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News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education
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The Chopras evolves, rebrands as TC Global

Vie, 02/14/2020 - 02:36

One of India’s education counselling empires, The Chopras Group, has relaunched as TC Global following a 45-month restructuring and rebranding effort.

The company is swapping its purely brick and mortar counsellor-based operating model into what it terms a technology-enabled “platform ecosystem”. 

Founded in 1995 by Naveen and Natasha Chopra, The Chopras Group has grown to be one of India’s largest education and learning services groups, engaging with over 300,000 students annually. 

“We are transitioning into a platform eco-system, backed by community and experience centres”

Chief brand strategy and community partner for TC Global, Shan Chopra, told The PIE that the re-invention will help the company add value for students who are making decisions about their future. 

The original company “was built for a very different age and very different time”, he said.

“To serve consumers who have grown up in the age of the internet, and adapt to the sheer speed and scale of the communications infrastructure the internet has unlocked, we are transitioning into a platform eco-system, backed by community and experience centres with rich resources that are both physical and digital for the student.”

Chopra said that since May 2019 the company has been introducing a soft branding relaunch for the organisation. The new website was launched in December. 

As well as offering student searching tools, insights, learning preparation and future-focused investments, TC Global has a large events platform and is hosting a series of events over February.

These free Global Education Interact events are being held in cities across India including Delhi and Lucknow and will allow students and parents to speak directly with universities and partners of TC Global.

“We’re excited to test our operating model and the overall value that we are going to create to the consumer journey,” related Chopra.

“We really believe we need a new paradigm and a new story, with a symbiotic relationship between technology and people, with a workforce that is re-skilled from being bearers of knowledge to influencers of meaningful decisions.”

The company’s board set the strategic mandate to fundamentally reinvent the organisation in 2016.

In 2016 the Shivalik Hills Foundation Trust, established and run by The Chopras, was granted permission by the Higher Education Department in Uttarakhand, India, to open a university in the Himalayas.

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Nicolas Chu, CEO & founder, Sinorbis, Australia

Vie, 02/14/2020 - 02:21
Sinorbis is a software as a service company that facilitates SMEs and enterprises that wish to enter the Chinese market. The PIE spoke to the company’s CEO and founder Nicolas Chu about the difficulties institutions face when they try to crack the Chinese market, and how Sinorbis can help to overcome them.


The PIE: So tell me about Sinorbis, what does it do and why did you decide to start it? 

Nicolas Chu: Sure. Sinorbis is a marketing platform that allows Western businesses to create measure and optimise their digital presence in China. The main reason why we decided to form Sinorbis was that not a long time ago, we were trying to crack into this market.

“I said if it is difficult for us [to crack the Chinese market], I can’t imagine how difficult it is for smaller companies”

I used to work for Expedia, the online travel company and Orbitz as well, and we led the market entry for Orbitz into China. And despite the fact that we were a multi-billion dollar company, it was quite difficult for us.

So I said to myself, ‘you know, if it is difficult for us, I can’t imagine how difficult it is for others, for smaller companies’. I thought that it was crazy that no one had tried to crack through technology and help companies by offering software that will reduce the barriers to entry to zero.

The PIE: How does your platform actually work? I know it can be difficult to be present in China with a website, for example...

NC: When you try to go after China, you usually face three issues. The first one is a lack of understanding of the market, business, culture or language.

The second one is the technical barriers to entry, or what is known as the Great Firewall. Not only has it limited access to those popular websites but it has also furthered the emergence of a completely different online ecosystem. So really the second problem is that we don’t know about this ecosystem. And usually, when we try to [understand it] and spend a lot of money, we’re facing the third issue, which is a lack of visibility or lack of control.

So what our platform allows you to do is to address those three points. We give maximum insights into where you get a lot of markets, we reduce the barriers to entry to zero by optimising everything that you’re doing for this ecosystem. We allow you to have a fast loading page in China, completely optimised for all the search engines in China.

For example, you don’t have Google, but you have Baidu. You don’t have Facebook but you have WeChat. You can manage your whole WeChat account offshore. You can do all this through our platform by, you know, either integration with local technology or by optimising what we’re producing for this ecosystem.

The PIE: And why did you decide to then work with education if you’d been in mainstream travel?

NC: So I have always been involved in the education sector. I’m actually a professor of practice at the NSW Business School as well.

I realised how important it was for education institutions to go after this market, but how difficult it was as well. So on the one hand, you had this huge opportunity, huge demand. Chinese students are the largest source market in terms of international students nowadays, but it’s also very difficult for those institutions to actually push their messages towards Chinese students.

“I realised how important it was for education institutions to go after this market, but how difficult it was as well”

So when we launched Sinorbis, I knew that education would be a very important sector for us. I knew we would have to be able to address this problem because it’s really difficult for universities to have a legal presence in China, for instance.

Without a legal presence, you can’t have an entity, without an entity you can’t have a licence, without the licence, you can’t have a website. So I knew that if we could address this problem that would resolve a big issue for universities.

The PIE: Essentially, you are helping institutions sidestep the legal presence requirement?

NC: Yes. What we do is that we allow institutions to create a presence outside of China. But this presence is 100% optimised for China and visible in China.

So take any university, for instance, its English website or the Australian website will take two to three minutes to load – which is the same as not being visible. What will allow them is to create the same site, but 100% optimised and relevant site for a Chinese audience.

The PIE: I’m assuming that these sites are in Mandarin, so do the institutions need to have a Mandarin speaker running these platforms for them? 

NC: Yes, they are in simplified Chinese. We would recommend if you really want to invest and you’re serious about this market, it would make sense to have someone who speaks Chinese and Mandarin. But our services are such that you can actually do everything by yourself if you have the skills or resources to do it, or we can do a part of it. We can set up all this for you and then you can manage it.

“We allow institutions to create a presence outside of China”

In the education sector, we have smaller universities that will ask us to do everything; bigger universities that have teams; and Chinese teams that can manage the whole thing but they want us to set it up, so we do that. And we also have universities that are doing everything by themselves from scratch.

The PIE: How big is your team?

NC: We have three offices in Shanghai, Colombo and Sydney, and we are now around 40 team members. 

The PIE: Do you have any competitors who are doing what you do?

No, we don’t. We are the only platform in the world [doing what we do]. I mean, I was looking to invest in such a company in 2015, I did a kind of a roadshow, but couldn’t find any. So I decided to launch one.

The PIE: Who are your clients in education?

NC: We have a lot of boarding schools, international schools, but also in the ecosystem, so for example, student accommodation. So we do have a variety and broad spectrum of clients in the education sector.

Education is definitely our main focus. Consumer goods is [also] big because everyone wants to sell to the Chinese. It’s just that it’s very difficult for most companies to actually do so.

The PIE: You spent a lot of time in China. Were you always aware of Chinese students having a real demand for education overseas? 

NC: Yes, and demand is not declining, but destinations are changing and evolving. The US market has always been the primary market in terms of international education. And as you know, the demand has changed recently, especially because of the trade war between China and the US.

