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News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education
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UK: growth in int’l student numbers, jump in new enrolments from India

Vie, 01/17/2020 - 04:09

There is good news for the UK sector with HESA’s first release of data for the 2018/19 academic year: international student numbers are up by 5.9% on the previous period – with a notable 42% hike in new student enrolments from India.

According to HESA statistics, a total of 485,645 international students were studying in at higher education institutions in the UK in 2018/19, up from 458,490 in 2017/18.

“We will continue to work with key that our HE sector can benefit from 600,000 international students by 2030″

And while China sent more students to the UK than any other country, it was Indian students which made the most significant change to the statistics concerning new starts.

This is for the entry year during which the UK government announced that it would be offering post-study work rights – widely anticipated by education agencies in southeast Asia to herald a further regional shift to the UK for higher education.

Non-EU first-year student numbers grew by 18,475 to reach a total of 342,620, with the majority of the increase occurring at postgraduate taught level.

And despite concerns over the impact of Brexit, the number of first-year students from other EU countries also increased on 2017/18 figures, up from 139,150 to 143,025 in the most recent cycle.

More than a third (35%) of all non-EU students came from China in 2018/19, with numbers having increased from 89,540 to 120,385 in the five years since 2014.

India was the second top sending country, with numbers up from 18,325 in 2014/15 to 26,685 in 2018/19. This included 17,760 new student enrolments, marking an impressive jump of 42% on 2017/18 figures for new starts.

The US (20,120), Hong Kong (16,135) and Malaysia (13,835) rounded out the top five sending countries to the UK in 2018/19.

Nigeria, in ninth position, was the only other non-EU sending country to have made the top 10 with 10,645 students – but overall this marked a 41% decline in numbers over the five year period.

In terms of EU numbers, Italy, Germany and France each had more than 13,000 students studying in the UK in 2018/19, with Greece rounding out the top 10 sending countries with just shy of 10,000 (9,920) students.

We will continue to work with other key partners such as @UUKIntl and @BritishCouncil to deliver our International Education Strategy so that our HE sector can benefit from 600,000 international students by 2030

— Chris Skidmore (@CSkidmoreUK) January 16, 2020

Posting on social media, UK Universities minister Chris Skidmore said he welcomed the figures, describing it as a sign that the country competing well in the global race for international students as the UK targets 600,000 by the end of the decade.

“We will continue to work with other key partners… to deliver our International Education Strategy so that our HE sector can benefit from 600,000 international students by 2030.”

Director of Universities UK International, Vivienne Stern was also pleased to see that international student numbers are continuing to grow in the UK.

She pointed to a recent UUKi study that showed how international students are highly satisfied with their experiences at UK universities, as well as enjoying significant career benefits after graduating.

“The growth in the number of international students studying in the UK is testament to this world-class offer,” Stern continued, adding, “the 42% growth in the number of new Indian student enrolments in 2018/19 is particularly notable.

“Visa application numbers indicate that this growth will continue”

“Visa application numbers indicate that this growth will continue, suggesting that Indian student numbers are set to reach numbers not seen since 2011 in the coming years.”

The number of Indian students studying in the UK has been increasing rapidly since 2017 after a period of decline in 2012 following the closure of the post-study work visa.

However, in 2019, the UK government announced plans to reintroduce the two-year post-study work visa, heralded as a catalyst for the increase in UK Tier 4 sponsored study visas granted last year.

“We know that students in India, and around the world, will be encouraged by the announcement of the new two-year graduate visa route and we are working with the government to ensure that this is implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible,” Stern concluded.

Top 10 sending countries to the UK in 2018/19:
  1. China 120,385 (+13% since 17/18)
  2. India 26,685 (+35%)
  3. United States 20,120 (+7%)
  4. Hong Kong 16,135 (-1%)
  5. Malaysia  13,835 (-8%)
  6. Italy 13,965 (level with 17/18)
  7. France 13,675 (level with 17/18)
  8. Germany 13,475 (-1%)
  9. Nigeria 10,645 (+1%)
  10. Greece 9,920 (-2%)

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LSBF re-imagines distance learning through VR

Vie, 01/17/2020 - 03:00

London School of Business and Finance has announced it is offering all of its online postgraduate students a new way to gain public speaking skills via virtual reality headsets. So far, hundreds of headsets have been sent to students all around the world, including Germany, Nigeria, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Education is expected to become the fourth biggest sector for VR investments, predicted to be worth US$700 million by 2025.

But while the technology is frequently used in the classroom environment to make teaching more engaging and interactive, its utilisation in distance learning is yet to be widely applied.

“Combining VR with distance learning will help students use the technology to its full potential”

Postgraduate students who enrolled on LSBF’s online programs in October 2019 received the zero-cost VR equipment this month.

The headset was offered to students enrolling on the Global MBA online, master in Finance and Investments online, dual master & MSc in Finance and Investments online, and the dual master & MSc in Strategic Marketing online.

The headset is part of the public speaking module, an optional assessment for students to refine their skills when it comes to delivering presentations or speeches through a fully immersive VR experience, as demonstrated in an introductory video.

LSBF said it is confident this offering will enhance the learning outcomes for students and will be extending the initiative to all future intakes for its online programs.

Academic lead at LSBF Christopher Jasko said that with this initiative, LSBF is giving its students the opportunity to be part of the technological revolution.

“Combining VR with distance learning will help students use the technology to its full potential, whilst encouraging self-learning in an even more flexible and independent environment,” he added.

The VR module re-creates high-pressured scenarios and then measures speaking speed, intonation, volume, and audience engagement, providing feedback on how to perfect the overall performance.

By successfully completing the optional module, students will receive an LSBF Certificate in Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.

“This is only the beginning for VR in e-learning for LSBF,” Jakso continued.

“A small, yet very significant step towards bringing the full potential of VR and augmented reality into the distance-learning classroom, and we will be announcing further initiatives in the very near future.”

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Come Together: Australia’s regional study consortia

Jue, 01/16/2020 - 12:37

Australia is a vast country – geographically speaking, at least. Whereas in the United Kingdom, a person could feasibly drive from tip to tail within a day or so, travelling the same distance in Australia would often see them remain in the same state.

Given the immense space, it’s little wonder study consortia have taken hold. Each of the eight states and territories has a cluster working to promote their region under one banner, and increasingly, smaller cities are joining larger metropolises in forming their own as well.

“You really have to work together to get your message out”

What could have resulted in hostile competition between regions has instead become a collegial approach under a burgeoning national brand. Clusters are aware of each other’s activities but are more focused on working together to grow the size of Australia’s international education pie, over increasing their slice.

Meanwhile, at a political level, as national policy focuses change, the role of each consortium is changing with it, and their role for providers, the local community, international students and Australia’s national interests is growing.

