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News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education
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Saudi introduces Chinese in schools to boost diversity

Jue, 02/06/2020 - 04:18

Less than 12 months after announcing that Chinese would be introduced into all levels of education in Saudi Arabia, eight schools across the Kingdom have now officially started teaching the language.

The announcement in February 2019 came after Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Beijing during his five-day tour of Asia.

“China will be a close partner of the Kingdom in the process, which strengthens the strong relationship between us”

During the “Teaching Chinese language in Education” workshop in March last year, Saudi minister of Education, Hamad Al-Sheikh, called for a one year intensive program for teachers to be qualified to teach the language.

Having so far graduated 35 students, King Saud University has been teaching Chinese since 2010 and discussed the experience at the workshop.

The list of schools now teaching the language currently include four in Riyadh, two in Jeddah and two in the eastern province.

In a tweet, Saudi education ministry spokesperson Ibtisam Al-Shehri said that “[the introduction] represents the first stage of the ministry’s plan to teach the Chinese language on a larger scale that includes female students” and also made a note that it is not a compulsory subject.

The introduction of the Chinese language comes as an effort to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the two countries and to also increase the diversity within the Kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

In his message for Vision 2030, Saudi crown prince said, “we are determined to reinforce and diversify the capabilities of our economy, turning our key strengths into enabling tools for a fully diverse future”.

Chinese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chen Weiqing, wrote to the crown prince in a tweet and said that “[he hopes] the younger generation in the Kingdom will be fluent in Chinese, love Chinese culture, and embrace an honourable future for the two friendly countries”.

He further thanked the MoE and stated that “China will be a close partner of the Kingdom in the process, which strengthens the strong relations between [them].”

The post Saudi introduces Chinese in schools to boost diversity appeared first on The PIE News.

Global risk to revenue as coronavirus crisis closes borders

Mié, 02/05/2020 - 17:40

Travel restrictions imposed by three major international study destinations, the US, Australia and New Zealand, are sending tremors throughout the sector as institutions heavily reliant on Chinese student fee income grapple with how to deliver an education to students who cannot travel as expected.

Australia and New Zealand are significantly impacted with the start of a new academic year coinciding with the travel restrictions imposed.

“We are working around the clock to consult with clients”

While Australian regulators have touted online study as one possible short-term solution, Adrian Mutton, CEO of Sannam S4 which runs a large operation in India, told The PIE News that in the US, some of his clients are also considering more recruitment resources elsewhere as they look ahead.

“We are working around the clock to consult with clients as they deal with an unprecedented risk to usual migration patterns out of China, and no one knows when business as usual will resume,” he said.

The US travel ban, which came into effect on February 2, curtails anyone except immediate family members of US citizens and permanent residents from entering the country.

Esther D Brimmer, CEO of NAFSA, commented, “What is clear is that this public health crisis and any future response will have wide-reaching and dramatic effects on international education immediately and in the long-term.”

There are close to 370,000 Chinese students studying in the US, bringing in a value of US$14 billion.

Ravi Ammigan, associate deputy provost at UD Global, part of the University of Delaware, told The PIE that 300 of their Chinese students had experienced delays in their return to campus – and that online study was a solution being explored here too.

“Our Office for International Students and Scholars has been working closely with Student Health Services, the Dean of Students Office, and representatives from various academic departments to provide guidance to these students on how they can continue to make progress towards their academic goals while they wait to return to campus,” he said. “This includes the option of completing courses digitally when appropriate.”

“They could be looking at reappraising marketing and recruitment activities planned”

Another college commentator told The PIE that while anticipating how this could play out was difficult, they expected they – like many institutions – could be looking at reappraising marketing and recruitment activities planned, especially if trips to China will not be possible.

The decision from the US to temporarily ban Chinese visitors provoked a comparison being made with its neighbour, Canada, from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A ministry spokesperson praised Canada for not following the USA’s example, claiming the country had “inappropriately overreacted”.

However, the US isn’t the only top student destination to ban travellers from China, with New Zealand and Australian governments having imposed similar bans.

The NZ International Students’ Association said the sudden ban, which came into force on February 2 – just eight hours after it was announced – will “destroy New Zealand’s image as an international education destination”.

And in Australia’s University of Sydney, more than 4,000 international students have signed a petition to delay the start of the university semester due to the government’s announcement that foreign nationals who have travelled through China since the beginning of February will be barred from entering the country for 14 days.

President of the student representative council, Liam Donohoe, said the ban would unfairly disadvantage international students returning for the start of the year.

“This travel ban will significantly disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, who are central to student communities at the University of Sydney and beyond,” Donohoe said in a statement.

“Many of these students are losing out on learning, work, relationships, and communities, and may never return.”

Globally, institutions have also been making plans to discourage travel to China for study abroad experiences.

At Princeton University, over 100 students and staff reportedly self-quarantined as a precaution following recent visits to the country, while a statement explaining that outbound university-sponsored travel to mainland China would “not be approved for faculty, staff, and students until further notice” was posted on the university website.

Meanwhile, Boston University has reportedly postponed its study abroad program at Fudan University in Shanghai that was due to begin on February 12, “indefinitely”.

“Many Chinese agents may not open their offices to students for at least another two weeks”

BU vice president and associate provost for Global Programs, Willis Wang, explained that of the 21 undergraduate students enrolled on the program, almost all had made alternative plans, “with several students already back on campus in Boston and attending classes, some heading to our Dublin program, and a few seeking opportunities among our many direct exchange programs”.

Gavin Newton-Tanzer, president of Sunrise International based in China, shared a newsletter sent to partners with details of a webinar the company is holding on February 12.

“The fluid situation has made formulating an official response challenging for many universities,” he acknowledged.

“Travel restrictions have limited standardised testing for students and curtailed recruitment travel to China. Meanwhile, many Chinese agents may not open their offices to students for at least another two weeks, requiring a hasty migration to online counselling or missing a crucial period in the enrolment cycle.”

The post Global risk to revenue as coronavirus crisis closes borders appeared first on The PIE News.

Johan Asplund, DreamStudies, Sweden

Mié, 02/05/2020 - 10:18
Having started out as a high school teacher of English, history and computer science, Johan Asplund has been working in the study abroad industry since 2002. He started his business DreamStudies as a means of combining his knowledge of the industry with his understanding of the web and modern technology – and to provide information for students interested in study abroad. Asplund spoke to The PIE about trends in the Scandinavian market and the changes he’s witnessed in student recruitment.


The PIE: Johan you’re an agent from Sweden. Tell me a bit more about what you do.

Johan Asplund: For 15 years I was with Blueberry Worldwide, a Swedish agency which I co-founded together with Stefan Engström back in 2002. I left in 2016. When I started DreamStudies, I didn’t just want to do a blueprint of what I’d been doing for the past 15 years.

“That’s one of the things that I like most – creating good content that helps students”

I don’t only recruit students from Sweden, but from all over the world. I actually had requests from 170 different nationalities last year. But of course, 50% of them are from Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries – Finland, Norway primarily– are also some of my bigger nationalities.

