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News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education
Updated: 1 hour 58 min ago

Philippines & China ramp up collaboration

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 03:42

The number of Filipinos teaching Mandarin and English in China could substantially increase over the next year after the two countries met earlier in early May to discuss increased cultural and educational exchange.

The discussions, which were part of a mission by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte to China, would see China and the Philippines supercharge their current exchange program.

“We prefer that this will be on a government-to-government basis”

“This has been going on in the past three years on a limited scale,” said education secretary Leonor Briones in a statement.

“What both countries want is an acceleration of this exchange because so far, nearly 300 teachers have already been trained in the Mandarin language at the Confucius Institute here in the Philippines.”

According to Briones, Chinese officials are also currently considering bringing around 2,000 Filipino teachers to the country to teach English.

The scaling up of education engagement, which will still need to go through a substantial planning and processing period, would also have flow-on benefits for the Philippines’ domestic education system, she added.

What the final arrangement will look like is unclear, however, Briones was steadfast that the government would control the exchange, rather than allow third parties to manage it.

“We prefer that this will be on a government-to-government basis, along with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration,” she said.

“Usually if you go through agents on either side, it will be a primary burden to the teachers. We need to work on the details, how teachers will be chosen, qualifications and how this will be implemented.

The second Belt and Road Forum was held in Beijing in April, with reports at the time expecting increased activity between the Philippines and China across areas including development assistance, anti-corruption and education.

Collaboration through education has become one of the five main points of the Belt and Road Initiative, and China’s ministry of education released their policy document to open education in early 2019.

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NAO verdict: Innocent students may have been wrongly removed

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 00:57

“Some people may have been wrongly accused and in some cases, unfairly removed from the UK”: this is the verdict of the UK’s National Audit Office which has assessed the case of international students who were accused of cheating in TOIEC exams needed to gain the right to study in the country.

The government watchdog has released a report into the Home Office’s handling of the so-called TOEIC cheating scandal. 

It states that while widespread cheating has taken place, the Home Office failed to protect those who may have been wrongly accused – and also those who were caught up in the fallout as their colleges were subsequently closed.

“When the Home Office acted vigorously to exclude individuals and shut down colleges involved… we think they should have taken an equally vigorous approach to protect those who did not cheat but who were still caught up in the process, however small a proportion they might be,” head of NAO Amyas Morse said.

“This did not happen.” ​

In 2014, thousands of international students had their visa cancelled or were detained or deported on allegations of cheating. According to NAO, 11,000 left the country; 7,200 voluntarily and 2,500 were forcibly removed. A further 400 were refused re-entry to the country.

“They should have taken an equally vigorous approach to protect those who did not cheat”

In 2014, the report explained, ETS used new voice recognition technology to assess whether a test had been taken by a proxy, and identified 97% of all UK tests as suspicious.

It classified 39% as “questionable” and 58% of 58,459 tests as “invalid,” – these were the visas the Home Office started cancelling, the report states, although it “did not have the expertise to validate the results nor did it, at this stage, get an expert opinion on the quality of the voice recognition evidence.”

Subsequently, there were “competing” views on the validity of the technology, the report added.

Although 49% of invalid tests were taken by highly fluent English speakers, some scores are “not easily explained” by the methods of cheating identified by the BBC documentary, but have not been investigated by the Home Office, NAO explained.

“The NAO has confirmed – as many have been pointing out for years now – that “those affected might have been branded as cheats, lost their course fees, and been removed from the UK without being guilty of cheating,” Stephen Timms MP said.

“And… there is real doubt if a recording held by ETS is really the one for that applicant.

“Thousands have been unfairly penalised, with catastrophic consequences for many,” he added.

Timms called on the Home Secretary to give the students a chance to clear their name by offering them a fresh English test.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, added, “The NAO’s investigation lays bare the Home Office’s concerning reliance on voice recognition evidence to detect cheating; only subjecting it to independent review after two years of using it as the basis to revoke visas.”

She urged the Home Office to check whether its response had been fair and proportionate for all those involved.

Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan said the report proved the Home Office failed to scrutinise the evidence provided by ETS despite “significant flaws” in the data.

“Those affected might have been removed from the UK without being guilty”

“The way the Home Office has treated these students makes a mockery of the British justice system… and the impact has been devastating.

“Those still living under the shadow of the allegation and fighting to clear their names are living every day in growing despair,” she said.

Ramadan added that NAO reporting that 2,500 have been forcibly deported and 400 stopped from entering the UK (numbers which it defined a possible “underestimate”) prove that the threat of detention and deportation is real.

Speaking to The PIE, English UK chief executive Sarah Cooper said that while there have been other threats to the reputation of the UK as an international education destination, this shouldn’t be underestimated – but the industry, she said, has come a long way from 2014 and close collaboration with government will prevent this from happening again.

“We must encourage collaboration [with government], so we can protect the reputation of the sector while supporting individual students… we have a moral responsibility when we recruit international students to give them the best possible experience,” she said.

Universities UK said it will discuss any concerns universities have with the new APPG on TOEIC and urged the government to learn the lesson from this “damaging episode” and prevent it from happening again.

“Where there is evidence that innocent students have had historic, wrongful action taken against them then the Home Office should act swiftly to correct this,” a spokesperson said.

“We have a moral responsibility to give [international students] the best possible experience”

“In individual cases where allegations of cheating were made, universities – having previously acted on advice from the Home Office – will have to make decisions based on individual circumstances and wider policies.”

The Home Office relayed that the Home Secretary will make a statement in Parliament upon consideration of the report.

“The report is clear on the scale and organised nature of the abuse, which is demonstrated by the fact that 25 people who facilitated this fraud have received criminal convictions,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

Additional reporting by Kerrie Kennedy.

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Tracking Canada’s “tremendous” growth curve

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 00:49

At Languages Canada conference in 2018, the chair of the association’s advocacy committee Gary Gervais told The PIE that despite its enormous success, the Canadian international education industry doesn’t get the recognition he feels it deserves.

“In the aerospace industry, if someone sneezes it usually makes front page news,” he says. “International education in Canada now is bigger than aerospace in terms of economic impact, yet we rarely get recognition in society.”

At the same conference, a delighted trade commissioner announced that Canada had reached its goal to host more than 450,000 students as of December 2017 – a target that was set for 2022.

And with attractive post-study work policies in place, a reputation for quality education, a welcoming environment and shifts in global competition, the country’s boom period looks set to continue.

Growth is all around

If 2017 was the year of records, 2018 showed another 16% growth, especially from India – which overtook China at the helm, according to IRCC data.

All sectors have been growing – and not only in terms of student numbers.

“There has been a tremendous amount of growth in the last decade in every aspect of internationalisation – recruitment, research partnerships, joint programming, collaborations, even internationalisation at home,” Universities Canada assistant director of international relations Cindy McIntyre tells The PIE

Image: Pexels

Languages Canada, which introduced new membership criteria to reinforce its identity as a national association of quality language education providers at last year’s conference, also registered growth in 2017.

Gonzalo Peralta, Languages Canada’s executive director,  thinks that numbers would be even higher were the language teaching sector to benefit from the same work rights policy that makes other study streams so attractive. It lost such rights in 2014.

