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Changing times, challenging university structures

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:02
At one time a basic education was considered to be successfully completed with a certificate from a secondary school. Its importance was evidenced by the fact that, internationally, that education ...

Future of outward higher education internationalisation

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 07:04
In a recent book, I define internationalisation as the process of integrating a higher education institut ...

Safeguarding international students at work

The PIE News - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 06:31

“Exploitation among international students is no longer a peculiar phenomenon,” says Nina Khairina, national president of the Council of International Students Australia. “It is almost to the point where it seems normal.”

Khairina’s comments about exploitation in the workplace represent a serious problem for an international education industry that is aiming to improve the overall study experience for foreign students. 

International students play an integral role within both Australian and New Zealand workforces, taking jobs largely in the hospitality, retail, construction and cleaning industries. Working while studying is an opportunity for students to make some extra money to cover additional expenses; a chance to interact with the wider community; and a means to get much needed work experience and develop soft skills before starting their careers.

“Exploitation among international students is no longer a peculiar phenomenon”

But as Khairina points out, when it goes wrong, working while studying can be a situation which creates problems for students: their limited knowledge of workplace rights, cultural misunderstandings and, at times, desperation for money leads to exploitation so extreme in some cases that it resembles modern day slavery.

Mostly out of sight from the public eye, despite several highly publicised incidents involving convenience store chain 7-Eleven and Australian department store Myer, well-established exploitation strategies are a pervasive problem which threatens to damage the reputations of both Australia and New Zealand’s international education industries.

While a programme is in session, students in New Zealand can work up to 20 hours part-time per week if they are in their final two years of secondary schooling, a tertiary programme with a minimum two years duration, or in an English language course that meets certain requirements. During holiday periods, students may work full-time, while postgraduate students can work full-time throughout the year.

Australia similarly allows part-time work for appropriately aged students in secondary school, tertiary education or English education while their programme is in session, but students must not work more than 40 hours a fortnight. Working hour allowances for coursework-based master’s and doctorate courses are both uncapped, as too are all other students when their course is on break.

Bare Necessities

Students and government officials have different interpretations of the purpose behind working while studying.

“The ability to work while studying can be a good experience for an international student”

Both Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and Immigration New Zealand are clear: working while studying should be treated as a cultural and career opportunity.

“The ability to work while studying can be a good experience for an international student, especially if they find work in an area that is related to their study,” says INZ general manager, Stephen Dunstan. “The ability to work part-time while studying also connects international students to the New Zealand labour market context.”

According to both departments, work rights aren’t meant for students to pay tuition or living costs, and international students are required to either prove or declare their financial capacity to cover both while studying before they can receive a visa. But according to Khairina, the belief that students seek work for cultural experiences is less than pragmatic.

Accommodation shortages driving up rent prices, lack of transport concessions and rising living costs all contribute to additional spending while studying in both Australia and New Zealand. Khairina says money from work becomes a necessity for many international students.

And she adds that financial jams aren’t the only situations that can lead to a student being exploited.

International students can lack awareness of their workplace rights, often being told they are entitled to far less than they are; they fear deportation or inability to find a job; or an employer confiscates their passport and uses it as a bartering tool to get them to undertake work to earn it back.

“If you don’t get paid or you’re underpaid, it means that your tenancy becomes an issue”

The dangers of visa breach

In Australia, Redfern Legal Centre’s international students’ service solicitor, Sean Stimson, compares the conditions of some international students to slavery.

Stimson says while the traditional model of underpayment coupled with cash-in-hand wages still exists, a new and arguably more serious evolution of that model has emerged. Now, underpayment or non-payment is used to blackmail students.

“There’s a knock-on effect that happens with underpayment or non-payment. Students have a job to pay for their accommodation. If you don’t get paid or you’re underpaid, it means that your tenancy becomes an issue; you have the potential to become homeless,” he says.

What’s being done?

There are several governmental and third party organisations fighting labour exploitation.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, through its Labour Inspectorate, and INZ have been particularly active in working together to investigate employment law breaches.

