Corruption all over

Really quite worrying UNESCO report

All about corruption – in schools as well as HE. A lot of it, unsurprisingly, is on the web:

Higher education corruption usually takes the form of fake universities, bogus degrees and accreditation fraud. The report found the number of fake universities on the internet offering bogus degrees had risen from 200 to 800 in 2000-04.

And in Ukraine, top-ranking officials from private universities admitted in 2005 that most licensing or accreditation applications, obligatory for the country’s 175 private universities, required some form of bribery for success.

Details are in the Guardian which also has link to the (very large) report, the table of contents of which is enough to scare anyone.

We definitely want our degree back

Follow up to earlier post.

Edinburgh’s Senate has confirmed the decision as reported by the BBC.

And other universities are considering this too:

It is understood Michigan State University and The University of Massachusetts in the US are also considering stripping degrees from Mugabe.

Do we have too many degree courses?

And are they the right kind of courses? Or should we be following Melbourne’s example?

New students at Melbourne University, the country’s second oldest, will, from January, start on one of just six broad-based degrees, in arts, bioscience, commerce, environments, music and science, rather than what used to be more than 90 courses.

Amazed that they only had 90 in the first place…

Law, medicine, education, nursing and other professionally-oriented courses at Melbourne will soon become graduate school entry only. “We are presuming that by the time students get to the third year, they can make an infinitely more informed choice than they could ever make from school,” says Davis.

But doesn’t this disadvantage students who want to pursue such routes? Isn’t it more of an argument for a broad based first year rather than a whole degree?

In Melbourne, says Davis, the changes “will encourage undergraduates to do subjects outside their degree and experiment in other bits of their life they find interesting” – a quarter of the undergraduate course must be spent following a subject from another degree field. New programmes include a period of study abroad, online study with an overseas “partner” university, a period of work experience and a research project linked, for instance, to humanitarian or environmental aims.

At one level this could seem quite radical. Looked at another way, you could argue that this is all pretty feasible at present (albeit not in a compulsory way) at Nottingham.

Some university leaders here are also starting to ask whether the existing regime allows undergraduates to enjoy a broad education. Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics, accuses the government of talking about all universities as if they were vocational training institutes. “There is this instrumentalist language, as if all we should be doing here is going through Sandy Leitch’s report [on skills and the global economy] and identifying the need for more hairdressers and deciding to fill that. I think Leitch has done a great job … but university education is not like that. When I talk to employers they don’t particularly want to get involved in designing our courses.”

Aha – now this is a slightly different argument but extremely interesting and goes to the heart of what is a University for (to be continued).

See the Guardian for the full story

Can we have our degree back?

Edinburgh’s Senate is considering the withdrawal of the Honorary Degree awarded to Robert Mugabe in 1984.

This does highlight the problems which can be caused when awarding Honorary Degrees to serving politicians, here or overseas.
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And will they ask for the certificate to be returned?

The Guardian has the full(er)story

Star speakers at graduation

Or rather “commencement”

A long but interesting article by John Sutherland

And of course they pay large sums to avoid the following…

When Rice University, in 2005, decided for the first time to have a serving woman professor on their own staff give the commencement address, the students went ballistic. They wanted Lance Armstrong, Robin Williams, or Bill Gates. Bill Cosby had given the address two years running, in 2001-02. That had gone down very well.

The institution’s argument that “With a typical commencement speaker’s fee of between $25,000 and $35,000, you could hire an assistant professor for a year” cut no ice whatsoever with graduating seniors. “If I had wanted to hear her speak,” snarled one, “I could have gone to her class.” This year, Rice has John Doerr – described as “the single best venture capitalist in the world.” That’s more like it.

One consequence would be though that we would have to have just one big ceremony?