“Our members lost 15 per cent of their student numbers and revenue, so the impact was substantial,” Peralta recalls. “Our numbers are finally back to levels higher than 2014, but they would certainly be higher still with an appropriate work rights policy for language students.”

Sherri Motohashi, principal at iTTTi Vancouver, one in a self-identified “dwindling breed” of single-location ESL providers, says the lack of work rights and the difficulty to offer pathways have impacted their typical source markets.

“Traditionally good markets for us have changed a lot… Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Colombia are our top providers, but Korea is on the decline as students are not interested in ESL for ESL purposes and want immigration or work options,” she explains.

In the future, she sees an increase in the junior market and study for immigration pathways, and difficult times for adult ESL, with the combined pressure of increased competition and rising agency commissions. 

“Traditionally good markets for us have changed a lot”

The language teaching industry, she says, needs to continue lobbying for language students’ work rights to be in line with what other competitor countries are doing.

Many of the largest ESL chains – ILAC, ILSC and Tamwood, for example – pivoted to offering career training when work rights were removed from the language training industries in Canada. 

Lack of long-term planning?

Meanwhile, McIntyre at Universities Canada suggests global competition is shifting.

“With the US and the UK seeming a little less attractive to international students due to recent political trends, I think our key competitor would be Australia right now,” she says. The feeling is mutual in Australia.

But global dynamics do change unexpectedly, and within Canada, some question the country’s preparedness to react to policy shifts.

“If there is a change in government in the US, the appeal to study in the US could return and affect Canadian numbers. If there is a pandemic in any of the top five source markets, this could also have an immediate and negative effect,” Gabriela Facchini, international business development and partnerships manager of Ontario’s Sheridan College, tells The PIE

Facchini says that the industry is “in a bubble” right now, with many institutions in growth management mode, and she fears some may not be looking at the bigger picture.

“Changes can burst the bubble and I think that Canadian schools are not paying enough attention to how to prepare for changes that will eventually come,” she suggests.

But beyond the challenges that lurk in the future, the unprecedented growth in student numbers is exposing other issues across the whole industry.

Image: Pexels

“Diversity is a key area where we are placing our efforts,” says Doug Weir, executive director, student programs and services at the University of Alberta. 

“Creating a diverse campus enhances the student experience and helps graduate students that are capable to fully participate in the global world.”

Beyond its educational importance, diversification is an urgent market need, as the diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia in 2018 showed, with the rapid removal of the majority of sponsored Saudi students after a political storm a perfect example of sudden market upheaval.

“We only had 10 students from Saudi Arabia, but if the market had been India, we would have lost more than 45 per cent of our [cohort],” admits Facchini, who says the college is focusing on shifting its reliance and targeting other markets such as Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam.

The issue is also top of mind for Universities Canada members, McIntyre adds, and will be a part of the ongoing marketing and branding efforts in the future.

Country roads

International students clustering around the major urban centres have contributed to some pressure on the system. Vancouver is a pronounced example, where housing shortages are often making headlines – but a temporary lack of student housing was also recently in the news in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

In other instances, capacity is a problem – for higher education consultant John Shalagan, this is a new and serious issue for colleges and universities, which have been left free to set their international enrolment growth “with mixed results,” he says. 

However, capacity seems to be an issue only in some particular pockets at an institution level more than a geographical one. 

“Growth means something very different in every campus in this country,” explains Larissa Bezo, interim president and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

She adds that across the membership of CBIE, some institutions have a significant number of international students while others have yet to reach the target.

Further growth potential lies outside of those pockets, and Bezo points to what is happening in Atlantic Canada as a good example of lateral thinking.

“It’s a very proactive approach trying to promote a region in Canada where there is a strong desire to welcome larger numbers of students, with the concerted effort to create pathways for their integration, work and beyond,” she says.

If Canada has become a magnet for international students, its outbound mobility still leaves stakeholders unsatisfied.

CBIE and Universities Canada have called on the government to endorse a goal of 25 per cent of all Canadian students having an international education experience by 2028.

“We need to nurture the welcoming initiatives that we have in our campuses”

Outbound is also a priority in the college sector. “We are dreaming to have something like the Erasmus+ program in North America,” Amyot says.

UC’s McIntyre adds that international students in Canada will gain more exposure to indigenous culture, a priority her organisation has for all students. Another future trend she sees is initiatives building bonds between indigenous students in Canada and other countries. “There is a lot to be gained from those kinds of connections,” she says.

The government has allocated millions to supporting outbound student mobility in its latest federal budget.

The industry won’t rest on its International Education Strategy goal laurels either, aware of the ebbs and flows of the market and geopolitical situations. “We need to nurture the welcoming initiatives that we have in our campuses. We can’t just sit here and say ‘well, this is great’,” Bezo says.

And if the industry’s reaction to the Saudi crisis is anything to go by, she adds, there is much hope for the future.

“There has been enormous goodwill and coordinated effort across institutions and associations,” she says. “I am encouraged by our ability to be nimble, responsive and proactive – other issues or challenges may come as the sector advances.”

This is an abridged version of an article that originally appeared in the October 2018 edition of The PIE Review, our quarterly print publication.

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Edtech: Kahoot! acquires Dragonbox, Poio

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:09

Game-based learning platform Kahoot has substantially expanded its portfolio, announcing that it has acquired learn-to-read app, Poio, and maths education game studio, DragonBox.

Announced in early May, the acquisitions see Norwegian-based Kahoot further expand its global reach in the K-12 educational game market, with the company announcing it planned to release an English version of the Scandinavia-only Poio by June 2019.

“There is only one goal for Poio, and that is to help as many children”

“We’re impressed by how Poio has already helped more than 100,000 children in Scandinavia to learn how to read in an awesome way,” said Åsmund Furuseth, chief executive and co-founder of Kahoot.

“We are together launching Poio in the UK and to our international community of millions of users, empowering kids everywhere to play, learn, and find joy in reading.”

Founded by former teacher Daniel Senn, Poio allows children to play as the titular main character, teaching reading skills through positive feedback and exploration with an emphasis on fun.

“There is only one goal for Poio, and that is to help as many children as possible to crack the reading code through play,” Senn said.

“By teaming up with Kahoot, we will be able to launch Poio in more languages and with new functionality, bringing the joy of reading to millions of children around the world.”

DragonBox, which won best learning game at the 2016 Games for Change awards, meanwhile will continue to develop maths games while supplementing the Kahoot’s current offerings.

Describing itself as the “Netflix of education”, the purchases of DragonBox for £14 million and Poio for £5 million see Kahoot continue its expansionist mindset after last year launching the Ignite accelerator program, which it will use to identify and invest in new educational start-ups.

In 2018, Disney acquired a 4% stake in Kahoot, taking up an option after the mobile and online education games platform completed its accelerator program in 2017.

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Survey of agent sentiment globally – INTO

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 06:47

The macro trends of 2019 are born out in the latest INTO agent survey, with Chinese agents especially reflecting the student turn away from the US, Australia and Canada and towards the UK.

With over 1,800 respondents, the largest ever response, it offers significant insight into agent sentiment globally, especially China which provided over 400 responses.

