WENR, April 2011: Asia Pacific

US Mission to Vietnam, Indonesia Looks to Build Educational Ties

In early April, a US trade mission conducted a weeklong trip to two of the fastest-growing markets in Asia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Led by the US Department of Commerce’s Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez and comprising representatives from approximately 60 US universities and colleges, the mission was looking to attract more Vietnamese and Indonesian students to the United States, as well as develop avenues for the sharing of faculty and research.

According to a report from the Voice of America, the US wants to double the number of Indonesian students at its colleges and universities. It is part of President Obama’s goal to double US exports in five years, with higher education in the US currently ranking among the top 10 US exports.

Voice of America [1]
April 6, 2011


UMass & Indiana University to Help Reform Afghan University Education

In an effort to help Afghanistan implement its higher education strategic plan, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed a one-year agreement with the University of Massachusetts Center for International Education [2] to reform Afghani universities.

According to press reports, the USAID-UMass CIE agreement [3] was signed in the middle of March. Under the agreement, UMass CIE and partner Indiana University [4] will provide assistance to 18 Afghani universities, while also helping the Ministry of Higher Education [5] to lead policy and program initiatives, strategic planning, budgeting, and management systems development to support implementation of the country’s higher education plan.

Besides improving the quality of university teaching through faculty professional development, the agreement includes enhancing access to the internet and printed reference materials such as journals, as well as strengthening two masters programs in English and Public Policy and Administration. The agreement also includes support for e-learning, research skills and seminars through the management of 15 e-learning and professional development centers that provide staff and students with English language, computer and research methodology skills.

University World News [6]
May 25, 2007
USAID News Release [3]
March 23, 2011


Kick Backs for English Language Scores

A corruption hearing was recently told that an immigration scam allegedly operating at Curtin University [7] could also be running at the University of Western Australia [8].

During the official corruption hearing in March, Indian national and self-proclaimed ‘middle man,’ Pritesh Shah, explained the scam as one in which foreign students paid thousands of dollars in bribes to a Curtin employee to falsify English test results needed for visa applications. Personally, Shah says he made more than $30,000 between 2009 and 2010 in helping the students obtain these fake results.

Shah testified that he took the money from students, passed it on to another intermediary, who passed it on to a staff member at Curtin University to doctor the results. When asked if this scam was operating anywhere else, Shah said he knew of a man doing exactly the same thing at the University of Western Australia. The corruption hearing has been told that students paid intermediaries between A$1,000 to $11,000 to receive the falsified test results from Curtin. So far, six Indian students have already admitted to taking part in the fraud.

ABC News [9]
March 23, 2011

A New Overarching Regulatory Body

Legislation was passed in March to create a new agency to regulate higher education. It will combine all nine of Australia’s different territory’s regulatory bodies into one. The new Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency [10] (TEQSA) is slated to be operational by the end of the year.

Part of the mission will be to redefine the Australian Qualification Framework [11] and have a national register of accredited higher education providers. TEQSA will have the powers to regulate university and non-university higher education providers, monitor quality and set standards. Its primary task will be to ensure that students receive a high quality education at any of the country’s higher education providers. It will combine the regulatory activity currently undertaken in the states and territories with the quality assurance activities currently undertaken by the Australian Universities Quality Agency [12].

Government News Release [13]
March 23, 2011


NYU in Shanghai

In late March, New York University [14] (NYU) officially announced that it will establish a degree-granting liberal arts campus in Shanghai [15].

The new China campus will complement an existing overseas outpost that was recently established in the United Arab Emirates [16] in Abu Dhabi. In addition to the two branch campuses, NYU has also sponsored a dozen smaller programs [17] in other countries.

NYU Shanghai will start teaching its first cadre of roughly 150 undergraduates in September 2013 on a campus being built by China in the Pudong district of Shanghai. Eventually, NYU — which currently offers the chance to spend a semester or year abroad in Shanghai and 10 other cities — foresees an enrollment of 3,000 students. According to a recent NYU statement, classes will be conducted in English and “and in accord with the principles of academic freedom.” However, the actual curriculum has not yet been developed.

Most of the professors would be regular NYU faculty members who volunteer or agree to spend a few semesters abroad, while up to 50 percent of enrollments are expected to come from China.

New York Times [18]
March 27, 2011

Graduates Told to Lower Expectations

Chinese university graduates have been told by a senior education official that they should lower their job expectations, while schools should offer more practical training to help them in a tough job market.

