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News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education
Updated: 8 hours 23 min ago

Innovation in MBA delivery ‘top challenge’ business school leaders say

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 09:49

Catering to a new generation of students as well as coming up with innovative delivery methods is the biggest challenge facing MBA programs around the world, according to a recent survey of business school representatives.

Produced by the Association of MBAs and Parthenon-EY the survey of 173 business school representatives found being innovative and creative in MBA delivery was cited as the biggest challenge by business schools across all regions, but was greatest among the Americas.

Specifically schools said catering to demands of a new generation of students and staying on top of digital technology trends were the biggest challenges they face.

“A primary challenge is the younger age of the students. We have to adapt to this trend in terms of our teaching ideals and teaching objectives”

“A primary challenge is the younger age of the students. We have to adapt to this trend in terms of our teaching ideals and teaching objectives,” said a respondent in China.

Historically, offering part-time executive MBA programs for those who don’t want to break from their careers was considered delivery innovation in MBA programs, according to James Menzies, market research executive, at AMBA.

Now, business schools say there is a growing need to expand their online learning resources and learning management systems. The survey found that just over a third (36%) of business schools said they use blended learning methods with four it ten respondents saying the MBA over any other program used most blended learning techniques.

With blended learning techniques already bedded down in most business schools, the study’s interviewees said that could lead to further delivery innovation.

“In recent years, the introduction of online courses allows more students to study across the world,” noted Menzies.

Only 12% of schools from the UK offer online or distance learning while just 8% of schools in Western Europe do. Just over a quarter of schools in the Americas said they are active in this delivery method.

However, implementing and updating digital platforms is costly, said Menzies. In the Americas, 85% of business school respondents said the MBA program is profitable while just 47% of schools in the UK said the same. In Western Europe 72% of schools and in Eastern Europe 90% said the programs are cost-effective.

But, of the 18 respondents from the Americas where the need to innovate is felt most strongly, 12 did not receive funding from the state, unlike many business schools in the UK and Western Europe, said Menzies.

“Likewise, of the 18 business schools in this region that provided information on their alumni donations, eight did not receive any donations and 10 said it accounted for less than 10% of their annual funding,” he said.

Only 12% of schools from the UK offer online or distance learning while just 8% of schools in Western Europe do

“These factors could suggest as to why respondents from the Americas indicated that being innovative in MBA delivery as such a big challenge.”

All respondents said they teach more than one MBA track, with part-time two year MBAs being the most popular, offered by 70% of business schools.

The study also found that one in three MBA students on campuses across the world is international, with students from India and China each accounting for 11% of global enrolments.

However, the second biggest challenge for business schools in the field is recruiting students for programs, according to the survey results.

One interviewee in the US suggested the state of the global economy could be influencing slow recruitment phases. “Are companies hiring or not? Do people feel it’s a good time to invest in education…? Maybe I’ll do an MBA next year. Right now I’ve got a job and I’m going to stick with it.”

Read our analysis on global business schools here.

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Germany: NRW confirms tuition fee proposal

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 06:15

The coalition CDU-FDP government in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has confirmed its intention to reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU students.

Last month, the Christian Democratic Union in the state published its coalition agreement for 2017-2022 with the Free Democratic Party outlining the plans.

Fees are being introduced to improve the teaching quality and study conditions in the state, which require additional financial resources, the party has said.

“The coalition agreement aims to improve the student-to-teacher ratio and to increase the financial resources”

However only students from non-EU countries will be required to pay the €1,500 per semester fee.

At the same time, the coalition agreement says that students from developing countries, refugees and people with special needs or social hardship will be excluded from the policy and provided with scholarship programs.

The proposal to reintroduce tuition fees is also earmarked as an additional means for the state’s 2017-2021 Higher Education Agreement, which provides universities in NRW with €250m for securing and boosting its financial framework.

“The coalition agreement aims to improve the student-to-teacher ratio and to increase the financial resources,” Ministry of Culture and Science spokesperson Verena Hoppe commented. “The plan is to reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU countries, which will be oriented on the model in Baden-Württemberg.”

The state of Baden-Württemberg reintroduced fees last year for non-EU students which excludes refugees, international students who earned their Bildungsinländer qualification in Germany, students from non-EU Erasmus member states, those with permanent residence in Europe and existing non-EU students.

The future of tuition fees in the NRW, however, is contingent on the approval by parliament. Universities in the state said they are waiting for the policy to be voted on in the coming weeks before they react.

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Hiroshi Ota, Hitotsubashi University, Japan

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 03:03
A sense of crisis can be the driving force behind internationalisation, says Hiroshi Ota, director of the Global Education Program at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. He tells The PIE about the critical situation local cities face in Japan, shares his doubts about EMI degrees, and explains why he’s lost interest in ‘conventional’ study abroad programs.

The PIE: You’re an adviser to Hiroshima prefecture, sitting on its Committee on International Students and Internationalisation of Higher Education. What are some of the issues you look at?

HO: One is that the government’s shifting its international education budget from inbound to outbound – more money goes to outbound students rather than inbound students. I’d say this is a ‘Japanese first’ policy.

“The sense of crisis is very important – it pushes people”

But local places – Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Osaka, Kyoto, those local cities – their agenda is different. They are losing population drastically. There are still people coming to Tokyo from provincial cities, they don’t feel that crisis, but in the local cities, their projections are really bad. The sense of crisis is very important – it pushes people. So they’re seriously thinking we have to invite international students, create scholarships and have them study for two, three, four years as a soft landing to Japan, to understand the language, acquire some skills, get a job and then stay in Japan.

Another problem is Japanese people in general still believe that once you open the doors, you’ll have a huge influx of people. But that’s not the case at all.

The PIE: So what can those local cities do to attract international students?

HO: My home city, Fukuoka, is really open, the city, industry, businesses and universities, they’re working together. Hiroshima too. But it’s a problem, you understand, that people from outside think Japan means Tokyo. Or perhaps Japan means Osaka, Kyoto. But Japan means Akita, Ibaraki, too. That’s a problem. I’ve talked to the governor of Hiroshima many times, he really wants to encourage it, but even if he spends the money, the outcome is not good enough. So we are struggling.

The PIE: So let’s talk about internationalisation at Hitotsubashi University. What does your day to day job look like?

HO. I have many hats. I’m the director of the English as a Medium of Instruction program, I’m part of some of our study abroad programs, and I also carry out research into international education and policy.

“People from outside think Japan means Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto. But Japan means Akita, Ibaraki too”

The PIE: What kind of EMI programs do you offer?

HO: We have four departments – economics, business administration, law and political science, sociology – and we all work together under the umbrella of the Hitotsubashi University Global Education Program. There are not only courses in English, but also Japanese language courses for beginners, academic skills in English and TOEFL skills.

The courses in English are part of each faculty’s curriculum. So we have a cross-listing system, where Japanese students take courses in English as a requirement for their curriculum, and exchange students take them too. It’s one classroom, two doors.

However, we don’t have enough Japanese students at the moment because of English proficiency, so now we’re reforming our English education too, working with the British Council. So English proficiency is going up and those students come to our class. It takes time, but it’s working.

The PIE: But you don’t offer full degrees in English?

HO: That’s right. EMI is critical but I’m still against EMI degree programs. Because in Japan, very often EMI programs become standalone, island programs with only international students, and the faculty are non-Japanese and they’re not integrated in the campus. And very often that happens when it’s a degree program.

The PIE: Even though EMI has seen a big pick up throughout Asia?