“The survey reminds us how closely student recruitment is linked to politics and diplomatic relations”

Agents working with INTO indicated a more favourable view of the UK visa regulations, how welcoming the nation is, as well as student safety and security.

Conversely, the view of the US has taken some significant hits, most notably on the perception of student visa regulations while safety and security remain an area of concern for agents.

Despite the loss of confidence, as INTO described these results as showing, there was a slight uptick of 2.3% in agents’ view of ‘How welcoming the US appears to international students’.

But the impact of the loss of confidence in the US, which has been hinted at since the 2016 election of Donald Trump and arguably confirmed by the latest SEVIS student visa figures, is perhaps most starkly visible via agents’ predictions of where they will be sending students in 2019.

12.2% of respondents told INTO they expect to send fewer students to the US this year, compared to 11.2% in 2018. This figure points to a wider fall of the attractiveness of North American education, as it mirrors the fall in expectation agents see in the Canadian market driven by weaker Chinese sentiment.

Despite record growth, or perhaps because of it, 12.7% of agents said they expected to see fewer students choose the Canadian system, up from 10.3% in 2018.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, David Amor INTO’s director of market insight and knowledge said it should act as a reminder of the “precarious position” the sector sits in.

“The survey reminds us how closely student recruitment is linked to politics and diplomatic relations, a precarious position with so many institutions so heavily dependent on one or two source markets,” he told The PIE News.

Whilst overall agent sentiment for the UK was better than for the US, there were some regional variations with multi-destination agents in Africa and Europe and Central Asia more optimistic for US recruitment.

When asked for further details of the markets agencies send to, and which individual agents specialise in, a small but significant shift away from the major markets was noticed.

But with a further depth of questioning, a truer picture of diversification may well be at play.

Asked ‘Which study destination is the main focus of your job?’, nearly 50% of agents said “multiple countries” which is a 10% rise in just one year.

Perhaps consequently, agents reported a drop in the specialisations on the UK and US markets.

Although the UK market escaped other downward indicators, 8% fewer agents said they deal with the nation alone than did in 2017.

The US is also down on last year’s responses on this rubric, at 23%, though it has consistently been a lower number than other markets since 2017.

“The feedback on market trends reinforces how important agents are for sharing market specific information”

The largest respondents are Chinese, with Pakistani, Indonesian and Taiwanese agents also well represented (30%, 7%, 5% and 4% of respondents respectively). In total agents from over 90 countries responded to the survey.

“From an INTO specific perspective we’re delighted that our hard work on providing excellent support and service to our agents is paying off,” added Amor.

“But it’s also a reminder that you need to work hard and continuously to maintain and improve satisfaction levels from your recruitment partners as expectations for service go up each year.”

“The feedback on market trends reinforces how important agents are for sharing market specific information and perspectives”.

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US ushers in huge hike in SEVIS fee charged to international students

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 04:03

The US Department of Homeland Security has confirmed it will increase Student and Exchange Visitor Program fees for international students on F and M visas by 75% and the school certification petition fee by 76%, in a move it says will continue to fund operations.

The rise in the “SEVIS fee” that international students pay will increase to $350, up from the previous $200, which some US stakeholders have noted they expect could have a negative impact on US enrolment numbers.

Exchange visitors on au pair, camp counsellor, and summer work travel programs will continue to pay $35, but other exchange visitors on J visas will also see an increase from $180 to $220.

The SEVIS fee funds the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, launched in 2003, which centrally records all student data on course, location, transfer etc.

“SEVP’s fees have not changed since 2008, although our costs have continued to grow due to inflation, expanded program operations and enhancements to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System,” said SEVP program director Rachel Canty.

Canty noted that SEVP is funded entirely by fees, without receiving funding from congress.

“The increase comes at a very bad time”

The fee increase was “substantial” and may have a “dampening effect” on international student enrolments at US institutions, according to AIEA president Cheryl Matherly.

“Many institutions are already reeling from significant drop-offs in international student applications and attendance, and the increase comes at a very bad time,” she told The PIE News.

“Coupled with other new institutional fees and increases announced by DHS, one wonders how sustainable the funding model is for these programs over time. Reliance on user fees to underwrite national security monitoring in this manner, without any congressional appropriations, would appear to be a problematic strategy.”

Alongside the hike in fees payable by students, the “petition fee” that schools pay to initially become Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified will also increase from $1,700 to $3,000, with all changes coming into effect June 24.

A $1,250 fee for SEVP-certified schools filing for recertification, every two years, will also be introduced.

In September, NAFSA warned that international educators were “deeply concerned about the drastic nature of the proposed increases”.

In a letter, deputy executive director of Public Policy at NAFSA Jill Welch noted the bad timing of the proposed fee increases.

“These dramatic increases come at a particularly inopportune time, as higher education institutions face significant funding challenges, and international education programs are experiencing declining new enrolments for the first time in more than a decade.”

NAFSA also called for SEVIS to become publicly financed.

“It can feel to students that they’re being nickeled and dimed at every turn”

However, SEVIS helps exchange provider InterExchange ensure participants have “safe and happy experiences”, and that they keep to the requirements of their visas, according to vice president of External Affairs Mark Overmann.

“The system needs adequate resources for maintenance and modernisation, so, in general, we support reasonable fee increases that can provide more resources for SEVIS development,” he noted.

“But we hope that DHS will release information about the specific ways these fee increases will support improvement of the system,” he explained, adding InterExchange cautions against such a large fee increase to some of the J-1 categories.

“We don’t want to discourage participation or take away from the accessibility of the Exchange Visitor Program to diverse audiences,” he said.

Eddie West, assistant dean and executive director, International Programs at UC Berkeley Extension,  noted that the student fee increase was expected, and his institution has reacted.

“We were pretty certain an increase in the SEVIS fee was in the offing once DHS went out for public comments last year. So we’re taking the change in stride as something expected,” he said.

“But the public comment period did prompt us to consider other ways to relieve our international students’ financial burden.”

UC Berkeley Extension is going to be reducing its application fee – which was already artificially high at $200 – to $100, later this year, West explained.

“Personally I don’t believe either the SEVIS fee increase or our application fee decrease is going to have a material impact on how many students apply to our programs,” he said.

“That being said we’re sensitive that it can feel to students that they’re being nickeled and dimed at every turn (test fees, score report fees, visa application fee, SEVIS fee, etc.) and want to do what we can to address that.

“Across the US I could see this change having an at least negligible, negative impact on enrollment numbers,” West concluded, while AACRAO‘s associate director for Training and Program Development Annetta Stroud said the rise has the potential to be “devastating to the US higher education sector”.

“With countries such as Canada and Australia reducing fees across the board, including tuition and other external costs for international students, and increasing recruitment strategies, the US is becoming less and less a desirable destination for students studying abroad,” she said.

Matherly – who is also vice president and vice provost, International Affairs at Lehigh University – concurred, adding,  “At the heart of this, we are concerned about further actions that could sap US competitiveness in international education.”

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UK ELT passes the half a million student mark, but growth has slowed

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 02:32

The UK ELT industry passed the half a million student mark in 2018, new English UK statistics compiled in collaboration with Bonard revealed, but growth has slowed down especially for private sector members.