The PIE: In terms of the difference between recruiting Scandinavian students and the rest of the world: I understand that the rest of the world is recruited online, mainly. How have you been promoting that?

JA: I have eight or nine websites, but DreamStudies is my main website in English – in Swedish. They rank quite well. I worked a lot with SEO for many years.

I also have a different approach to ordinary agencies. Most of them are really good at helping students with the limited number of schools that they offer, which could be, 50, 60, 70 schools. And I think at least on the Swedish market, many agencies promote the same schools. I turned that concept on its head a bit.

So instead of only helping students who ask for my particular schools, I start out by giving students a lot of free information online about studying abroad, regardless of where they want to study.

The PIE: So how does your face-to-face consulting work?

JA: That’s mostly through student fairs – all the big student fairs in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Then we go out to visit high schools primarily in Sweden. We also do information evenings; we have Study in Korea evenings coming up in Stockholm, for example, together with a Korean University. Otherwise, it’s mostly online.

“I have a different approach to ordinary agencies”

I don’t take student visits to my office as an ordinary agency would do. We hand over students to the schools at an earlier stage because I feel many schools are used to direct students. So they have people in place to help students. They are the best ones to answer questions like, “what’s included in this course? Do I have a refrigerator in my accommodation?” But it’s very hard for a school to know which fairs to attend in Scandinavia, or how to actually find the students here.

The PIE: Since you entered the business in 2002, how has the sector changed in terms of recruitment online?

JA: Everything has changed. SEO was basically being born about the time we started out. And that’s actually one of our early success factors with Blueberry. We were a small company but online, we could compete.

Since then, of course, it’s been much more mobile-focused and you had the big algorithm changes in Google back in 2012. Before it was more about links with people buying and selling links. It was easier to manipulate back then.

Now, for me, I like the current system. Of course, you can still do a lot of things to rank in Google. But it’s not about buying links anymore, it’s more content-focused. I like that because that’s one of the things that I like most – creating good content that helps students and at the same time, I also help myself rank. So it’s kind of a win-win.

I tell my schools that if students don’t find the prices, the start dates, where you can study etc on their website, then they’re gone. To really sell, you also need to capture their heart. But if you don’t do step one, then you’ve already lost.

What I find is a bit more troublesome as an agency these days is that Generation Z doesn’t commit to much. Say I have an info evening about Korea, and I get 40 people signing up and I think, “oh, great, I should get this big venue”. But then on the day, only 20 people actually show up.

That’s been a very big change because go back 10 years, if I had 40 people signed up, 35 people would come. And I can see even when students contact you these days, they can be reaching out to many schools and many agencies at the same time.

“The [language school market] has gone down a lot with the exception of Japan, Korea”

The PIE: In terms of Scandinavian students, can you tell me about trends?

JA: One very clear trend which makes many schools sad is that the language school market’s gone down longterm. In Norway, it’s never been big. But in Sweden, it used to be big. Now, there’s like 2,500 Swedish students per year going with government CSN funding on language courses abroad.

When I started in this industry, maybe three times that. Back then you could only get CSN for courses that were 13 weeks or longer. Now within the EU, you can get it from three weeks. So actually there should be more CSN-students now than before, and not the opposite. The [language school market] has gone down a lot with the exception of Japan, Korea – which are really hot markets.

One big trend in higher education is Scandinavian students studying medicine abroad. And other subjects that are hard to get in Sweden and Norway like design. Now it’s also quite common that universities and colleges take study abroad students for one or two semesters, which is a great thing.

You graduate from high school and think, “I want to get the American college experience. I don’t know what I want to do”. Just go take a dance course, a programming class, a marketing class and a psychology course, and see what you like. So many students do that instead of taking a language course. And then, of course, nowadays there’s also more – work and travel, volunteering, all these different options.

“One big trend in higher education is Scandinavian students studying medicine abroad”

Higher education is really the big thing in Scandinavia. And for Sweden, I would say it’s studying abroad, primarily short term 1-2 semester programs, not so much master’s or even undergrad.

The PIE: What are your biggest difficulties? 

JA: The market is very price sensitive. Education is free in Sweden and the Swedish CSN system is good. I get a lot of questions about scholarships and free education. And of course, I want to help students in different ways.

DreamStudies even has a small scholarship for students. But on the other hand, we also often live on commissions. Schools pay us to help them to get fee-paying students. So that’s a catch 22. The school really has to offer something attractive, location-wise and program wise; both preferably.

With my concept in DreamStudies, I want to help everyone. I have this FAQ section on my website where students can ask a question about almost everything. But I don’t take that kind of question by e-mail because then I would drown!

I don’t aim to become a big agency with a lot of employees. I prefer to keep it smaller, do smart solutions and work with outsourcing, even cooperate more with other agencies, schools, companies, and look at different opportunities.

If I and my partner schools don’t offer a requested program, then maybe another agency does, then I can partner with them and get some kickback, and we help the student. That’s the core of what we do, we still want to help the student.

“Education is free in Sweden and the Swedish CSN system is good”

The PIE: Do you think the way you have changed the way your company operates will become the norm in the future?

JA: You have to be open-minded to technology and to change in technology, but also changing people. Young people today are not like we were back then. I feel many agencies just put their old brochure online. They still kind of do what they have always been doing.

I’m trying to take the best of both traditional agencies and platforms. It’s definitely still an agency kind of service, but a newer, different, more modern one, but by no means perfect. It’s really been a lot of trial and error, and I keep improving and looking for better solutions all the time.

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Ireland: ICOS launches election manifesto

Mié, 02/05/2020 - 08:28

As Ireland prepares for a general election on February 8, the Irish Council for International Students has released a pre-election manifesto warning that action must be taken by the incoming government to ensure that the country’s position as a popular study destination is sustained.

International students play an important role in Irish higher education and may be worth up to €2billion to the economy.

But despite their importance, ICOS points out that international students are a low political priority as they have no vote, except for in the local elections.

“A big part of our success is our reputation for high-quality education”

Speaking at the launch of the manifesto, ICOS executive director Sarah Lennon said it is easy to measure the economic impact of international students, but the benefits go beyond financial ones.

“In today’s globalised world, academic and social interaction with students from around the world can be enormously beneficial to all students on campus and provides not just educational benefits, but also career benefits,” said Lennon.

The country’s current International Education Strategy, which expires this year, focuses primarily on the financial impact of international students.

ICOS is now calling for the incoming government to take a range of measures to protect international students, who are often exposed to more hurdles than their domestic counterparts as a result of being in an unfamiliar country and without a natural support network.

Among the requests outlined in the manifesto is financial support for HEIs to improve their mental health services, the introduction of a pathway for highly-skilled international graduates, and for resources to be made available to commence the International Education Mark.

Last week ICOS launched its pre-election manifesto.

In the area of housing, ICOS calls on the next government to significantly increase efforts to provide more affordable and suitable student accommodation for all.

Read full manifesto in the link below.

— Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) (@ICOSirl) February 4, 2020

“Ireland is one of the most globalised countries in the world, and a big part of our success is our reputation for high-quality education and a warm welcome for international visitors,” Lennon continued.

