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Italy: IALC schools to offer distance learning

Mar, 03/10/2020 - 09:43

Following new legal enforcement that restricts travel and public gatherings across Italy, all International Association of Language Centres schools in Italy have suspended in-classroom activities and have adopted distance learning classes for their students.

The Italian governmentÔÇÖs restrictions on travel and public gatherings that were initially imposed on the northern regions of Italy have now been extended to cover the entire country as of March 10 and will remain in place until April 3.

“All IALC language schools in Italy have followed the rulings of the Italian government”

“This current situation inevitably affects all IALC-accredited language schools in Italy that focus on the value of in-classroom teaching as well as placing great emphasis on the importance of treating the classroom as a place for cultural and social exchange,” a statement from IALC read.

“All IALC language schools in Italy have followed the rulings of the Italian government authorities precisely during this initial period.”

IALC explained that all of its Italian members agree that this is a challenging, complicated and worrying time, but being part of┬áthe association gives them “the energy, support and service that is unique within the study travel industry”.

“Furthermore, once the outbreak of COVID-19 has been contained, IALC will play an invaluable role in aiding member schools to return to normality.”

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted language schools in Italy greatly in terms of decreasing enrolments, cancellations and course postponements.

“This is undeniably a difficult moment for all IALC members from Italy, China and the wider association, but our schools recognise that sharing experiences, best practices, knowledge and ideas in these times is the best way to prepare for a bright future once this period has passed,” the statement concluded.

IALC president, Giorgia Biccelli, added that quality is the central ethos of all IALC schools worldwide.

“This special quality shows in difficult moments as all schools in Italy, China and across the world are facing right now and is reflected positively in all relationships with students and partners worldwide, even in these challenging times.ÔÇØ

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Hungary CEU expulsion ÔÇ£cannot be justifiedÔÇØ

Mar, 03/10/2020 - 08:48

The law used in Hungary to bar the Central European University from operating there has been termed a ÔÇ£disproportionate restrictionÔÇØ and an exercise in ÔÇ£arbitrary discriminationÔÇØ that ÔÇ£cannot be justifiedÔÇØ by advocate general Juliane Kokott of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Viktor Orb├ín’s government introduced lex CEU in 2017, a piece of legislation that made it illegal for foreign colleges based in Hungary to operate if they didnÔÇÖt also have a campus in their home country.

“We now await the final judgment of the Court itself, which is expected in the fall”

It also introduced requirements that those from countries outside the EEA had an international treaty with Hungary.

CEU is backed by billionaire George Soros ÔÇô whose views on migrants and refugees in Europe have led to clashes with Orb├ín and his government ÔÇô and formerly offers US-accredited degrees in Budapest without having a campus in the US.

It was the only university in the country impacted by the legislation.

ÔÇ£The Advocate GeneralÔÇÖs opinion affirms, in every detail, the case that CEU has been making since lex CEU was passed in April 2017. We now await the final judgment of the Court itself, which is expected in the fall,ÔÇØ said CEU in a statement.

Since January 2019, the university has been unable to offer its US-accredited courses in Hungary and has instead opened a campus in Vienna which will begin accepting students this autumn.

ÔÇ£The AGÔÇÖs recommendation does not change the universityÔÇÖs plans. Until the government withdraws the legislation, we have no choice but to proceed with plans to transfer all US degree instruction to Vienna,ÔÇØ the university added.

ÔÇ£At the same time, CEU will never allow the government to force us to abandon our home in Budapest.

“We will continue to maintain a vigorous public presence, with an Institute of Advanced Study, an Open Society Archives, a Democracy Institute, our cognitive science labs and teaching in our Hungarian accredited programs.ÔÇØ

While the opinion of the AG is not legally binding, the final judgement expected later this year by the Court will be.

If it’s decision is in line with that of the AG, the government will be required to repeal lex CEU and allow the university to once again operate domestically.

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UK: New APPG will hold PM to account over Erasmus+ promise

Mar, 03/10/2020 - 08:06

A new parliamentary group has been launched to promote the UKÔÇÖs continued participation in Erasmus+ and hold British prime minister Boris Johnson to account over his promise that there is ÔÇ£no threatÔÇØ to the scheme.┬á

Erasmus+ is the EU’s program to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of Ôé¼14.7 billion is set to provide opportunities for over four million Europeans to study, train, and gain experience abroad.

ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm hoping that he is a man of his wordÔÇØ

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Erasmus+ was started by a member of Parliament for Coventry North West, Taiwo Owatemi, after the government failed to provide formal reassurances that the UK will continue to participate in the scheme after leaving the EU. 

Over the next year, the new APPG will seek to create an open dialogue between universities, EU institutions and the UK government to ensure that all the parties are speaking to each other. 

It will also set up meetings with the minister of state for universities Michelle Donelan to establish a timeline for the governmentÔÇÖs plan around Erasmus+.┬á

During the APPGÔÇÖs inaugural meeting, Owatemi spoke to MPs about the importance of Erasmus+ and how it helps improve social mobility.┬á

ÔÇ£I look forward to working with you all to safeguard the scheme that does so much to expand young peopleÔÇÖs horizons,ÔÇØ she said.┬á

ÔÇ£After all, the scheme provides means-tested support to over 70,000 people at the UKÔÇÖs universities every year.

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs not just for those at university but also for learners at colleges and in continued education. Fostering aspiration and opportunity amongst the next generation is something that we need to get behind,” Owatemi added.

The UKÔÇÖs position on Erasmus+ is still uncertain- earlier this year the UK parliament voted against a clause which would have required the government to seek to negotiate continuing full membership of the scheme.

However, then minister for universities, science, research and innovation, Chris Skidmore, said that the vote did ÔÇ£not end or prevent the UK participating in [Erasmus+] after leaving the EUÔÇØ.

Boris Johnson has verbally supported the UKÔÇÖs continued participation in the scheme, although the government is yet to make any formal commitments.┬á

Responding to a question about the future of the scheme from Scottish National Party MP, Douglas Champman, during prime minister’s questions, Johnson said “there is no threat to the Erasmus scheme”.┬á

ÔÇ£We will continue to participate. UK students will continue to be able to enjoy the benefits of exchanges with our European friends and partners, just as they will continue to be able to come to this country,” the prime minister explained.

Owatemi told The PIE News┬áthat the new APPG will put pressure on the government to stick to this promise and that she is ÔÇ£planning to hold Boris to his wordsÔÇØ.┬á┬á

ÔÇ£The prime minister said in January that he plans to continue with the Erasmus program so IÔÇÖm hoping that he is a man of his word,ÔÇØ she said.┬á

ÔÇ£If he isnÔÇÖt, then I hope to ensure that he is held accountable for his decisions and the policies he makes for the country.ÔÇØ┬á

The APPGÔÇÖs inaugural meeting was attended by Deputy vice-chancellor international of Coventry University, David Pilsbury, and University of Warwick vice-chancellor,┬á Stuart Croft.┬á

Both spoke at the meeting about Erasmus+ and how important the scheme is for their institutions. Two students from Coventry University also spoke about their experiences of Erasmus+. 

