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Coventry U to open new campus in Morocco

Jue, 01/30/2020 - 03:23

The UK’s Coventry University and Morocco’s Superior Institution of Science & Technology have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a partnership that will provide teacher training and other programs in areas such as business and science and technology.

SIST, a higher education institute which operates entirely in English in Morocco, will invest £14 million to develop a purpose-built campus in Casablanca to host Coventry University’s programs.

“We see Morocco as a gateway to Africa”

The agreement will also enable the partners to explore opportunities for joint research, teaching and mobility to and from Coventry’s UK campuses for its Moroccan staff and students.

Thousands of Moroccan students are expected to benefit from the new partnership over several years by having access to additional and alternative educational experiences that are aligned with the needs of their society.

Vice-chancellor of Coventry University, John Latham, and president of SIST, Tariq Obaid, signed the MoU during a reception at the inaugural meeting of the UK-Morocco Higher Education Commission hosted by Coventry’s London campus on January 22.

Latham said he was pleased to have become the first UK university to sign an agreement to set up a campus in Morocco.

“Our partnership with SIST will give us our first strong relationship with a Moroccan institution, particularly around science and technology and teacher training,” he said.

“We’re also looking at partnerships in nurse training and nurse education and exploring links around research, especially water security and food security.

“We see Morocco as a gateway to Africa and a country where higher education in the UK overall could have more and further collaborations,” Latham added.

Obaid said that the partnership has the potential to contribute immensely to Morocco’s human resources development.

“Moreover, staff and students in both Morocco and Coventry could benefit from the cross-cultural networks that will be developed and the joint activities that will grow once the partnership is established,” he added.

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Support int’l grad employability, UK HEIs urged

Mié, 01/29/2020 - 11:16

Universities in the UK should be developing their own strategic approach to support the employability of international students and graduates that ought to be led at a senior level, a report has recommended.

The ‘Supporting International Graduate Employability: Making Good on the Promise’ report, released by UUKi, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, UKCISA and Coventry University, also suggested that institutions should monitor international graduate outcomes “in a more systematic way” to inform future strategic approaches.

“The sector must… learn from the experiences of colleagues overseas to ensure that the new graduate route genuinely benefits int’l students”

Surveying 43 UK institutions, the report found that 44% of respondents felt they were “currently unable to meet the demand for careers and employability services from their international students”.

Many respondents also feel that they will be unable to meet demand if international students numbers increase in line with institutional targets, the report indicated.

Universities should also invest in targeted engagement with overseas employers while facilitating opportunities for home and international students to interact “wherever possible to ensure continuous improvement of international students’ English language skills”.

Embedded practical experiences including internships, placements and ‘real world’ projects within postgraduate courses help to support skills and work experience, the report suggested, but these must be designed with consultation from careers and employability professionals and international students.

Although the survey found 47% of institutions provided tailored careers advice and guidance to international students, the report contended that universities establish a cross-department working group responsible for employability of international grads and students.

The new graduate route is likely to bolster the UK’s attractiveness to some international students, with universities indicating they were unable to meet current demand, institutions need to pay attention to the employability outcomes of students, the reported noted.

“The sector must work hard to ensure the longevity of post-study work and learn from the experiences of colleagues overseas to ensure that the new graduate route genuinely benefits international students studying in the UK,” it read.

“In particular, the government is encouraged to restate its commitment to the International Education Strategy by implementing the proposals for the graduate route and delivering proposed reforms to the visa and immigration regimes.”

UUKi’s assistant director of policy Jamie Arrowsmith explained the added benefit that international students provide for campuses and communities.

“They bring together skills and experiences that really enhance the learning experience for everyone.

“I think critically they also represent the future – the future leaders in business, industry and academia,” Arrowsmith added.

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UK sector must shape up on employability outcomes

Mié, 01/29/2020 - 06:24

In the wake of soon-to-arrive post-study work rights and the pressing need to demonstrate ROI on higher education, the UK sector must prioritise a strategic approach to embedding employability into university infrastructure and student experience.

This was the message being repeated by university leaders, industry employers and indeed international students themselves at an event organised by UUK International.

Paul Marshall, pro-vice chancellor careers and enterprise at UEL, told delegates of the radical renovation of the entire curriculum that happened at UEL to ensure employability and skillsets of students was developed.

“We had an employability problem”, he shared, underlining that along with a cull of hundreds of staff, an entirely new curriculum now includes “mental wealth” modules and has been developed in consultation with industry.

Kate O’Hara, talent acquisition lead early careers at Dyson, was fascinating as she detailed the efforts of a major global employer in the STEM field to identify talent early on.

“Where are the universities at graduate recruitment conferences?”

She acknowledged that they seek “natural networkers” who are happy to seek out a solution for a problem among peers, spoke of a wish to partner better with the university sector, and shared information on the very international workforce they are cultivating.

O’Hara also spoke about the Dyson Institute – a radical new approach to engineering degree delivery offered by the company in partnership with the University of Warwick and its WMG division.

Undergraduates earn a salary while studying and work on live projects at Dyson while studying on a four-year program. “Any graduate gaining a 2:1 is offered a job,” shared O’Hara, revealing that most are on track for a first.

The first graduates of the degree program complete next summer.

She challenged universities to better engage: “where are the universities at graduate recruitment conferences?” she asked.

And David Pilsbury, deputy vice-chancellor (international development) at Coventry University, stressed the imperative positioning of the agenda that is required.

Employability “is moving from the marginal into a defining role” for universities, he said, sharing detail on Coventry’s Centre for Global Engagement and its commitment at its London campus to guarantee work experience.

“This was the most difficult thing I have ever done,” related Pilsbury, but he said further announcements would be forthcoming about Coventry’s commitment to work experience.

“We won’t get there [with this agenda] by building this out from the careers service,” he added.

“We are treated as cash cows” says @VPEricaRamos, echoing points made by @DiversityMcr that if the UK is tempting students with PSW then it has to address employability and direct PSW support for int students #IGE2020

— Amy Baker (@amybakerThePIE) January 28, 2020

A report with detailed recommendations on how the sector should consider and reposition employability was launched by UUKi at the event – universities minister Chris Skidmore also spoke about the wider agenda of the UK’s international education strategy and the new graduate route.