“Without adequate investment in services such as mental health, accommodation and the long-awaited hate-crime legislation, that reputation is at risk and with it, all of the benefits that international students bring.”

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Pearson & UCL launch AI research project

Mié, 02/05/2020 - 03:39

Pearson and UCL Institute of Education have launched a three-year research project that explores the role of AI in English language assessment. 

The research will focus on test-takers’ experience of PTE Academic, Pearson’s English language test, and will explore how AI might be used to improve assessment methods.   

“If you take an English oral exam… you want a system that gives you the marks you deserve”

Commissioned by the PTE research team, the project will be led by UCL associate professors Mary Richardson and Sandra Leaton-Gray.

“If you take an English oral exam, for example, you want a system that gives you the marks you deserve, whether you learned English originating from America, Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Malta or Hong Kong,” said Richardson. 

“All those different, slightly subtle local variations in vocabulary and sentence structure need to be built into the assessment model, so you get a fair mark.

“This is where artificial intelligence can really help us,” she added.

Rose Clesham, director of academic standards, measurement and research for PTE explained that AI provides the potential to “revolutionise” the way people take low and high stakes tests. 

“The thing that excites us is that the use of this technology can transform the way we can authenticate all the skills that we need for English language testing, and therefore potentially other areas as well,” she told The PIE. 

“The use of AI, particularly on a global level, means that we can both assess the skills that we want to test and we can also keep an extremely high level of reliability and accuracy. Now that is the golden ticket in terms of assessment.”

She explained that the collaboration will also try and raise the understanding of what AI means in the context of educational testing.  

“It clearly has this notion of a black box, but at the same time people use AI in their everyday life all the time and so it is really about delineating how we use AI in terms of educational testing compared to how AI is used in other industries,” she added.

PTE Academic is one of the fastest-growing products in Pearson and is a strategic growth priority for the company, posting 17% growth in test volumes last year. 

The test is accepted by the UK, Australian and New Zealand governments for all visa applications. 

Pearson has recently launched PTE Home, a two-skills language test accepted by the UK government for family, settlement or citizenship applications, which tests speaking and listening skills.

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Canada: Nigeria visa scheme is “game changer”

Mar, 02/04/2020 - 06:24

Canada has announced an express visa pilot scheme for prospective international students from Nigeria seeking study at the country’s universities and colleges.

The Nigeria Student Express initiative is aimed at improving processing time for study permit applicants in the African country – with a turnaround of approximately 20 days.

In 2019, Nigeria made 12,000 study permit applications to the country and saw 81% of potential students turned down, the third-highest rate on the African continent.

“I see this [initiative] as a real game-changer for Canadian universities”

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada told The PIE News that a specialised financial verification system will be used to ensure students have sufficient funds to study in Canada.

Prospective students with a letter of admission at a Canadian designated learning institution may use NSE to “apply using a secure financial verification system, MyBank, to show that they have sufficient funds for their studies in Canada,” the spokesperson said.

MyBank is available from principal commercial banks in Nigeria, they added.

“Prospective students in Nigeria can apply online as soon as they have the required documents. As the initiative has just been launched, it is too early to tell how many students will choose this option. We will continue to evaluate the success of the pilot in the coming months.”

Although details are still “being fleshed out”, it doesn’t appear that the initiative will have an additional cost, according to managing director of SJRENNIE Consulting, Stuart Rennie.

“The focus is very much on trying to fast track quality applications,” Rennie noted.

Along with the My Bank verification and an offer from a Canadian Institution, a faster turnaround will be based on students having an upfront medical certificate, IELTS and an international passport.

Rennie has worked with Canadian institutions for a number of years, including Ottawa’s Carleton University working on undergraduate recruitment via leading international schools and agency networks across Ghana and Nigeria.

“I see this [initiative] as a real game-changer for Canadian universities who are looking to increase their presence in Nigeria.

“It will be interesting to see if this is also rolled out to other countries such as Ghana,” Rennie added.

The initiative was introduced to students and parents at the EduCanada fairs in Abuja and Lagos in January 2020.

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UK: Bayswater expands to Liverpool

Mar, 02/04/2020 - 05:09

Bayswater Education, the owner of Bayswater College in London, has acquired a language school in Liverpool, The Language House.

A seven-year-old business, the training provider offers courses in English, Spanish and French in the centre of the popular northern city. Stephan Roussounis, Managing Director of Bayswater Education said, “we are very excited to bring Bayswater College to the northwest of the UK.”

The school will be rebranded to Bayswater later this year to join and continue to teach all three languages currently offered.

But Bayswater will develop a wide range of programs beyond language only, noted Roussounis.

“Our focus on developing a wide range of programs and positioning ourselves as a college and not an English language school is indicative of a shift in the adult market,” he said.

“People increasingly have a higher level English but still want an experience abroad that will benefit their career.”

“People still want an experience abroad that will benefit their career”

Industry veteran Roussounis told The PIE that he was confident in future prospects for UK providers catering for an international clientele.

“We strongly believe in the UK as a destination, and though we were not in favour of Brexit by any means, we believe in the UK as a premium destination for an international education experience,” he said.

Referencing impending post-study work rights due for 2021, he added, “I am sure there will be opportunities in the labour market with the introduction of new immigration routes to the UK that will require a minimum level of English.”

Started in 2013, by Vincent Moog and Sonia Diaz, the school has seven bright, spacious classrooms, a student lounge, library and kitchen in a building that used to be a music shop where the Beatles used to buy their instruments.

The coming months will see the school rebrand to Bayswater College Liverpool, and begin to offer a similar portfolio of its courses to London, including digital marketing

Sarah Byrne, an experienced industry professional from Liverpool, will be joining the Bayswater team as Principal of the Liverpool college.

“Liverpool offers a fantastic blend of culture, friendly locals and great value and makes a superb alternative to London,” she said. “I’m delighted to bring my experience and local knowledge to the Bayswater team.”

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Ontario’s first French-language uni to open

Mar, 02/04/2020 - 04:28

Canadian province Ontario will get its first French-language university in 2021 after the provincial and federal governments signed a new funding agreement in January.

Based in Toronto, the Université de l’Ontario français will be supported by an investment of CAD$126 million over eight years.

“It is an unprecedented step that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Canadians”

Canada’s minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, minister of Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney, and federal minister of Economic Development, Mélanie Joly, signed the historic funding agreement on behalf of the governments of Ontario and Canada on January 22.

In September 2019, the governments of Canada and Ontario signed a MoU formally committing to work together to establish the Université de l’Ontario français.

With this agreement, both governments have affirmed their commitment to addressing the needs of the more than 620,000 Francophones in Ontario.

“The Université de l’Ontario français is an important and long awaited-for project, critical to future generations of Franco-Ontarians,” said Mulroney in a statement.

“The new university is a great example of our government’s commitment to strengthening the Francophone community, investing in its future and ensuring the community’s continued contribution to Ontario’s prosperity.”

“This is a historic day for Franco-Ontarians and Francophones all across Canada,” added Joly.