Chinese colleges and universities have greatly increased enrollments in recent years, as part of the government’s drive to create a more skilled workforce. Yet many graduates are struggling to find the kind of white-collar work they expect for their investment in education. More than 6.6 million people will graduate from colleges and universities in China this year, a rise of about 300,000 over 2010.

According to Sun Xiaobing, head of the Education Ministry’s policy and regulations department, “the employment of graduates is an issue that has attracted wide concern, and is one the (government) pays great attention to.”

He continued by saying that graduates must “dare to go to places to work where the country, society and the people have the most need” and “not only look at the big cities or the best work positions.”

Based on government figures, almost 91 percent of graduates had found work as of the end of last year. However, China’s registered urban jobless rate — the only official measure of unemployment and one that private economists say does not fully reflect the job market — remained at 4.1 percent at the end of 2010.

Reuters [19]
March 28, 2011

Government Lists Research Opportunities for Foreign Researchers

The Chinese Government released a notice [20] in February on its various scholarship programs [21] for students, teachers and scholars wishing to study or undertake research in Chinese higher education institutions.

Chinese Government [22]
February 14, 2011


Government Looks at Ways to Increase International Enrollments

The Indian government is looking at initiatives aimed at increasing the number of international students attending the country’s institutions of higher education.

A government committee has already suggested extra help with English proficiency classes, online entrance examinations for some courses to enable more students to apply, additional funds for residences, and mandatory health insurance for self-financing international students. The committee has also suggested streamlining the process of visa extensions, as this requires some students to return home and apply to Indian missions in their respective countries.

A committee led by the Ministry of External Affairs will look into issues related to the welfare of foreign students, including health safety, security, easy credit transfers, problems relating to the use of Hindi and other regional languages in some universities, and assimilation into Indian culture.

According to the Association of Indian Universities [23], the number of international students has risen from a little over 13,000 in 2004-05 to more than 21,000 in 2007-08. While most students are from Asia, especially countries in South Asia, Africa sent some 2,000 students.

By comparison, Singapore had 80,000 international students in 2006 and aims to raise this number to 150,000 by 2015. China received almost 230,000 overseas students in 2009 and has set a target of 500,000 by 2020. While the Indian government has stopped short of setting target figures, it hopes changes in the admissions process, improvements in education infrastructure and an emphasis on academic support will encourage more international students to come.

University World News [24]
March 27, 2011

More Indian Undergraduates than Ever Before Heading Overseas

India has long been a major source market for overseas graduate students, and, in recent years, the number of students at the undergraduate level heading overseas has also begun to tick significantly higher.

Students graduating with their Class XII (or grade 12 equivalent) exams are heading abroad to popular study destination such as the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and now Singapore. According to Piyush Aggarwal, director of the India-based Abroad Education Consultants (ABE), there are 15 to 20 percent more undergraduate student applications for foreign programs each year. He says the trend is a result of a number of factors, including the fierce competition for spots at India’s top professional institutes, and the fact that disposable incomes (and abilities to secure educational bank loans) are on the rise.

“The most important factor,” agrees Shakuntala Rao, a State University of New York communications professor, “is the emergence of a wealthy Indian middle class which can now afford to send their children abroad for education.”

The Times of India [25]
March 26, 2011

India-US Education Summit Set for June

American and Indian university leaders will convene in Washington on June 14 and 15 to talk about expanding higher-education partnerships between the two countries. Indian officials said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Kapil Sibal, India’s education minister, would probably be co-chairs of the summit.

PTI [26]
April 7, 2011


Some Universities Delay Start of Semester

With radiation leaking from a damaged nuclear-power plant, some universities have postponed the start of their academic year. Waseda University [27], one of the leading private institutions in Japan, announced that it would delay the start of the new academic year by at least two weeks, until May 5, as it struggled to deal with the aftermath of the disasters.

Sophia University [28] and other top private institutions in Tokyo are considering following suit. Universities there have had to deal with rolling power outages and other limitations on their activities.

Universities in the capital and elsewhere are reporting cancellations of contracts by part-time foreign instructors worried by radiation leakages from the crippled nuclear plant north of Tokyo. Many embassies, including those of France and Germany, have advised their citizens in Japan to avoid Tokyo, and some have urged evacuation. In March, following a US State Department warning about elevated radioactivity levels, a number of American universities, along with Temple University’s branch campus [29] in Tokyo, pulled their U.S. students out of the country.