Brett Berquist, director international at the University of Auckland, delivered the opening keynote in which he shared details of research into post-study work outcomes in Australia and spoke more broadly on the critical role of post-study work in directing the cross-winds of global student demand.

Nearly one-quarter of the one million international students in the US are on the OPT, he reminded the audience, noting that unlike other countries, the US counts students on this Optical Practical Training route as part of their total student body.

“Employability is the new arms race in international recruitment,” he concluded; while one student panellist used their platform to compare, critically, the average investment into international student recruitment v employability initiatives.

Excellent presentation from Brett Berquist live from @AucklandUni – lots of takeaways but I liked the quote ‘it takes a global village to raise a global citizen’ – need to focus on student experience and outcomes, better employer and alumni engagement #IGE2020

— Ali Orr (@_AliOrr_) January 28, 2020

When asked what they would say to Skidmore, attending later that day, the international student panel challenged the UK government to put effort into the infrastructure of the employment market – beyond simply making the PSW route available.

“Ensure that employers know that the visa process [to employ] an international student is not actually that tedious”, counselled Ian Wong of the NUS – reminding delegates of the multilingual and multicultural advantages they have.

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Aus: QLD’s sector records decade-high growth

Mié, 01/29/2020 - 04:35

Queensland’s international education sector posted decade-high growth in 2018–19 to inject AUD$5.38 billion into the state, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown.

According to ABS data, the value of international education and training rose 16% – a post-GFC benchmark for Queensland – in the 12 months to July 2019.

“We’re aggressively marketing Queensland throughout Asia and the sub-continent”

This eclipsed the state’s 8% average yearly increase over the last decade, and was better than both the 15% national increase and the 14% growth recorded by New South Wales, Australia’s largest international education market.

Trade and Investment Queensland’s Study Queensland team plays a key role in promoting Queensland’s world-class education and training to potential students around the world.

The state’s ministerial champion for international education Kate Jones said the sector was going from strength to strength, delivering benefits to students and communities across Queensland.

“Queensland is unique – one in three international students are enrolled outside Brisbane, which is great for communities right throughout our regions,” she said, adding that schools, colleges and universities aren’t the only ones to benefit.

“When students come to study in Queensland, the flow-on benefits are great. Our strategy to expand this sector, along with global demand for high-quality education, means student numbers will continue to grow in the future.”

While the region draws its highest numbers of international students from China and India, it is also seeing significant growth in emerging markets.

According to federal Department of Education figures for January–October 2019, the number of Colombian students enrolled in Queensland rose to 6,835 – up 19% on the same period the previous year, while the number of students from the Philippines more than doubled to 3,826.

“Queensland’s appeal is far-reaching on the international stage,” continued Jones.

“We’re aggressively marketing Queensland throughout Asia and the sub-continent to make sure our state is best placed to capitalise on the demand for education.”

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John Brewer, Chief Executive Officer, NCUK, UK

Mié, 01/29/2020 - 03:39
Having started out as a sports science postgraduate researcher, John Brewer went on to be appointed CEO of university consortium NCUK in October 2019. He spoke with The PIE about his first three months in his new role, how the political climate has impacted student interest in the UK and his plans for NCUK’s future.


The PIE: What drew you to the international education sector?

John Brewer: I did my postgraduate studies and worked at Loughborough and then carried on as a research scientist in the area of sport and exercise science. So, I’ve always had a sort of academic involvement in the work that I’ve done, even though the early part of my career was very much in the commercial sector.

In 2009, the opportunity came to move from the commercial sector back into academia as a professor and as the head of department at the University Bedfordshire. I’ve always enjoyed helping people become the best that they can be.

“There is a big philanthropic role to what NCUK does”

As a sports scientist, I enjoyed helping people change their training or change their diet to improve their performance. So, being in academia and helping people, that was something that very much appealed to me.

I then took on a similar role at St Mary’s University, eventually going on to become the pro vice-chancellor for Global Engagement. I was very much involved in growing the number of international students and expanding St Mary’s offering to international students.

From there, I had a period as Deputy vice-chancellor at Bucks New University, before the opportunity came to join NCUK.

The PIE: Can you tell me about NCUK and how it helps international students find success?

JB:  Well, NCUK effectively provides the opportunity for young people overseas who don’t have the traditional qualifications to gain the qualifications that are required to get access to one of our many partner universities. Through our global network of quality-assured study Centres, who deliver our qualifications, students have the opportunity to advance both their academic and English language skills, but perhaps more importantly, build the confidence needed to succeed at university.

That is done in a way that provides a genuine, high-quality international foundation year qualification, first or second year credit or entry to a master’s qualification, which, if the students attain that qualification successfully, allows us to work with them to get them a place in one of our partner universities.

The PIE: Of course, there is a financial model that underpins the work that you do?

JB: Yes, because we are a business and of course we have to pay staff and generate income. But we gift up our surplus back to our founding member charity, the Northern Consortium, who then use this surplus to further enable people to broaden international opportunities.

This might be through scholarships or bursaries to bring international students into the UK or funding that the charity would use for students or staff in the UK to go study and teach overseas. Last year, they funded a number of WP students to go on short study abroad visits.

So, there is a big philanthropic role to what NCUK does. We are not here simply to make a profit for shareholders or to pay large sums of money to the staff. We are here to broaden access to international education.

The PIE: Having been with the company for a few months now, have you noticed any changes in the popularity of the pathway model? Are pathways as popular as ever?

JB: I think it’s getting more popular in many ways. I was out in China last month, where the demand for pathway education is enormous. So I think if you look at the global market that there is a huge opportunity to provide more pathway education opportunities.  

I’m particularly keen as well that we look at pre-masters opportunities because I think students who’ve already gained undergraduate qualifications internationally will have that extra maturity that will perhaps equip them to come into the UK or one of our partner countries to get a master’s qualification. 