Let’s form a consortium

“It’s such a huge industry now and such a huge field in international education, that you really have to work together to get your message out,” explains director of Study Canberra Oliver Harrap on why consortia are so prominent in Australia.

“Otherwise, it’s quite easy to get lost in all the noise. That’s the way that we’re all leveraging these consortiums to get the best impact.”

There is a long history of study clusters in Australia, dating back at least two decades.

By region, the involvement of local and state government varies, with some, such as Study New South Wales and Study Tasmania, contained within state government. Others, like StudyPerth, which looks after Western Australia, receive state government funding as well as member contributions.

Regardless of how they came into being, a consortium’s goals generally fall under brand management, attracting international students, building the student experience, employability and connecting with industry.

“One of our biggest challenges here in Adelaide is awareness”

Where the differences between consortiums become apparent, however, is in addressing the challenges of a particular region.

“One of our biggest challenges here in Adelaide is awareness. We don’t enjoy the same natural awareness of other cities in Australia that have a bigger profile,” says StudyAdelaide chief executive Karryn Kent.

“But then, we don’t have some of the other challenges that perhaps some of the larger cities have. For example, the cost of living in the larger cities in Australia often gets referenced.”

Study NSW

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, where capital Sydney has such a high level of student awareness that it’s often confused for Australia’s capital, activities are more focused on the student experience.

“We know a lot of people want to come here, but it’s about trying to match the experience with the brochure,” says Peter Mackey, director of trade, international education and small business operations at the NSW Department of Industry.

“There’s no point getting people to come to a place if they’re leaving dissatisfied or they’re feeling that they’ve been ripped off and no one’s doing anything about it.”

As well as being a big country, Australia is by no means homogenous, and a one-size-fits-all approach would be next to impossible to implement.

“We can tailor our strategies aligned to [our] opportunities and challenges,” Kent concludes.

Hands on the wheel

A consortium’s involvement in creating strategies to meet a region’s opportunities and challenges is dependent on whether it’s embedded within government.

Study Queensland, for example, played a substantial role in the development and ongoing implementation of the state’s 2016-2026 international education strategy. StudyPerth, meanwhile, uses Western Australia’s 2018-2025 strategy as the launching point for its action plan.

Regardless of their position relative to government, however, each consortium plays some role in guiding the policy focus of their region.

Matagarup Bridge, Perth

“We make our views very clear about policy settings which we think are damaging the prospects of Western Australia, and we do see it as our role to advise government and other stakeholders,” says StudyPerth executive director Phil Payne.

As an entity outside of government, however, Payne adds he does feel there is a difference in the weight of his organisation’s voice in state policy compared with those in other states which are part of government.

At a national level, Australia’s consortia are also playing a role, looking to address common problems as well as providing and receiving guidance from the federal government.

“We participate in a number of federal working groups,” Study Canberra’s Harrap says.

“We participate in the Department of Education and Training’s Commonwealth, States and Territories International Education Forum and Austrade also has an international education marketing forum.”

“We know a lot of people want to come here, but it’s about trying to match the experience with the brochure”

But it’s not only government that consortia seek to guide. Study Tasmania global education marketing officer Harpreet Gill says relationship building and market intelligence are key elements.

“We work as a conduit between the education providers and industry,” she says.

“Not only just to attract international students, but make sure when they’re here they’re supported, and then once they graduate, we facilitate programs to make sure they’re more employable.”

Furthermore, Gill adds that research and market intelligence are powerful tools for providers to ensure they’re offering programs that meet international students’ demands as well as the needs of a region.

“It is an ongoing consultation process where we feed [institutions] with data that we have, and they then look at how they can develop that into their courses,” she says.

Go West (and a bit further south)

Australia’s study consortia are beginning to shift and expand outside of their specific region, playing a larger role in the implementation of national strategies, too. The most prominent example of this is the Australian government’s refocus towards encouraging overseas students to choose a regional location instead of popular study metropolises.

Citing congestion in eastern mainland Sydney, Melbourne and south-east Queensland – which includes its capital, Brisbane, and tourism hotspot, the Gold Coast – prime minister Scott Morrison signalled in September 2018 a need to better spread out Australia’s international student cohort.

After a rocky start, the federal government opted for regional incentives over deterrents in March 2019’s Planning for Australia’s Future Population document.

Taking a broad view of population growth, the document includes a new set of scholarships for regional study and an additional year of post-study work rights for those who study and remain in regional areas.

“We don’t have some of the other challenges that perhaps some of the larger cities have”

“We are classified as regional for migration purposes, and the federal government is pushing regional study destinations,” explains Gill.

“All of the policies indicate a regional push, so we are more beneficial that way.”

The resulting strategy, released in late 2019, upped the incentives for remote areas to two additional years of post-study work rights, with one additional year for regional.

But it was the work of both StudyPerth and Study Gold Coast, that shone through after their campaigning helped reclassify both cities as regional after previously been mooted as metropolitan.

“It’s a game-changer; its news we’ve been waiting [to hear] for two years,” says Perth’s Payne.

“It puts us on a level playing field with other cities within Australia and creates another reason for international students to use Western Australia to live, study and further their careers.”

Stepping into tomorrow

In the long-term, it seems Australia’s study consortia are here to stay. While all acknowledge that their role will evolve due to market forces, their importance in acting as a representative between government, providers, international students, businesses and the local community is deeply embedded.

To achieve their goals, however, that friendly competition needs to remain in place, says StudyPerth’s Payne.

“The opportunities for Australian international education are still fairly significant”

“I think the opportunities for all of us to grow the pie and to actually work as Team Australia dwarf the opportunities that may present themselves as individuals to compete with each other,” he notes.

“The opportunities for Australian international education are still fairly significant. Notwithstanding the record-breaking growth we’ve had, I still think we could be better and bigger; probably in that order.”

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

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Wales: Celtic English Academy marks 15th year

Jue, 01/16/2020 - 10:49

Celtic English Academy in Cardiff, Wales, celebrated its 15th anniversary in December, as its CEO highlighted the importance of international education to the local economy.

Since opening in 2004, more than 10,000 students from over 50 countries have learned English with the organisation. Along with its second centre in North Wales, Celtic English Academy employs over 50 staff.

“There is huge potential to welcome international educational tourists”

“If we are able to increase the number of students that come to Wales to study, it would hugely benefit our local and national economy,” Celtic English Academy CEO Shoko Doherty said at the event on December 9.

The ELT sector supports 1,300 jobs in Wales alone. In 2017 the region benefited from an added gross value of £12 million from students’ expenditure on courses.

Another £40m was spent on suppliers, including homestay providers, ELT employees and leisure and tourism of students and visitors during their stay in the UK, according to a 2017 Capital Economics report.