“Education is definitely our main focus”

The demand is there, it’s just dependant on the environment, the macro environment, that might shift from one country to another one. But I don’t think the appetite to study overseas is going to reduce.

The PIE: Okay. And did you have to build all the tech yourself? How much investment was put in to actually developing the platform? 

NC: A lot, like any technology company, you have to spend a lot of money before getting any money. We raised money, we went through three rounds.

I’m obviously investing in the company as well, and my co-founders too. But we raised money straight away – actually when it was just an idea and when we were about to launch. And then one year after launching the platform. So three rounds so far.

The majority of investors are from Australia. We have some investors from Asia as well and from Europe.

The PIE: And what are your hopes then for Sinorbis for the next few years?

NC: We would love to be able to really address the various needs for education providers to go after the Chinese markets. Right now, we allow them to create that digital presence, the web, social, but there are other things that we could do as well.

So we’re working on how we could integrate better with legacy systems of universities or institutions. We just released a new feature that allows you to integrate whatever you’ve built through Sinorbis with China, with your marketing automation or your CRMs, which is very important for lead generation for universities.

We also developed another feature that allows universities or institutions to create some events in China – for the open day week, for example.

So, we would love to see us in a few years being able to offer all those different services into one integrated platform and make it easy because, you know, we always say: digital marketing in China is difficult – we make it easy.

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Jo Johnson named on ApplyBoard advisory board

Jue, 02/13/2020 - 11:04

Jo Johnson, younger brother of UK prime minister Boris Johnson, has been appointed as the advisory board chairman of the Canadian student recruitment platform ApplyBoard

Johnson, who was formerly minister of state for universities, science, research, and innovation in the UK government, is already putting together an advisory board for the company. 

“[Jo Johnson] has an incredible history when it comes to education”

Ontario-based ApplyBoard claims to have become the world’s largest online platform for international student recruitment, assisting more than 80,000 students. 

In 2019, it was named the fastest-growing technology company in Canada by Deloitte, ranking number one on the Technology Fast 50™ list.

“[Jo Johnson] has an incredible history when it comes to education,” said Hannah Cameron, manager of marketing and communications for ApplyBoard. 

“Not only as the minister of state for universities, science and innovation but he’s also a fellow at King’s College and Harvard.”

Cameron told The PIE that ApplyBoard was initially attracted to working with Johnson because of his advocacy for the UK’s new post-study work rights. 

“He’s spoken a lot about how much he believes international students positively impact your cities, your wealth, your jobs and that is something that we are so adamantly talking about here in Canada. 

“We’re trying to help people overcome their stigmas, mainly around international students, and why they are great for an economy.” 

In 2019, ApplyBoard secured C$55 million in Series B funding as part of a bid to fuel growth and market expansion.

It’s growth has been rapid. Founded in 2015 by brothers Martin, Meti, and Massi Basiri, ApplyBoard has built partnerships with over 1,200 primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools. 

The company works with 3,500+ recruitment partners and has a team of more than 370, with staff in more than 20 other countries including India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Nepal and Bangladesh. 

“As the chairman the first thing he has been tasked with is building the advisory board. He’s finding the best and brightest people to come and join us, to help the growth and direction of ApplyBoard.

“We need to make sure as we scale very fast, we are getting the best support,” she said. 

“I am excited to be joining Canada’s fastest-growing technology company, that is bringing higher education within reach of millions around the world,” said Johnson.

“ApplyBoard is lowering barriers to the transformational benefits education brings, and I can’t wait to help the Basiri brothers, and talented team at ApplyBoard write the next chapter in their incredible story.”

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Academix agency announces sister company

Jue, 02/13/2020 - 06:47

Turkey-based education agency Academix has announced a sister company – Next Study Abroad – that will focus on Eastern Europe study destinations.

Announced during Academix’s Agent Training and Workshop in Istanbul in January, the new agency will focus on sending students to countries including the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, as well as traditional study destinations.

“Demand for East Europe is rapidly increasing”

According to branch manager at Academix’s Taksim Office in Istanbul Selçuk Atmaca, Academix – which expanded to Iran and Azerbaijan in 2019 – covers many locations globally.

The new company has been created due to the rising demand for Eastern Europe.

“Demand for East Europe is rapidly increasing as they provide more achievable entrance requirements and lower fees than major countries,” he told The PIE News.

“They are also much closer to Turkey in terms of the distance concern.”

By having a new team, Next Study Abroad will ensure its agents are “experts” in the Eastern European study abroad market, he added.

Like Academix, Next will also offer language and junior courses, undergrad and postgrad degrees and VET programs in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, as well as other popular language destinations for Turkish students.

Next Study Abroad will operate out of Besiktas, in Istanbul.

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Study Group acquires edtech platform, Insendi

Jue, 02/13/2020 - 06:04

Study Group is to acquire learning experience platform developer Insendi in what is seen by the provider as a significant opportunity for business growth in online, blended and international education.

Founded by staff from the Edtech Lab at Imperial College London, Insendi provides a learning experience platform and expertise in course development, staff training and consultancy to its university partners.

“Our shared view is that these technologies are increasingly important to students and teachers”

Insendi will operate as a separate company within Study Group to retain its focus on innovation in online higher education, while Study Group will also work closely with Insendi to develop its online student support and bespoke provision in the years to come.

The move has been described as an opportunity to enhance Study Group’s position as a leading provider of international education in an area of growing importance to students and universities.

Chief executive of Study Group, Emma Lancaster, said the provider is delighted to welcome Insendi to the Study Group family.

“I have been deeply impressed by the team’s technical credentials as a company which grew out of their work at Imperial College and their focus on engaging higher education learning using their platform,” Lancaster said.

“Together with Study Group’s 25 years of experience of working with university partners and helping international students succeed, we see significant opportunities,” she added.

Director and co-founder of Insendi, David LeFevre – also the director of the EdTech Lab at Imperial College – echoed Lancaster’s sentiments, adding that it was important for Insendi to maintain its own “unique identity and reputation”.

“Together we see genuine complementary strengths and a real potential for business growth in the future.”

LeFevre said that increasingly, the teaching and support of students draw on the breakthrough technologies that are impacting our society.

“Our shared view is that these technologies are increasingly important to students and teachers and they will play a pivotal role in the future as international education addresses questions of access, resilience and environmental sustainability.

“We are excited about exploring these possibilities,” he added.

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US HEIs welcome ruling over int’l student “unlawful presence” policy

Jue, 02/13/2020 - 05:17

Educators in the US have welcomed a ruling by a federal court judge that permanently blocks a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services policy which put international students at risk of three and 10-year re-entry bans for incurring a visa status violation.

Concerns were raised upon the introduction of the 2018 policy memo that it put international students at risk of being deported or barred due to clerical errors or delays in visa processing because it allowed the backdating of “unlawful presence” from the moment the violation occurred.

“It was a complex and unnecessary policy change that was deeply concerning”

Previously, unlawful presence was calculated from the day after a student was informed that USCIS had formally found a violation, and students were able to make corrections and request adjustments without risking accruing more unlawful presence.

Once an individual accrues 180 days of unlawful presence they can be barred from the US for three years, and a 10-year ban is levied after more than one year of unlawful presence.