“Recruiting more international students is going to be a critical part of the future strategies for universities in the UK”

So I think we are seeing more and more students who see the pathway qualification as an ideal way to come into the UK, particularly the model that we have to study at very high-quality Russell Group universities which are part of our consortium, or even the non-Russell Group universities that provide really great degree opportunities– and very importantly have the opportunity for good employability at the end of the qualification. I think that’s really important as well – there’s something for everyone.

The PIE: Has the current political climate in the UK been impacting student interest either positively or negatively?

JB: I’ve been lucky enough to have sat on the senior leadership team for three universities over the last eight to nine years and one word that has really been prevalent is diversity, not just because of Brexit, but I think it’s also Augar that is really uppermost in the minds of vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors in the UK

If the Augar review is implemented and, for example, the cap on domestic undergraduate fee is reduced from £9,250 to £7,500, many universities will be looking at ways in which they can plug that gap. So, recruiting more international students is going to be an absolutely critical part of the future strategies for universities in the UK if they are going to overcome any reduction in European students as a result of Brexit and any reduction in domestic undergraduate income.

I would see organisations such as NCUK as being in a really prime position to be the solution to many vice chancellor’s problems, which they will be seeing on the horizon with both Brexit and Augar.

The PIE: You mentioned that you were in China recently, and the latest figures have shown a surge in Chinese enrolments in the UK, while the US is experiencing a decline. Did you get the impression that the UK is becoming even more popular while you were there?

JB:  Definitely. If I’m being honest, they’re also looking at Canada, New Zealand and Australia as destinations, while the US is becoming less popular. The UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada are in a very strong position to recruit more Chinese students. The Chinese market is still enormous. And I certainly got the impression that Chinese students, of course, and their families are very league table conscious.

The fact that we are able to have students going into our study centres in China and then having the opportunity to progress from there into some of the best universities in the world is something that is very attractive, not just to the students themselves, but their families who have a big influence on where their offspring study.

We’re conscious the coronavirus is leading to a lot of uncertainty and it’s not clear what impact that will have. Our thoughts are with those impacted and for our staff, colleagues and students.

The PIE: You have been at NCUK for three months now. What are your plans and ambitions for the role?

JB:  I think the most important thing, as I said right from the outset, that I could do as the new chief executive is to come in and listen, meet people and talk to people. And I’ve spent a large proportion of the first couple of months doing that.

Our ambition is to firstly produce a new strategy for the business. We had the first session formulating our new strategy just before Christmas. It will build on the huge success that the organisation has had for over 30 years. But we are going to do it in a very ambitious way, I think, which is to look to greatly increase the number of students who are enrolled in our study centres around the world.

“If we achieve growth but lose quality, then that simply is not the way forward”

We’ve got over 70 accredited study centres on five continents delivering our qualifications at the moment. We want to double the number of students that are studying our qualifications and progressing to our university partners.

We also want to look at increasing the number of opportunities that our students have. So we’ll be looking at more degree opportunities, potentially more university partners, and plans to ensure overall, most importantly, that we retain the quality of the students who are progressing into our universities.

If we achieve growth but lose quality, then that simply is not the way forward, and I’ve said it repeatedly. Whilst we will be keen to achieve growth, we will achieve growth with quality, not dilute the quality of the students that we have. Because if we dilute quality, then that will quickly undermine what is so good about NCUK.

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BIEA competition seeks solutions to ocean plastic

Mié, 01/29/2020 - 02:39

The British International Education Association has launched its international STEM Youth Innovation Competition 2020 asking competitors aged 9-21 to find solutions to plastic pollution.

Bringing together experts in plastic recycling, coastal marine science and waterway conservation at London’s Royal Institution, BIEA is hoping to find solutions to the eight million tonnes of plastic that ends up in oceans per year.

“Young scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians can think outside the box”

Student teams are being asked to research, write a report and design solutions to ‘Save our shores from plastic waste through STEM’.

Winners aged 9-17 will earn cash prizes for their school’s STEM labs, while those aged 18-21 will take part in ‘University Challenge’ and become youth STEM ambassadors.

BIEA’s STEM chairman, David Hanson, said the competition aims to capture the imagination and interest of young people, highlighting STEM as a force for good.

“Young scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians can think outside the box and invent extraordinary solutions to the global problem of plastic pollution,” he noted.

The 2019 competition sought to find answers to how drones could conserve endangered animal species – one million students aged 9-17 from 33,000 schools around the world applied, while students from 18 countries attended the final in the UK to present their entries.

The BIEA expects even higher participation numbers as it opens entries to college and university students, with final rounds taking place in June and July 2020.

Along with STEM experts and industry professionals, representatives from the Chinese and Polish embassies and educators from UK, China, Venezuela and Nigeria attended the launch event in London.

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12 schools recognised at International School Awards 2020

Mié, 01/29/2020 - 02:30

International schools from nine countries scooped up 13 awards at the International School Awards 2020. Hosted by K-12 market intelligence experts ISC Research, the awards seek to “recognise outstanding initiatives being delivered in English-medium international schools around the world”.

Categories ranged from school wellbeing and safeguarding to supporting students’ pathways to higher education to digital technology in learning to ethical values education, with Nord Anglia’s St Andrews International School Bangkok (Primary School), Thailand, being named the International School of the Year 2020.

“There are some quite exceptional international schools implementing truly outstanding initiatives”

The awards received 255 eligible nominations from international schools in 40 different countries.

“There are some quite exceptional international schools implementing truly outstanding initiatives,” said CEO of ISC Research, Leigh Webb.

“All initiatives have to demonstrate to judges evidence of strategies that enable the initiative to be shared with other schools. Many congratulations to St Andrews International School Bangkok for its superb success this year, and to all the award winners.”

St Andrews took home the top gong for its environmental initiative which brings about “collective and sustainable change through action plans led by students that address a range of environmental challenges”.

The initiative has now grown beyond the school, and now includes 17 local schools and 14 local sustainability organisations.

The school’s principal, Paul Schofield, was “delighted” that the hard work and dedication of everyone at the school had been recognised.

