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Funding boost for Commonwealth scholarship scheme

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 08:04

The UK government has announced a £5m funding boost to a scholarship scheme under which Commonwealth countries offer scholarships to students and academics from other member states.

This will allow to create an additional 150 scholarships by 2025 for students who wish to undertake postgraduate degrees at universities in low and middle-income countries.

“This scheme…will enable more of our talented young people to access life-changing opportunities to study across The Commonwealth”

“For young people across the Commonwealth, sharing in this partnership presents a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures. It also gives us the chance to share learning from our respective education systems and to draw inspiration from across the globe, so that every child gets the education they deserve,” said UK education secretary Damian Hinds in a statement announcing the new funding from the Department for Education.

“This investment builds on this celebrated relationship by offering even more young people around the world the opportunity to further their education at a Commonwealth university abroad,” he said.

The new scholarships, which have been renamed Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, were announced by Prince Harry at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in April, where he was appointed Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

“This scheme…will enable more of our talented young people to access life-changing opportunities to study across The Commonwealth, for generations to come,” he said in his speech.

“I am also proud that in recognition of Her Majesty The Queen’s extraordinary service to the Commonwealth, these scholarships will be known as The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships.”

The £13.4m Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme is open to students from all Commonwealth countries.

However, the UK’s recent £5m will be targeted specifically at students from countries eligible for overseas development assistance who want to pursue further studies in leading universities, according to the UK government.

The scholarships cover travel expenses, tuition fees and a living allowance but don’t cover distance learning. Only postgraduate students from a Commonwealth country other than the host country are eligible.

The new scholars will begin their studies in 2019, marking the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth and the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

“Scholarships have a transformational impact on the lives of individuals”

The scheme is funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan endowment fund, an inter-governmental fund established in 1959 and managed by the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

The CSFP has provided over 35,000 scholarships since its creation, according to ACU.

Commenting on the expansion of the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, ACU chief executive and secretary general Joanna Newman said the scheme will have far-reaching benefits for both the individuals and the society.

“Scholarships have a transformational impact on the lives of individuals and also, more importantly, on their wider communities and societies, thanks to the skills and knowledge gained,”said Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU in a statement.

“I am delighted that the ACU will play a vital role in securing these educational opportunities for young people across all member countries. The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme is a valuable, inclusive programme which will have a far-reaching impact for generations to come.”

ACU head of strategic partnerships Faye Taylor told The PIE News that higher education is a key element to strengthen relationships within the Commonwealth.

“Mobility between Commonwealth countries builds the personal and institutional relationships that will strengthen the Commonwealth as a network of people,” she said.

“As such, higher education needs to be a key feature of Commonwealth collaboration.”

Additional reporting by Anton Crace. 

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A two-way street: why China is not just a student departure lounge anymore

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 05:19

Mainland China has long been known as something of a student departure lounge. Between 1978 and 2016, it is estimated that more than 4.5 million Chinese studied outside their home country, to the huge cultural and financial benefit of the universities in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and beyond.

It has not always been a two-way street. According to The New York Times, just 20 years ago there were only 3.4 million students studying in China.

Today, however, it is thought that more than 26 million people are enrolled in Chinese universities, and nearly 490,000 of them are from overseas.

“China wants to be seen as a major player internationally in terms of higher education”

Times, it seems, are changing. China wants to be seen as a premier higher education destination – and some would argue it already is.

Indeed, the country is now behind only the US and the UK in terms of the total number of international students on its campuses, and has been for several years.

It is well on course to meet its self-imposed target of hosting 500,000 international students by 2020 – a figure that, based on current numbers, would see it leapfrog the UK in that particular league table.

“Last year we had the highest number of international students we have had over the last five years,” says Iris Yuan, director of international affairs at The Sino-British College, an international university college established by the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology and nine British universities.

“International student numbers have increased 45% in that time, [and] here is the rationale. China wants to be seen as a major player internationally in terms of higher education. The government wants to boost the internationalisation for our universities as part of a ‘soft power’ policy to project China internationally.”

More than 489,000 international students were studying in China between in 2017, a 10% rise compared to 2016. According to Ministry of Education data, there has been a 299% increase since 2004.

Source: Ministry of Education / Center for Strategic and International Studies

Much of this recent growth is arguably down to the One Belt One Road Initiative, one of the largest overseas investment drives ever launched.

It is, primarily, an infrastructure project. Some $900 billion has been allocated to initiatives that will boost both land (the ‘Belt’) and sea (the old ‘Silk Road’) trade routes which run West, to Europe, via Asia. China says its aim is to usher in a ‘new era of globalisation’ that will benefit not only itself, but all countries in the region.

“The One Belt, One Road strategy is aimed not only at strengthening exchanges between China and the rest of the world, but also at ensuring the development of Asia,” explains Yuan. “Education is the one of the most important aspects of this strategy.”

The number of China-based African students increased 26-fold to around 50,000 between 2003 and 2015

Wang Huiyao, founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, an influential Beijing-based think-tank, agrees. “We are still lagging behind by the US on soft power,” he said at the launch of a CCG report on international student mobility earlier this year.

“There are more than 300 world leaders including presidents, prime ministers and ministers around the globe that graduated from US universities, but only a few foreign leaders that graduated from Chinese universities, so we still need to exercise effort to boost academic exchange and educate more political elites from other countries. The Belt and Road initiative is a good chance to achieve this goal.”

It appears to be paying off. The number of students heading to China from India, Indonesia, Laos, Pakistan and Thailand – all countries affected by the initiative – has increased more than 20% on average from 2016 to 2017.

The CCG speculates that because One Belt One Road has created jobs for people in these countries, local people are more motivated – and financially more able – to study in China.

However, it is not just countries along the Silk Road that China see as fertile ground for student recruitment. The number of China-based African students increased 26-fold to around 50,000 between 2003 and 2015, according to the Unesco Institute for Statistics. This puts China second only to France in terms of the number of students it attracts from the African continent.

“The number of English taught programmes has increased by 63% in the last five years”

Numbers from countries with more established and prestigious higher education systems are on the up too. There were twice as many US origin students studying in China in 2015 (12,790) compared to 2005 (6,391), for example, while the number of UK students studying there is reported to have tripled over the same period. One of the drivers of this rise has been a proliferation in courses taught in English.

“Most of universities in China are offering a good number of English taught programmes now,” Yuan explains. “The number of English taught programmes has increased by 63% in the last five years.”

The recruitment drive in the English-speaking world was evident at this year’s Student World exhibitions in the UK – recruitment fairs profiling study abroad opportunities.

At the 2018 events in Manchester and London, 36 Chinese institutions booked exhibition space. This is a significant increase over the two previous years, when only one Chinese institution had exhibited at the events.