“For people that didn’t get into the Top Global Universities project, there’s a sense of crisis. But that crisis is an opportunity”

HO: Yes, but my understanding is very often it’s very small islands, not a concerted effort. For example, the Top Global Universities project – Hitotsubashi University isn’t part of that, we don’t get the money. Because if you get money from the government, it’s easy to make another island. You can hire contract workers, temporary teachers, but once the grant is gone, the program is gone. Hitotsubashi started our programs without grants because we have to think of our own way in internationalisation.

Internationalisation is not one model fitting all, but with government initiatives, the government sets the goals. I think the goals must be set by yourself. So in a way, for people that didn’t get into the Top Global Universities project, there’s a sense of crisis. But that crisis is also becoming an opportunity.

The PIE: How many students do you have in total?

HO: 6,200.

The PIE: And how many are international?

HO: About 800. That’s both degree seeking and exchange students.

For the exchange students, we used to require two years’ language training before they came, but now they can just come and take Japanese for beginners. So some students come to Hitotsubashi and study only Japanese language programs, while others come and take only courses in English – like students who are studying economics but with a focus on East Asia. They’re not interested in Japanese, that’s fine. And others who are studying Japanese or East Asian studies, they study both the language and Japanese affairs side by side.

The PIE: Has removing that language requirement made a big difference to your intake of exchange students?

“Many of our exchange partners are scaling back their Japanese language programs”

HO: It’s made a really big difference. The reason why exchange student numbers have been dropping in the last few years was the Japanese language requirement. Many of our exchange partners are scaling back their Japanese language programs, and sometimes they even demolish the entire department to replace it with Chinese. This is the reality!

We give more options and we also encourage the Japanese students to come to the classes. Our exchange students are growing and growing, which means we also have more opportunities to send out Japanese students abroad, and studying in English is good preparation.

The PIE: What opportunities are there for home students to study abroad?

HO: We have exchange programs for a year, a semester, but we also now have internships in Spain for six weeks, a four-week program with intensive English and business immersion at Monash University. Another is going to Singapore Management University, where they study business English for two weeks and then go to Cambodia to practise their skills.

We also have the traditional programs like studying English in the UK. However, I’m not so enthusiastic in those conventional, four-week programs. Because my understanding is you can study English where you are, using the internet, TV. More important is to use English. I’m more interested now in developing programs where students can actually practise: service learning, volunteering, training. I think these lead to increasing employability eventually too.

“I’m not so enthusiastic in those conventional, four-week programs. You can study English where you are”

I tease people on our campus who work in those programs, because I say a four-week language program is like a four-week diet program. You work very hard for four weeks, that’s good. You can feel the effect. But when you return, you rebound. My way is more every day learning English. It’s like exercise, stretching every day so you become more flexible. A four-week language program is symbolic: I studied abroad. But the outcome? I don’t know. I think with language and then business learning, immersion, shadowing, they learn more.

The PIE: Do you take that same approach to employability and applied skills to your incoming international students?

HO: We do, and one way is we’re reaching out to the off campus community, for instance our alumni association. Hitotsubashi’s an old business school, so there are many, many business leaders. I reach out to them and explain the situation, and they say OK, we can work together. They’ve actually created scholarships for international students. And they also create internships. The founder of [e-commerce and internet giant] Rakuten is also a Hitotsubashi graduate, and they’ve created an internship in English in Tokyo.

The PIE: So those alumni links are really important.

HO: Another thing we said we need is ‘lectures in practice’. Macroeconomic theory, students can study at home. So what is something unique we can provide those classes? More practical, application-based courses, taught by lecturers in practice from business, banking and so on. They come to our campuses once a week to teach. That’s unique, they can’t take the same course at home. So alumni play a very important role.

At the Universities of Tokyo and Kyoto, their alumni associations are big. They can’t work together. All the faculties have their own associations. But in our case, as a small institution, all the alumni can work together.

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Hurdles ahead for East Africa’s Common Higher Education Area

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 06:27

Variations in quality and curricula adopted by different universities, inadequate financing and the length of time students take to complete degree programs, are some of the challenges that must be addressed to enable smooth actualisation of the East African Community Common Higher Education Area endorsed in May.

Increased investment in advanced information and communication technologies, the role of the private sector in higher education, and catering for students with special educational needs, are also some of the issues identified by delegates at the Inter-University Council of East Africa forum last month in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

IUCEA, the regional body charged with implementing the harmonised higher education plan between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, also heard that universities in Africa’s newest state of South Sudan, the latest addition to the East African Community, needed to be assessed to establish what it would take to incorporate them.

“Operationalisation comes with additional demands and this will require resources for implementation”

There is also a real need to ensure equal treatment of students across the bloc as a validation of fees structure tool has already been developed which will enable universities to calculate the unit cost of programs, the IUCEA forum heard.

“Operationalisation comes with additional demands and this will require resources for implementation hence the need for resource mobilisation including grants to ameliorate tuition”, said Philip Ayoo IUCEA’s principal innovation and outreach officer.

According to Riziki Pembe Juma, Zanzibar’s Minister for Education and Vocational Training, EAC citizens are looking forward to greater and smoother free movement of labour, people and services as a result of declaration of the CHEA.

“We expect that students will soon be able to take courses in one university, accumulate credits, validate those courses in the original university and graduate,” said the minister.

Rationalisation of the labour market being one of the goals for the EAC, a graduate from one partner state should confidently be able to apply, and be considered for a job, in any of the states as the quality of graduates produced within the region will be comparable, she added.

The minister, however, expressed concern over the question of equal treatment of students, saying that as things stood, universities were charging students from partner states higher fees.

“Although all partner states have committed themselves to giving equal treatment to students coming from the community, I am informed that there are still some cases where universities charge students from EAC members fees as if they were foreigners,” Juma noted.

“In the context of the Common Higher Education Area, this challenge needs to be looked into and urgently addressed,” the minister noted.

She however expressed satisfaction that IUCEA had already developed a tool to enable universities to calculate the unit cost of programs, which would ensure higher education institutions to charge the same fees for all students from any of the EAC countries the same as would charge nationals of their respective countries.

Various tools to guide implementation of the CHEA had been developed the minister noted, including an assurance system, a qualifications framework, staff and student mobility policy, as well as benchmarks for academic programs.

“I am informed that there are still some cases where universities charge students from EAC members fees as if they were foreigners”

“What we now really want to see is that all these policies and tools are domesticated by all and effectively used by higher learning institutions,” Juma said.

The annual meeting of the regional higher education body was purely dedicated to the CHEA, with the theme: ‘The role of universities in the operationalisation of the EAC Common Higher Education Area for regional integration’.

It was the first event since the regional community’s 18th ordinary session of heads of states and governments held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in May declared East Africa a Common Higher Education Area.

The IUCEA has been tasked with the role of coordinating the implementation of the CHEA, with national higher education commissions and universities as partners.

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UK NARIC deal to verify foreign credentials

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 02:44

The UK’s national qualifications agency UK NARIC has launched a new initiative to combat fraud in academic credentials, through an agreement with The DataFlow Group, a company specialising in document verification, background screening and immigration compliance.

The primary verification processes will authenticate the credentials of overseas students and professionals applying to study in the UK.

It will be open to UK NARIC members, which include education institutions, employers, professional bodies and migrant advisory organisations.

“Educational fraud and fraudulent applications for work and study are a growing problem”

Primary source verification processes can be “an invaluable step in rooting out problem applications” for these institutions, according to UK NARIC’s deputy managing director, Paul Norris, who added they can also “mitigate concerns with high-risk markets”.

“Educational fraud and fraudulent applications for work and study are a growing problem that has serious consequences for institutions and the safety of our society as a whole,” Norris commented.