The government said the changes were introduced due to “significant progress in its ability to identify and calculate the number of nonimmigrants who have failed to maintain status” through mechanisms such as the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

But Heather Stewart, counsel and director of immigration policy for NAFSA, told The PIE News that “it was a complex and unnecessary policy change that was deeply concerning”, and would have resulted in students being penalised without even realising they were violating their immigration status.

“This was an attempt to change a long-standing policy applied to international students when they were notified of an alleged violation of their immigration status,” Stewart added.

Upon the announcement that US District Court judge Loretta Biggs had ruled that the language of the policy conflicted with the law, education organisations and institutes across the country responded positively.

“International students and scholars came to the United States to study relying on a promise that our nation made to treat them fairly and transparently,” said Haverford College’s president Wendy Raymond in a statement.

“I laud and commend judge Biggs’ decision for the certainty and stability that it brings for our students”

“The administration’s unlawful presence policy belied that promise, placing our students at risk of serious immigration consequences. I laud and commend judge Biggs’ decision for the certainty and stability that it brings for our students and campuses.”

Haverford College was one of a group of more than 60 institutions that launched a legal challenge against the policy soon after its release on that grounds that it “introduce[d] considerable uncertainty into the calculation of unlawful presence and needlessly exposes international students to devastating re-entry bans”.

The group explained that students and exchange visitors can fall out-of-status due to unwitting clerical and technical errors, “often of someone else’s making”.

It argued that “in many cases, the infraction will not be discovered… until the individual reapplies for another immigration benefit, such as an optional practical training allowance or an H-1B visa”.

Biggs later issued a preliminary injunction against the policy, followed by the permanent one earlier this month.

“Given the statuses identified in the memo, students and exchange visitors in higher education were being directly targeted by the new policy,” Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, told The PIE.

“On campuses across the country, international advisers began struggling with how to present this new reality without creating fear and confusion.”

Although Feldblum said that due to the speed with which the injunction was brought in she doesn’t know of any specific cases were students or scholars were deported under the policy, educational organisations and providers had to adapt their visa advice for students.

“We urge the administration to not appeal this decision and instead recommit to restoring our nation’s competitiveness in regards to international students,” added Jane Fernandes, president of Guilford College.

“We urge the administration to not appeal this decision”

USCIS told The PIE it was currently reviewing the court’s decision.

But even if USCIS choose not to appeal, further changes to immigration policy will likely continue to affect international students.

According to a report by Forbes, one upcoming policy is seeking to replace students’ “duration of status” with a “maximum period of authorised stay”.

This would “require them to gain new approvals at each stage of their studies in the US, such as a transition from an undergraduate to a graduate-level program” and “new approvals also would be needed if academic programs take longer than anticipated”.

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100K Australia-bound Chinese hit by extended travel ban

Jue, 02/13/2020 - 04:48

Australia is bracing for more disruption with an extension of the travel ban from mainland China announced for a further week by PM Scott Morrison – and concerns are also surfacing about visa applications in the pipeline, according to chair of the global reputation taskforce, Phil Honeywood.

The taskforce – a panel of council of universities and education providers – have met with education minister Dan Tehan and trade minister Simon Birmingham to discuss how they can limit the impact on the AUS$38 billion dollar industry.

In excess of 100,000 international students remain stranded offshore after the Australian government banned foreign nationals entering from China for 14 days from February 1 in an effort to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Orientation week for many Australian universities commences on February 24.

“We’re pleased that the Chinese government has agreed to relax its internet restrictions to allow students who are banned from entering Australia to commence their studies online,” Honeywood told The PIE.

“This is something that hasn’t been easy to achieve in the past so we welcome the move.” Online study has been suggested as an interim measure to ensure Chinese students can start programs as planned remotely.

Honeywood said learning options, regulatory flexibility and student visas were major discussion points – but also flagged up concerns around a visa issuance freeze while the coronavirus crisis continues.

“It appears no student visas have been issued since the travel ban”

“It appears no student visas have been issued since the travel ban started on February 1,” he said. “There is no logistical reason for this and we’re in negotiation with the federal government to lift the visa approval freeze.”

Hardest hit by the travel ban is the “Group of Eight” – which comprises Australia’s leading research-intensive universities. Chief executive of the Go8, Vicki Thompson, said they account for 63% of enrolments from Chinese nationals studying in Australia.

“Given the Go8’s exposure, it can be deduced that most of these students [who are stranded] are ours. This is potentially a financial hit estimated by S&P Global at up to AUS$3 billion for all universities.”

The economic impact isn’t contained to just the higher education sector, with Thompson quoting a recent London Economics study showing that for every three international students studying at a Go8 university, the broader economic impact for Australia is a positive $1m.

Regulatory bodies TEQSA and ASQA are promising maximum flexibility on a provider to provider level around start dates, online learning and other options for students.

“With the support of these bodies, universities have been able to put in place a range of measures,” said Honeywood.

Monash [the country’s biggest university] has pushed back the commencement of semester 1 for all students, while the University of New South Wales is offering to roll enrolments over from its first to second trimester and Australian National University (ANU) has announced a special winter semester.”

The Global Reputation Taskforce acknowledged that once the travel bans have been lifted and Chinese students start returning to campuses, there will be longer term issues to deal with.

“We’re looking to ensure all things such as deferment fees, additional visa fees and post study work right visas are facilitated in a way that doesn’t disadvantage the students,” said Honeywood. “We’re pleased to see the government has an appetite for providing this type of regulatory fee support.”

“We need to let them know, that we care, that their health and mental wellbeing are important to us”

Individual student welfare is also a focus for the taskforce. “In addition to practicalities including student housing availability, we also need to ensure these students are supported,” said Honeywood.

“We need to let them know, that we care, that their health and mental wellbeing are important to us and that Australia is still an attractive and welcoming place.”

Other prominent stakeholders echoed this, with the premier of Western Australia calling out reported racist behaviour as ‘disgraceful and un-Australian’.

StudyPerth said now was the time to rally behind communities that are feeling the effects of the outbreak and extend a helping hand.

Phil Payne, CEO at StudyPerth, commented, “I feel particularly for the thousands of Chinese students who have been prevented from commencing or resuming their studies in Western Australia.

“I look forward to an early resolution of this outbreak, and a lifting of the travel restrictions, so we can welcome these students with open arms into the Western Australian community.”

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2U extends LSE online degree partnership

Mié, 02/12/2020 - 09:55

Digital education provider 2U has launched an extension of its partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The expanded collaboration will see the number of undergraduate degrees offered with the London institution – the first of which was announced in 2019 – rise to seven.

“The new courses are specifically designed to accommodate adult learners looking to accelerate their careers”

The new courses will range from economics and management to data science and business analytics, and “are specifically designed to accommodate adult learners looking to accelerate their careers”.

“Bringing these degrees online is an extension of our founding charter to create programs that remove traditional barriers and expand access to high-quality education for students globally,” Craig O’Callaghan, director of operations and deputy chief executive at the University of London Worldwide, said in a statement.

The seven courses 2U will be offering on its platform with LSE are an extension of existing textbook-based distance learning programs that the University of London member institution provides.