University of Shanghai, library. Photo: YULIN Peng/Wikimedia Commons

 

“There are so many misconceptions about studying in China”

The type of course that China’s international students are studying once they arrive in China is changing too. According to the Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in 2016 more than 40% of foreign students in China are studying the Chinese language.

This figure represents a 15% drop compared with 2012. Conversely, the number of students on non-language courses is on the up, and the number of international PhD and Master’s students has jumped 49% and 28% respectively (see table).

Another reason for the soaring popularity of study in China is the number of scholarships on offer. In 2017, some 58,600 international students received a government scholarship compared to just 8,500 in 2006.

“There are so many misconceptions about studying in China,” says Richard Coward, chief executive of China Admissions, which assists international students wanting to study in China. “Things are changing so fast. You’ve really got to be here to see it.”

“Foreigners are coming to get a high-quality education at an affordable price… and more and more are taking full degrees, whereas before they were mostly on more short-term programmes. It is becoming a serious study destination.”

In addition to stepping up efforts to attract international students, China is also taking steps to encourage these students to remain in the country after graduation.

In 2017, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security decreed that international students who had obtained a master’s degree or above from a Chinese institution within the last year were eligible for work permits of up to five years. There are other examples too, such as the Science Innovation Center in Shanghai, which offers a two-year residence permit for international students who work or do an internship.

Why Chinese students are staying put

Although China remains the world’s top place of origin for international students, the increase in the number of Chinese opting to study abroad has been slowing in recent years. According to China’s Ministry of Education, in 2016 a total of 544,500 Chinese went abroad to study. Although this is 4% higher than 2015, the growth rate went down by about 10% on the previous year.

Security is one of the main concerns for Chinese students considering an international higher education

Between 2016 and 2017, the number of international students admitted to US higher education institutions fell by 3.7%, year on year, according to IIE, while in the UK, there was relative stability.

Security is one of the main concerns for Chinese students considering an international higher education. Specifically, the CCG cites the case of Yingying Zhang, a female Chinese student who disappeared in June 2017 in the US, as one high profile case that may have deterred a number of would-be overseas students.

Figures from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs show that between 2014 and 2016, the number of Chinese students overseas making requests for consular assistance leapt from 932 to more than 6,100 – another part of the narrative that might deter would-be international students from heading overseas.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, and the relatively conservative, inward-looking nature of his administration, may have acted as a deterrent. In fact, the number of US F1 visas issued to students from mainland China in 2016 was 148,000 –  drop of 46% when compared with the previous year. This drop continued in 2017, though was less steep.

In addition, the reputation of China’s own higher education institution is steadily rising. In 2015, China announced the “Double First-Class initiative”, which aims to increase the global standing of its higher education system.

By the end of 2049 – the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic – China intends to have 42 “world class” universities.

This agenda, combined with the sheer number of Chinese students who have studied overseas, means the competitive advantage gained by having a foreign degree may not be as highly prized.

Image: Anthonychong/Pixabay

According to government data, 45% of returnees have a starting monthly salary of below 6,000 yuan ($910), and only about 6% can boast a monthly income of over 20,000 yuan. When the expenses of studying abroad are factored in, the attractiveness of international study may be understandably dampened.

“China is the future, and to study there means you can get a good degree for cheaper than the UK or the US”

As a departure lounge, then, China’s future seems less certain. While its young people are still heading to overseas universities in record numbers, the striking growth charts may tail off.

In arrivals, though, the future seems much clearer. From the very top of government, the intention is to push China as a destination for students, and to further its reputation for quality higher education.

“China is the future, and to study there means you can get a good degree for cheaper than the UK or the US, and also learn the language,” says Kate, a 16-year-old attending the Student World exhibition in London. “I’m seriously considering it.”

According to recent trends, she is most certainly not alone.

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ENZ leverages future of work position

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 03:15

Education New Zealand has launched a new campaign to tap into the ongoing global conversation around the future of work, leveraging its position as the number one study destination for future-focused learning.

The eight-week campaign, Future Proof, aims to promote the country to international students and build a network of highly engaged potential learners after the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked New Zealand as having the best teaching environment in the 2017 Worldwide Educating for the Future Index.

“Students need to future-proof their careers because of the enormous pace of change that they will face over the next 50 years,” said John Goulter, ENZ’s general manager stakeholders and communications.

“To help students prepare for this future and to thrive with this unprecedented level of change, the [EIU] report said students need to acquire a raft of specific skills – interdisciplinary skills, creative and analytical skills, entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, digital and technical skills, and global awareness and civic education.

“Education is increasingly less about learning information and more about analysing and using information.”

Speaking with The PIE News, Goulter said Future Proof was the single largest marketing campaign undertaken by ENZ, adding so far, it had reached over 30 million people and had over 12 million global target audience engagements through video and ENZ’s digital channels.

“Students need to future-proof their careers because of the enormous pace of change they will face”

The next step, he said, was converting engagement into leads for institutions, which to date has been very successful.

“We have converted this interest into 58,382 active visits to Study in New Zealand,” he told The PIE.

“From these active visits, we’ve had more than 6,800 database sign-ups and almost 12,600 referrals through to our partner institutions.”

The future of work continues to be a major talking point around the world, with several conferences themed on the subject.

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British English Olympics 2018 winner named

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 01:57

Mexican K-12 school Instituto Moderno Americano has been named as the winner of the British English Olympics 2018, which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Operated by UK-based English language course provider Oxford International Education Group, the British English Olympics see students from bilingual schools all over the world compete in a series of challenges that test their English language, critical thinking and public speaking skills.

“In Yucatán we are very proud of you”

“Our competition is an exciting English language and academic contest designed for the world’s brightest international students,” reads a statement from BEO.

This year’s winner, Instituto Moderno Americano, is a bilingual school located in the city of Mérida, the capital of the Mexican State of Yucatán.

The school celebrated its victory with a series of posts on Facebook, congratulating the 14 students who took part in the competition and the teachers who accompanied them.

Governor of Yucatán Rolando Zapata Bello also congratulated the winners in a Facebook post. “In Yucatán we are very proud of you,” he said.


The students defeated 38 other schools from 23 different countries to reach the podium.

Since its launch in 2008, the British English Olympics have seen 10,000 students from 300 schools compete for the title, an Oxford International spokesperson told The PIE. Past winners have included schools from India, Venezuela and Brazil.

The competition is open to students aged 12 to 16 years old and takes places over the course of a two-week study holiday in the UK.

Participants stay in four boarding schools and compete in a series of tasks including debates, presentations, role-plays and drama performances.

The best teams from each boarding school go on to the semi-finals, where six teams are then selected for the finals.

Performances are judged on three main areas: presentation skills, use of English and content.

 

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Russia invites students in ‘unfriendly’ nations back home

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 08:05

The Russian government has launched a plan to attract Russian students in nations seen as “unfriendly” to the Russian Federation back home.