“It is an unprecedented step that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Canadians who will now have the opportunity to pursue higher education in French here in Ontario and will unite francophones from all regions of our country.”

According to reports, the university will offer programs in human plurality, globalised economy, urban environments, and digital cultures.

Programs in management, communications, social work, law, and psychology are also expected to launch next fall with the help of partnering institutions.

Jason Luckerhoff, vice-president of Program and Knowledge Development told CIC News that the administration is working on creating partnerships with institutions in Africa, Asia, and Europe with the hopes of attracting international students.

Once the partnerships are finalised, students would receive credits that would be recognised at both the Université de l’Ontario français and the affiliated institution.

In addition, students from English-language universities in Canada will be given the opportunity to study in French.

“University students taking programs [in English] could take all their electives at the Université de l’Ontario in French,” Luckerhoff explained.

“Instead of just learning French through language courses they would learn [to communicate] in their field,” he added.

L’Université de l’Ontario français will start accepting applications in April 2020.

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UKVI confirms no overstay penalty for Chinese students

Mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:48

Chinese students unable to return home because of the coronavirus outbreak will not be penalised by UKVI if their visa is set to expire, The PIE has learnt.

UKVI confirmed to UKCISA that they are working on a short-term operational response to issues related to the virus.

“UKVI are on it and basically there should be some kind of mechanism so that students feel reassured that they won’t be treated as overstayers”

It is thought that students who can’t return home will be able to request leave outside of the normal rules. UKVI is expected to release full guidance on February 7.

“Our main queries last week related to students whose flights had been cancelled, and were unable to travel home but whose visas were due to expire,” chief executive of UKCISA Anne Marie Graham told The PIE. 

“We did some work with UKVI last week. UKVI are on it and basically there should be some kind of mechanism so that students feel reassured that they won’t be treated as overstayers if they can’t get home because of the coronavirus.”

Graham added that within the next three months, there’s going to be quite a few students who are due to return home.

In a UKCISA statement, Graham explained that students with visiting family members who are unable to return to China, should get in touch with their UKVI account manager.

The movement of Chinese nationals is also causing issues in the UK’s independent schools sector. The Boarding Schools’ Association has released guidance saying that any child who travels to China, should spend a period of 14 days in the UK before returning to school, and should self-isolate during this time.

Caroline Nixon, general secretary of the BAISIS, said there was also a problem with the parents of students coming to visit their children in the half-term holiday.

“Of course the problem with that is that if the parent comes over to the UK and spends time with the child, if they happen be infected themselves, they might give it to the child and then the child might go back into school,” she said.

UK universities on high alert

The UK’s first case of coronavirus, announced on January 31, involved an international student at the University of York and a family member that had travelled to the UK with him.

Although a spokesperson told The PIE News that “the university is open as usual and will continue to operate normally”, some students voiced concerns over the lack of information they were given on the case.

The university later released a statement asserting that the student in question had not been on campus or attended recent university events.

“For anyone who has concerns our helpline which we set up over the weekend remains in place. We have stepped up messaging across the campus around good hygiene practice and information about the virus, with posters across all colleges, departments and public areas,” a spokesperson said.

“We also have an increased number of hand sanitisers across all colleges, departments and public areas.”

Both the victims are currently being treated in Newcastle while one person who was airlifted out of Wuhan to the UK is currently being tested for the virus after exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

So far universities in the UK have reported that there has been little disruption to classes and their students but they are preparing for any changes.

The University of Nottingham noted that it has temporarily suspended student exchange programs and was reviewing programs “as necessary”.

“But to date [we] have not had any reports of students who have been disadvantaged by the current situation,” noted a press release from the institution.

UKCISA’s Graham flagged that there had been cases of abuse against Chinese students sparked by the outbreak.

“The other thing that obviously we’re very keen to do is make sure that Chinese students feel supported while they’re here in [the] country,” she said.

“Not least because, you know, they might be worried about friends or family who are at home and in the affected region or have travelled to the affected region, but they might be feeling vulnerable here.

“We have been concerned about stories around xenophobia and another attack on students, there’s been one in Sheffield that we’re aware of and we just we just keep an eye on that and trying to get some positive messaging out to reassure the students.”

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Turkey-based BAU Global to increase expansion into UK

Lun, 02/03/2020 - 09:59

Turkey-based private education provider BAU Global is set to expand its operations in the UK by partnering with UK HE institutions, as it seeks to become a degree granting institution in its own right. 

The BAU Global Education Network has six universities, three language schools and 16 liaison offices worldwide, making it one of the largest providers of education in Europe. 

“I believe the heart of the world is not the United States, it is in the UK and London”

It uses this network to offer nearly 200 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and sciences subjects. 

BAU Global recently partnered with MLA, a Plymouth University affiliated distance e-learning company specialising in hydrographic qualifications and other marine/maritime subjects. 

This new affiliation with BAU will see MLA both increase the number of courses it offers and expand the reach of its offerings globally. 

BAU Global’s VP Coskun Ince spoke to The PIE about the importance of the UK for its global strategy. 

“I believe the heart of the world is not the United States, it is in the UK and London,” he explained. 

“The appetite for the rest of the world to come and do business through the UK is great, it’s amazing…

“We found three possible partners that are willing to get the benefits of our know how and experience which we have created over fifty years and they want to open up schools and partner with us.”

Ince explained that because of BAU Global’s partnership program, students can get dual degrees from other institutions in its network.

Through a combination of distance learning and travel, students will be able to experience teaching at different institutions. 

BAU Global is currently waiting to receive degree awarding power. Something that will help it to offer programs in different countries – without depending on affiliate universities. 

“We won’t be depending on another institution to survive in a country,” Ince explained. 

“Currently, MLA is validated by Plymouth University. It’s a good partner, we love these people and they are very happy to partner with us. 

“But having your own degree awarding power means something to the rest of the world and it will add great value to BAU Global.” 

Professor John Chudley, rector of MLA College, said the partnership will “no doubt strengthen the international and intercultural perspective [students] gain through their studies”. 

“This is hugely important when working within the marine industry, which by its very nature is transnational,” Chudley added.

“Partnering with MLA College is a superb opportunity for us to increase the number of courses we offer within the marine sphere,” said Enver Yücel, BAU Global president. 

“With headquarters in the UK, we are thrilled to form strong links within a country that has a longstanding tradition of academic excellence, ensuring our students have access to the best possible resources and tuition. 

“As part of a prestigious Institute that upholds professional standards across the world, we are confident that this partnership will benefit not only our students but also the global marine workforce.”

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Twente opts for English as official language

Lun, 02/03/2020 - 04:32

As of January 1, 2020 University of Twente has become the first university in The Netherlands to make English its official working language.

Following the initial decision made by the executive board back in 2015, UT revised the policy to originally make the change in 2018, which then became effective in 2019 as a year of transition.

“We aim to increase our intake of new international students, particularly in the graduate phase”

Outlined in its language policy, UT states that “the choice of English language is not a goal on its own, but a means for the university to realise its ambition: excellence and cooperation in an international environment”.

