Celebrity tutors

Hong Kong’s got (teaching) talent.

Following a recent post on Oprah in the classroom, the New York Times has a great piece on Celebrity Tutors in Hong Kong:

Advertisements for star tutors in Hong Kong can be seen all over here: on billboards that loom over highways and on the exteriors of shopping malls. Invariably, the local teaching celebrities are young, attractive and dressed in designer outfits befitting pop stars. But beyond the polished shine, the advertisements also claim that their celebrity tutors can help students ace Hong Kong’s university entrance exam.

“From a marketing perspective, every company wants to present their products with good packaging,” said Antonia Cheng, a celebrity English teacher at Modern Education, one of the city’s largest tutorial chains. “I believe, very simply, that this is a business principle.”

Although Ms. Cheng’s Web site features photos of her in various poses, including in a red cocktail dress with a flash of leg, she maintains that “the quality of lessons is most important.”

According to the piece many of the city’s celebrity tutors have their own music videos, Facebook fan pages and products including stationery. It has also been reported that some tutors can earn more than 10 million Hong Kong dollars, or around £800k each year. That’s a pretty good rate. Will it attract others to set up shop there? We’ll see.

Brian Cox

Not going to Hong Kong

“Title arousal” issues in German Education

Another German Minister with Doctoral Difficulties.

BBC News recently reported on German minister Annette Schavan having her doctorate withdrawn following accusations of plagiarism. This comes barely two years after another minister was found to have plagiarised parts of his dissertation.

It’s a rather unhappy picture:

A German university has voted to strip Education Minister Annette Schavan of her doctorate after an investigation into plagiarism allegations.

The University of Duesseldorf’s philosophy faculty decided on Tuesday that she had carried out “a deliberate deception through plagiarism”.

The minister has denied the claims and said she will appeal.

An earlier plagiarism row brought an end to the political career of Germany’s defence minister in 2011.

Large parts of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s 2006 legal dissertations were found by Bayreuth University to have been copied and he stood down before it issued its damning verdict in May 2011.

Using the same words as Duesseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University, it concluded that he had “deliberately deceived”.

ctrl_c_ctrl_v_plagiarism

The New York Times offers an additional angle, commenting that the scandal reflects a distinctive German fascination with titles:

Coming after Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was forced to step down as defense minister over plagiarism charges in 2011, Dr. Schavan’s déjà-vu scandal can only hurt Dr. Merkel ahead of September’s parliamentary election. But the two ministers are far from the only German officials to have recently had their postgraduate degrees revoked amid accusations of academic dishonesty, prompting national soul-searching about what the cases reveal about the German character.

Germans place a greater premium on doctorates than Americans do as marks of distinction and erudition. According to the Web site Research in Germany, about 25,000 Germans earn doctorates each year, the most in Europe and about twice the per capita rate of the United States.

Many Germans believe the scandals are rooted in their abiding respect, and even lust, for academic accolades, including the use of Prof. before Dr. and occasionally Dr. Dr. for those with two doctoral degrees. Prof. Dr. Volker Rieble, a law professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, calls this obsession “title arousal.”

“In other countries people aren’t as vain about their titles,” he said. “With this obsession for titles, of course, comes title envy.”

Title arousal and title envy do seem rather striking reasons for plagiarism but something very strange does seem to be happening in German politics. But also in Romania and Hungary where similar accusations have been levelled at ministers there too.

High Speed HE: China Expands Abroad

A Chinese University Expands Into Malaysia.

Very fast indeed

Very fast indeed


The New York Times has a fascinating piece on a Chinese university expanding into Malaysia:

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia said that the Selangor branch would initially take in 10,000 students, reported Bernama, the Malaysian state news agency. The student body would be divided into thirds, consisting of Chinese nationals, Malaysians and others.

The Malaysian campus, which will have five faculties and about 700 teaching staff members, is projected to cost 600 million Malaysian ringgit, or almost $200 million.