“Being named as International School of the Year is a huge achievement and testament to our school community. We take huge pride in encouraging all our students to be global citizens and empower them to make meaningful change,” he said.

Other award winners included Atlanta International for its student-led #MyFreedomDay campaign raising awareness of human trafficking, while New Cairo British International School in Egypt won the pastoral award for a daily emoji check-in system for all children.

Branksome Hall Asia in South Korea’s initiative involving remote collaboration between students in South Korea and its sister school in Canada was honoured. The project aims to solve problems related to the environment and its social and economic impact.

From UAE, Raha International’s night school program for students and parents providing information on universities and application procedures in over 40 countries won the award for the best initiative to support students’ pathways to higher education.

The full list of winners:

  • The International School of the Year 2020: St Andrews International Bangkok (Primary School), Thailand.
  • Digital Technology in Learning Award: ACS International Schools Surrey, UK
  • Ethical Values Education Award: British Embassy School Ankara, Turkey
  • Community Award: The British International School Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Inclusion Award: International Community School Amman, Jordan
  • Teaching and Learning Award: Qatar Academy for Science and Technology
  • International Award: Atlanta International, US
  • Pastoral Award: New Cairo British International, Egypt
  • Support Students as Future-thinking Innovators Award: Branksome Hall Asia in South Korea
  • Strategic Leadership Award: Nanjing International, China
  • Best Initiative to Support Students’ Pathways to Higher Education: Raha International, UAE
  • School Wellbeing and Safeguarding Award: Dubai College, UAE
  • Best Environmental Initiative Award: St Andrews International Bangkok (Primary School)

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UK: MAC report a “step in the right direction”

Mar, 01/28/2020 - 10:25

The UK’s representative body for universities has welcomed the Migration Advisory Committee recommendations on a points-based system and salary thresholds for immigration as a “step in the right direction”, but warn that the new arrangement must allow the UK to continue to attract the “brightest” talent.

The MAC’s latest report recommends that the previously proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for migrants, should be reduced to “about £25,600”, but Universities UK has argued that this threshold should  be lower to attract the diverse workforce universities need.

“We are concerned that standard salary levels in higher education sectors would no longer be recognised”

If the government wants to introduce a points-based system, it ought to retain the Tier 2 (General) visa for those seeking to work in the UK and have received a job offer, the authors suggested.

Additionally, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) should be modified in a point-based system to include an overall annual cap and points should be given for characteristics the government want to attract such as priority areas like STEM and creative skills, among other recommendations.

According to Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, it is “vital the UK remains a world leader in science and research and is open and welcoming to global talent to maximise universities’ positive impact on the UK economy and society” as the country leaves the EU.

“Some of the MAC recommendations are a step in the right direction, recognising the importance of employer demand but concluding the skilled entry route needs reform,” he said.

“While there is welcome recognition that the salary threshold of £30,000 was too high, there should be a further reduction to attract the diverse workforce, including lab technicians and language assistants, who are vital to supporting the success of our universities,” he continued.

“We are also concerned that standard salary levels in higher education sectors would no longer be recognised, meaning it will be harder to attract international talent into key lecturer roles.”

A recent poll showed the British public overwhelmingly believe that immigrants should be welcomed into the country on the strength of their skills and “potential and not be judged on their salary alone”, Jarvis added.

Chair of the UK’s association of modern universities MillionPlus and vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, Rama Thirunamachandran, said that the Tier 2 general salary threshold had “been a long-standing issue for universities and businesses across the country”.

“Summer schools which take on staff during peak periods only are particularly concerned”

“Any arbitrary figure creates problems, but the current £30,000 threshold means that the UK is losing out on global talent. The reduction, which MillionPlus argued for in its submission, would be a step in the right direction and we hope the government will take this on board,” Thirunamachandran said in a statement.

However, English UK’s membership director, Huan Japes said that its members are disappointed with the MAC’s minimum salary recommendation.

“It is difficult for language centres to recruit for certain positions, especially in some parts of the UK, and summer schools which take on staff during peak periods only are particularly concerned that they will not be able to keep on hiring from outside the UK as they do now,” he added.

“We understand the government may or may not take on board the MAC’s recommendations; we ask them to take on board our concerns.”

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TEN welcomes two new members for 2020

Mar, 01/28/2020 - 06:22

The English Network kicked off the new year with the announcement that two new schools, The London School of English and Discovery Summer, are joining their network.

A group of English language training providers in the UK, TEN members have a combined experience of over 400 years in delivering courses and services.

“Joining such a highly respected group of independent schools seems like a natural step”

It was established in 2010 to raise the profile of the quality, independent language school sector, and regularly runs workshops for agents around the world.

The London School of English, which has two branches in London and one in Canterbury, said they were looking forward to being part of the “growth and development of TEN in the years ahead”.

“We have known many of the TEN schools for such a long time and share many core values, so joining such a highly respected group of independent schools seems like a natural step,” said Hauke Tallon, the company’s chief executive.

The second new addition, Discovery Summer, was founded in 2002 and last year welcomed students from over 50 countries. It runs short, intensive summer courses in several locations around the UK.

“With 2020 being the 10th anniversary of TEN and the dawn of a new decade, could there be a better time to join such a like-minded group of ELT professionals?” Jane Merrick, the managing director of Discovery Summer, said.

“We are thrilled to be members and looking forward to sharing ideas and meeting new partners from around the world.”

TEN’s chair, Richard Day, said he was delighted to welcome the new additions and was looking forward to working closely with them.

Other members are BEET Language Centre, ELC Bristol, The English Language Centre Brighton, The English Language Centre Eastbourne, Cambridge Academy of English, English in Chester, Torquay International School, Wimbledon School of English.

It will be celebrating its 10th anniversary around the world this year.

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HousingAnywhere acquires Studenten-WG

Mar, 01/28/2020 - 04:24

Accommodation platform HousingAnywhere has acquired German classifieds website Studenten-WG, as it further cements its foothold in the German student housing market.