While speaking in Dutch is still allowed in informal settings, all employees and students are to now speak in English while on campus and during lectures with all official documents and promotional material to also be in English.

An exception has been made for those courses such as Technical Medicine and Applied Physics that are Dutch-taught  and are to be continued to be taught in “the language of instruction… based on the organisation’s official language”.

The making of English as the official language comes as part of UT’s Vision2020 with a key part of its strategy being to “educate students to become ‘global citizens’ and offer them an international learning environment”.

“We invest in programs that specifically prepare students for an international career, providing opportunities to gain international experience within each educational programs and research project,” the university said.

The strategy further states that UT “aim[s] to increase [its] intake of new international students, particularly in the graduate phase”.

The decision has not gone without criticism however, with an organisation for the improvement of Dutch education, Beter Onderwijs Nederland taking UT to court in 2018 on the basis that the teaching of higher education and research in English broke the laws.

The court later rejected the claim and UT won their case against BON.

The university has further said that any employee that may have difficulty with the change of language will be provided with support and training.

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Survey shows value of peer-to-peer interaction

Lun, 02/03/2020 - 02:17

New research has revealed that peer-to-peer interactions influence the majority of students (57%) when deciding where to apply to study, compared to 47% citing friends and family as the most influential reference.

Conducted by Intead and Unibuddy, the research draws on surveys from 370,000 conversations amongst 26,000 prospective students from 57 countries, including Africa (comprising 18% of conversations), Europe (36%), and Asia (38%).

“Student to student connection has taken over as the most influential… even more than friends and family”

It found that more than half of prospective students who chatted with Unibuddy student ambassadors across all regions and degree levels chose to apply to that university.

In Africa, three quarters (75%) said they had chosen to apply to that university, followed by 71% in Europe and 54% in Asia. In terms of enrolments, however, just 19% in Africa enrolled compared with 32% in Europe and 30% in Asia.

When asked ‘did chatting with a Unibuddy student ambassador affect your decision about whether to apply to a university?’, 69% of respondents in Africa,  62% in Europe and 51% in Asia said it had.

In terms of study level, 43% of undergraduate and 56% of graduate-level students agreed with the statement.

But while the total prospective graduate students said they valued peer-to-peer interactions (47%), they were the one group still valuing family and friends more (63%) as aids to their decision making.

“Student to student connection has taken over as the most influential and helpful factor when deciding where to apply to university. Even more influential than friends and family – this is a huge shift for universities and colleges,” Diego Fanara, CEO of Unibuddy said.

“Students are the heart and soul of institutions so it’s no surprise that prospective students value the authenticity of their experience above all else.”

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Erasmus+ is priority for UK, as UUKi confirms fee freeze campaign

Vie, 01/31/2020 - 08:28

Universities UK will be pushing for the UK government to extend the fee freeze for EU students – currently in place for September 2020 enrolments – for a further year, while the transition negotiations are in process between the UK and the European Union.

Speaking with The PIE News, Vivienne Stern, director of UUKi, pointed out that the recruitment cycle was already in play for 2021 enrolments, which includes masters programs that begin in January 2021.

“The government will have to make a decision on [fee status],” she observed, “and we will be lobbying for one more year [of EU students treated as UK-domiciled students] until we make a transition beyond that.”

Stern, speaking while at a quarterly meeting of the European University Association in Brussels, also underlined the importance the sector attached to the country remaining in the Erasmus+ mobility scheme.

“I will be working very hard to make [decision makers] understand the value of Erasmus+ beyond money in, money out,” said Stern.

“Those students who have studied abroad do better in employment terms,” she said, one factor among many benefits outlined in a UUK policy briefing.

“I hope the government takes a broad view on the evidential benefits of Erasmus+.”

Spending the eve of Brexit in Brussels, Stern said the reason for the joint statement made with European associations was “not to underline what we want but to stress, do this as soon as you can”.

“Erasmus plays a very important balancing role”

Simon Marginson, professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford, also believes that the UK’s ongoing participation in Erasmus+ is a priority.

“I think maintaining Erasmus is the big issue for us,” he told The PIE, pointing out the volume of students involved each year.

“Erasmus plays a very important balancing role. The UK’s got a commercial approach to international education outside Europe. You know, it’s quite an aggressive commercial approach and that has some effect on the way in which international education is practised and seen on campus.

“But having big Erasmus communities provides a broader experience for the internationals from other places and also ensures that educational and cultural values are at the forefront as well in the UK’s internationalisation.”

Marginson said that with a PM who was more “cosmopolitan” than his predecessor and the support of universities minister, Chris Skidmore, it was likely that ongoing inclusion in the scheme could happen.

“The government’s committed to it, I think that’s genuine,” he said.

“Their response to the amendment that was defeated was ‘No, we support the principle, we just can’t make these kinds of exceptions in the legislation’.”

While there has also been focus on research (and sister scheme Horizon2020), Marginson posited that in higher education, “it’s all about people, and it’s about students more than anything else. And [Erasmus] is the big scheme in terms of the cultural change that it brings to all of its partners.”

Regarding future projections for EU student recruitment after the transition period and in a new fee era, Stern acknowledged that she expected there would be an adverse impact.

But she was positive on the enduring appeal of the UK’s “high quality” system and expectant that new scholarship vehicles may become available.

“I think some universities’ projections are overly pessimistic,” she said. “Students, willing to pay £9,000 per year already, in the case that they may have to pay international fees, may still consider the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and [decide to come].”

“Some universities’ projections are overly pessimistic”

There would be clear communications on what sort of financial support might be available for European students, as well as scholarship schemes to consider, she said.

Marginson, meanwhile, suggested that China might be the country that levels out any shortfall in EU student recruitment in the longer-term, and warned of an increasing imbalance in nationality mix this could herald.

“There’s only a certain number of countries where you can actually turn the tap on and let more water flow through, China being the main one,” he advised – pointing out other markets may need further development.

“I think everyone knows that there won’t be any short-term alternatives at scale. So, you know, you could see problems developing around the diversity of intake.”

However, Sarah Cooper, who is stepping down today as chief executive of English UK, says she remains “optimistic for the future of UK ELT” despite “all the uncertainty during this period”.

“Engagement with government and our colleagues in the wider international education industry has never been so positive and encouraging,” she told The PIE.

“Government appreciation of the quality, breadth and innovation in UK ELT, including teacher training, is strong, as is the understanding of the complexity of the overall international student journey.”

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European HE calls for seamless exchange

Vie, 01/31/2020 - 07:44

On the eve of Brexit, education sector bodies in Europe have united in pushing for a seamless transition in terms of mobility agreements for students and staff between the UK and Europe.

“We, the major bodies representing, and partnering with, science and higher education across the UK and Europe, are united in agreeing that we wish to continue to work together following the departure of the UK from the European Union,” the statement reads.

“Swift agreement in this area of clear mutual benefit would be good for all of us”

Signed by 37 domestic and international organisations within Europe, the statement calls on governments to commit to continued UK involvement in the Horizon Europe research program and the exchange program Erasmus+.

“We call on our national governments and the European Commission to act on the commitments of the political declaration and work swiftly to agree a basis for continued collaboration through the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+,” the statement continues.