“The DataFlow Group is well-placed to offer PSV across a wide geographical area, and we are pleased to offer this added feature for the benefit of UK NARIC members,” he added.

Hong Kong-based DataFlow works worldwide, liaising with a network of more than 60,000 issuing authorities to verify documents.

As well as academic qualifications, the company verifies employment certificates, practice licenses, work permits and passports.

The service also provides a paper trail that can be used as evidence in institutions’ admissions decisions or to demonstrate compliance and record-keeping.

For example, after uploading documents to the online platform, users receive a written report detailing the results of the verification process.

“By extending our PSV service to UK NARIC members, not only are we helping them make informed admissions and recruitment choices, but we are also contributing to the implementation of robust verification programs throughout the UK and Europe,” commented DataFlow Group chief commercial officer Aiman Shehabi.

Academic qualifications fraud has become an increasingly prominent topic of discussion in the international education industry worldwide, with initiatives to combat fraud multiplying in recent years.

Among them is My eQuals, a database of certified qualifications that is gathering steam in Australasia as an offshoot of the Groningen Declaration Network: an initiative dedicated to bolstering qualifications security.

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Egyptian-Korean TVET deal sealed for 2022

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 07:50

The Egyptian Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation has received a $6m grant from South Korea that will be used to establish a Korean technical education facility in the central Egyptian governorate of Beni Suef.

“The faculty aims to provide skilled labour to the Egyptian market and develop scientific capabilities of teaching staff,” Sahar Nasr, Egyptian minister of investment told the Egyptian press. The facility will abide by international standards and provide accredited certificates to students, she said.

“The faculty aims to provide skilled labor to the Egyptian market and develop scientific capabilities of teaching staff”

The project should be completed within seven years, and will start operating in 2022. The facility will develop technical academic and skills development programs to improve skills of graduating calibre. It will also aim to raise the standards of practical skills of teaching staff, policymakers and administrative staff in the field of technical education.

Nasr said the cooperation between the two countries would include “vocational training invitations to Korea for teaching staff at the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, as well as frequent visits by experts from Korea to Egypt for project management consultations.”

The agreement is the outcome of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to South Korea last year, where the latter pledged to support Egypt’s socio-economic development through the Korea International Cooperation Agency on behalf of the government.

For the past 18 years KOICA’s Egypt office has been implementing fellowship and capacity building schemes as well as the Korea Overseas Volunteer program, the KOICA Egypt office told The PIE News.

In the education field, KOICA has implemented major projects, including the upgrading of four vocational training centres in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade in different parts of Egypt. They have also completed a project to improve the automotive vocational training system in Egypt.

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UK: BUILA fostering mobility plan B with Europe

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 05:12

UK university members of BUILA are liaising with counterparts in Europe to discuss a plan B to ensure the movement of students and staff can continue, should the outcome of Brexit negotiations negatively impact mobility ties.

Individual bilateral arrangements and partnerships could be an alternative scenario to the current multi-national system, explained Charlene Allen, chair of BUILA, the UK’s organisation of international liaison officers.

“Education was low down the list of priorities on the Brexit negotiation table,” she said, adding that research funding and being the destination of choice European students undertaking a mobility experience “are the issues international directors are concerned about”.

The agreements would come via institutions and organisations such as the European University Association, according to Allen.

“We need to prepare for bilateral arrangements and partnerships if multilateral systems are no longer available”

“The European institutions represented [at our conference] were suggesting that we prepare for bilateral arrangements and partnerships if multilateral systems are no longer available,” she said.

“They were keen for UK institutions to take a longer view in terms of balancing the flow of incoming and outgoing students.”

Communications in local European languages will be planned in the future and disseminated to European institutions via the EUA.

The EUA’s senior policy coordinator, Thomas Ekman Jørgensen, spoke at the conference on ‘what the UK’s European counterparts want’ from the UK.

He observed that the UK dominated scientific output within the European Research Area, and had the highest rates of student mobility within the EU in terms of inbound and outbound flows.

However, he warned that the UK was not in the driving seat of negotiations and its only decision on Brexit now was ultimately to accept or reject the deal that the “machine” of Europe was working on.

Representatives from Norway and Switzerland also shared with delegates their unique positions as EU stakeholders – but not members.

Vidar Pedersen from the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) emphasised the importance to Norway of maintaining student mobility opportunities, inbound and outbound, noting that Norway paid a €350 million contribution to be a full participating member of Erasmus+.

Two thirds of the Norway’s Erasmus+ participants are incoming students, while one third leave on outbound exchanges. A white paper from January on quality of higher education has clear mobility goals, he added.

“EU institutions were keen for UK institutions to take a longer view on balancing the flow of students”

He continued on an upbeat note when talking further on Norway’s 1994 decision not to join the EU, voted by 52% of the public. With 75% of politicians keen to join, he said those governing the country “made the best of the situation”.

However, “not joining is not the same as leaving”, he added.

Sabine Pendl, vice-president of EAIE, also suggested a spirit of goodwill would endure. “Once you’ve lost something, it can have more value,” she noted.

And Joanna Williams, an academic and education editor of online current affairs magazine Spiked, struck a somewhat controversial tone for a conference full of Remain voters, by declaring she voted to leave the EU.

Williams challenged the notion, and any inference, that Leave voters are uninterested in Europe or ties with the continent or wider world and challenged universities to better reflect a representation of Leave voters, avoiding an assumption that they are all anti-migrant.

“Academics’ attitudes to leave-voters” had to be examined, she said, explaining she felt the issue of sovereignty trumped other positions.

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Kenya: safety concerns high among foreign students in election run up

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 05:10

Even as university authorities seek to assure foreign students of their welfare during the upcoming Kenyan elections, some students have safety concerns about the highly contested August 8 polls, fearing a possible outbreak of violence.

Kenya has been holding elections every five years, but a bitter dispute over the presidential poll in 2007 led to a month-long conflict that left 1,000 people dead.

Subsequent 2012 polls were however peaceful and authorities are doing everything in their power to ensure that peace prevails in this year’s elections.

“I am a bit worried about what will happen after the final result is announced; it is very difficult to predict,” said Gamachu Eba, a third year international relations student from Ethiopia studying at Daystar University. “The political climate in Kenya seems more complicated than before. The tension between the government in place and the opposition party is not good and the race will be tight,” he said

Some students from other African countries studying in Kenya said the possible outbreak of violence reminds them of unrest at home.

“Many international students are scared especially those who have experienced violence during elections”

“Foreigners are particularly vulnerable to harassment when caught up in a foreign hostile political environment. I am deeply concerned, but pray peace will prevail,” said Joece Dmachar, a third year economics student from South Sudan studying at Daystar University, whose fears are deepened by the fact that her own country has been under the grip of political violence for years now.

Naomi Dan Karami, a fourth year psychology student at Daystar originally from Niger commented, “Many international students are scared especially those who have experienced violence during elections. Some have already booked their plane tickets to go home while others are trying to sort out where to stay during this election.”

Kenyans will be electing a president, a parliament and local politicians, including county governors next month. The two main candidates for the presidency are the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the country’s former prime minister, who also ran in 2013 against Kenyatta, and in 2007 against Mwai Kibaki.

United States International University (USIU-Africa) and Daystar University, two of Kenya’s most international institutions, will be on summer break during the poll period but public institutions will close to facilitate participation of learners and lecturers at the polls.

According to the Daystar’s registrar Paul Mbutu, interruption of academic affairs is not expected because students will be on recess during elections.

The university has around 600 international students from 31 African countries, representing about 20% of its total student population.

