British Accreditation Council new scheme for offshore ELT

The UK’s British Accreditation Council is developing an international English language education accreditation scheme it claims will be “quite unique” in the English language teaching industry.

L to R: Paul Fear, CEO; Rosie Fairfax, accreditation and quality enhancement manager; Diana Morriss, chief inspector

L to R: Paul Fear, CEO; Rosie Fairfax, accreditation and quality enhancement manager; Diana Morriss, chief inspector

Set to be launched in early 2018, the standards will target large organisations around the globe that primarily offer English language training offshore.

CEO of BAC, Paul Fear, told The PIE News that the organisation had liaised with a range of UK and international academics, as well as two chains of language schools, to create a set of world-leading standards.

The BAC would not be looking to compete with any accreditation bodies in the UK, he said, but offer a new choice for educators working globally and focus on quality assurance and transparency, with quality assessment linked to CEFR benchmarks.

Continue reading on The Pie News.

Brexit ‘not all bad’ say int’l education experts

Brexit is looming, but there is still much for the higher education sector to be positive about, such as a high prioritisation of research collaboration, according to a panel of industry experts who spoke last week at the Cambridge Assessment English international admissions seminar.

Brexit

Representatives from Universities UK InternationalUCASBritish CouncilQSand some of the UK’s leading HEIs shared the viewpoints on the topic of discussion: ‘Brexit – one year later’.

While most Europeans working in academia remember feeling shocked when the news of the ‘leave’ vote hit home, head of European engagement at UUKi, Anne May Janssen, was not one of them.

“When the referendum happened most people didn’t expect [the outcome]. I must say I did,” Janssen told the 100 strong crowd of HE international recruitment professionals.

“There was a sense of mourning and disbelief in Brussels, but the way Theresa May spoke… the speeches she gave about the advantage of programs that promote science, education and culture, were actually quite encouraging.”

Janssen added that “signals are very positive” as both the UK government and EU are continuing to talk about the importance of collaboration and research.

While 2016 brought damning news for some HEIs – some lower-ranked institutions were said to be seeing significant declines in EU numbers – , UCAS, the UK’s university application service, experienced an all-time high in non-UK EU student applications.

Continue reading on The Pie News.

Australia: International students to face English language tests

International students will be tested on their grasp of the English language under a scheme to be introduced in 2018.

Sydney

Education Minister Simon Birmingham told an education conference in Hobart on Thursday the government will introduce new English language standards for students in 2018.

English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students will have to formally assess students where they provide direct entry to a tertiary course.

At the moment, students can pass a course without proof and then start university studies.

Continue reading on SkyNews.

Why ‘glocalisation’ is in and ‘internationalisation’ is on its way out

The need for higher education institutions to shift away from the western paradigm of knowledge which it has been subdued under for the past 40 years has now become crucial. 

Better quality of life through better education

 

Internationalisation and the hidden agenda 

Internationalisation has been at the forefront of global education for decades now, regardless of international scholars continuously speaking out against it. For the past 40 years, as an increasing number of students enrol in these institutions, a constant flow of knowledge is transferred to them from superiors and well-learnt lecturers. However, there has been criticism concerning said knowledge – that it only pertains to a first-world western base of knowledge and ideologies, pushing out other geographical forms of knowledge in order to focus on one mere source.

It was recently discovered that the international higher education industry had failed to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, being unable to lead social change and upraise educational standards. This in turn brings about the questions as to whether the intended concept of internalisation is misleading or far too in-tune with western ideologies to produce results otherwise. Instead, it is easy to assume that such a concept of internalisation merely works towards sustaining western economies.

By far, the world has only seen the internalisation of higher education become increasingly significant, and a highly profitable industry in its own right; which, once analysed, might prove to be the outcome of an intelligently bound agenda formed from our western counterparts.

 

A step forward with Glocalisation 

Glocalisation, on the other hand, has been the buzzword amongst higher education institutions for a while now; a combination of ‘globalisation’ and ‘localisation,’ with the aim to build glocal communities and sustainable living worldwide by working towards enabling a better quality of life through high education standards and values.

It dismisses the core aims internalisation had set out to achieve and failed, and instead encourages the exchange of a diverse cultural knowledge base amongst said glocal communities. In keeping with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), international higher education communities are encouraged to adopt a more diverse agenda in order to act as a catalyst for social transformation – with a more inclusive knowledge base, this time around, encompassing all aspects of learning and education.

