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State of UK universities | Youth internship programme

Foreign governments have corrupted British universities
London, April 08: Does money from foreign donors come with strings attached? Dangerously so, according to research last week that claimed foreign governments have corrupted British universities and threatened their academic impartiality.

The report, A Degree of Influence, from the UK's Centre for Social Cohesion in London, lists the millions of dollars that leading UK universities have accepted from donors in the Middle East, Asia and Russia. Robin Simcox, the report's author, says foreign donors that give enough money get a say in how things are run.

"Edinburgh and Cambridge received 8m ($12m) each from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia last year to set up Islamic studies centres," he says. "He gets to appoint as many as three or five members of the management committee."

His research is based on analysis of the information on public record and talking to universities. It focuses on Arabic and Islamic studies, but compares them with other area studies. "Donations from the Middle East are by far the largest, but the Confucius institutes have far more influence for the money they pay," Simcox explains.

China has given around 50,000 to several British universities to set up the Confucius institutes. "Universities don't get much money from the Chinese government, but they have to follow teaching standards and a set curriculum, which includes Tibet and photos of people living in mansions. It's blatant propaganda," Simcox argues.

The report paints an alarming picture of foreign influence in academic life. But universities refute the criticisms.

Peter Agar, Cambridge University's development director, says nominees have to be approved by the university. "Donor representatives will always be in a minority, but may well themselves be academics who can bring an informed external perspective, adding to the expertise of the internal academic members." The arrangements protect the university's academic integrity while enabling a particular academic area to benefit from the input of donor representatives chosen for their interest and expertise in a particular centre's work, he insists.

Professor Tim Wright, of Sheffield University's Confucius institute, says it is "complete nonsense" to suggest the Chinese government or the Chinese Language Council International, which funds it, has any influence over the university curriculum. "The institute is solely aimed at outreach into the community and we've not had any pressure at all on how we teach that either," he says.

Universities are increasingly dependent on non-UK government money, but this influence "isn't a big issue in general in most universities", Wright says. Diana Warwick, chief executive of the umbrella body Universities UK, insists that all academic programmes are subjected to rigorous and independent quality assurance procedures, which ensure openness and high standards.

Even Professor Denis Hayes, the founder of Academics for Academic Freedom, calls the report an "astonishingly weak and naive attempt to discredit major foreign funders" operating in British universities.

A spokeswoman for Oxford University insisted donors have "no influence over how academics carry out their research, what conclusions they reach, the content or topics of talks they give, or how the university sets its course content and teaching requirements". The option of anonymity for donors is a standard practice for fundraising, she says. The Guardian

Seminar on education in UK
Lahore: The Falcon Education & Consultancy Services (Pvt) Ltd is holding a seminar on "New Student Visa Rules and Scholarship Opportunities in UK" at a local hotel from 5 pm to 7 pm on Wednesday (today). The seminar will highlight the problems being faced by the Pakistani students seeking higher education in the UK, especially in the light of the New Visa Rules launched from March 31, 2009. The seminar will also highlight scholarship opportunities. The event will be helpful for those planning to study in UK about the New Point Based System for Student Visa TIER 4. The News

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Youth Ministry to launch internship programme
Islamabad: Ministry of Youth Affairs has planned to launch the National Internship Programmes (NIP) soon providing employment opportunities to youth across the country.

An official of the ministry told APP that around 22000 applicants have been verified by NADRA and the ministry is making arrangements for their allocations accordingly.

The verification process would continue and more candidates would be appointed in different departments after verification of their degrees, he said.

After taking control of NIP, the ministry has chalked out comprehensive plan to create skilled youth enabling them to participate in the development of the country.

The official said that a committee would be established for effective implementation of the programme.

This plan of "Economic Empowerment of Youth" by the ministry would help to harness potential of the young generation in the right direction by imparting training and offering internships besides allocating more funds, he said.

The ministry is also working to increase coordination among skill development institutes and run youth programmes effectively.