The Federal Agency for the commonwealth of independent states affairs, compatriots living abroad, and international humanitarian cooperation, or ‘Rossotrudnichestvo’, is understood to have made the policy in reaction to the accusations from the British government that Moscow was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. 

The plan is called “Highly Likely Welcome Back, OR it’s time to go home!” referencing the words of British PM May, who said it was “highly likely” Moscow was behind the poisoning.

“Most people want to keep politics out of student mobility”

A representative of the agency confirmed to the Russian media that the name was not an accident, and was indeed referencing May’s words in parliament.

According to Novaya Gazeta, the project’s creators at the agency believed the plan was necessary as students are pressurised in the UK “for political reasons”.

“There are serious fears that young Russians may suffer from provocations in countries that show unfriendly attitude towards our country,” the policy presentation said.

“As we know, the domestic politics in a host of countries, and in Europe in particular, have increasingly taken on a harshly expressed anti-Russian character. We are obligated to highlight the negative influence of Russophobic attitudes on the activity of our compatriots,” an unnamed official told Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.

Around 60,000 Russians studied outside the country according to the Education and Science Ministry’s latest data.

The PIE News understands that Russian government agencies are making physical steps to prepare for the potential return of Russian students, and MGIMO University (Moscow State Institute of International Relations) is said to be prepared to accept at least 100 new students as a matter of urgency, if needed. 

“There are serious fears that young Russians may suffer from provocations”

The Kremlin is also reportedly preparing to help returning students find jobs if and when they arrive in Russia. It is also understood that mobile study opportunities in regions which may be more receptive to Russian students, such as Asia, may be offered to returnees.

However, the UK industry does not seem to have been affected by the policy – at least not yet.

Dominic Scott, chief executive of UKCISA, said international students tend to be more focused on their studies than international politics, and it remains unlikely that Russian students would want to leave the UK over this issue.

“Most people want to keep politics out of student mobility and educational exchanges – and we hope they do!” he said. 

“Regardless of the politics, students won’t want to uproot mid course and go home. And most who are privately sponsored, may not take much notice of official government ‘invitations’ – choosing to make up their own minds on what is best for their future careers,” Scott added. 

 A spokesperson for the British Council, which was recently expelled from the Russian Federation, told The PIE that educational opportunities should be seen as a vital route for dialogue – and even more so when diplomatic tensions rise. 

“It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become difficult, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain on-going dialogue between people and institutions.

“We remain committed to the development of long-term people-to-people links with Russia as we do in over 100 other countries,” they added. 

However, in the immediate wake of the attack on the Skripals, a number of Russian education agents told The PIE they were concerned by the breakdown in diplomatic relations. Others said they have already had to persuade Russian parents that the UK is safe, following public fears of Russophobia.

Neither the British Embassy in Moscow, the UK Foreign Office, or the Russian agency in question have responded to further requests for comment.

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Thailand renews Pakistan scholarships MOU

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 05:05

A new set of Pakistan scholarships will provide access to Thailand’s Asian Institute of Technology after the provider signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pakistani Higher Education Commission in March.

The MoU, which replaces a recently expired agreement, will resume AIT scholarships for Pakistani students, particularly at a doctoral level, to alleviate institutional growing pains, and further research collaboration between the two countries. It will also provide support for Pakistan to internationalise its universities.

“Once a country has its own critical mass of competent faculty, doctoral graduates can be home-grown at an exponential rate”

“Under the direction of HEC, the enrollment in higher education in Pakistan has increased so rapidly and subsequently creates an urgent demand for qualified faculty members,” AIT president Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai said on Facebook.

“In order to ensure educational quality, HEC has considered a top priority to upgrade university faculty. Currently only 26% of university faculty have doctoral degrees.”

Pakistan recently set a target for 40% of faculty staff to hold a PhD across its 188 universities by 2025.

“Aside from the international exposure, doctoral graduates from overseas help jump-start international network,” Kanok-Nukulchai said.

“Once a country has its own critical mass of competent faculty, doctoral graduates can be home-grown at an exponential rate.”

During the meetings to finalise the MoU, HEC chairman Mukhtar Ahmed said Pakistan was placing a high importance on research collaboration with other countries to solve mutual problems.

According to reports, both countries will collaborate on joint research into water resources, engineering, solar energy, food security, structures and urban planning and environment, however, full details will be finalised later.

Negotiations for a free trade agreement are currently underway between the two countries, which Thai officials hope will double trade with Pakistan.

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CISA calls for better student accommodation

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 02:45

The discovery of six international students living on campus in a 24-hour study facility has lead to calls for Australian universities and education providers to take more responsibility for student accommodation.

Council of International Students Australia national president Bijay Sapkota said the students, who were staying overnight in a Charles Sturt University library, highlighted growing issues with the ballooning costs of international education in Australia.

“Universities should consider housing as services, not as a financial asset”

“International students spend about $120,000 for a course in Australia, let’s say, and then they have to spend an additional amount on the housing. If it’s university housing, it’s more expensive,” he said.

Sapkota added institutions should start to reconsider how they view their student accommodation options and should start thinking about how to reduce housing costs.

“Universities should consider housing as services, not as a financial asset because international students are already being charged a lot of money and the fee is ever growing,” he said.

According to reports, the six students reside in Sydney during the weekend, but travel more than four hours northwards during the week to attend classes in Port Macquarie on CSU’s campus.

Speaking with ABC News, CSU deputy vice-chancellor Jenny Roberts said the students were provided with a variety of options and had now found appropriate accommodation in Port Macquarie, but Sapkota told The PIE that pre-departure information was often lacking for students.

“Pre-flight information is very, very important and education agents have a key role in informing students about to where to go and how,” he said.

“A lot of students are not even aware of their rights,” he added, pointing to recent instances of exploitation in accommodation and workplaces.

Education minister Simon Birmingham agreed with Sapkota’s call for more responsibility from providers, but warned students that they should not be seeking money-saving options like this in the future.

“It is up to Australian universities to make sure that when they enrol students there is appropriate support for those students, as well as in terms of accommodation,” he said.

“They do deserve to get a great experience while they’re here, a positive study experience, a wonderful experience of Australia, but also they are appropriately looking after themselves and being looked after.”

Student accommodation continues to make headlines around the world as destination countries struggle to keep up with demand. In 2017, students in the Netherlands were discovered living in tents.

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Navitas university partnerships enrolments up 6%

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:14

Navitas has recorded 3% growth in student enrolments for the first semester of 2018 in its University Partnerships Division, bringing its total enrolment growth across the division for the 2018 financial year to 6%. However, this is lower than market forecasts and comes after almost 8%  growth in the final semester of 2017.

