All Posts Tagged With: "China"
Big ideas from Switzerland, Tennessee, Israel and Australia
Canada has fallen behind or is at risk of falling behind other countries in education and training if we don’t get our act together. That was a common theme at two conferences last week in Toronto, one hosted by The Conference Board of Canada, which is developing a Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education, and the other by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a provincial agency that does research and offers policy advice to government. Speakers from several countries offered innovative ideas worth considering. Here are four of the most intriguing.
Switzerland streams into vocations
The Swiss government encourages apprenticeships and, unlike in Canada, 40 per cent of companies take them on. Many high school students are streamed into vocations starting at age 11 or 12 and are in factories or offices getting job experience by 15 or 16. “In Canada, if you have a university degree you’re somebody [but] vocational not so much,” said Urs Obrist, an Embassy of Switzerland expert who spoke at the CBOC conference. In Switzerland, he said, people accept that, “some horses are work horses, some are show jumpers and some are race horses.” However, the system is flexible enough that “late bloomers” can change streams. He pointed out that Switzerland has a very low youth unemployment rate. In 2012, 8.4 per cent of Swiss aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, the second lowest among 33 rich countries. Canada was 12th at 14.3 per cent.
Western business schools scramble to set up overseas
For Dezsö Horváth, the dean of York University’s Schulich School of Business, there’s no small amount of irony in India’s recent decision to allow foreign universities to confer degrees in the South Asian country of 1.2 billion. The widely expected but long-delayed ruling came on Sept. 10—one week after Schulich planned to welcome the first wave of students to a brand-new, $100-million campus in Hyderabad. The ambitious project was put on hold last year after it became clear that the foreign universities bill, first proposed in 2010, would not be approved by this fall.
Horváth now predicts it will be mid-2014 before all the details are ironed out, meaning the earliest Schulich could open in Hyderabad would be two years from now. In the meantime, Schulich has forged a partnership with the philanthropic arm of India’s GMR Group, the infrastructure company that has agreed to build Schulich’s Indian campus. Under the temporary arrangement, students will spend a year studying in India before coming to Toronto to complete their degrees.
Beauty may trump merit in competitive job market
A few years ago, a 21-year-old Chinese woman sought cosmetic surgery to look more like Jessica Alba and made headlines around the world, but the pursuit of altered appearances for pragmatic reasons is much more common in China.
China now ranks third, just behind the United States and Brazil, in the number of cosmetic operations performed annually, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
The most popular procedures—eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty (nose job), and jaw reshaping—are not meant to fend off the effects of aging, but to give young people an advantage over their peers.
For the nouveau riche in China, getting a more aesthetically pleasing face is the last step in their reinvention. Ever since the country introduced a hybrid state capitalist model in the late 1970s, the economy has grown exponentially and so has the ultra-rich class. Kevin Kwan’s popular new book, Crazy Rich Asians, portrays the emerging Chinese elite as decadent to the point of frivolity. “They are everywhere, buying everything in sight,” he writes. “If there’s a designer label, they want it.”
Just as the Chinese one-percenters seek to purchase status and prestige in the form of custom-made crocodile-skin Hermès Birkin bags, they see beauty as a commodity. For the young, especially, an attractive face offers an edge in both the increasingly competitive job market and the cutthroat dating field where women are considered “leftover” (not marriageable) after age 25.
But what does it mean for this year’s army of seven million new university graduates? It means that getting ahead is not based on merit, but on looks. While it’s true that a world-class education is highly marketable anywhere, job applications in Asia often require a photo of the applicant, giving the genetically blessed and surgically improved an unfair advantage. And there are fewer jobs for new graduates in China than there have been in years, upping the competition to new levels.
The obsession with physical appearance at work may be difficult to understand, but Chinese youth see it as an investment in their futures. For the first time, upward mobility is a possibility, and if it takes a new face to climb the corporate ladder, so be it. They are eager to embrace what modern technology and medicine have to offer, whether it’s an iPhone 5 or a more perfect nose.
Perhaps they will outgrow their new money philosophy of excess. In the meantime, it’s important to note that plastic surgery is not without its risks. Permanent numbness, infection, and even death are all potential side effects. For most people, good hygiene, makeup, and a positive, confident attitude can do wonders, without the need to alter their faces.
Ideally, one day China’s new graduates won’t need to resort to such drastic measures to get ahead.
Vivien Chang recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia.