“Students will now be able to log on to a laptop or mobile device from anywhere to engage with courses… and earn an undergraduate degree from the University of London,” said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO at 2U.

The expanded partnership with the University of London and LSE is a “powerful example of higher education delivering on the promise of access, quality, relevance, and flexibility”, he added.

“These degrees provide the means for talented students to access the academic excellence and social engagement that LSE is globally renowned for,” said Paul Kelly, dean of University of London Programmes at LSE.

“This partnership with 2U will enable the University of London and LSE to ensure the continued evolution of the student experience to remain engaging and relevant for our times.”

Four of the seven programs will launch in 2020, while details of the remaining three programs are yet to be confirmed.

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Coventry pioneer memorialised for global legacy

Mar, 02/11/2020 - 11:22

The pioneering work of Don Finlay, international dean of Coventry University’s business school, in helping to push Coventry into a leading position for global engagement will be commemorated at a memorial service for him in the university this Friday 14 February.

Finlay died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 63 on arrival in Chongqing to further develop the highly regarded partnership he established with South West University of Politics and Law.

Coventry University and the city council will pay their respects to his 30 years of commitment and recognise the lasting legacy he leaves. In a rare honour, an Illuminated Address signed by the Lord Mayor of the City on behalf of the Council leadership will be presented to his wife, Judy Finlay, who also works for the university.

Finlay was a leader in developing academic relationships in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam along with France, Poland and Denmark but his greatest contribution was in China, where he helped set up a number of partnerships for Coventry.

A memorial service was held in Hangzhou in October, with members of the higher education from across Asia and some coming from as far afield as the US to pay respects.

Coventry’s vice chancellor John Latham spoke, as well as leaders of Chinese universities and other partners including the British Council, who remarked on his creativity and commitment, energy and enthusiasm, and kindness to young staff whom he mentored and supported.

Don Finlay

David Pilsbury, deputy vice chancellor international, commented, “Don’s legacy is not just based on achievement but also in the way he developed partnerships – his depth of understanding of the academic process, his innovativeness and his respect for the contribution of international partnerships all came together to establish a way of working that is now embedded in the university.”

Other achievements included the development of Coventry’s summer schools, outward mobility programmes, links with industry and the introduction of “international champions” in his faculty.

Judy Finlay, Don’s wife, said she had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of respect and support. “I do not think Don would believe it,” she told The PIE News.

Don originally met when Judy was an international student in the UK. As she put it, his drive and vision were what attracted her.

“Not many people would have the same vision, and the skills and tenacity to turn that vision into reality,” she told The PIE. She added that she felt compelled to “continue his work” in China as Coventry seeks to further deepen its already strong links in the country.

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Monash U to open Indonesian campus

Mar, 02/11/2020 - 10:07

Australia’s Monash University has announced it will establish the first overseas university campus in Indonesia – Monash Indonesia – following a 2019 agreement between Indonesia and Australia signalling offshore branch campuses to be given the go-ahead.

Monash Indonesia will be a postgraduate campus in the country’s capital Jakarta, offering masters, PhD degrees, executive programs and micro-credentials.

“The physical establishment serves as a symbol of Monash’s commitment to Indonesia”

“Monash has a long history of engagement in Indonesia and a desire to build deeper links with a thriving and innovative community with great ambitions for education and research,” said Margaret Gardner AC, president and vice-chancellor of Monash University.

The “research-intensive and industry engaged” campus will join Monash’s global network, with its branch campus in Malaysia, as well as partnered campuses in Suzhou with SouthEast University and Mumbai with Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

“The opening of Monash Indonesia, the first Australian university based in Indonesia, will enable us to work in and with Indonesian people and their organisations to realise their future opportunities,” Gardner added.

“The physical establishment also serves as a symbol of Monash’s commitment to Indonesia and the wider Asian region, as well as stronger research and education links between Indonesia and Australia.”

Monash Indonesia represents a deepening of the bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia, according to the institution – a sentiment echoed by Indonesia’s minister for Education and Culture.

The institution would “help accelerate the strengthening of our education system and deepen the social, economic and technological links between Australia and Indonesia”, Indonesian education minister Nadiem Makarim said in a statement.

“This partnership will be the first out of many other partnerships to come,” he added.

In addition to the long-term education, research and industry collaboration benefits, it will facilitate the two-way flow of students and scholars, and innovative ideas and technology, according to the institution.

Short executive programs will begin on the campus later in 2020, while Monash plans to welcome the first intake of master’s students for quarter four 2021.

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Coronavirus: UK ELT schools fear losses due to missed bookings

Mar, 02/11/2020 - 05:15

UK-based ELT schools are bracing themselves for serious financial problems because of coronavirus, with providers already reporting lost business from both China and other countries around the world. 

The main concerns centre around timing issues with group bookings and nervous parents not wanting to send their children abroad. ELT schools have expressed concern that summer programs will be cancelled as a result. 

“Coronavirus could have a massive impact, not just through missed bookings from China or East Asia”

It is just one of the fallouts of the deadly virus that has killed as many as 1000 people in mainland China to date. 

During English UK’s Marketing Conference 2020, an ELT school executive told The PIE that ELT businesses will be seriously affected if the situation doesn’t improve by March. 

“I think the coronavirus could have a massive impact, not just through missed bookings from China or East Asia, where it seems to be developing, but also from markets that aren’t affected but that may well become affected. 

“There are lots of markets that are zero risk tolerant, Italy and Japan in particular. Groups are paying deposits over the next two months, for most people, some people go as late as May 1, and those groups will be struggling to recruit those students, the parents of those students will be hesitating to put down money.”

The executive said that if coronavirus is still top of the news agenda going into March, then companies will have to tighten their belts and exercise force majeure clauses with partners.  

The nervousness of parents in certain key markets like Italy has already had an effect on businesses like the Twin Group. Global Sales director at the Twin Group, Simon Baker, told The PIE that a group from Italy had decided not to come because of the virus. 

“The parents wanted them [students] to come to the UK but they decided that they were worried about coronavirus in general,” he said. 

“So we’ve had an Italian group decide not to come based on coronavirus. Which I was surprised at. The agent had a meeting with the school and the parents decided that they were just generally anxious.”

Lawrence Jackson, head of sales at International House London, said that a key point is if and how the Chinese holiday period is rescheduled. 

“So there is talk about a shift in the pattern of when it would be that Chinese schools would have their summer holidays.

“If the virus continues to grow and there is no immediate vaccine or solution, then the knock on effect could be that the dates of delivery are simply not compatible with the dates of travel.”

Jackson explained that if the situation is not contained by mid-March then the majority of the UK schools can look at having a huge drop off in terms of their summer business from China. 

“That might be in some cases a good 40% of some peoples’ businesses. Broadly speaking it’s a dominant part of the UK summer business at many schools. 

“This year could be a “white-wash” for a lot of UK providers if the situation does not improve very quickly.” 

The British Council has published a blog post on the likely scenarios facing UK higher education as a result of the coronavirus. 