With glocalisation, the higher education communication must move away from the hegemonic conception of learning, where focus is placed only on upholding the English language and various western ideologies for further profits extorted from foreign students. Both First and Third-World communities and institutions must align to create quality and diverse knowledge bases to create a glocal community worldwide.

 

(Source: University World News)

Academics and Mental Health Risks

In a report commissioned by the Royal Society and Wellcome Trust, researchers found out that the majority of people working in higher education find their jobs stressful. This makes them more prone to developing common mental health problems as compared to other professions.

stress_in_academia

 

Factors such as lack of job security, limited support from management, and the weight of work-related demands on their time were among the factors listed as affecting the health, according to the literature review conducted by RAND Europe, an independent not-for-profit research institute.

In their research, the team did a systematic review of published work on researchers’ well-being and identified 48 studies which they analysed for their report.

According to lead researcher Dr Susan Guthrie, their survey data indicate that the majority of university staff find their job stressful. “Levels of burnout appear higher among university staff than in general working populations and are comparable to ‘high-risk’ groups such as healthcare workers,” she added.

Further, the report also said that “In large-scale surveys, UK higher education staff have reported worse well-being than staff in other types of employment in the areas of work demands, change management, the support provided by managers and clarity about one’s role.”

The report also added that the real and perceived job insecurity, particularly those who are at the beginning of their careers, often employed on a series of short-term contracts, is an important issue for researchers.

In their report, Dr Guthrie and her team discovered that those who devoted a lot of time on their research experienced less stress as compared to those who did not. However, it is unclear whether this reduction in stress is relative to their seniority — whereas a more senior researcher is able to spend more time on their study.

In conclusion, the report calls for universities to work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and help address the stress in the workplace. Further, the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust urges institutions to work more closely with the UK’s regulator of health and safety in the workplace to address the risks to staff well-being. By following the management standards set by HSE, universities can identify and alleviate stress at an organisational level.

“It could be useful to work through that approach with a university or a research organisation to identify the mechanisms at play in those environments. Doing so could establish the relevance of the approach in this context, and potentially provide a model that could be used more widely in the sector,” the report added.

(Source: Times Higher Education)

Is your University Prepared for Threat and Evacuation?

In the light of the recent attacks in some of the major cities in the world, it’s time for education authorities to evaluate their efforts to help combat terrorism, as well as what they should do should such event arises.

According to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index, the number of attacks decreased by 10% in 2015 despite the high-profile attacks in the main cities in the world. However, despite the fall, terrorism attacks has still become a major concern worldwide.

Just last month, the cities of Manchester, Marawi, Jakarta, and Pattani have brought back terrorism on the front pages. Since the start of 2017, there have been 496 attacks worldwide, carried out by attacked by groups and individuals believed to be working within the terrorist network or have been supporting the radical groups.

Attacks on Schools and Universities

Schools and universities are not spared from these vicious acts. For the past few years, educational institutions have become a target for terrorist attacks. According to the data gathered by the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which lists more than 125,000 terrorist attacks around the world since 1970, there has been a rise in terror attacks in schools since 2004.

 

Terrorist Attacks Targeting Educational Institutions Worldwide, 1970-2013

Terror 1

(Data: Global Terrorism Database; The Atlantic)

 

In a paper published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology in 2013, researchers Emma Bradford and Margaret A. Wilson of the University of Liverpool’s Department of Applied Psychology highlighted some possible reasons why schools have been attacked by terrorists.

The first reason is that there is a relative lack of physical security compared to other potential targets such as airports, military installations, and government embassies. Aside from the damage to the property, attacks on schools can inflict horrifying damage to students, especially the young ones. Attacks on schools also elicit stronger emotional responses. Another motivation is the extensive media coverage an attack on an educational institution might attract.

Despite these benefits, terrorists’ attacks on schools are still relatively lower as compared to overall terrorist targets recorded in the Global Terrorism Database. However, there has been an increase in the percentage from 2004 to 2013, 2% to 3% respectively, with a peak of 5% in 2010.

 

Total Terrorist Attacks and Attacks on Educational Institutions Worldwide, 1970-2013

Terror 2

(Data: Global Terrorism Database; The Atlantic)

 

What can Schools and Universities do?

