Tag Archives: international students

Universities and colleges face wholesale reforms

Jan Petter Myklebust
30 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 361

The Norwegian government has begun the biggest higher education reforms since 1994, when 98 higher education institutions were merged into 26 university colleges. Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen said he expected significantly fewer universities and university colleges would exist in the future than the 33 institutions today. The Norwegian government has begun the biggest series of higher education reforms since 1994, when 98 higher education institutions were merged into 26 university colleges.

Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen said he expected significantly fewer universities and university colleges would result from the reforms than the 33 Norwegian institutions today.

“The time is now ripe for this reform,” Isaksen said. “I have not met with one single person who has expressed any regrets about the 1994 mergers.”

Under the changes, 14 universities and university colleges are to be merged into five new universities or university colleges. The largest of the new institutions will be the Norwegian University of Technology in Trondheim.

A national commission of experts delivered a report on reforming the higher education system in 2008, but this was shelved. The plans were taken up again by the new Conservative-Progress Party government after it won the 2013 election, following eight years of a “red-green” coalition government.

White paper

The present government released a white paper setting out the new reforms. It appears to have based its structural change on similar reforms in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, England, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where the focus was on turning university colleges into universities, often through mergers.

A major aspect of the Norwegian reforms is extending teacher training to a five-year masters programme. This will require greater collaboration between the universities and university colleges.

Isaksen used the terms “robustness” and “less fragmentation” several times during his presentation of the reforms. He said Norway had too many smaller higher education institutions with little demand for all their programmes. Some had problems attracting highly qualified staff and consequently produced little research and too few graduate students.

”In particular, the ability to compete for and attract external funding for research is very limited. Hence, the pre-conditions for active participation in international research network cooperation are not present,” he said.

There was also a need for changes to generate education and research of high quality, with more robust research groups in which several should be world-leading, Isaksen said. This would provide a more effective use of available resources and thereby contribute to regional development, with better higher education and research competence across the country.

Although the universities of Oslo and Bergen will not be involved in any mergers for the present, they are included in discussions regarding 22 other institutions, both private and public colleges, where mergers and other collaborative options will be discussed.

The earlier programme for transforming university colleges into universities stopped when the present government took office in 2013. Although this scheme will now proceed, the criteria for achieving university status has been tightened and new universities will require their doctoral programmes to have at least 15 doctoral students each, and over time graduate at least 15 candidates each year.

Academic recognition of masters and doctoral courses will be transferred to a national quality assurance body called NOKUT. This will act under more direct control of the ministry.

Similarly, the head of the universities’ governing boards will be appointed by the ministry and selected from outside each university. At present, a university rector is chair of the board and he or she can be elected by the university staff – although this gives academic staff greater influence over the election than administrative and technical staff, or the student vote.

Norway will now follow the other Nordic countries where the education ministries have long appointed the head of the university boards. From now on, Norwegian rectors will be appointed by the board.

Financial consequences

The consequences of the reforms on institutional budgets will not be known until the government’s budget for 2016 is presented in October. University and college allocations are composed of a basic component of 70% and an incentive provision of 30%.

The basic component is historically subject to several parameters and the incentive is based on four: the number of research contracts awarded from the Research Council of Norway, the number of doctoral candidates graduating; the number of publications produced by academic staff; and the research income from the European research programmes, where the latter is matched by the same amount as the institution is receiving.

Two expert commissions have been analysing this financial system, the Productivity Commission and a university financing commission. Both have proposed revisions that will be considered by the government when preparing its 2016 budget.

Rector of the University of Bergen, Dag Rune Olsen, said the point of the reforms was to improve quality: “Mergers will in some cases be rational, but these cannot be a goal in itself. A merger is one of several instruments that can be used and not the only one. For the University of Bergen and the other higher education institutions here, this means a great degree of autonomy for the way ahead.”

University World News

University colleges to increase staff PhDs tenfold

Jan Petter Myklebust
27 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 360

Danish university colleges are developing a plan to raise the proportion of staff having a PhD tenfold, from 5% to 50%, by 2022. Danish university colleges are developing a plan to raise the proportion of staff having a PhD tenfold, from 5% to 50%, by 2022.

The colleges – which are comparable to universities of applied sciences in other European countries and provide profession-specific higher education in teacher training, engineering, nursing, physiotherapy and many other disciplines – were given the right to undertake research in 2013.

Previously, research and development, or R&D, within the specific professional areas were undertaken solely by universities. In addition to carrying out applied R&D, the university colleges must ensure that the new knowledge is transferrable into practice by delivering more research-based teaching.