Likely scenarios for UK HE in face of coronavirus. Photo: British Council

The best case scenario outlined by the British Council would involve normal business activity resuming by the end of February. 

This in turn would result in minimal near-term exchanges being disrupted, flights altered regionally as excess capacity spills onto alternate hubs, delays to UK applications and the cancellation of some summer programs. 

The worst case scenario (if normal business activity resumes by the end of August or later) would see “all activities disrupted with significant impact on mobility to the UK.” 

Fraser Deas, head of education services (China) at British Council, said during a talk at the English UK conference that the chances of the best case scenario are very low. 

“I think we can pretty confidently say that that is not going to be the case, which means there is going to be some disruptions. 

“We really thought that the baseline is the end of March, and to be honest if it gets to the end of March we will see a lot of cancellations for summer programs. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 

“And obviously if it goes on to the end of April, May and even stretches out to the end of June, that will be a real challenge.”

Deas said that the British Council is advising ELT schools to trust and listen to their agents as much as possible. 

“It’s a very challenging and to be frank, distressing time in China, and whilst if it does mean losses (and course that’s challenging and stressful for you) I think the healthier you can keep your agent relations the better it will be in the long term.”

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AMBA: course fundamentals “must change”

Mar, 02/11/2020 - 03:13

More than three-quarters of global business school leaders believe the fundamentals of the MBA will change within the next five years, and more than two-thirds think the content could be improved, research from the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association has revealed.

The AMBA & BGA business school leaders survey, which polled 358 decision-makers at business schools across the world, showed that a quarter of survey participants do not think their campus is being run as efficiently as it could be.

“These findings demonstrate that… there is scope for improvement in MBA delivery”

As part of the survey, business school leaders were asked how likely or unlikely it is that the fundamentals of the MBA are likely to change within the next 10 years.

Some 77% said they think that it is likely, including two in five (40%) who think that it is ‘very likely’.

Two thirds (67%) agreed that the delivery or content of their MBA program could be improved, although more than half (53%) stated ‘tend to agree’, suggesting that most leaders recognise some scope for improvement.

Slightly more than half (54%) agreed that ‘my business school’s campus is being run as efficiently as it could be’. Conversely, a quarter (25%) disagreed.

‘These findings demonstrate that most leaders believe that MBA delivery methods are likely to evolve over time and that there is scope for improvement in MBA delivery,” said Research and Insight manager at AMBA & BGA, Will Dawes.

Leaders were also asked how important various pieces of technologies would be in running business schools in the next 10 years.

Big data is perceived to be the most important of these technologies, with 95% of business school leaders stating that it is important, followed by experiential learning (94%), digitalisation (93%) and AI (86%).

When asked about the introduction of automation almost half (47%) said their school is prepared, while the same proportion (47%) said they are not prepared.

When asked about some technologies, most leaders said that their institutions are not prepared to embrace the technology: three in five said that their school is unprepared for the introduction of augmented reality (63%) and virtual reality (60%).

Leaders in India said they are particularly confident that their schools are successful in delivering technological change, and were more likely to strongly agree that their business school has developed new and innovative ways of delivering programmes (63% versus 25% of leaders worldwide).

They are also more likely to agree that their business school is fully prepared for opportunities that the fourth industrial revolution will offer (63% vs. 35% overall).

Other regions where leaders are more likely to agree that their business school is fully prepared for opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution include China (71%) and Africa (50%).

“Some schools do not necessarily believe that they are as advanced in their journey to introduce new technology”

It is important to note that leaders from no single region held significantly negative perceptions of technology delivery, the research paper explained.

However, leaders from North America and the Caribbean and Europe (excluding the UK) are more likely to think that their business school is not doing well at ‘using new technology to deliver teaching and learning’ (50% and 37% respectively versus 32% overall.)

“These results are further evidence of mixed levels of confidence in whether MBA curricula meet the needs of the biggest tech employers,” said Dawes.

“Leaders are broadly optimistic about the future of the sector… [but] some schools do not necessarily believe that they are as advanced in their journey to introduce new technology into their institutions as they could be.

“Yet it is also clear that schools are gearing themselves up to introduce new technological concepts and see the opportunities that this presents,” he added.

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Family in US takes in student from Wuhan; global efforts made to quell wider anxiety

Lun, 02/10/2020 - 09:39

A heartwarming tale about a US host family which offered to take in a Chinese student from Wuhan as he underwent a period of self-isolation has been a welcome antidote to general concerns being documented in the industry about Chinese student anxiety in the wake of the coronavirus fallout.

Yidi arrived in the US at the end of January, just as authorities were realising the true global threat posed by the airborne virus.

He was a student enrolling with UTP High Schools and Beth Drake, chief operating officer at UTP, explained to The PIE News that she made the decision to restrict Yidi – along with Bo, his Chinese roommate – to a period of isolation before joining classes with the rest of their group.

“I had the uncomfortable phone call with the host to ask if she would consider hosting this student when he did come from Wuhan, and she would be technically living with him during an incubation period,” Drake explained.

“She embraced the challenge and has been exceptional.”

The students now have the all clear and have rejoined their group in classes at Saint Anthony’s, where 300 international students are within the school as part of their UTP program.

Drake acknowledged that UTP had worked with Saint Anthony’s and their student body of nearly 3,000 high schools students and their parents.

“We have worked in lockstep with our faculty and administrators to make sure our Chinese students feel welcome and safe,” she related. “Across the entire student body we have worked to inform as best as possible during this rapidly evolving situation.”

The story is set against a backdrop of growing concerns over Asian students fearing they may be victims of negative profiling on school campuses.

As concerns over the novel coronavirus continue to mount, education providers have implemented a range of contingency measures to help discourage such instances of racism and xenophobia.

His Asian Canadian friends had been told to move away or cover their mouths

In the UK, UKCISA’s chief executive, Anne Marie Graham, confirmed that there had been cases of abuse against Chinese students, with the organisation directing students to use their student advice phone line.

At Arizona State University, which counts more than 3,000 people from Chinese among its student body, ASU president Michael Crow told local media there are concerns about students feeling racially profiled as a result of “uninformed behaviour” after one confirmed case of the virus was confirmed there last month.

In Canada, a Chinese-Canadian student at the University of Toronto told the CBC his Asian Canadian friends had been told to move away or cover their mouths. “[It’s] this idea of ‘yellow peril,’ of this Chinese horde coming to destroy Western civilisation,” the student explained.

Universities Canada has asked its members to “remain mindful” that the risk of infection remains relatively low.

“Universities across the country are collaborating with public health agencies and communicating widely with students, staff and faculty to share the most up-to-date information and health advice… while remaining mindful that the risk associated with the virus remains low for Canada and Canadian travellers,” it said in a statement.

In Ireland, Douglas Proctor, director of UCD Global at University College Dublin, told The PIE that with 1,200 students in China via their TNE activity, there is “significant engagement” in the country and they had been working with government agencies and partners.

English UK reminded its member centres to focus on “goodwill” in its business dealings with Chinese study travel businesses

“We are alert but not alarmed, and putting in all of the necessary contingency plans” he said, adding that with no travel ban currently in place in Ireland, or a start to a new academic year, there have not been the same dimensions to contend with as in other countries.