British Columbia diploma offered at 41 off-shore schools
It’s a muggy afternoon in June and high school students wearing T-shirts stamped with the image of Terry Fox stride past towering high-rises and scooters with honking horns in this small Chinese city that’s been coated in haze from the local fiberglass factory for several days.
For most, it’s their first time making the fundraising trek that’s annual tradition half-a-world away in a country where they yearn to attend university.
Teachers at Grand Canadian Academy, a private school certified to award British Columbia diplomas, hope the early Terry Fox run will ease cultural integration for students who have perhaps only visited Canada once before.
Yet the teenagers don’t hesitate to draw contrast between how the hero from their prospective new country might have fared in their rapidly-developing homeland.
What students are talking about today (February 12th)
1. CrossFit, the intense group workout craze, has found a following at Queen’s University where a Facebook page calling for it to be offered in the campus Athletics and Recreation Centre has more than 500 likes. But the ARC powers-that-be are concerned the instructor who wants to offer it isn’t certified as a personal trainer or an employee. They also say the exercises could have health consequences. The Queen’s Journal isn’t buying the explanation, citing the fact that student-run fencing and archery clubs already use the gym.
2. Science, yes science, has determined that underage American alcohol drinkers are sticking to a relatively small number of, what are in my opinion, dreadful tasting brands. Almost 28 per cent of the 13 to 20-year-old study participants drank Bud Light within the past month, 17 per cent guzzled Smirnoff malt beverages, 15 per cent downed regular Budweiser and 13 per cent sipped on Coors Light. Researchers at Boston University and Johns Hopkins surveyed 1,032 teens online. Their paper is published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Internal government study cites budget cuts, winter
Canada is failing to attract high-quality university students from China, India and Brazil, internal research commissioned by the Foreign Affairs Department concludes.
The findings of the focus groups conducted in those countries represent a setback to the Harper government’s ambitious efforts to broaden Canadian trade and investment in the three emerging markets.
Initiatives designed to forge educational links have been a feature of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s strategy to deepen economic ties with Asia during his trips to China and India this year.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gen. David Johnston travelled to Brazil in the spring with 30 university presidents in tow, one of the biggest delegations abroad to push the benefits of Canadian education.
Liberals up, Cubans defecting & art students protesting
1. In the wake of Justin Trudeau’s announcement that he will run for the Liberals, a new Nanos Research poll puts the party in second place for the first time since April. The Conservatives have 33.3 per cent support, the Liberals have 30.1 per cent and the NDP is at 27.9 per cent. The Liberals are now in first place in Ontario and B.C., while Quebec still strongly supports the NDP. The Conservatives gained in Atlantic Canada.
2. Three players from the Cuban men’s soccer team who vanished before a World Cup qualifying match in Toronto defected, according to FIFA. “As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they’re all chasing the American dream,” coach Alexander Gonzalez told The Canadian Press. Or the Canadian dream.
3. After five years preparing, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space on Sunday. He hit speeds of 1,336 kilmotres per hour after leaping from nearly 39 kilometres above the New Mexico desert. His free fall was four minutes long. He said he had tears in his eyes.
Uncomfortable washrooms, tuition, & angry naked folks
1. Some students at the University of Victoria are uncomfortable with the new “multi-stall gender inclusive washrooms” in the Student Union Building. The student union got rid of the old man-woman divide by renovating urinals and changing the gendered signs to show just a toilet. The goal is to make life more comfortable for transgender students. I guess one person’s comfort is another person’s discomfort sometimes.
2. The new Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) is sponsored by Molson Coors. There are multiple beer ads and beer is for sale in the concession. While hockey fans are saying “thank God,” other people apparently have a problem with it. Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy, true to form, has a pragmatic response: “you can sneeze and be within 40 paces of the Gardens and have alcohol, so how am I supposed to police things?,” he told The Eyeopener, adding, “I consider the students adults and I trust them to make judgments.”
3. Two University of Regina students are seeking sanctuary in a church after the Canada Border Services Agency decided to deport them to Nigeria because they illegally worked for two weeks at Walmart. U of R President Vianne Timmons is lobbying the government to allow them to stay.
Some say Beijing-funded language and culture schools fly in the face of academic freedom
Admittedly, it does seem worrisome. Within the past decade, a dozen Confucius Institutes, Chinese language and culture schools funded by the Communist government in Beijing, have popped up on Canadian college and university campuses, trumpeting programs to “improve understanding” of China, and to teach Mandarin.
