21 October 2002

Copyright © 2002 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

edited by Russel C. Jones, PhD., P.E.


International developments

1.        Chinese blocking of Internet

  1. Saudi Arabia grant to Palestine universities
  2. European young investigator awards
  3. New Japanese university attracts foreign students
  4. US to rejoin UNESCO
  5. China expands distance education
  6. International women’s network formed
  7. American-style universities in Middle East see enrollment surge
  8. Brain drain from developing countries

U.S. developments

  1. Campus clashes on the Middle East
  2. American students better prepared for college
  3. Competition puts colleges under pressure
  4. Foreign engineering enrollments up
  5. Congress examines role of accreditation
  6. Report calls for practical liberal education
  7. NSF Board examined by Congress
  8. Title IX applied to SMET education
  9. Training of foreign students in sensitive areas

Distance education, technology

  1. Ten ways colleges can cut IT costs
  2. Spam control on campuses
  3. College computing budgets cut
  4. Tablet PCs introduced
  5. Doctoral programs at University of Phoenix Online
  6. Transfer of online credit to traditional universities
  7. Software piracy on campus
  8. National limitations on Web access
  9. PDAs on campus

Students, Faculty, Education

  1. Increased number of minority students on campus
  2. Coalition opposes affirmative action
  3. Merit scholarships growing
  4. Students protected on study abroad trips


  1. ASEE/SEFI/TUB at Berlin
  2. ABET annual meeting at Pittsburgh
  3. 2003 SEFI annual meeting at Porto


  1. European Journal of Engineering Education, September 2002
  2. TechKnowLogia, October-December 2002



International developments

1) Chinese Internet users are reporting more sophisticated filtering of their browsing and e-mail recently, suggesting a newly refined approach in the government’s efforts to control Web content moving into and  out of China. According to an article in the 1 October 2002 International Herald Tribune by Thomas Crampton, recent restrictions include selective blocking of e-mails containing certain words, difficult access of secure foreign sites, and interruption of search engines on particular topics. This moves the filtering by the Chinese government beyond crude blocking of entire web sites, using methods similar to anti-pornography software filters used by employers with office networks. See

2) The government of Saudi Arabia is making grants of $200,000 each to 12 higher education institutions in Palestine to help keep them solvent, according to a note in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Daniel del Castillo. In addition to direct aid to the Colleges, the Saudi government is paying for 75% of the tuition and fees for third- and fourth-year students. Due to the economic crisis in the area, the Palestinian Authority is no longer making support payments to the universities, and students are often not able to pay their tuition and fees. More than 85,000 students are currently enrolled in Palestinian universities throughout the West Bank and Gaza. See

3) European research officials are instituting a generous new program of research grants that they hope will keep bright young scientists and scholars working on the Continent, according to an article by Erica Goldman in the 11 October 2002 issue of Science. The “European Young Investigators Awards” comprise a talent competition, which will offer grants totaling $1.5-million a year for the next five years. The competition will be open to scientists from anywhere in the world, but the winners must do their work in one of the 15 participating European countries. Participating countries hope to fund 30 to 50 awards in the first round. See

4) A newly formed university in Japan, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, is trying to attract foreign students by offering bilingual classes in a multicultural environment. According to an article in the Chronicle by Alan Brender, the institution was established to give Japanese students an understanding of other countries, and to help foreigners understand Japan. Foreigners make up only 2.8% of the students at Japanese universities, with the vast majority of them Chinese or South Korean students who tend to blend in. The president of the new university notes that typical Japanese universities are not ready to become international, but he hopes that the new school will lead others in that direction. See

5) US President George W. Bush has announced that the Unites States will rejoin the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), according to an article in the 20n September 2002 issue of Science by John Bohannon. US membership was ended 18 years ago by then President Ronald Reagan, who charged the UNESCO leadership with mismanagement and hostility to a free press. Since then many campaigns – including a 1993 petition signed by 37 Nobel laureates – have urged the US to rejoin. The announcement by Bush, made in conjunction with his get-tough-on-Iraq speech to the United Nations, was welcome news to UNESCO. Membership fees for the US will be approximately $60-million per year, amounting to 22% of UNESCO’s current budget. See

