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 http://news.tsinghua.edu.cn/

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

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.

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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.

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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.

USA now home to 1 million international students

While a future count may be uncertain amongst the Trump presidency debacle, the Institute of International Education (IIE)’s Open Doors report portrays a continuing increase in the number of inbound international students.

USA

A 7% growth during the 2015/2016 years was put out by the Open Doors report, which drew its results from more than 3,000 prestigious higher education institutions in the USA.

China and India, as previewed in previous reports, hold the bulk of inbound international students, with Chinese students accountable for 31.5% of the entire international student population in the USA, with a 8.1% overall increase to a complete 328,547 students. Meanwhile, 24.9% more Indian students were reported to be coming in to the country as compared to the 2014/2015 numbers. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Canada, among many others are too home to the highest number of foreign students in the USA, although a notable decrease in students was seen from Saudi Arabia and Canada. The biggest decrease in international students, however, was from Brazil, a decrease of 18.2%, which may be linked to the government’s Scientific Mobility Program freeze.

The total student population in the USA is now inclusive of 5% international students overall, who, according to the US Department of Commerce, contributed more than US$35 billion to the economy.

In terms of academic level, while both undergraduate (7%) and postgraduate (6%) students increased in numbers during 2015/2016, the highest increase, of 23% was seen in Optional Practical Training.

Courses pursued by a large part of the international student population were STEM subjects, which may lead to a possible correlation with the rise in students from India as well, seeing as how, as reported by IIE, more than three-quarters of Indian students tend to go into the STEM field. What was also noticeable of students originating from India was the higher number or graduate students (101,800) studying in the USA as compared to undergraduate students (19,300).

Students

On the opposite end, 313,000 USA students were reported to be studying abroad in 2015, a minute 3% increase, with two-thirds of the number belonging to the female gender, and 27% racial or ethnic minorities.

IIE President Allan Goodman, on the surpassing of the 1 million international students mark commented, “The Open Doors findings show that international students value the quality, diversity and strong reputation of US institutions and recognize that these institutions will give them opportunities that can help them not only in their education but also in their careers.”

Survey reveals what potential students look for when deciding on an MBA

A step up from previous years, the rise and potential of entrepreneurship is now one of the top reasons, among several others, as to why students wish to pursue an MBA.

Amidst several reports undermining the value of an MBA and its decline comes the Tomorrow’s MBA study, conducted by CarringtonCrisp and constituting of the voices and opinions of more than a 1000 potential MBA students from 82 countries.

One of the survey’s key findings were the reasons behind students wanting to pursue an MBA, of which the rise in earning potential took priority, while other factors such as employability and the want to be internationally recognised made the list as well. The desire to venture into entrepreneurship too topped the list as the fifth most significant reason, up from 10th place in last year’s survey. The sudden push of this specific topic of interest brings to mind the need for an MBA’s content to be tailored differently so as to support and acquire more students’ interests, that “Given this interest, schools should think about what they teach, career services provided and how they align programmes with this growing demand.”

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With the Kauffman Index of Start-up Activity reporting that 550,000 individuals emerge as entrepreneurs each month in America, it’s an easy task at a glimpse of the entrepreneurship boom in recent years. Several reasons, such as the ease with which ideas can now be brought to life, and a changing and more encouraging economy, entrepreneurs often tend to gain success, walking down such a path.

The survey also detailed several other findings, such as the number of women who are actively considering working towards an MBA, making up to a complete 42% of the total candidate number, the highest to be recorded in previous surveys. Andrew Crisp, owner of CarringtonCrisp, highlights the advance in technology as a vital factor in allowing more women to pursue an MBA, with methods such as online distance learning now easily accessible to the overall population, such as for women “who’ve come out of the labour force for a while – maybe they’ve been having children – to do an MBA without having to sit in a classroom of men who are trying to get into a finance career, with everything that goes with the culture of some of the big finance houses,” says Crisp.

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Following up on this, Crisp additionally remarks that it would be the successful schools who realise that it is integral to market to both potential male and female candidates, keeping in mind the difference in each gender’s perceptions and opinions of what they look for in an MBA and the additional services offered to them. A fine example of this is the difference both genders hold in valuing assistance while in search of an internship, with female candidates ranking at 72% while male candidates ranked at a lower 60%.

The essentiality of career services being part of an MBA course too was present in the findings, with 72% of individuals desiring for help in planning a career which would make them more employable in the near future.

On the topic of what can be called an “MBA 2.0,” –which seeks to be more flexible and look into the changing and growing interests of potential candidates –technology’s advance has been quite a game-changer, with the survey reporting that, as it now stands, more than a quarter of potential candidates prefer flexible or online MBAs, instead of the usual one-year, full-time MBA.

As a final note, Crisp advises schools offering MBAs that “It’s not necessarily the longest running programmes that are going to be the best; it’s going to be the ones that are quickest to adapt, that embrace the new technology, that use it to best effect to deliver a really outstanding online experience.”

Decline in EU students applications to UK Universities

In the wake of the Brexit vote last June, a sharp drop in the applications to the United Kingdom (UK) Universities from the students coming from countries in the European Union (EU), have been recorded in the first deadline round. This finding was revealed by the latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Application Service (UCAS).