With an existing leadership position in European cities including Berlin, Vienna, and Rotterdam, HousingAnywhere is already they biggest platform for mid-term rental in Germany, but the Dutch company will immediately gain market share in a range of German cities as a result of the deal, a statement explained.

“We are committed to the German and Austrian market”

Studenten-WG has three million users, and more than 20,000 listings are currently active. The website’s users will now be directed to the HousingAnywhere platform.

“We will be welcoming millions of new users to our proptech platform, and they can immediately enjoy the benefits of increased choice in accommodation and convenience,” Djordy Seelmann, CEO of HousingAnywhere said in a statement.

“In addition to our diverse, accessible, and affordable accommodation, the platform offers easy-to-manage bookings by curated landlords and tenants.”

HousingAnywhere is aiming to become the largest online rental platform in Europe by 2022.

The site currently has over 50,000 active advertisements and more than eight million users in 60 countries.

“We are ready to accelerate our already strong growth momentum. Over the previous months, our team undertook an amazing effort which resulted in sustainable triple-digit growth,” Seelmann added.

“Realising our future growth through M&A is part of our vision. We are committed to the German and Austrian market and we plan to bring a strong contribution to improving the experience for both tenants and accommodation providers, to make online rental easier, safer and ultimately, more efficient.”

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UK immigration system is “not meeting Scotland’s needs” says minister

Mar, 01/28/2020 - 03:42

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has proposed a new visa to address the country’s depopulation and skills gaps, following the release of a policy paper calling for an overhaul of British visa law. However, the UK government has indicated having a separate visa for Scotland would not be a viable option.

The Scottish visa would give the country a “tailored approach” to migration by permitting Scotland to have its own powers over immigration policy after the UK leaves the European Union on January 31.

“[It would] attract and retain people with the skills and attributes we need for our communities and economy to flourish”

The current immigration system is “not meeting Scotland’s needs”, according to the paper.

More trust should be placed in colleges and universities to recruit international students on the basis of academic ability, the document read, following “unnecessary administrative burdens” introduced as part of the UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ measures.

Those measures include “excessive compliance bureaucracy” introduced when the UK government stated that 100,000 students had overstayed their visas when it was fewer than 5,000.

The bureaucracy for institutions, introduced as a response to perceived systematic abuse, should also be rolled back, the document detailed.

“Excessive” application fees and the £300 immigration health surcharge for students should also be scrapped, due to the fact that it “makes Scotland a less attractive destination” for international students.

“Migration to Scotland supports economic growth and the delivery of public services and helps to address the serious issue of long term demographic change – as well as enhancing and sustaining our communities,” said Sturgeon.

“Yet the latest proposals from the UK government to control immigration and end freedom of movement would be disastrous for our economy and society and would risk acute labour shortages.

“Migration is an issue which is crucial for our future, but the Scottish government doesn’t currently have the powers needed to deliver tailored immigration policies for Scotland,” she added.

A Scottish visa would allow Scotland to “attract and retain people with the skills and attributes we need for our communities and economy to flourish”, Sturgeon noted.

The paper criticises the UK government for its reaction to the 2014 investigation into TOEIC exam fraud.

The “overreaction” to the TOEIC investigation resulted in 35,870 visas being revoked.

Although around 3,700 people accused of cheating have won appeals, an estimated 11,400 people caught up in the scandal have subsequently left the UK, the paper noted.

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts highlighted the design of the Tier 4 visa system left it open to large-scale abuse, according to the policy paper.

“The UK government rushed to penalise students without establishing whether it had reliable evidence of cheating and that it has not acted to put right these wrongs,” it stated.

While welcoming the UK’s new post-study work visa, the policy paper suggests that the UK government brings forward the “long overdue” step so that students in the UK due to graduate next summer can also benefit.

The paper also raised concerns around e-gates for short-term students.

Although the “positive step” of permitting visitors from certain countries to use e-gates, the change has “created a potential issue for students coming for short-term courses of study being issued with the wrong visa if they do not speak to a Border Force officer on arrival”.

The paper states that the UK government should consider removing short-term visas and permit study on short courses under standard visitor rules.

Director of Universities Scotland, Alastair Sim, noted that the attraction of talent to Scotland was “central to our nation’s success, and the success of our universities”.

“Our universities have always been international and open to talent of all backgrounds”

“We welcome this thoughtful contribution from the Scottish government on how migration can and does contribute to Scotland’s success,” he added.

“We are pleased to see mention of the unnecessary administrative burdens currently placed on our members as well as what could be achieved with the reintroduction of the post-study work visa.

“Our universities have always been international and open to talent of all backgrounds. We hope the UK Government will give this paper serious consideration and reflect on what actions it can take in its immigration policy to allow Scotland’s universities to draw international talent to our nation,” Sim concluded.

On January 27, the UK government announced a Global Talent visa, as it gears up to introduce an Australian-style points-based system at a later date.

However, immigration will remain “a reserved matter”, a Home Office spokesperson said.

“The UK government will introduce a points-based immigration system that works in the interests of the whole of the UK, including Scotland.”

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Novel coronavirus disrupting international study across the globe

Lun, 01/27/2020 - 11:04

With many cities in China on lockdown due to novel coronavirus which broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month, international students have found themselves unable to get to courses abroad while classes in-country have been postponed until mid-February.

The spread of the disease will be exacerbated by bad timing. Chinese New Year is a peak time for travel as an estimated 3 billion individual trips are made both within the country and internationally.

“The university is providing financial support to international and Chinese students who wish to return home”

Universities and schools around the world are trying to make plans in the face of new or returning Chinese students – one report says private schools in Sydney are asking for medical certificates from returning students.

Other Chinese students already abroad are being advised not to return home for holidays. A statement from UK guardianship organisation Bright World explained that it had has taken the decision to advise all Chinese students under their care to remain in the UK for their half-term holiday.

“Bright World takes care of a number of students from Hong Kong and mainland China, many of whom had planned on returning home during the February half term when their boarding school closes,” the company explained.

“In light of the travel restrictions and following advice from Public Health England, a number of UK Boarding Schools have issued similar advice to parents, thus to avoid any difficulties in students returning back to school after their holiday.”