Ter Leong Yap, chairman of the luxury property developer Sunsuria and a Malaysian-Chinese business leader, helped fund the campus, the Malaysian state agency reported. The Chinese institution already has some ties to Southeast Asia: Its founder, the Xiamen-born businessman Tan Kah Kee, set up numerous schools in Singapore in the early 20th century.

The primary mode of instruction will be English, though there will be a department dedicated to Chinese language and literature.

It’s a massively ambitious project. Having an initial intake of 10,000 students would be extraordinary. I’m sure it will take them a few years to reach that number but nevertheless it would be an incredibly rapid growth plan. In a UK context such an institution would be medium-sized but it is worth remembering that it took more than 25 years for the universities founded in the 1960s to reach this kind of size.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus


The new institution would also be double the size of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus which itself has not been slow in expanding to 4,500 students in just over a decade. If it does go ahead though you do feel that China will make sure it does deliver this growth. And then there will be even more competition for the other international universities already operating in Malaysia.

A slow down in branch campus developments?

Perhaps, but there’s still a lot going on

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, OBHE, has published its fourth report on international branch campuses. The OBHE definition of a branch campus, which has broadened since the previous report, is this:

a higher education institution that is located in another country from the institution which either originated it or operates it, with some physical presence in the host country, and which awards at least one degree in the host country that is accredited in the country of the originating institution.

The report highlights some interesting developments in branch campus activities across the globe. The New York Times offers a helpful summary of some of the key findings and suggests that the latest data indicates something of a slowdown:

Of the 200 operating branches, 78 are connected to American universities, as are a third of the 37 being planned.

Among the planned programs in China are New York University’s liberal arts campus, the University of California, Berkeley’s engineering center, and programs by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Kean University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are planning programs in India; George Mason and Stony Brook are opening in South Korea; the Berklee College of Music in Spain; and Carnegie Mellon in Rwanda.

The report also found that universities in developing countries are now opening branch campuses in their regions. India, for example, has four campuses in Mauritius.

While the United Arab Emirates still has the most branches (37), the greatest growth has come in China, which has 17 branches now, up from 10 in 2009; and Singapore, which has 18, up from 12.

Over the last decade, as globalization and international rankings have become increasingly important, many American universities have seen branch campuses as a way to bolster their prestige.

And although many university officials like to speak of their international efforts as altruistic contributions to world development, the vast majority are in the Emirates, China, Singapore and South Korea, which pay large sums to attract big-name institutions, and few are in poorer nations in Africa or Latin America.

This is a really telling point, particularly in relation to US insitutions’ international activities. However, what is also fascinating in the report is the number of countries which are hosting a branch campus for the first time:

Afghanistan
Armenia
Bangladesh
Botswana
Croatia
Finland
Ghana
India
Indonesia
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kosovo
Lebanon
Lesotho
Mauritius
Morocco
Nepal
Nicaragua
Syria
Tanzania
Turkey
Uzbekistan

Interestingly, half of these developments are south-south, ie where both provider and host are from the southern hemisphere.

Plenty more in the report too.

More student visa problems

A foreign university closes its UK campus

The New York Times reports that as a result of the new restrictions on student visas, at least one institution has been forced to close a UK campus.

Schiller International University, which is based in Florida and has four other international campuses, is closing its London campus and will not start its autumn semester, which was to begin on Tuesday, officials said last week.

The university would not provide enrollment figures but said 80 to 85 percent of its students were from non-European Union countries, which means that they required visas to study in Britain. A person who answered the main office phone at Schiller’s London campus said about 35 students enrolled there last year.

“The decision to close our London campus was directly related to the new U.K. immigration rules,” William Moore, executive vice president of the university, said in an e-mail.

There doesn’t seem to be any more information on the institution’s website about this but the Education Investor site carries a similar piece to the NYT one. Although the numbers here are small it is nevertheless significant that at the same time as some for-profits are looking to enter the UK market (see previous post), others are pulling out. And it’s another indictment of the government’s quite misguided student visa policy.