WENR, March 2013: Asia Pacific
University Application Numbers Move Sideways
After three years of strong growth, the number of high-school leavers applying for university places in Australia has plateaued, denting confidence that government participation targets can be achieved.
The increase of just 0.6 percent means that just 1,400 more high school graduates applied for university places this year than in 2012. In 2009, the government set two participation targets that are central to its higher education policy: that 40 percent of young people should hold a degree by 2025, and the proportion of financially disadvantaged people with a degree should increase to 20 percent by 2020, up from 16 percent, where it had hovered for years.
– Inside Higher Ed
January 15, 2013
Top U.S. Schools No Threat to International Enrollments in Australia
The United States may be considered by many in Australia as a major competitor to Australia’s education export industry, especially as highly ranked but cash-strapped universities there seek new revenue streams, but the Australian-born president of a top American business school says the threat won’t come from upper echelon universities because they’re too busy trying to meet domestic demand.
Professor Judy Olian said her institution, UCLA, had received 100,000 applications this year for about 8,000 undergraduate places. “The better public schools have such demand on them from citizens of their own states that they don’t have a lot of slots to open up.
“Will UCLA have an impact on what happens in Australia? No, because we’re only going to open up very few seats,” adding that universities like UCLA would only create international places “at the margins.”
She acknowledged that international fee-paying students could be “major business” at lesser universities. “The question is, will they want to go to less premier schools versus going to Australia?”
– The Australian
January 29, 2013
Chinese Students Find Advantage in Job Market with Australian Degree
An Australian degree is giving Chinese graduates an edge in their domestic job markets, according to recent research from Australian Education International.
A survey of 495 Chinese graduates educated in Australia found 82 percent were employed and of the employers surveyed, 93 percent recommended recruiting Australian graduates. Only 12 percent were unemployed and seeking work, compared with an overall unemployment rate for graduates in China of 22 percent.
In China, the average starting salary for overseas graduates was double that for local graduates. The AEI study found 3 percent of Chinese graduates from Australia were studying while another 3 percent were neither studying nor seeking work. Of those employed, 88 percent worked in a field related to their main area of study. China is Australia’s largest market for international students, with 160,000 enrolled in 2011, which was 30 percent of all international enrollments.
– The Australian
January 23, 2013
Vocational Sector Takes Brunt of Dropping Overseas Enrollments
Recent reforms to student visa laws in Australia appear to have benefitted the university sector, while punishing vocational and training colleges.
Vocational college enrollments sunk 14 percent last year compared to a 4 percent drop in higher education enrollments. And while offshore visa applications to study at the higher education level have rebounded close to 2008-09 numbers, vocational education and training applications have fallen to 22 percent of their peak levels four years ago.
Commentators say overseas enrollments at universities, which have dipped since 2010, are beginning to rebound thanks to a new streamlined visa processing system and the promise of post-study work visas. But these reforms, recommended by the 2011 Knight review, have further hurt other sectors where they are not available.
A new report issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in February shows that international students contributed A$14.6 billion (US$15.2 billion) to the economy, after reaching a peak of A$17bn in 2009.
– The Australian
February 20, 2013
2012 International Enrollment Data Released, 5.5% Decline
Australian Education International (AEI) has released year-end 2012 statistics on international students studying in Australia on student visas. In 2012, there were 402,388 international students – across all levels – in Australia on a student visa. This represents a 5.5 percent decline on 2011 and contrasts with the average annual growth rate for enrollments since 2002 of 6.5 percent.
Students from China constituted 29.5 percent of all international students in 2012, the highest of any nationality. India and the Republic of Korea were the next highest with 9.2 percent and 5.2 percent respectively. No other nationality contributed more than 5.0 percent.
By education sector, there were 216,392 students in higher education, 103,677 in vocational education and training, 78,839 in English language, 25,520 in non-award, and 18,496 in schools.
– Australia Education International
Weibo Social Media Platform Enjoying Increasing Use by Western Universities
Citing recent surveys of universities in the US, the UK and Australia, University World News recently reported that an increasing number of Western universities are using the popular Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo to reach out to and recruit students in China.
Weibo was launched just over three years ago and already has a massive 400 million Chinese language users, according to statistics released in November by the company Sina, which operates the platform. The number of users has doubled since August 2011. Other popular social media networks in China include Renren and the less known Sohu and Tencent, although Weibo is considered by many in the industry as the best for student outreach, with an estimated 80 percent of Chinese university students having an account and 42 percent using it daily.
According to a survey by Durham University, 58 percent of 163 UK universities have a Weibo presence, and of these 41 have ‘verified’ accounts, which require the user’s real name, although even verified accounts can be censored. The following for university accounts is still relatively low, though, averaging a few thousand. Just five UK universities have more than 5,000 followers on Weibo. Among the most successful UK universities are Huddersfield and Central Lancashire, which have almost 30,500 and just under 25,500 followers respectively. Both of those accounts are run by institutional offices in China. In Australia, Monash University is the most popular university account with more than 11,000 followers counted in August 2012.