“Swift agreement in this area of clear mutual benefit would be good for all of us and should be reached before the end of 2020, allowing for the development of innovative and stronger collaborations over the decades to come.”

Speaking with The PIE News, president of Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) Pieter Duisenberg noted that continued cooperation and collaboration post Brexit is vital

“UK universities and academics are great partners for Dutch universities and Dutch academics,” he said, adding that both Dutch and British students benefit from exchanges.

“It’s a very good two-way relationship. Of course we regret it very much that the UK is having the Brexit now.

“We think that academics and education will suffer if we do not continue the cooperation.”

Up until now uncertainty surrounding Brexit had made it “quite difficult to move ahead”, Duisenberg explained.

“We have to move on right after today and try to come up with good solutions that will be very much like the situation we had when the UK was in the EU, both for academics and for education. Everybody would benefit if we would achieve the same type of cooperation as soon as possible.”

Duisenberg remains optimistic, and noted that it is “very likely” that cooperation will continue.

“We have plans with our Ministry of Education to move forward now. It is now time to make concrete steps and achieve what can be organised on a bilateral basis and then on a European basis,” he told The PIE.

Another of the 24 National University representative bodies which signed the statement was the German Rectors’ Conference.

The UK’s exit from the European Union marks a “watershed in the history of European unification”, said its president Peter-André Alt.

“Together with our British partners, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that academic relations remain as unimpeded as possible by this deep and painful cut,” he said in a statement.

The uncertainty surrounding the future framework for European-British cooperation following Brexit is “proving to be increasingly counterproductive for academic cooperation,” Alt explained.

“It is now vitally important for German universities, too, that the framework for future cooperation between European and British partners is quickly resolved in the transition phase which is now beginning.”

Ensuring the UK remains fully associated to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ is “the only chance we have to continue the close and well-established relationships with British universities and academic institutions to the benefit of both countries after 1 January 2021,” he said.


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Students RISE to U21’s newest challenge

Vie, 01/31/2020 - 05:20

Students from 16 Universitas 21 universities have competed for the RISE Awards for Impact, Innovation, and Potential, with successful teams being offered a bespoke package of international exposure and a global network of expert supporters with a minimum value of US$2000 per team.

RISE – Real Impact on Society and Environment – is U21’s newest student opportunity, which showcases student-led projects based on an aspect of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“My congratulations to all who took part and we look forward to supporting them to reach their goals”

A panel of judges from the world of social entrepreneurship and innovation chose the best teams from a selection of inspirational video pitches.

Provost of U21 Bairbre Redmond said this first group of U21 RISE projects were truly inspiring and demonstrate both the ingenuity and the depth of concern that students in U21 universities have in making the world a better place.

“I loved watching these videos and seeing what is happening in social enterprise and innovation around the world,” she added.

“My congratulations to all who took part and we look forward to supporting them to reach their goals.”

The ‘Most Innovative’ award went to joint winners, Roots Africa and Guided Hands.

Photo: Guided Hands

Roots Africa connects students and academic institutions in America with farming communities in Uganda, while Guided Hands is a medical technology innovation that enables people with reduced fine motor skills to complete everyday tasks.

“Thank you so much for this incredible recognition for Roots Africa,” said Cedric Nwafor from the Roots team. “Over the next year, we will be expanding to other academic institutions in Africa and the US.”

The ‘Most Potential’ award went to Solar4Schools, which brings solar power to schools in Kenya. It also makes solar power affordable for schools in rural Kenyan communities by developing power systems that not only provide clean off-grid energy but also generate revenue through mobile phone charging stations.

Finally, the ‘Most Impact’ winner was Foodprint – a social supermarket in Nottingham, the UK’s poorest city, selling otherwise-wasted food at low prices to those experiencing food poverty.

“We are excited to scale our environmental and social impact even further in 2020,” said Chris Hyland, director of Foodprint.

“We are dramatically increasing the amount of food we save from landfill and are soon to launch Foodprint on Wheels. We are sure RISE’s support will be invaluable in helping make it a success.”

You can see all of the entries here.

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Northwestern to host 2020 Global U7+ Summit

Vie, 01/31/2020 - 04:02

Over 100 university presidents and leaders from across the G7 countries will come together in the US for the second annual U7+ Summit this June, to explore solutions to the “world’s most pressing issues.” 

The U7+ Summit is the annual meeting of the U7 Alliance, the first global alliance of university presidents for the purpose of coordinating and advancing the role of universities as global actors committed to multilateral action to address global problems.

“We are honoured to host this important gathering of universities committed to global leadership”

Presidents and leaders will explore five key issues including climate and energy transition, inequality and polarised societies, technological transformation, community engagement and impact, and universities as key actors in a global world. 

The summit will be hosted by Northwestern University and co-sponsored by Northwestern, Georgetown University, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley.

“We are honoured to host this important gathering of universities committed to global leadership,” said Northwestern president Morton Schapiro. 

“It is imperative that today’s universities come together to play a leading role in addressing global challenges that can be solved through collaboration across disciplines and geographical boundaries. 

“Our role as host of the 2020 U7+ Summit is a natural extension of our global research and education mission and our commitment to focus the world’s brightest minds on the world’s most pressing problems.”

Schapiro said that it was an important moment for Northwestern as they are preparing to unveil an ambitious global strategic plan. 

He said that the university’s goals, which include the development of deeper strategic partnerships and an expanded commitment toward the global social good, are in line with the mission of the U7 Alliance.

“Just as the U7 Alliance has an established agenda that emphasises collaboration and engagement beyond G7 countries, Northwestern’s global strategy is deeply committed to true reciprocity in global problem-solving,” said Annelise Riles, executive director of the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, which will help lead the cross-university team hosting the summit. 

“That means building collaborative alliances around mutual benefit and across varying economic circumstances, which is a distinctive perspective Northwestern brings to formation of the 2020 U7+ Summit agenda.”

Last year the inaugural U7+ Summit was held at The Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). As in 2019, the 2020 Summit will conclude with a series of concrete commitments made by each university president for their respective institutions.


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A power shift in public-private partnerships

Vie, 01/31/2020 - 03:57

In the relatively short time since public-private partnerships have become prevalent in higher education, competition for students and new technological trends too have gained momentum. And the result? Tighter, yet fluid relationships.

“The most striking thing has been that originally, companies in this space were seen as ‘suppliers’ by universities,” ventures Zoe Marlow, who works for award-winning consultancy Sannam S4. “Over time, they have grown and evolved to become much more of a partner.”

“In the case of Sannam S4, after 11 years we’re invited to give far-reaching strategic advice in a variety of countries, but particularly India and the US. Before, if you asked somebody about Sannam S4 they would typically say we deliver in-country representation solutions for a particular university; now that’s just one part of what we do.”

“The days of just filling out a pathway centre at a lower-ranked university in a less attractive location are over”

Universities increasingly realise that outsourcing for services where they simply don’t have the expertise or the time to invest makes sense, adds Marlow. 

