WENR, March 2012: Europe

Tips on Building a National Recruitment Strategy

A recently published report from the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic) looks at the national recruitment strategies of 11 top student-receiving countries, and in so doing offers evidence as to the importance of national policy in the competition for international students

The report, International recruitment: policies and developments in selected countries, offers advice based on best practices for building national-level policy, based on the knowledge that international students are today crucial for many host nations’ education systems and economies in an era of falling birth rates. This is especially true when one considers increased competition for students and decreased market share among major host nations.

Some main themes from the report:

  • Coordinate the National Brand and Promote It Strategically.
  • Focus Recruiting on Top-Priority Targets.
  • Leverage National Strengths
  • Develop Niche Areas of Specialty
  • Make It Easier to Study and Work for Students

January 9, 2012

6 US, UK Universities Named Global ‘Super Brands’ By Reputational Ranking

A reputational ranking based on the perceptions of approximately 17,500 academics worldwide has found American and British universities to once again be the best in the world, with six in particular dominating their peers.

British and American universities occupy all but two of the top 20 spots in a reputational classification by Times Higher Education, which asked academics to name the institutions they regarded as the best in their field. Harvard tops the list, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Universities of Cambridge, Stanford, California at Berkeley, and OxfordTimes Higher Education calls those six institutions an elite group of “super brands” whose global reputation far exceeds that of the next tier of institutions.

While the United States is home to 44 of the top 100 institutions on the list, Phil Baty, who edits the rankings, said in a written statement that “a large number of U.S. institutions have seen their standing in the table slip, with some of the great public institutions taking significant hits as the world watches their public funding being slashed.” Britain places second, with 10 of the top 100 institutions.

Meanwhile, in Asia, where public funding for higher education has been increasing in recent years, Chinese universities performed well, with Tsinghua University up to 30th from 35th place and Peking University rising to 38th from 43rd. The University of Hong Kong, National Taiwan University and the National University of Singapore all rose this year, while Japan has five institutions in the top 100. New entrants include the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, the University of São Paulo, in Brazil, and the Middle East Technical University, in Turkey.

Times Higher Education
March 15, 2012

France: International Student Data

A new publication from CampusFrance presents statistics from the French Higher Education Ministry (Direction de l’évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance du Ministère français de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche), detailing where international students are studying in France.

Les Notes de Campus France was released in January and charts international student patterns in France in the period 2005-2010. The most popular region for international students is Ile-de-France, which include Paris (36,406 international students), Créteil (18,360) and Versailles (15,517). The three cities together hosted more than 32 percent of the country’s international students in 2010. Other major cities (such as Aix-Marseille, Lille, Lyon, Montpellier, Strasbourg and Toulouse) each welcomed more than 9,000 international students per year in the five-year period from 2005 to 2010.

The 2010 data show that the most common source countries are Morocco (21,590 students), China (20,752) and Algeria (20,617) and that these students are mainly hosted by the three major cities of the Ile-de-France region. However, they are also well represented in all the other main French cities, such as Lyon, Lille, Amiens, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Nantes and Toulouse for Chinese students; as well as Aix-Marseille and Rouen for Algerian students.

Campus France
January 2012

Germany: Enrollments from India Grow Rapidly

German institutions of higher education attracted 24 percent more Indian students in 2010-2011 than the previous year, with growth from 4,070 in 2009-2010 to 5,038 in 2010-2011.  New admissions grew by 39 percent.

The Hindustan Times speculates that Germany’s adoption of a bill to launch the EU ‘Blue Card,’ a new work and residence permit for international graduates, might be driving the increased interest from India.

According to an embassy press release: “Some of the provisions of the bill are better prospects of gaining residency for foreign graduates of German universities, lower income requirements to enable highly qualified specialists acquire a permanent settlement permit, and a simpler temporary residence permit procedure for researchers.”

