WENR

WENR, January/February: Asia-Pacific

Afghanistan

Cross-Border University Linkages Planned with Pakistan

Universities in Pakistan and Afghanistan are planning to build partnerships around faculty and student exchanges and distance learning. Talks took place between 15 Afghani professors and Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission in January, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported. The discussion focused on intensifying and extending contacts between a group of Afghani (Herat, Jalalabad, Kabul and Khost) and Pakistani universities (Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar). The delegation also agreed to start fellowships for students and joint research programs. The visit was part of the G8 Afghanistan-Pakistan Initiative [1].

Associated Press of Pakistan [2]
January 19, 2011

Australia

International Student Strategy

In late October 2010 Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Evans released the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) International Students Strategy for Australia [3] (ISSA). The strategy is available on the Council of Australian Governments’ website [4] and outlines 12 initiatives to address four key areas: international student wellbeing, quality of international education, consumer protection and the availability of better information for international students.

The student wellbeing part of the strategy includes a student personal safety guide, the Guide to Living and Studying in Australia [5]; provider student safety plans, which requires every provider to develop and implement a provider student safety plan; strengthened health coverage arrangements that require all international students to provide evidence of health coverage for the duration of their visa; an international student community engagement strategy; an international student consultative committee to work with state and territory governments; strengthening of the Australian Quality Training Framework [6]; strengthening the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000; Provider Closure Taskforces to ensure that students affected by provider closure are fully informed of their rights and responsibilities in a timely manner; improved complaints handling and dispute resolution; Study in Australia [7] portal; information about government services; and international student surveys.

Australia Education International [8]
October 29, 2010

As Universities Adjust to New International Enrollment Realities, Government Orders Review of Sector

Some Australian universities are making budget cuts as the enrollment of international students continues to shrink, reports The Australian [9]. New visa rules, attacks on Indian students, and other issues have led to the decline. In response, the government has set up a review to investigate ways of turning the trend around.

Central Queensland University [10] says the number of foreign students it enrolls is likely to drop by 25 percent in 2011, reducing tuition revenue by approximately A$20 million. Almost half of CQU’s students are full fee-paying students from abroad. The University of Ballarat [11], too, has seen the proportion of its international students fall this year, from 32 percent to 22 percent. The reduction will not lead to any cuts in programs, campus officials said. Perhaps most affected by the enrollment downturn is Monash University [12], which, according The Australian, has reported that 356 full-time equivalent staff members there have accepted voluntary buyouts as part of an effort to trim $45 million from the budget. Enrollment of foreign students at Monash has fallen by 30 percent.

Announcing the review, Education Minister Chris Evans and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said in late December that they would give education providers and stakeholders “an important opportunity to share their vision of the sector’s future.”

“The review is tasked with enhancing the continued competitiveness of the international education sector, as well as strengthening the integrity of the student visa program,” Evans said. Michael Knight, a former Labor minister in the New South Wales government who had charge of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, will undertake the review. Knight has been asked to report by mid-2011. Universities in Australia have welcomed the “timely” decision by the country’s federal government to review its student-visa system. In announcing the review, ministers also unveiled an immediate package of measures designed to ease restrictions that have been partly blamed for the decline in applications from key markets such as India and China.

The immediate package of measures announced by the government included a lowering of the “assessment levels” required for student-visa applications made by people from 38 countries, including India and China, from April 2011.

The Australian [9]
December 15, 2010

Open Enrollment from 2012

In 2012, a previously untried system of open enrollments is set to begin in the higher education sector. The government will then lift restrictions on enrollment numbers and universities will be free to admit as many students as they believe they can handle.

Smaller universities are reportedly fearful that the new enrollment realities will result in bigger metropolitan institutions attracting an ever-larger share of the more talented school leavers and receiving federal grants for each while they face dwindling enrollments. They also expect declining revenues from foreign fees with student numbers from China and India particularly falling rapidly.

University World News [13]
January 7, 2011

150,000 International Students Expecting Permanent Residency Likely to be Sent Home

Following the recent changes to Australia’s immigration laws, approximately 150,000 international students and graduates who are said to have applied for permanent residency under immigration rules in place when they first arrived, now face the very real possibility of having to return home.

The changes, aimed at better linking immigration to meet labor demands, are particularly geared toward cutting down on the previous surge of “dodgy” colleges – those designed more for migration purposes than actually providing quality education. But after the government more than halved the number of occupations considered ‘in demand,’ many students whose programs previously qualified them for permanent residency will no longer be considered priority applicants.