In the UK, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 has been put into place – despite debates and hesitations. Narrowing down to universities and colleges, the act “imposes a duty on “specified authorities”, when exercising their functions, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”

However, educational institutions on their own can already devise ways on how to prevent such attacks and what to do should events like such as mentioned occur. School safety expert Kenneth A. Trump said, “The vast majority of schools have not taken into account in their crisis planning all of the issues related to terrorism.”

In an article published in Education World, he said: “Some issues, such as handling bombs and bomb threats, creating emergency communications plans, and preparing for gunfire on campus should already have been in the plans.”

Measures can contain:

  1. Open communication on terrorism by explaining the reasons and possible effects of these acts.
  2. Creating an emergency plan which includes detailed evacuation procedures, alternate destinations, communication plan, and disaster supply kits. Learning how to do CPR and First Aid are also important.
  3. Counselling plan in the aftermath of an event, especially to young children.

According to Trump, principals should address this situation, despite the concern that parents, students, and teachers would overreact to the topic of terrorism preparedness. “Fear is best managed through education, communication, and preparation,” he said.

“By not addressing these issues and operating with ‘ostrich syndrome,’ schools are actually creating more fear and panic among parents and school officials. The key rests in context, balance, and reasonable efforts. And of course, discussions with students must be age and developmentally appropriate,” he added.

The truth is, there is uncertainty as to the extent and duration of these terrorist attacks. There is also no particular time or day when such acts will occur. While there one plan does not fit all crises, it is still better to be prepared beforehand.

As education officials, no one knows the school and the students better than you. While the responsibility rests on your shoulders, you do not need to act on this alone. Rather, call upon the parents, authorities, and the students themselves on how to better protect each other in times of trouble.

New HEI Alliance Formed in Asia

A group of top Asian institutions have come together to help boost collaboration and mobility, aiming to accelerate Asia in the Higher Education industry.

AUA

Image from Tsinghua.edu

The Asian Universities Alliance (AUA), is a 15-member consortium which aims to “promote mobility of students, scholars and staff among all members,” “strengthen research collaboration and joint innovation,” “establish high-level dialogues and forums to discuss higher education strategies and policies,” and “compile and publish annual reports on Asian higher education.”

Chaired by the Tsinghua University, China, the founding members also include:
• Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
• Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
• Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
• King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
• National University of Singapore
• Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan
• Peking University, China
• Seoul National University, South Korea
• United Arab Emirates University
• Universitas Indonesia
• University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
• University of Malaya, Malaysia
• The University of Tokyo, Japan
• University of Yangon, Myanmar

In a statement released to announce the new alliance, the members expressed their belief that the “higher education will play an increasingly important role in future Asian societies and that economic globalization has made openness the trend of higher education.”

“AUA will embrace that trend by building closer ties both among member universities and with universities outside AUA. Together, we will play a more significant role in world higher education,” the statement added.

Free Study Programmes in Scotland for EU Students

The Scottish government has announced that from next academic year onwards, European Union (EU) students will have the chance to study in Scotland tuition-free.

 
Scotland’s Deputy Prime Minister John Swinney announced last 24 March that students from the EU countries would be guaranteed free tuition throughout the duration of their courses. With this move, Scotland is putting pressure on the UK government for them to follow similar footsteps.

John-Swinney

Photo from Express.co.uk

“Following the uncertainty caused by the UK government hard Brexit and the imminent triggering of Article 50, Mr Swinney has moved to reassure applicants for 2018-19, confirming the guarantee already in place for eligible EU students enrolling this year will be extended to those beginning their studies the following academic year,” said the announcement from the Scottish Government.

Just last October 2016, the Westminister government has announced that EU students from outside the UK who will be enrolling for the academic year 2017-2018, will still be eligible for student loans and maintenance fees. However, despite the pressure from UK Universities, the government has not offered any funding guarantees for incoming non-British EU students for the academic year 2018-2019.

Following the Brexit Vote, the effects of the restrictions have been felt by both students and academe. The EU student applications at UK Universities in 2017 fell by 7%, as compared to the previous year.

According to the Scottish government, their decision for free tuition is as a result of the uncertainty caused by the Brexit policy. This way the Scottish government can reassure universities in Scotland with applicants from the EU for the upcoming academic year.

Mr Swinney said, “EU students will rightly have concerns about any change in their status halfway through a course. These students deserve certainty, and knowing that their free tuition is in place for the entirety of their course is important. That is why I have confirmed this free tuition,” he said.