“The Labour Inspectorate encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the employment situation of someone they know, to call its contact centre where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment,” says Mason.

Concerns raised through this service have resulted in heavy fines for several employers, including one instance of a New Zealand restaurant forced to pay NZ$91,000 in law breaches and wage arrears.

INZ itself also provides extensive information to international students once a visa is issued.

“There is a wealth of information available for students coming to New Zealand,” says Dunstan at INZ. Websites such as NZ Study+Work, New Zealand Now, NZ Ready and the New to New Zealand Facebook page were all developed to empower students to recognise exploitation before it occurs, he adds.

Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman similarly partners with DIBP to investigate exploitative practices and enforce penalties. The record fine went to a Brisbane 7-Eleven franchise, which was forced to pay over A$400,000 for underpaying workers.

Third-party organisation RLC, which provides free-of-charge legal services to the New South Wales community, and United Voice, which has authored several reports exposing exploitative companies, both work closely with international students to fight exploitation, with United Voice also providing information to help students avoid these situations.

“We really want to ensure students have a great education here and an overall great experience”

But, despite the good work of these organisations, resources are stretched.

StudyNSW director Peter Mackey points out, however, that his organisation has limited funding to continue its support. To ensure their few resources go as far as possible, United Voice and RLC and other organisations battling exploitation are starting to focus their efforts on on thwarting it at the root.

Future Moves

After revising its Pastoral Care for International Students Code of Practice earlier this year, New Zealand is looking to further cement its commitment to positive student experiences with the development of the International Student Wellbeing Strategy, a cross-department approach to the industry’s responsibilities to international students.

“For a couple of years now, we’ve been trying to work out a way we can look at it from a student perspective rather than a government perspective,” says John Goulter, general manager of stakeholders, communications and intelligence at international education peak body, Education New Zealand.

The strategy, he says, seeks to cover the whole student life cycle with four main points: quality education, economic wellbeing, health and safety, and inclusion. Workplace exploitation will be addressed by the strategy.

Goulter, like many others within both the New Zealand and Australian international education industries, is very clear why he is undertaking work to protect international students from workplace exploitation.

“We really want to ensure students have a great education here and an overall great experience. Anybody who undermines that will see that there are consequences.”

  • This is an abridged version of an article which first appeared in The PIE Review edition 12.

The post Safeguarding international students at work appeared first on The PIE News.

London rises, Montreal wins in latest student city index

The PIE News - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 05:22

The bilingual French-English city of Montreal in Canada is officially the best student city in the world, according to the latest QS Best Student Cities ranking, with Paris dropping to the number-two position and London rising up the ranks to be considered the third best.

This year, the cities were ranked based on a survey of 18,000 recent graduates and students as well as the usual five metrics of: university rankings, student mix, desirability, employer activity and affordability.

Seoul in South Korea and Melbourne in Australia made a diverse top five, with another four countries in the top 10: Germany, Japan, the US and Hong Kong.

Only Canada and Germany had two cities in the top 10, with Montreal and Vancouver placing first and 10th, and Berlin and Munich placing sixth and ninth.

At McGill University, which is the highest ranked of Montreal’s two universities, staff welcomed the news but said the city’s creative spirit was unquestionable. “While I find this amazing news, I can’t really say I am surprised,” said Ollivier Dyens, McGill deputy provost student life and learning.

“We know from years of research that the most creative cities are also the most tolerant”

“Montreal is a city where ‘Il fait bon vivre’,” he said. “Montrealers, like McGillians, are tolerant, gentle and creative and they welcome students and immigrants from all over the world with open arms. And we know from years of research that the most creative cities are also the most tolerant.”

Another interesting finding this year was that all of the UK’s cities rose up the rankings, suggesting that the Brexit decision hasn’t hindered the UK’s appeal to international students.

In fact, according to QS, the UK’s ascendency was in part due to its improved affordability, thanks to the weakened value of the pound sterling.