Although the government is offering 18-month temporary visas to allow such students to get work experience and secure sponsorship, for many, this will not be enough time to obtain the employer sponsorship they now need. In January, The Australian newspaper reported that the Department of Immigration had warned that many of students felt aggrieved and had started to mobilize. Students protested in Sydney in June and more protests could follow as students are forced to return home when special temporary visas begin expiring en masse in August.

The newspaper reports that Robert Atcheson, President of the Council of International Students Australia [14], was lobbying the government to exempt 455,000 students who had already started their programs when the changes were announced in February.

The Australian [15]
January 6, 2011

US For-Profit Provider Planning Australia Campus

Laureate International [16], a worldwide chain of for-profit universities, is planning a major new campus in Australia, Adelaide Now has reported. While an official announcement has not been made, government officials are reportedly in discussions about how to support the construction of a $300 million campus in Adelaide.

The Department of Trade and Economic Development has revealed that the US-based Laureate, which boasts former president Bill Clinton as its honorary chancellor, is talking with the South Australian Government about the plans. An announcement is expected by the Premier Mike Rann early in 2011. The Government also expects Mr. Clinton will come to Adelaide for the formal announcement.

The move comes after UK-based Cranfield University [17] announced earlier this year it was closing its South Australia campus, casting doubts on the Premier’s vision for Adelaide as the country’s university city. A spokeswoman for Laureate International said she “would not confirm or deny” that the organization had decided on Adelaide as the site for a new university.

“Laureate … is exploring a number of options related to university operations in Australia, but it is premature to speculate at this time on specific plans,” vice-president of corporate communications Debra Epstein said from Baltimore in the United States.

According to its website, Laureate has more than 50 accredited campus-based and online universities worldwide, with more than 600,000 students.

Adelaide Now [18]
December 17, 2010

English-Language Tests from China Slump in 2010

The number of Chinese students taking English-language tests in preparation for study at Australian universities and colleges fell by more than 25 percent in 2010. The overseas market is regarded as crucial by the Australian university sector, and China has become particularly important after the big drop in Indian recruitment after a series of attacks on Indian students.

The Australian newspaper said the new figures confirmed “fears of a downturn next year (2011) in the country’s single largest international-student market.” It added: “The International English Language Testing System [19] data show candidates are instead aiming to go to the US and Britain. It is a further sign that students are being put off by tighter visa requirements and a strong Australian dollar.”

In addition, an Austrade survey of Chinese agents reveals 53 percent are expecting demand for Australian education to fall during the next three to 12 months. The survey of 30 agents found increased costs, along with tighter migration settings and policy uncertainty, were key turn-offs for students. Nearly half the agents reported their Australian business had fallen by more than 20 percent, while their business for the United States was up an average of 50 percent.

The Australian [20]
December 9, 2010

International Sector Brings in Record Revenue in 2010

Australia’s international student sector is estimated to have brought in a record-breaking $19.1 billion (US$ 19 billion) in export income over the last financial year, almost two billion more than the previous year. Dennis Murray, executive director of the International Education Association [21], told The Australian newspaper that he thought it was a “nice figure to see,” but a “high water mark.”

Income is expected to fall dramatically amid falling enrollments, starting last September, especially in the vocational and English-language sectors. Those falling English-language enrollment declines are widely expected to impact future higher education enrollments.

Data [22] recently published by Australian Education International revealed that in 2009-10, higher education accounted for $10.6 billion, or 57.4 percent of onshore earnings from education, followed by vocational education and training ($5.1 billion, 27.7 percent) and English colleges ($1 billion and 5.6 percent). In the year to November 2010, however, VET commencements fell 8.2 percent compared with the same period in 2009. English college starts dropped by 21.3 percent, although higher education managed a 2.4 percent increase in new students.

The Australian [23]

Bangladesh

Private Sector Demands Deemed ‘Illogical’

The Bangladesh government has said that private universities must set up their own campuses or be banned from admitting students. Private universities are asking to be given 15 years to open independent campuses, the Bdnews24.com website reported, rather than the five-year maximum in the government’s Private University Act 2010. The institutions also want government land.

Nurul Islam Nahid, the minister for education, called the request “illogical, unrealistic and unacceptable.” He added: “Their demand for government lands to move to their permanent campuses cannot be a condition. This is absurd and illegal.” The government has so far allowed 51 private universities to open in Bangladesh. Of those, 49 have failed to meet the five-year timeline to establish their own campuses.