In China, a spokesperson for Duke Kunshan University in Jiangsu province, said it is postponing all its classes until February 17 and restricting access to the campus to essential personnel only.

“All other members of the Duke Kunshan community – students, faculty who do not reside on campus, and staff – and outside visitors will not be permitted to enter before February 15,” the spokesperson said.

“The university is providing financial support to international and Chinese students who wish to return home until classes restart.”

Education companies have additionally reported cancellations from Chinese clients

Both Macau and Hong Kong have also delayed students’ return to school. The latter has banned all citizens from Hubei province from entering the city as of January 26.

Chinese students heading abroad have been debating whether to risk taking their flights, worried that they will be stopped at the border upon arrival.

Several Chinese students from Wuhan – including two heading to Macleans College in Auckland, New Zealand – have been unable to get to school.

Education companies have additionally reported cancellations from Chinese clients and expressed worries that the disease will have a similar impact on the industry as the SARs outbreak in 2003.

Chinese government spokesperson Geng Shuang sought to reassure the international community at a recent press conference.

“Acting with openness, transparency and a high sense of responsibility to global health security, Chinese authorities will continue to share information of the epidemic with the WHO, relevant nations and China’s Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions in a timely manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, many have taken to social media to share messaging around school closures and other precautions being taken to limit the spread of the virus.

Peking Univeristy sends virus precaution messages to all international students. The messages include questions on students’ meetings with Hubei residents in recent weeks. Students are asked not to leave their dormitory rooms without masks. @TomaszSajewicz #coronavirus #china

— Paulina Uznanska (@PUznanska) January 25, 2020

A student in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province where there have so far been 151 confirmed cases told The PIE News that the government are handling the outbreak “very well”.

“They brought measures immediately across China. Masks are mandatory if you go outside, but we’re advised to stay indoors unless we absolutely need to leave,” the student added.

Every area of China has now reported cases of the disease, with the exception of Tibet.

The first overseas case was identified in Thailand on January 13  and there are now also cases in Japan, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.

Meanwhile, governments have been making plans to help citizens in the worst-hit areas, with the UK foreign office said it was “working to make available an option for British nationals to leave Hubei province”.

Around 100 schoolchildren from Australia are reported to be among those in Wuhan amid the “lockdown” on international flights.

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Minister backs UK edtech sector – Bett 2020

Lun, 01/27/2020 - 10:33

The UK edtech sector can play a “fundamental role” in the country’s educational exports, the UK universities minister Chris Skidmore has said.

Speaking at the 2020 Bett Show in London, the minister reiterated the importance of edtech in raising the profile of UK education at a global scale as it featured as a key component in the UK’s international education strategy, released in 2019.

“I believe that edtech can play a fundamental role in increasing the profile of UK education”

“For us, Brexit represents an opportunity: a new era of global collaboration,” he said.

“We’ll be looking to forge even closer ties with partners across the world in all areas. But especially in edtech, so that we can learn from each other and drive innovation forward everywhere.

“I believe that edtech can play a fundamental role in increasing the profile of UK education abroad, and that is why edtech features so prominently in the education strategy,” he added.

The minister praised edtech as a method to counter essay mills, which “have the potential to undermine the wider integrity of higher education right across the world”.

He cited university partnerships with companies such as US company Turnitin, which develop plagiarism detection software while Nottingham Trent University’s wellbeing dashboard is also helping to “spot students who may be struggling in the new environment”.

Technology like this could make a “real difference”, Skidmore explained.

In the UK, UCL’s six-month mentoring and consultancy EDUCATE program has “worked tirelessly over the past three years” to help edtech startup develop products that will improve teaching and learning in schools.

It has helped 270 companies in the UK up until now, and in 2020 it will begin franchising the program to international universities, Skidmore noted.

“They will be building an impressive new digital edtech support community that I believe will benefit everyone involved,” he said.

The minister also praised UK edtech for opportunities it offers for some of the most marginalised countries in the world.

The UK’s department of international development has been working on a number of projects, including an app for teachers in northern Nigeria to offer advice, support and free classroom materials.

Skidmore added that the UK government’s EdTech Hub in collaboration with the World Bank, British universities, global education experts and the Gates Foundation forms the “largest-ever edtech research and innovation projects”, and ensures that the UK is “helping these communities in the best way we can”.

“So, as you can see, the UK is doing a number of things on a variety of different levels to lead on the world stage—and to forge ever-closer ties with other countries so that we can make the most of the technological revolution together,” he added

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Aus: U of Adelaide moves into Melbourne

Lun, 01/27/2020 - 02:57

South Australia’s University of Adelaide has announced it will expand into the state of Victoria, with plans to open a dedicated “international” campus in Melbourne this year.

The campus, located in Docklands on the city’s western fringe, will offer classes from July 2020 and is offering 11 undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in accounting, finance, commerce and IT.

“The Melbourne campus will broaden the reach of a University of Adelaide education in areas in which we excel”

It is being delivered in partnership with Kaplan and the programs will initially only be open to international students, supporting one of the university’s strategic aims of “an expanded cohort of students from overseas more representative of the world’s cultures”.

The academic programs being offered will be designed by the university and taught by academic staff from Kaplan.

“The new campus consolidates and extends the long-term partnership between our two educational institutions,” said Kaplan managing director, Rob Regan.

“Kaplan has operated a pathway college to the University of Adelaide since 2007 and became the Preferred Pathway Provider in 2016.”

Currently, 37% of the 27,000 strong student population are from countries other than Australia, predominantly China (4,233).

University vice-chancellor, Peter Rathjen, said the institution is seeking to attract several hundred students to the new campus in coming years and expand its offering.

It is also the first time in its 146-year history that the University of Adelaide has opened another campus in Australia outside of its home state.

“While modest in size compared to our existing campuses, the new Melbourne campus will broaden the reach of a University of Adelaide education in areas in which we excel,” he said, “and provide us with an entry point into the eastern states.”

The campus will also have the capacity to expand its offerings in the future to showcase areas of specialist knowledge, including wine and artificial intelligence.