Last year, English UK member centres welcomed 504,868 students for a total of 1,866,835 student weeks. While EU students made up 57% of all students, students from non-EU countries accounted for 63% of student weeks.

“It’s pleasing to see the strength and resilience of our industry in what has been a challenging period”

“It’s pleasing to see the strength and resilience of our industry in what has been a challenging period, with the continuing uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with the EU,” EUK chief executive Sarah Cooper said.

While figures on 2017 performance signalled a 14% growth after three years of decline, the statistics for 2018 show a growth shy of 2% and an average drop of 0.9% in student weeks – partially caused by the loss of 15 members.

The slowdown was most evident for private centre members, whose lion’s share of students  – 470,073 in 2018 – increased only 1%, compared to last year’s 16%. Student weeks were down 3%, with adult students’ stays decreasing from 5.3 to 5 weeks, and juniors’ from 1.9 to 1.8 weeks.

The private sector saw strong growth from Saudi Arabia, Chile and Argentina, but suffered a substantial loss from its first source market, Italy.

“The downward trend in length of stay seems to be a challenge globally: the UK is not alone in facing it. Tackling this issue might be essential for language schools worldwide going forward,” Bonard CEO Samuel Vetrak commented.

“This underlines the need for UK ELT centres to be (or become) strategic and highly effective in their international student recruitment activities.”

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Universities and colleges, on the other hand, showed a strong performance, in contrast to last year’s losses, with a 10.5% rise in student numbers and 11% in student weeks, with a total course duration jumping from 8.8 to 9.2 weeks – although only 60% of members reported growth in student weeks.

China, Romania and Poland were the fastest-growing markets for state sector members.

“[The data] gives us much to reflect on in the student weeks trend – we will be looking at this carefully and encouraging members to consider this as part of their business development,” Cooper added.

She said the association would be looking for longer-term trends in the performance of the state and private sectors.

“Early indications are that the uneven growth in the state sector this year is partly explained by fluctuations in membership. The state sector is traditionally very attractive to the Chinese market, and some of our members also performed very strongly in certain Eastern European markets,” she told The PIE.

Another difference with last year’s statistics is the slight decline in under 18s, although the age group still makes up 51% of all enrolments at English UK member centres – and in state sector members, the proportion on juniors has increased by 3% to 13%. Adult learners instead have increased by 5%.

London’s market share declined by two percentage points to 26%, while Northern England showed the biggest growth with a 9% increase.

 

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NZ student groups refute essay mill allegations

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:34

Student groups across New Zealand have hit back at a TVNZ report which uncovered instances essay mills being used within universities, saying the reputation of the country’s international students has been “dragged through the mud”.

Published in mid-May, the report interviewed two international students at the University of Auckland and one at Massey University, who alleged systemic contract cheating within the international student population.

“It is so outrageous that they can call half of us cheaters”

In a joint statement, student groups said they were disappointed by the report’s “lack of research”, adding they were not approached for comment prior to its publication.

“Three students at two different universities is not a clear representation of what is happening,” said Caitlin Barlow, vice president of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

“The actions of the minority should not ruin it for the majority. International students come to New Zealand for a world class education and live in a safe country, not to cheat.”

All three students interviewed admitted they had used the services of an essay mill at least once and said they knew of other students who also undertook the practice.

One student went on to claim as many as half of the University of Auckland’s international student population had used contract cheating, which the New Zealand International Students’ Association refuted.

“It is so outrageous that they can call half of us cheaters not knowing all the hard work we put in and barriers that we have to jump through,” said NZISA education officer, Umi Asaka.

In its statement, NZISA added the report failed to properly explore the reasons behind international students using the services of an essay mill. Among the factors, it said a lack of student support services, mental health concerns and clarity of instruction were most prevalent.

Several destinations countries have redoubled their efforts around academic integrity issues. In early 2019, reports in Malaysia alleged fake degrees were being sold for as little as £2,200.

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Studiosity tackles accidental plagiarism

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 16:48

Australian-based online academic support provider, Studiosity, has developed a new writing support tool to help students avoid accidental plagiarism and reduce student anxiety around unintentional cheating.

Citation Alert, which will launch on 1 July, forms part of Studiosity’s writing feedback service and proactively alerts students to instances of inadvertent plagiarism during the draft development and process stages.

“The vast majority of academic integrity issues… are often of the inadvertent kind”

“The issue of plagiarism in higher education is becoming increasingly acute,” said Studiosity chief executive Michael Larsen.

“We’re aware that universities are really going to great lengths now to address the issue of plagiarism.”

Larsen told The PIE News the new tool aimed to provide a proactive approach to addressing academic integrity issues, focussing on “prevention rather than purely policing of plagiarism”.

“The vast majority of academic integrity issues that get referred to universities for further investigation are often of the inadvertent kind,” he added.

“For us, it is an extension of what we’re already seeing in terms of the impact of online support on reducing plagiarism.”

According to research undertaken by the company, the platform has seen substantial results for students, with 72% of survey respondents indicating they would now be more careful when referencing in assignments.

Academic integrity has come into focus lately, with the Australian government currently seeking feedback on legislation that could impose strict penalties for contract cheaters.

Moving forward, Studiosity plans to develop support services to build student confidence and wellbeing, which Larsen said would also help in reduce plagiarism.

“The research supports the notion that when students are feeling good about their university experience and confident they’re going to succeed, they’re much less likely to cross the academic integrity line,” he said.

Developed using technology created by German-based edtech organisation Plagscan, the new tool will be available globally through Studiosity’s platform.

 

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Documentary on TOEIC case launched in Westminster

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 08:19

A powerful documentary exposing the devastating impact of the Home Office decision to revoke thousands of international students’ visas after the TOEIC cheating scandal in 2014 has been launched and screened in central London.

This is the latest step in a campaign led by charity Migrant Voice to allow those students to sit a new English test and clear their name of cheating allegations.

“I was so affected by the students’ stories, it made me really angry,” said film maker Tim Langford, who created the documentary for Migrant Voice.

“The more I heard, the more I was shocked and disturbed”

Titled “Inquisition,” the documentary focuses on five of the international students affected, whose mental health, finances, and life prospects have been put in jeopardy by the loss of their visas, periods of detention or years of legal battles.

Langford said he got involved at first to help out at a media training session run by Migrant Voice, and then decided to make a documentary after speaking to some of the students.

“The more I heard, the more I was shocked and disturbed,” he added.

“I absolutely believe the students. All the evidence is on their side. And I feel very strongly they came in with absolute belief and faith in our system, and we let them down really badly as a society.”

Nidhin Chand gave a poignant testimony of her own story in the documentary: while waiting for a visa extension for a PhD, she was arrested. She has since obtained a visa, but the experience has left enduring psychological pain.

“I don’t have a complete closure, but still I have a visa now,” she told The PIE.

“But all these students, these victims, who still don’t have a visa…they don’t have a closure, they can’t see their family, it’s very difficult for them. This is why I came here and I wanted to help out with this movie, because I want to see them stop crying.”

A panel discussion chaired by Stephen Timms MP followed the screening, with panellists including Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan, two lawyers representing the students – Patrick Lewis QC and Sonali Naik QC – and journalists Amelia Gentleman and Robert Wright.