Bdnews24 [24]
December 12, 2010

China

University Graduates Face Hopeless Odds

In 1998 when Jiang Zemin, then president of China, announced plans to dramatically increase higher education opportunities, universities and colleges produced 830,000 graduates a year. Last May, that number was more than six million and rising, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

It is a remarkable achievement, yet for a government fixated on stability, such figures are also a cause for concern. The economy, despite its robust growth, does not generate enough good professional jobs to absorb the influx of highly educated young adults. Ironically, China’s old migrant class — uneducated villagers who flocked to factory towns to make goods for export — are now in high demand, with regional labor shortages and tighter government oversight driving up blue-collar wages. But the supply of those trained in accounting, finance and computer programming now seems limitless, and their value has plunged. Between 2003 and 2009, the average starting salary for migrant laborers grew by nearly 80 percent; during the same period, starting pay for college graduates stayed the same (although their wages actually decreased if inflation is taken into account).

Chinese sociologists have come up with a new term for educated young people who move in search of work like: the ant tribe. It is a reference to their immense numbers — at least 100,000 in Beijing alone — and to the fact that they often settle into crowded neighborhoods, working for wages that even low-paid factory workers might turn down.

New York Times [25]
December 12, 2010

Business Schools Have Come a Long Way

Over the course of a decade business education in China has flourished with remarkable speed, keeping some of the country’s top talent at home while also drawing foreign students who have their sights set on China’s economy. Their international reputation has not yet caught up with that of U.S. and European counterparts, but it shouldn’t be surprising to see such names as China Europe International Business School [26] (CEIBS) and Tsinghua University [27] ranked right behind ones like Kellogg [28] and Sloan [29] within the next 10 years, estimates Business Week magazine.

In 1991, the Chinese government formally authorized MBA programs at nine schools. As of the end of this year that number will have exploded to 236, a 25 percent increase over 2010. More than 20,000 MBAs graduate every year, but only a few programs offer serious international MBAs, with courses taught in English often by professors from the United States.

These programs alone won’t come close to satisfying demand. Over the next 10 years, China will need an additional 75,000 international MBAs who speak at least one foreign language, according to education research firm DHD Consulting.

And not only is a Chinese MBA in demand domestically, but also internationally. Every Chinese business school contacted for Business Week’s report has reported a massive influx in foreign applicants, with Guanghua [30], Tsinghua, and CEIBS leading the pack with student bodies that are around 40 percent international.

Chinese business school successes have come with the help of heavyweights in the U.S. and Europe. Every top school has close ties to foreign universities, most notably to MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Sloan has been working with Shanghai Jiaotong [31], Tsinghua, and Fudan [32] since the mid-1990s, while Peking University’s BiMBA [33] was founded through New York City’s Fordham University [34] and its degree-granting institution is now Vlerick Leuven Gent Management [35], Belgium’s top MBA program.

These arrangements have left a deep Western imprint on the schools, but they aren’t mere copies of their foreign partner institutions. A majority of the full-time faculty at all the profiled schools remains Chinese, and every school has heavy resources devoted to producing local case studies, a key component of business education.

Business Week [36]
December 16, 2010

AEI Offers Translated Version of China’s 10-Year Development Plan for Educational Reform

Australian Education International [37] (AEI) has released a translation [38] of the Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020), a comprehensive strategy identifying China’s current challenges in education and its priorities for reform – including higher education reforms. Proposed actions are: to improve the quality of higher education and pedagogical skills of university teachers; to further invest in infrastructures, postgraduate education and research; to set up a new dynamic regulatory framework; to diversify the missions and activities of universities; to foster international engagement through Chinese universities showcases and more international alliances. A summary [39] is also available.

AEI [38]
July 2010

China’s First ‘Autonomous University’ Sets New Standards While Breaking the Law

Chinese physical chemist Zhu Qingshi knew he was breaking China’s academic traditions when he began the process of setting up the country’s first “autonomous university.” However, he didn’t approach his groundbreaking project with full understanding that he’d have to break the law to make it happen — a reality that soon became clear as his efforts to create a university that would free his students and staff from what he considers the innovation-stifling bureaucracy present within the rest of the nation’s universities got underway.

Specifically, he would have to open his Shenzhen-based university without going through the mandatory legal processes – which includes first operating successfully as a junior college, and then gaining official Ministry of Education [40] approval before upgrading to university-level. He acknowledges that his decision to start enrolling students at South University of Science and Technology (SUST) in December — without approval from the Ministry of Education — was simply illegal. Becoming a research-intensive university — Zhu’s goal for SUST — requires decades to qualify for graduate programs.

“SUST obviously had no time or requirement to go through the full procedure. We needed to bring in the best researchers and the best post-graduates. But without approval to enroll, that was illegal.”

The lack of “requirement” refers to the backing of the Shenzhen government. Deputy Mayor Yan Xiaopei has said that if Shenzhen wants to remain a leader in China’s economic reform, the city must have a world-leading university to support its development potential. Directly under the Shenzhen government, SUST, was established in Nanshan District with an investment of more than 2.5 billion yuan (US$373 million).