With London in third position, Edinburgh was in 18th position, Manchester in 23rd and Glasgow in 34th within the top 50.

“It’s great to see the continued appeal of London and the UK in general after a year of political surprises and change,” commented Gary Davies, director of recruitment and international development at Roehampton University.

“This result reflects the great experience that London and its universities have to offer students and we are all working hard to ensure that experience is even better in the future than it is now.”

Seoul in South Korea also fared very well this year, moving up six positions to fourth. Seoul has 18 universities that feature in QS’s World University Rankings, including Seoul National University, ranked at 35.

Top ten Best Student Cities, 2017

  • Montreal
  • Paris
  • London
  • Seoul
  • Melbourne
  • Berlin
  • Tokyo
  • Boston
  • Munich
  • Vancouver

The post London rises, Montreal wins in latest student city index appeared first on The PIE News.

Auditors criticise science super-campus near Paris

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 05:02
France's government auditor has taken a sharp swipe at efforts to develop a science super-campus near Paris that, by 2020, was supposed to rival the world's top campus universities, such as Americ ...

Legal academics urge PM to cancel Trump visit

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 05:01
British Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged by 250 legal academics to cancel Donald Trump's state visit and scale back Britain's support for the United States until he reverses his positions ...

More than nine in 10 universities restrict free speech

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 05:00
More than nine in 10 universities in the United Kingdom are restrictive of free speech, according to a new report that raises concerns over the issue of censorship on campuses, writes Rachael Pell ...

Campus violence rising across the country

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 05:00
Campus violence is on the rise in universities across Pakistan. More than a dozen clashes have been reported during a six-month period between student wings of various religious, political and eth ...

Dalai Lama invite by US-Indian chancellor angers China

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:59
India will face serious consequences if its overseas citizens meddle in Chinese affairs by courting and promoting Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, a Chinese newspaper has said, continuing the recent ...

Students gives state deadline to end lecturer strike

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:58
University student leaders in Kenya have given the government a deadline to deal with a lecturer strike or face student unrest, writes Emmanuel Wanjala for The Star.


International student completion rates remain high

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:57
The number of international students completing their studies at Australian universities and non-university higher education institutions has remained steady for the fourth consecutive year, accor ...

Minister calls arson attacks at universities 'barbaric'

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:56
Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has called on communities to help authorities track down and bring to book criminals responsible for arson attacks at universities, writes ...

Young women have higher education levels than men

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:55
Women's education levels have increased in the Czech Republic, as more than one-third of women aged 25 to 34, but only a quarter of men in the same age group, are university graduates, reports ...

Universities lagging in race for donations

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:54
A recent donation of US$115 million by billionaires Chen Tianqiao and Chrissy Luo Qianqian, the founders of internet game giant Shanda, to the California Institute of Technology for brain research ...

Unemployed graduates 'still at acceptable level'

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:53
An education official in Vietnam said the number of university graduates who are jobless must not discourage students from pursuing higher education, reports VietNamNet Bridge ...

Universities turn a blind eye to disability

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:52
A new report claims that visually impaired students are being failed by Ireland's education system and are 50% less likely to go to college than their classmates, writes Aoife Finneran for ...

Ministry urges private higher institutions to merge

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:52
Out of 4,455 higher education institutions in Indonesia, more than 3,200 are private and many of them are not run effectively - which is why the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Educati ...

Economists reject full higher education tuition subsidy

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:51
Economic managers are opposing proposals to fully subsidise tuition in state universities and colleges, saying it would not be beneficial to the poor and would be a financial drain for the governm ...

University president seeks exchanges in the sciences

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:49
The University of Costa Rica has been stepping up its efforts to expand cooperation with Korean universities and institutions, especially in the sciences, writes Chung Hyun-chae for ...

Idle research network reactivated after more than a year

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 04:49
The Nigerian Research and Education Network has been reactivated after lying idle for more than one year, after funds were made available, writes Chike Onwuegbuchi for The Gua ...