Pilsbury told The PIE that Coventry University has a long tradition of widened participation and social mobility. 

“[Erasmus+] is transformative for young people, but it is particularly transformative for students from non-traditional backgrounds,” he said.┬á

“We are very fortunate in Coventry that we are disproportionately over-represented from students from non-traditional backgrounds because we put a lot of effort into promoting these opportunities- mobility in general and Erasmus in particular,” he added.

“We see the evidence day in, day out. It is the best investment a university or a government can make in its young people.”

Croft explained that while the UK has left the EU, it will continue to trade with Europe, just as it will trade with China and other countries around the world. 

“If we donÔÇÖt have these networks that are in place in Europe, weÔÇÖre going to have to build them”

ÔÇ£What we all believe in, I think, is that these mobility options give people great opportunities to develop themselves and create really important links with companies for the future.┬á

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs the case in Europe as well as anywhere else. So if we donÔÇÖt have these networks that are in place in Europe, weÔÇÖre going to have to build them.┬á

ÔÇ£If weÔÇÖre building them in Europe weÔÇÖre not building further ones in China, or AmericaÔǪ So letÔÇÖs build on the platform weÔÇÖve got rather than taking away the platform that is already there.ÔÇØ┬á

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UK govÔÇÖt must reconsider R&D budget ÔÇô HEPI

Mar, 03/10/2020 - 05:51

Institutions should not resort to relying on income from international students to fund research and development projects, a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute has indicated ahead of this week’s UK budget announcement.

Instead, the UK government must reconsider the amount of funding it has budgeted for research and development at universities in the country, the paper suggested.

“Universities roughly break even on teaching home students but make a big loss on research”

“If policymakers simultaneously wish to hold down ÔÇô or reduce ÔÇô tuition fees, oversee further improvements to the student experience and increase spending on research to levels that are unprecedented in recent times (to 2.4% of GDP), then they are likely to need to find considerably more than the ┬ú18 billion they have currently assigned,” the paper outlined.

“Universities roughly break even on teaching home students but make a big loss on research. They fill in part of that gap from the surplus on teaching international students,”┬áNick Hillman, HEPI director and the author of the report, said.

Were the government to introduce a fee cap of ┬ú7,500 for UK students as the Augar report recommended, universities face a “looming large loss”, he added.

“If that happens, they will have to use international student fees to subsidise home students and there will be less money for covering gaps in research funding,”┬áHillman warned.

According to HEPI, in 2017/18 around 272,000 non-EU students in England and Northern Ireland each paid £5,100 more than it cost to educate them.

Around £4,250 from each student went towards reducing the deficit on research. International fees also support some of the cost of teaching domestic students.

The report warned that there is a danger the UK university sector will become over-reliant on other countries at a time when there are already fears of over-exposure to fluctuations in geopolitics affecting how many students ÔÇô especially students from China ÔÇô wish to pay high fees to study in the UK.

If the government meets targets to increase education export earnings to £35 billion a year and host 600,000 international students by 2030, cross-subsidising research from international student fees may still be possible, it read.

However, the document highlights that previous targets on international students “have been missed”.

“Moreover, relying more on international student fees to bolster the teaching of home students will always make it harder to realise the R&D target than if all the available cross-subsidies were spent on research,” the report suggested.

If international fees are used to fill gaps in research and development funding caused by drops in domestic fees, the annual research deficit in England and Northern Ireland alone could rise to £4.9 billion from £3.7 billion, it added.

The paper comes a week after the Russell Group urged the government to┬á“make a commitment to ring-fence sufficient funding” for future research projects.

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IHWO launches ELT teacher career service

Mar, 03/10/2020 - 02:24

International House World Organisation has launched a career web service for prospective teachers as the provider reinforces its teacher training provision.

IH Teach English offers students initial teacher training and professional development course options, as well as helping them to find teaching jobs and continued development during their teaching careers.

Since its launch in January, 37 International House schools in 18 countries have signed up to offer the courses through IH Teach English.

“Our mission is to help teachers at every step of their career feel part of a much bigger community”

“Teacher training has always been at the core of what we do, and this website was designed to reflect this,”┬áBeccy Wigglesworth director Member Services and Client Experience at IHWO said.

In 1962, IH founders developed the IH Certificate in Teaching English ÔÇô a course that became a standard for language teachers and formed the basis of what is now the CELTA, according to the company.

“We have a fantastic network of teachers around the world who have a wealth of experience living with a TEFL career, so there are contributions on this site about what itÔÇÖs like to work in different destinations, how to approach the classroom, and advice on how to progress your career,”┬áWigglesworth added.

Prospective English language teachers can use IH Teach English to search for CELTA courses offered by IH schools. According to the provider, all information can be found in one platform where trainees can easily compare types of courses, destinations, and prices.

“Our mission is to help teachers at every step of their career feel part of a much bigger community which IH stands for,” said┬áGiuliana Faldetta, Brand Engagement and Marketing coordinator at IHWO.

“A teacher who feels supported will glow and this transforms in having great lessons and very happy students.”

Professional development courses the new service offers include skills specialising in young learners, academic management, and business English.

Those who book a course through IH Teach English can also benefit from free grammar course, discount on books and CV and careers advice.

A bank of teaching resources created by IH teachers can also be accessed.


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Canada: Covid-19 causes reluctance from host families

Lun, 03/09/2020 - 09:36

A number of homestay hosts in Canada are reportedly turning down placements for international students coming from countries where there has been a major coronavirus outbreak, leading to a potential shortage of provision.

ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖve had 14 families cancel in the past week,ÔÇØ related Carolina Cintra, accommodations manager at ILSC Vancouver. ÔÇ£Hosts with small children or who are elderly are afraid to take students from these countries.ÔÇØ

Cintra added that it was more work finding new homestays for these incoming students. ÔÇ£We call around to other families on our list but no one wants to host them,ÔÇØ Cintra said.

ÔÇ£Hosts with small children or who are elderly are afraid to take students from these countriesÔÇØ

Tens of thousands of international students stay in homestays every year in Canada. Language schools, school districts and some colleges and universities rely on hosts to accommodate many students for both short-term and full-year programs.

Cintra says that ILSC is still open for students from all countries. ILSC has posted a notice on its website advising students about the precautions the school is taking. Throughout its schools, ILSC is encouraging students to wash their hands and is making hand sanitiser available.

Lyda Baquero, accommodation program manager at Academie Linguistique Internationale in Montreal, stated that a few of her hosts have cancelled.

In addition, some airport pickup staff are refusing to meet students from countries with outbreaks.

Anecdotal reports indicate enrolments at several language schools are down 20% with 2019 intake. With the busy summer season approaching, school managers have their fingers crossed that the outbreak will end or at least slow down.