The ministry of education ended up approving the project in early January, seven weeks ahead of the planned opening on March 1. Handpicked by the local Shenzhen authorities, Zhu was chosen to develop a feasible new operating system to better tap the potential of Chinese youth. The result is a pioneering institute, built on Western principles.

It employs a unique style of entrance exam (testing academic achievement as well as imagination, understanding, and innovation), while allowing students to delay choosing their majors until two years into their undergraduate program. The faculty model is considered ‘non-bureaucratic,’ with a council to govern administrative matters, but being entirely detached from academic activities. Zhu, who enjoyed deputy governor-level status when heading the University of Science and Technology of China [41] in Hefei, Anhui Province, forsook his bureaucratic ranking, turning SUST into China’s first university headed by a professor. The model is largely based on Zhu’s own experiences as a guest scientist or visiting researcher at various institutions around the world – including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [42], the University of Paris [43], the National Research Council of Canada [44], and the UK’s Cambridge [45] and Oxford [46] universities.

“In my university, all faculty will be stripped of their administrative rankings. If presidents and professors focus on seeking administrative privileges, who will pursue academic excellence?”

Given that the presidents of Chinese universities are appointed by higher government authorities, campuses are run according to administrative priorities and professors with experience in education have little say, Zhu explains.

Three Chinese academics and a handful of renowned scientists have joined SUST, drawn by an annual salary package for leading professors of approximately 1.15 million yuan (US$175,000), much higher than that for domestic peers, but lower than the international average. In March, the first 50 students will be admitted, each with a scholarship of 10,000 yuan ($1,525) a year for tuition and living expenses.

CRI English [47]
January 21, 2011

NYU Campus Plans for Shanghai Approved

China’s Ministry of Education [40] has approved New York University [48]’s (NYU) proposal to build a new degree-granting campus in Shanghai. While the approval is an important step, President John Sexton and Provost David McLaughlin of NYU cautioned in a campus-wide e-mail [49] that several issues still need to be resolved, including the new campus’s budget.

The plan is for Chinese authorities to pay for the construction of the new facility, and for operating costs to be covered by tuition. NYU wants to start an executive-education program, which will not grant degrees, in the 2011-12 academic year. The following year it will start a degree-granting, professional master’s program, and in the fall of 2013 it will bring in the first undergraduates. The university expects to have about 1,600 undergraduates, mostly students from China, but it hopes to recruit from the rest of Asia and the United States.

Washington Square News [50]
January 24, 2011

Hong Kong

Universities Can Help the West Understand China with Additional State Funding

Hong Kong’s universities need state funding to support internationalization efforts that would aid them in building on their “remarkable opportunity” to help the West “understand China,” according to a new report.

Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee [51] (UGC), which represents and distributes funds to universities, offered advice to the government of the Special Administrative Region of China in a report published in December. The UGC’s report, Aspirations for the Higher Education System in Hong Kong [52], makes 40 recommendations – and 10 of them are about internationalization. These cover factors such as: funding; the need for extra hostel accommodation to help local and non-local students integrate; increasing overseas exchanges for home students; the need for universities to enhance home students’ bilingual or trilingual abilities in Cantonese, Mandarin and English; and better salaries and housing allowances to attract top international academics.

The report highlights China’s growing economic and political power, saying: “Hong Kong’s universities have a remarkable opportunity to become principal locations for understanding modern China…Hong Kong’s proximity to mainland China, the quality of its universities and a recognizable and palatable environment (not least in terms of the rule of law and academic freedom) suggest that it can evolve its vital function as an international intermediary.”

But the report also notes that some foreign universities will simply head straight for mainland China. “Decisive action is required if Hong Kong is not to be bypassed and its real advantages discounted,” the report says.

University Grants Commission [52]
December 2010

India

Government to Conduct Thorough Survey of Higher Education Sector

India’s government is preparing to conduct the country’s first comprehensive survey on higher education as it plans for a decade-long expansion of the sector.

While there are reliable statistics about primary and secondary schools, currently available numbers for higher education are severely inadequate, said Sunil Kumar, additional secretary for higher education at the Ministry of Human Resource Development [53]. Addressing a conference organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry in late December, he said the survey would map the number of students according to their course of study. Preparations for the exercise are due to be finalized early this year.

India’s education minister, Kapil Sibal, has pledged to increase the proportion of students enrolled in colleges and universities from 12.4 percent to 30 percent by 2020. Experts have warned that sharply increasing capacity could affect the quality of education. To address these and other concerns, the government has introduced a bill to set up a new regulatory body, the National Commission for Higher Education and Research.