Among US institutions there has been a relatively low uptake of the Weibo platform, with just 62 of them having a presence, the majority with a very small number of followers, according to research by Zinch China. Of those, just half have an active presence, regularly posting blogs and receiving responses. This compares with 90 percent of US institutions on Facebook and Twitter. US institutions with the highest number of Weibo followers are Yale University with over 30,400 despite starting its Weibo account just a few months ago, and University of California, Berkeley with 11,740.
– University World News
January 13, 2013
Graduate Studies No Longer Tuition Free
China’s State Council announced in February that the country’s universities and research institutes will begin to charge tuition fees for all graduate programs beginning with the start of the 2014/15 academic year, while offering increased financial aid opportunities.
The move will mark the end of free tuition for students in government-funded graduate programs. According to a statement released by Premier Wen Jiabao, the country will increase subsidies for student teaching and research assistants and improve other financial aid policies including student loans.
Under the new policy, yearly tuition fees for master’s degrees and doctorates in academic disciplines are capped at 8,000 yuan (1,272 U.S. dollars) and 10,000 yuan respectively, while standards for professional degrees remain unchanged, said the statement.
February 6, 2013
How to Get Overseas Chinese to Return Home?
China is trying hard to bring back college graduates that left China to pursue higher education at universities across the world. David Zweig, the associate dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in an article for The New York Times points out that while the number of Chinese students returning from overseas has increased dramatically in recent years, three issues remain.
First, the rate of return has remained approximately 30 percent for decades, and although in 2009 the numbers of returnees jumped to 115,000 a year, a threefold increase since 2007, that increase is largely because in 2009, more than 240,000 Chinese students went abroad to study at all levels, a tenfold increase over 2004.
Second, the return rate among Chinese who received Ph.D.’s in the United States is extraordinarily low. Approximately 92 percent of all Chinese who received a science or technology Ph.D. in the U.S. in 2002 were still in the U.S. in 2007. This rate was well above India’s, which is in second place with 81 percent.
Finally, China’s universities and scientific research institutes cannot draw back the best of its overseas talent. In late 2008, the Chinese Communist Party began the “1,000 Talents” program, aimed at the academic elite. Through a wide variety of incentives — sometimes as much as $1 million — the party has encouraged academic and research institutes, as well as municipal governments, to “bring back the best.” As of summer 2011, 2,100 people had returned under this program.
However, Zweig posits that if China wants to bring back the best, it needs a fundamental reform of its academic and scientific institutions. Most important, it must weaken the power of academic and scientific administrators, with funding being distributed through open, competitive, peer-review procedures. Similarly, promotion should be based on merit and not relationships, Zweig points out, concluding that the lack of reform, not funds offered by the state, determines where the really talented will settle.
– The New York Times
January 21, 2013
Prime Minister Urges a Focus on University Quality
Pointing to poor international ranking performances and a system-wide lack of quality, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in February called for an “over-riding emphasis on quality” at a conference of central university vice chancellors. Singh admitted that unprecedented growth in the sector could be happening without any commensurate improvement in quality.
“We must recognize that too many of our higher educational institutions are simply not up to the mark. Too many of them have simply not kept abreast with the rapid changes that have taken place in the world around us in recent years, still producing graduates in subjects that the job market no longer requires,” he said.
“What the PM has said is absolutely correct. Most of us who have observed changes in the higher education sector over past five to seven years have also been saying the same thing. But my question is, what are we doing about this situation?” asked former Indian Institute of Science (IISc) director Goverdhan Mehta.
According to Sanjay Dhande, former director of IIT-Kanpur, introducing a system of accountability is the only way things could change for the better.
“There is a lot of inertia in academia at present and accountability of educational institutions to the government and society is very weak,” he said, adding change will come only with accountability.
– India Today
February 6, 2013
Just 1 in 19 Indians with Foreign STEM and Health Doctorates Return Home
A recently released study by Wan-Ying Chang and Lynn M. Milan of the National Science Foundation found that only 5.2 percent of Indians who study outside their home country to earn doctorates in science, engineering, and health return home. These numbers, which are based on a 2008 survey, are substantially lower than the 20.4 percent of foreign graduates who reported working or living in their countries of origin.
Rajika Bhandari, a deputy vice president for research and evaluation at the Institute for International Education, told Nature recently that “China and South Korea have done a much better job of deliberately creating well-structured incentives and opportunities for students to return back home, than, say, India.”
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29, 2013
No New Private Universities
The Malaysian government announced in January that it has instituted a two-year moratorium on the establishment of new private colleges, as it considers that currently there are too many.
In announcing the two-year moratorium from February, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said there were more than enough higher education institutions in the country to meet both local and international demand. “We have had moratoriums before this for fields such as dentistry, medicine and nursing…To us, 414 private colleges is a lot,” he said, after delivering his New Year’s address to ministry staff.
As of November 30 last year, there were 37 private universities, 20 university colleges, seven foreign branch campuses and 414 private colleges in the country. Mohamed Khaled said some private institutions had fewer than 500 students, making them unsustainable. The moratorium does not affect institutions whose applications are currently being processed, existing institutions that have applied to upgrade their status and foreign branch campuses that “rate highly in international rankings.”