Equivalent full-time student units for the first 2018 semester were 19,615 across the University Partnerships Division compared to of 19,047 in the previous period. This included enrolments of approximately 1,450 equivalent full-time student units from Navitas’ four joint venture colleges.

“This is solid growth, just above our stated 2020 growth targets”

Navitas reported that enrolments at Australian and New Zealand colleges increased by 4% compared to the prior period, following solid enrolment growth in Australia.

According to the Navitas report, the growth rate slowed in the last semester as the Simplified Student Visa Framework contributed towards a bias by international students towards the highest ranked SSVF universities and postgraduate studies.

Enrolments in North America increased by 2% compared to the previous period, driven by strong enrolments in Navitas’ Canadian colleges offset by the continued fall in enrolments in the US.

The report stated that higher visa rejection rates and ongoing uncertainty caused by the Trump administration’s approach to immigration continue to reduce international student volumes into many US universities.

Meanwhile, UK enrolments increased by 6%, driven mainly by continued higher numbers of European Union students seeking to study in the UK.

“With the semester one intake now finalised we have achieved 6% enrolment growth in the University Partnerships division in FY18 compared to FY17. This is solid growth, just above our stated 2020 growth targets,” said Navitas chief executive officer David Buckingham.

He said that while growth in Australia has slowed, they are actively working with the sector to enhance the sustainability of Australia’s international education sector.”

While the US remains “challenging”, Buckingham said that as it is the number one destination for international students they will continue to support the internationalisation objectives of their partner universities and that they are close to capacity at both colleges in Canada.

“The ongoing improvement in UK student enrolments is encouraging though more meaningful changes to immigration policy will need to occur for sustained growth,” Buckingham added.

“We continue to see pressure building on the UK Government to exclude international student numbers from the UK’s immigration quota and strongly support that proposed reform.”

In January 2018, Navitas reported a 4.6% drop in revenue for the half-year ending December 31.

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LSE pay students over “mould and mice”

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:13

The London School of Economics has paid a group of international post-graduate students £500 each after they complained of sub-standard accommodation in a central London hall of residence, operated by Unite Students.

In July 2017 the students launched a crowdfunding campaign, hoping to raise cash for a legal challenge when they claimed the housing conditions were both a health risk and a breach of tenancy agreement.

“I am pleased that we have been able to resolve the complaints with a small payment”

The students paid £9,000 each for the year-long tenancy.

The Sidney Webb House, which also lent its name to the student action group, was said to be infested with rodents, have a “widespread” mould problem, and lacked functional ventilation systems.

The students instructed lawyers at Edwin Coe to instigate legal action against LSE and Unite. In a statement Edwin Coe’s lead partner, David Greene, said that not only were the conditions atrocious, but the international students’ complaints went unheeded.

“The accommodation was damp, unheated and lacked hot water for extended periods causing students to fall ill.  Complaints made by students fell on deaf ears,” it read.

In a statement made in July, Unite said they did not “accept any suggestion that the accommodation is the cause of any medical ill health”.

Declining to make fresh comment, Unite directed The PIE to its corporate media page, though no further statement could be found.

Upon the receipt of the settlement payment, Greene said he was pleased with the payment, and the apologies from both LSE and Unite.

“I am pleased that we have been able to resolve the complaints with a small payment by the University but more important the University and Unite have issued apologies and undertaken to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The LSE released a brief statement upon conclusion of the case, and both Unite and LSE have given assurances that the block has been fully refurbished.

“We are pleased a resolution has been agreed with the students affected,” the statement read.  

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Izzeldin Abuelaish, Founder, Daughters for Life, Gaza / Canada

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 06:24
Izzeldin Abuelaish was born a refugee in Jabalia camp in the Gaza Strip. He battled poverty and war to become the first Palestinian doctor to work in an Israeli hospital, and expert of gynaecology and obstetrics. But tragedy struck in 2009, when three of his daughters, Bessan, 21, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 13 along with their cousin Noor, 17, were killed in his home by an Israeli shell. Since their deaths, he has vowed not to respond with hatred, but love. He set up the Daughters for Life Foundation, which through international partnerships gives girls and young women in the Middle East the opportunity to study around the world.

 

The PIE News: What do you think educators around the world can do to make access to education more open?

Izzeldin Abuelaish: Number one, we need to discuss what a developed education is. Education for me is a means to an end, not the goal. And at the same time, it’s an investment in the present and the future generations. Education is the light which guides us in times of trouble. It’s the light that shows us our way – not to live in vacuum. And it’s a right! It’s a human right.

If you go to any country and you want to know about the level of development – ask about the level of women’s education.

“Women are the incubator of our world”

Education crosses barriers and has a social, human, free, just, peaceful, healthy impact on all.  In a time when you see fear, incitement, hatred, poverty, injustice and diseases in the world, education is the only way out. It brings people together, towards one goal, to realise and to find humanity – not to see themselves, but to see others, and to connect with others.

The PIE: Your foundation works by moving people without opportunity in the Middle East to Canada and other countries, do you think students can move the other way, is that something you’d like to see?

IA: And that’s the education that needs to be used as a means – in a world which is becoming smaller we need to know each other, in a time a challenge in this world is ignorance of ourselves and others.

We need to communicate, we need to go, we need to travel – travelling is not for fun, it has many benefits! To understand a culture, to know the ‘others’, to find the commonalities between the people, and to be ambassadors to each other. Because most of the challenges come from lack of understanding and not knowing each other.

So I fully support the exchange of education. Because it’s not that they’re going to be educated by the institution, they will be educated about the culture, about the life, about the environment, about everything.  We have to smash barriers.

The PIE: How has internationalisation and moving between countries shaped your life and journey?

It changed my life, my journey. I feel like a world citizen. Travelling everywhere, I can belong to every place I go. It’s not where I am, it’s who I am.

“I want you to express yourself and be open and free in life”

The world is a mosaic. And that’s why it changed me and made me see the beauty of our world. And I belong to this world.

Today I am in London. I am here, and I live here as I am here. I engage with the community. I go to Canada, and I’m a Canadian there.

Education depends on who you are and where you are. We want education that can equalise people. To use it as an engine to promote equality, humanity, peace and freedom for all.

We need education that questions things. I encourage my students– I don’t want them to be receptive, education is a mutual exchange, even between the staff and students. We need to encourage students to express themselves. I don’t want them to satisfy me, I want them to challenge me.

I tell them, I don’t want you to cut and paste – what do you think? If it goes with logic or not, if you accept it or not: tell me what you think. I want you to express yourself and be open and free in your own way of living.

Because in your freedom of thinking, you will be creative and tackle many of the challenges, but if I restrict you, there will be no innovation or creativity. So we believe in the human mind – its ability to be creative is beyond limits.

The PIE: Have you seen changes in the past 10 years, in the west, but also MENA universities and how they accept women?