New York Times [54]
January 3, 2010

Government Looks to Ease the Way for Private Universities

The University Grants Commission [55] (UGC) plans to recognize private universities set up through acts of parliament for the first time, under new regulations that remove a statutory obstruction to setting up private universities nationally.

Private universities can be established either by an act of parliament or by state legislation under the new regulations for private universities finalized by the UGC, top government officials said. The current regulations require a private university to be set up only through state acts.

The move comes at a time when the government is hoping to attract private investment in higher education to meet its ambitious target of a 30 percent gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education by 2020. India’s GER in higher education currently stands at 12.4 percent.

Hindustan Times [56]
January 1, 2011

Foreign Providers Bill Stalled in Parliament

The government bill that would allow foreign universities to establish independent branch campuses in India has become stuck in parliament. Tabled in parliament in May 2010, the Foreign Education Providers Bill has yet to see any progress, and according to Education Minister Kapil Sibal in an interview with The Times of India it could be another year before it becomes law. In interviews with other local media he expressed disappointment at the lack of progress.

“In any policy framework or decision-making process, the ministry represents only one limb. I can draft the legislation, but ultimately it all depends on standing committees and parliament and whether parliament is allowed to function or not.

“I am happy that I was able to complete my process in time, but I am disappointed that important legislation could not be discussed and passed,” Sibal said.

“The process has not moved forward because parliament has not worked,” Sibal added. “I would assume that it [the Foreign Education Providers Bill] would be delayed by another quarter. However it should be passed by December 2011.”

The Times of India [57]
December 27, 2010

Company to Establish 22 Colleges Across Gujarat

In January, staffing company TeamLease Services announced that it plans to establish a vocational education university in Gujarat to respond to an increasing skills gap in India’s labor market. This comes after the federal government recently announced its intention to set up a national vocational education framework to cater to millions of students who cannot, or do not, take up higher education.

TeamLease has entered into an agreement with the Gujarat government to set up TeamLease University (TLU), comprising 22 community colleges across the state. Although there are several skill-training institutes in the country, this will be the first university for vocational education.

TLU will offer what it calls an “associate degree”, rather than a diploma, which will confer credits recognized by degree programs. Some institutes already offer associate degrees in India. Among them are Delhi’s Indira Gandhi National Open University and a network of community colleges in Chennai run under the Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education.

Live Mint [58]
January 18, 2011

Law to Regulate Overseas Recruiting Agents in the Offing

A new law has been proposed in the Indian parliament that would require all education agents to register with the Indian government or face fines or jail terms. The move comes after reports that some recruitment agents have pushed students to enroll at dubious colleges abroad. Most recently, California-based Tri-Valley University, an alleged diploma/immigration mill made shocking headlines (see USA stories in Americas section).

The Ministry of Overseas Indian affairs said in early February that it would introduce a bill regulating overseas university agents during the upcoming parliamentary session this month. The new bill would also aim to create a database of students studying abroad, which would allow students to seek government help in checking out the authenticity of their proposed program and institution before they leave India.

University World News [59]
February 6, 2011

Japan

Immigration Rules a Major Hurdle for Universities Looking to Recruit Abroad

In 2008, just 11,000 of the 130,000 foreign students at Japan’s universities and technical colleges found jobs there, according to the recruitment firm Mainichi Communications. The New York Times reports that despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting local interest groups.

In 2009, the number of registered foreigners in Japan fell for the first time since the government started to track annual records almost a half-century ago, shrinking 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.19 million people — or just 1.71 percent of Japan’s overall population of 127.5 million. Experts say increased immigration provides one obvious remedy to Japan’s two decades of lethargic economic growth. But instead of accepting young foreign workers, Tokyo appears resigned to a demographic crisis that threatens to stunt the country’s economic growth, hamper efforts to deal with its chronic budget deficits and bankrupt its social security system.

Japan is losing skilled talent across industries, experts say. Investment banks, for example, are moving more staff members to hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, which have more foreigner-friendly immigration and taxation regimes, lower costs of living and local populations that speak better English.

Foreigners who submitted new applications for residential status — an important indicator of highly skilled labor because the status requires a specialized profession — slumped 49 percent in 2009 from a year earlier to just 8,905 people.

In addition, given the dim job prospects in Japan, universities have struggled to build foreign student enrollment numbers. And in the current harsh economic climate, as local incomes fall and new college graduates struggle to land jobs, there has been scant political will to broach what has been a delicate topic. Now, in a vicious cycle, Japan’s economic woes, coupled with a lack of progress in immigration policy and lack of support for immigrants, are setting off an exodus of the precious few immigrants who have settled there.