Ramadan explained that even for those students who have won their case in court and have been cleared of allegations the problems are not over, as they are given a 60-day window to be accepted in a course.

“The 60 day-visa is almost good for nothing, it’s not enough to find a university. Some of the students we met were given those 60-day visas at a time when universities are not recruiting students,” she told The PIE.

Another issue, she said, is that universities are not taking these students back, because they see them as ‘high risk.’

“I spoke in confidence to a couple of universities. The people working in admission told me this. They see those students as high risk because they no longer fit the criteria, they have been out of education for a long time, they don’t have the money.”

“Universities should play a better role to protect their own students, the reputation of our universities and education system,” added Ramadan.

“They must take these students back and the Home Office must tell universities to have these students back in the same way as it asked them to kick them out.”

“I have a real concern that universities’ compliance officers will take the view that these students are tainted”

A university immigration adviser, who preferred to remain anonymous, echoed Ramadan’s concerns: “I have a real concern that universities’ compliance officers will take the view that these students are tainted, these students have been out of the system, something has gone wrong, “we can’t take the risk of issuing the CAS” [confirmation of acceptance of studies, needed to obtain a Tier 4 visa].”

During the panel discussion, he made the point that the sector could have done more to support the students affected by the TOEIC case.

The screening took place in Portcullis House, Westminster, in the presence of several MPs, journalists, campaigners and representatives of other organisations such as the3million.

Asked to comment on the case, and the difficulties students are having in accessing higher education after their court case, UUK declined to comment at this stage awaiting the report on the NAO investigation into the Home Office handling of the case, which is due to be released soon.

UKCISA chief executive Anne Marie Graham told The PIE: “It is concerning that many international students have suffered stress and reputational damage because of visa cancellations, and we welcome the NAO enquiry. We will also monitor the recommendations from the newly formed APPG on Test of English for International Communication.”

 

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Ireland: Non-EEA student numbers up 45% in five years

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 05:22

An increasing number of non-European Economic Area students are choosing Ireland for their higher education, with numbers rising by 45% between 2013 and 2017. However, Ireland’s future attractiveness could be hampered by difficulties around immigration procedures, finding accommodation and employment.

According to a report entitled ‘Attracting and Retaining International Students’ carried out by the European Migration Network, the proportion of students in Ireland from non-EEA countries has grown steadily each year, up from 9,325 in 2013 to 13,519 in 2017.

“Obstacles persist for some students, including delays in immigration registration”

By contrast, the proportion of the student body represented by EU students remained static during that period, “only growing by 0.1 percentage point overall between 2013 and 2017”, according to the report.

Among the students issued a permit for study in a full-time higher education program in 2017, 25% were from the US, 17% from India, 15% from Brazil, 14% from China and 5% from Canada.

Overall, China was the top country of origin of non-EEA students enrolled in full-time higher education each year between 2013 and 2017.

In a statement, the report’s lead author Sarah Groarke concluded that Ireland is “successfully attracting and retaining increased numbers of higher-level non-EEA students”.

In order to retain skilled international graduates, Ireland allows non-EEA students with an honours degree or higher to remain for 12 to 24 months after studies to look for work under the Third Level Graduate Programme.

Almost 2,090 non-EEA students were granted permission to stay in the country under the TLGP in 2017, up from around 650 in 2012, while the number of non-EEA graduates who obtained an employment permit following their studies also increased from 48 in 2013 to 871 in 2017.

“However, our report highlights obstacles persist for some students including delays in immigration registration, securing affordable student accommodation and transition to employment after graduation,” Groarke added.

She said that non-EEA students had reported difficulty finding work because employers are not always aware that they are entitled to work under the TLGP.

Additionally, the author pointed to minimum income thresholds for employment permits as a potential barrier for non-EEA graduates seeking employment, which were described as prohibitive for those “who may require more than one year to achieve enough experience to earn a sufficient income” to meet them.

Immigration registration delays were also an issue: “Often there are no appointments available on the online booking system,” Groarke explained.

“Students have reported that delays cause stress and anxiety in relation to their legal status and have a negative impact on their academic experience in Ireland.”

“Ireland has much to offer, evidenced by the increase in the number of students coming”

Speaking with The PIE News, International Student adviser at University College Dublin Colum Cronin said he welcomed the EMN report, and that positive changes in Ireland’s immigration system – such as the abolition of the re-entry visa – had helped Ireland along its way to becoming very competitive in the race for international students.

“Ireland has much to offer, evidenced by the increase in the number of students coming to Ireland, but we cannot ignore the challenges these students face whilst studying here,” he added.

“We have seen positive immigration changes this year, and I hope that these will continue and solutions will be found to make booking and immigration appointment easier.”

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Marlene Olsavsky, Managing Director, Pearson Canada

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 02:17
With a career spanning several countries, Olsavsky has spent 22 years working with Pearson. She told The PIE about how the intersection between education, technology and employment was a central theme at the Canadian Immigration Summit, and Pearson’s work in Canada.

 

The PIE: What were the main topics of discussion in relation to international education at the Canadian Immigration Summit?

Marlene Olsavsky: It was inspiring and invigorating to spend the day with such a diverse group of leaders, all of whom understand the importance of immigration as a vital asset to Canada. The agenda was built around the core themes of technology, employment and skills learning, and that’s a lot of the work we are doing here at Pearson – it was really interesting to see that parallel.

“It was so inspiring to see governments around the world highlighting the positive impact that immigration”

It was also really refreshing to hear that everybody believes that education has never been more important in an ever-changing and increasingly globally connected world.

There was a lot of talk about how people pursue education to get a better job and have a more prosperous life for themselves and their family. That’s the main driver for so many people coming to Canada.

One of the big talks was around the intersection between technology and learning, and one of the debates that was put forward at the conference was: will technology and especially AI take over the jobs of the future that so many people are coming to Canada to attain?

Our point of view on this is that technology is not going to displace workers, but we are going to figure out a way to see the marriage of human skills and technology and bring that to life.

And for me, what is so promising is that we are already doing this at Pearson. We are seeing the marriage of human skills and technology come to life with some of our products on offer. For example, Pearson’s own test of English was designed and developed by people, but it’s administered and evaluated by machine learning.

There’s actually a lot of benefits to this, because we use machine learning to quickly score English speaking and writing test, and the artificial intelligence underpinning of our program eliminates the bias on test taker’s looks, their accents, or other factors from scoring.

We are really proud of what we have been doing with technology, and I think we can prove that you can build fit solutions that complement human skills and technology together.

The PIE: Canada is very successful right now in the international education arena. But what are stakeholders’ main worries?

 MO: There was a lot of discussion about the anti-immigration sentiment that’s beginning to emerge as a result of the proactive immigration policies of the government. The immigration minister Ahmed Hussen talked about this when he opened the conference.

“We can do more to tell positive stories”

While it’s disappointing to see that’s happening, it’s inevitable – but it was so inspiring to see that the government of Canada, and governments around the world, are taking increasing measures to highlight the positive impact that immigration is having on individuals, on communities, and on the entire society.