CEO Lil Bremermann-Richard, who heads up the broad education business that is Oxford International Education Group, agrees with this: “We can respond faster, and we can establish overseas operations faster,” she says. 

In Oxford International’s case, Bremermann-Richard believes that less is more when it comes to building and delivering on partnerships.

“Our strategy is about having a tight group of partnerships that are strategically proficient, that do not compete with each other,” she tells The PIE.

“We can [operate faster] because we don’t have 15 or 20 university partners, we have four, and we plan to increase to maybe six or eight, but they will have to be the right partners for us.”

And while many providers are now majoring in on direct recruitment, the traditional academic springboard model is still going strong.

“Is the academic pathway market continuing to grow? Absolutely,” Bremermann-Richard says firmly.

“But the competition is no longer coming from the UK or US, and we’re seeing more students from countries where the middle class is growing because the economy is growing at a faster pace than in Europe.”

A strategic complement

Given the ubiquity of English medium pathway programs, it’s hard to believe that before the mid-1990s they were a relatively new concept.

So with the multiplicity of pathways available to students at a time when traditionally popular study destinations and source markets are in a state of flux, how are established providers adjusting to meet changing demands of HEIs and new disrupters in the international education space?

In the view of Ricard Giner, vice president of Partnership Development at Kaplan International Pathways, relationships have moved on to such an extent as to render the very term ‘public-private partnership’ obsolete.

“It’s a reductive expression because it oversimplifies the level of collaboration taking place,” Giner tells The PIE. “There is now much closer alignment between the university and provider on a strategic level.

“So depending on the university, we might tailor the pathway program to the university’s long term goals, such as having a more diverse cohort, and develop strands to the partnership that will help it reach its ambitions.”

Credit: Kaplan International Pathways

For KIP, it’s the longevity, more than the number of partnerships that is the real measure of success.

“You cannot underestimate the value of long-term partnerships – typically our pathway contracts are 10 years long or more,” Giner says, citing Kaplan’s partnership with the University of Liverpool. 

In the case of INTO – whose business model devised by co-founder Andrew Colin and then VC at the University of East Anglia David Eastwood – long term partnership deals of up to 30 years and beyond are the norm.

“For us, long-term relationships are a key driver of our partners’ success; it can take time and significant investment to build brand profile in global markets. Long term relationships afford the time to do this intentionally and for students and institutions to reap the benefits of this investment in the years that follow,” SVP of New Partner Development at INTO Tim O’ Brien explains.

INTO is another organisation where the pathway label doesn’t cover it anymore, it is an ‘internationalisation enabling organisation’ in the words of O’Brien. And while he attests the company’s pathway arm is prospering, “INTO is also experiencing phenomenal growth in direct entry,” he says.

“For us, long-term relationships are a key driver of our partners’ success”

The provider with the most significant number of partnerships of any player, Study Group, has also been experiencing wide-ranging interest from potential partners, chief commercial officer Rajay Naik tells The PIE.

“Study Group has been in the UK for well over a decade now, and in Australia for over two decades, but we have not seen a time where there has been greater interest in the pathway market or in deepening existing partnerships,” he explains.

“We feel very energised about the market, but will be discerning as all partnerships must deliver exceptional student success. We are proud to partner with several of the top 200 universities in the world, as well as the outcomes we deliver for all partners, and this is partly why we are very deliberate about how we grow.”

In the US, where the opportunity for partnerships has really opened up in the last few years, Boston-based private company Shorelight Education has been one to watch since being founded in 2013.

Now, its proven formula in the US of building international communities with its university partners has the potential to reinvent what it means to partner elsewhere, including the UK and Australia, CEO Tom Dretler assures The PIE.

“Year over year, our applications are up across our portfolio,” he explains. “Moreover, as competition increases, our partners and we are getting more creative.”

Increasingly, says Dretler, they are not treating universities like big, monolithic institutions, “but as a dynamic collection of individual colleges and departments that can appeal to many subsets of international students if delivered to them in the right way.”

A different approach

Another player with a stateside focus – if a less mainstream approach to university pathways – is Kings, which recruits students to its partner universities on the premise that they will have a chance to adapt to higher education life overseas before transferring to another institution.

“We are not going to compete with Shorelight, Navitas or INTO in terms of scale but where we can compete is in terms of student outcomes,” explains director of Marketing Andrew Green, adding that around 84 per cent of Kings’ students go on to enrol in top 100 universities. 

“We think that with more traditional pathways, the student is expected to make decisions about where they will graduate in four years before they’ve even actually left their home country, and that might not necessarily be the perfect decision for them,” he continues.

However, Green says that even with its unique business model, Kings is having to adapt its approach in response to changing trends and increased competition from other players in the market to remain at the top of its game.

“Most of the students that we recruit now are direct entry to the university as opposed to any pre-sessional pathway program. And a new direction we’re looking to go down is forming partnerships with larger state university systems.” 

Looking forward, Green believes there will be an increasing trend for universities to form partnership agreements with providers who can offer a similar kind of “soft landing” for international students and an emphasis on elite outcomes, rather than having embedded facilities.

“I think the days of just filling out a pathway centre at a lower-ranked university in a less attractive location are over, and providers will need to partner with or show demonstrable pathways to more elite institutions,” he adds.

“Most of the students that we recruit now are direct entry to the university”

Facing headwinds

At a time of headwinds for the sector, and when market dynamics are pushing universities to be more commercial in deriving alternative revenue streams, capitalising on online education rather than seeing it as a disrupter will be a game-changer that more private providers will bring to the table.

Shorelight, for one, has developed Shorelight Live and its live instruction model provides students the opportunity to complete some or all of a degree or executive program from a leading US university while completing the majority of coursework in their home country with support and instruction in their native language.

And in the case of Cambridge Education Group’s online learning division CEG Digital, which partners with prestigious UK universities to deliver online and blended courses globally, is an example of how the public-private partnership model has evolved to become genuinely collaborative.

“We’re equal partners, it’s not a vendor-supplier relationship,” CEG Digital managing director Geoff Webster tells The PIE.

“Yes, recruiting full fee-paying international students to come in person is brilliant, but it’s a well-trodden path. The difference between our market and ‘pathways’ is that ours is not mature; ours is just getting going.”

This is an abridged version of an article that originally appeared in The PIE Review, our quarterly print publication.

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Re-inspection policy for Tier 4 risking financial health of UK schools

Jue, 01/30/2020 - 10:00

UK boarding schools claim to have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of a Tier-4 visa rule that prevents them from admitting new international students while they await re-inspection for compliance issues.

Boarding schools in the UK are inspected every three years to make sure they are compliant with the Independent School Standards Regulations, with a failure to meet standards resulting in a warning notice by the DfE. 

“Sometimes the DfE will stretch it out to seven or eight months”

After a school is given a warning notice, its Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies allocation is set to zero, meaning it cannot admit any new students on Tier 4 visas.

The DfE usually requires the school to draw up an action plan to address any areas of non-compliance before being re-inspected, and as long as it is found to be compliant, the CAS allocation is returned.

However, the long waiting time between the issuing of the warning notice and re-inspection is causing serious financial problems for schools who are dependent on income from new international students.