The New York Times [60]
January 3, 2011

U.S. Recruiters Don’t Come Knocking Like They Used To

The Daily Yomiuri reports that an increasing number of U.S. universities have given up on Japan as a source of international students and therefore do not recruit there any longer. According to the findings of a recent survey, the number of U.S. universities taking part in recruiting events in Japan has dropped sharply in recent years.

Japanese students used to be the largest source of foreign students at U.S. universities, but their number is now far below that of Chinese and Indian students. Experts say the decrease reflects the inward-looking attitude of current Japanese students, a growing number of whom have no interest in studying overseas. Due to Japan’s chronically low birth rate, it has become easier for students to enter Japanese universities. Students also consider studying abroad to be disadvantageous in the domestic job market, with the process of finding a job usually beginning in the junior year.

Daily Yomiuri [61]
January 9, 2011

Malaysia

Education Hub Announces New International University Partners

At the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula in the middle of a new metropolis rising from a flat, green landscape, workers are constructing what officials hope will be a hub for higher education. The project, [email protected] [62], is part of the Iskandar Malaysia development zone, a large government undertaking announced in 2006 to increase investment in the country. The entire development zone is scheduled to be completed in 2025 and will include multiple institutions of higher education, a large manufacturing area, new financial and civic districts, a medical village, amusement parks and residential housing.

EduCity is spread over 305 acres, and will be the base for a planned minimum of seven ‘world-class’ institutions of higher education. For now, the new education hub is modest, with only a few buildings almost finished for the University of Newcastle Medicine Malaysia [63] (NUMed Malaysia), which is scheduled for completion in September. But several other institutions have committed to opening campuses, and Iskandar Investment, the government-controlled developer of the project, is seeking more international universities, including the University of Southampton, which signed an agreement at the end of January to set up a branch campus at the multi-institution university complex.

Named the University of Southampton Malaysia Campus [64] (USMC), the new branch campus will offer undergraduate and graduate programs in electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering to an initial cohort of 60 students beginning in September 2012. If all goes to plan, USMC will expand to its own campus by 2019. Malaysia’s sixth foreign branch campus, USMC, joins a list which includes Monash University Malaysia Campus; [65] the University of Nottingham Malaysia [66]; Curtin University Sarawak [67]; Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak [68] and MUMed. Laureate Education [16], a U.S.-based company that owns a network of private providers worldwide, also entered the Malaysian market with its purchase of the Inti Education Group [69] in 2009.

Iskandar Investment has reportedly also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with an American film school with a view toward setting up a partnership with a local private university and is also in negotiation with an Australian hospitality school.

Aside from the Newcastle school, a campus for the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology is set to open in 2012, and a campus for the Management Development Institute of Singapore [70] will open in 2013. NUMed Malaysia recruited over 40 students in September 2010, adding to its existing student body of 24 from its first enrollment in 2009. The current students will complete their first two years of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programs in Newcastle, England, but will move to Malaysia to complete the remaining three years. According to officials, Newcastle has plans to expand its annual intake to 1,000 students by 2017.

New York Times [71]
December 19, 2010
University of Southampton News Release [64]
January 25, 2011

Universities Switch to Western Academic Calendar

A government decision to move Malaysia’s academic calendar to conform with the United States and other Western countries has caused confusion among some universities and undergraduates, reports The Malaysian Star. The government said this year that classes will start in September, rather than in July, which would help the country attract more foreign students and facilitate scholarly exchanges.

Education officials told the newspaper that public and private universities should be aware of the change, which was originally aired in 2009, but some said they had not heard of it or were unprepared. Many students were also caught unaware and are apprehensive about the move, saying they are concerned that that their graduation dates will be pushed back.

Malaysian Star [72]
January 3, 2011

Private Colleges to be Rated

Beginning this year, Malaysia’s 402 private colleges are to be rated through the Malaysian Quality Evaluation System (MyQuest) to ensure quality, reports the official agency Bernama. According to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, this year, polytechnics too are to be rated under a system known as Polyrate.

“We already have the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education (Setara) to rate the achievement by universities and university colleges, while MyQuest is for private colleges,” he said after delivering his New Year message to the ministry’s staff at the Putrajaya International Convention Center.

Bernama [73]
January 23, 2011

New Zealand

Revenue from International Students Up Despite Drop in Visa Issuances

The number of international students from New Zealand’s largest markets, China and South Korea, continued to decline in 2010, however, total revenue from the education export industry was up and students from emerging markets such as India, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia grew significantly.

The Department of Labour’s Migration Trends and Outlook 2009-10 report found that despite the fact that student permits issued by Immigration New Zealand dropped from 73,766 in 2009 to 73,432 last year, there was a 10 percent overall growth in revenue from international students last year.