One thing that’s really interesting is that IRCC launched the #whyimmigrationmatters campaign: it is a great example of an initiative to create awareness of the beneficial impact that immigration is having in revitalising communities across Canada.

Personally, I think, as individuals, friends, members of our community, we can do more to tell positive stories, and we can fight the anti-immigration sentiment with facts. That’s the message that minister Hussen left us with: you need to fight fear with facts.

I am going to adopt that stand and make sure we highlight the positive stories that are happening within our community and our business.

The PIE: What market trends are shaping the work of Pearson in Canada?

MO: It’s an exciting time to be at Pearson, in Canada and in the education space. Everywhere you look right now you can see the impact of technology and globalisation on education, we are seeing the change happening in the communities we serve. Our objective is to help Canadians and people who plan to make their life in Canada acquire the tools they need to thrive and improve their employability outcomes.

“We are seeing the demand for solutions that are more culturally relevant”

The first trend that we are seeing is an increase in demand for more resources to support English and French language training, and for more accurate and secure English language assessment.

We have been working really closely with colleges and universities and professional bodies across Canada to invest more in building up those solutions to meet the needs of the market.

We are also seeing the demand for solutions that are more culturally relevant. People who are coming to Canada or are in Canada want cultural examples to be embedded in their academic material, real opportunities to develop the skills they are going to need to apply when they are in the workforce.

Providing culturally-relevant content has always been a strength at Pearson, but we are doing more to reflect the growing and evolving diversity of Canada and we are working with a lot of partners to leverage technology, including AI, to build simulations of skills-based learning, so that students leave college and university with the skills they need to be successful in their first job.

Finally, we are seeing an increase in demand for resources and services for pre-arrival through to settlement for international students and newcomers in general.

There is a really vast ecosystem supporting this work, and we have been working closely with institutions, with local, municipal and federal government, and other partners to figure out how we can collectively work together to improve outcomes for international students and newcomers in Canada.

“I think both French for academic purposes and general French will grow a lot”

I don’t think any single organisation is going to be able to address this demand on its own, so it’s going to take partnerships and collaboration between the business, academic and political community to satisfy this need.

I think there are a lot of opportunities for Canada overall, and for the people that are coming to our wonderful country.

The PIE: How is the French training sector developing?

 MO: Certainly, there is an effort from the government to try and promote French language training. French is a really key skill for people moving to Canada.

There is funding flowing from the government into French training and assessment, and although it’s still too early to say how it will all play out, we are seeing an increasing demand for more materials available in French and more resources to help support learners that learn French for the first time. I think both French for academic purposes and general French will grow a lot.

It’s an exciting area for us, and Pearson in Canada has two main headquarters: one in Toronto and one in Montreal, and our Quebec office leads operations for training in both French and English. I think we are uniquely placed to work with the institutions and the government that are putting funding into these programs to support French language training.

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UC Davis to launch Global Learning Hub

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:14

University of California, Davis has announced it will launch a Global Learning Hub in Fall 2019 to help with its ambitious goal of providing all UC Davis students with international and intercultural learning experiences before graduation.

The ‘Global Education for All’ program aims to move beyond traditional study abroad opportunities by providing students with a variety of experiences tailored to their interests, skills and aspirations.

“One of the first things we want to do is work towards creating a one-stop-shop”

Envisioned as a locus for the UC Davis community, the Hub will link programming and resources across campus that support global learning domestically and internationally.

In addition to offering a broad portfolio of academic coursework and study abroad programs, it will also offer new opportunities through academic coursework, domestic and international experiential learning and leadership activities on the Davis and Sacramento campuses.

“Our students are graduating into a world that’s highly interconnected and interdependent,” says Nancy Erbstein, director of Global Education for All.

“We really want them to be ready to take all the skills and knowledge they’ve developed at UC Davis and effectively use them across countries and cultures and communities after graduation.”

As a university responsible for preparing students to live and work in a globalising world, Erbstein said she considers global learning experiences key to helping students thrive—regardless of where they find themselves after graduation.

“One of the first things we want to do through the Global Learning Hub is work toward creating a one-stop-shop, so students can construct global learning pathways at UC Davis that reflect their interests and aspirations.”

Zachary Frieders, director of Study Abroad said a focus on global learning is key to helping students become global agents of change, regardless of where they study.

He said the Global Learning Hub will focus on getting students to think first about why it is it important to engage in global learning, and then to think about the ways, locations, and contexts in which they want to participate.

“It’s all about supporting students to consider the types of global learning interactions that fit with their experience, interests, and academic pursuits,” he added.

Read our PIE Chat with Joanna Regulska, vice provost and associate chancellor of Global Affairs at UC Davis here

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HEIs a “marvellous basis” to build from to overcome global problems

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 09:49

Global issues – climate change, biodiversity, food security – know no borders: it is time that international higher education, research and innovation realises its duty to address, delegates heard during Going Global in Berlin.

This is where the concept of ‘knowledge diplomacy’ – that international higher education, research and innovation has a role in building and strengthening relations between countries – comes in, according to adjunct professor of Education at the University of Toronto Jane Knight.

“Sometimes it’s easier for people coming from research and higher education to keep contacts going”

As she introduced her discussion paper Knowledge Diplomacy in Action, Knight noted the responsibility the sector has to contribute to overcoming problems around the world.

“We are moving into a post-truth era, where we need to have reliable research and verifiable evidence in terms of looking at these global challenges,” she explained.

The research details eight case studies, where the “collaborative knowledge diplomacy approach is being explored as an alternative to the more one-sided soft power approach”.

Examples cited in the report include the Pan African University, the German Jordanian University and the Sustainable Development Solution Network at the United Nations.

The knowledge diplomacy approach is different from knowledge as a source of soft power, Knight told the audience in the German capital.

“I don’t think any of us would deny that knowledge can be used as power,” she added, asking, “how do we ensure that knowledge can be used in the collaborative, mutual, reciprocal way that we are together addressing these global challenges?”

The internationalisation agenda which has developed over the past few decades is a “marvellous basis” to build knowledge diplomacy on, Dorothea Rüland secretary general of the German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD highlighted.

Higher education can work in areas where it may not be feasible for diplomats to operate, she added.

“Sometimes it’s easier for people coming from research and higher education to keep contacts going,” Rüland suggested, relaying that DAAD had been asked by the German Foreign Office to travel to North Korea to gain an idea “where we can start cooperation”.

“Sometimes we have close networks which we can make use of, in really difficult times, where it might be that politics has come to its limits,” she said.

However, it remains vital that there is a common interest for both parties to ensure knowledge diplomacy will work, Rüland explained.

“It is our access to knowledge resources that divides”

From a Pakistani perspective, Tariq Banuri, chairman of the country’s Higher Education Commission explained that knowledge diplomacy can be used to help Pakistan develop.

Knowledge diplomacy can also contribute to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, he indicated.

“The biggest driver of economic growth today has become access to knowledge,” Banuri said.

“And the problem we confront today is that we cannot tolerate, we should not tolerate, the prospect of a new form of apartheid coming up between the knowledge haves and the knowledge have nots. The entire agenda of SDGs is not only to solve problems but to overcome the gaps between us.”

Banuri noted that Pakistan has been advocating a shift towards a positive sum game in its international agenda.