IA: I see that women are taking more roles in education and they are realising that they have to be educated, to be independent, and to participate and to be active members of the community, and to be decision makers.

You go to many schools, the schools of medicine in Canada and many other countries, you see 60% of the students are female. Even now, they are ‘invading’ the schools of engineering, which is male-dominated.

“Rights are not given in parts – it should be in whole”

Surgeons, they used to be male – now you can find orthopaedic surgeons who are women. They can do everything. And that’s because of education. And women started not to underestimate themselves. Because education builds confidence inside them, and it helps a lot.

The PIE: Are you looking for new partners for Daughters for Life?

IA: My visit to London is to inspire hope. During the visit I will explore the potentials for partnership with academic institutions to support Daughters for Life.

In every bad thing, there is something good. Life is what we make of it, it’s in our hands. If you want to accept the bad life, take responsibility about your life. That’s why the tragedy of the killing of my daughters, I wanted to invest it for good. Nothing is more holy and noble than education of girls and young women, and giving back to people. And that’s one of the messages I want to spread.

So we seek partnerships with HEIs in the UK . We hope for internationalisation and universalisation of education – they are not coming here just to be educated and to benefit, they will be ambassadors of the HEI when they go back. And they will start the process of collaboration, partnership and sharing.

I hope and we appeal through The PIE to UK institutions to join Daughters for Life in this partnership to support these young women. We want to choose these talented young women who are deprived of resources and we will be proud to say we did our part in making a difference in our world.

The PIE: Do you have future thoughts on expanding Daughters for Life outside of the Middle East?

IA: I would love to see Daughters for Life as international – it’s not where I am, or where I’m from, it’s about our world. So I would love to see Daughters for Life International – supporting young women from everywhere. And that’s the message, but this needs the support – we have it as a registered charity in Canada, we look forward to having it in the UK too, and having more partners so it can fulfil its message and mission.

The PIE: How can readers be involved or help?

IA: We need institutional partners to be able to give scholarships – from my side, I am ready to move ahead. This is my mission in life, to speak and communicate with educators to spread the message.

The PIE: What’s your opinion of the Saudi project 2030 and the Crown Prince’s ‘liberalisation of society’ – reforms to change the life of women?

IA: As Izzeldin, not as an Arab, as a human: I belong to this world, and I have seen this world. We, men and women, we’re created from Adam and Eve. Not two men, and one woman. We were born equal. Why? To compliment each other, to support each other. To build, develop, create – not to control or intimidate each other. Once we start to control, we create imbalance in the relationship. So what is needed to fix the imbalance? It’s important for anyone to work on this.

Concerning what is happening in Saudi Arabia, and in many parts of the world, it’s time. That’s why Daughters For Life is making it international, to advocate for equality and education of girls and young women. Because rights are not given in parts. It should be in whole.

They give life, what do you expect from a woman who gives life, nurtures life, sacrifices? She cares. 

Women are the incubator of our world.

You can learn more about partnering with Daughters For Life here

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UK: learning Mandarin will give children ‘significant’ career boost

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 05:50

More than three-quarters of UK business leaders believe fluency in Mandarin Chinese will give school leavers a career advantage, with more than a quarter saying it would be ‘significant’, according to a survey commissioned by the Mandarin Excellence Programme.

The MEP, which is delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council, is an intensive language program that was introduced in 2016 to increase the number of young people with Mandarin language skills.

Out of 1,154 senior decision makers surveyed in February 2018, 77% said that speaking a high level of Mandarin would be beneficial to school pupils in their future careers.

“The Programme is on track to have 5,000 pupils fluent in Mandarin by 2020”

Of the total respondents, 28% said the advantage to school leavers would be ‘significant’, with this percentage rising to 31% amongst those working for companies with an annual turnover of £10 million or more.

The survey also found that 69% felt that Mandarin Chinese skills – particularly conversational – would be important for UK businesses and the economy in future, although 66% said that it is currently difficult to recruit fluent speakers from within the UK workforce.

When asked about language learning more widely, 82% agreed that language teaching in schools “should reflect important potential growth markets for British trade and business”.

Respondents came from a variety of sectors including manufacturing, construction, medical and finance, and a mix of small, medium and large organisations across the country.

82% agreed that language teaching “should reflect important potential growth markets”. Image: YouGov

 

Commenting on the findings, UK schools minister Nick Gibb said young people who are fluent in Mandarin will be at an advantage when competing for jobs with their peers from around the world.

“Education standards are rising… but we must do more to ensure our education system is fit for the future demands of a modern economy,” Gibb said.

“That is why we introduced the Mandarin Excellence Programme, which is on track to have 5,000 pupils fluent in Mandarin by 2020.

“The enthusiasm and energy that both pupils and teachers are committing to this program is inspiring, and will help Britain to compete in an increasingly global economy.”

Official figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications highlight a 7.3% drop in the number of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland taking GCSE language exams in 2017.

A total of 4,104 students took Mandarin Chinese at GCSE level in the UK, as compared with 130,509 who took French.

However, head of Schools Programmes at the British Council Mark Herbert told The PIE News that Mandarin is becoming an increasingly popular language to learn.

“By the time these children complete the program, they will be approaching fluency”

“Academically, Mandarin is really interesting because it provides access to the culture and history of China,” Herbert said.

“Mandarin is a key language that [businesses] are looking for in their workforce in the future, so children who have fluency automatically have a leg up in their CV and have a career advantage.

Herbert said that because the MEP is an intensive program that requires hard work and dedication, extra funding is provided to the schools that deliver it.

“It’s intense, but the pupils have an opportunity to progress much more rapidly than with traditional European languages such as Spanish, French or German. By the time these children complete the program, they will be approaching fluency,” he said.

Director of the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute Katharine Carruthers added that MEP pupils, their parents and UK businesses should be encouraged by the success of the program.

“Employers can feel reassured that there are young people coming through the school system who can meet business needs when it comes to communicating with one of the UK’s largest trading partners,” she added.

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SI-UK expands to five new countries with new offices

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 02:29

Student recruitment firm SI-UK has announced it will expand to five countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America in April 2018, as it aims to become the world’s second largest agency of its kind.

The company, which started in Japan in 2006, has 23 offices in 15 countries including India, the UK and Turkey. It began as an agency sending Japanese students to UK HEIs, and to this day sends global students to the UK education system. It has now expanded to provide recruitment services for FE colleges and language schools, along with universities.

“Our universities have been encouraging us to open offices in these regions”

The cities in which SI-UK will open offices in 2018 are: Kathmandu, Nepal; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Bogota, Colombia; and Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

The company also plans to open six to eight new global offices each year until 2021, increasing the number of offices worldwide to over 50. If completed, SI-UK claims this goal will make it the world’s second largest educational agency.

In 2014, the it opened new offices in China, Thailand and Nigeria.