6) A new survey of Chinese colleges indicates that distance education is their top priority for the next couple of years, according to a note in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen. As many as 800,000 students will gain access to higher education through distance-education programs that have been  authorized by China’s Ministry of Education. The survey data show that nearly half of Chinese colleges and universities increased their information technology budgets by 5% or more this year compared to last year. The distance education initiative is in response to tremendous interest and commitment in China to provide more postsecondary education, while current classrooms are full. See

7) Women from 41 nations meeting in Ottawa recently voted to assemble the first international organization to promote the recruitment, retention, and networking of female engineers and scientists, according to an article in October 2002 issue of The Institute by Helen Horwitz. The International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES), to become operational next year, will serve as a worldwide information resource and offer a platform to promote greater educational and career opportunities for women. The new organization is sponsored by UNESCO and by the Society of Women Engineers. See

8) American-style Universities in the Middle East are experiencing unprecedented surges in applications and enrollments from Arab students who have chosen or been forced to remain in the Arab world to pursue their studies, according to an article in the Chronicle by Daniel del Castillo. New US visa policies requiring more stringent background checks for Arab students have led to indefinite waits, postponements, and cancellations of acceptances at US universities for a significant number of Arab students. See

9) Developing countries are losing their most educated skilled workers to the world’s wealthiest nations, according to an article in the September 26th issue of The Economist. The article points out that for the world as a whole, it makes sense for the cleverest to exercise their skills where they earn the greatest reward; but what holds for the world may not hold for individual countries that lose large swatches of their educated people. Some economists argue that the impact of emigration on a sending country may be beneficial, by raising the pay for those left behind and by making education more valuable there. Others point out, however, that the loss of the skilled and educated – people who often help create new jobs for others --has a negative effect. The article lists ways that developing countries can reduce ‘brain drain’ – such as making their countries good places to work. See


U.S. developments

10) Student clashes on the Middle East have been taking place on dozens of US campuses, according to an article in the October 5th New York Times by Felicia R. Lee. In addition to the usual pro-Palestine and pro-Israel standoffs, students at about 40 colleges have organized a divestment campaign against Israel. Amid these tensions, a new group called the Tikkun Campus Network has been organized to tone down the angry rhetoric by acknowledging the legitimacy of both sides and by emphasizing a common humanity. See The campaign for divestiture of investments in Israel has been described in an article by Michael A. Fletcher in the October 12th Washington Post. Students and faculty at a growing number of universities are pressing schools into selling their holdings in companies that do business in Israel, as a way of protesting Israeli treatment of Palestinians. But Jews and others say that adopting the tactics used to oppose apartheid in the 1970’s and 1980’s paints the Israeli government as racist and oppressive. Harvard University President Lawrence Summers has warned of a ‘upturn in anti-Semitism’ on campuses and across the globe. See

 11) American students are better prepared for college now than ever before, according to a recent state-by-state report card on higher education described by Jonathan Margulies in the Chronicle. “Measuring Up 2002” by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education grades all 50 states on their ability to prepare students for postsecondary work, and how well they deliver it. As in the first report issued two years ago, states were rated on six criteria: student preparation, participation, affordability, completion, benefits, and learning. As in the previous report, states generally were given ‘C’ grades, but performance fell off in two categories: affordability dropped from C- to D, and benefits (what states gain from an educated population) fell from B- to C+. Analysis by the Chronicle indicates that the highest rated states were Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, while the lowest ratings were to Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Louisiana. See

12) An increasingly competitive higher-education market is putting colleges under pressure to neglect their public mission, according to a report by the Futures Project, which is described in an article by Peter Schmidt in the Chronicle. The report states that for-profit higher education providers and other competitors are eating into the profitable sectors of the market that colleges have traditionally tapped into to subsidize their less-profitable endeavors, such as humanities programs that do not produce much revenue or services to disadvantaged students. The report says that many college leaders are concerned that for-profit competitors will ‘cherry pick’ the most profitable programs, drying up a key revenue source for traditional colleges. Presidents of prestigious institutions were also concerned about the effects of competition with one another, and leaders of regional public colleges were concerned about the effects of competition from two-year institutions. See