“For Wales in this pre and post-Brexit period, we need to continue striving to maintain relationships with our European partners as well as partners from around the world, stressing that Wales is welcoming and a safe, friendly and exciting destination for educational tourists of all ages to discover,” Doherty continued.

There is huge potential to welcome international educational tourists, Doherty added, due to the fact that 90% of visitors to Wales are from the UK domestic market.

Lord Mayor of Cardiff, councillor Dan De’Ath, who also attended the event also noted the importance of the school’s work to the city.

“We have a strong sense of community in Wales and we hope that [the students] have felt at home in our community of Cardiff during your short or long-term stay here with us,” he told attendees.

“We are proud to hear that there is a network of over 100 families in Cardiff that open their homes to host students from Celtic English Academy.”

Other guests included Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Wales – Ruth Thomas-Lehhman, Honorary Consul of Japan in Wales – Keith Dunn OBE and Ifona Deeley, head of International Relations at the Welsh government.

Celtic English Academy was recently awarded a million-pound contract from the Swiss government to help its nationals improve their English for work.

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Danish gov’t funds projects to address int’l graduate retention

Jue, 01/16/2020 - 08:48

Following a 2018 study that revealed 42% of international students in Denmark leave within two years of graduating, the Danish government has announced it is supporting five new projects to boost graduate retention.

Denmark has emerged as an attractive country to pursue higher-level education in recent times, and retaining international students is considered important as their studies are funded by taxpayers, with about half receiving additional grants.

“Employers have also not always… done enough to reach out to international students”

“Not enough [students] are using their education in the Danish labour market afterwards, and therefore represent a large cost to Danish society, as they are educated for the benefit of labour markets in other countries,” said the government at the time of the study.

Providing funding grants of between DKK 500,000 (£57,000) and DKK 1 million (£114,000), each of the newly announced projects will run for several years, with participants being required to share their findings with institutions across the country.

According to reports, the five selected projects were selected from 16 applications and will include instruction of the Danish language, use of mentor models, focusing on the relationship to the workforce and on practice while studying and in jobs alongside studies.

One of the successful bids, ‘biotech job preparations’ from University College Absalon, will prepare international students to live and work in Denmark through job-oriented activities such as mentorships and collaborations with local companies.

“In the first year, the students are offered a course ‘Danish with job hunting’ and access to a student job portal where Absalon can distribute student job listings from the local community,” project manager, Lene Beck Mikkelsen, told The PIE News.

“In the second and third year, a mentoring program will be established with mentors from the business environment in Kalundborg and the surrounding area.”

Retaining graduates in engineering and related fields – which are popular with international students – is particularly desirable.

At the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), for example, 40% of all MSc students are international.

“There’s a significant lack of engineering graduates in Denmark, and we are trying to bridge that gap,” Morten Overgaard, head of international education at DTU, told The PIE.

While Overgaard maintains that people “cannot expect all international graduates to remain in the country”, he added that “a majority of DTU’s international students wish to stay upon graduation”.

“So far we have not prepared them in an optimal way, and the employers have also not always been aware of the opportunity or done enough to reach out to international students,” he said.

“We think that as a university we should do more than just educate excellent graduates. We must facilitate their transition into employment, especially international students who need special preparation.”

A lack of Danish language skills, difficulty integrating into society and few local connections also play a role in the number of graduates leaving.

“Coming to a small language area like Danish, most students hesitate with [learning] the language until they know if they want to stay,” Helene Fast Seefeldt, a business consultant at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), told The PIE.

“Most students hesitate with [learning] the language until they know if they want to stay”

While jobs are available for those that don’t speak Danish, Fast Seefeldt believes it is important to emphasise learning the language as it is “key to the social part of being in Denmark”.

“It is during the lunch break and the small talk you establish relations, share informal knowledge and become aware of opportunities,” she explained.

Better integration can also help international students consider Denmark a place to stay long-term, whether this is done by joining associations and clubs, doing volunteer work or finding a Danish boyfriend or girlfriend, which Fast Seefeldt suggested is “by far the most efficient way of retaining people”.

“As one international student said about Danish society, [we] are like pineapples – stiff and rough on the outside, but once inside it is sweet,” she said.

Full project list:

  1. Biotech work preparation (University College Absalon)
  2. Career management course for international full degree students (Copenhagen University)
  3. Career management skills for international students (University of Southern Denmark)
  4. Communication, student life and internationalisation: The road towards employment through early career encouragement of international students (VIA University College)
  5. From international students to value generation in Danish businesses (Technical University of Denmark)

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Nigeria’s HEI deficit discussed at UK conference

Jue, 01/16/2020 - 06:09

The issue of Nigerian students not having enough spaces at universities in their own country, as well as how UK boarding schools can establish, nurture and maintain relationships with families and schools in Nigeria was discussed at the “New Year…New Partnerships in Nigeria” conference held in London recently.

Delegates heard that as many as 900,000 students were unable to get places in Nigeria’s 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education-resulting in young people leaving the country in order to study.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37%”

In his opening remarks, event organiser Mark Brooks explained how Nigeria is one of the African continent’s top growth markets. 

“UNESCO estimates that 90,000 Nigerians study abroad today,” he said.  “Nigeria has a population of more than 200 million and 20% of the population are aged between 15 and 24.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37% and one of the motivations of getting a fantastic education at British boarding schools or British run education in Nigeria is to provide students with opportunities and avoid problems with unemployment,” he added. 

The sheer size of Nigeria’s population has interesting consequences for the country’s education market, delegates heard. 

“The average family has four to five children and we expect the population to grow to around 400 million [by 2050],” explained Lami Adekola, deputy country director,  for the UK’s Department for International Trade, Nigeria.

“That shows massive potential in terms of the share numbers of students that we generate every year.”

Adekola also spoke about Nigeria’s infrastructure and education assets. 

“We have 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education, which is grossly below what is required for the population we have. 

“About 900,000 students could not get an education in Nigeria in 2018 and it shows the volume and numbers we are talking about,” Adekola continued.

“Most of these students sought alternative destinations to basically get into schools. And a lot of parents are even beginning to look for measures before university level; they send their children out of the country to schools at the secondary level, so it is easier for them to transition to universities.” 

Adekola identified the UK as one of the top destinations for Nigerian students because of the cultural ties between the two countries.

But according to Yemisi Akindele, founder of High Achiever’s Academy, cultural sensitivities still have the potential to cause issues for Nigerian students coming to the UK.

She spoke about the Nigerian approach to parenting and how some parents may be more nervous about letting their children visit other households during boarding school exeats.

She also told delegates that British schools had to make sure the dietary requirements in relation to the religious views of students are respected.