“When we look in the future we do have a major challenge ahead of us.

“The challenge comes from a very different domain. The challenge is today, unlike in the past, it is not our access to human resources or industry that divides us, it is our access to knowledge resources that divides.”

“It is through cooperation that we will advance the agenda, it is not through competition,” he said.

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Bayswater to launch refugee summer program

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 08:46

A summer program for refugees with a focus on English and employability skills will be organised this year at the University of Nottingham by Bayswater Foundation, the charity arm of Baywater Education, as part of its one-for-one model.

The institution is now recruiting applicants in collaboration with refugee organisations in Nottingham and around the UK, and organising a fundraising drive to help fund places on the program for 100 refugees.

“It is the responsibility of international education providers to make English language training and higher education accessible”

Reports from the Refugee Council and Refugee Support Network highlight how refugees find it very hard to access support with their English language skills, Bayswater explained.

With only an estimated 1% of refugees accessing higher education worldwide, the international education sector has an important role to play, Baywater director and co-founder James Herbertson told The PIE.

“It is the responsibility of international education providers to make English language training and higher education accessible for all,” he said.

Scheduled to take place between 29 July and 12 August, the program will include English and academic skills classes, workshops on CV writing and confidence building, and guest speakers from local businesses and cultural activities.

It will be aimed at two groups: teenage refugees enrolled in secondary education and adults who may already have university education in their home country but wish to return to full time study or work.

“I hope it will be a springboard for attendees, helping them to connect with university contacts, services in the higher education sector and potential employers,” Herbertson added.

The program will include accommodation, food, activities as well as pastoral support from the Bayswater welfare team.

This is the second project for Bayswater Foundation, after the launch of the collaboration with NGO Mais Caminhos organising English language courses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Those interested in getting involved in the program or support the fundraising drive can get in touch with project manager Jessica Dunks at foundation@bayswater.ac

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Student housing investment hit $17.1bn in 2018

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 04:21

Despite dipping slightly from 2017 to 2018, global investment in student accommodation totalled $17.1bn last year, entering its third year over $16bn, market research by Savills shows.

While global investment was down 2% in 2018 compared to the previous year, investment volumes are still 425% above their level a decade ago, the research shows.

“Milan, Vienna and Paris remain on top among the least supplied cities on the continent”

The year was particularly fruitful for the sector in the US, with the country reaching an all-time high with $10.8bn invested in student accommodation.

This result was driven by some “exceptionally large” deals, the research explains, including Greystar’s acquisition of EdR.

In other markets, 2018 was not as prosperous. In the UK and Western Europe, investments were down 33% and 38% respectively as fewer portfolios came to market.

Provisional data for the first quarter of 2019 shows a further $2.4bn invested in the sector globally.

Although overall transaction numbers may have been slightly lower last year, this is not the sign of a trend, Bonard head of marketing Stefan Kolibar told The PIE.

“It rather mirrors the recent status of the market – it is in front of consolidation, many deals and acquisitions are shaping up, there are 380 new projects coming to the market, worth circa €15bn,” he said.

Bonard, which provided data on the European market for Savills’ Spotlight: Global Living report (published in October 2018), tracked growing interest in southern Europe and in some cities.

“In Europe, we see a lot of interest in the south, countries such as Spain, Italy, France, but also in the CEE region,” Kolibar said.

“In terms of cities, Milan, Vienna and Paris remain on top among the least supplied cities on the continent.”

As for Australia, the market is going through the first wave of consolidation now, Kolibar explained.

“This is attracting not only domestic investors and established brands but also those based in Asia, Europe or the US,” he said.

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“Business as usual” after surprise Australian election result

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 02:44

Australian international education stakeholders have returned to “business as usual” after the weekend’s federal election failed to live up to expectations that a new Labor-led government would take power.

The shock result on May 18 saw the Liberal-National Coalition retain power to defy the majority of opinion polls, and has received a mixed reception from the industry as the promise of substantial reforms under Labor all but disappeared.

English Australia chief executive Brett Blacker said the government retaining power provided “continuity to the international education sector” and added that it ensured a continuation of the current work being undertaken as part of the National Strategy for International Education 2025.

“That council will continue to lose a vital perspective that they need”

In the lead up to the election, the Labor opposition had promised to revamp both the national strategy as well as the overarching Council for International Education that oversees its implementation.

While a stabilising factor, others observe the government returning to power means the same concerns and lobbying efforts from before the election continue.

In particular, Labor pledged $10 billion in university funding over ten years, a move peak bodies believed would reduce reliance on international student revenue.

“The worry now is to the effect that universities will now look to alternative revenue sources and that usually will mean they’ll up the ante on their international student recruitment,” said Phil Honeywood, chief executive of IEAA.

“We have to be very careful that we don’t go for quantity of students because this additional revenue expectation is not now forthcoming.”

Both Universities Australia and the Group of Eight, which lobbied the government to undo a series of funding freezes, welcomed the return of the government but renewed their calls to return funding to previous levels.

“We must ensure young Australians – especially from battling communities really doing it tough – don’t miss out on the chance of a university education,” said UA chair Deborah Terry.

“Our focus must continue to be on opportunities for all Australians – because without those opportunities, our economy will be less competitive and our people and communities will miss out.”

However, Andrew Norton, higher education program director at the Grattan Institute, warned universities may have their funding squeezed on dual fronts if scrutiny of English language proficiency and the impact of temporary migrants including international students on capital cities’ infrastructure continues.

“[Education minister Dan Tehan] has already indicated that he’s pursuing the English language standards issue with TEQSA and so I think that’s a clear signal that he’s interested in whether the required English is, in fact, being achieved prior to commencement,” he told The PIE News.

A reduction in international student numbers coinciding with the current funding freeze would lead to job losses and a reduction in universities’ activities, Norton continued, before adding it wasn’t a given that the scrutiny would lead to significant changes.

“Counter to that, I think [the government is] still very much seeing international students through an export and business focus and that will make them reluctant to act.”

From a vocational perspective, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (formerly ACPET) chief executive Troy Williams said his organisation was “comfortable with the reelected government’s approach to the vocational education and training sector.”

In particular, he cited the Joyce Review into vocational education, released shortly before the election was announced, as a commitment by the government to improve the sector.

“We have to be very careful that we don’t go for quantity of students”

“ITECA was extensively involved in the Joyce Review consultation process and endorses its broad direction that seeks to speed-up the development of new qualifications, and revision to existing qualifications, so as to ensure that they provide students with job-ready outcomes,” Williams said.

While not directly related to international education, it has been understood the review could in part increase the global competitiveness of Australian vocational education.

Craig Robertson, chief executive of TAFE Directors Australia, said the election result meant his organisation would continue their lobbying efforts, particularly around the axing of the Endeavour Scholarship program which provided the only government-funded mobility program for vocational students.

“They’ve basically sacrificed that experience for the purview of trying to attract international and also domestic students to regional Australia,” he said.

“We think that sacrifice for regional Australia is too high.”

Robertson told The PIE it was also disappointing the Council for International Education would not be overhauled, as it currently did not have a TAFE representative.

“That council will continue to lose a vital perspective that they need to be able to make sure that international education works. We’re concerned about that.”

