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  • Norway: go BRIC, go excellent!

    - Norway’s government is currently working out plans to offer special funding for Norwegian students that decide to study abroad at an excellent BRIC university. An opportunity for European’s higher education sector and the EU as a whole?

    Brazil, Russia, India, China -the so called BRIC countries are often dubbed as the next up and coming super powers, at least in their respective regions. In the recent past, many western nations have been rushing to strengthen their ties with them to secure promising trade relationships, abundant capital and political influence.

    In the European higher education sector this was more of an one-way effort so far. Time and time again China and India placed in the top ranks in terms of sending students to European universities. Russian students, too, rather opted for studying abroad given the critical state of its domestic higher education sector. Brazil, meanwhile, is going through a catching up process by offering scholarships to 100.000 talented science students.

    Building ties through two-way HE exchange

    Norway is now working out plans to foster its relationship with BRIC countries by sending more Norwegian students to Brazil, Russia, India and China. From 2012, these should receive additional funds making the exchange more attractive. Only restriction: the respective institute students opt for should be in the top 400 of the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities or in the top 500 of the Times Higher Education Ranking.

    "We are working on a model, where the eligibility criteria will be coupled to the international ranking lists. We know that these lists have many weaknesses, but we have to try out some selection instruments," commented Kyrre Lekve, Norwegian Minister of Education.

    The Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA) issued a statement supporting this initiative. "This proposal from the parliamentary committee is something ANSA has been working for over many years." ANSA voiced skepticism regarding the ranking approach, however. "Such rankings are research-based and not a good instrument to measure the quality of teaching."