Then, in 2011, as the Globe and Mail reported recently, a teacher dispatched from China to teach at the Confucius Institute at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. quit her post and filed for refugee status. The newspaper reported that the teacher, a follower of China’s repressed Falun Gong movement named Sonia Zhao, was unable to express her political or religious beliefs as a Confucius Institute teacher—it was prohibited in her job contract, which outlaws teachers with Falun Gong affiliations. In her formal complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Zhao accused McMaster of “giving legitimization to discrimination.”
Luka Rocco Magnotta arrested in Berlin, Germany
Update (11:00 a.m. EST): Police in Berlin, Germany have arrested Magnotta.
With an international manhunt underway for Luka Rocca Magnotta, the weekend papers worked overtime to fill in details surrounding the case of the fugitive who police allege is responsible for the heinous killing and dismemberment of Lin Jun, a foreign student in Montreal.
Here is just some of what journalists have turned up:
- 1. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has talked to Chinese officials about the case. “I just spoke to China’s ambassador to Canada to convey my deep condolences on the senseless killing of Chinese student Jun Lin,” read a message sent Friday through Baird’s Twitter account.2. Lin was in Montreal to attend school, but his real goal was to find love. A three-byline story in the Globe and Mail suggests the Chinese native’s stated ambition was to marry. “He was in computers, and he was looking for love,” a former classmate told the Globe team.
3. Lin’s online presence was complicated. A second Globe story reported from Beijing reports that while the student went to see The Smurfs movie in 3D and liked to post cat photos on social media, his Internet persona also revealed a troubled side. Reports the Globe’s Mark MacKinnon from Beijing: “On Valentine’s Day last year, he posted a computer-altered photograph of himself with wild purple hair and a cracked face that turns grey around a mouth of broken and missing teeth. ‘My self-portrait,’ he wrote beneath the repulsive image.”
4. Lin loved nothing more than to go to dinner with friends. “Korean barbecue was his favourite,” reports Andrew Chung of the Toronto Star. Continue reading Body-parts murder: 10 new things we know
Drips relax and energize students ahead of exams: school
An official in China has confirmed that a controversial photo of high school students hooked up to intravenous drips is real, reports China Daily.
The photo, taken at a school in Xiaogang City, Hubei during a late-night study session, was posted by a microblogger this week and quickly spread across the country. Students are currently preparing for June’s competitive National College Entrance Exam, also known as the Gaokao.
A spokesman for the school said that the drips contain amino acids to help students relax and stay energized. Experts warn that the practice has no proven benefit and comes with a small risk of infection.
Not a political decision: York University
A four-metre high goddess statue meant to honour the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre in Beijing has been removed from York University’s student centre, reports the Toronto Star.
Its disappearance had Cheuk Kwan, chair of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China, asking whether it was removed due to political pressure from the Chinese government. After all, Cheuk Yan Lee, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government was to visit York this week.
In fact, the board of the student centre had thrown the statue away. “The materials used in its construction have exceeded their life expectancy, ” Scott Jarvis, the centre’s director told the Star.
Still, Kwan isn’t pleased. “The goddess replica is an iconic symbol of China’s democratic movement. We’re upset that they just threw it into a scrap pit,” he said. The original Goddess of Democracy statue was built by Beijing Fine Arts Academy in honour of the democracy movement. The gold-coloured replica at York University was created by Fine Arts students in 1992.
The Tiananmen Massacre occurred on June 4, 1989 when the People’s Revolution Army used live fire to make its way to Tiananmen Square and clear it of pro-democracy protesters who had been demonstrating for liberalization. At least several hundred people were killed by the army.
Profs working in Canada “must have no record of Falun Gong”
A rule imposed by Confucius Institutes — an educational arm of the Chinese government that operates on at least eight Canadian campuses — breaks “all human rights codes in Canada,” human rights lawyer Clive Ansley told The Epoch Times.
The main CI website says that overseas volunteer Chinese teachers must have “no record of participation in Falun Gong,” a spiritual practice with roots in Buddhism and Taoism. China’s government vehemently opposes the practice and has arrested and killed many adherents, according to Amnesty International.
Barb Pollock, vice president of external relations at the University of Regina, told The Epoch Times that she did not know about the rule, but promised that her school’s agreements with China “have everything to do with academic freedom.” She also said that although teachers are selected by their Chinese partner, Hunan University, “what they teach [here] is our business.”
In June, the University of Manitoba rejected the idea of a Confucius Institute on campus. The University of British Columbia has also declined. But more than 320 exist worldwide, where they offer credit and non-credit courses in language and history.