In the K-12 sector, some short-term groups have postponed plans to come to Canada, indicated Bonnie McKie, executive director of the Canadian Association of Public Schools (caps-i).

A few school districts were expecting Japanese students this spring and were planning to send Canadian students to Japan in the summer as part of a reciprocal exchange. With the outbreak in that country, the Japanese school partner has decided to defer the program to 2021.

Many high school programs are urging full-time students from infected areas not to go to their home countries for spring break or summer vacation. They fear that homestay hosts will refuse to take them back when they return to Canada.

Having K-12 students stay for the summer will be complicated ÔÇô they can enrol for summer school for part of the vacation period but will need activities for the remainder. In addition, it could take a toll on their mental health if they are unable to visit their parents.

For some, the outbreak brings back memories of the SARS outbreak. Ann Friesen, homestay coordinator at the English Language Centre at the University of Manitoba, recalls that Canada was hit in both directions.

Between November 2002 and July 2003, SARS killed 721 people in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. As a result, students from those areas could not come to Canada to study.

At the same time, Toronto had a serious SARS outbreak that took 44 lives. Even though SARS was confined to Toronto, programs across Canada saw a decline in enrolments, including the University of Manitoba.

ÔÇ£With SARS, there were the facts about the case. And then there were peopleÔÇÖs perceptions and fears ÔÇô these had the biggest impact on international education,ÔÇØ Friesen noted.

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Online learning shift will bring positives, but adapted not replicated content is key

Lun, 03/09/2020 - 06:23

In a major effort to keep students on track with their studies, last month NYU Shanghai launched a digital teaching and learning program to deliver 293 courses using state-of-the-art digital tools to engage students and encourage live feedback and interaction.

“It typically takes months to launch really high quality online learning programs”

According to NYU Shanghai, more than 1,000 students and faculty successfully participated in the first week of the program, from as far away as Brazil, India, the US, and as close by as the university’s residence halls.

In order to make it work, “an extraordinarily high level of collaboration and coordination” had to take place internally, explained NYU Shanghai provost, Joanna Waley-Cohen.

As more institutions embrace digital technology as a means of mitigating some of the impact of coronavirus-related school closures, questions are arising as to how seamless the switch from offline to online delivery can be, and how both modes of delivery compare in terms of learning impact.

According to Keith Ross, dean of Engineering and Computer Science at NYU Shanghai, one clear benefit of using “asynchronous interactions” over real-time delivery is that it has encouraged shy students, who normally do not ask questions in the classroom, to participate in discussions.

And at Spain’s┬áIE University ÔÇô where all classroom-based courses at the Segovia campus are being moved online because of recently diagnosed cases of COVID-19 among its student population ÔÇô feedback about the shift is reported to be positive.

“We bolstered the content on our online training platform for all our students who cannot attend classes on campus, and the feedback we have received is very positive,” said Gonzalo Garland, vice president of External Relations at IE.

However he added, “Twenty years ago, we were pioneers in Europe with the launch of our online training programs.” All 7,000 IE students have had access to online platforms to continue their studies.

Bur while much has been made of efforts, like China’s, to switch to online learning, other education administrators are likely to run into technical and infrastructural issues.

“It typically takes months to launch really high quality online learning programs that reflect the quality of top education brands,ÔÇØ related Luyen Chen, chief learning officer at┬á2U, which works with institutions around the world to develop their online learning platforms.

And at Canada’s Humber College, director of the English Language Centre, Stephen Allen, who studies online learning ecosystems, explained that a problem can occur when simply transferring lessons that are designed for the classroom to an online environment.

“This increases the potential for materials to be at best, dull, but at worse, not supporting student learning,” he told The PIE.

“I’m worried that it can set a benchmark of low to reasonable online education”

“ThereÔÇÖs a myth that creating online learning experiences is as easy as uploading all the resources you use in class and recording a few lectures,” agreed Lisa McIntyre-Hite, senior advisor at consultancy firm Entangled Solutions.┬á“In reality, bringing an on-ground course online requires institutions to think of so much more than just course content,” she said.

“Segueing from offline delivery to online is no easy task and will require both students and teachers to adjust how they learn and teach to an online context,” confirmed Robert Hsiung, China CEO of online educational company, Emeritus.

He told The PIE that over the past number of years, online education has evolved to adapt to the online learning environment.

“Most schools have directly replaced offline class time with online class time. In China, students must log in every day to online platforms to listen to teachers, however, teachers are finding that students are having difficulty staying attentive in this online format.

“The problem they are facing is very similar to the issue that MOOCs face,” he added, referring to the low completion rates for pre-recorded online video courses.

The small private online courses (SPOCS) that EMERITUS offers has, by comparison, over a 90% completion rate.

But, Hsiung continued, the benefit of this shift to online is that it will force educators to change the way they approach teaching and learning, from a learn-by-lecturing/listening to learning-by-doing, interactive format.

“When the coronavirus fears subside and students return to school, there will be a higher acceptance of online learning creating opportunities for online education platforms like Emeritus, but more importantly, the quality of global education will have taken a significant step forward.”

In an episode of The Edtech Podcast, Digital Learning designer at Cardiff University, Neil Mosley, said he felt that there are both pros and cons to the digital uptake.

“There are many people who are reluctant or cynical about online learning so this forces them to engage with that, and in my experience that is always a positive thing,” he said.

“I also worry about the unintended consequences of quickly scaling online provisions ÔÇô I’m worried that it can set a benchmark of low to reasonable online education, and I think we need to raise the quality of online education.”

“Countries like China and India with booming youth populations really have no choice”

Chen at 2U is hopeful that the move online could be a critical solution to higher education’s capacity problem.

“My hope is that this period will prove to be a useful testing ground that pushes schools to think more holistically about their long-term online learning strategies,” she said.

“Universities in countries like China and India with booming youth populations really have no choice but to look online in order to support the educational needs in their markets.”

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SI-UK to open 120 branches globally by 2025

Lun, 03/09/2020 - 04:56

UK university application specialist counselling company, SI-UK, has told The PIE News it plans to open 12-15 new offices in the next 12 months as part of plans to have an office in every country that sends more than 1,000 new students to UK higher education institutions each year.

Since opening in Tokyo in 2006, the company has grown to having 53 offices in 23 countries and is aiming for around 120 by 2025. The last 24 months have seen SI-UK enjoy a year-on-year growth of 250% and in 2019 it helped 16,200 students makes 40,500 applications to UK institutions.

“In the past 6-9 months new offices have been established in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Lucknow, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad in India, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Kampala in Uganda, and Cairo in Egypt,” explained SI-UK’s Dwayne Gallagher.

 This year, the company plans to open offices in the USA, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, while also expanding its presence in China and India.

“There has been an increase in demand from key markets where the ability to work post-graduation is a driving force”

Gallagher noted that the since the announcement of the new post-study work rights graduate route in the UK, SI-UK has seen “an increase in demand from key markets where the ability to work post-graduation is a driving force behind the choice of study destination”.

