Montpellier University 2: In The Tradition Of Excellence

March 11th, 2010 by admin

Located in the Herault section of Montpellier, France, the Montpellier University 2 is a modern post-secondary institution that has grown from a long tradition of scholarship, research, and instruction in the southern region of France. Also known as the University of Science and Techniques, or its much-abbreviated form, UM2, it was officially formed when the original University of Montpellier was divided into three highly focused and specialized universities. UM2 provides focused, post-secondary level training and research work in science and technology, and offers degree programs concentrated in math, chemistry, ecology, and biology. The University of Montpellier 2 has a direct lineage back to the original University of Montpellier that has their official founding year in 1160, although many have argued for a more likely founding of long before, during the time of the late Roman Empire. Regardless, Montpellier 2 has clearly inherited the long-standing tradition of educating generations of the region’s best and brightest in many disciplines

Currently, UM2 has just short of 15,000 students enrolled in their eight separate schools, each specializing in a specific field of science. Undergraduate and graduate level courses are offered in nearly every field of science, including marine biology, engineering, science education and many others. The campus itself spans 33 hectares (roughly 82 acres) and is home to the renowned Institute of Botany of Montpellier. The Institute was founded by the French botanist Charles Flahault in 1889 and currently houses the second largest herbarium in France as well as a vast collection of biological samples, and research laboratories focused on both ecology and parasitology. The Institute is predated by some 12 years by Sete, which is the UM2 marine biology research station. Both of these unique research facilities provide faculty and students with world-class research and learning tools.

Located just north of the city center, Montpellier 2 calls its namesake city home. Montpellier, France is located in the southern region of France, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is a culturally rich city of more than 255,000 people built on hilly land surrounding the River Lez, some 10 kilometers inland from the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean coast. The greater metropolitan area is home to about 600,000 people. Montpellier is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and is currently the eighth largest city in France. The city enjoys a very comfortable Mediterranean climate and has a wealth of historic buildings dating far back into the Middle Ages. Montpellier is home to numerous festivals including the annual Festival de Radio France et Montpellier. Numerous professional sports teams call the city home including Ligue 1’s Montpellier HSC, the French Rugby Union’s Montpellier Herault RC, and a French Division 1 ice hockey team, the Montpellier Vipers.

The University of Montpellier 2 offers students the opportunity for unparalleled educational opportunities in a unique, but rich, urban environment. From outstanding classroom experiences to world-class research opportunities, to a city environment with a rich French cultural history, UM2 is a top-tiered educational institution in a dynamic, culturally rich environment.

Posted in Background | Comments (0)

A Brief Overview Of Higher Education In France

September 29th, 2010 by admin

Government officials in France have viewed education as a top priority for many years. Their belief that the benefits of education should be easily accessible to all citizens has lead to government funding and regulation of education, even at the uppermost levels. Unlike the United States, where only lower levels of education are free and large fees are charged for enrollment in institutions of higher education, France maintains low enrollment costs for universities through government involvement. In 2010 the average cost of a standard undergraduate degree in France was around €150 a year, and for many students living expenses were reduced because they were able to stay at home while attending a nearby university. Comparatively, the average cost of tuition, room, and board in a public American university for 2009-2010 was just under $13,000. Even though costs are much lower in France, scholarships are still offered to qualifying students.

For the French student, deciding which school to attend is an important and complicated matter, as it helps to cement a career track. Many distinct tracks and options exist in the higher education system. A student’s choices include type of institution, and type of degree. While many programs are open to any interested applicant, a host of others are selective.

Universities can be a good option for many students, as they are among the most affordable choices, and have programs in every available discipline. There are more than 80 universities in France that are spread all over the country. Because universities are publicly funded, the government has combined much of their need for research with the programs that already exist at these schools. This provides great educational benefits to the student population, because it means that some of the country’s best minds are attracted to university programs and become professors. In fact, some French Nobel Prize winners have taught at French institutions. Research objectives are set every four years by the government, and the over 300 doctoral departments work closely with the more than 1,200 research laboratories as well as private companies like BlueHost web hosting to attain these goals. The government also benefits from the universities because they provide specialized training and preparation for students who want to work as civil servants. This betters the overall workforce, and allows the government to have more say over the way their future employees are trained.

One of the disadvantages of the university system is the size of the schools. On an international scale, French schools are often quite small, making it more difficult for them to compete with outside systems. To compensate for this, a cluster system has been established where individual schools come together to better their offerings. There are twenty distinct clusters comprised of any array of universities, other programs, and laboratories or other research centers. When clusters perform research, credit is shared.