The total number of students from China continued to fall, as has been a trend since a huge peak in 2003 when Chinese students constituted 47 percent of the total international student body. Last year, China remained the largest source country but this year, the 14,998 Chinese students made up just about 20 percent of international students, the lowest level since 2000. There was also a drop in the number of students coming from South Korea, New Zealand’s second largest source of international students, to 14 percent of the total international student body.

The largest increases came from emerging source countries such as Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and India which brought an 11 percent (884) increase in student numbers. Specifically, nearly 9,000 student permits were issued to Indian students with well over half of those being new students. In fact, India became the largest source country of new international students to New Zealand in 2007/08.

“Over 73,400 international students were approved to study in New Zealand in 2009-10 with export education contributing over $2.3 billion annually to the economy,” the report said.

Number of new international students, 2000/01–2009/10

Financial Year New international students in total New students from India New students from China
2000/01 30,532 616 9919
2001/02 47,776 1438 20203
2002/03 43,551 1248 14737
2003/04 31,207 1050 5497
2004/05 26,105 1018 2685
2005/06 27,362 1377 2591
2006/07 32,509 2002 3013
2007/08 37,979 4477 4214
2008/09 41,764 5936 4517
2009/10 38,459 5931 4906

Immigration New Zealand [74]
January 28, 2011

South Korea

Working Hard for a Top-20 Global Ranking

The Pohang University of Science and Technology [75] is currently ranked as the 28th best university in the world, according to the compilers of Times Higher Education World University Rankings [76], and it is doing everything it can to crack the top 20 by 2020, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The private institution is way ahead of the schedule it set for itself when it embarked on its league table-climbing mission. The university, better known as Postech, had an initial target of being in the top 50 by 2015. The university’s president, Sunggi Baik, is proud of the university’s new global ranking, which pushes it well ahead—in this survey, anyway—of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology [77] (Kaist), its archrival in the race to put South Korea on the higher-education map.

The institution was founded only about a quarter century ago by the then-state-owned iron-and-steel giant Posco. About 500 of its 10,000 graduates have gone on to work for the company. Today, Postech has the luxury of a US$2 billion endowment fund, built on the largess of a steel dynasty. It enrolls 2,700 of the country’s brightest students and has a growing reputation for science and engineering.

Students are drawn, in part, by hefty investments in scientific research. Postech is one of just four universities worldwide to build a fourth-generation accelerator laboratory, with a $500 million giant X-ray machine that is expected to expand the frontiers of cancer treatment and nanotechnology. Earlier this year, it became the first Asian university to open an overseas office in Vietnam (it also has branches in India and China) as part of a bid to recruit the best science students from abroad.

Postech’s steep rise up the ranks is the payoff, says its president, for a strategy that he readily accepts is elitist. Annual freshman enrollment is limited to 300 (about a third of Kaist’s intake), and the university maintains a student-professor ratio of about 6 to 1.

But to rank with the very best in the world, Postech must break a national trend toward insularity and attract faculty members from all over the world to a corner of the Korean peninsula that is a two-hour train ride from the capital, Seoul. Even South Korea’s best-located colleges are still relatively closed. A South Korean government survey this fall found that on average, two thirds of all professors at the nation’s top universities are recruited from the ranks of their own doctoral students. Only a tiny number of foreign professors work in the country, which is still mostly monolingual and homogenous. Tenure has traditionally been automatic, and evaluation and compensation systems are weak.

In a bid to internationalize and outrank neighboring universities, Postech this year became the second Korean university to begin the transition to an all-English system. Undergraduate classes are to be conducted in English, and the university’s entire administration would be bilingual. Mr. Baik estimates that about 50 percent of all undergraduate courses are already taught in English, a figure he eventually wants to boost to 75 percent. The university has doubled the number of native English instructors on campus from five to 10 and introduced an English certificate program, designed to bring all undergraduates up to scratch.

With regards to faculty hiring, the university has begun looking abroad, and the president has set a goal of raising the proportion of full-time foreign faculty members to 25 percent by next year, up from 18 percent.

In the fall, the university announced a roughly $44 million investment in a search for elite faculty hires; it wants 10 Nobel Prize and Fields Medal laureates. Each will reportedly be paid a package that includes relocation fees worth 5 billion won, or $4.4 million.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [78]
January 5, 2010

New Body to Verify Foreign Degrees

The government is set to adopt tighter controls in verifying foreign academic credentials, while also tightening its monitoring of universities hiring staff with such qualifications. The state-run National Research Foundation of Korea will oversee verification while the Korea Education and Research Information Service will seek to display the full text of the theses for all overseas degrees acquired by Koreans, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said in January.