“This particularly true for the Indian Sub-Continent,” he added, also predicting that┬áthe fastest growth for SI-UK will come from South Asia, China, Indonesia and the USA.┬á

“The USA is another large supplier of students to the UK and is thus a market where there is high demand for support, yet limited companies with the ability to supply this in a comprehensive manner,” Gallagher told The PIE.

SI-UK also caters for the “already onshore” international student population in the UK, running an iteration of its UK University Fair in London as well as in India, Thailand, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

According to HESA statistics, 485,645 were studying in the UK in the academic year 2018-2019, up from 458,490 the year before. The UK government is pushing to increase international student numbers to 600,000 over the next 10 years.

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KIP & Queen Mary University sign partnership

Vie, 03/06/2020 - 10:09

Kaplan International Pathways has signed a partnership agreement with Queen Mary University of London to recruit and prepare international students for entry into the Russell Group institution.

Students will be prepared for a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes with the first intake entering Kaplan in September 2020 and the first cohort of students progressing to the Queen Mary in September 2021.

“Queen Mary is a truly global university and our international outlook informs our approach to everything we do”

Queen Mary has more than 27,000 students and over 160 nationalities represented on its London campuses.

The deal marks the first time that a Russell Group university in London has partnered with Kaplan International Pathways. 

“Queen Mary is a truly global university and our international outlook informs our approach to everything we do, from our international partnerships and research collaborations to transnational education and student recruitment,” said Colin Bailey, president and principal of Queen Mary University of London.┬á

“Our wonderfully diverse student population and global outlook make us a natural choice for international students.┬á

“Kaplan are world leaders in international education, and their teaching ethos, support for international students, global recruitment network and central location in London all provide a great fit with our Strategy,” he added.

Students will be located in central London at Kaplan International College London, and will participate in degree preparation courses covering specialist subjects, study skills and English language. 

Kaplan International Pathways works in partnership with leading universities to prepare more than 25,000 new international students each year wishing to progress into higher education studies.  

“We are delighted to be working with Queen Mary,” said Linda Cowan, managing director of Kaplan International Pathways.

She explained that UCAS recently released their 2019 International Insights report which showed that international students rank ÔÇÿquality of teachingÔÇÖ highest among factors when choosing a university.┬á

“With Queen MaryÔÇÖs strong reputation for excellence in teaching along with their emphasis on diversity and innovation, we are confident this will be a highly successful partnership providing an exciting opportunity for international students who want to experience a world-class education.”

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Covid-19 restrictions have limited impact on Chinese students in the US ÔÇô IIE

Vie, 03/06/2020 - 06:02

The impact of coronavirus travel restrictions on Chinese students studying in the US  has been low, as the vast majority were already on campus when measures were put in place, a survey by IIE has found. 

IIEÔÇÖs survey was conducted to show the effects that travel restrictions related to the outbreak are having on international student mobility, US study abroad programs and international student recruitment for the fall 2020 semester.

“According to the institutions the vast majority of enrolled students from China were already on their campuses”

The survey revealed that 87 respondent institutions (37%) had international students from China enrolled at their institutions who were affected by travel restrictions related to CovidÔÇÉ19.

The total number of Chinese students affected was 831. This represented less than 0.4% of the total population of students from China at respondent institutions.

Mirka Martel, IIEÔÇÖs head of research, evaluation, and learning spoke about the potential causes of this low number during a press call.

“According to the institutions, the vast majority of enrolled students from China were already on their campuses,” she explained.

“Either they had not left for the winter holidays or they had already returned to campus when the travel restrictions went into effect.”

Some 234 institutions responded to the survey which was administered February 13 –┬á26.

Participating institutions hosted 175,398 students from China in 2018/19, or 47% of the total population of Chinese students in the US.

Moreover, 19 of the top 20 hosts of international students from China completed the survey.

The rather limited impact is in contrast to Australia, where in excess of 100,000 international students were stranded offshore after the Australian government banned foreign nationals entering from China for 14 days from February 1.

IIE’s survey also found that 100% of all the respondent institutions which had students from China impacted by travel restrictions have been in communication with them.

Some 94% of institutions involved academic advisors, faculty, and various other departments to offer a comprehensive approach to these students.

Regardless of how many students were affected by the travel restrictions, most institutions indicated frequent communications with students regarding their status on their US campus.

Martel explained that “46% offered options for independent or remote study and 38% offered online or distance education classes”.

“40% of institutions specifically mention that they have students finishing in this semester and that they are working with these students to ensure that they would be able to complete their degree,” she added.

However, the survey showed less positive results when it came to the recruitment of prospective Chinese students.

The latest Open Doors 2019 report found that one in three international students in the US was from China, and many institutions rely on this income to balance their books.

According to the survey, 76% of respondent institutions noted that outreach and recruitment of future Chinese students have been affected by Covid-19.

Just over half (51%) of recruitment events in China have been cancelled and 43% of respondents said that the suspension of testing in China is delaying their receiving of student scores (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL).

Institutions also noted concerns about students not being able to obtain official transcripts for applications due to school closures.

About one in five institutions (20%) indicated that they do not have current plans in place for alternative recruitment.

According to the report, many of these institutions said that they are waiting for the situation to evolve and most are hoping to travel once the restrictions lift, although they are aware that this will affect enrolment for the 2020/21 academic year.

Institutions are largely relying on online communication with prospective students, hosting virtual webinars and yield events.

“What we are hearing that it is a multi-pronged approach,” said┬áMartel.

“We saw that there is a really concerted effort to also have messages and virtual communications with prospective international students and international students who are abroad.”

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Vie, 03/06/2020 - 04:10

Student accommodation marketplace has announced an expansion to India as the company anticipates growth in the number of Indian studying abroad.

The company’s new office in the Indian city of Bangalore will┬áprovide a free service to students searching for student accommodation overseas.

“Changes in visa regulations for Indian students looking to study abroad is a key driver of this”

“We have seen strong growth in demand in the region over the past two years and even though we have had people on the ground supplementing the infrastructure of our global team, we have now decided to invest in a physical presence on the ground,”┬áLuke Nolan CEO and founder said.

The opening of the office in India is a part of’s wider global presence expansion strategy, the company said.

UK government statistics show that┬á63% of Indian students are choosing to study in the UK ÔÇô one of’s key markets.

The company also provides accommodation options in Canada, Australia, the US and a range of European study destinations.

“Changes in visa regulations for Indian students looking to study abroad is a key driver of this growth and we are really excited about the future for Indian students going forward,” Nolan added.

“WeÔÇÖve been able to set up incredibly fast and this is all down to the startup spirit of Bangalore and the commitment to growth in India.

“Our existing team are now joined by a super-strong growth team who are ready to take our journey to the next level.”

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Coventry Uni: scholarships for Chinese ÔÇÿheroesÔÇÖ

Vie, 03/06/2020 - 03:54

Coventry University has announced the launch of five scholarships for Chinese nationals living in China who are involved in combatting the coronavirus outbreak.