French universities also market to international students, particularly to English speakers, by offering programs taught entirely in English. Within their programs, one out of every three doctoral degrees goes to an international student, and 10% of all higher education enrollments come from international students. The benefits of a good education system have global appeal, and France seeks to accommodate any student’s desire for knowledge.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)

The Oldest University in the World Progresses into the 21st Century

August 7th, 2010 by admin

When Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, the government embarked on a series of reforms designed to improve the vocational and technical training and education in the country. After inheriting an education system from the French, as well as a traditional Koranic school structure, Morocco has developed a three-track education system, adding a technical educational track designed to produce the skilled people that Morocco will need to develop their infrastructure to compete with first world nations.

There are fourteen major public universities in Morocco, in fact, the world’s oldest university, the Karaouine University at Fes, which has been teaching since 859, is located in Morocco. There are also a large number of private universities in Morocco, but at the moment the enrollment rate in private institutions remains low. Admission to the public universities requires only that students have passed their high school exams, the baccalaureate, and this has resulted in a steady 11% enrollment rate for several years. In recent years, however, there has been a move towards engineering and medical education, and courses in these fields require that students pass special tests and training before being accepted into them. Another field that is now being developed in Moroccan higher education is business management, with a steady increase in enrollments in the past decade.

In an effort to meet the demands of a world that is ever more dependent upon technology, Morocco has shifted much of its educational focus onto information and communication technologies with 2000 new graduates in these fields each year. There have also been initiatives to implement a sharing of resources across the higher educational system and for a greater accountability of the public universities. The efforts at modernizing the Moroccan higher education system, including improving technology and internet access, have extended to creating partnerships with private companies such as Just Host reviews, as well as with Canadian universities and many European universities making joint degrees with many of their well-known institutions possible for Moroccan students.

There are still many difficulties that need to be overcome with the overall education system if Morocco is going to succeed with its program for educating the population. The adult literacy rate in Morocco is around 40%, with a high disparity between genders, and the Berbers are disadvantaged by the unfamiliarity with the Arabic language that is used in primary education in the country. There is also a problem with the high emigration rate among skilled workers and, with the highest migrant populations in Europe, Moroccans are losing a large percentage of their most educated people to more developed countries with better career options.

In spite of these obstacles, Morocco is working towards eradicating the illiteracy problems in the country, and is forging ahead with developing a strong base of technologically skilled people to help build up its infrastructure as it becomes a more developed nation. Because of its close ties with European institutions, the educational tracks open to Moroccan university students has seen them develop a strong information and technology sector that will eventually offer graduates an incentive to stay in Morocco to develop their careers.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)

Higher Education in the Land that Invented Modern Universities

July 24th, 2010 by admin

Higher education in Spain has a history that dates back to the time of Islam ruling with the Madrasahs that were established in the Twelfth Century during the Caliphate of Cordoba. The Medieval universities that were founded in Spain from the 13th Century onwards are thought to have been based on these original Islamic schools with the University of Palencia considered to have been the first modern university to have been established in Spain. The oldest university that is still accepting enrollments, the University of Salmanca, was founded in 1218 and is considered to be the oldest university in Western Europe and the eighth oldest in the world. Spain’s influence on academic institutions is well established. The oldest universities in both Asia and the Americas were also founded by the Spanish.

Spain currently has 75 universities, 50 of which are public with the remainder being private institutions. The 50 public universities are almost all under the authority of autonomous communities with only two belonging to the Ministry of Education and Science. Seven of the private universities belong to the Catholic Church. There are also a number of institutes of higher education in Spain that are not classed as universities and which are more focused on vocational training rather than academic development. There are also a number of highly rated business schools that are usually backed by American concerns.

The largest universities in Spain are in Madrid and Barcelona with Grenada and Seville not far behind. After a large increase in the numbers of university enrollments throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the numbers of university students enrolled in any one year is about 1.5 million, a high number for a country with a population of only 45 million. This had led to some problems such as overcrowding. However, these problems usually dissipate after the first year as the examinations are quite severe leading to a high attrition rate. This is in spite of the fact that there are four types of tertiary establishments that cater to different kinds of academic, vocational and technical training.

Because of the high demand for places at Spanish universities there are stringent qualification requirements and entrance examinations. The standard university entrance examination, with students being graded on a scale of ten called the nota de corte (cutoff grade),  has led to the most popular courses having the most exacting entrance requirements and requiring the highest score. These courses are also usually the most expensive as well. The quality of education that this money buys is considered to be on a par with the best in the world, with both the Universidad Complutense in Madrid and the University of Barcelona ranking in the top two hundred universities in the world.

