Government unveils plans for two-year bachelor degrees

The United Kingdom government has announced plans for two-year accelerated bachelor degrees that it claims could save students up to £25,000 (US$33,000) compared with taking the degree over three years in the normal way. 

Accelerated degrees will offer the same qualifications and will be quality assured in the same way as a standard degree, but delivered over a shorter, usually two-year timespan, according to the proposals, which have been set out for consultation.

The plan would allow institutions to charge up to 20% more each year for accelerated degrees, but the overall tuition fee cost of the degree to the student would be 20% less than the same degree over three years.
This means that the total tuition fee cost would be £5,500 lower than for a standard three-year course. However, the government argues that, since students taking the accelerated course would finish a year early and the average first year salary after graduating is £19,000, there is a potential £25,000 benefit overall to the student.

Continue reading on University World News. 

A global recognition convention for academic mobility

The 39th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO last month gave the green light to continue the work on UNESCO’s academic mobility convention, the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, with the aim of formally adopting the new convention by UNESCO’s next general conference in November 2019.

Why should this be of interest to the academic community? Over the past generation, there has been an explosion in international student mobility worldwide. According to the OECD, the number of international students in higher education has risen from 0.8 million in the late 1970s to 4.6 million in 2015.

This increase has been accompanied by a growth in interregional student mobility, with 2.5 million international students studying in a country outside their region of origin, according to UNESCO in the preliminary report on a potential global convention.

Continue reading on University World News. 

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.

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)

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