The ‘National Hero Award September 2020’ will be offered to ÔÇ£courageous, committed and professional healthcare workers fighting the coronavirusÔÇØ and provide full funding for tuition fees in the first year of study at┬áundergraduate or postgraduate level.

In order to qualify, applicants must hold a conditional offer to study a course at Coventry University or Coventry University London, and have applied as a self-funded student paying international tuition fees.

ÔÇ£We’ve got a very active Chinese student community…[and] we thought it was a great idea”

ÔÇ£We’ve got a very active Chinese student community and this particular suggestion came from the Chinese Students and Scholars Association,”┬áDavid Pilsbury, Coventry UniversityÔÇÖs deputy vice-chancellor (international development), told The PIE News.

“We thought it was a great idea and we very quickly operationalised it.”

Pilsbury said the team is conscious of the global nature of the outbreak and is actively considering extending the program to some of the other countries that are affected.

“We want to demonstrate that our mission is about attracting talented young people who feel a real passion for making a difference to the world,” he added.

Pilsbury said that he is confident there won’t be any restrictions preventing the scholarship awardees from taking up their positions come September, but if there were they would be ÔÇ£more than welcomeÔÇØ to come in January.

With nearly 10,000 international students, Coventry University has already established a hotline and additional services to help any students who may have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

While many of those who apply will likely be healthcare workers, applicants from outside the sector are also welcome.

“But we know that many heroes may want to broaden their skills and knowledge outside traditional healthcare, and many ÔÇÿunsung heroesÔÇÖ may not fit into traditional healthcare roles,” the university noted on its website.

ÔÇ£Many of these heroes have risked their own health to support patients and communities as professional caregivers, nurses, doctors and emergency staff. So weÔÇÖre proud to be able to pay tribute for their service and bravery with the brand new National Hero Award.ÔÇØ

Additionally, Coventry University will be holding an event on March 16th at the local cathedral in response to the outbreak, the details of which have yet to be confirmed but will be published here.

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St. Clair College launches $23m fast-build project

Vie, 03/06/2020 - 02:36

CanadaÔÇÖs St. Clair College has launched a $23 million fast-build accommodation project on its South Windsor Campus to address shortages in student housing.

The new 110,000 square foot international student residence will provide on-campus housing for 512 students and will be built within approximately 45 days.

“This welcome wave of newcomers desperately needs a home away from home”

This will be achieved with the use of an innovative process that uses Z-Modular units, which are constructed in a factory and then shipped to the site of the new building. 

During the building work, 300 units will be stacked and connected through a phase-by-phase process. 

Global Education Milhome Corporation, St ClairÔÇÖs educational partners, will cover the cost of construction and management of the residence.┬á

CanadaÔÇÖs international student population continues to grow┬áand the increasing numbers have put pressure on universities who have to provide them with accommodation.┬á

“This welcome wave of newcomers desperately needs a home away from home and this new residence project will provide just that,” said St. Clair College president, Patti France.

Nancy Jammu-Taylor, chairwoman of the college’s board of governors, said that as student enrolment skyrocketed during the past several years, the availability of affordable local housing reached “a crisis stage”.

“The board was confronted with a new issue: not dealing with the quality of education, but rather with our students’ quality of life,” she added.

The Z-Modular Corporation’s building process is seen as a solution to this problem.┬á The Corporation is a subsidiary of Zekelman Industries, which is owned by the college’s corporate patrons Barry and Stephanie Zekelman.

David Piccini, parliamentary assistant to the minister of colleges and universities, said the project “is at the forefront of innovation”.

“St. Clair College has been a leading proponent of public college-private partnerships in Ontario for some time.┬á

“This new residence is an example of the potential economic benefits partnerships between Ontario’s public colleges and private education providers can offer,” he added.┬á

“It will ease the stress of hundreds of our students as they find comfortable, convenient and affordable accommodations right on campus.”

Kiara Clement, president of the Student Representative Council, said the development will alleviate the burden for international students of finding a place to live after arriving in Canada.

“We commend the administration and its project partners for recognising the dire need for more campus house, and for doing something to remedy this shortcoming,” she said.┬á

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Aus universities make ÔÇ£powerful contributionÔÇØ in the face of global threats

Jue, 03/05/2020 - 11:29

In an address that touched on formidable challenges such as raging bushfires and the COVID-19 outbreak that 2020 has so far brought, chair of Universities Australia, Deborah Terry, has commended Australian higher education institutions for their “powerful contribution” in the face of global threats.

In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on 26 February, Terry highlighted the benefits of university expertise during what has been a “summer of sorrows”.

“We are so grateful to each of these university experts who have shared their knowledge”

“Our university researchers have been some of our most valuable guides and interpreters in countless news stories during the bushfires, drought, hailstorms, and dangerous smoke,” Terry told the audience.

“So, too, in the face of coronavirus, university expertise has been crucial. A team at the University of Queensland has been at the forefront of the global race to develop a vaccine in record time.

“We are so grateful to each of these university experts who have shared their knowledge to help Australia and the world contain this threat,” she added.

Attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak has left almost 300 million students out of school due to closures in a growing number of countries, while in others, total bans on study abroad activity are being enacted.

During her address, Terry also discussed the cultural and societal value of international education, which she described as one of the great Australian success stories over the past six decades.

As of 2020, she told the audience, the country’s 39 universities have almost half a million international students, bringing nearly $40 billion a year into the Australian economy.

Australia has grown into one of the world’s most compelling choices for young global scholars who could choose to study anywhere,” she noted.

“[And] when we bring AustraliaÔÇÖs best researchers together with others at the leading edge of that same field in Japan or China or Singapore or Germany, the UK or the US, we speed advances.

“Rather than retreating into isolation… we must always remain open to the world ÔÇô and engage deeply in the world.”

Taking questions from the audience, Terry lamented the “deeply stressed” students and staff who were forced to remain in China due to the travel ban, and explained that it is “too early to tell” the full extent of the financial impact of the situation.

It is estimated that around 100,000 Chinese students ÔÇô┬á approximately half of the total Chinese student population in Australia ÔÇô┬á were unable to return to campus┬áfollowing the February travel ban.

According to University of Sydney vice-chancellor, Michael Spence, a worst-case scenario┬áwhere most Chinese students fail to attend for all of 2020 would result in a $2.2 billion hit to NSW’s gross state product.

“Our focus at the moment, and as it should be, is entirely on public safety and our role and on the wellbeing of our students… ensuring that we are communicating with them regularly [and that] we are able to provide them with the assistance they need where possible,” Terry continued.

“In the background, we are looking at what the implications of that [may be] but that is not what is taking up our time at the moment.”

Terry┬ásaid that UA has been looking at alternative delivery methods for many courses across the country’s universities, such as utilising online delivery where possible in a bid to┬ákeep students caught up in the travel ban going with their studies.

Responding to a question from The PIE News as to whether UA will be recommending a fee reduction for the period in which students learn online, Terry explained that each university is looking at ways to acknowledge that the student experience for many has been less than what was expected.