The Spanish university system is rigidly structured and students aren’t permitted to alter their curriculum or change universities during their studies. Qualifications are offered at three levels with the standard Bachelor, Masters’ and doctoral degrees marking students’ academic career paths. Although it is a high pressure and highly regulated system, Spanish higher education is of the highest quality with the veracity Spanish tertiary degrees being recognized around the world.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)

Education at the Crossroads of Europe: Higher Education in Belgium

June 20th, 2010 by admin

Because of Belgium’s unique history and the mix of languages spoken within its borders, its education system is funded by one of the three main communities: the Flemish, French and German-speaking communities. At the higher education levels the administration of the schools is organized by two main communities, the Flemish and the French, with German-speaking students often going to Germany to continue their studies. Higher education in Belgium is mostly free and students that have received their high school diploma are eligible to enroll. The four major areas of higher education that are not open to anyone are medicine, the arts, the engineering sciences and the management sciences.

There are six Flemish and eight French universities that issue academic degrees at the bachelor, masters’ and doctoral levels, while there are five associations of colleges that have varying numbers of associated campuses, as well as eight registered Institutes of Higher Education. There are also a large number of French colleges, art colleges and institutes. Enrollment fees are set by the government and indexed yearly with a three-tiered system of financial aid to students based on their eligibility. Entrance to the more restricted courses like medicine and the arts is based on scholastic examinations, and management sciences requires prior experience with management and control topics.

Belgium is a signatory to the Bologna Accords that have been adopted across Europe as a measure to standardize academic degree and educational quality control across the Eurozone. This ensures that the qualifications that are earned in Belgian universities and Institutes of Higher Learning are accepted as being of the highest standards, and facilitates the greater sharing of resources across European universities in general. Belgian institutions of higher education are open to foreign students, and since the adoption of the Bologna system they offer degrees on the standard Bachelor and Masters’ system.

Despite the fragmentary nature of Belgian society, generally the Belgian system of higher education is cohesive as well as integrated into the broader European system of universities. This means that Belgian institutes of higher education offer the highest standard of education possible, which is freely available to anyone that meets the qualification standards required for enrollment. Higher education in Belgium is internationally focused, and the Flemish institutions in particular offer courses in English as well as many other languages.

Belgian education has a good reputation, and qualifications from Belgian universities and colleges are recognized because of the exemplary nature of its regulatory system, and its obligatory accreditation system. The high quality of Flemish education is recognized in the academic world by the high esteem Belgian universities that offer doctoral studies are held in among world university rankings. Higher education is thriving in Belgium because of the cultural and social diversity of that nation, and the recognition of the standards that it sets for qualifications that students earn there. As a part of the European academic system, Belgian institutes of higher education continue to produce trained professionals of the highest quality, which in turn continues to create confidence in the standards of education they receive.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)

Higher Education in Algeria has Endured through Adversity

June 18th, 2010 by admin

The Algerian education system faces many different obstacles, not the least of which is the adult illiteracy rate.  It is better than other Maghreb Union countries but still falls well short of world standards. In spite of this, Algerian higher education has been accessed by a growing number of people, so much so that Algeria is now facing a shortage of teachers to handle the influx in enrollments. Because of Algeria’s political instability, the development of the education system has faced many setbacks, however, in spite of these issues, higher education accounts for as much as a quarter of Algeria’s national budget.

Algeria has 27 universities but only the University of Algiers dates to the time of French colonialism, which ended with Algeria’s independence in 1962. Prior to Algeria’s independence engagement in university education was very low, but with the social reforms of the newly installed government, the huge influx of new students was handled by the creation of a number of institutions of higher learning. Most of the major universities are situated in the coastal regions of Algeria, with smaller colleges keeping campuses in rural areas. The smaller colleges specialize in courses that are specifically required in those areas.

The Algerian education system is modeled on the French system and that language is still taught as a second language in high schools, making most Algerians bilingual in Arabic and French. In recent years the Arabic instruction in schools has been relaxed to allow Berber as a reaction to the Arabization of Algeria, but in universities courses are generally taught in French. Although the government generally oversees the schools, individual universities have a fair amount of autonomy and there is a high degree of overlap between the curricula that is being taught in the various institutions of higher learning.

After the initial trend towards nationalism that followed Algeria’s independence waned in the 1980s, a fundamental Islamist movement that stalled the progress of Algeria’s education system replaced it.  However, the Islamic influence has since been banned from the schools and the emphasis is back on vocational specialization as well as on the experimental and human sciences, as these all tend to be non-political pursuits. In 1987 a series of student riots in Constantine and Setif led to the understanding that three-quarters of university students were concentrated in the four university cities of Algeria; Algiers, Oran, Constantine, and Annaba. Since that time there have been moves to decentralize the higher education system through the establishment of more rural university centers.

The standard of higher education in Algeria is based on the French system with larger institutions encompassing several smaller specialized departments, and they offer degrees that are graded in three levels, diploma, master and doctorate. Academic degrees are issued by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research while vocational qualifications are administered by the relevant government ministries. Since Algeria’s political and religious problems have subsided, the higher education system has begun to make progress towards developing into modern facilities that are turning out well-qualified professionals.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)

The Transformation Of Higher Education In Italy

May 25th, 2010 by admin

The Italian higher education system was one of the first to engage in a type of European educational reform called the Bologna Process. This process is currently being enacted across Europe, and is made up of three main cycles. Within Italy’s higher education structure there is a binary divide between the university sector and the non-university sector.

