What rankings are most important to students?

It has long been held that global university rankings are important to students, and that, particularly in some markets, they play a significant role in student decision-making for study abroad. This is partly why rankings occupy a prominent spot in the imaginations of recruiters, and why they remain a subject of enduring interest and debate in international education circles. However, this understanding has been tempered in recent years by new insights into the factors that drive student choice.

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And from time to time we get more specific insights into how students look at international rankings. In 2015, for example, a QS study highlighted student demand for more in-depth comparisons – that is, beyond what conventional ranking schemes are able to provide. The same study also clearly demonstrated that when students look at rankings, they are often looking for indicators of employment outcomes. The underlying ranking scheme has a role to play in this in that a better-ranked institution, for some students, translates into a more compelling addition to one’s CV or allows the student to leverage a positive perception of the institution on the part of employers.

Even so, the overall impression you get from such studies is that students are drilling harder into ranking methodologies, and are looking beyond the headlines into some of the more detailed findings, particularly with respect to subject-level rankings and graduate outcomes.

Continue reading on ICEF Monitor.

New Zealand visa office closures shift emphasis to online processing

In a series of related announcements over the past year, the New Zealand government has set a clear course toward a much more centralised processing model for visas, including student visas. The new approach will rely heavily on online and telephone access to visa applications and related services, with much of the processing occurring “on shore” – that is, within New Zealand itself.

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The government began closing public service offices for visa processing across New Zealand late last year. Four offices were shut down at that time, and the process of winding up public counters continues this year. Another office in Wellington was closed on 17 November, the Christchurch location will close on 21 December, and the one remaining office, the central branch in Auckland, is scheduled to shut its doors by June 2018.

On the closure of the Wellington office, as in all other such cases this year, those requiring visa services within New Zealand are being directed to alternate channels. “Apply online if possible using our Online Services, or send your completed application by post or courier to the address provided for your application type on our Office and Fees Finder,” says an accompanying statement from Immigration New Zealand. “If you are in the Wellington area and require any assistance with your current or upcoming immigration application, call the Immigration Contact Centre.”

Continue reading on ICEF Monitor.

Mapping the trends that will shape international student mobility

A new British Council report sets out the key trends that are shaping both higher education demand and international student mobility. “We are at a tipping point in the global higher education system. Students have more choices than ever,” says the British Council’s Director Education Rebecca Hughes. “Beyond and behind traditional student recruitment lie drivers of change that are shifting the very nature of how we view and deliver higher education: they are indicative of a larger movement in the education sector, in line with an uncertain and rapidly changing future.”

The full report, 10 trends: Transformative changes in higher education outlines the ten global trends that the authors have judged will have the greatest impact on higher education in the future.

These include some major shifts in demographics around the world. The British Council highlights in particular the influence of ageing populations in many regions. Simply put: greater life expectancy combined with lower fertility rates means that populations in many countries are getting older, and, in the process, the key 15-to-24-year-old college-aged cohorts are shrinking.

Youth population projections by global region, 2010–2100. Source: United Nations, British Council

Youth population projections by global region, 2010–2100. Source: United Nations, British Council

 

Continue reading on ICEF Monitor.

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.

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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.

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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

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(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.