Top destinations for Nigerian students include the US with around 16,000 students as of March 2019; Malaysia, with roughly 13,000 in 2019; Canada, with 11,290 in 2018 according to IRCC data and the UK with 10,540 in 2017/18.

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US overtakes UK as “best in world” for education

Jue, 01/16/2020 - 04:07

The US is perceived as the top country in the world for education, having overtaken last year’s top spot holder the UK, according to a survey by U.S. News & World Report.

The 2020 ‘Best Countries’ rankings, which surveyed 20,000 people from across the globe, also rated the United Arab Emirates as the best country for study abroad.

“North American and European countries are seen to provide the best education in the world’s future leaders”

The “Best Country for Education” list is based on three factors – whether the countries provide top-quality education, having a well-developed public education system and if people would consider attending university there.

With the UK, Canada, Germany and France taking second to fifth places respectively, the report contends that “North American and European countries are seen to provide the best education in the world’s future leaders”.

The remaining top 10 countries perceived as best for education are all in Europe apart from Australia, which is ranked in the seventh position.

Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark ranked sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

The US, along with China, dominated the US News & World Report 2020 Best Global Universities Rankings, which was released in October last year.

The ranking also list the best countries to study abroad, with the United Arab Emirates taking the top position in 2020, with last year’s top country Malaysia sliding down to number 11.

The UAE is followed by South Korea, China, India and Turkey in 2020.

The best countries to study abroad section was based on answers from more than 8,500 adults under age 35.

They were asked to score countries based on their cultural accessibility, fun, number of cultural attractions, whether they would consider attending university there and whether it was a country that provides top-quality education.

“Despite historical trends that show the US and the UK to be the countries that attract the most international students each year, young adults’ perceptions ranked countries primarily in Asia with less established –but promising – economies as the best countries to study abroad,” the report concluded.

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Agency behind Learn and Earn scandal charged

Mié, 01/15/2020 - 10:47

The owners of a Bhutanese education agency were charged with 2,887 counts of forgery and 730 counts of larceny by deception in the country’s capital, Thimphu, in December.

Bhutan Employment Overseas was the company at the centre of a scandal where participants in a work program to Japan were forced to work over the legal number of hours and live in unsanitary conditions.

The Learn and Earn program allowed Bhutanese to work in Japan for up to 28 hours a week while taking Japanese language classes, and was described as a “win-win” during its inception, offering opportunities to young people in Bhutan while also helping to tackle Japan’s labour shortage.

“Students described experiencing indicators of forced labour”

With the Himalayan kingdom suffering from high unemployment and a lack of opportunities for its youth, working abroad through government-approved agencies and schemes is a popular way to earn money. Common destinations include Japan, Kuwait and Malaysia.

According to a US report on people trafficking, around 200 of the students said that the jobs in Japan didn’t provide them with “sufficient income” and that they were “facing difficulties”.

“Media reported some of the students described experiencing indicators of forced labour, including passport retention and illegal wage deductions, although the government reported all students were in possession of their passports,” the paper noted.

Debt was incurred from visa costs and tuition fees for the language schools, as well as the costs paid to BEO for which the owners are now being charged.

As the case moves forward in Bhutan, those still working and studying in Japan have been taking steps to better protect their rights, including by setting up the International Labor Union of Bhutan with assistance from local unions to represent Bhutanese workers in the country.

“Many young Bhutanese were cheated and trapped into financial debt. As ILUB, we will work hard to protect the rights of vulnerable people and low-skilled workers,” Jaganath Koirala, ILUB’s president, said.

“We will work hard to find stable and decent jobs for our young friends so that they can start a decent and normal life.”

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IIE Hawaii announces “aloha” scholarships

Mié, 01/15/2020 - 09:22

Hawaii-based private English language school, the Institute of Intensive English, has launched an international scholarship targeting students from under-represented countries. The value of the scholarship will exceed US$100,000 yearly.

Based on financial need and/or purpose of studying English, the IIE Aloha Scholarship targets students whose plan is to use English to benefit the student’s local community or world at large.

“We are committed to spreading aloha around the world for a healthier, happier planet”

The scholarship will cover tuition only, and subsidised housing may also be available for students.

“We are committed to spreading aloha around the world for a healthier, happier planet,” said school director, Ed Lee.

He explained that IIE Hawaii’s guiding principle is the Aloha Spirit, reflected in the school’s social responsibility efforts of which the IIE Aloha Scholarship is part.

“Through the scholarship, we will provide students with the chance to learn about the meaning of the aloha spirit, whose essential meaning is love, and empower them with improved English skills, the international language of communication,” Lee added.

Founded in 1984, IIE Hawaii is one of the oldest English schools in Hawaii. The school is recognised for its unique IIE Nationality Mix Policy which guarantees that no nationality exceeds 50% of the student population.

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Swedish uni to offer pathway to NPU in US

Mié, 01/15/2020 - 05:41

Jönköping University in Sweden has entered into a partnership with US institution North Park University to prepare students for studies in Chicago via its pathway program.

The Swedish institution’s pathway program, Jönköping University Enterprise, will provide international students with English language training.

“This collaboration gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop the pathway programs”

NPU and JU have engaged in bilateral student exchanges for many years, and this collaboration is a new extension of the rich partnership already in existence, according to NPU director of international recruitment Michael Drake.

“JU is allowing NPU to utilize their English training resources for students who intend to matriculate to NPU to enroll in an academic program,” Drake said in a statement.

“This is a new and unique partnership where an international student will benefit from a third culture, well preparing them for the rich diversity that they will experience at NPU and in the city of Chicago.”

Based at Campus Gränna 40km north of Jönköping in central Sweden, JUE will serve as a bridge for students failing to meet the English proficiency requirement for NPU.

International students will also be trained to adjust to differences in pedagogy between their home country, Sweden and the US. After successful completion of the program, students will be admitted into a pre-selected program at NPU.

With no English as a Second Language program, NPU has previously been unable to enrol academically qualified students requiring additional English training.

JUE’s Campus Gränna has also provided a Pathway Year Program for prospective BI Norwegian Business School students in Oslo since 2018.

“We at JUE are very proud of this agreement with North Park,” Jenny Dahlkild acting managing director at JUE added.

“This collaboration gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop the pathway programs and expand our collaborations with a new, strong partner university.”

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Scott Jones, CEO, Navitas, Global

Mié, 01/15/2020 - 04:02
After the surprise BGH/Rod Jones takeover bid was successfully implemented, Navitas veteran Scott Jones assumed the position as the company’s new chief executive. He told The PIE News his vision for the company and the role of pathways and innovation in education.


The PIE: You’ve just completed the first 100 days of being chief executive. What is your vision for Navitas moving forward?