Student placement and international relations officer Grace Karanja said the elections are to a “large extent” not causing any apprehension among foreign students, adding that even in the event of insecurity, the institution had measures in place to ensure that its student population was safe.

The university’s August 6-21 semester break falls in the time just before, during and immediately after the elections, and most international students will have travelled home, Karanja noted.

“As a measure of preparedness, however, in the event of any eventuality, foreign students who live on campus and are willing to stay during the break are assured of safety while on campus,” she told The PIE News.

“Daystar has in place tight security measures on its campuses and such will be heightened particularly around the electioneering period,” she said.

“Security measures on campuses will be heightened particularly around the electioneering period”

She added that media reports about potential or real threats in the period prior to the election could impact the impression international students have of studying at universities in Kenya.

“However, Daystar is looking to maintain the same level of admission or even higher because the services we offer to our students are not dependent on a change of government”, Karanja noted.

The optimism is shared by USIU-Africa which said it does not anticipate any violence during the election based on the 2012 polls which were peaceful and incident free.

“USIU-Africa and the country in general is preaching peace and we know that what we put out there is the perception that will be taken by our potential students, so we have no reason to believe that this election will affect our student numbers,” said a spokesperson.

The institution has a student population of 7,005, 14% of whom are international students drawn from 65 different nationalities.

The institution will be on summer holidays during the polling period and is not concerned about the safety or welfare of its international students, the spokesperson confirmed.

Elsewhere in the country’s higher education sector, teams are working to ensure systems for establishment of the bilateral German Eastern Africa University of Applied Sciences are in place before the election date.

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University tuition across Europe: to fee or not to fee?

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 03:46

If you’ve been reading about Finland’s planned introduction of tuition fees for international students later this year, you could be excused for having a sense of déjà vu. From August 1, non-EU undergraduate and master’s students will pay at least €1,500 per year to study in Finland.

However, the introduction of fees is some years and several dizzying u-turns in the making. It’s also not actually the first time international students will pay for their studies in Finland.

Some English-taught master’s programs did charge an average of €8,000 in a pilot project that ran from 2010-2014, but proposals to roll out the scheme further were rejected. The argument behind the rollout was that if international students leave after graduation, they leave the taxpayer out of pocket.

“In order to even maintain the economic power that we have now, we will need to massively recruit foreign talent”

The MP making the argument, Arto Satonen, warned that foreign graduates of Finnish universities would go on to work in the UK, US and Australia, “so with Finnish taxpayers’ money we are actually educating workers for the Anglo Saxon countries’ economies.”

His claim was, however, contradicted by research from the Centre for International Mobility that showed 44% of foreign students who graduated in 2009 were still employed in Finland five years later.

Another study by Danish think tank DEA shows that subsidising foreign students in these numbers makes economic sense. It found international students who completed a subsidised degree between 1996 and 2008 contributed a net 165.5m Danish krone (US$23.8m) over that period, with 40% still in the country a year after graduation.

But the idea that foreigners are a drain on the state is pervasive, and political winds are often directed by public perception.

Universities must therefore work to highlight the benefits international students bring, explains Jón Atli Benediktsson, rector and president at the University of Iceland.

Students in Iceland don’t pay tuition fees regardless of where they’re from (though they do pay a registration fee of €100-€250), and universities “make an effort to present, both to policy makers and the public, the importance of attracting international students to Iceland and strengthening our international collaborations, for example, to create opportunities for Icelandic students abroad”, he explains.

“We believe that free higher education is a cornerstone of a vibrant democracy”

In Germany, the public by and large support efforts to educate students from further afield because they understand the economic case for it, notes Jérôme Rickmann, director of international talent acquisition & project development at EBC Hochschule.

“The main argument is that we are, demographically speaking, a shrinking society, so in order to even maintain the economic power that we have now, we will need to massively recruit foreign talent,” he explains.

Of course, the arguments in support of free education are not solely economic. In Norway, for example, “We believe that free higher education is a cornerstone of a vibrant democracy – and that international students are essential because of the perspectives they bring to the campus and to their peers,” asserts University of Oslo rector Ole Petter Ottersen.

Pricing out students from poorer backgrounds goes against the egalitarian thinking that is integral to Norway’s national identity, adds Kathrine Pekot, senior executive officer at the University of Stavanger’s international office: “Norwegians do not believe that education is a privilege accessible only for the wealthy… regardless of what passport they may hold.”

This egalitarian thinking is also a defence against what some might call the ‘slippery slope’ of fee charging – the fear that fees for international students are the cracked door that will open up to fees for domestic students too. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

In EU countries, students from within the bloc can’t legally be offered a worse deal than their domestic classmates, but differentiation between these two groups and non-EU students is the norm. In some, like Scotland and Austria, EU students pay no tuition fees. Scotland’s former first minister, Alex Salmond, famously once said “rocks would melt in the sun” before he would let universities charge domestic and EU students tuition.

“Universities now have a much more professional approach to international education”

While the obvious fear for universities is that introducing fees may trigger a mass exodus of international students, those with experience say it also brings opportunity. “It has contributed significantly to creating an awareness amongst Danish universities of the global market for education,” says Morten Overgaard, head of international affairs at Technical University of Denmark. “Universities now have a much more professional approach to international education than they had before.”

While there are certainly lessons for Finland to learn from its Nordic cousins, parallel tectonic shifts in the landscape of international education must also be acknowledged. Students worldwide are now more internationally mobile and universities have made internationalisation a much bigger part of their agenda.

Because of this, Finland is in some ways in a better position to accommodate the new fee structure than Sweden. Many universities have already begun to think about international strategies, and the long-drawn-out debate means they’ve seen it coming. They are certainly aiming to be more prepared.

“Quite early on in the process, our senior management agreed to a substantial increase to our marketing budget. New materials have been created and our digital marketing approach was intensified,” explains Markus Laitinen, head of international affairs at the University of Helsinki.

Nevertheless, international recruitment in Finland is a much more low-key affair than it is in many study destinations, partly because there isn’t the same financial incentive for aggressive recruitment that there is in destinations like the UK, where higher education funding is supplemented by fee income.

And these benefits only materialise if tuition fee revenue goes straight to universities – which it won’t in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg. From this year, non-EU students will pay €1,500 a semester, but most of that will go to the state to fill a €48m funding gap.

Unlike private institutions, which can already charge fees, public universities are “highly underfinanced and have little to no commercial drive (often for legal reasons)”, observes Rickmann at EBC Hochschule, a private institution that charges around €4,000 a semester. “The possibility to build an actual business model could open a totally new dynamic in terms of internationalisation,” he argues.

However, a challenge lies in making students aware that paying to study in a small town may still be cheaper than studying in a fee-free but more expensive city. This tendency to notice the proverbial €0 sign before looking at other expenses can lead to disappointment.

“Many students withdraw their enrolment after the reality of the costs of living hits them”

Pekot at the University of Stavanger explains, “Some students are naively under the impression that they will not need much funding to sustain themselves in one of the most expensive countries in the world.” International students in Norway can’t access the state loan fund, and must provide proof of financing to the tune of around €12,000.

“Many students withdraw their enrolment after the reality of the costs of living hits them,” Pekot says. Those inclined to think that this miscalculation indicates a lack of forethought are likely to fall into the camp that believes tuition fees will help to filter out non-serious applicants.

Whether or not pricing out students is a fair way of selecting applicants is a contentious topic, and fees have clearly impacted international student demographics. Jonkoping University, for example, has seen a big increase in students from India and China in recent years, but, “Many students from specific developing countries in mainly Africa disappeared because they couldn’t afford it,” says Bengtsson.