13) The number of foreign nationals in engineering bachelor’s degree programs in the US is increasing significantly, according to a report from the Engineering Workforce Commission analyzed in an article in the October 2002 issue of Engineering Times. According to “Engineering and Technology Enrollments, Fall 2001”, the number of foreign nationals  enrolled as freshman engineering students rose 18.6% in 2001, and at the graduate level foreign national enrollments increased by 14.7%. The report also indicates that overall freshmen engineering enrollments increased 5% from 2000, with those starting masters programs up 5.4% and those starting doctoral programs up 8.3%. See

14) A House of Representatives education subcommittee assessing the role of accreditation in higher education criticized the 50-year old accreditation process, according to an article in the Chronicle by Richard Morgan. Lawmakers charged that the accreditation system fails to ensure academic quality, lacks accountability, and drives up college costs for administrators and students. The Subcommittee chairman expressed concern that accreditation agencies impose standards that have little to do with academic quality. The President of the University of Phoenix, a for-profit institution operating in 25 states, testified that the variety of standards among regional accrediting agencies is problematic. Defending the system, the president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation described it as an extraordinary example of a successful public-private partnership. See

15) A recent report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities calls for a reorganization of undergraduate education, according to an article by Scott Smallwood in the Chronicle. “Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College” calls for creating a ‘practical liberal education’ and raising the expectations of students, professors, and the public. Among other recommendations, the report says that colleges should: help students become intentional, lifelong learners; create new assessments that require students to apply their learning to the real world; eliminate the artificial division between the liberal arts and pre-professional education; and create a closer alignment between schoolteachers and college educators. See

16) Congress is putting the squeeze on the oversight board of the National Science Foundation, according to an article by Jeffrey Mervis in the October 4th issue of Science. The visibility of the National Science Board has increased as Congress pushes ahead with a bill that endorses doubling the NSF budget over the next several years. Some in Congress want the Board to have greater resources and independence, and to more aggressively oversee the Foundation and its $4.8-billion budget. Current NSF Director Rita Colwell argues that the current balance between the Board and the Director works well. In February, NSF was one of the few government agencies that got a gold star from the Bush administration for its management prowess. The NSF Board has 24 members, typically well-regarded researchers or administrators from academia or industry, who are chosen by the President and confirmed by Congress for staggered 6-year terms. See   

17) The impact of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 on the underrepresentation of women in the disciplines of mathematics, science and education is being examined by Congress, according to an article by Anne Marie Borrego in the Chronicle. Title IX forbids sex discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funds. At a recent Senate hearing, witnesses differed on progress made over the past 30 years. One said that studies show that women have less access to important resources than men, and that universities should be required to provide more institutional support such as scholarships for female graduate students. Others pointed out that women professors in engineering and science encounter barriers on the road to tenure, because many of them want to start families in their early 30’s just after finishing their Ph.D. programs. Another witness cited ‘good news’, pointing out statistics showing that the proportion of computer science graduates who were women doubled from 14% to 27% between 1972 and 1997. See Additional commentary on whether the improvement in equality in sports provided by Title IX can be repeated in the lab is provided by Jeffrey Mervis in a note in the October 11th issue of Science. See

18) US institutions have trained relatively few foreign students in sensitive areas, according to a study reported by Michael Arnone in the Chronicle. The Georgia State University study indicates that over the 10-year period from 1990 to 1999, US universities awarded 1215 doctorates in science and engineering to students from countries that sponsor terrorism – but that only 147 of those degrees were in sensitive fields where the training could potentially be used by terrorists for conventional or biological warfare. The 147 degrees that might be used for warfare were in nuclear engineering, biotechnology, and organic chemistry. They were awarded to students from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Observers noted that even if the US barred foreign students from study in sensitive areas, there would be no way of ensuring that such knowledge did not fall into the wrong hands. And it was also observed that today’s friends may be tomorrow’s enemies, and vice versa. See


Distance education, technology

19) The cover story of the October 4th Chronicle of Higher Education covers “10 Ways Colleges Can Cut IT Costs”. The items listed are: 1) create limits or rules for student printouts, 2) cap the bandwidth available in dormitories, 3) end free dial-up modem services, 4) stop investing in phone systems students won’t use, 5) work with other colleges to sign joint licenses for software, 6) use students to handle help-desk questions at night, 7) remember that the dot-com boom in IT salaries is over, 8) join purchasing pools for hardware and other IT expenses, 9) use ‘life cycle’ planning to centralize desktop purchases, and 10) use a ‘preferred provider’ for technology purchases. In each case, the article gives a rationale for the approach, and cites institutions that have used it. See