Scott Jones: I always have a philosophy of looking at an organisation, its strategy structure, people process systems, and working in that coordination. The first part was defining what we wanted to be and where we wanted to grow. The existing vision we had was to be one of the most trusted learning organisations in the world. It was a good vision, but it didn’t seem to resonate across the group really well, and I wanted to be more ambitious.

“Any additional competition is good competition”

We workshopped across the board and have now come up with a vision which we’ve communicated within the group. The new vision for Navitas is to be the best global education provider in the world, according to our students, our partners and our people. That’s allowed us to start building upon our ambitions: we’d like to double the business in five years. Actually, we don’t want to, we will.

The PIE: What does doubling the business mean?

SJ: It’s doing more with existing partners. We see a broader opportunity to grow into transnational education, working with our existing partners and taking them offshore. There are also efficiency gains that we can make at our own organisations. In some campuses there’s the capacity to do more, we can definitely recruit more students. We’re listening and learning with our partners to build greater connectivity to allow us to do more with them strategically to enhance and grow their business.

But it’s really doubling student capacity. We want to double the number of students that we have for our partners over the next five years.

The PIE: Market intelligence suggests students are looking to do a pathway offshore before going to a destination. Is that the sort of transnational partnership you mean?

SJ: We’re looking even broader than that. Where these markets are maturing, we’re doing a lot of business development research around opportunities to take partners in-country. We already have Curtin University that we’re running a full managed campus for in Singapore. We’ve taken Lancaster University to Leipzig, Edith Cowen we run to Sri Lanka, and Murdoch University in Dubai.

“I hope, whether it be regulatory or something else, that we keep to a high level”

We’ve created a really strong model to operate in these quite difficult and different jurisdictions and attract domestic students, the ones that may not have gone abroad anyway. That’s been a successful model for us over many years, and we see a great opportunity to expand that area now.

The PIE: How are the challenges different across jurisdictions, and how do you adapt?

SJ: One size doesn’t fit all even when it comes to strategy and the way in which we look at our business. That’s why we’ve spent some time designing the organisation which allows us to have clusters of divisions and countries to support and nurture what needs to happen in those markets depending upon what strategic position they’re in or growth cycle.

Navitas has typically been an innovative company anyway. In 2011, Forbes Magazine voted us one of the top 100 most innovative companies. From there, we’ve adapted and grown our product portfolios in the pathway space, moved into transnational education, had some independent higher education provision. But our primary innovation comes from alignment with our partners.

The PIE: Education isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind within the mainstream when thinking about innovation. Can Navitas and education more broadly better champion itself to the mainstream?

SJ: Education is where a lot of the new ideas flow and stem from through research. When people use the word innovation, however, they look at tech companies. They look at things that disrupt a particular market. They look at the product that’s being innovative, not actually where that has been housed or coming from.

In education, they look at us, and they say it’s kind of a slow-moving beast. I don’t agree with that at all. We’ve just watched universities over the years become much more innovative, agile businesses. But I don’t think we’ve publicised the education industry as an innovative sector in its own right.

The PIE: In that case, how do you see Navitas’ role in the future of education more broadly? Do you want to be the leader?

SJ: I think we’re going to align. We’ve been good at partnering. We’ve been able to build a really strong basis around working with our partners in innovating, and even our pathway products, transnational products and the other sector products.

There are other opportunities. If you look at innovation and drive, it’s coming out of the edtech space. I haven’t yet seen how that’s going to dramatically disrupt where we’re at at the moment. I look at our space and see there’s such a necessity from our clients where we’re teaching in the face-to-face space to provide blended models of learning. To provide agile models of learning. Digital literacy in the classroom, capacity not to be in the classroom, and zoom technologies of learning management platforms.

“One size doesn’t fit all even when it comes to strategy”

This is just my view at the moment, but the edtech space sits under the employer sector. You’ve got jobs websites Seeks, Monster, and Indeed, where they’ve got millions of employers on their database, millions of employees on the database. They can say do this short course here; I’ll then connect you to someone who can place you. I can’t see that Navitas can provide that support, but what we do have is good online program management perspectives. We’re developing that, in our product breadth but that’s aligned to our core product.

The PIE: Why are pathways important within education?

SJ: For me, it’s about opening doors and creating greater accessibility for students. Even more so when students that aren’t quite capable or ready to enter the mainstream education system with larger class sizes, more exposure, not to same nurturing or handholding that’s going on.

One thing we’re seeing in market is as universities globally are getting financially constrained, there’s that necessity for them to be internationalised. We’re seeing some of them dropping standards, which encroaches on the space that the pathway was developed for. While everyone’s entitled to do what they want to do, I think if you care about a student, that’s worrying, because they’re not well equipped to go directly into first year. Many of them exit the system, and it’s not helping anyone. It doesn’t help the institution that ‘s lowered standards, and it’s not helping the student.

But everything naturally works out. The pendulum swings too far one way, and eventually, we find equilibrium. And I hope, whether it be regulatory or something else, that we keep to a high level. Pathways are there for a reason.

The PIE: And for private education providers?

SJ: Any additional competition is good competition. It builds better quality across any sector that you look at. There’s a good place for institutions in niche products where some of the universities don’t necessarily have the capacity to play, or there’s not the same level of scale.

I love private providers that are high quality and can do that. They have a place to play, but I think how many should be questioned, as well as what category and level they have, and what access to funding they should have? There are some that are reputable, and there are some questionable ones that are maybe not. The government is doing an excellent job of cleaning it out and rectifying some of those issues.

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Japan outbound student figures remain steady in 2018

Mié, 01/15/2020 - 02:48

The number of Japanese students who chose to go abroad to study has held firm, according to new figures from the Japanese Association of Overseas Studies, but preferred destinations are changing as the country’s appetite for shorter periods of language study strengthens.

The figures, compiled from a survey of 42 JAOS member organisations, found in 2018 around 200,000 Japanese students went abroad, close to estimates made in 2016.

“English proficiency is rapidly becoming as a critical criteria for management”

Going more in-depth, JAOS’ figures also provide a more accurate picture on the number of outbound Japanese students than those publicly available through the Japan Student Services Organization by including levels of study in addition to university.

“[Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology] statistics include only Japanese people who study at overseas institutions of higher education such as universities or graduate schools,” the report said.

“These omissions led JAOS to conduct a new yearly survey of its own to produce statistical data that includes junior high school students and working adults.”

While overall outbound numbers remained around the same level as previous years, there were noticeable shifts in destinations of choice as well as the desired level of study, particularly for top two countries the US and Australia, which both lost ground.

The US entered its third year of decline although marginally, losing just over 250 students, which JAOS said was possibly due to the current administration and immigration policy discouraging “professional and career-minded candidates… in fear of not landing a permit to remain to build their career”.