Number of Indian students in Germany
* 2010-2011: 5,038
* 2009-2010: 4,070
* 2008-2009: 3,516

Number of international students
* 2010-11: 252,032
* 2009-10: 244,776 (11.5% of all enrollees)
* 2008-09: 239,143 (11.8% of all enrollees)

Hindustan Times
January 17, 2012

Greece: Budgetary Pains for Greek Universities

Bloomberg news reports of universities in Athens, the city where Plato taught and Cicero studied, where campuses are covered in anarchist graffiti, stray dogs run through buildings and students take lessons in Swedish with the aim of emigrating.

Higher education in Greece, as in much of Europe, has been battered by the recession and by austerity measures. Budget cuts of 23 percent since 2009 mean buildings aren’t heated in the winter, schools have slashed faculty salaries and newly hired professors can wait more than a year to be appointed. Students say it’s hard to be hopeful with youth unemployment surpassing 50 percent and protesters seizing university buildings.

Public spending on universities has been cut across the region, with Italy, Greece, Hungary and the UK seeing reductions of more than 10 percent since 2008, according to the European University Association in Brussels. The cuts are especially damaging for countries in southern Europe transitioning from low-productivity economies based on agriculture and light manufacturing to knowledge-based economies that demand an educated workforce, said Gayle Allard, an economist at IE Business School in Madrid.

As universities in Greece reduce salaries and slow hiring, young academics are rethinking their careers there, said Leonidas Karakatsanis, 39, who received his Ph.D. in political science last year from the University of Essex in England and has a research fellowship at Panteion University in Athens.

March 11, 2012

The Netherlands: University Found to Have Issued Unearned Degrees

Independent investigations into journalism diplomas awarded by Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands have found that one in four students should not have been awarded one, prompting the government to bring in new measures to prevent a repeat of such events.

In what is seen as one of the biggest failures of quality assurance in Dutch higher education, two independent committees were formed after it became known in December that the Dutch and Flemish accreditation committee NVAO had questioned the quality of the journalism program.

The students will be allowed to keep their diplomas, since it is not legally possible to rescind them. They will be given the opportunity to follow a masterclass provided by the University of Applied Sciences with the help of the student union, ISO.

University World News
February 24, 2012

Russia: Government Calls for Unified Undergraduate Exam

Russia’s Ministry of Education has proposed the introduction of a compulsory unified state examination for undergraduates that they would have to pass before being awarded a bachelor degree.

Andrei Fursenko, Russia’s minister of education who is set to leave his post soon, said: “We need an objective tool for assessing the quality of university graduates.”

According to ministry plans, this will be a complex exam, based on the six subjects that are part of bachelor programs at each university. Students who have completed four courses will take the exam.  It will be used to help assess the level of knowledge of undergraduate students and identify universities that are failing to teach students to the appropriate level.

It is planned that the new state exam will first be tested in the Higher School of Economics, which is one of Russia’s most prestigious universities, while its experimental introduction will begin during the next two to three years, before it becomes mandatory by 2018.

University World News
March 11, 2012

United Kingdom: University Group Makes Economic Claim for Student Migration

University leaders in March made the claim that the government’s policy on student immigration runs contrary to its efforts at boosting economic growth in the UK. The argument was made ahead of an immigration debate in central London.

Professor Eric Thomas, President of Universities UK, said: “Higher education as an export industry has the potential to contribute £16.9 billion ($27 billion) to the economy by 2025, creating tens of thousands of jobs for the UK.  Estimates suggest the international student market alone is already worth at least £5 billion ($8 billion) to the UK economy.

“This market is a powerful engine for future growth – and one which the UK can legitimately claim to be a world leader, second only to the US.  The government could help grow this area of the economy by removing university-sponsored students from net migration figures. They should do this because the majority of students simply come here, study, and then leave.

“International students are also powerful ambassadors for the UK when they return to their countries, and these benefits continue to reverberate long after they have returned home.  In addition, they bring tremendous cultural richness to our universities.”

