WENR, December 2013: Asia Pacific


Student Visa Rules Streamlined for a Handful of Non-University Institutions

The Australian government recently announced a series of measures designed to ease student visa rules. The changes will result in a streamlining of visa processing arrangements, including for students applying to approved, low-risk non-university degree providers.

In November, the government extended streamlined visa processing to include 22 approved non-university higher education providers. However, the change excluded diploma and certificate students, making such programs significantly less attractive to international students compared with degree programs.

“There are currently no plans to extend streamlined visa processing to other education sectors, for example to vocational education, because a wider extension at this point of time would increase immigration risk and may reduce the efficacy of the current arrangements,” assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash told The Australian.

Streamlined processing significantly reduces paper work for visa applicants but puts more responsibility on providers to ensure they are enrolling genuine students who are unlikely to breach their visa conditions. Institutions not in compliance risk losing their eligibility for streamlined visa processing.

It was abuses to the sub-degree visa sector by students looking for a cheap and easy pathway to permanent residency that fuelled Australia’s previous boom in international students. Those same enrollments also led, in part, to the international sector’s recent bust after a proliferation of new colleges established with a focus on immigration outcomes rather than education.

The Australian [1]
November 1, 2013

Brazil Tells Australia to Reduce Student Visa Fees

Brazil is pressing Australia to cut or discount student visa fees, causing concern that the South American giant will start sending its growing number of scholarship students elsewhere, reports The Australian.

Brazil funds tens of thousands of overseas students through its Science Without Borders program, and has become an important source of diversification for institutions looking to attract international students from places other than China, India and South Korea.

Currently there are about 1,500 Brazilian scholarship students in Australia’s top universities and technology schools, mostly at institutions that have agreements with Brazilian agencies. The Brazilians say that, at US$500 each, Australian visas are too expensive. They compare to $120 for Canada, $195 for New Zealand and $160 for the United States.

University of Adelaide pro vice-chancellor (international) Kent Anderson said Canada was offering discounts on visa fees for large scholarship programs like Science Without Borders.

The Australian [2]
June 19, 2013


Overseas Degree Not a Guarantee of Future Earnings

Work experience is a better predictor of Chinese salaries than the country from which degrees are earned, according to a recent study.

Salaries are determined by work experience during time studying abroad, a survey conducted by Beijing-based EIC International Education revealed. The survey found that a Chinese job seeker with less than five years of overseas work experience receives an annual salary of 165,000 yuan (US$27,100), while individuals with at least five years of experience working abroad can command a salary of up to 267,100 yuan (US$43,900) a year.

Most of the positions offered by Chinese companies do not specify a requirement for a domestic degree or a foreign degree, while 62 percent of recruiters placed greater emphasis on a candidate’s professional skills over degree type. Around 84 percent of the Chinese firms polled stated that they were looking for job seekers that had overseas experience, innovative abilities and proficiency in a foreign language.

Want China Times [3]
October 29, 2013

Overseas Chinese Student Numbers Continue to Surge

The number of Chinese students overseas will surpass 450,000 by the year end, up from 2012’s total of 399,600, an official in international education exchange has estimated.

Zong Wa, deputy secretary-general of the China Education Association for International Exchange [4] said in October, “diversified demands from China’s overseas study market have provided opportunities for educational institutes from various countries, and many foreign governments regard enrolling Chinese students as a key measure for educational internationalization.”

Zong was commenting ahead of the China Education Expo 2013, in early November. The event saw more than 600 universities and educational institutes from 42 countries and regions taking part.

Xinhua [5]
October 28, 2013

The Attraction Of China as A Study Destination

China currently hosts a little less than 10 percent of all international students globally, and this figure is likely to rise, reports University World News. As an example of why international students will increasingly choose China as their study destination, UWN points to President Obama’s initiative to send 100,000 American students to Chinese institutions of higher education by 2014.

Top Chinese universities such as Zhejiang, Peking and Tsinghua each currently accommodate approximately 3,000 international students annually, and increasingly from non-Asian countries. All three universities offer a significant number of programs in English, as do most aspiring top universities, and there has also been a substantial increase in the number of international students studying for degrees taught in Chinese.

Many foreign students are attending one of a number of joint venture higher education providers operating on dedicated campuses within Chinese borders. These include the University of Nottingham and Zhejiang Wanli University’s Ningbo campus [6], the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University [7] collaboration at Suzhou and the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology’s cooperative venture with a consortium of nine UK universities – the Sino-British College [8] – in Shanghai. Meanwhile, Duke University and Wuhan University have received permission to develop a joint venture on a campus in Kunshan [9].

