Fears in Taiwan over downside of education boom

When Hsu Chung-hsin went to university three decades ago he became part of a small elite in Taiwan. Now virtually everyone can enter higher education, the AFP reports. That, he thinks, is deplorable.

“It’s become so easy. As long as you’re willing to pay the tuition, you can go to university. That’s no good,” said Hsu, a legislator with a PhD in law from Cambridge.

“It doesn’t influence the top universities. It’s the low-end universities that are affected. Their quality is low. The teaching is not so serious and the students are not so hard-working.”…Read More

Amazon floats textbook rental service for college students

Forget film rentals, the next big thing for college students is going to be book rentals, at least if Amazon’s U.S. arm has anything to do with it, the AFP reports. The online retailer claims savings of up to 70% and, at the end of the rental period (a 130 day semester), the books are returned for free by means of a pre-paid address label. Naturally, e-books are also eligible for rental, at a slightly lower cost…

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Microsoft sees ‘rebirth’ with new Windows 8 system

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 series — featuring an upgraded cloud computing service — marks a “rebirth” of its operating systems, chief executive Steve Ballmer said, the AFP reports. Ballmer described Windows 8 as the “deepest, broadest and most impactful” Windows software ever created by the US tech giant, after the current Windows 7 sold at unprecedented rates to businesses.

“It’s really, in some senses, a dawning of the rebirth of MS Windows… It’s certainly the most important piece of work we’ve done,” he said in a speech to the Seoul Digital Forum.

Windows 8, whose preview version will be released in June, allows users readily to store and share personal data among various devices under the “SkyDrive” cloud computing service. Rival Apple already offers such a service. The new Microsoft system will support a wider range of devices, including touch- and stylus-based smartphones and tablet PCs as well as desktop and laptop machines, Ballmer said……Read More

Scientist: Education can solve religion-science conflicts

A perceived conflict between science and religion has led Americans to rank nearly last among industrialized countries in understanding evolution, educators told a major science conference this weekend, the AFP reports. But research suggests that education changes anti-science attitudes among even the most religious of students, while history shows that science can thrive alongside religion, said Kenneth Miller of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Evolution is exhibit A on the cutting edge of the anti-science movement in the US,” Miller told a symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

He said the United States placed second to last–just before Turkey–in a recent survey in 33 countries of how well people understood
evolution. Widespread rejection in America of climate science, and denial of climate change is linked with the “street fight” over evolution, speakers told an audience of mostly American scientists and educators……Read More

Sham US colleges expose student visa scams

A case working its way through a federal court in California has exposed huge student visa scams by “sham” universities cashing in on Indians and other foreigners looking for a quick path to jobs in the United States, the AFP reports. Enrollment at Tri-Valley University, an unaccredited self-styled Christian graduate school, surged from a handful of students to 1,500, almost all from India, in a two-year period before federal authorities shut it down in January. The university’s president, Susan Su, was arrested in May and charged with fraud, money laundering, harboring aliens and making false statements. Four others also have been charged in the case…

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A third of English universities to charge £9,000

According to the AFP, more than a third of universities in England have been granted permission to charge the maximum £9,000 a year for each of their courses, the fees watchdog confirmed on Tuesday. Some 58 percent will charge the maximum £9,000 for at least one of their undergraduate courses, the Office for Fair Access (Offa) revealed. The average student starting a degree next year faces annual fees of almost £8,500…

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Govt to launch universities revamp

Ministers will on Tuesday set out their plans for a radical shake-up of the English university system the government says is aimed at increasing competition and giving consumer powers to students, the AFP reports. The controversial higher education proposals are expected to enable universities to compete for places while opening the sector up to private competition…

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Americans worried by soaring tuition fees

The spectacular rise in US college tuition fees is becoming a serious problem for students and many American families as they grapple with the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, the AFP reports. In the past week Michigan State University announced a 7% tuition hike, Oklahoma State University raised its tuition by 4.8% and the University of Nebraska increased its prices by 5% for incoming undergraduates…

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Judge throws out Wisconsin union-busting bill

A judge in Wisconsin on Thursday threw out legislation backed by Republican lawmakers and the state’s governor that would have stripped public workers of union bargaining rights, the AFP reports. Circuit court judge Maryann Sumi said the legislation, which Governor Scott Walker signed into law in March after weeks of massive protests in the state capital, violated a state law requiring lawmakers to give at least two hours’ notice before voting on legislation and breached the trust of the public…

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