“We believe students will be attracted by our international reputation, seeking access to the specialised knowledge we offer and the opportunities our University opens for them,” said Rathjen.

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UK: uncapped fast-track visa for int’l scientists

Lun, 01/27/2020 - 01:51

The UK government has announced a new, fast-track visa scheme to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians into the country. The Global Talent route has no cap on the number of applications and will open as of February 20 – mere weeks after the UK leaves the EU.

The route replaces the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route and, for the first time, UK Research and Innovation will endorse applicants from the scientific and research community.

It will provide for a new fast-track scheme which will enable UK-based research projects that have received awards, including from the European Space Agency and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, to recruit global talent.

“This announcement signals that the UK remains open to talent from around the world”

Ministers explained that it would also double the number of eligible fellowships which enable applicants to be fast-tracked, and provide an “accelerated path” to settled status for researchers who are endorsed on the route.

The reforms to the Global Talent route coincide with an investment of up to £300 million to fund experimental mathematical sciences research over the next five years.

Commenting on the announcement, prime minister, Boris Johnson, said that to lead the field and face the challenges of the future “we need to continue to invest in talent and cutting edge research”.

“That is why as we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality,” he added.

President of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of Brunel University London, Julia Buckingham described the Global Talent visa as a positive step towards this for UK universities.

“Universities are globally connected and this announcement signals that the UK remains open to talent from around the world,” she said.

The immigration rules to bring the visa changes into effect will be made on January 30, and come into effect on February 20.

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China’s Greater Bay Area failing to draw HK students

Lun, 01/27/2020 - 01:49

China’s plans to create the Greater Bay Area, an international business and economic hub encompassing Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in neighbouring Guangdong province, is proving unpopular with Hong Kong youth, according to a new study published by the Hong Kong Guangdong Youth Association.

Following months of protests against Beijing that have seen increased interest in studying outside of the city, the majority of young Hong Kongers interviewed said they had no interest in moving to other parts of the Greater Bay Area for either work or study, listing among their reasons concerns about the recognition of Chinese university qualifications.

Since the release of the Greater Bay Area development plan in February 2019, the respective local governments have introduced new measures and projects to promote exchange and integration.

“Universities in Hong Kong have been building up close collaborations with elite HE institutions in the Greater Bay Area”

“Universities in Hong Kong have been building up close collaborations with elite higher education institutions in the Greater Bay Area,” a spokesperson from Hong Kong’s education bureau told The PIE News.

“In the 2018/19 academic year, our publicly-funded universities had 292 and 32 research collaborative projects with institutions in Guangdong and Macao respectively.”

New regulations have also given the children of Hong Kong and Macanese parents the same access to education as those born in Guangdong in the hopes of encouraging more residents to work there.

According to the spokesperson, they are also “exploring the feasibility” of offering schools and classes in the Greater Bay Area using the Hong Kong curriculum.

The study also suggested not just dislike of going elsewhere in the area, but of students coming in, while over half of respondents believed Hong Kong universities should not welcome mainland Chinese students.

In the last academic year, 1,755 students from Guangdong and 127 students from Macao studied in publicly-funded programs at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Hong Kong. The most recent data from China’s Ministry of Education, from 2017, said almost 8,000 Hong Kong students were studying in Guangdong.

But while Hong Kongers may not be interested in the Greater Bay Area, according to Beijing-based consultancy Venture Education, other countries very much are. By 2022, there will be 13 independent British schools in Guangdong province, more than in both Beijing and Shanghai.

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UWC: “prepare students for global risks”

Vie, 01/24/2020 - 08:25

United World Colleges has called on the public and private sector to partner in education to increase leadership, encouragement and support for young students in order to prepare them for global risks, and create positive change.

Executive director, Jens Waltermann announced in a statement on January 20 that high-quality education needs to be available to not only the “financial elite”, but also to those of a lower socio-economic status.

“Only 23% of young refugees, for example, have any access to secondary education”

“Empowering education across social divides is needed to address the global risks spelt out in the WEF Global Risks Report 2020,” Waltermann said.

“The recently published report Schools of the Future by the WEF puts a strong emphasis on public-private partnerships and action in education, which are critical to preparing our young citizens for the new realities.”

UWC is a collective of international high schools across four continents that aims to unite “people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future” focusing on students between the ages of 16 to 19.

UWC’s Jens Waltermann calls for partnerships in public-private education. Photo: UWC

Having students across 18 schools, UWC greatly welcomes students from a vast diversity of backgrounds and aids students from lower socio-economic backgrounds by providing partial and full scholarships to those in need.

“Only when we have citizens who can work across boundaries to come up with shared solutions to shared problems are we on the path to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Waltermann stated.

UWC provides access to secondary education to young refugees from war-torn regions and prides itself on being one of the few international high schools to do so.

“Only 23% of young refugees, for example, have any access to secondary education. Yet at UWC you see what happens when local students, privileged and less privileged learn together with young refugees.”

Waltermann further stated that young refugees can often be examples to the “privileged” and by mixing students that are from diverse backgrounds they can learn from one another about conflict and come together to create a change to global risks.

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Verto Education raises $6.3m in funding

Vie, 01/24/2020 - 07:38

US platform Verto Education raised US$6.3 million in seed round of funding late last year as it seeks to expand its pre-undergrad travel concept.

Verto Education, set up by study abroad entrepreneur Mitch Gordon, encourages Americans to travel overseas and earn college credit while doing so before embarking on their undergrad at home.

“This is transformative not only for their college experience but for the rest of their lives”

“We believe strongly that we need a fresh approach to college and that the current model prioritises wealthy students and has artificial barriers,” he commented.

“Through our innovative approach to a freshman year at college, we help our students mature, build emotional awareness, empathy, learn, and gain admission to a great four-year college.

Gordon told The PIE News that programs in South Pacific and Costa Rica are particularly popular, while newer ones in London, Madrid and Guam are also growing.

“This is transformative not only for their college experience but for the rest of their lives,” he added.

First Round Capital, GSV Ventures, 10xImpact and Box Group are among the new investors which participated in the round.