Australia, meanwhile, lost 650 students in 2018, as emerging markets, the Philippines and Malta improved their overall share of the market, jumping 20% and 30% respectively.

The Philippines also recorded the single most substantial increase with just under 1,500 additional Japanese students hosted in 2018 to reach over 8,200.

“In Japan, the trend of study-abroad from Japan has always been connected with – and reported by media – by the number of students studying in the US,” the report said.

“However, the decrease in the number of Japanese students going to America is not an accurate reflection of overall the study-abroad market in Japan these days. On the contrary, the overall number of outbound students is actually increasing in spite of a decreasing 18-year-old population in Japan.”

Canada similarly saw a spike in Japanese students, improving 9% or more than 1,150 students.

The study areas of most interest also saw minor shifts, as both short and long-term language studies continued to improve their market to 69% of all outbound students, while undergraduate degree and non-degree programs dropped.

While the Japanese government outlined policies to boost the nation’s English proficiency in preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, JAOS attributed the increased uptake of language studies to changing business needs.

“Outbound students is actually increasing in spite of a decreasing 18-year-old population”

“English proficiency is rapidly becoming critical criteria for management-level positions in Japanese companies aiming to expand to the global market,” the report said.

“Stemming from this trend, we are seeing an increase in both university students seeking language training abroad and professionals looking to advance their career opportunities by enhancing their language ability both on their own and also as company-sponsored trainees.”

The report also noted the increase in long-term language studies, those undertaken for more than three months, was primarily pushed by university students on break or professionals on sabbatical.

Top performer the Philippines, which has rolled out government-backed initiatives to boost the country’s ELT offerings, similarly saw a substantial increase in the number of Japanese students choosing to go there to learn a language.

The Japanese government recently unveiled plans to attract more international students through changes to its post-study work opportunities, including work visa types and improved measures to help graduates find work.

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Brian Lara opens Swinburne’s new learning facility

Mar, 01/14/2020 - 17:04

Multi-faceted Australian education business, Education Centre of Australia, recently celebrated the opening of its new Sydney learning facility operated for Swinburne University of Technology by inviting cricketing legend Brian Lara to the bash.

Swinburne, a top-ranking Melbourne university, now has a location in Parramatta offering Masters programs, via its partnership with ECA.

Gavin Dowling, chief operating officer at the company, told The PIE News, “Despite being a retired cricketer, Lara still has a huge brand and is immediately known to any cricket fan…which in the Indian subcontinent is just about everyone. So, even the 20 year-old students know very well who the legendary BL is.”

Lara gave a speech at the launch event and offered a Q&A session afterwards.

“His life story is quite amazing,” related Dowling. “He came from nothing and had a self-belief which propelled him forward. He broke records and had an amazing cricketing career.”

The founder of ECA, Rupesh Singh, is from India himself originally and the company has strong links throughout south Asia.

“We expect to have [Lara] as an ongoing ambassador for the brand – he’s so personable, modest and inspiring for young people that we feel the fit is just right,” revealed Dowling.

ECA also works with Victoria University in Australia and operates campuses for that institution in Sydney and Ahmedabad, India as well as running a number of other vocational, English language teaching and internship businesses.

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China’s Fudan Uni to launch campus in Hungary

Mar, 01/14/2020 - 08:38

Fudan University has announced plans to open its first overseas campus after an agreement was signed between Hungary’s innovation and technology minister László Palkovics and Xu Ningsheng, the president of the university, in Shanghai on December 16.

The campus will be located in Budapest and the Hungarian government hopes that its presence will help transform the country into a “regional knowledge hub”. More than 2,300 Chinese citizens currently study in Hungary, which the government said was “a good basis for the intensification of relations between universities”.

“The presence in Hungary of Fudan and of reputable foreign professors will accelerate the process of globalisation which has already started in Hungarian higher education,” said Palkovics.

“[The campus] will accelerate the process of globalisation which has already started in Hungarian higher education”

“The planned campus opening could promote further Chinese investments, and in particular, the settlement of the research and development centres of Chinese companies in Hungary.”

Fudan University is one of China’s top higher education institutions, with over 30,000 students across its four campuses in Shanghai. It has previously partnered with the Corvinus University of Budapest in offering a double MBA program.

Although the announcement was reported by several outlets as signalling the launch of China’s “first overseas campus”, that accolade actually goes to Xiamen University on the Fujian coast, which opened a branch in Selangor in Malaysia and welcomed its first students in 2016.

Peking University in Beijing also runs a business school in Oxfordshire in the UK.

The Hungarian government’s push for internationalising the country’s higher education system may come as a surprise to some due to concerns about academic freedom in the Central European nation. New laws introduced over the last few years have also sought to restrict foreign activity in higher education.

In 2017, the government enacted legislation that required foreign universities to maintain campuses in their country of origin, forcing the Central European University, founded by financier George Soros, to relocate to the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Further details about the campus, its opening date and what courses it will offer have yet to be released.

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Germany: visa waiting times “discouraging and demotivating”

Mar, 01/14/2020 - 05:48

Prospective students seeking to study in Germany were affected by multi-month visa waiting times at embassies around the world in 2019, with students in India, Morocco and Cameroon being affected by waiting times up to one year.

According to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, students applying at 24 embassies and missions had to wait over eight weeks to receive an appointment to apply for a visa.

“Multi-month visa waiting times are unacceptable and have a discouraging and demotivating effect for international talent,” Kai Gehring, the Greens’ spokesman for research and higher education policy, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Egypt, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were the only countries where students did not suffer from long delays at German embassies.

“Visa wait times of a year and more can hurt Germany’s appeal as a destination for international students,” Study.EU founder and CEO, Gerrit Bruno Blöss said.

“Multi-month visa waiting times are unacceptable”

“The problem is exacerbated by Germany’s commonly late application deadlines. For most courses, applications close from late May to mid-July, and offers are sometimes not sent before August.”

A Stifterverband policy paper, released in September 2019, found that long visa waiting times contributed to 38% of non-EU students it surveyed arriving in Germany after the start of the semester.

Of the 900 students asked, 18% arrived more than two weeks after the semester had begun in 2018.

“The government has started prioritising “highly qualified” applicants,” Blöss explained.

Students applying at the New Delhi embassy in India waiting times dropped from 28 weeks to 3 weeks if the applicant was qualified, a researcher or a scientist, data revealed.

Similarly Pakistani students applying in Islamabad waited for 42, while qualified students, researchers and scientists were waiting 37, 15 and 1 week(s), respectively.

Speaking with The PIE News, executive director of MyGermanUniversity Tobias Bargmann called on Germany’s five missions in India “to standardise and considerably simplify the process of obtaining a visa for Indian students”.