“We are all looking forward to and are hoping to welcome our students to each of our campuses as soon as possible [and the]┬ástudent experience is one of the major factors that attract so many international students to our universities,” said Terry.

“We understand that in this semester particularly, the experience that students are going to have is different from what they had anticipated.┬á

“There may be fee remission arrangements, there may be other arrangements”

“There may be fee remission arrangements, there may be other arrangements. They are being actively looked at in each university because we understand that the experience for the students this year is not as as as it would have been if we weren’t dealing with this [coronavirus] situation,” she added.

Terry concluded by addressing concerns that the country has have become overreliant on China for research, as well as international students. 

“All of our institutions recruit international students from all over the world. Many of our universities have offshore campuses, transnational arrangements and other vehicles for teaching offshore,” she said.

“We do obviously have large numbers of students from China who are attracted to study here because of the quality of what we offer in terms of research.┬á

“And the strength, the great strength of Australian research is that we are internationally connected, we are globally-connected,” Terry added.

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London HEIs top uni rankings by subject ÔÇô QS

Jue, 03/05/2020 - 09:38

Education analysts Quaracelli Symonds released the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 at the start of March, revealing the UK capital London is home to more top 50 programs than any other university city.

Having also been named the top city for students in 2018 and 2019, London had 115 programs from 19 HEIs achieve a top 50 position for their subject. They were followed by Boston (69), New York (65), Beijing (59), Seoul (50), Tokyo (46), LA (43) and Paris (43).

The Royal College of Art was ranked the best globally for studying art and design while UCLÔÇÖs Institute for Education came in top for education (for the fifth consecutive year) and KingÔÇÖs College London rose from second place to grab the top spot for dentistry.

ÔÇ£This yearÔÇÖs edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject serves to underline LondonÔÇÖs status as a uniquely successful higher education ecosystem,ÔÇØ said Jack Moran, QS spokesperson.

ÔÇ£No city possesses the same diversity or concentration of educational excellence, shared among so many institutions.ÔÇØ

The rankings are compiled based on academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper and h-index (which measures the productivity of research faculty). The weighting varies from discipline to discipline, with research performance for example being more important in medicine as opposed to more vocational subjects such as performance arts.

Overall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology listed 12 programs ranked top globally – the highest for an individual institution – followed by Harvard with 11 and Oxford with eight. However the US itself saw a drop in the number of courses in the top 50, falling from┬á806 in 2018 to 769 in 2020.

ETH Zurich in Switzerland was also pleased with the results. In terms of number of the courses in the top ten in their field the institution came seventh, with the other six all being English-taught courses in the UK and US.

“The ranking reflects a great team effort from the entire ETH community”

ÔÇ£The ranking reflects a great team effort from the entire ETH community,” said the university’s president Lino Guzzella.

“A community that dedicates their talents to outstanding teaching and research supported by a highly motivated administrative and technical staff. As a public university, for ETH such a result also reflects the support and commitment of the Swiss society.ÔÇØ

In Asia, China had 100 programs in the top 50 by category for the first time – although QS director of research Ben Sowter noted a “slowdown in Chinese progress” – while 26 Indian departments entered the top 100 for their subjects.

Several Hong Kong universities saw themselves slide. At Hong Kong University 21 out of 39 subjects dropped down the rankings, which QS says wasnÔÇÖt caused by the protests as the data was collected earlier in 2019.

Colombia came out top with the highest-ranked programs in Latin America. All six of Africa’s leading departments which made it into the top 50 were in South Africa, although programs from seven countries were featured in the rankings.

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COIL opens opportunities in US, Japan

Jue, 03/05/2020 - 07:40

Blended exchange programs are helping Japanese and US students prepare for the workforce complete with┬á“global perspectives”,┬áaccording to academics running such programs in Japan.

Students have benefitted from two initiatives that seek to enhance initial online exchanges with direct student-to-student interactions.

“It is difficult to envisage so many students taking part in standard exchange programs”

Kansai University’s Collaborative Online International Learning┬áPlus and ÔÇÿMultilateral COILÔÇÖ initiatives are designed to increase┬ástudent global learning experiences and also nurture students to prepare for the global workforce of the 21st century.

Run by the Institute for Innovative Global Education┬áand funded by JapanÔÇÖs Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT),┬áthe programs provide a “cost-efficient way” to boost international experiences.

Since its launch four years ago, around 1,000 students have participated in the COIL program across Japan, Keiko Ikeda, vice-director of the Center of International Education at Kansai University said.

“COIL is a cost-efficient way for many students to work on international projects and the approach overcomes differences in term times and curricula between universities in Japan and overseas,” she said.

“It is difficult to envisage so many students taking part in standard exchange programs.”

As well as encouraging students to pursue collaborative projects to instil skills including┬áteam management and cross-cultural communication, one of COIL’s strength is that it opens up opportunities to students who may have had “financial or educational program constraints to interact with their peers around the globe”.

The COIL Plus initiative consists of two phases, Ikeda explained.

“In the first ÔÇÿvirtualÔÇÖ phase, students interact online using modern communication tools such as video conferencing.

“In the subsequent “Plus” phase, students actually travel to each otherÔÇÖs home institutions and work together on pre-planned tasks, thereby enhancing their learning experience; this is referred to as ÔÇÿhigh impact learningÔÇÖ.”

The COIL Plus initiative is run in partnership with 11 US universities, including Northern Arizona University, UC Berkeley Extension, James Madison University and Michigan State University.

In 2019, IIGE also launched a ÔÇÿMultilateral COILÔÇÖ joint honours program with┬áUniversity Mobility in Asia and the Pacific┬áand the Peace Boat East Asia Voyage.

The eight-week UMAP-COIL Joint Honors Program saw 16 students complete a three-week pre-mobility COIL, followed by a one-week onshore seminar orientation at Kansai University, and finally a three-week cruise around Japan with stops in Russia and South Korea on the Peace Boat.

IIGE is also supported by the American Council of Education and the US Embassy in Tokyo.

MEXT has selected 13 universities in Japan to disseminate COIL educational methods, which is led by Kansai University.

In 2018-19, 948 Japanese and 557 US students participated the COIL Partnerships.

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HundrED & Supercell launch visual arts project

Jue, 03/05/2020 - 02:40

Finland-based K12 innovator HundrED has partnered with mobile game development company Supercell on a project highlighting the importance of visual literacy in young learners.

The┬áSpotlight on Visual Arts aims to bring visual communication skills on par with┬áliteracy and numeracy, and will showcase leading innovations that “encourage self-expression and cultivate the creative thinking skills needed for 21st-century life and work”.

“Many times art is thought of as a hobby and itÔÇÖs not necessarily encouraged as a career path”

The project is seeking input from across the visual arts education sector and is aiming to find the best examples of innovation.

“The ability to understand and reflect visual artistic expression is critically important to thriving in todayÔÇÖs digital and visual world,” said┬áDanny Gilliland, head of Impact & Growth at HundrED.