“The schools have no ability to influence the timing of re-inspections,” Peter Woodroffe, deputy chief executive officer at Independent Schools Association told The PIE. 

“Sometimes the DfE will stretch it out to seven or eight months. I’ve got an international boarding school on the south coast that told me they had lost £400,000 which was about 20% of their income that year, and that was a big hit.

“I’ve got another boarding school over in the West of England that said that it probably cost them around half a million pounds.”

One of two organisations that are commissioned by the DfE to inspect schools is the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

Mike Oliver, principal of Brooke House College and an inspector for ISI told The PIE that the freezing or zeroing of the CAS allocation could mean business closures for some international schools based in the UK.

“I know one man who put his heart and soul into his prep school in the south of Yorkshire. It had about 160 pupils and he said, ‘I do not have the financial wherewithal to be on top of every policy and change and implementation- it’s just going to kill the school’,” explained Oliver.

In the last 18 months, the DfE has been giving out six or seven enforcement notices every month

A spokesperson for ISI acknowledged the potential problems that a school might face as a result of the zeroing of a CAS allocation.

“ISI’s purpose is to enable children to be safe, well-educated and to thrive,”  they told The PIE.

The spokesperson added that ISI understands that the withdrawal of Tier 4 licences “causes schools tremendous problems” and regularly speaks with the school associations about these.

“However, as a professional and independent inspectorate, we inspect a school to assess whether it is meeting the Independent Schools Standards.

“We do not, and should not, consider the commercial consequences on the school of our judgements,” they said, explaining that between 2018 and 2019, the compliance rate for ISI inspections was 88%.

A spokesperson for the DfE told The PIE that it is a school’s responsibility to ensure they are meeting the necessary standards.

“Where they fail to do so, it’s right that they should face action – part of which is preventing the school from admitting new students who are on Tier 4 visas,” they explained.

“The timings of inspections are based on action plans submitted by the school in question, and enable adequate time for schools to make the improvements required.”

However, the incidents that result in a non-compliance verdict from inspectors have also been called into question. 

ISA’s Woodroffe said that within the past two years, the DfE has changed its approach on how it gives out its enforcement notices.

“In the past, if it was a serious incident the DfE would send out an enforcement notice,” he said.

“However, in the last 18 months, the DfE has been giving out six or seven enforcement notices every month instead of maybe one every three months.

“Even if a school makes the smallest administrative error, that’s a failure in safeguarding and that’s a notice to improve from the DfE,” Woodroffe noted.

“Even if a school makes the smallest administrative error that’s a failure in safeguarding”

Chairman for The Council of Independent Education and Principal of Bath Academy, Tim Naylor, echoed this concern. 

“Of course schools need to put their house in order in whatever they are not compliant about, especially if it has anything to do with safeguarding,” he said. 

“But at the same time, is it really a safeguarding issue or is it more of a clerical issue that can be cleared up very quickly?”

On this point, a spokesperson from ISI said that their inspectors take into account the notion of ‘materiality’, which means that a small, correctable error in an otherwise effective system does not necessarily trigger a judgement of non-compliance.

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New Oriental’s financial results for second quarter

Jue, 01/30/2020 - 08:18

New Oriental, China’s largest private education provider, released its unaudited financial results for the second fiscal quarter of 2020, revealing a 31.5% increase in quarterly net revenue year-on-year.

With a 63.3% increase in quarterly student enrolments over 2019 – during which it also saw growth attributed to its K-12 sector – the number of students hit 3,789,200 across 1,304 schools and learning centres.

“During this quarter, we added a net of 41 learning centres in existing cities”

“We are very pleased to report a set of solid financial results in the second fiscal quarter of this year, delivering both accelerated top-line growth and continued operating margin expansion,” said New Oriental executive chairman, Michael Yu Minhong.

“The K-12 after-school tutoring business continued its strong momentum, and achieved a year-over-year revenue growth of approximately 46%, or 49% if measured in renminbi.”

The company also reported growth in after school tutoring for middle and high schools subjects and its POP Kids program.

It has also been expanding its existing presence in cities where it sees “potential for rapid growth and strong profitability”.

“During this quarter, we added a net of 41 learning centres in existing cities, opened a new training school in the city of Huizhou, and launched a dual-teacher model in a school in the city of Chengde,” Zhou Chenggang, New Oriental’s chief executive officer, said.

“We are very encouraged to have received positive feedback from our customers, and see sustained improvement in customer retention rate.

“We also continued to make strategic investments into our dual-teacher model classes as well as new initiatives in K-12 tutoring on our pure online education platform,, to leverage our advanced teaching resources in lower tiers cities and remote areas.”

For the third quarter, which ends on February 29, the company expects total net revenues between US$983.0 million and $1,006.4 million, a year-on-year growth of 23% to 26%.

New Oriental was established in 1993 in Beijing and has since developed to provide a range of services including language tutoring, study abroad consulting, test preparation and vocational training.

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US: IIE reveals Andrew Heiskell Award winners

Jue, 01/30/2020 - 06:23

The four winners of the 2020 Andrew Heiskell Awards have been announced by the Institute of International Education.

Recognising outstanding initiatives among IIE’s membership association of more than 1,300 higher education institutions, winners are at the frontier of developing new models to build international partnerships, internationalise campuses, and promote study abroad.

“These programs are building cultural and leadership skills that are essential to addressing global challenges”

Rice University was awarded the ‘Internationalising the Campus’ category for its Brasil@Rice program, which has served as a hub for meaningful connections between Brazil and the university since 2012.

Harper College‘s The Global Region of Focus Initiative won the ‘Internationalising the Community College Campus’ prize for programs that provide cultural, economic, political, and historical foundations for understanding global issues.

The ‘Study Abroad’ award went to the University of Tulsa for a one-week summer experiential experience for freshmen with local partners in Panama.

Lehigh University took the ‘Partnership’ award for its work with the United Nations for the second year running.

“What we’ve done with the UN is pursue a strategic evaluation of our strengths, and then align them with UN entities such as the International Labor Organization, Sustainable UN and the Environmental Program,” said Bill Hunter, Lehigh’s director of Fellowship Advising and UN Programs.

“We have very strong support from a wide variety of academic departments on campus, enabling us to take a holistic approach to our UN-based affiliations.”

IIE’s president and CEO, Allan E. Goodman noted that innovative thinking in the international education community will “prepare students for working in a complex, international world”.

“These programs are building cultural and leadership skills that are essential to addressing global challenges, both for students who are encouraged to study abroad and for those who benefit from campuses more connected to the world,” he said in a statement.

“We are very proud to recognise these programs with the IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for their innovative work and hope that their successes spark new ideas in the years to come.”

Honourable mentions went to Kansas State University: The Australian Initiative and Oz-to-Oz Program, Texas A&M International University: Reading the Globe, Texas A&M International University and University of Otago: Tūrangawaewae, Pōkai Whenua (A Place to Stand, A World to Explore).

The four winning campuses will receive a cash award of US$1,000 and a certificate from IIE’s president.

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