shine
Privately educated children three times more likely to be given new A* grade
16 August
How to Close the Achievement Gap
The world’s best schools offer important lessons about what works.
(Newsweek) All over the world, your chances of success in school and life depend more on your family circumstances than on any other factor. By age three, kids with professional parents are already a full year ahead of their poorer peers. They know twice as many words and score 40 points higher on IQ tests. By age 10, the gap is three years. By then, some poor children have not mastered basic reading and math skills, and many never will: this is the age at which failure starts to become irreversible.
A few school systems seem to have figured out how to erase these gaps. Finland ensures that every child completes basic education and meets a rigorous standard. One Finnish district official, asked about the number of children who don’t complete school in her city, replied, “I can tell you their names if you want.” In the United States, KIPP charter schools enroll students from the poorest families and ensure that almost every one of them graduates high school—80 percent make it to college. Singapore narrowed its achievement gap among ethnic minorities from 17 percent to 5 percent over 20 years.
15 August
Academic Bankruptcy
With unemployment soaring, higher education has never been more important to society or more widely desired. But the collapse of our public education system and the skyrocketing cost of private education threaten to make college unaffordable for millions of young people. If recent trends continue, four years at a top-tier school will cost $330,000 in 2020, $525,000 in 2028 and $785,000 in 2035.
Yet most faculty and administrators refuse to acknowledge this crisis. Consider what is taking place here in New York City. Rather than learning to live within their means, Columbia University, where I teach, and New York University are engaged in a fierce competition to expand as widely and quickly as possible. Last spring, N.Y.U. announced plans to increase its physical plant by 40 percent over the next 20 years; this summer Columbia secured approval for its $6.3 billion expansion in Upper Manhattan. N.Y.U. is also opening a new campus in Abu Dhabi this fall.
6 August
Six Years to Earn a College Degree in the United States?
The average student now takes six years or more to earn a bachelor’s degree…
Despite a rise in the total number of people seeking higher education, the graduation rate continues to fall, with rising tuition rates being cited as the main reason most people don’t finish their studies.
Just a generation ago, the United States had more college graduates between the ages of 25 and 44 than any other country in the world. Canada claims that distinction today with 56% of its adult population holding degrees, compared to 40.4% of Americans.
4 August
Diversity Debate Convulses Elite High School
[Hunter College High School] is in turmoil, with much of the faculty in an uproar over the resignation of a popular principal, the third in five years. In her departure speech to teachers in late June, the principal cited several reasons for her decision, including tensions over a lack of diversity at the school, which had been the subject of a controversial graduation address the day before by one of the school’s few African-American students.
1 August
Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age
(NYT) Professors used to deal with plagiarism by admonishing students to give credit to others and to follow the style guide for citations, and pretty much left it at that.
Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.
30 July
Quebec shuts French Laval private school with English curriculum
(Montreal Gazette) A decision by Quebec education-department officials to revoke, effective immediately, the provincial operating permit of a private, 300-student elementary school in Laval – one that consistently turns out high-performing, fluently bilingual youngsters – triggered a promise of fiery, unyielding refusal Friday.
As one factor, the ministry cited l’Académie Lavalloise’s core policy of providing 30 per cent English curriculum, from kindergarten through to the end of Grade 6.
4 July
More money, more space at English CEGEPs
(Montreal Gazette) Quebec’s $1-million funding hike provides welcome relief for students left out in cold
With more than $1 million in new money being injected by the Quebec government to help resolve the space problem at Montreal Island CEGEPs, the three English colleges have been sending out offers of admission to qualified students they initially had to turn away.
3 July
We applaud this good news for U.S. education. For too long Americans have been accused – often accurately – of being insular and ignorant of other cultures.
International Program Catches On in U.S. Schools
The alphabet soup of college admissions is getting more complicated as the International Baccalaureate, or I.B., grows in popularity as an alternative to the better-known Advanced Placement program.
The lesser-known I.B., a two-year curriculum developed in the 1960s at an international school in Switzerland, first took hold in the United States in private schools. But it is now offered in more than 700 American high schools — more than 90 percent of them public schools — and almost 200 more have begun the long certification process.
Many parents, schools and students see the program as a rigorous and more internationally focused curriculum, and a way to impress college admissions officers.
18 June
Q&A: Academies and free schools
(BBC) The new coalition government is inviting all schools in England to become academies and encouraging parents to set up their own schools. The BBC News website explains what academies and free schools are.