– The Star
January 30, 2013
10 U.S. University Leaders Tour Myanmar
The Institute of International Education led a delegation to Myanmar from 10 U.S. universities in late February to learn more about the current state of higher education in the country and explore potential partnership opportunities. The delegation is part of a broader IIE-wide Myanmar higher education initiative which seeks to help the country rebuild its higher education capacity.
The delegation visited universities, organizations, and government entities in Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw. It is the largest delegation of U.S. universities to travel to Myanmar. Participating universities were: American University, Arizona State University, Ball State University, Hawaii Pacific University, Northern Arizona University, Northern Illinois University, Rutgers University, Samford University, the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, and the University of Washington. The colleges selected have experience with Myanmar, whether through diaspora students and faculty on their campuses or through previous work in the country.
The delegation reflects indications from both President U Thein Sein and President Barak Obama that both countries are interested in increasing academic collaboration. The Myanmar government has increased the country’s education budget from $340 million to $740 million in recent years and has begun to implement wide-ranging reforms.
Some of the universities that the delegation visited were: Yangon University, Yangon Technological University, the Myanmar Institute of Theology, Dagon University, Yangon Institute of Economics, and Mandalay University. The delegation members will produce a report on higher education needs in Myanmar based on the findings of their meetings.
According to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, published annually by IIE with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 796 Myanmar students studied in the U.S. in the academic year 2010/11, a 14.5 percent increase from the previous year. Less than 100 U.S. students studied abroad in Myanmar in 2009/10. However, these numbers are expected to increase as the country continues to open up to the world.
– Institute of International Education press release
February 12, 2013
Hope for Myanmar’s Universities
Myanmar’s universities were once considered among the best in East Asia, but years of mismanagement and a calamitous nationalization process left the education system in ruins, prompting those that could to seek educational opportunities abroad.
Since entering parliament, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has made restoration of Burmese schools a priority, and a new attitude towards learning has emerged among policymakers.
Recent political reforms have resulted in the lifting of sanctions against the country and now foreign universities can visit the country to help develop partnership agreements and exchange programs. U.S. Ambassador Derek Mitchell said at a recent education fair for U.S. colleges in Rangoon that he hoped Burmese students could go to the U.S. to get a good education, but at the same time there was a need to improve local education systems.
When Burma’s universities were nationalized in 1964, the government controlled curricula; subjects such as history and political science were taboo. Since reform, however, there has been an attempt to introduce classes that discuss sensitive issues such as the history of ethnic conflict in Burma.
Universities were at the center of student uprisings that occurred periodically over the past five decades. The government closed them down to keep students away from where they could cause harm. Because of the history, it will take time to undo the damage of past governments. In the meantime, most students who hope to be able to continue their education still want to leave the country.
– Voice of America
February 13, 2013
International Student Visa Approvals Up 14%
Official statistics from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the Philippines show that the country approved 14 percent more applications for student visas in 2012 than the previous year. Commissioner Ricardo David Jr said the bureau’s student desk approved 47,478 applications for student visas and permits, up from 41,443 in 2011.
“Our country is fast emerging as a new educational hub in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “More and more foreigners are coming here to study and it demonstrates recognition of the improved quality of our educational system.”
According to BI officials, much of the appeal of the Philippines as a study destination is attributable to the widespread use of English as the medium of instruction in the country’s schools and universities. Most students in the Philippines are there on special study permits (SSP), which are issued for short courses, such as English language training, and for primary and secondary schooling. A total of 31,000 SSPs were issued last year versus 16,478 student visas, typically aimed at those studying at universities or colleges.
– Bureau of Immigration
January 17, 2013
Education Ministry Looks to Suspend Joint Pathway Programs
Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) has urged the suspension of joint pathway programs offered in conjunction with foreign institutions, mostly from the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia. The reasons cited for the decision were contravention of the Higher Education Act and undermining the reputation of the Korean higher education system.
January 30, 2013
Malaysia, Taiwan Sign Mutual Recognition Agreement
In a bid to promote academic exchange between the two countries, Malaysia and Taiwan signed an agreement in January under which they will recognize the diplomas issued by each other’s universities and colleges.
Kuala Lumpur’s Malaysian Qualifications Agency will recognize the diplomas issued by Taiwan’s 157 universities and colleges for the purposes of admissions and employment, while Taipei’s Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan will recognize the diplomas issued by 121 Malaysian universities and colleges.
– China News Agency
January 31, 2013
1,100 Doctoral Students to Study Overseas on Government Grants in 2013
The Vietnamese government has asked universities in the country to provide a list of candidates that they believe will be suitable for overseas doctoral training in a bid to improve future faculty standards at their institutions.
The ministry of education runs two scholarship programs, Project 322 and Project 911 for overseas graduate study, but due to budget constraints 224 qualified and accepted candidates under the 322 Project were not able to participate in the project last year. Those candidates will travel overseas to study this year under the 911 Project.
The ministry will send candidates to study in developed countries around the world and at foreign educational establishments that have committed to cooperate with the ministry. Project 911 was initiated in 2010 and aims to award 20,000 doctoral degree scholarships to graduates and teachers at colleges and universities across the country between 2010 and 2020.
– Vietnam Net
January 18, 2013