Referencing reports from other countries of Chinese students feeling anxious about being targeted because of their nationality, he said the situation was more muted in Ireland. “We have not needed to remind the UCD community about tolerance and inclusion,” he said.

In the UK, English UK also reminded its member centres to focus on “goodwill” in its business dealings with Chinese study travel businesses, as cancellations would be inevitable as the travel ban in China continued.

A Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group meeting on the coronavirus situation was held, during which traveller-facing organisations have been urged to refund cancelled Chinese trips if possible.

Huan Japes, English UK’s membership director, who attended the TIER meeting, said: “We have a very strong message that while small businesses such as language schools may have certain sunk costs which make refunds more difficult, everyone is strongly encouraged to start by offering credit and moving to a refund if necessary.

“It’s important for the members of all tourism associations, including English UK, show compassion, goodwill and understanding and consider everyone’s long-term as well as short-term interests. We should all remember that Chinese business is relationship-based and it has taken a long time and a great deal of hard work to get us to this point.”

He said it was particularly important for English UK members choosing to cancel booked Chinese students to explain the reasoning clearly and with sensitivity and provide a refund.

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ICEF Secondary Education event a “success”

Lun, 02/10/2020 - 07:41

The first annual ICEF Secondary Education event which took place from January 20 to 22 has been described as an “overwhelming success” by those in attendance.

Directed at international providers and student recruitment agents of secondary, boarding, high school, academic summer camp, foundation and junior programs, the inaugural event welcomed 417 participants from 313 organisations to Long Beach, California.

“It was great to have a high school agent-focused event for my sector”

Markus Badde, CEO of ICEF, explained that due to the demand for foreign higher education qualifications, the market for secondary studies abroad has grown steadily over the past decade.

“Most major study destinations continue to report strong growth in enrolment for foreign diploma-seeking students,” Badde noted.

“A number of our secondary education customers – providers as well as secondary focused agents – have been asking us for quite some time now to organise a specific ICEF event catering to this market.”

The seminar program included sessions on the emotional wellbeing of international students and a panel discussion comparing secondary education systems across the world, as well as the education markets in Canada and New Zealand.

The event also facilitated over 4,000 one-to-one business meetings, as well as ample networking opportunities and a formal dinner.

“I really liked the length of the one-to-one meetings, [and] there was time to have a good chat and make notes to follow-up,” commented Rachel Fenton of Auckland Grammar School.

“It was great to have a high school agent-focused event for my sector, lots of new opportunities to explore further.”

Commenting on his experience, Evan Barnhart of Redwood Christian Middle School & High School in San Francisco said: “Apparently this was a first-time event for ICEF, but you would never have known it.

“Quality agents, combined with an excellent venue, creates an opportunity for growth.”

In subsequent years, the event will be held around the world to showcase different regions and secondary education destinations, with the 2021 event scheduled for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Erasmus+ “10m participants and counting”

Lun, 02/10/2020 - 04:21

Over the last three decades, more than 10 million people have participated in a potentially life-changing Erasmus+ experience, with some 470,000 students, trainees and staff spending a period abroad during the 2017/2018 academic year alone, a new European Commission report has revealed.

The Erasmus+ Annual Report 2018, which covers the fifth year of the European Union’s flagship Erasmus+ program, highlighted “yet another record year” in 2018, with a budget of €2.8 billion marking a 10% funding increase compared to 2017.

“[Erasmus+] is one of the EU’s most tangible achievements”

According to the report, in 2018 Erasmus+ funded more than 23,500 projects and overall, it supported the mobility of over 850,000 students, apprentices, teachers, and youth workers.

“Nearly 10% of the 470,000 students, trainees, and staff in higher education who received a grant during the 2017/2018 academic year, travelled to and from partner countries across the world,” the report read.

In addition to university students and staff, Erasmus+ “supported 40,000 teachers and school staff, 148,000 vocational education and training learners, 8,400 adult education staff, and 155,000 young people and youth workers”.

The report also noted that work on the digitalisation of administrative processes associated with Erasmus+, in particular regarding higher education, also continued throughout 2018.

The Erasmus+ Mobile App  – described as a “digital one-stop-shop for students” – provides a range of services that eased student’s periods of mobility, such as allowing them to sign learning agreements online and access Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support, an online language course in 24 EU languages.

“Students and other Erasmus+ participants have downloaded and installed the Erasmus+ mobile app more than 73,000 times since its launch in mid-2017,” the report explained.

“More than 530,000 people have benefitted from online language training since 2014, among them almost 8,000 newly arrived refugees.”

In May 2018, the Commission presented its proposal for an ambitious new Erasmus program, seeking to double the budget to €30 billion in the EU’s next long-term budget for the period 2021-2027.

Speaking at the opening of a stakeholder event on the new Erasmus+ program, commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said it has become “a gateway to Europe and to the world” for younger generations.

It is “one of the EU’s most tangible achievements: uniting people across the continent, creating a sense of belonging and solidarity, raising qualifications, and improving the prospects of participants,” Gabriel added.

In terms of participating countries, France was the top sending country of higher education students in 2017/18 with 47,811, followed by Germany (42,398), Spain (40,226), Italy (38,682) and Turkey (17, 957) rounding out the top five.

However, Spain was the most popular receiving country with 51,321 higher education students in 2017/18, followed by Germany (34,539), the UK (31,877), France (29,833) and Italy (27,945).

Despite the popularity of the UK as an Erasmus+ destination – and the number six HE student sending country in 2017/18 – the country’s future participation in the program was called into question earlier this month when members of the UK parliament voted against a clause that would have required the government to seek to negotiate continuing full membership of the program.

But while prime minister Boris Johnson has downplayed fears, stating that “there is no threat to the Erasmus scheme”, the University Council of Modern Languages has highlighted that some UK universities have made financial guarantees to reassure worried students and European partners.

“The students who stand to lose the most are those who cannot afford to travel without financial support”

According to a report by The Guardian, Newcastle University has earmarked £1.4 million to underwrite Erasmus+ exchanges for the 400 students who will study abroad during the 2020/21 academic year, and said it will continue to receive European students in that year regardless of what happens politically.

Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK said that without continued access to the Erasmus+ program, 17,500 students a year could lose out on the opportunity to gain international experience.

“Because Erasmus+ placements are funded, the students who stand to lose the most are those who cannot afford to travel without financial support,” she added.

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US SEVP data shows slight int’l student decrease in 2018

Lun, 02/10/2020 - 03:27

The latest US Student and Exchange Visitor Program data has revealed that despite a slight decline in the number of visa-holding international students in 2018, the total number of records for active students in the country was more than 1.5 million, with 75% “calling Asia home”.

According to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, in 2018 international students on F-1 or M-1 visas for both academic and vocational studies hailed from 232 countries and pursued 1,347 different primary majors in the US.

However, overall student records were down 1.7% in 2018, reaching a total of 1,551,373.

“Only the continents of South America and Australia/Pacific Islands saw growth in the student population”

The data, released in a report and via an interactive map, showed Asia remained the top continent of origin for international students with 75% (1,165,483) of the total in 2018 but marked a 1.9% decrease on 2017 figures.