“I am proud that Scotland is a destination of choice for EU students, and I am delighted to give them further reassurance by confirming that support from the Scottish government for tuition-free studies will continue for those commencing courses here in the 2018-19 academic year.”

Report from the Times Higher Education

Studying Abroad: Cultural Preference Tops Academics for Gen Z

A research conducted by AFS Intercultural Programs concluded that Generation Z prefers the cultural aspect of studying abroad over considering the quality of education.

Over 5,000 students were surveyed from 27 countries around the world with ages ranging from 13 to 18 years old between March and December 2016.

international-student

According to the study, 67% of the students have shown high value on the cultural experiences that are bound to come while studying abroad compared to the scholastics and education.

Daniel Obst, the president and CEO of AFS expressed that based on the findings, Generation Z students do not only want to travel overseas for the sake of it but actually want to experience what the local people of foreign countries experience. He adds that they are keen on having a ‘global’ status on their identity when compared to older generations.

Of the 67% of culture-yearning students, there are two groups. ‘Cultural hitchhikers’ or those whose primary focus is on cultural experience that does not have high financial resources make up 36% of the respondents. On the other hand, ‘cultural floaters’ or students with high financial resources and who intends to experience other cultures are 31% of the students.

culture-yearning-international-students

When broken down by nationality, three-quarters of the students who prefer culture more than academics are European, followed by 57% from Latin America, 58% from Southeast Asia and 72% from North America.

According to a report, Mapping Generation Z: Attitudes toward International Education Programs, AFS discovered that the top destinations of this generation were Anglophone or English-speaking countries to be most considered, achieving a percentage of 77% of students. The countries most preferred were the US, UK and Australia.

Western European countries like Germany, France and Italy faired 65% as favourable countries and China being the least favourable fairing 38% of the Gen Z students.

“These findings paint a picture of large growth potential for the traditionally popular English destinations and set the tone for increasing competitive pressures among them” the report noted.

Concerning security issues, 36% of students expressed their anxiety but after May 2016, the percentage increased to 52% as the terrorist attacks were publicised globally.

Other issues concerning studying abroad were making no friends, followed by homesickness and school re-entry requirements upon returning home, each shared by 48% of students.

None of the respondents had been on an international exchange before this but 60% has considered the possibility.

Hristo Banov, manager of the management information unit at AFS and the study’s lead researcher said that in order to increase the interest of students to study in foreign countries, it is important for information to travel by word of mouth.

He adds that, in today’s environment, ‘genuine, personal referral’ remains unchanged although students listen to experiences from immediate friends and family but also get to see the experiences of others from their extended social media footprint.

New Regulations Allow Post-Grad International Students to Work in China after their Studies

The Chinese government has decided to set regulations concerning post-study labour allowing Post-Grad international students to work after completing their degree in the country.

china-international-student

The action was called as a strategy to establish China as a study destination and attract potential talents to globalise its workforce. The new regulations announced on 6 January by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Foreign Affairs and Education, stated that foreign students who have graduated with a master’s degree or above from the universities in China or other “well-known universities” are eligible to work.

Previously, international students with foreign degrees were required to have two years of work experience outside China. This, however, prevented international students in the country from continuing to work after graduating from their studies according to Erik Skuse, research manager at Emerging Strategy, a market intelligence company based in Shanghai.

“This policy change is a recognition that if China wants to expand its international higher education capacity further, it must leverage the attractiveness of China’s massive, globalised employment market among foreign students seeking to start careers,” commented Skuse.

The country is taking action to grow its number of global students from of 390,000 students in 2015 according to the Ministry of Education.

international-student-china

To apply for the one-year work visa, students must have had previously secured a job with a Chinese company according to their respective field of study, which meets local skill demands and offers a salary set to market standards. Student applicants must be over the age of 18 and have obtained a B (80%) grade average or higher.

This new policy hopes to encourage more foreign students to choose China as a study destination and then to stay and work here,” commented Jill Tang, founder of CareerXFactor, a talent recruitment company for graduates with foreign degrees.

She also mentioned that China will still need to import either knowledge or people from overseas to accommodate certain skills.

Tang also says that certain big companies are thinking of providing internships or graduate programmes for international students and later send them back to their homelands to contribute to the growth of the company there.