Students, parents back university reforms, poll shows

The overwhelming majority of university students and parents with children at school or university support the government?s planned reforms to the higher education sector which foresee the stricter assessment of academics, an improved syllabus and an end to student sit-ins, according to the results of a poll published on Wednesday.

The survey was carried out by polling firm MRB on behalf of the Education Ministry on a sample of 1,861 people. Of these, 404 were university (AEI) or technical college (TEI) students, 455 were parents whose children are at university or at school and another 1,002 were members of the general public. Of the students and parents polled, nine out of 10 said they believed the proposed changes were necessary and expressed their desire for a better syllabus, more enthusiasm from professors and regular assessment of academics.

Most of the respondents also expressed an openness to planned changes that have professors? and students? unions up in arms, including the abolition of under-attended faculties, the introduction of a system linking a university?s funding to its evaluation and a ban on university sit-ins.

Almost all of the students questioned (97 percent) said the reforms should be pushed through. Interestingly, nearly the same proportion of students (95 percent) said they believed vehement protests by student and professors? unions would probably result in only some of the proposed reforms being adopted or possibly none at all.

A large proportion of the parents also (79.4 percent) said the proposed changes should be implemented.

Many students (75.5 percent) said they believed the recruitment of professors who had worked abroad would be beneficial. A total of 88.6 percent called for the creation of postgraduate schools within universities while 76.2 percent called for measures to link higher education to the job market.

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