SEVIS data showed that China (478,732), India (251,290) and South Korea (88,867) sent the largest number of students in both 2017 and 2018.

Of these countries, only the number of students from India increased from 2017 to 2018 (4,157), while the number of students from China (-147) and South Korea (-6,403) decreased over the same period.

Rounding out the top five sending countries were Saudi Arabia and Japan, both of which sent fewer students (-10,879 and -2,138 respectively) in 2018.

While Europe was the second most popular continent of origin with 129,407 records in total, like Asia, it saw a decrease in the number of students studying in the US (-3,474 on 2017 figures).

However, there was fluctuation across different European countries, with enrolments from Germany (-600), Sweden (-536) and the UK (-461) declining, while numbers from Spain (141), Greece (83) and Albania (116) increased.

North America saw the largest proportional decline in the number of student records in 2018, decreasing by 2,736 from 2017 to 2018, resulting in 90,249 students studying in the US in 2018.

Africa also saw a drop in student numbers (-110), marking a total of 67,731 students in 2018.

“Only the continents of South America and Australia/Pacific Islands saw growth in the student population, increasing by 2,703 (3.2%) and 102 (1%) records respectively,” noted a report on the data.

The number of students coming into the US from South America reached 88,338, with “growth from Brazil (3,927), Peru (211), Colombia (154) and Chile (142) helped to counterbalance the decrease in enrolment from Venezuela (- 1,977)” according to the report.

Meanwhile, there were 10,008 active student records from the Australia/Pacific Islands, with 96% of these enrolments hailing from Australia (7,257) and New Zealand (2,324).

SEVIS noted that the majority (85%) of international students on F-1 or M-1 visas pursued higher education degree programs in 2018, equating to about 1.3 million records, which is on par with 2017 numbers.

A total of 145,564 students that reported working via optional practical training in 2018 (a 5% decrease on 2017) and 69,650 in STEM OPT (up 8%), while 151,525 (up 14%) were engaged in Curricular Practical Training as part of their studies.

Overall, California hosted 302,073 students – the largest percentage (19.5%) of any US state.

New York, Texas and Massachusetts each hosted more than 100,000 students and rounded out the top states for enrolment in 2018.

Assistant dean, International Strategy and Programs at San Diego State University World Campus, Eddie West told The PIE News that the state’s proximity to Asia is one of the key reasons that California remains one of the most attractive international student destinations in the US.

“The data shows that the vast majority of international students in the States are from Asia, and from cost of flights and time to travel-perspectives, the West Coast is appealing to students in the Pacific Rim,” he said.

“Also, California is home to big immigrant populations from Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and India – and so there are many family and friend connections here in the Golden State that serve as natural pull factors.”

West told The PIE that the sheer number of multi-cultural and inclusive communities in California are a big draw for international students the world over.

“San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are known to be open, inclusive and diverse places”

“It’s an unfortunate reality that with the political climate in the States being what it is many international students and parents are rightly concerned about their safety and whether they might be the targets of anti-immigrant sentiment while here,” he noted.

“San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are known to be open, inclusive and diverse places, and I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of that today.”

With regards K-12 programs of study, SEVIS revealed that 84,840 students were enrolled, with about 92% in secondary school programs (grades 9-12).

China sent more K-12 students (42,122) than any other country – comprising about half of the K-12 international student population in 2018 – with South Korea, Vietnam, Mexico and Brazil rounding out the top five.

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BSA launches certified agent scheme

Vie, 02/07/2020 - 08:07

The Boarding Schools’ Association has launched a new agent certification scheme to help boarding schools ensure they are working with agents who have the “highest standards” in recruitment, safeguarding and student placement.

As part of the scheme, agents will receive regular updates from BSA on training, changes to legislation (including UKVI). They will also sign up to a code of conduct. 

“By introducing a certified scheme we aim to provide reassurance and a kitemark of excellence to students”

BSA is the largest association of boarding schools in the world and represents more than 600 independent and state boarding schools, over 500 of which are based in the UK. 

“The BSA Certified Agent Scheme has been designed for education consultants and agents who are seeking valuable accreditation and a kitemark of quality,” said Aileen Kane, chief operating officer at BSA. 

“In addition to this, the scheme provides unrivalled access to every UK boarding school and the greater BSA membership. 

“Safeguarding is the number one priority for all boarding schools, and we designed the BSA Certified Agent Scheme with this in mind.

“By introducing a certified scheme we aim to provide reassurance and a kitemark of excellence to students coming to study at our schools,” she added.

Kane explained that BSA certification will provide agents with the necessary tools and information required to be the “best of the best” when it comes to student recruitment. 

“BSA will provide training and updates on UKVI, boarding school standards and safeguarding legislation. Our schools will also benefit from the scheme as it will provide a definitive list of reliable, well-trained and assessed agents with which to partner,” she added. 

The BSA code of conduct has 17 points that agents are required to follow. These rules include agencies having to have a good knowledge of the visa application process and an ability to provide support with UKVI paperwork. 

The rules also require agents to ensure that any overseas pupil introduced to a school has a guardian arrangement in place with the UK who will take responsibility for the pupil during exeats and other holidays and organise or facilitate travel arrangements to and from the school.

In 2019, Robin Fletcher, chief executive at the BSA, argued for a review of the Department for Education’s minimum standards for boarding schools. 

“At the moment, schools do not have to get involved directly in [the] guardianship area, and a lot of schools do not, and leave it to parents to get a guardian

“Not all schools even recommend using an AEGIS accredited guardian,” he told delegates at the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students conference in Birmingham.

The BSA Certified Agent Scheme costs £3,000 to register plus £250 membership per year, which includes registration for three years and a host of other benefits.

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CISAustralia launches climate change initiative

Vie, 02/07/2020 - 04:14

Study abroad organiser CISAustralia, the Australian branch of CIS Abroad, has introduced the ‘Green Book’ initiative to inform students as to how they help combat climate change while studying overseas.

The initiative aims to help students to think about how they can reduce their carbon footprint due to the high contribution that travel makes to carbon emissions.

“We have tried to invent a tool where students can go overseas with minimal impact”

“We have tried to invent a tool where students can go overseas, with minimal impact, learn about local environmental challenges and even further immerse themselves in the local culture,” founder and executive director of CISAustralia, Brad Dorahy, said in a statement.

The Green Book initiative contains facts, figures and tips to help educate students going abroad and provides further information on how they can continue to make a positive impact after they return home.

He told The PIE News: “we workshopped the idea and knew we needed something as our customers were really wanting to engage with the environment and learn more about it”.

He said the initiative has been greatly received with partner universities now including it in their pre-departure material along with professional bodies in both the US and UK wanting to learn more about it.

“Climate systems are changing rapidly as a result of human activity, primarily from burning fossil fuels. Record high temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events are occurring in Australia and all around the world,” Dorahy stated.

He further stressed that “much of the world’s progress has been powered by economic growth which has come with a heavy environmental price tag attached and we are now stretching the earth’s resources to the breaking point”.