China says that the funding of CIs—$150,000 initially and up to $200,000 per year after that— is meant to promote cultural understanding. But along with the money, schools have signed constitutions that say that “institute activities must … respect cultural customs, and shall not contravene concerning laws and regulations in Canada and China.”
Terry Russell, an Asian Studies professor at Manitoba, says that such rules compromise academic freedom, because academics are dissuaded from discussing Taiwan, Tibet, Falun Gong, or the Tiananmen Square massacre. That could result in an unrealistically positive view of China among the students who pass through the credit courses they offer in Canada, he says.
Must first fight $2-million tax evasion charges
The Chinese artist and dissident who disappeared for more than two months has been offered a post at a German University.
But it’s unlikely Ai Weiwei will be able to take the job at Berlin University of the Arts anytime soon. He must remain in Beijing to fight nearly $2-million worth of tax evasion charges, he told The Telegraph. Authorities allege he hasn’t paid corporate taxes since 2000.
Ai was secretly imprisoned by Chinese officials in April and then released on June 22 under strict conditions following world-wide political pressure. Many asserted that his imprisonment was the result of his criticism of the Chinese government for covering up the deaths of schoolchildren following the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008. He alleged that officials stole school funds and then built shoddy buildings. His blog listed the names of 5,000 children who died.
Academics debate whether to accept Chinese cash
When he first heard from a university administrator about a new Confucius Institute (CI) proposed at the University of Manitoba, Asian Studies professor Terry Russell asked for a meeting with the dean in charge. At that meeting, he asked her to carefully consider who was offering to pay for it. The money would come from the Hanban, an arm of the Chinese government that’s chaired by the minister of education. That’s the same government, as Russell put it, that jailed Nobel-prize winner Liu Xiaobo for 11 years, the same government who took the University of Calgary to task after it gave the Dalai Lama an honourary degree, and the same government that employs 50,000 citizens to scour the Internet in search of dissent. Russell says that Canadian universities shouldn’t take money from an education ministry that does such things.
Less than six months later, the university has announced that it will join a short-but-growing list of institutions that have decided against taking Chinese government money to set up CIs on campus. The university’s spokesman, John Danakas, says that “overtures were made” by Confucius Institutes earlier this year, but that “conversations have ended… for logistical reasons.” Pennsylvania State University, the University of British Columbia and the Republic of India, have also decided against CIs on campus.
But in the same month that Manitoba declined funding from China, the University of Regina and Brock University both inaugurated their new Confucius Institutes, bringing the total number at Canadian post-secondary schools to eight. More than 320 exist worldwide. China says that the funding of CIs—$150,000 initially and up to $200,000 per year after that— is meant to promote cultural understanding. But along with the money, schools, including Brock, have signed constitutions that says that “institute activities must … respect cultural customs, and shall not contravene concerning laws and regulations in Canada and China.”
Quite what that means is open to interpretation.
Russell says that means employees will feel dissuaded from mentioning Taiwan, Tibet independence, Falun Gong, or the Tiananmen Square massacre. If that’s true, the result could be an unrealistically positive view of China among the students who pass through the free language and history courses that they offer on Canadian campuses. He goes even further than that. “They’re nothing more than a propaganda and public relations exercise within the legitimizing framework of a university,” he says.
Sheila Young, Director of Brock International, takes the opposite view of their new CI. There isn’t any propaganda, she argues, but instead a fantastic opportunity for academic exchange with the world’s next superpower. “We’re in complete control of the curriculum and always have been, always will be,” says Young. The Chinese government offered to provide textbooks to them during at the Confucius Institutes Conference that she and other administrators attended in Beijing in December, but Brock has not decided which materials it will use. “Nothing has been shipped to us, where they said, ‘here these are prescribed texts,’” says Young.
Young stresses that the CI will allow them to offer many more Mandarin courses than they would be able to otherwise, plus teacher-training certification and possibly Chinese history and political science courses in the future. “There are a lot of cutbacks in the economy we’re in now,” says Young. “So the idea of getting some funding to teach in an area that hasn’t been taught [in] before is appealing.”
Master’s specifically targets Indian and Chinese students
The University of Windsor’s student body includes 10 per cent international students, but they pay more than a quarter of the tuition.
That’s why the school will add a new medical biotechnology master’s program that is designed specifically to appeal to the growing Indian and Chinese education markets.