UK, Brexit, EU, Euro, Education, Study Abroad

According to the data released, there was a 9% plunge in the applications for the courses with an October deadline–these includes medicine, dentistry, as well as courses in the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. Last year recorded 6,860 EU students, while there are 6,240 this year. The number shows the end of the several years of a consecutive surge in the number of applications from EU students.

Meanwhile, the number of applications from domestic students rose to a 3% increase in application to 39,440. There was also a 1% boost in the applications from non-EU students to study in the UK from autumn of next year.

According to Mary Curnock, chief executive of UCAS, they “will be watching the numbers of EU applications in the run-up to the January deadline, especially now that the government has confirmed arrangements for continuing access to student loans for 2017 courses.”

The applications for the early deadline period opened in September, with uncertainty on whether EU students can have access to student loans and grants, as well as whether they would continue to pay domestic student fees.

Jo Johnson, UK, Brexit, EU, Euro, Education

Jo Johnson Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (image from THE)

It was only on 11 October–four days before the deadline–that Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, confirmed that funding and fees arrangements would remain unchanged for EU students enrolling in 2017.

“It is important that we make clear that European students continue to be welcome in coming to the UK to study,” said Nicola Dandridge chief executive of Universities UK. She also stressed that the figures highlight the importance of ensuring prospective European applicants understand the fees and financial support arrangements “well in advance of the application window.”

She also added that the demand for a UK higher education “remains strong” because of its reputation for quality.

Meanwhile, a government spokesperson said it is “too early in the application cycle to predict reliable trends.”

US and Canadian universities slow in responding to inquiries from prospective international students, says study

International students have different information needs but are universities responding those needs with accuracy and speed? 

A new report reveals that the US and Canadian universities, which currently enroll the largest share of international students worldwide, are slow in responding to international student’s information needs.

This study was conducted using a “mystery-shopping” data collection technique, wherein a team of international
students explored university websites. This allowed us to measure and compare the performance of the world’s and the US and Canadian top 500 universities in terms of online information and findability – as well as how well they replied to inquiries and followed up with potential students.

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The universities for this study were chosen based on their standing in the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities. All universities in the top 100 of the most recent US News & World Report rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (the Shanghai ranking) were included in the research.

Universities in the US and Canada rank 5th when it came to communicating effectively with prospective international students, according to a report done by Study portals in collaboration with the British Council IELTS

When it came to providing basic information, US and Canadian universities are good at this as information is presented in a comprehensive format as well as most (67%) of university websites pass the Google Mobile Friendliness test.

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However, being user-friendly isn’t enough as most US and Canadian universities fail to address important programme-related information such as study accreditation, duration and start dates – information that are deemed necessary for prospective international students.

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When it came to responding to student inquiries, more than half (52%) of the US & Canada universities try their best to respond within 24 hours. This is a remarkable number, especially since for universities in other English-speaking countries, the number is lower (42% for Australia and New Zealand, and 33% for the UK and Ireland). However, most do not send follow-up emails within the day to students who have shown interest.

Do note that the insights in this report are based on the experiences of student’s mystery-shopping. Although the students have done their utmost to record their experiences in the most accurate way (through professional training and support), information may have been overlooked. Results should be interpreted as indicative.

Top things international students value when studying in the UK

Hobsons’ International Student Survey 2015, showed the general sentiment of 17,336 international students, from 210 countries, on what they value most from a UK education.

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If you’re an international student who has recently enquired about a UK institution, chances are you share the same interest with the 17,336 students that Hobsons’ has surveyed. Here are the results:

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Hobsons’ International Student Survey 2015 shows that those in poorer countries tended to focus more on future earnings than those in wealthier ones – 93 per cent of prospective students in Nigeria and in Malaysia rated this factor on the important side of the scale. But the opposite was true when respondents were asked about better employment prospects, with the highest proportion of prospective students in the US (96 per cent) and Canada (95 per cent) seeing this as essential.

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Although students need to balance their student life with more social activities, the report shows that social life, joining a society and even a joining a sports club were the least important when studying in the UK.

Australia’s education system has been ranked the best in the world by a new report into global prosperity.

Out of the 142 nations, the Legatum Prosperity Index ranked Australia 7th in the overall prosperity ranking but was awarded top marks for education. The index ranks countries according to wealth and wellbeing.australia_exam

The education ranking was determined through analysing data around class size, girls to boys enrolment ratio, secondary and tertiary enrolment, perceptions that children learn and satisfaction with educational quality.

For the third year in a row, Australia has occupied the #7 spot. For the full copy of the report, view here.

The top positions were, dominated by Scandinavian nations. Norway topped the list, followed by Switzerland and Denmark, but our trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand now occupy fourth spot on the global prosperity index.

UCAS Applications To Be Anonymous

To prevent unconscious bias against candidates from minority groups, Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed plans to remove names from university applications forms starting 2017.

In response to this UCAS chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, said it would consult with degree-awarding institutions on name-blind applications as this would impact applications from black and ethnic minority students.


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