The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept 15 2000


China Seeks Foreign Textbooks; Ireland Lags in Chemistry Majors; Most Israeli Students Say

They Must Work to Finance Studies


The Chinese government is on the lookout for foreign textbooks.


At the Beijing International Book Fair, Lu Fuyuan, vice minister of education, said late last month that new, imported textbooks will play a key role as the government sets about reforming China's universities.


In a forum on college textbooks, Mr. Lu asked those attending the fair to let the world's publishing industry know that China hopes to import more textbooks, the China Youth Daily reported.


The ministry of education is looking in particular for textbooks in computer science, information science, the life sciences, and business.


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Could the world's supply of Viagra be in danger because of a shortage of chemistry majors in Ireland?


That would be one interpretation of a new report commissioned by the pharmaceutical and chemistry industry in Ireland, the world's only supplier of the active ingredient in Viagra. The report cited a shortage of college graduates with expertise in chemistry or those with an equivalent amount of training. Such people make up half of the industry's employees.


Exports from the pharmaceutical and chemical industries make up one-quarter of Ireland's total exports and are worth more than $20-billion annually, the report said.


The two industries employ 23,000 people and expect continued growth at a time when the pool of available graduates with science majors is shrinking. Within two years, the report estimated a 30-percent shortfall in graduates capable of working for chemical and pharmaceutical companies.


The report recommends changing students' perception of chemistry as a difficult subject and "re-branding it as a life skill with practical and useful applications."


Like making sure granddad gets his pills ...


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Seventy percent of Israeli students work more than 25 hours a week.


Four-fifths of them say that working to pay for college expenses interferes with their studies, according to a survey released last week by the country's National Student Association.


The association cited the figures at the first open session of the Public Commission for the Reduction of Tuition, a body appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to agree on a formula for reducing the financial burden of college on students.


Students reported that they need about $900 a month to pay for tuition and living costs, whereas the average working student earns about $600 a month. Annual tuition in Israel averages $2,500. Parents cover an average of 38 percent of student expenses.


The four student members of the nine-member commission presented the figures as part of their argument for gradual tuition reduction, leading to free public universities.


Copyright 2000 by The Chronicle of Higher Education