While this is certainly a negative, universities have also seen some of the positive filtering effect predicted by the government. Bengtsson says: “I believe that before the fees, some students just tried to escape from their home countries and didn’t have any real interest to study.”

This argument will no doubt be front of mind in the remaining handful of tuition-free nations as they look to see how things play out in Finland and Baden-Württemberg. Whether they will lead to a domino effect elsewhere in Europe remains to be seen. In the meantime, universities’ goal is simple, says Laitinen. “We are, of course, looking at attracting the best possible students.”

  • This is an abridged version of an article that originally appeared in The PIE Review edition 14.

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UA scores victory in Temporary Worker changes

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 09:40

The Australian government will make key amendments to its upcoming Temporary Skill Shortage visa, addressing concerns raised by peak body Universities Australia.

The changes will see university lecturers, faculty head and chief executives, including vice-chancellors, restored to the medium and long-term skills list, while study undertaken during a PhD will account for work experience.

The confirmation sees the Australian government acting on a prior commitment to take a “broad view” of what constitutes work experience after Universities Australia raised concerns the proposed two years’ minimum occupational experience requirement could lock out recent international PhD recipients from academic positions.

“This is very good news – the government has listened to these key concerns and acted on them,” UA chief executive Belinda Robinson said in a statement.

“Domestic students benefit in many ways from the internationalisation of Australian education”

“The global community of university lecturers and researchers is a highly mobile one. Australia needs policy settings that allow us to remain competitive, and ensure we are able to snap up the best global talent to work alongside our brilliant home-grown researchers.”

Robinson said the changes would also alleviate the concerns of the estimated 3,000 researchers and university staff who are on the current 457 visa.

Monash University vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner also welcomed the announcement, saying the amendments would help Australia attract academic talent to the benefit of both international and domestic students.

“Domestic students benefit in many ways from the internationalisation of Australian education. They benefit from the insights and the understanding and experience [of foreign teachers] and the contacts they build with fellow students from across the world,” she told The PIE News.

“Frankly, our graduates, whether they come to us from overseas or they come to us from within Australia, expect that the education be at the highest level.”

Gardner added that while those with a PhD “fuel the next generation of our academic workforce”, the business community would also benefit from the changed interpretation of work experience.

“We want those PhDs to infuse future innovation, whether it’s starting up their own companies in Australia, or working in industry in an established organisation,” she said.

“If they don’t have their PhD understood to be work experience… we’ll be losing a whole lot of immensely talented people to other places in the world who will be very happy to accept them.”

While some academic positions were restored, university tutor remains absent from both lists.

The new Temporary Skill Shortage visa will come into effect in March 2018.

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UK: slight rise in int’l university applicants outweighed by EU drop

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 05:33

A 2% rise in international applicants for full-time undergraduate study in the UK over the last year was not enough to offset a 5% fall in applicants from the EU, according to the latest figures from the UK’s university application system.

The data released by UCAS shows that the overall number of applicants for undergraduate study has fallen by 4%, with England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each showing individual declines.

The number of EU applicants totalled 49,250 for this year’s application cycle – a fall of 2,600 from last year’s – for entry into university in September.

“There is no doubt that the government’s approach to Brexit is damaging and is creating huge uncertainties”

EU applicants accounted for 7.6% of total applicants to UK universities.

France once again displayed the largest number of EU applicants (5,110), followed by Italy with 4,420, and Ireland with 4,360. However, all top three source countries showed a decrease.

Stakeholders have attributed much of the decline in EU applicants to the rhetoric surrounding Brexit, and the uncertainty that it brings.

“The EU market has been an area of consistent growth in recent years and the 5% fall in applications will create additional concerns,” said Pam Tatlow, chief executive of university association MillionPlus.

“There is no doubt that the government’s approach to Brexit is damaging and is creating huge uncertainties, both for EU students and UK universities.”

While this round of UCAS data measures just applications, Sarah Stevens, head of policy at the Russell Group, pointed out that it is unclear as of yet how these figures will translate into offers from institutions and acceptances.

“However, if students are being put off by the uncertainties of Brexit, this would be a concern,” she said.

Meanwhile, the number of applicants from beyond the EU rose by 1,530 to 70,830, accounting for just over one in ten UCAS applicants.

China remained overwhelmingly the top country for applicants, up 940 to 13,390.

Hong Kong followed with 5,960, despite a small dip of 140 applicants, while the third largest source of applications, India, grew by 510 to 4,790.


Maddalaine Ansell, chief executive of Universities Alliance, said that while the small rise in the number of international students is welcome, it doesn’t make up for the drop in EU applicants.

“This reinforces the need for the most open arrangement possible as Britain leaves the EU so that those with the talent from overseas can continue to come here to study without facing barriers,” she said.

A total of 649,700 prospective students submitted their applications to university via UCAS in the 2017 cycle, which closed on June 30, a fall of 4% on the year before.

The overall drop was matched by a 4% decline in applicants from the UK, which Shakira Martin, president of the National Union of Students, said evidence the government “urgently needs to review the education funding system”.

“Some have claimed that rising fees and the lack of proper financial support for students have not deterred people from attending university,” she said. “Clearly, this is completely untrue.”

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US: DHS rumoured to back annual student visa renewals

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 09:18

Senior officials at the US Department of Homeland Security have reportedly been discussing proposals which would require international students to reapply for permission to stay in the US each year, according to The Washington Post.

The plan is in the preliminary stages, officials reportedly said, but it is being contemplated in order to strengthen national security.

DHS has not officially confirmed the specific changes are being discussed, but spokesperson David Lapan said in a statement that international student visas is one area the department is looking at.

“This appears to be a duplicative and unnecessary process that would undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on our nation’s competitiveness”

“DHS is exploring a variety of measures that would ensure that our immigration programs — including programs for international students studying in the United States — operate in a manner that promotes the national interest, enhances national security and public safety and ensures the integrity of our immigration system,” he said.

Lapan declined to comment further to The PIE News.

Jill Welch, deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA, said that while she hasn’t seen details of a draft DHS proposal, the suggestion of this kind “would have grave consequences for our national security, foreign policy and economic interests, as well as America’s scientific and innovative strength.”

“As reported, this appears to be a duplicative and unnecessary process that would undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on our nation’s competitiveness,” she said.

NAFSA urged DHS to consult with it and other industry stakeholders “before making any rash decisions that can have potentially irreversible consequences”, she added.

This is not the first time that international students would face the brunt of immigration changes since President Trump’s election in November last year.

A number of international students and university faculty were affected by the initial implementation of two executive orders announced at the start of the year, limiting travel from several mostly Muslim countries.

Brett Bruen, president of the consulting firm Global Situation Room, who served as a former US diplomat and director of global engagement at the White House, said that US higher education has endured a tough six months.

“Subjecting foreign students to intrusive and unnecessary annual checks will only further dissuade them from choosing the United States,” he told The PIE News.

And a policy which entails international students to reapply for permission to stay each year would also require a significant amount of resources, Bruen added.

“This would likely raise the cost of student visas”

“This would likely raise the cost of student visas and take away valuable assets from other national security imperatives,” he said.

The latest figures from SEVIS show that as of May this year, there were 1.18 million international students studying in the US.

This number has been steadily on the rise, up 2% on the previous year.

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Inspired buys schools in Europe, expands in Kenya

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 09:14

Premium international schools operator Inspired has acquired two international schools in Italy and Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland.

The acquisitions of IS Como and IS Ticino take the London- and Johannesburg-based group’s network to 35 schools – 27 premium international schools and five early learning schools – teaching upwards of 18,000 students in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Africa.