Since 2013 university colleges have been receiving independent R&D funding, and to an increasing degree will target external funding in collaboration and competition with Danish universities.

Examples of university colleges include the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus offering undergraduate programmes in photojournalism, multimedia, PR, communication, and design; and the VIA University College in Risskov, offering 35 higher education programmes.

The University College Capital, or UCC, offers bachelor programmes and postgraduate diploma studies in 16 locations in the Greater Copenhagen area.

Reaching the target

University Colleges Denmark – a secretariat serving administrative and policy-making functions for the university college sector in Denmark – has commissioned a report from DAMVAD socioeconomic and policy consultancy entitled “Investigation and Analysis for the Professional Colleges in the Implementation of a PhD Strategy” (with a summary in English).

The report concludes that almost 1,700 PhDs are needed from now until 2022 to reach the target of one in two teaching staff having a PhD. When taking retirement of the current staff into account, as well as the current number of PhDs among the teaching staff, 400 of the existing teaching staff have to be upgraded to a PhD-level.

DAMVAD estimates that there will be a shortage of between 900 and 1,300 relevant PhDs in 2022. The gaps are found within the three larger bachelor educations: the bachelor degree in social education, didactics and nursing. These three areas combined amount to 60% of the total need for PhD qualifications.

DAMVAD is presenting five different scenarios for delivering 190 new PhD candidates each year. The university colleges will cooperate with universities and hospitals in training of the PhD candidates and the total cost, depending on which model of training is chosen, is estimated to be between DKK1.4 billion and DKK1.9 billion (US$204 million to US$277 million).

Stina Vrang Elias, CEO of the Danish think tank DEA, which is supported by the Danish Society for Education and Business, told University World News: “It is essential that the Danish university colleges maintain their character and preserve the close link between theory and practice that distinguishes them from the academic university studies.

“University colleges’ R&D activities must be something other than the research that academic universities conduct. The quality must be the same – but the focus on retaining the practical approach should be different.”

The head of the Chairmen of Danish University Colleges, Carsten Koch, told University World News that capacity building of R&D within the university colleges should not be an aim in itself.

“I consider it of great importance that the university colleges stick to their raison d'etre, namely, to deliver research which is practice-oriented.”

He said the specific R&D task and field for the university colleges are much too important for them to simply copy universities.

University World News

Spring Admission to US Colleges and Universities

Want to study in the US? Want to gain admission to a top university in the USA? Best advice: Start early! Unlike other countries, admission to US universities takes a long time.  Not only that, applying to US colleges and universities is complex.  They need a number of documents, like visa, transcripts, letters of references, essays, test scores, and financial documents. Many international students think they will wait till they get their test scores. This is not recommended. Top universities in the US have deadlines as early as December for admission for next August! So if you want to study in the US and if you want to get admission to a top university in the US, start the process at least 10 months in advance! Have questions? Visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PlanetGPA) and post your question. You will get a prompt answer!

Dr. Gupta is CEO of PlanetGPA.com, a company that helps international students who wish to study in the US.

Pharmacy in US

Many international students study pharmacy in the US. It is a popular degree, but it is also a program with high admission standards. Pharmacy programs require international students to take the GRE and to do well in the GRE. The subjects covered in a pharmacy program include some of the following:

Pharmaceutics; Pathophysiology; physiology; biochemistry;microbiology,chemistry, public health, dietetics, molecular biology; bio statistics pharmacy ethics; health care; immunology and other related areas.

if you have a background in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, medicinal chemistry, and related disciplines, you can apply to the Pharmacy program.

Uma Gupta is the CEO and Founder of planetgpa.com, an international student recruitment company.



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PhD Study in US

The PhD is a terminal degree. This means it is the highest degree that one can earn in a given field. Phd degrees from the US are highly sought after by international students all over the world. US institutions are therefore very selective in their selection process.

The path to a PhD is usually Bachelors-Masters-PhD. Some universities will allow you to combine a Masters and PhD. In other words, you will be admitted into a Master's program and  into a doctoral program.This is not that common, but such programs are available.

PhD is not for the faint-hearted. It takes 4 to 5 years simultaneously to earn a PhD. It is hard work. It requires a love and passion for research. It requires dedicating ones life to the pursuit of knowledge in a given field. If this is you, then step forward. The US offers PhD in every imaginable discipline and embraces students from all over the world who love learning!

Dr. Uma Gupta is the CEO of PlanetGPA (www.planetgpa.com) that helps international students interested in study abroad.