The plan of action of national youth policy includes measures to address issues faced by youth. It revolves around creating employment opportunity for the youth and enhancing national integration, sense of pride, volunteerism and motivation among them.

The ministry has also requested to transfer some other youth-related projects along with their setup as it will be helpful for better coordination and implementation.

This plan of "Economic Empowerment of Youth" by the ministry would help to harness potential of the young generation in the right direction by imparting training and offering internships besides allocating more funds, he said.

The ministry is also working to increase coordination among skill development institutes and run youth programmes effectively.

The plan of action of national youth policy includes measures to address issues faced by youth. It revolves around creating employment opportunity for the youth and enhancing national integration, sense of pride, volunteerism and motivation among them.

The ministry has also requested to transfer some other youth-related projects along with their setup as it will be helpful for better coordination and implementation. App


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Teachers ask Owais to do away with ICU
Peshawar: The teachers of Islamia College Peshawar are continuing their opposition to the establishment of Islamia College University (ICU) and have demanded of the NWFP governor to do away with the ICU and remake the college a constituent body of University of Peshawar.

A special meeting of the Teaching Staff Association of the historic Islamia College was held here with its president Prof Dr Saeed Anwar. Attended by a large number of the teachers of the college, the meeting adopted several unanimous resolutions.

The first resolution stated that the teaching community of the college unanimously felt that with the establishment of ICU the status of historic Islamia College had ended and the future of students had been put at stake.

They said the Islamia College was a great seat of learning having historic importance that used to impart quality education to students not only from the Frontier province but also other parts of the province.

The teachers said the Islamia College was no more in existence and post of its principal had also been abolished as well. They urged the chancellor of the university to review the decision of the ICU establishment and leave Islamia College as a constituent institution of the University of Peshawar and its assets should be handed again to the UoP.

Another resolution stated that before the establishment of ICU, the teachers of Islamia College were regular employees of the University of Peshawar. They said the Islamia College University Act gave them the right to choose between ICU and UoP, but the ICU administration was using delaying tactics in implementation of this decision.

The teachers expressed no confidence in the incumbent administration of the ICU. They said: "We condemn all the steps of the university administration that had brought the great Islamia College to the brink of destruction."

The teachers added that they did not want to become part of the process of playing with the future of the children of the nation.

New education policy likely to be approved
Islamabad: The federal cabinet meeting today (Wednesday) is likely to approve the national education policy.

The sources in the Ministry of Education said the draft of the education policy which was given final shape only the last month, is very much on agenda of cabinet's meeting. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani would chair the meeting.

The draft of the policy was already lying before the former education minister Ahsan Iqbal and it was sent to vice chancellors and education experts to get their opinions.

"However, at that time the minister and officials reached a conclusion that there was a few changes in the wording only and the policy lacks only the implementation factor," an official of the ministry said.

He said instead of bringing a new policy, it was in principle agreed that the emphasis should be paid on the implementation factor which is not given proper attention after a policy is announced in any sector. However, he said a review of syllabus, the shape of which was distorted during Musharraf tenure, was in progress.

In the policy, it would be proposed that the spending on education sector would be 5% of GDP, which is currently less than 2% despite tall claims made by all the governments.

The sources said that the new education policy would envisage inclusive education according to which handicapped students would also get education in classes along with fully normal students and they would have equal access to education.

Moreover, the policy would also give a new scheme of studies up to the higher secondary level besides ensuring free education up to middle classes all over the country. "The new scheme of studies would be based on scientific lines keeping in view students' age factor," the sources said.

Meanwhile, the people from different walks of life including educationists and parents have demanded of the government to include true picture of lives of Muslim heroes like Mahmood Ghaznavi, Muhammad Bin Qasim in history and chapters of recipients of Nishan-e-Haider. "If it is not done, our existing and coming generation will have no clue to their history," they said.

They said the government should undo all the wrong things done with the education sector with particular reference to syllabus. "The recipients of Nishan-e-Haider are our national heroes and the young generation have the right to know how they sacrificed their lives to defend their motherland," they said. The News


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