“These two excellent and growing schools are providing a superb international education in their own thriving communities”

Founded in 2002, IS Como in Fino Mornasco, close to Lake Como in northern Italy, teaches some 300 students from 38 countries.

It teaches the International Baccalaureate curriculum in English, and aims to add the IB Diploma program to its offering from 2018.

IS Ticino is a much younger school, opening in 2014 to teach the IB curriculum to students aged 3-11, making it the only IB Primary Years Programme provider in the Swiss region of Ticino.

The acquisition is part of an aggressive expansion within Europe. It comes less than a year after Inspired acquired a Belgian school and two other K-12 providers in Italy: St Louis School of Milan and International School of Europe Group, which together teach some 3,500 students.

“These two excellent and growing schools, which are providing a superb international education in their own thriving communities to international and local families, will now be able to benefit from the international best practice that belonging to Inspired’s global network will bring,” commented Nadim Nsouli, Inspired’s founder and chairman.

Inspired also plans to open a new school in Rundu, Kenya later this year. Brookhouse Runda will be a sister school to Inspired’s existing Kenyan school, Brookhouse Karen.

The first cohort of primary school students will begin at Brookhouse Runda in September 2017, along with those in their first year of secondary school.

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Purwanto Subroto, Ministry of Higher Education, Indonesia

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 06:34
Indonesia’s higher education sector is stepping up its internationalisation efforts, but with more than 4,000 universities in the country, the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education has to balance its resources carefully. But international branch campuses, joint degrees and study abroad are all in its sights, says deputy director for higher education cooperation Purwanto Subroto.

The PIE: What is your role at the Ministry of Education?

PS: The main target I have is to work on cooperation between Indonesia and foreign universities. I also work with other foreign institutions – I have good cooperation with the British Council and other agencies to promote more cooperation on higher education. We also encourage our universities to work with certain programs like faculty or student exchange.

“If universities want to run international cooperation, they must achieve a certain level of quality”

Right now there’s a good trend at many Indonesian universities. Of course, we have some standards for the universities who want to do international engagement, because we have to keep the quality on this kind of collaboration. So universities that have this kind of standard can run international cooperation – for example, joint degree programs, double degree programs, summer schools.

The number of universities in Indonesia is quite large – we have around 4,000 universities. But of course, only a few of them are ready for international cooperation. I think that now we have about 150 universities that are ready to do more.

The PIE: How do you measure the quality of education when there are so many universities?

PS: We have an independent body, the National Accreditation Agency for Higher Education, that assures the quality of study programs: we have A-accreditation, B-accreditation, C-accreditation and so on. So the top one we call A-accreditation and universities try to achieve this level.

The PIE: And how do you judge when a university is ready to undertake international cooperation?

PS: If they want to run some kind of international cooperation, they must achieve a certain level of quality. For example, if they have a study program that’s at least B-accredited, they can run international cooperation.

One of the indications that I see for the universities to undergo cooperation is they establish an international office. I think this is quite common for a lot of universities to prepare themselves for international cooperation, and we suggest they have this. Through this office we can share a lot of information and also do workshops to enhance their capacity to run international cooperation.

“The universities that have a good performance and profile, we encourage them to go for international cooperation”

We are also now doing Indonesian university rankings. The universities that have a good performance and profile, we encourage them to go for international cooperation. So we promote them at international events and we give them more opportunities. We cannot do it for all universities, but at least we can have some Indonesian universities known internationally.

The PIE: What are some of the challenges for Indonesian universities trying to internationalise?

PS: Maybe the biggest issue is the budget, the funding; at the government we cannot provide a huge amount of funding because we have so many universities. So we encourage some Indonesian universities to promote, by their own, these kinds of programs.

For example, when they develop joint degree programs, there is no problem when you have inbound students, but there’s a bit of a problem when you have outbound students. Because not many Indonesian students can go by their own funding, so we ask the universities to work with their partners to reduce the cost through tuition fee waivers and things like that. But I think now some Indonesian universities are doing quite well, they have more outbound students.

The PIE: Is encouraging Indonesian students to study abroad a priority for the ministry? And are there particular skills you want them to develop when they do?

PS: We are open to any skills – it just depends what they want to study. But we prioritise more science subjects because we want to have good people to develop our economy. And our government provides a lot of funding for studying abroad. One way we do that is through the LPDP division under the Ministry of Finance. This institution manages the education loan fund for our people to study for master’s and postgraduate courses abroad in priority areas like engineering, medicine and agriculture.

“There’s a bit of a problem when you have outbound students. Not many Indonesian students can go by their own funding”

But now we also want to have more and more opportunities for our people to study abroad on joint degree programs, and we provide funding for students to study on these programs. So this is becoming a trend. For example, in our ministry I myself manage joint meeting groups with Japan, Taiwan, the UK, Australia, to discuss the opportunities for joint cooperation with Indonesian universities.

The PIE: How many international students come to Indonesia each year?

PS: Currently, we have not so many. Maybe right now we have about 7,000-8,000 students annually coming for short term and full degree programs, mostly from Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia. We also provide funding for some students from developing countries to study in Indonesia. Some come from Asian countries, Africa… So we hope that many foreign students from different countries will know more about Indonesia through these kinds of programs.

The PIE: And is the ministry working to increase this number?

PS: Yes, and also we work with the Immigration Department to ease the process of coming to Indonesia. For example, we’ve developed an online application for student visas to make the process of inbound students easier. We started that in the beginning of 2016. Before we did it manually, mailing in documents, but now everything is going quite well. Sometimes the issue is not getting the visa; the issue is the process, it takes a bit longer. That is why we’re now working with the immigration office to do everything online, to keep foreign students more comfortable studying in Indonesia.

And we have also signed some MOUs with countries like Malaysia that mean students can extend their visa rather than reapplying. After getting the visa, [it] gives them two years, and then they can extend it two times. So in total it is six years before they need to get a new one.

The PIE: A law was passed in 2012 to allow foreign universities to set up branch campuses in Indonesia – when will that come into force?

PS: There will be opportunities to do it, but not now. We already have a law that makes it possible for foreign universities to establish themselves in Indonesia, but now we are developing the regulations.

“We have a big number of institutions and, of course, there are some challenges about the policies”

Many universities, mostly from Australia, are coming to us, talking about this, and asking when. We do have a timeline, but we have to be careful on this one. We see the case in Malaysia; they stopped for a while to evaluate their existing branch campuses [there is currently a moratorium on new branch campuses setting up in Malaysia].

The PIE: Are people worried that foreign universities will come in and take resources away from the domestic universities?

PS: Not people, but institutions. We have a big number of institutions and, of course, there are some challenges about the policies. We are also concerned about Indonesian universities – we don’t want to create competition for them.

But as the government, we have to improve quality. We need quality education for our people so we may do a kind of invitation: as a pilot, we select some universities, send letters to them, and see if they have an interest in establishing a branch campus in Indonesia. And also we see the quality of the universities. We’ll see these are good universities and there are so many opportunities for our people to get education from these universities. It may not be open to anybody, but maybe if we select some we’ll see over the next one or two years how that goes.

And, of course, we’ll look at not only the university but what kind of study program they can offer. We may even select the location – it’s better if you want to establish a campus, it’s better if you do it here. As a government, we can do that. We do not want to make Indonesian universities collapse. As a government, we have to save our institutions as well.

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AUIDF: int’l grads of Australian universities earn higher salaries back home

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 03:19

International graduates of Australian universities are accessing employment at comparable rates to their domestic counterparts and upon returning home experiencing a boost in their earnings, according to a report released by the Australian Universities International Directors’ Forum.