The announcement of expansion into five in 2018 comes after SI-UK assisted with over 28,000 university applications, and senior management foresees a double digit growth for the upcoming year.

Orion Judge, director of SI-UK Global said that SI-UK had been interested in opening in the five countries as they have been strong markets for study in the UK.

“Our universities have been encouraging us to open offices in these and other regions, which add to the diversity of international students studying at UK campuses,” he said.

“SI-UK’s target is to open country offices in all major UK HE recruitment markets, including upcoming markets. We are certain the SI-UK brand will become the dominant global agency brand within the next five years.”

Over 125 multi-lingual counsellors provide students with guidance, test preparation and visa support pre-departure, while UK offices in London and Manchester offer post-arrival services. Judge added that the company will employ at least a further 25 multi-lingual counsellors in new offices.

SI-UK works with over 100 UK universities, according to Judge.

“Universities sign contracts based on their regional recruitment needs,” Judge said. “Nevertheless we support a very wide group of U.K. universities in their recruitment needs.”

SI-UK operates university fairs globally, the most recent of which in London attracted over 750 students and 100 universities. The company website is published in 10 languages.

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Qualification recognition needs work in APAC

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 06:53

The Asia Pacific Association of International Education has called for more work to be done to support mutual qualification recognition across the region and increase research opportunities and mobility.

Speaking at the association’s recent conference in Singapore, APAIE president Sarah Todd said that while arrangements such as the Tokyo Convention, which recognises qualifications between some countries within the region, was helping to improve mobility, there was still further work needed.

“We’re increasingly seeing universities across the APAIE area recognising short-term mobility”

“In Europe, there is more portability of qualifications because they have an approach as a union,” she told The PIE News.

“In the Asia Pacific… we’re still nowhere near as cohesive… in terms of credit transfer and total recognition of degrees.”

According to Todd, differences between higher education systems in each country, as well as language barriers and a large geography, left question marks on how a student could be mobile while still ensuring they were completing a relevant qualification, recognised in their home country.

“We cross hemispheres as well as crossing East-West, so defining the Asia-Pacific if you wanted to talk about higher education, there is no one-system that reflects all of us equally,” she said, adding that as the workforce changes in the future, getting qualification recognition right now was even more crucial.

“That is a challenge for universities around the world, but I think particularly in the Asia-Pacific where you have this diversity and these developing countries and less developed countries, we may not have a common view over that.”

As part of that recognition process, Todd pointed to evolving pedagogical models which incorporate activities outside the classroom.

“We’re increasingly seeing universities across the APAIE area recognising short-term mobility,” she said.

“Maybe it’s doing an internship or maybe it’s doing humanitarian work. But how do we then integrate back into the student’s academic program – that’s the big challenge for universities… and for students as well to think about the program they’ve been on.”

She added that APAIE was also seeking to include more delegates and members from within the region to participate in those conversations and ensure the association was not one “only the wealthy and well-developed universities and staff… can benefit from.”

The 2021 APAIE conference was awarded to Auckland during this year’s conference after the host city pledged to help bring more South Pacific delegates to the event.

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China outbound student numbers at record high

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 05:01

China’s outbound student numbers are showing little sign of slowing down, with the Chinese Ministry of Education recording a total of 608,400 study abroad students in 2017. This is the first time the number has exceeded the 600,000 mark and represents an 11.7% increase on 2016 figures.

According to a MoE statement, the number of ‘sea turtles’, or students returning to China after studying abroad, also increased in 2017 – up 11.9% to 480,900.

“China will remain the world’s most important source of international students in the foreseeable future”

This brings the total number of Chinese students who finished their studies abroad and return home to 80%,  the same as the 2016 figure.

The data also revealed that in 2017, there were 541,300 students studying abroad at their own expense, which accounted for 88.97% of the total, while 31,200 students were supported abroad by the state.

Taiwanese academic and researcher Sheng-Ju Chan told The PIE News that the reason for the upward trend in outbound students is twofold.

The main reasons are economic growth and cultural expectation,” he explained.

“The former is related to the improved economic condition of the average family in China. Along with the rise of the middle-class, more families are able to sponsor their young generations for such overseas adventures.

“The latter denotes the strong motivations of Chinese traditions in pursuing greater educational opportunities. Having a higher degree at well-known universities overseas means better opportunities with upward social mobility.”

“Trump’s policies have played a role in making more and more people come back”

Academic principal at Beijing Kaiwen Academy Shiny Wang told The PIE that President Trump’s policies are among the reasons for the significant number of Chinese students returning home after their studies.

As the hottest destination, the US has attracted thousands of students from China, said Wang.

“I’ve found that Trump’s policies have played a role in making more and more people come back [to China]…as well as the competition for jobs and visas issues. 

“Students believe there are more opportunities for them to find jobs and develop [themselves] if they come back rather than staying overseas.”

The continuing rise in overseas Chinese student numbers will come as welcome news to many educational institutions, particularly in the UK where almost one-third of non-EU students are Chinese.

However senior analyst for British Council’s SIEM East Asia division Kevin Prest warned that a dependence on Chinese student numbers brings its own risks.

“Over the longer term, Chinese universities are getting better, the number of available local university places (and especially postgraduate places) is increasing, and the number of Chinese students graduating from high school is decreasing,” Prest said.

However, Chan said that it is unlikely that demand for university places in China among Chinese students will overtake the attractiveness of overseas study any time soon.

“Though some students might choose to stay with improved universities in China, others would consider overseas destinations because of employment prospects, living environment and even permanent migration,” he told The PIE.

“I predict that the numbers of outbound students will stay at the similar or even higher level for a while because an overseas choice is based on the push factors of Chinese society and pull incentives of hosting countries.. and the tightening political atmosphere right now [in China] propels the outgoing students.”

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Australia: economic value continues double-digit growth

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 02:43

The value of international education to Australia’s economy has continued its meteoric rise, again surpassing record levels to reach $32.2bn for the 2017 calendar year, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The latest estimate sees export credits jump 22.6% from 2016, the largest single percentage increase since 2008, in which growth jumped an at the time unprecedented 21.4%.

“International students are drawn to Australia because they know they’ll get a world-class education, global alumni networks, a great student experience and lifelong friendships with our country,” Universities Australia acting chief executive Catriona Jackson said in a statement.

“We’ve seen this movie before… a bubble that burst a loss of some billions of dollars”

“Over the past decade, Australia’s world-class universities have added chapter after chapter to our international education success story. It’s in the interests of all Australians that this continues.”

Made up of $31.6bn in direct revenue through international students’ tuition fees and living expenses and $600m in third-party services, the 2017 value is also almost more than double that of 2012. That year a perfect storm of restrictive visa changes, a expensive Australian dollar, and student safety concerns strangled the flow of students.