They’re unlikely to have trouble finding applicants. The number of Chinese students studying abroad has been growing by an average of 26 per cent per year for nearly three decades and reached 285,000 in 2010. The number of Indian student visas tripled in Canada between 2008 and 2010, reports Statistics Canada. In total, there were more than 178,000 foreign students in Canada last year.
Canadians are encouraged to take the program too, but most would balk at the between $25,000 and $30,000 fee for four semesters, Windsor chemistry professor Bulent Mutus told the Windsor Star. Mutus says the program will benefit undergraduates by helping to cover the costs of expensive labs that aren’t otherwise used in the summers. The program will launch in 2012.
Plan compared to Cultural Revolution
Peking University, often viewed as the Oxford or Harvard equivalent in China, plans to screen students for “radical thoughts.” A statement from the university announces that the program will target students for “consultations” who “frequently fail exams or encounter difficulties in their studies.”
However, categories of students that will be targeted for consultations, in areas other than academic preparedness, has prompted Chinese academics to raise concerns over academic freedom and to draw comparisons with the Cultural Revolution. The university would also screen “students with radical thoughts, psychological fragility, poverty, registration changes, eccentricity, Internet addiction, job difficulties, serious illnesses, and discipline violations.”
Zhang Ming, a politics professor at Beijing’s Renmin University was critical of the plan. “It is going too far for a respected university to openly control radical minds . . . Aren’t we going back to the days of the Cultural Revolution? This is hateful and terrible,” he told the South China Morning Post. Other academics have expressed a similar concern.
In an interview posted to Peking University’s website, Zha Jing, deputy director of the Office of Student Affairs, defended the plan. “We’ve noticed that some students having radical thoughts and bigoted character and encountering difficulties in interpersonal communication, social adaptiveness, and their studies,” he said.
Police ask students and faculty to report subversive materials
Chinese police have ordered students and faculty at Peking University to stop photocopying materials critical of the government. The order posted to the wall by local Yanyuan Police in 29 copy rooms read, “Materials that express hate against the party, the state or the social politics are forbidden. Do not photocopy Call the police immediately after [these materials] are found” When the Global Times newspaper contacted the university, the ban was confirmed but a spokesman, told a reporter that “It’s none of your business.”
University recruiters in Beijing to attract doctoral students–education Canada’s largest export to China
Representatives from 14 Canadian universities will try to attract Chinese doctoral students to their schools during a recruitment mission in Beijing starting Friday. They will be competing with institutions from eight other countries.
And while diversity on Canadian campuses is one reason behind the recruiting drive, putting more money into cash-strapped university coffers is another.
Dozens of institutions from various countries, including Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Germany and France, were invited to the PhD Workshop that runs Friday through Sunday, organized by the China Education Association for International Exchange and the Association of Chinese Graduate Schools.
The Canadian schools will meet with some of the 500 doctorate students attending the workshop and discuss areas of research, opportunities for innovation and the benefits of pursuing a PhD in Canada, a Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said.
Heather Kelly, director of student services with the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto, said in an email from Beijing she plans to meet with more than 100 students.
“The University of Toronto recognizes that the key to innovation is collaboration, partnership, and co-operation with leading global institutions,” said Kelly. “So, our interest in working with top Chinese institutions is to develop targeted initiatives with universities, whether that be researcher to researcher, educational experiences, student internships or graduate student projects.”
Concordia University, Dalhousie University, McGill University, McMaster University, Queen’s University, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, Universite Laval, the University of Manitoba, Universite de Montreal, Universite de Sherbrooke, the University of Waterloo and York University will also participate, Foreign Affairs said.
British judge tells 27-year-old German student to watch his behaviour in the future
A German student who threw his shoe at Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during a lecture a Cambridge University earlier this year has been cleared of any crime.
District Judge Ken Sheraton told Martin Jahnke on Tuesday that there was not enough evidence to convict him of a public order offence, but warned Jahnke to watch his behaviour in the future.
The 27-year-old disrupted Wen’s speech Feb. 2 when he blew a whistle, accused the Chinese leader of being a dictator, and hurled his left sneaker at him.
Like the better-known attack on president George W. Bush by an Iraqi journalist a few months earlier, the shoe missed its target.
But the incident – which came at the tail end of a three-day visit dogged by protests over Tibet and human rights issues – ruffled feathers in China.
The country’s Foreign Ministry called the act “despicable,” while Chinese Internet chat rooms were filled with patriotic messages denouncing the protester.
- The Canadian Press