The university sector has 95 universities subdivided into 61 state institutes, 17 legally acknowledged non-state school, 11 web-based universities, and 6 special system higher schools. On the other side, the non-university sector has academies of fine arts, higher institutes for artistic industries, national dance and drama academies, and music conservatories and institutes. There is also a third educational option comprised of programs outside the Bachelor and Master hierarchy, which allows universities to design programs based around a lifelong learning approach. All of the regulations for these programs are established by the school where the curriculum is offered.

There are many ways to find funding for courses of study. There is an Entre per il Diritto allo Studio Universitario (EDISU) agency in each region of Italy that is responsible for student welfare services. They may allocate funds from two different categories: services for all students, or services ad personam. Students have easy access to pertinent educational information, including the welfare options, for each location through the Guida dell Studente. The Guida is published annually at the beginning of each academic year.

The Italian higher education system has received largely negative media coverage in recent years. Speculation as to the extent and effects of nepotism and cronyism has been a popular theme, as well as the need for reforms. According to a 2008 article published on The Economist website, Italian universities have remained mediocre in spite of their prestige and age because of the influence of the baroni. These administrators have influence in the schools as well as in the government, and have used it to their advantage by blocking measures for higher education reform. The lack of reform has harmed the students in several measurable ways. For instance, in 2008, the rate of 25-34 year old Italians who attained tertiary educational levels was 16% below the average for the same age group in the OECD.

Many good programs are carried out at the university level in spite of the disadvantages listed above. University centers of excellence have groups of professors work together on multidisciplinary projects related to research and development. Technology clusters are also available through universities, as are research modes that allow government authorities to use university research centers for knowledge sharing.

With a foundation and history of excellence, Italian higher education has much to offer the current student. Italy is also a very popular study abroad destination, and has many programs to facilitate international study. The quick adoption of the Bologna Process shows the system’s ability to change, offering hope to reform supporters. With over a million students attending their institutions, there is clearly a lively body of learners enrolled in Italy’s programs, and international ties are strong, as evidenced by the large number of foreign universities with campuses in Italy, such as Johns Hopkins University in Bologna.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)

Tunisia’s National Plan to Create an Educated Nation

May 18th, 2010 by admin

Since gaining the status of an independent nation in 1956, Tunisia has been focused on education as a means of developing the economic and social potential of their nation. This devotion to their educational goals and the prudent development of their education system has resulted in their scholastic levels exceeding that of other countries with a similar economic position as Tunisia. With as much as 20% of the Tunisian government’s budget allocated to education, in recent years Tunisian education has risen to be ranked 98th out of 182 countries, and is now ranked 2nd across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), right behind Jordan.

The greatest part of the focus on education in Tunisia is on higher education, and many of the governmental policies are specifically aimed at producing a high number of college graduates ready to take Tunisia into the 21st Century technologically. To do this, the government has made university education free for all citizens that have passed the high school examinations. While as many as 60% of students that sit these government exams pass them, there are still enrollment rates of 30,000 to 40,000 new college students every year. There are currently 13 universities and 24 Institutes of Higher Technological Studies in Tunisia, meaning that 57% of people entering the labor market are college educated.

The focus of the Tunisian government’s developmental plans for the higher education sector is on improving human developmental indicators to equal those of the most developed nations by supporting science and technology studies. The objective is to increase the numbers of graduates in these fields by almost 50% over their 2009 numbers by 2014. Tunisian education initiatives are now also focusing on the education of as many as 9000 engineers in this period, in a bid to create the educated class of people that they need to develop their infrastructure so they can begin to approach that of the much more developed nations of Europe and America.

Criticisms of the higher education system in Tunisia range from the relatively low numbers of students in private colleges to claims that Tunisians have been overeducated in an employment marketplace where the low demand for these higher skills sees most college-educated Tunisians working in jobs that are well below their level of qualification. The government’s policies that discourage foreign investment in higher education, and which don’t allow part-time foreign teachers, as well as the fact that the Tunisian education system is not in synch with European or American models, are the greatest impediments to the government’s plans. Recent restructuring of their degree system and a closer association with European institutions are aimed at addressing these issues while large infrastructure development plans by the government, that will begin to employ many of the college graduates at levels that better suit their tertiary qualifications, are put in place.

Higher education in Tunisia seems set to continue to develop towards a greater parity with the systems in more developed countries. In an increasingly technological world Tunisia is developing its greatest asset as their most important national resource, its people.

Posted in Higher Education | Comments (0)