While the figure is welcomed by a market that is trepidatious – student numbers also surpassed record levels in 2017 but with limited diversity in sector or source country – much of the growth can be attributed to the ABS’ changed methodology which now uses the more detailed International Visitor Survey to understand direct student spending.

The ongoing double-digit growth in both economic value and students numbers is also being seen as a cause for concern.

“There are some signs of a bubble,” Australian MP Julian Hill said in parliament in February.

“In any sector, you do have to worry when you see – year upon year – growth of 10%, 10%, 12% and now 16% in the last 12 months. We’ve seen this movie before, back in 2007, 2008, 2009, when we saw a completely unsustainable growth in the sector, a bubble that burst a loss of some billions of dollars.”

“Many of us expect a slowdown in 2018”

Nicole Brigg, deputy vice-chancellor international of ‎Macquarie University, however, said that while the sector overview revealed worrying levels of growth, delving deeper revealed most consistency.

“It’s important to note that most of the growth is concentrated in the top four Group of Eight universities,” she told The PIE.

“Outside of that group I would say the growth is actually at lower, more sustainable levels.”

Brigg also said that it was expected 2018 growth would slow down to more reasonable levels, due to updated work rights and ongoing political disagreements.

“Many of us expect a slowdown in 2018, caused by the tighter management of the skilled migration program by the Commonwealth Government – as it makes its assessment around labour market needs, and possibly the coolness in the Australia-China relationship, which we would expect to improve as the many strong supporters of the Australia-China relationship stand up to be counted,” she said.

Australia hosted 624,001 international students in 2017, its highest ever number and a 12.7% increase from 2016.

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‘Scotland Is Now’ says new campaign to attract students

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 08:18

With a £6m investment, the Scottish government has launched a new campaign called ‘Scotland Is Now’ to encourage tourists, businesses, and students that now is indeed the right time to choose Scotland as a destination.

Along with the devolved government at Holyrood, the campaign is backed by Visit Scotland, Scottish Development International, and Universities Scotland.

“We believe it’s the start of a very exciting campaign that recognises Scotland’s world-class HE sector”

The website describes the campaign as one that tells “authentic story of Scotland as a bold and positive country, rich in history and heritage but forging forward in a way that is progressive, pioneering and inclusive,” of which education and international recruitment are important parts.

Under the ‘Study’ tab, Study in Scotland’s course finder directs prospective students to 13 universities, offering several modes of study – from full-time, part-time, and sandwich courses. In time, all 19 Scottish HEIs will be searchable on the site as the entire group has signed up to the project.

Furthermore, the site gives information on scholarships available in Scotland, the UK visa process, student accommodation, and other useful topics for prospective students.

The campaign also gives general information about Scotland, ranging from cultural highlights such Highland dress and the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, to information about (and nicknames of) Scottish university cities.

Alongside study opportunities, the campaign hopes to attract businesses. Scottish Development International aims to attract global businesses with grants and tax credits. It also supports several startup incubators, such as Codebase and Techcube, both situated in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

Sir Anton Muscatelli, vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow and chair of the Russell Group, told The PIE News Scottish higher education and research punches above its weight in the global marketplace.

“It is about the values which underpin everything we do in Scotland – values of openness, diversity”

“Studying in Scotland gives students from around the world the chance to work at the forefront of their fields, with 86% of Scottish research judged to have ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ impact,” he said. 

“Researchers at our universities [are] leading the world in new and exciting areas like precision medicine and quantum technology, and taking forward research into some of the great issues of our time, from malaria and the Zika virus to renewable energy and policies to support refugees,” he added. 

Additionally, Muscatelli said the benefits of Scottish HE went beyond what happens inside the walls of institutions.

“It is about the values which underpin everything we do in Scotland – values of openness, diversity, openness to new ideas and commitment to using the skills and expertise of our universities for the good of society as a whole,” he said.  

“Our international students already play a huge role in our university communities, contributing massively to our success – and we in Scotland are determined to do everything we can to ensure we can benefit from the best and brightest minds from around the world in the years to come.”

 Although the Scottish universities will remain responsible for their own international recruitment, it is understood that ‘Scotland Is Now’ is seen as a unifying project which will help raise the country’s profile internationally. 

David Lott, Deputy Director of Universities Scotland, said the organisation is “delighted” to be involved in the project originating from Scottish government agencies. 

“We are delighted to… bring Scotland Is Now to fruition. We believe it’s the start of a very exciting campaign that at its very heart recognises Scotland’s world-class higher education sector,” he said.  

“This is the first time that we have worked with the public agencies in such a fashion: all uniting under the brand Scotland Is Now to promote the great offer that Scotland has to visit, study, invest and live.”

British Council Scotland, which was not directly involved in the campaign, nonetheless supports the aim of the mission, which it sees as congruent to the Westminster-backed GREAT campaign.

“While British Council Scotland has not been directly involved in the development of Scotland Is Now, we believe its aims and ambitions complement the GREAT campaign and present a good overview of Scotland’s strong and distinctive higher education offer,” a spokesperson told The PIE

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Finnish hospitality school to open in Estonia

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 04:58

Finnish Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences has announced it will open a hospitality studies campus in 2019, which be located in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

The new school will cater for up to 400 students, with courses focusing on hospitality management. The university, which has five campuses in Finland, is partnering with international hospitality schools from USA, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland on the project in the Baltic country, according to developers.

“Instead of traditional internships the aim is a ‘study and work’ concept”

The international hospitality management bachelor’s degree the school is planning to offer will target students from at global markets. Developers have suggested that students will come from Asia, but have not detailed from which countries it will seek to recruit students. All courses will be taught in English, though it is not clear which testing system the institution will use, or the levels students will have to achieve to be accepted.

Students who do attend will be able to benefit from working with local business as a part of their studies.

“Instead of traditional internships the aim is a ‘study and work’ concept in order to do it all not for the industry, but within the industry” the university said in a statement.

Haaga-Helia is hoping to attract the local restaurant industry to participate in the project, which it says will “greatly benefit” the region’s hospitality sector.

According to Haaga-Helia’s website, the university’s partners in Finland have included Ikea, Fujitsu, Turkish Airlines, Finnish hotel company Sokos, and BW restaurants.

The school in the Estonian capital will be called either Haaga-Helia International Hospitality Management School or Tallinn Hospitality Management Campus. Foundation year studies will begin in autumn 2019 and degree studies in winter 2019-2020.

Haaga-Helia declined to comment further when contacted by The PIE News.

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Canada: Iranian students’ PR delay is “detrimental”

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 03:12

More than 200 Iranian students and recent graduates in Canada are reporting long waits to become permanent residents, which the Iranian Canadian Congress claims is having a “detrimental effect” on their lives.

According to the government of Canada website, the average processing time for PR applications is normally 57 days.