“Visual arts not only cultivates the ability to reflect, understand and communicate important information but fosters creativity and joy in our daily lives.”

Visual literacy must be recognised as a fundamental skill in K12 education considering the “ever-expanding” digital platforms with visual content in lives and work, he added.

The value and importance of art education in schools is often sidelined due to the increased emphasis on STEM education to prepare students for the modern workforce, the partners said.

“Many times art is thought of as a hobby and itÔÇÖs not necessarily encouraged as a career path,”┬áMaria Facal from the Corporate Social Responsibility team at Supercell explained.

“We were inspired by the artists in Supercell to work together with HundrED to promote art as a key element in education.”

Innovators, educators and organisations working in visual arts education are welcome to submit innovations by May 15, 2020.

Selected solutions will be released at the end of 2020 “to kick-start a movement that supports the integration of visual art education in our classrooms globally”, the partners added.

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Growing list of countries close schools while foreign exchange trips under question

Mié, 03/04/2020 - 09:45

An increasing number of countries are grappling with their schools temporarily closing, due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. And in other countries, total bans on study abroad activity are being enacted, or postponements are being suggested.

South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Bahrain and the UAE have joined the list of nations who have suspended in-school studies.

According to several news sources, Italy is the latest country to join the Asian shutdown, as the outbreak grows rapidly in the country.

Japanese PM Shinzō Abe has asked all schools to close for two weeks, although he said some could choose to remain open.

In Vietnam, as of late February, schools remain closed in most cities and provinces; around 56 out of 63. Ho Chi Minh City plans to keep all schools closed until the end of March.

In other parts of Asia, schools have been closed in Mongolia (where the president has been under quarantine since February 28), South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, with the latter having shut down schools until at least April 20th.

In the UAE, all schools and colleges ÔÇô private and public ÔÇô are being instructed to close for four weeks from Sunday March 8.

“[Schools] have had to adapt and respond to a situation that is changing on a daily basis”

ÔÇ£Member schools have been placed in a situation where they have had to adapt and respond to a situation that is changing on a daily basis,ÔÇØ said a spokesperson for FOBISIA, which represents 70 British-style education providers in Asia across 14 countries.

ÔÇ£Some schools, particularly those located in countries or hotspots considered high-risk, have been directed to close, which has resulted in them utilising their home-school learning platforms.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Although some very tough decisions have had to be made, the amount of goodwill and understanding to work together to safeguard students and staff has been extremely effective and impressiveÔÇØ added FOBISIAÔÇÖs CEO, John Gwyn Jones.

From March 22, government schools in the UAE are expected to run a home-learning program called Learn From Afar, which is undergoing testing this week.

Speaking from Bahrain, Amanda Gregory, COO and co-founder of recruitment platform Univer, told The PIE News that a wider impact was on international recruitment activity.

ÔÇ£The biggest impact here in MENA is on the student recruitment side,” she said. “Multiple events have been cancelled, many due to government restrictions, including school visits all across the region and larger recruitment events.”

“Students in MENA apply to university late in the cycle and so the usual engagement with school counsellors, parents and students face-to-face is hugely restricted.ÔÇØ

Meanwhile, France and Italy have put a ban on school trips overseas, with reports of coach parties of students being prevented from leaving France after a ban was suddenly enacted at the weekend.

In the USA, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention has published guidance urging higher education institutions to consider postponing or cancelling foreign exchange programs for Americans.

“Given the global outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) institutes of higher education (IHE) should┬áconsider┬ápostponing or canceling upcoming student foreign exchange programs. IHE should┬áconsider┬áasking current program participants to return to their home country,” it states.

NAFSA’s president, Ravi Shankar, urged members to work with state and local public health officials to determine a course of action, as many already were.

One study abroad provider, FIE, emailed its customer base to confirm that programs to the UK, Ireland and Jordan were presently still running. “FIE has always taken a sensible, pragmatic view regarding critical incidents, and I encourage the FIE family to let common sense prevail and to maintain a sense of calm,” said┬áJohn M Pearson, senior vice president operations.

“As I write, there are no travel restrictions against, or cautionary advisories for [those three countries].”

In China, as official numbers in the country suggest a slowdown in the spread of the virus, parents are optimistic that the return to school could happen before the end of the next month.

Schoolchildren in China wonÔÇÖt be happy to learn that several provinces are considering shortening summer vacations to make up for the time lost at school since the beginning of February.

Education regulations in China are decided at a provincial level, meaning different areas will have different approaches to returning students to school, with some planning to take a staggered approach by year group.

Areas less affected by the coronavirus will likely return to school first. This follows the loosening of restrictions in some areas and more people returning to work, as evidenced by the pollution levels beginning to creep back up to their normal abnormal levels.

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BAU Global invests in British basketball club

Mié, 03/04/2020 - 09:29

Turkey-based private education provider BAU Global has been involved in the purchase of a majority share of a British basketball club, The Plymouth Raiders. President of BAU Global, Enver Yücel, will be made club president of the team.  

UK-based MLA College, which is part of BAU Global, has bought the share of The Plymouth Raiders from owners Richard Mollard and Ross Mackenzie. 

ÔÇ£Through this partnership, we will help to encourage participation in sport for all ages and abilitiesÔÇØ

The deal comes at a time where BAU Global are trying to increase operations in the UK by partnering with HE institutions.  

ÔÇ£We are delighted to be involved with Plymouth in general, and with the Raiders in particular,ÔÇØ Y├╝cel said.┬á┬á

ÔÇ£Through this partnership, we will help to encourage participation in sport for all ages and abilities, promote basketball as a great participation activity and also as a family-friendly event to attend.┬á┬á

ÔÇ£We are particularly enthusiastic to encourage the linking of sport and education and of course we want to develop the Raiders into a BBL winning team,” Y├╝cel added.

BAU Global already own the Bahcesehir College, one of TurkeyÔÇÖs top Super League basketball teams.┬á

The new partnership will provide the Raiders with significant additional resources to develop the business far beyond its current means. 

It will also see close ties being forged between the Raiders and Bahcesehir College Basketball Club. 

ÔÇ£Ross and I always knew that to grow this club to where we wanted it to be, which we hope will eventually include owning and playing in our own arena, it would always require additional inward investment,ÔÇØ said Raiders’ director, Richard Mollard.┬á

ÔÇ£Like the Raiders, BAU Global are a family run business, who are passionate about education, madly passionate about basketball and totally committed to using both together in developing the youth of today into the achievers of tomorrow, and weÔÇÖve been humbled in their desire to come on board,ÔÇØ he added.┬á

BAU Global universities offer nearly 200 undergraduate, graduate and PhD programs.

Earlier this month, BAU GlobalÔÇÖs VP Coskun Ince spoke┬áto┬áThe PIE about the groupÔÇÖs plans to increase its operations in the UK, saying that ÔÇ£the heart of the world is not the United States, it is in the UKÔÇØ.┬á

ÔÇ£We found three possible partners that are willing to get the benefits of our know-how and experience which we have created over fifty years and they want to open up schools and partner with us,ÔÇØ he said.

