Friday, November 03, 2006

Money for Easier Access?

Here's an interesting piece of news published in the Financial Times yesterday.
Students from a little known Saudi university are to be helped into Oxford colleges as part of a deal involving a £2m gift from the kingdom's defence minister.

In documents seen by the Financial Times, the university formally thanks Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz for "his munificent benefaction to the Ashmolean Museum" and outlines arrangements for bringing students from Prince Sultan University in Riyadh to Oxford.

In the memorandum of understanding, Oxford promises to "endeavour to identify four to six colleges with resources and expertise" for visiting students from Prince Sultan University. It will also "seek to expedite the application process".
Apparently, this has infuriated senior members of the university who want "to see a clear separation of Oxford's academic mission from its fundraising activities."
Peter Oppenheimer, a senior academic at Christ Church College, said: "Prince Sultan [University] is not Princeton. Of all the thousands of universities in the world, why are we having a special relationship with a second-rate university? It is hard not to conclude that a foreign university have bought their way in."
Although the university insists that "[t]he document states that students will have to satisfy the admissions criteria in the same way as any other student", there appears to be obvious concerns to the integrity of the entire process.

Anyone sees the potential similarities to the alleged RM500 million "donation" to Cambridge University by our very own Government? Will it raise an equally damaging furore whereby our universities get labelled "second-rate", or worse?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is what my colleague termed as "academic prostitution" ...

hisugaya said...

Perhaps by doing this, our government can send more scholars to Oxbridge for first class education in UK. This move is well, at least better than sending those scholars to Middle East countries like Al Azhar University which is not even listed in the THES ranking.
LOL

sheriff singh said...

It is to set up the FIRST Islamic College in Cambridge and Oxford. To be called Muhammed s.a.w College. Mainly for Islamic Civilisational Studies. Head will be a Malaysian intellectual".

In return, Cambridge will send some dons to Malaysian research universities on regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Oxbridge....losing its shine.

little bird said...

This is music to the ears of our Umno officials - money can buy anything, and our Umno-based politicians/ministers/top civil servants are very good at this.

First money politics, now money academics. Expect more oxbridge graduates from Malaysia. Good or bad - time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Money talks.....

Anonymous said...

The reporter, and probably most of those who have left comments, failed to realise that there are indeed a number of incidences in which donors do receive a place in Oxbridge as a direct result of their giving.

However it is very important to note that these places are ALWAYS for insignificant NON-DEGREE courses - diplomas, certificates, visiting student courses and the like.

There is no harm in providing these lesser places to donors as they are of no importance to the academic system. In reality, these lesser courses are profit-making schemes for Oxbridge - just like summer and short executive programmes in the famed business schools of America - individuals are prepared to pay vast sums of money for courses of little intellectual worth so they may brandish the Ivy League/Oxbridge name on their CVs.

Anonymous said...

Anon above, even though you said so, it will still tarnish the reputation of the university isn't it? Whether or not those students are admitted to insignificant courses, the global community will still viewed that university as someone desperate enough to sell herself for money! Where can she put her head in the future?

Anonymous said...

To Anon above:

I doubt this will tarnish Oxford's reputation. After all, the Ivy Leaguers have been accepting 'legacy' students for degree programmes since their inception.

It seems like a smart plan - get a few stupid rich kids to fund an institution of learning that will benefit many more less fortunate, but intelligent students.