“It is a scandal why an Indian student – depending on the consular jurisdiction in which he or she falls – has to wait twice as long for a visa appointment,” he told The PIE.

The issue also results in some students missing preparatory language courses

Of the 282,000 Bildungsauslaender in 2018 – international students who completed their higher education entrance qualifications outside of Germany – India was the second largest source country after China, sending more than 17,000 students.

The visa waiting time problem is worrying, Bargmann added, since one in 10 international students in Germany comes from India, Cameroon and Morocco.

More broadly, the proportion of students reporting that they had very long visa waiting times to MyGU counsellors doubled in 2019.

The issue also results in some students missing preparatory language courses or orientation weeks, meaning they “start at a disadvantage from the outset”, Bargmann indicated.

“Due to the long waiting times when appointments are made and until the visa decision is made, it is virtually impossible for many students to plan their studies, so that they decide to study in other countries,” he said.

Chair of the German Association for International Education (DAIA) Martin Bickl said it is clear that German embassies must follow due process in granting visas.

“This may involve extensive background checks that may take a little longer,” he said.

“What is unacceptable, though, is that a small number of embassies make prospective students wait months for their first appointment in which evidence is submitted or verified.”

“How can a student convert an offer into an enrolment within four months when the waiting time for a first appointment is half a year?,” he asked.

The times also “send out a message of international students not being welcome, not being a priority for Germany”.

“[This] is what worries us most as Germany puts its reputation at risk,” he said.

“Students not being able to enrol is a personal loss for them but also a loss for Germany as a country looking to attract the world’s brightest minds to further advance its excellence in science and research.”

However, the organisation recognises the effort the Foreign Office is making to shorten visa appointment waiting times, Bickl said.

“I think we are on the right track. It will take a while for measures like additional visa processing staff to kick in but I am confident that within a couple of years Germany’s visa processing times will be back in line with its excellence in science and research,” Bickl noted.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) must improve cooperation with German missions abroad and German universities on the subject of visas, Bargmann added.

“All those involved must pull together on the visa issue,” he said.

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Aus: Murdoch Uni drops counter-claim

Mar, 01/14/2020 - 01:38

Western Australia’s Murdoch University is withdrawing a multi-million-dollar claim filed against one of its own academics for damages caused by his appearance on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program last year, just days after it confirmed it had terminated its contract with a major recruiter of Indian students.

Senior maths and statistics professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk was one of three Murdoch academics who appeared on the Four Corners episode “Cash Cows” in May 2019, which investigated whether international students were undermining higher education because of universities lowering their English requirements to increase numbers and boost revenue.

“I have always acted in the best interest of the university… however, my concerns about the welfare of students remain”

Following the broadcast, Schroeder-Turk commenced legal proceedings to stop the university from removing him from his position on the university’s senate.

In November, Murdoch University submitted a counter-claim against Schroeder-Turk, alleging his appearance resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue due to fewer international students, as well costing substantial amounts in responding to investigations by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency.

However, the move drew international criticism and public outcry, with more than 32,000 people signing a petition calling for the university to drop the counter-claim against him.

In a statement, Schroeder-Turk said the counter-claim had caused “a great deal of unnecessary stress”.

“I have always acted in the best interest of the university, its students and its staff, and have done so in very difficult circumstances,” he continued.

“However, my concerns about the welfare of students remain.”

In a statement, the National Tertiary Education Union welcomed the decision to drop the counter-claim.

“This was nothing more than a legal tactic to intimidate Gerd [Schroeder-Turk],” said NTEU general secretary, Matthew McGowan.

“It was patently absurd to think that a university would sue a staff member for millions of dollars in damages…[and] it’s pleasing to see that the university is finally seeing some sense on this issue.”

McGowan noted that Murdoch University had dropped this part of its claim at the same time as it announced it has severed its ties with an Indian recruitment agency – Overseas Education and Career Consultants – reportedly accused of fraud by Indian migration authorities.

“This goes to the heart of the issues raised by… Schroeder-Turk. This development vindicates the nature of the concerns he and others have raised.

“Schroeder-Turk’s continuing concerns for Murdoch students’ welfare and academic integrity are the motivations for continuing with this action,” McGowan added.

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LILA* Liverpool partners with football legend

Lun, 01/13/2020 - 08:56

Private independent college LILA* Liverpool has announced a new A-level football and sports pathway to university, partnering with Liverpool Football College in association with football legend Steven Gerrard.

Graduates from the program will be in a prime position to go onto degrees and careers in the football and sports industries.

“I’m delighted to lend my support to a top football and education program that has set high standards”

Led by UEFA A-licensed coaches with Premier League academy experience, Liverpool Football College boasts a rich history of alumni who have played professionally and semi-professionally.

Other students have gone on to accept scholarships in the US, study at universities and find alternative careers in football, including coaching.

Gerrard, who made 710 appearances for Liverpool and won seven major honours including the Champions League in 2005, has been a long-term supporter of the college.

“Having personally seen the hard work that has gone into establishing the college, I’m delighted to lend my support to a top football and education program that has set high standards and has a pedigree of developing players and young people since 2011,” Gerrard said.

Leanne Linacre, Director at LILA* Liverpool added: “Sports tourism is now believed to be the fastest-growing segment within the travel industry and is showing no sign of slowing down.”

“LILA* Liverpool with Liverpool Football College in association with Steven Gerrard is aiming to make sure our students are perfectly prepared to take full advantage of these diverse global opportunities,” she added.

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India: majority of foreign-trained doctors fail exams

Lun, 01/13/2020 - 08:07

The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revealed that more than four out of five doctors who return from completing a medical degree abroad fail the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam required to allow them to practise in India.

The examination is required for all doctors who undertake their MBBS abroad in countries other than Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and the US. However, the ministry revealed that just 14.2% out of 61,708 test-takers between 2015-18 made the grade.

“The move to alternative destinations for Indian students is likely to be one of the big stories in mobility in the 2020s”

“Alternative destinations” in Eastern Europe and Asia have become more popular over the last decade due to their lower fees and entrance requirements, as well as an increase in the English-taught courses they offer.

However, the robustness of their courses has been called into question after students’ pass rates on the FMGE following studying in destinations such as China, Russia and Ukraine were just 11.67%, 12.91% and 14.87% respectively.

Edwise’s director Sushil Sukhwani told The PIE that students taking the exams are aware of the tough requirements, often signing up for coaching in advance. Some still fail after even the second or third attempt, leaving them with the choice between practising illegally in India or trying their luck abroad.

“[Some] Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian institutes do not go as deep academically… and [some] institutes in China and Russia are more commercial,” he noted.