20) Fed up with spam, irate students and professors want colleges to crack down, according to an article in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen. Spam is a bigger problem for colleges than for corporations because college networks are more open to the public. Spam is difficult to limit because spammers are constantly changing their techniques. Some colleges are teaching people how they can reduce spam, while others are experimenting with a variety of technical means to block spam – some of which make on-campus e-mail less convenient. The article lists seven approaches to fighting spam. See

21) Cuts in college computing budgets are wider and deeper than previously reported, according to a survey described in the Chronicle by Vincent Kiernan. One third of the 632 two- and four-year institutions responding to a Campus Computing Project survey reported cuts in their computing budgets, compared to 18% last year. Moreover, this year’s cuts are more severe: 15% of the institutions said their academic computing budgets had dropped by 5% or more, compared with only 8% of institutions last year. In other findings, the survey documented college’s adoption of online portals: 21% of the respondents reported having such a portal, and 20% more said theirs was under development. The survey also found that wireless network technology continues to spread through academe: 68% of the colleges reported having some sort of wireless network, up fro 51% last year. See

22) Microsoft has won support for its Tablet PC concept from several industry heavyweights, according to an article by Alexander Wolfe in the October 2002 issue of IEEE Spectrum. Devices will start appearing in November, amply configured as general-purpose machines with enough power to run the full-blown Windows XP operating system. Their unique feature will be the ability to allow handwritten text to be entered onto a digitizing tablet and recognized – a functionality called pen-based computing. The units, about the size of current small laptops, will provide the full power of a PC with the simplicity of paper. Tablet PCs are expected to be the size and weight of the more compact laptops and sell for around $2000. See

23) The University of Phoenix Online is adding three doctoral programs, according to an article in the Chronicle by Elizabeth Farrell. The new doctoral programs, in business administration, education, and health care systems, are based on the popularity of the online school’s undergraduate and master’s degree programs in the same disciplines. The North Central regional accreditation body approved the new programs, which join the one previously developed doctoral program in management in organizational leadership. The online university hopes to enroll 300 to 500 doctoral students over the next three years. See

24) Online colleges are complaining about traditional institutions’ tough credit transfer policies, according to an article by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle. Many online institutions report that a large number of their students are at least initially rejected in trying to get online credits transferred to traditional institutions – and that some find that ultimately they cannot do so, so that their time and money has been wasted. This difficulty in transfer may be scaring off potential online students, slowing the growth of online education. Many traditional institutions say that they do not have the time or personnel to determine which online institutions are legitimate, and they are suspicious of national accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council. See

25) Universities that fail to crack down on student software pirates face a growing threat of lawsuits or new regulations, according to an article in the Chronicle by Katherine Magnan. At issue is the growing concern about illegal sharing of copyrighted music, videos, and other materials over computer networks. Colleges, with their high-speed networks and computer savvy students, are fertile grounds for such activity. Peer-to-peer software (P2P) facilitates such illegal transfers – but also has a legitimate function in facilitating scientific research and academic collaborations. An industry association has sent a letter to universities urging them to educate students about the moral and legal issues involved, specify what students can and can’t do on the computer network, make sure they are complying with the rules, and punish those who are not. See

26) National governments are attempting mandates and legal actions that would affect Web sites hosted in another country, according to an article by David Banisar in IEEE Spectrum Online. Imposing jurisdictions on the traditionally border-free Internet ranges from countries such as China and Saudi Arabia which have made wholesale restrictions of access to the Internet, to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the United States. The author argues that decisions are being driven by the needs of law enforcement agencies, restrictive governments, and large corporations, and that the needs of citizens and consumers have largely been ignored. See

27) ‘Is the personal digital assistant (PDA) poised to be the new technological darling on campus?’, asks Scott Carlson in an article in the Chronicle. The small size of the devices is attractive to educators, who say that they are less disruptive in classes than laptops. But the limited functions of PDAs concern others. Many of the devices now are wireless, so that they can connect directly to college networks. And various add-ons such as folding keyboards and extra software extend their capabilities, turning them into miniature word processors. The University of South Dakota is in its second year of requiring freshmen to purchase Palms, and professors have incorporated them into many disciplines. See