Japan’s Ministry of Education [30] said some public universities in the northeast had pushed the start of the academic year back by several weeks. Institutions west of Tokyo, however, have mostly been unaffected.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [31]
March 21, 2011


Government Halts Growth in Private Higher Education

Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education [32] pulled the approvals of 59 private colleges and deregistered 28 others between 2009 and 2010, the Malaysian parliament was told in April.

Deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the ministry found that these institutions were unable to provide quality service in terms of programs, premises, management and teaching staff as well as learning and teaching facilities.

Saifuddin said there were 485 private higher learning institutes including 49 universities (24), university colleges (20) or the branches of foreign universities (5), with 541,629 students registered with the ministry as of January this year.

The ministry is also focused on distributing research funding under its Fundamental Research Grant Scheme. Last year 224 research projects at 22 different private universities, university colleges, and branches of foreign universities were awarded funds. This year, the number of projects is up to 254.

Bernama [33]
April 4, 2011

New Zealand

International Students Come Back Post-Earthquake

After February’s devastating earthquake, universities in Christchurch are beginning to pick up the pieces and international students are starting to return.

New Zealand’s Tertiary Minister Steven Joyce voiced concerns in March over the “significant decline” in international student numbers since the earthquake (before which there were 6,600 international tertiary students enrolled with Christchurch providers alone). However, many institutions report that most of their foreign students have indicated that they will return once classes resume.

At Canterbury University [34], vice-chancellor Rod Carr says only 35 out of the 1,095 international students enrolled before the earthquake have so far requested their full fee refunds, although they will still be able to do so until April 21st.

According to Joyce, Christchurch plays a “big part” in the country’s overall education market, and has a strong reputation for quality providers – a reputation that will hopefully see it through the current situation. By the middle of March, approximately half of the city’s 120 private training institutions had restarted operations. The biggest problem now, according to Education New Zealand [35] spokesperson Michelle Waitzman, is to convince the international community that the country is not only ‘fine,’ but also safe.

“We need to say to them that natural disasters can’t be predicted. There’s no more chance of them happening in New Zealand than anywhere else.”

The Press [36]
March 18, 2011


Higher Education Commission to Be Disbanded

Pakistan’s graduate education sector stands to lose as much as $300 million in World Bank loans. A late-March decision by the federal cabinet will strip the financial and administrative responsibilities from the Higher Education Commission [37], Pakistan’s graduate education regulator, an autonomous body set up in 2002.

A clause in the regulator’s agreement with the World Bank states that any change in the legal status of the former would immediately end the agreement to grant it $300 million in loans for its programs over the next five years.

Since its creation, the commission has been granted large amounts of money to help enroll more doctoral students in programs in Pakistan and abroad, hire foreign faculty members, and establish new universities. But critics say that the large financial infusion has led to corruption, plagiarism, favoritism, and a lowering of academic standards. Pakistan’s cabinet has given the regulator’s former roles to the country’s various provinces.

The News International [38]
March 28, 2011


Yale College to Go Ahead Despite Protests

A somewhat controversial collaboration between the National University of Singapore [39] (NUS) and Yale University [40] was approved in March by the two institutions. In announcing the formalization of plans, the two schools said [41] that the new autonomous Yale-NUS [42] college will begin classes within two years as Singapore’s first liberal arts college based on the US model.

The partnership is something of a coup for Singapore and its ambitions of becoming a major knowledge hub for Asia, and also in its ambitions of retaining and attracting top academic talent. Opponents of the tie-up have aired concerns over academic freedom and the ethics of partnering with a country that many view as oppressive and autocratic. NUS president Tan Chorh Chuanw told Singaporean media after the announcement that his counterparts at Yale were now “fully satisfied” that academic freedom would not be an issue for the autonomous college nor would it affect Yale’s brand image.

The initiative will be Yale’s first branch campus outside the US, although degrees will be conferred by NUS and the curriculum will be developed jointly. In 2013, the first 150 students will be admitted and the numbers will be increased steadily by 250 new students per year to reach around 1,000. Some 30 to 35 core members of faculty will also be hired.

Apart from income from tuition fees, which NUS Vice-president Lily Kong confirmed would be lower than studying at Yale in the US, Singapore is providing almost all the finance for the new institution from public funds.

Yale Daily Bulletin [43]
March 31, 2011