“Also, [they may] not have proper facilities like operation theatres and equipment or links with hospitals for practical exposure.”

According to Amanda Gregory, lead consultant at EMS Global and COO of UNIVER, two million students competed in the NEET exam for 61,000 places at Indian medical colleges in 2018.

While the Indian government announced the establishment of 24 new 
medical colleges by 2020-2021 in February 2018, for many attempting to pursue a career in medicine, heading abroad is the only option – and traditionally popular destinations are not a financially viable option for many.

“The prediction is that the move to alternative destinations for Indian students is likely to be one of the big stories in international student mobility in the 2020s, and one that could have profound effects on the foreign enrolments of both established and emerging study destinations,” Gregory told The PIE.

India’s medical system is one of the largest in the world but it also has a severe shortage of medical professionals.

A report last year suggested the country needs at least an additional 600,000 doctors and two million nurses, with it currently only having one government doctor for every 10,189 citizens – the WHO recommendation is 1:1,000.

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US: Thousands of int’l students may have overstayed their visas

Lun, 01/13/2020 - 07:21

Thousands of international students may have overstayed their US visas by misusing the country’s Optional Practical Training program, according to an investigation

An extension of an international student’s visa, OPT allows graduates to work in an area related to their study for a total of 12 months, or longer if they have a STEM degree.

“The existing national security infrastructure is designed to catch bad actors”

However, the month-long investigation found that a handful of suspicious companies with unclear business dealings and virtually no online footprints were employing students through OPT. 

The 14 companies in question employed more than 5,500 students through the program in 2017, according to ICE records. 

“Higher education institutions take extensive measures to comply with federal requirements”

“There are always people who want to exploit legal immigration,” Rachel Canty, Student and Exchange Visitor Program director, said.

Canty, told NBC Bay Area that “there’s always a risk” when people tell authorities they are doing something other than what they have said they are.

“That is why we look at the companies very carefully. That’s why we do data analytics and that’s why we do investigations,” Canty added.

NBC Bay Area began its investigation following the arrest of Chinese national Weiyun “Kelly” Huang,  the CEO of a company called Findream.

An indictment filed in federal court told how Huang allegedly used two companies, Findream and Sinocontech, to provide fake employment documents for more than 2,500 students with F-1 visas.

Huang is accused of using this scheme to make more than US$2 million from students paying for falsified employment records.

Following the indictment, NBC Bay Area used OPT data and corporate records to identify 12 more suspected shell companies.

It found the companies shared a common set of traits including unreachable corporate officers, an OPT workforce comprised of 99% Chinese nationals and corporate headquarters based at either single-family homes, luxury residential high-rises or shared workspaces.

However, the report notes that while there is evidence of possible abuse, the cases represent less than 3% of the students who participated in OPT in 2017.

“The existing national security infrastructure is designed to catch bad actors, and higher education institutions take extensive measures to comply with federal requirements,” Jill Allen Murray, deputy executive director, public policy at NAFSA told The PIE News. 

The importance of the OPT program to the US was highlighted by American Council on Education vice president, global engagement, Brad Farnsworth.

“We really are experiencing a rapidly globalised market of international students, where the UK, Canada, the US and Australia are all competing for students,” he told The PIE.

“We are all trying to make ourselves as attractive as possible. I think that is a good thing for international students- the more choice the better.

“But we do know that international students very much value professional and practical experience in the country where they are studying either during or following graduation and that is specifically why OPT was designed in the US.

“The total number of students in the US still looks pretty good but that is largely owing to more students participating in OPT”

“I do know anecdotally that this makes a tremendous difference when students are selecting a country and an institution for study,” he added.

Farnsworth said that if there was a significant curtailing of OPT it would “dramatically” affect the numbers of international students who come to the US.

“If you look at the Open Doors report that came out in the late fall… what we are seeing is a real softening of students entering the pipeline in the US,” he said.

Farnsworth said that the numbers of international students have been dropping for several years which he put down to global competition.

“What we’re seeing if you look at the overall number of students in the US, that number is holding quite firm at over one million.

“That is because the students stay in the US longer. If you imagine a pipeline, entering at one end are new students, [and] those numbers are declining, but at the same time, we have students staying in the US longer to do OPT.

“So the total number of students in the US still looks pretty good but that is largely owing to more students participating in OPT.”

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US: Chinese student to face trial

Lun, 01/13/2020 - 03:34

A Chinese international student who allegedly tried to smuggle cancer research from a hospital in Boston is facing trial in the US, according to local news reports.

Zaosong Zheng, 29, was a graduate student at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and had entered the US on a visa sponsored by Harvard. 

“Zheng’s appointment to [Beth Israel] was not an accident”

Authorities in the US allege that he stole biological specimens from Beth Israel’s lab and, according to an FBI agent, may have been collecting intellectual property on behalf of the Chinese government. 

Court documents say that Zheng was arrested by customs officials in December 2019 after he attempted to fly from Boston to Beijing carrying the specimens his luggage.

He initially denied that vials he was carrying were biological specimens but later admitted he had stolen them from Beth Israel according to the documents. He was arrested on a charge of making false statements. 

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital. The institution fired Zheng after his arrest and his educational exchange visa has been revoked.

“We are deeply proud of the breadth and depth of our research programs,” Jennifer Kritz, a spokesperson for the hospital, told The Boston Globe.

“Any efforts to compromise research undermine the hard work of our faculty and staff to advance patient care,” she said. 

According to the report, Zheng had a laptop that belonged to another researcher at the lab who had already travelled to China. 

The FBI have alleged that Zheng and the other Chinese researcher may have worked together to smuggle research out of the lab and the country.

“Zheng’s appointment to [Beth Israel] was not an accident; he was knowingly gathering and collecting intellectual property from [Beth Israel] possibly on behalf of the Chinese government,” said Kara Spice, an FBI agent, in a court affidavit.

“This type of behaviour is expected of Chinese nationals when they travel to the United States and rewarded upon their return to China.”

Now Zheng is being held without bail after a judge ruled he was a flight risk.

US District Court Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy said Zheng’s connections to the Chinese government, which gave him a scholarship, would make it easier for him to leave the country. Hennessy granted the federal prosecutors’ request to detain Zheng until his trial.

The court case comes at a time of increased concerns over US-based scientists working to benefit foreign governments.

An investigation by the US Department of Education into foreign funding at six US universities found that one had received research funding from a Chinese multinational conglomerate to develop new algorithms and advance biometric security techniques for crowd surveillance capabilities.

The FBI and the National Institutes of Health, the US government agency responsible for biomedical and public health research, are investigating the theft of US biomedical research by scientists with links to China.

So far, the NIH has opened more than 180 investigations into potential violations involving foreign influence in US research.

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