16 June
Equality of opportunity should not be compromised at CEGEPS
(Suburban editorial) Whatever one may think of the provincial government’s responsibility to aid higher education, it is the very policies of that government that have made CEGEPS very much an extension of the public education system over the past decades. As such, the government has a responsibility to assure that all citizens have a right to equal opportunity of access. Regardless of language. It does not mean dollar for dollar funding. But it does mean funding that – pro rated – affords the means for English CEGEPS to serve the community.as fully as the French CEGEPS do. English students should not be the victims of discrimination by language. The metaphor is civil rights. The message is that benign neglect cannot be allowed to stand.
MEI: Raising university tuition fees does not reduce access
The issue of university financing has returned to the centre of discussion on the future of Quebec’s higher education system. A growing number people in the academic world, the business community and the political sphere (including former premier Lucien Bouchard last February) are suggesting that tuition fees be raised. In September, McGill University will be receiving the first MBA students who will have to pay $29, 500 a year for their program, despite opposition from the Quebec Department of Education.
To help in examining this issue, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) is publishing today an update of a previous Economic Note as a reminder that the available data for Canadian provinces show no relationship between tuition fee levels and access to university studies.
8 June
Pauline Marois will choose for everyone
“It is not acceptable to send this message, that it is possible to have free choice.”
(Gazette editorial) Marois was speaking about free choice in language of education at a news conference where the usual “friends of sovereignty” were announcing a “new coalition” – remarkably like all their other coalitions – this one against the Liberal government’s Bill 103.
… this might awaken more francophones to what is being denied to them. Some of lawyer Brent Tyler’s clients in the case that got Bill 104 over-ruled in the Supreme Court were francophones. Many francophones resent the fact that “status” anglophones – those whose children are eligible for English school – have more choice than francophones do. [something we have been preaching for many years]
Le PQ assujettirait les cégeps à la loi 101
Porté au pouvoir, un gouvernement du Parti québécois assujettira les cégeps à la loi 101. Ainsi, les allophones et les francophones ne pourraient plus choisir de fréquenter un cégep anglais.
15 May
Squeezed out of English CEGEPs
Sharp increase in applicants. Rejection devastating for many students who are ‘good kids’ with average grades
(Montreal Gazette)The overall rise in applications for this fall at Montreal Island CEGEPs was 8.7 per cent, and 17. 2 per cent at English colleges, reports the Service Régional d’Admission du Montréal métropolitain (SRAM), a centralized service that manages applications for 32 colleges in Quebec including Vanier and John Abbott.Education Department enrollment forecasts call for rising student numbers to peak next year and start to drop off in about 2013.
6 May
Prominent Quebecers call for McGill MBA fee hike
A number of influential private citizens in Quebec have signed an open letter backing McGill university’s plan to raise tuition fees for its MBA programme.
The forty signatories say the program is one of the best in the world, and it deserves to be able to raise more money by raising its tuition to $30,000 per year.
21 April
Quebec threatens to fine McGill University
Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne is threatening to slash public funding for McGill University if the school goes ahead with a plan to raise tuition fees for its graduate business program.
2 February 2010
How do grads fare in matching diplomas with jobs?
Jake Murdoch spends much of his time examining how deftly graduates can match their degrees to eventual jobs. In the process, this professor at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Education has uncovered startling cultural and job market differences around the world.
11 June 2009
One of Canada’s leading economists says universities should prepare for declining enrolment, not growth
David Foote: “We know that there’s a smaller cohort of 17 year olds and 18 years olds [coming], and so we know that university and post secondary enrolments will gradually decline in the first decade of the new millennium.” University participation rates have increased sharply over the past generation, and many assume the trend will continue. Foot says it’s unlikely. “Past trends embody the incredible increase in the participation of women in post secondary education, and as we know there are now more women than men in those age groups in our post secondary system.” Those looking for participation rates to increase can point to the opportunity to fully engage populations currently underrepresented in higher education, such as the disabled or native Canadians. However, says Foot, “the important point here is that women are half the population. So if you get a rise in participation rates in half the population, you’re going to see an impact on enrollments. But if you’re looking at the disabled or native peoples as the next group to raise the participation rates, disabled peoples are less than 1 per cent, the native population is less than 4 per cent. You’re not going to get the same sort of impact of the increase in participation from much smaller groups.”

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