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Sophia Howlett, President, SIT, US

Mié, 03/04/2020 - 06:24
A career of teaching and leadership with the Central European University ultimately led Italian Renaissance studies expert Sophia Howlett to bucolic Brattleboro, Vermont. Today Howlett is the president of┬áSchool for International Training, a pioneer in experiential, field-based programs that offers more than 90 undergraduate and master’s degree programs on all seven continents. She spoke to The PIE about her journey into intled, and her vision for the future of SIT.


The PIE: How did you get introduced to the field of international education?

Sophia Howlett: As it so happens, I started off with a very typical academic career. As you can probably tell from my accent, IÔÇÖm from Britain. I went to Cambridge University and then did my doctorate at the University of York. I was lucky enough to get an early permanent position in my field, which is Renaissance studies.

“I was, at the point, already hooked on international education development”

When I was about 27 years old [and] still wondering what would come next in my career, the war broke out in Bosnia. It was the first time thereÔÇÖd been a war in Europe since World War II.┬á Everybody grows up wondering what they would do in a crisis or conflict situation, so I looked into getting a sabbatical in the hopes of going to the Balkans to be supportive in some way.

Of course, I didnÔÇÖt really know what being supportive meant – and being a teacher of Renaissance studies was not immensely valuable for time or situation – but I found an organisation called Civic Education Project that was funded at the time by George Soros. The organization was taking academics on as volunteers on a volunteer wage to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

They didnÔÇÖt send me to Bosnia. Instead, they sent me to Kyiv. At the end of a year there, they asked me if I would stay on to run the Ukraine program and start a program in Moldova. I said yes, absolutely. I was, at the point, already hooked on international education development and change management.

The PIE: And the rest was history, as they say. What brought you to SIT?

SH: After being a dean and teaching gender studies at CEU for over a decade, I began thinking about looking for opportunities to run my own institution. My husband is American, and we came to the United States seven years ago. I started out as a dean at Kean University, and after a few years there, I saw the job with SIT.

It was everything that I felt my career had been working towards: an international school that looked globally but was US-based and had a strong social justice mission. All those elements were really important to me.

The PIE: YouÔÇÖve been with SIT since 2017. At the time you joined the institution, the SIT Graduate Institute faced some financial difficulties, which resulted in a transformation of the graduate school model, pivoting from Vermont-based to global programming. How did this shift come about?

SH: We were facing some financial difficulties when I joined ÔÇô a US$2.9 million deficit, approximately. Everybody knew that we needed to make some big changes.

At the time, the Graduate Institute was primarily Vermont-based, campus-based programming, whereas the undergraduate programs were situated all over the world in about 50 different countries.

Given the challenges, we sat down and got creative. We developed the idea for global master’s degrees that would make use of the learning centres we had across the world.

“We wanted to keep both the campus-based opportunities while expanding our global opportunities”

The idea was that we would keep the Graduate Institute spirit and values, but marry them with the extraordinary venues that our undergraduate global campus locations provide to bring graduate students to study issues such as climate change or humanitarian assistance in crisis management in situ.

At the time, we wanted to keep both the campus-based opportunities while expanding our global opportunities. Unfortunately, after a year, we realised that campus-based programming was no longer financially viable. We had to make the shift at that point.

The PIE: How have all these changes played out on the ground? 

SH: Over the past two years since we made that shift to off-campus programming, we now have, as of the fall, 11 masterÔÇÖs degrees out there, of which six are global masters and five are done in a low residency hybrid format. The nice thing about those is that even they are able to take advantage of our global footprint.

So for instance, our new low residency program in peace and justice has a residency in Vermont, and the next year they have a residency at our base in South Africa. The same with our sustainable development low residency program. It starts in Vermont, and ends up going to Oaxaca, Mexico. WeÔÇÖre trying to bring a global dynamic into everything we do.

The PIE: And how has this affected enrollments and future growth?

SH: The idea with all these new programs was simple. We said, ÔÇ£okay, letÔÇÖs regroup, letÔÇÖs get the finances right, letÔÇÖs get the model right and then weÔÇÖll launch back upwards againÔÇØ. As of now, we have 108 full-time equivalent students, so about 199 students annually.

Now that weÔÇÖre now in the positive [financially] again, weÔÇÖre working towards increasing enrollment year by year, but in a way where weÔÇÖre not panicking.

“Our sustainable development low residency program starts in Vermont, and ends up going to Oaxaca, Mexico”

During the difficult times at the Graduate Institute, there was a lot of pressure on everybody. People were concerned about not meeting enrollments targets, whether we were marketing appropriately. Everyone was doing everything they possibly could but going through all those changes is very stressful for everyone involved.

So I wanted to make sure that moving forward that we had a model where we could aim to increase every year but not go for impossible targets, so that we could give ourselves the time to build something that was high quality, that was genuine, that was from the ground up.

The PIE: Are there any kind of articulation agreements between your programs and other institutions?

SH:┬áIÔÇÖm glad you asked because that’s something weÔÇÖre aiming to put into the portfolio for next year.

We have a group of about six prospective schools that would like to develop articulation agreements with us. The idea is that weÔÇÖd build that in right from the beginning and the program would result in a BA from the studentsÔÇÖ home institution and an MA from the SIT Graduate Institute.

The PIE: And these are US-based schools?

SH: Yes, they are, but we do have very good relationships with a number of schools overseas, so that is something that I can see emerging in the future too.

The PIE: And most of your current students are Americans?

Yes, they are. This is something that weÔÇÖve been thinking about, whether we should internationalise more in the future.

The PIE: If your footprint is global, it makes total sense.

SH: Absolutely. For instance, weÔÇÖve had a lot of students through US accredited schools based overseas. For instance, we have really been successful in connecting with Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Many students that come on to our program come from there.

WeÔÇÖve been able to expand outreach through these different American liberal arts schools and schools that are connected to US schools overseas. But weÔÇÖd like to be more intentional.

“WeÔÇÖre also interested in working with schools in the UK”

WeÔÇÖre also interested in working with schools in the UK. ThatÔÇÖs something that I personally would love to engage with, especially as I see the needs and know the system and the interests that some schools would have with some of our programs.

Many language programs, for instance, require immersive studies. To date, theyÔÇÖre very much relying on Erasmus and those sorts of connections. Depending on what happens with those relationships post-Brexit, there may be opportunities there.

For instance, why study French in Paris, when you can study it in Senegal with SIT? WeÔÇÖre very intrigued by those possibilities. But at the same time, we try to remain very cautious. By which I mean, we want to remain very respectful to the student groups that we already have.

Our partnership group, the colleges and universities we work with, they work with us because ÔÇô I believe ÔÇô they trust us. We want to be sure that whatever we do is performed appropriately and in partnership with the people who have worked with us for such a long time.

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