It is understood education minister Dan Tehan will remain in his portfolio.

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UK & German HEIs showcase research & collaboration

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 09:13

UK and German universities joined forces to host an innovative showcase that shone a spotlight on the vital partnerships that exist between British and German academia.

Held at the British Embassy in Berlin as part of a collaboration between BUILA and its German counterpart DAIA, the showcase explored themes contributing to key European priorities where partners are collaborating at the cutting edge of science and technology and education.

“Universities in the UK are committed to continuing their deep-rooted academic collaborations”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and president of Universities UK Janet Beer said that irrespective of the outcomes of Brexit, “universities in the UK are committed to continuing their deep-rooted and often ground-breaking academic collaborations with German and European academic institutions and companies”.

“Collaborative research and teaching are a key component to UK HE’s success and is something we need to work hard to protect and nurture,” she said.

The showcase demonstrated how HEIs in the UK and Germany are working together and with other European partners to develop knowledge and skills and foster the innovation needed to address some of the key issues facing Europe.

Examples of educational collaborations present at the Showcase included those between Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Glasgow on a project called GET – SET – GO, and Wuppertal University which is partnering with 34 British Schools on a project called PrimA.

Deputy Secretary General at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Christian Müller added that the importance of collaborative research between Germany and the UK cannot be underestimated.

Since 2014 some 11,745 joint projects have been undertaken between Germany and the UK and over 72,000 research publications have been produced jointly between German and UK academics, many of them with support from DAAD.

“It is absolutely crucial that these research links are maintained,” he said.

The showcase took place to coincide with the British Council’s Going Global Conference.

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US continues MENA virtual exchange

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 06:15

US virtual exchange facilitator the Stevens Initiative has granted international nonprofit organisation and virtual exchange provider Soliya an addition round of funding, which it says will connect students in the US, Middle East, and North Africa.

The funding will be used for the Connect Global for US – MENA dialogue, which Soliya implements.

“Now more than ever, we need online platforms that facilitate constructive conversations”

This latest cash injection will enable Soliya “to exponentially grow one key program model, deepen our impact measurement efforts and better communicate the results”, according to the organisation’s CEO, Waidehi Gokhale.

Soliya also received funding from the Stevens Initiative in 2017.

“Combining the power of digital technologies and dialogue exchange can allow for the acquisition and development of seminal skills for young people as they prepare to engage within and across their communities and enter the workplaces of tomorrow,” Gokhale said.

“Now more than ever, we need online platforms that facilitate constructive conversations and collaborative global learning.”

The Connect Global: US-MENA, one of six programs through an international competition to fund virtual exchange programs in the US and the MENA region, will work in 12 US states, Washington DC, five MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories.

The exchanges will help college-aged young people gain skills they need for future careers, and establish new cross-cultural connections, according to the two facilitating organisations.

Participants will be able to discuss issues – including religion, gender, current events, social culture, media, and the environment – during the exchange in the presence of trained facilitators.

In a statement, Marie Royce, assistant secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, said the expansion will also honour the legacy of ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, whom the Initiative is named after.

As the US ambassador to Libya, Stevens was killed by extremists in Libya in September 2012.

“As bandwidths increase and platforms get more sophisticated, virtual exchanges open opportunities for international exposure and connection to hundreds of thousands – and potentially millions – of people,” Royce noted.

Including its other programs with organisations such as World Learning, Global Nomads Group, and IREX, the Stevens Initiative will reach nearly 40,000 students in 15 MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories, and 44 US states, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.

Along with funding from the US Department of State, the Stevens Initiative is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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International students contributed €2bn to the Spanish economy – report

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 04:02

International students contributed an estimate of over €2bn to the Spanish economy in 2018, with language schools welcoming by far the largest cohort of students out of all sectors, a research report has found.

The research, supported by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (part of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism) and the association EDUESPANA, found that the estimated cohort of 616,788 international students enrolled in the academic year 2017/18 contributed approximately € 2,143,631,704 to the Spanish economy.

“There is a lack of understanding of the benefits that derive from the presence of international students”

It also found that for every euro spent on an academic program, international students spent €0.86 on other sectors of the economy, and estimated that international students support 5,340 FTEs in the education sector alone.

Although, according to the report, international education is now a “major economic sector” for Spain, its benefits are not immediately understood by the wider public.

“There is a general lack of understanding and appreciation for both the economic impact and the social benefits which derive from the presence of international students, not only in Spain but probably in several other European countries,” Cristina Grasset, one of the authors of the report, told The PIE News.

“We hope the data-based evidence in our report will help spread the message, raise awareness and improve the perception of stakeholders and government agencies.”

Raising awareness on the benefit and the potential of the sector is crucial to advocate for favourable legislation and eliminate roadblocks to the development of the sector, the report pointed out.

“We need to ease the processes that non-EU students must complete in order to attend programs in Spain,” Grasset said.

“In the past, these have included long and frustrating bureaucratic procedures which have encouraged many to seek other educational destinations,” she explained, adding that there is hope new legislation, passed in 2018, will eliminate several roadblocks.

Another change needed to attract international students, said Grasset, is an increase in the number of English-taught programs.

“Our ability to attract international students is restrained by the minimal percentage of educational degrees that can be completed without a prior command of Spanish,” she said, adding that full-degree international student numbers are still growing, and their contribution will be the object of a future report.

Using a variety of sources, the present report estimated the enrolment numbers and economic contribution of international students in four sectors of the Spanish education system: Erasmus (of which Spain is the top destination), language and culture schools, business schools and US study abroad programs.

The language school sector by far welcomed the largest number of students, a total of 472,150, with a total impact of 793,102,474.

Encarnación Gutierrez of FEDELE, the Spanish Federation of Associations of Schools of Spanish as a Foreign Language, told The PIE that numbers have been increasing steadily over the past few years and that the association is focusing on advocacy and promotion.

“We are organising meetings and working as a team with other institutions to obtain facilities in the dispatching of student’s visa and to recognise our academic offers as university credits,” she said, adding that FEDELE’s agent workshops have proven very popular, with the next event taking place on September 29.

But as impressive as they are, the figures concerning the language school sector could even be conservative estimates, according to CLIC deputy director Frederic Parrilla Garreau.

He explained the data only pertains to members of FEDELE and it excludes universities and private sector schools, which don’t belong to the association.

“I wouldn’t be surprised the total number of foreign students all in all is at least 10-15% more than this,” he said.

“The problem is that that Spanish has fewer students focused on their career or business”

Interest towards Spanish is undeniably growing, he explained, as evidenced by its increasing popularity over other languages – for example, it has overtaken French in the UK.

Its charm is in no small measure aided by Spain’s warm climate, tourist attractions and friendliness, Parrilla Garreau added, in a way that is not always entirely positive for the industry.

“Lots of people study Spanish by simpatia [interest] towards the country and its people. The problem is that that Spanish has fewer students focused on their career or business – and people more focused on business, jobs, salaries, for example, would tend to study another language such as German,” he explained.

“I think Spanish will keep on growing but it needs to recreate a more solid branding connected to business and work opportunity globally,” he pointed out, adding that more government regulation is needed to block rogue providers.

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