“We have been blown away by the Verto team’s passion and commitment to revolutionising how higher education can be experienced,” said Phineas Barnes, Partner at First Round Capital.

“Higher education has needed a new, innovative approach for a long time, and we are thrilled to be a part of accelerating Verto’s growth.”

Verto currently works with 31 partner institutions in the US, UK, Ireland and New Zealand which offer college credit for the Verto Education program undertaken.

The company, which was set up in 2019, offers a range of “campus semester” experiences and “field semester” experiences in a range of countries.

Going forward, Gordon told The PIE that the work being done by platforms such as Verto will be “more important than ever”.

“We need every student to have cross-cultural experiences and that’s our mission and our goal, to give students access to these types of opportunities and do it in a really affordable way.

“Access and affordability is really part of our mission,” he added.

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New Zealand universities report continued uptick in int’l enrolments

Vie, 01/24/2020 - 07:02

New Zealand’s eight universities have reported 9.8% growth in the number of international student enrolments in 2018 when compared with 2017, an analysis has shown. Overall in 2018, international students studying at university contributed an estimated NZ$1.2 billion to the economy.

As education minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged late last year, “This is the first time in the last six years that the university sector has become the largest sector for international students.”

A new analysis of the benchmark by education marketing consultants Studymove has revealed that of the 30,007 total international enrolments in 2018, 38% were undergraduate students, 26% were postgraduate students, 17% were study abroad students, 9% were research students and 10% were exchange students.

The analysis also revealed that the eight New Zealand universities generated aggregate revenue of $492.8 million from international student fees (on-campus) in 2018, with all universities reporting an increment in revenue against the previous year.

More Indian students have been choosing New Zealand for the availability of the three-year PSW visa

“In aggregate, universities reported an increase of 13.9% in revenue in comparison with 2017,” the analysis read.

“After combining the results in revenue, international student enrolments and cost of living we can estimate that the 30,007 international students studying at New Zealand universities contributed $1.2 billion to the New Zealand economy during 2018.

“This figure confirms that the university sector provides the largest amount of international student fee revenue within the New Zealand international education industry,” it concluded.

Education agents continue to play an important role in the recruitment cycle, with the average proportion of students via agents for this group of universities reaching 44.5%.

In terms of commission, the analysis showed that universities paid around 4.6% of revenue income in commission to agents, compared with 4.2% in 2017.

“In the last five years, New Zealand universities [have] increased their engagement with education agents,” managing director of Studymove, Keri Ramirez told The PIE News.

He noted that in the past five years, New Zealand universities have changed their recruitment efforts “significantly”.

“When we started this project the main focus among New Zealand universities was on attracting “semester abroad” students mainly from Europe and the US,” he said.

“But in the last few years, universities decided to expand this approach and showcase the benefits of their education programs to undergraduate and postgraduate international candidates from other traditional markets such as China and India.

“This shift has been well received and as a result, New Zealand universities – and New Zealand as a country – are welcoming a larger number of international student enrolments and have benefited from a more diverse composition of nationalities,” he added.

All universities reported the nationality of a total of 12,768 international students from more than 100 countries in 2018, with China representing 34.6% of the total.

The US, India, Malaysia and Vietnam followed, representing a combined 34.5% of the total.

Market manager (South Asia) at the University of Waikato, Ashish Suri, told The PIE that one of the key reasons more Indian students have been choosing New Zealand in recent years has been the availability of the three-year post-study work visa for eligible students.

Suri said that Waikato has seen growth due to it being part of New Zealand’s ‘Golden Triangle’, an area bound by Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga that makes up over half of the country’s GDP and fills more than 50% of all jobs in the country.

“Living cost in Hamilton are significantly lower compared to other cities such as Auckland & Wellington,” he added.

In addition to inbound figures, Studymove’s analysis assessed the international mobility strategies implemented by all New Zealand universities.

Combining New Zealand citizens and international students from all academic levels, the eight universities reported an aggregate of 2,993 students who participated in outbound mobility programs during 2018 in comparison with 2,789 students in 2017.

In aggregate, all universities reported that 7.2% of students in New Zealand participated in an outbound mobility program during their degree in 2018, compared with 6.4% in 2017.

The top five study destinations for students in undergraduate and graduate programs in 2018 were the US, Australia, China, UK and Japan.

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CAEL’s growth due to full spectrum test, says Paragon

Vie, 01/24/2020 - 05:47

Canadian test operator Paragon Testing has announced it is expecting “significant” further growth in the number of test takers sitting its computer edition of the Canadian Academic English Language, after a doubling of exams taken in its most recent financial year.

As well as growth in the volume of students considering Canada as a study destination, Juliana Ramza at Paragon claims it is the academic focus and spectrum of the test which is also fuelling growth.

“We have actually been approached by many Canadian universities and colleges because they are concerned with the inadequacy of the English language skills of students,” Ramza, manager of corporate relations, told The PIE News.

“They find that existing tests are not fully adequate as a screen. Paragon offers CAEL CE which is an integrated skills test which other tests do not do. The test prepares students for academic success at Canadian universities and colleges.”

More than 180 universities and colleges in Canada now accept the CAEL CE exam as evidence students have the necessary English proficiency to study at the institution – and the company is expanding its international locations where the test is available.

Along with 35 test centres in Canada offering the CAEL CE Test, locations in Hong Kong, India, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, United States, and mainland China also provide the exam.

In February 2020, the test will be available in several more cities in India, adding to its current test centre in Chandigarh, in the north of the country. Paragon is also working to open test centres in Vietnam during 2020, detailed Ramza.

“The number of CAEL CE test takers doubled in Canada in our last financial year, and in this current year, we expect the number of test takers in Canada to grow significantly again.”

By working closely with admissions officers, Paragon has continued to “deepen our relationships with recruiters at the Canadian universities and colleges as well”, Ramza added.

Paragon Testing has also launched two CAEL Scholarships for international students worth CAN$5,000 each – one to a student currently studying in Canada, and one to a student currently studying overseas.

Applications close in April 2020.

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