The comments were presented shortly after the release of a YouGov poll highlighting widespread misunderstanding about the international student market in the UK.  The poll sampled 2,766 adults and found that nearly two thirds of the British public underestimate the income received from international students, with a quarter putting the value they bring in at one tenth of the actual figure. More than a third of respondents incorrectly believe that the recruitment of international students results in the loss of places for home (UK and EU) students.

Universities UK
February 29, 2012

Big Increase in Number of American Students Applying to British Universities

New data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show a record 15,555 Americans pursuing full degrees at British universities in 2010-11, while data from UCAS – the central college and university admissions service – reveal a 10 percent increase in U.S. applicants for programs starting 2012-13

A record 15,555 American students were taking full degree programs at British universities in 2010-11, up 3.3 percent from the year prior. For taught graduate programs, key factors are the lower cost of tuition, shorter degrees, increased competitiveness in the job market, the portability of U.S. loans and the reputation of the British higher education system

Penny Egan, Executive Director, US-UK Fulbright Commission, said “Our press headlines are focussed on the numbers of British students heading out to the US, but in fact British universities, which consistently feature alongside US universities at the top of the world league tables, are attracting American students in ever increasing numbers. This brings in significant overseas earnings, creates potential research collaborators and lifelong ambassadors for our higher education system. This is good news, for both countries.”

Fulbright UK
March 2012

Universities Undertake Massive Cuts to Program Offerings

The number of full-time undergraduate programs being offered at British universities has fallen by 27 percent since 2006, according to a report published in February by Britain’s main faculty union. The report, “Choice Cuts: How Choice Has Declined in Higher Education,” says the drop has been sharpest in England, where 31 percent of degree programs have been cut, and least severe in Scotland, where the decline has been just 3 percent.

The report also analyzed a sample of single-subject degree programs to gauge the impact of recent hard-hitting cuts to universities’ teaching budgets and found that their numbers also decreased, with England once again being the hardest hit with a drop of 14 percent, and wide geographic variation resulting in areas of the country where some single-subject degrees, such as French studies, are now no longer taught.

According to the union officials, the government’s reforms, which it says are aimed at improving student choice, has in fact led to a drop in options “across almost all disciplines, including STEM subjects, which governments have pledged to protect” and “the curriculum has actually narrowed significantly.”

Universities and College Union
February 23, 2012

Former Polytechnics Lead the Way

Twenty years ago, the British government awarded polytechnics the right to become universities, allowing them to compete for students with older universities and allowing them to award degrees.

The Economist reports that at the time, there were worries that the change could devalue degrees, besmirch Britain’s reputation for educational excellence and dilute the polytechnics’ distinctive purpose. But they have proven popular. In 1995 the former polytechnics enrolled 35,300 fewer students than old universities; now they enroll 20,500 more.

Much of the innovation in higher education has come from them. Teesside University, for example, has long offered programs on a modular basis and assesses students every term, rather than having students sit annual exams; modules are now widespread in Britain. Teesside also tries to meet student and employer needs. Programs such as “Crime and Investigation” repackage the physics and chemistry sought by firms in a way that makes them palatable to students. Over the past two decades many former polytechnics have also played to their old strengths: building links with industry, liaising with employers and preparing youngsters for the job market.

The number of foreign students attending the former polytechnics and university colleges has more than doubled since 1992—faster than the growth at older universities. Some new universities will also benefit from the current government’s attempts to create a market in higher education. In March David Willetts, the universities minister, announced that 20,000 places had been removed from the system and redistributed. Half were given to former polytechnics charging annual tuition fees of less than £7,500 (US$11,000); the rest went to inexpensive further-education colleges.

The Economist
March 10, 2012

Four New Universities Join Britain’s Elite Group

The Russell Group, an organization of elite British research universities, admitted four new members in March – more than have ever been added to the organization since its founding in 1994. The new members are Durham University, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Exeter and the University of York. Prior to the March announcement, the Russell Group had 20 members.

Times Higher Education
March 13, 2012

Posted in Europe, Regional News Summaries