The moves come after allegations about forged overseas degrees have increased significantly in the past several years. Currently, the Korean Council for University Education, a body representing university presidents, is responsible for verifications. But the subjects are limited to universities in seven English-speaking countries. As more people graduate from universities outside those countries – a little less than half of overseas degrees are from Asian countries – and seek work in Korea, there has been a growing demand for verification, the ministry said. Verification mechanisms for all countries are scheduled for completion by 2013.

Korea Herald [79]
January 20, 2011

Taiwan

12-Year Compulsory Education Begins This Year

Taiwan will begin implementing a 12-year compulsory education policy this year and complete the process by 2014, ROC President Ma Ying-jeou said in his New Year’s Day Message.

This means that in the near future, students will be able to complete up to 12th grade without having to pay tuition and in most cases without having to take entrance exams to progress. Taiwan currently provides tuition-free compulsory education for students up to ninth grade.

Beginning this year, the government will provide subsidies to students attending vocational high schools, and by 2014 all vocational and private high schools, as well as all public schools, will be entirely tuition free, Ma said. When the plan is fully implemented, students will also be able to gain admission to the vast majority of high schools without having to take an entrance exam. However, according to Deputy Education Minister Lin Tsung-ming, those who want to attend the most prestigious high schools will still have to take entrance exams to determine if they qualify.

Taiwan Today [80]
January 3, 2011

Chinese Students Barred From Some Programs

Taiwan, which last year announced that its universities could admit students from China, has barred those students from certain academic programs. The Chinese students will be barred from police and military academies, and departments that engage in confidential research or surveys. The Chinese students will also be barred from research and educational programs involving the military or military-related technology.

The ministry said that it will not make public the list of departments or graduate schools from which Chinese students are barred. The ministry added that schools that admit Chinese students will be required to establish a security mechanism and strategies to safeguard confidential data and valuable technologies.

CNA [81]
January 11, 2011

International Recruitment Initiative Announced

In January, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-Jeou outlined the country’s bid to become a higher education hub. Ma’s speech, at the Commonwealth Economic Forum in Taipei, emphasized how Taiwan’s universities are currently suffering a downturn in enrollments for demographic reasons, but how the new policy is more than an attempt to fill seats in lecture theatres.

“The tertiary education sector brings not just lucrative income, but it also expands a country’s soft power and influence in the world,” Ma said.

He said the ministries of foreign affairs and education, as well as the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission under the country’s parliament, the Executive Yuan, would draw up a plan to attract more students to Taiwan. Citing estimates by international consultancies, he said Taiwan had the potential to attract some 160,000 foreign students, mostly from Chinese-speaking countries. However that target could be difficult to meet as mainland China itself is attempting to attract more international students, investing in major new facilities to house foreign students at top universities including Peking University [82] in Beijing and Fudan University [32] in Shanghai.

Hong Kong also attracts large numbers of top mainland students, and its universities are ranked among the best in Asia, although students from the mainland are restricted to a small percentage of the student body. In addition, Hong Kong has been drawing students from Taiwan and also attracting Taiwanese academics with higher salaries than they can get in their own country.

Singapore is another major competitor and has actively been recruiting internationally over the last decade. Institutions in the city-state currently enroll some 91,000 foreign students with a stated aim of increasing this number to 150,000 in the next five years.

University World News [83]
January 14, 2011

University Mergers Announced

Public universities in Taiwan are to merge as student numbers continue to decline in a country that has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Following a bill passed in parliament, the Ministry of Education [84] said in January that it planned two mergers, one of them involving the leading National Taiwan University [85].

The bill followed a recent prediction that approximately 60 colleges out of the country’s 164 institutions may be closed by 2021 owing to the severe shortage of students, news agency AFP reported. Currently, there are about 300,000 young people eligible for university each year, and, according to the forecast, the number is expected to fall to 195,000 in 2021.

Agence France Presse [86]
January 11, 2011

Vietnam

Regulations Governing Enrollment of Foreign Students to be Eased

The Ministry of Education and Training [87] is considering an amendment to current regulations on enrolling international students at tertiary institutions in hopes of making them more attractive to foreigners.

Under the draft regulations, which the ministry has opened to public debate, foreign students would no longer be required to take Vietnamese university entrance exams. Admissions personnel would be able to consider applicants’ high school or undergraduate records in making enrollment decisions. Students would still be required to take a Vietnamese language test.

In the interview given to Tien phong newspaper, Deputy Minister of Education Bui Van Ga said that the ministry hopes to attract more foreign students to Vietnamese universities. Ga said that current regulations have been hindering enrollment opportunities.

VietnamNet [88]
February 3, 2011