The International Employment Outcomes report, which looks at the outcomes of the 2012 and 2014 graduate cohorts, found those who returned home were more likely to be earning above the median local salary, with the groups earning on average A$54,000 and A$42,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, 79% of international students were in full-time employment three years after completion of studies and 67% were employed a year after graduation.

“It may highlight that the expectations on salary are higher than reality”

“When compared with similar surveys for domestic students, the results indicate that graduate employment trends for international graduates are comparable to their domestic peers,” AUIDF representative and University of Melbourne executive director international Carmel Murphy said.

Murphy told The PIE News the results were a clear indication “that Australian universities are preparing students well for employment with the right graduate attributes”.

Importantly, however, the report does not specify employment rates per location, with less than half of respondents from either cohort located within Australia at the time. Roughly half were in their home country, with the rest either in a third country or unknown location.

The results also don’t show the extent to which the introduction of the 2013 post-study work rights influenced employment figures, as only a small proportion of students surveyed would have had their student visa issued after November 2011 and therefore been eligible for the visa stream.

Cate Gribble, senior research fellow at RMIT, said while research she conducted independently of the report indicated it was more likely international graduates were struggling to find employment within Australia, it was highly dependent on qualification and sector.

In particular, Gribble said students within regional health care were at an advantage when finding work.

“International graduates in nursing are highly sought after in regional locations because they can’t get sufficient local nurses, and often they see the value in employing international nurses for a variety of reasons,” she said.

The report reflected Gribble’s views, finding half of the respondents worked in one of four sectors: education and training, finance and insurance, health care and social assistance, and professional, scientific and technical services.

In terms of overall satisfaction, 81% of respondents said they believed their Australian degree was worth the financial investment and 84% agreed the content of their studies helped develop their skills and readiness for the workplace.

Interestingly, in contrast to the report finding international graduates achieved higher average incomes back home, only 60% of respondents said they believed their qualification helped them earn that higher salary.

“We need to continue to provide the right opportunities for students within and outside the curriculum”

Murphy said the reasons for this discrepancy were difficult to unpack and could be due to several factors, including location and expectations.

“It may highlight that the expectations on salary are higher than reality. It would be interesting to see if this percentage changed a few years out, rather than at recent graduate level,” she said.

Gribble hypothesised the discrepancy highlighted the increasing demand for graduates both within and outside of Australia to have additional skills and experiences outside their studies.

“While in the past an overseas qualification would have been an automatic entry into the labour market and a good job, that’s decreased over time,” she said.

“Returning graduates also need that package of qualification, work experience, and demonstration that they’ve got other skills and attributes as well.”

Both Gribble and Murphy said Australian universities needed to keep working to ensure international graduates are satisfied with their studies and having their expectations met.

“We need to continue to provide the right opportunities for students within and outside the curriculum,” Murphy said.

Graduate employability continues to be an ongoing concern for international students in Australia, with the Council of International Students Australia last year calling for an industry wide approach to tackling the issue.

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France to open new international schools amid post-Brexit charm offensive

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 09:01

Three new international schools are set to open over the next five years in and around Paris, to accommodate the children of expats the French government is hoping to attract as it slashes financial and regulatory burdens on the banking sector to capitalise on Brexit.

Speaking at the national mint, the Monnaie de Paris, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe laid out France’s ambitions to scoop up international business that is considering pulling out of the UK in light of the country’s impending departure from the EU.

“You can regret this Brexit decision or welcome it, but it’s a fact”

“You can regret this [Brexit] decision or welcome it, but it’s a fact,” he said. “You have to deal with it.”

The opening of the lycées internationals in the Parisian region of Île-de-France was announced alongside a raft of measures to attract foreign businesses that will want to continue operating in the EU post-Brexit.

The measures include lowering the corporate tax rate from 33.3% to 25% by 2022, getting rid of a 0.3% levy on financial transactions, scrapping the €150,000 tax bracket and excluding bonuses from the calculations of redundancy pay for stockbrokers.

The move is in line with newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron‘s efforts to show France is business friendly, in contrast with his predecessor François Hollande, who famously described the financial sector as the “enemy”.

The measures aim to “make our position more competitive and attractive”, Philippe said.

“Companies must find the desire to settle and develop on our soil rather than elsewhere.”

Speaking alongside the prime minister, Paris regional president Valérie Pécresse addressed the banking sector in English.

“To investors, and to those disappointed by Brexit, I want to say that we are ready to roll out the blue, white and red carpet for you,” she said. “Welcome back to Europe.”

“Companies must find the desire to settle and develop on our soil rather than elsewhere”

The new schools were initially proposed in a 10-year emergency strategy published in February that claimed one in three high schools in the region are “outdated”.

The €5bn plan aims to create 20,800 new school places by 2027 by adding 12 new lycées (including the three international schools), building 32 new boarding schools and extending a further 23 existing lycées.

While the bulk of the funding will go towards these renovation and construction plans, 20% will be used to maintain existing schools.

The first of the new international schools to open in Île-de-France will be converted from an existing high school in Paris’s La Defense business district, the Lycée Lucie-Aubrac de Courbevoie.

A second school will open in Saclay, an area south of Paris that has ambitions to become a “global innovation cluster”, by 2021, followed by a third in Vincennes in 2022.

Daniel Filatre, rector of the Academy of Versailles, and Agnès Evren, Île-de-France vice-president in charge of education and culture, have been charged with implementing the education plan.

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UCLA to roll out online master’s degrees

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 05:49

UCLA has announced it will develop an online platform and launch a suite of online degrees starting next year targeting students around the world.

UCLA Global Online is expected to enrol its first intake of students in 2018 and will offer degrees and certificates at the master’s level with entry requirements that mirror the existing requirements for the university.

Despite the university’s global brand, Wayne Smutz, founding dean of UCLA Global Online, said the university has yet to conquer the online learning market.

“One of our challenges will be how do we make that work internationally”

“We have a lot of research activities around the globe that we do that make us international,” he told The PIE News. “Our brand is very strong internationally but we don’t really deliver education internationally.”

He pointed out that while other prestigious universities in the US deliver MOOCs and online short courses, universities of that calibre are not fully-fledged in the online learning market for full degrees.

“In the last year, we’ve seen a real opening up of the international space to online around the world,” he said.

“And while it’s not completely open there are hints that that door is starting to crack and I think that makes the timing right to become more internationally-oriented.”

The platform will incorporate programming from UCLA’s traditional academic curriculum alongside practical education through the university’s continuing education arm, UCLA extension, which Smutz also heads up.

“We have those two different kinds of content that we’re going to provide,” he said.

“My view is we want to give people choice, because that’s what the internet allows you to do. We want to provide them with lots of choice within a single platform.”

The practical application of the curriculum also gives students the ability to expand their professional networks, said Smutz.

“One of our challenges will be how do we make that work internationally, and we’re thinking about that,” he commented.

The platform aims reach 10,000-15,000 students in the space of five years, and the subjects offered are expected to reflect the biggest industries in Los Angeles.

“We want to be able to use Los Angeles and its prestige in many different areas to attract people to what we have to offer,” he said, nodding to the importance of entertainment, business and engineering industries to the city.

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UK commits £100m to attract researchers

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 03:10

The UK’s Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, has confirmed the government intends to invest £100m in a Global Talent Research Fund to attract more highly-skilled researchers to the UK.

The Ernest Rutherford Fund will provide scholarships for highly-skilled early-career and senior researchers both from developed and emerging research powers including India, China, Brazil, and Mexico.