He also emphasised that while the small steps people make may not seem like they have a great impact, “the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference” will encourage people to continue making those small changes.

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US: fear for the future of HE as “too little time” spent on int’l recruitment

Vie, 02/07/2020 - 03:37

One in four private, nonprofit US college board members believes their institution is spending “too little time” recruiting international students, while around 20% of public institution trustees say the same, according to a report from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Featuring a survey of 919 AGB members, the report found that over two-thirds of trustees believe recent changes to US immigration laws have had “some impact on the number of international students enrolled at their institution or system”.

It showed that 22% reported a “major impact”, while around 50% of trustees reported a “minor impact” from the policy shifts on international student enrolment.

“I expect that we will see renewed efforts to recruit international students, although it will be more difficult”

Additionally, the report also revealed that trustees are increasingly showing concern about the future of the US higher education sector.

Around 85% of those surveyed said that they had concerns in 2019 – up from 73% in 2018 – with financial sustainability and price for students and their families as the most pressing areas.

Meanwhile, about a quarter of private nonprofit board members said “too little time” is spend recruiting international students, while 20% of public institution trustees said the same.

But vice president/ vice provost of International Affairs at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Cheryl Matherly, said that suggesting too little time is being spent recruiting international students “oversimplifies the issue”.

She reminded that between 2001–2018, the number of internationally mobile students increased from 2.1 million to 5 million globally, while the US’s share declined from 28% to 21%.

Matherly told The PIE  that factors contributing to the stagnation of international student enrolments in US institutions include visa application delays, the uncertainty of the political climate, rising costs of US college and university tuition, more competition with other countries, and concern for physical safety in the country.

In a competitive market, the US will not “reverse this trend by simply spending more time on recruiting without considering larger forces reshaping the global higher education landscape”, she explained.

“It is well known that the enrolment of international students at US universities bailed out many institutions, especially public institutions, after the 2008 recession,” Matherly continued.

“However, given the issues affecting international students’ decisions regarding study in the US, it is unlikely that we could depend upon this in the next downturn,” she said, adding that she was surprised the ABG report did not mention the “looming demographic cliff” that is coming in 2025.

“The number of students attending college is projected to crater between 2025 and 2029 by 15%, and this is going to put much more pressure on institutions to find creative ways to fill empty seats,” Matherly noted.

“I expect that we will see renewed efforts to recruit international students, although it will be more difficult than in the past.”

She said that US institutions that find successful ways to stabilise enrolments, including international student enrolments, will “be best prepared for this period ahead”.

Associate vice provost for international education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, David Di Maria, argued that too little time is spent engaging in “strategic international recruitment”, rather than recruiting international students.

He cited a 2018 NAFSA survey that revealed that 32% of respondents indicated that their institution spent less than US$10,000 annually on international recruitment travel.

“Most institutions lack a campus-wide international enrolment management plan – 0nly 18% according to the NAFSA survey,” Di Maria told The PIE.

“Having no plan and no resources dedicated to international recruitment makes an institution highly vulnerable to external factors, such as the rise and fall of government scholarship programs.”

Di Maria added that STEM institutions, in particular, are reliant on international students for funding.

Both international and domestic students are concerned about finding a job post-graduation, and there is pressure for institutions to demonstrate the ROI of their degrees, Matherly at LU indicated – a sentiment echoed by Di Maria.

“In the US, we have a situation where the cost of education continues to rise while the return – such as practical training programs and post-graduation work opportunities – is perceived to be less certain,” he noted.

“Having no resources dedicated to international recruitment makes an institution highly vulnerable”

The AGB report also found that only 35% of respondents agree that US college graduates have the skills they need to be competitive in the global economy.

With only around 10% of US undergraduates participating in an education abroad experience before they graduate, it is more pressing to ensure that they interact with international students in the country, Di Maria said.

“We can’t rely on outbound mobility alone to prepare our graduates to succeed in the global economy.

“International students bring unique perspectives to our classrooms, laboratories and communities. In effect… they help make global learning more accessible to all,” he added.

Both Matherly and Di Maria contend that US institutions should consider pushing ahead transnational education strategies, going forward.

Di Maria said he implored US institutions to “explore models for offering academic programs abroad via transnational education”, as by doing so, he believes colleges would help to deal with two barriers to international student enrolment: cost and visa denials.

“I am expecting that we will see more US institutions offering expanded online programs, degrees offered outside the US, and other hybrid options, in an effort to deliver a high quality US degree at a lower price point,” Matherly told The PIE.

“US higher education is very complex, and leadership is grappling with a number of issues that are reshaping the industry in very significant ways,” she said, adding, “‘business as usual’ is not an option.”

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Trump travel ban extension raises concern

Jue, 02/06/2020 - 07:09

US president Donald Trump has added six more countries to his administration’s visa and travel ban – including Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria – to the dismay of international education professionals in the US.

Citizens from Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria will no longer be issued immigrant visa, while “certain nationals” of Sudan and Tanzania will be unable to participate in the ‘Visa Lottery’.

“As international educators…we are deeply disturbed by this latest travel ban expansion”

Although the extension of the ban will reportedly not restrict international students from entering the US, members of the country’s international education sector are concerned it will mar the USA’s reputation.

“As international educators committed to fostering a peaceful, more welcoming US, we are deeply disturbed by this latest travel ban expansion and the message it sends: that the US is not a place that welcomes or respects people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” said NAFSA’s executive director and CEO, Esther D. Brimmer.

The latest iteration of the ban will “undoubtedly accelerate the alarming decline of international students in the US”, she added.

The Trump administration claims the security and travel proclamations have “immeasurably improved” national security and “dramatically strengthened” the integrity of the US immigration system.

The number of international students in the US has shrunk by more than 10% over the last three years, Brimmer continued.

“Policies like these and the unwelcoming rhetoric from some of our nation’s leaders continue to hinder our ability to succeed in today’s global competition for talent,” she said.

According to NAFSA, more than 17,000 international students and scholars from the six countries generated around US$619 million in economic activity in 2019.

“While some may claim that by preventing legitimate travel from these countries is a necessary precaution… foreign policy leaders for decades have agreed that true security lies in understanding the nature of specific threats and focusing on individuals who mean to cause us harm—not in preventing entire nationalities from entering the US,” Brimmer added.

Speaking with The PIE News, professor of Educational Policy Studies & Practice at the University of Arizona, Jenny Lee, warned that the extended travel ban is “an extended Muslim ban as well as the beginnings of an African ban”.

The effect would be a narrowing of diversity on US campuses, she added.

“International students from these countries may continue to enter the US, but they are nevertheless directly impacted by the expanded travel ban,” Lee noted.

“The effect would be a narrowing of diversity on US campuses”

“International graduate students especially travel with their families and oftentimes with intentions to stay and apply their advanced degrees. These individuals contribute greatly as an integral part of the US’ highly skilled workforce.”

A “sweeping ban” based on nationality sends a xenophobic message that students are not welcome in the US, Lee added.

“Students from other countries, particularly from these same regions, may also feel uncertain about their future prospects in the US. It is doubtful that this is the last travel ban to come,” she said.

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