However many Iranians are claiming waiting times of 16 months or more, and are reportedly concerned the Canadian government is holding up Iranian immigration applications after US president Trump issued a ‘travel ban‘ on people from Iran in 2017.

“The extended delays have many detrimental effects on the lives of these students”

In a statement on its website, the ICC said it has been approached by many Iranian students in Canada whose applications for PR have been stuck in the background check stage for “an extended period of time”.

It said the ICC has communicated its concerns to the minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, and requested that he look into the issue.

“The extended delays in processing the PR applications have many detrimental effects on the lives of these students,” the statement said.

“We believe that these individuals are valuable to Canadian society because of their skills and experience and should not face such difficulty and uncertainty in their path to becoming Canadians.”

According to the ICC, a survey conducted by a group of Iranian graduate students had revealed they are unable to make long-term plans, are “paying higher tuition fees” than permanent residents and “cannot commit to further studies or academic positions because these institutions require assurances that they can stay in the country”.

Affected students have been tweeting their frustration, using the hashtag #DelayedIranianApplications to describe the alleged discrimination by the Canadian government against their applications.

In Canada 6 yrs, got MSc here, contributed to cancer research & use of AI for cancer recognition, finance & and use of AI to spot fraud/money laundering, a performer in cultural events, Yet on #DelayedIranianApplications by @CitImmCanada. Same for other 100s of skilled Iranians.

— Koosha (@Koosha_tp) March 25, 2018

I am an Assistant professor at the university of Manitoba, being here for 7 years, established a family, with Canadian born baby and have been waiting for PR for almost 3 years now. #DelayedIranianApplications

— Soodeh Saberian (@SoodehSaberian) March 23, 2018

In support of the movement, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association Michael Bryant has penned an open letter to Hussen, urging the ministry to take action with regards the “public reports of systemic discrimination by Canada against Iranians”.

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UPP inquiry into universities’ int’l benefits

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 04:06

The UPP Foundation has launched an inquiry into the future of civic universities in the UK, looking at their role in their local community and internationally. This will delve into the benefits that international activity, such as TNE, bring the local campus.

The Civic University Commission will examine evidence from a wide range of sources, including public opinion, expert witnesses and historical and current research, to understand how universities operate and how they can serve their place as well as play a global role.

For Richard Brabner, director of UPP Foundation, some soul-searching was needed for the sector.

“High pay, value for money, academic standards, the tertiary funding review –  universities have been making headline news in recent months and not all for the right reasons,” he told The PIE News.

“There is still work to do convincing people from all backgrounds that the international aspects of universities benefit their city”

“In a time when the sector has been questioned like never before, it needs to not only demonstrate, but really consider and evaluate the economic, social and civic impact it does and should make on the places they are from.”

The Commission, he explained, needs to help the sector shape its civic role and develop collaborations between universities and local partners.

“We need to think about how universities develop the right relationship with the people around them,” he said.

One of the areas the Commission will investigate is how international activities, such as recruitment, TNE or research collaborations, support the universities’ local communities.

Although it’s too early to make a forecast on the results, Brabner told The PIE that internationalisation is one of the aspects that allows universities to serve their place in the 21th century.

“If you look at the recent HEPI research on the economic impact of international students per constituency this is evidently the case. It is also pretty well understood by universities’ local communities,” he explained.

According to a poll of over 1000 adults across 10 English cities conducted by YouGov for UPP Foundation, bringing in international students was ranked second as the best way universities can benefit their local community – the first was research. Results varied, with metropolitan cities feeling more positive about the international role their universities play.

“There is still work to do convincing people from all backgrounds that the international aspects of universities benefit their city,” Brabner said.

But do universities need to find a balance between their local and global role, or are the two complementary? This, Brabner said, will be a key question the Commission will be asking.

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Pearson highlights digital strategy amid “transformation”

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 03:55

Chairman of Pearson, Sidney Taurel, said the education supplies and ELT testing firm is “in the midst of a transformation” in the company’s annual report. However, a growth in sales and operating profit appears on the horizon, he wrote. The key to this transformation will be the embracing of digital trends, the report adds.

Taurel highlights the sales of Wall Street English and GEDU, as well as relinquishing shares in global publishing giant Penguin Random House, and growth in the digital offerings as the reasons for hope.

“We are making a record level of investment in our business each year – over £700m annually”

These mean Taurel is confident enough to declare that “2018 is a pivotal year… when Pearson is expected to return to underlying profit growth”. The declaration comes a year after Pearson posted a huge loss of £2.6bn. As a result, the shareholder dividend was cut from 52p per share, to just 17p.

“This was not a decision the Board took lightly and it reflects a continued focus on maintaining a strong balance sheet and investing in Pearson’s digital transformation whilst establishing a sustainable and progressive dividend,” said Tom Steiner, Pearson’s director of media. 

However, as chief financial officer Coram Williams writes, the firm’s sales dropped by £39m, and the operating profit dropped by £59m. Part of this at least can be put down to what Taurel describes as a “challenging” US courseware market. This market is 25% of Pearson’s total sales 2017.

“US higher education courseware continues to be our largest single business and it continues to face challenges to performance in the near term, particularly around print products, but we are excited about the future of the business as it moves beyond those challenges to a more digital, direct and subscription-based future,” Steiner told The PIE News

“We are broadly happy with our current portfolio and feel we have the right mix of businesses to create long term value for shareholders,” he continued.

But chief executive, John Fallon, made clear in his strategic overview that embracing the digitalisation of the market will be the key goal for Pearson moving forward. “Put simply,” he wrote, “we need to give flexibility to students, arming them with the opportunities to learn in modern, innovative ways.”

“We are building a Global Learning Platform, which… allows us to innovate faster”

The tenets of such an approach will be the focus on flexible, personalised learning, delivered through mobile devices at the time and place that the learner dictates, with access to “Real-time feedback” in both directions. Fallon explained that would mean that “teachers and faculty can see where they might need to adjust their lessons, and learners can focus where they need to”.

Asked to explain this innovation and investment further, director of media Tom Steiner explained the size of the drive each year, and how that was used to build products and tools in collaboration with other firms, such as IBM and Microsoft.

“We are making a record level of investment in our business each year – over £700m annually… Some recent examples include… partnering with IBM Watson to embed tutoring dialogue into our courseware products to help students when they need it most; and partnering with Microsoft Research Asia to integrate AI capabilities into English language learning curriculum in China.”

“You can expect to see more on these in 2018,” he said.  

This focus on digital extends to Pearson’s internal investment plans, which Fallon explained meant the virtual schools program and the online program management, which allows HEIs to place course material online for distance learners.

“We are building a Global Learning Platform, which is a single, cloud-based platform that’s highly scalable and more reliable, and allows us to innovate faster and support a lifelong learning ecosystem for hundreds of millions of learners,” Steiner added.

The Platform is expected to launch in the next year.

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