Initially, the Rutherford Fund is to be administered by Innovative UK and the Research Councils. However, in 2018, the brief will be taken over by the newly established UK Research and Investment agency.

“We practise in international landscapes, we are internationally diverse”

The fund is to receive £100m which is a part of the £4.7bn in research and development funding dedicated to attracting international specialists announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

At the launch event, Johnson underlined that talented researchers are welcome in the UK, while the fund will send a strong signal that “even as we leave the EU, we are open to the world and will reinforce our ambition of making the UK the go-to country for innovation and discovery”.

The newly appointed chief executive of UKRI, Sir Mark Walport, also emphasised the importance of internationalisation, collaboration, and diversity for the agency in order to make the UK a preferable research destination.

“Research is a global activity,” he said. “We practise in international landscapes, we are internationally diverse and much of the science that is done today is of the international nature, both through the instruments that are needed which cannot be funded by any one nation alone and also by the desire of researchers to work with the best counterparts wherever they are.”

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US: 2017 international student yield outlook rosier than predicted

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 09:54

Higher education institutions in Texas are seeing a marked decline in the number of international students accepting offers to study in the state. However, an inter-association survey shows the drastic country-wide drop in international students coming to the US feared by many in the Trump era will likely not materialise.

As of mid-May, international undergraduate ‘yield’ – the proportion of applicants that received an offer to study at one of 112 participating institutions in fall 2017 who accepted the offer – did drop by 2% compared to fall 2016.

But the Shifting Tides? survey, designed by IIE and distributed by four national associations, showed that with yield standing at 24%, “the situation is not as dire as has been predicted,” Rajika Bhandari, deputy vice president, research and evaluation at IIE, told The PIE News.

“The situation is not as dire as has been predicted”

“The assumption in the field has been that due to everything happening in the US, there will probably be a large drop in the numbers of students who eventually arrive in the fall,” she said.

More than half of the students either currently or considering studying in the US who took part in one survey last year said a Trump win made them feel less inclined to study in the country.

In fact, the dip is comparable with that of domestic student yield, which the survey showed was also down 2% to 28%.

And the findings at undergraduate level were more optimistic than another recent survey referenced in the report by the Council of Graduate Schools, in which 46% of graduate deans indicated a substantial decline in admission yield for international graduate students.

But undergraduate yield for schools in the southern region did suffer a more notable decline in international students, the IIE survey showed. The proportion of admitted students who accepted offers, though higher than elsewhere in the country, fell 5% in this region from 35% to 30%.

In comparison, the west and midwest regions each saw a 2% decline, to 24% and 21% respectively, while the northeast saw no change at 24%.

The most drastic change was in Texas, the third most popular destination state for international students, where the ratio of number of offers given and offers accepted dropped from 44% to 35%.

Yield in Texas did remain higher than the national average, but the decline was particularly notable given that yield in the other top three states stayed the same or increased.

New York and Massachusetts held steady at 22% and 31% respectively, while Californian institutions reported a 2% increase in yield to 25%.

“One interpretation of the findings is that it probably has to do with concerns around safety,” commented Bhandari, pointing to an open carry gun law that came into effect in Texas in January 2016.

As of August 2016, public four-year universities in Texas must also allow concealed carry in buildings.

“It’s possible that future international students are concerned about that,” Bhandari said.

Four in five of institutions that took part in the survey said physical safety is the greatest worry among Indian students, while 31% said feeling unwelcome is also a concern among this group.

As a group, Indian students were more concerned about physical safety than those from any other country, survey respondents reported.

The report notes that given the small sample size, “country level data should be interpreted with caution”.

However, the survey does provide some insight into the mindset of students from different source markets, showing that more than a third of Indian (36%), Middle Eastern (46%) and sub-Saharan African (39%) students are worried about the probability of obtaining a visa.

When it came to predicting whether students who had received an offer would in fact arrive on campus, institutions had what the report labels “substantial and valid concerns” about Middle Eastern students.

“Colleges and universities’ commitment to boosting recruitment efforts have yielded positive tangible results”

In fact, 60% of institutions said they were either very or somewhat concerned that Middle Eastern students may not arrive in the fall. Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia were also areas of concern.

Education institutions have been working hard to preempt potential declines in international student yield, the survey noted.

Efforts include both the nationwide #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, and individual institutional efforts.

For example, almost 20% of survey respondents said their institution had increased personal communication with international students during this admissions cycle.

With some time remaining for students to accept offers to study in the US before the fall 2017 intake, the Shifting Tides? report provides a snapshot into the current state of play, rather than a definitive comparison of international student yield in 2017.

“It is still too early to tell if international student enrolment for the 2017-18 academic year has been negatively impacted, but we remain cautiously optimistic,” commented Esther Brimmer, CEO of NAFSA, one of the five partnering organisations that distributed the survey.

“One of the most promising indicators of the survey is that colleges and universities’ commitment to boosting recruitment efforts have yielded some very positive tangible results.”

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers, CGS and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors also distributed surveys to their members.

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Australia eyes regional growth over city squeeze

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 01:57

Increasing international student numbers outside metropolitan areas could be where the Australian education industry’s growth potential lies, delegates were told at the recent IEAA Mid-Winter Research Seminar in Brisbane.

The comments, which were made during a session on the benefits of international students to Australia’s regions, urged providers to consider developing further opportunities for students in regional areas and make the most of the unique selling points available outside capital cities.

“The strongest opportunity to grow is in the regions,” TAFE Queensland director international Janelle Chapman told delegates.

“There will come a point where we won’t have the space to have infinite growth in international students”

Chapman, whose institution has several campuses outside Brisbane, said regional areas had several unique propositions for international and domestic students, such as geological and industrial opportunities, and finding a way to promote those could see significant growth for the education industry.

According to Department of Education and Training data, there is significant room for expansion within regional Australia, with less than 5% of the international student population located outside a capital city in 2015.

Chapman told The PIE News this over-reliance on the main cities created capacity issues which would force students away sooner or later.

“There will come a point where we won’t have the physical space to have infinite growth in international students [in metropolitan areas],” she said.

Australia’s shortage of purpose-built student accommodation was also mentioned in discussions as increased prices cause headaches for students in capital cities.

Research on skills shortages in Australia highlighted during the seminar found a significant employment boost, highlighting  one of the benefits to students choosing a regional provider.

Researchers Francisco Rowe and Angelina Zhi Rou Tang found graduates who studied and remained in non-metropolitan areas were not only more likely to be in full-time employment four months after completion of studies but also more likely to be in a job that matched their qualification.

About 65% of regional graduates who remained had a job related to their field of study, compared to less than half of those in metropolitan areas.

Whether this tendency will continue was uncertain, however, as the findings came with a dire warning that rates of employment and qualification match had been slipping around Australia over the past decade.

Regardless, Rowe also said regions themselves should be actively trying to attract more international students, as the evidence showed there was a positive impact on skills shortages.

“Regional areas, even though they are often getting a small percentage [of students], are getting a substantial injection to skills knowledge,”  he said.

Educators who move away from the capital cities could also be providing students with better educational outcomes, according to the findings of a different study comparing the international student experience in metropolitan and regional cities.

Kevin Brett, who compiled the report for benchmarking company i-graduate, said generally there was no difference between the overall experience in regional and metropolitan areas, however, students who chose to study with a regional provider stated that they received a better educational experience.

This benefit, he said, was unlikely to be felt by students because of differences in academics and more likely caused by smaller student populations creating reduced class sizes and increasing a student’s face-to-face time with their lecturers and tutors.

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