Students, faculty, education

28) The number of minority students attending American colleges and universities jumped 48% in the 1990’s, according to a study by the American Council on Education. As reported in the September 23rd issue of the New York Times by Diana Jean Schemo, the ACE study shows that all minorities posted double-digit  gains in college enrollment during that period. But despite the greater numbers of minority students in colleges, blacks and Latinos lagged behind whites and Asian Americans in graduating. The study also found a widening gender gap in college attendance among African-Americans, with college attendance by women under 25 at 43.9% in 2000, but that of men only 33.8%. See

29) Programs set up to help minority students, such as ethnic housing and support systems, have led to segregation at many colleges and are a form of racism, according to a new report by the New York Civil Rights Coalition. The Coalition is a nonprofit group which opposes most forms of affirmative action but promotes racial diversity. As described by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle, the report examines promotional material from minority programs at 50 public and private colleges across the country, and details the range of services offered to minority students. While colleges tout such programs, the Coalition’s strongly worded conclusion calls them “segregationist” and “apartheid policies”. A representative of Stanford University, cited in the report, says of minority students: “We really advocate for them. We’re proud of them. We promote them. This year’s incoming freshmen class is comprised of 52% people of color, and Stanford is known for providing quality, comprehensive programs and services for all its students, including those of color.” See

30) More students are winning scholarships based on merit rather than on need, according to an article by June Kronholz in the September 23rd issue of the Wall Street Journal. While the biggest share of the nation’s $74-billion in financial aid, from both private and government sources, still goes to low-income kids, it is shrinking fast. Governors and state legislators want to keep their brightest kids in-state, and both private and public colleges are interested in boosting the academic profile of their student bodies. Merit based scholarships are used to attract the youngsters that the colleges want. States devoted 79% of their scholarship money to financially needy students in 1999, but that is down from 89% a decade earlier. Colleges and universities, which awarded $14.5-billion in scholarships in 2000, gave almost half to students based on academic merit, sports ability, musical talent, etc. The sudden increase in merit aid is popular with white, middle-class parents, who are the most politically active voters and demanding consumers. See

31) Study abroad trips that go bad – due to sexual harassment or other trouble -- are the topic of a major article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. A recent federal court ruling in a case involving Eastern Michigan University extends sex-discrimination protections beyond US borders. The court ruled that Title IX protections apply abroad when students are enrolled in study-abroad programs, saying that “female students should not have to submit to sexual harassment as the price of educational opportunity”. One attorney said “People who are traveling under any kind of institutional imprimatur need to know that the institution’s rules apply to them wherever they may be”. See



32) An ASEE/SEFI/TUB Colloquium “Global Changes in Engineering Education” was held in Berlin on 1-4 October 2002. The program focused on three tracks: National Accreditation/Global Practices; Educating Engineering Students in Entrepreneurship; and Technology in Learning Systems. A plenary keynote address was presented in each track, followed by parallel breakout sessions with several speakers on each of the tracks. The colloquium ended with a session summarizing each of the tracks, and with a large number of poster papers presented briefly by authors as an introduction to poster-side discussions. Abstracts and papers from the colloquium are posted on the ASEE web site at A summary of the conference is being prepared for publication in ASEE Prism.

33) The 2002 ABET Annual Meeting will be held in Pittsburgh at the end of October. On 27-29 October there will be a faculty workshop for program improvement; on 30 October a Commission summit; and on 31 October-1 November the 2nd annual conference on outcomes assessment for program improvement. Details of the program and registration material are available on the ABET web site at

34) The 2003 annual meeting of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) will be held at the University of Porto in Portugal, from 8-11 September. The theme of the meeting is “Global Engineer: Education and Training for Mobility”. A call for papers and first announcements will be available soon on the SERI web site, at



35) The September 2002 issue of the European Journal of Engineering Education concentrates on mathematics in engineering education, with eight papers on that topic edited by guest editor Leslie Mustoe. Papers discuss the role of mathematics learning centers, similarities in math for engineers and economists, mathematical e-learning, and other timely topics. See

36) The October-December 2002 issue of the electronic journal TechKnowLogia is available online. The theme of this issue is TECHNOLOGIES AND TEACHER EDUCATION. Papers cover the training of teachers to effectively utilize educational technology, technology integration in the classroom, distance technology teaching, the digital divide, handheld computing, and other related topics. See



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