While these institutions are primarily targeted at domestic students, they are also attracting increasing numbers of international students. For both, they offer the opportunity to earn international degrees substantially cheaper than doing so in the UK or the United States.

According to enrollment data from the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, there are three main reasons why international students choose the university and China. The most important factor is the opportunity to earn a British degree, followed by a desire to live in China. Third is the quality of programs offered there.

These results both support and contradict previous studies that found international students in the United Kingdom ranked the quality of the education on offer as the most important criterion in their decision-making processes that led to them studying overseas.

University World News [10]
October 25, 2013

Suzhou As A Hub for International Education

Suzhou in Jiangsu province has long been a destination for tourists visiting China, with its famed silk manufacturers, historic architecture, and proximity to major east coast metros such as Shanghai and Nanjing. And now it is developing as a hub for international higher education cooperation, with new types of university partnerships that China is looking to develop as a means of driving research and innovation.

In October Australia’s Monash University and China’s Southeast University (SEU), which is based in Nanjing, formally launched a new joint campus in Suzhou Industrial Park near Shanghai. It joined other branch campuses in Suzhou such as Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University [11] offering undergraduate and masters degrees awarded by Liverpool University in England. The National University of Singapore’s (NUS) large research facility in Suzhou [12] was inaugurated in May.

According to official Chinese media the SEU-Monash Joint Graduate School [13] is the “first Sino-foreign graduate facility approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education.” With SEU among China’s “Project 985” universities granted extra government funding to become world-class institutions, Monash has been open about its desire to access China’s growing research funds through the collaboration at a time when funding in Australia is flat-lining. The new SEU-Monash site in Suzhou is owned and funded by the provincial government, with operations jointly run by the two universities.

The graduate school is offering programs in disciplines such as nanotechnology, biomedicine, environmental science, transportation, industrial design, and thermal and mechanical engineering. The first cohort od students will graduate in 2014 with degrees from both SEU and Monash.

Singapore’s NUS said in a statement about its research institute – NUSRI – in Suzhou: “NUS schools and faculties are also leveraging on NUSRI as a base to strengthen their presence in China.” In the past two-and-a-half years, 11 NUS-led research projects have been set up in Suzhou and NUSRI has secured research funding of RMB18 million (US$3 million) from funding agencies in China, according to NUS, which expects to have some 300 researchers in Suzhou in the next few years.

The ‘SUN-WIN [14]’ Joint Research Institute for Nanotechnology was founded by Soochow University, the University of Waterloo in Canada and the USTC-UC Berkeley Joint Nano-Science and Technology Institute, which was set up in 2011 by the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Science and Technology of China, or USTC.

University World News [15]
November 8, 2013

Hong Kong

Not Just English, But American English

A growing number of children in Hong Kong, a former British colony, are learning to speak English like an American, some parents believing it is more relevant than the British accent.

Language tutors say wealthy mainlanders are helping fuel demand, crossing into Hong Kong to attend language schools such as Kowloon’s “Nature EQ,” which was established 17 years ago, shortly before Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. Then, only 40 pupils were enrolled but today the school is at maximum capacity, with 350 attending. A short distance away in the Tseung Kwan O district is the “American English Workshop,” which has gone from having 20 students a week when it opened 12 months ago to more than 180 today.

They are among a number of centers where tutors specifically provide training in American English, offering something different to government-run schools where pronunciation largely depends on the accent of the English teacher.

Reasons cited by parents quoted in an Agence Frnce Presse article on the trend, include better job prospects in Western countries, a desire to send their children to U.S. colleges in the future, and the popularity of American culture and business.

Agence France Presse [16]
October 29, 2013


Government Looks to Serve Poor and Troubled States by Establishing New Universities

With the goal of promoting development, battling a lack of opportunity in poorer districts, and reducing militancy in underserved parts of the country, the Indian government has been setting up remote colleges and universities, and implementing policies that reach out to a growing youth population.

Over the past five years, the central government has established 12 new central universities, several of them in underdeveloped states with large tribal populations, including Jharkhand and Odisha (formerly named Orissa). Six new health institutions modeled on the country’s top medical university, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) in New Delhi, are also being set up in states that have only limited facilities for medical education and training

Eight new IITs and IIMs, established after 2008, are in small towns including Rohtak in Haryana state, Raipur in underdeveloped Chhattisgarh state, Ranchi in Jharkhand state, Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, Jodhpur in Rajasthan, and Mandi in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh. In the conflict-affected state of Jammu and Kashmir, the government has said it will open a college in every district during the current Five-Year Plan (2012-17). New institutions not only increase higher education access – several have made development issues and challenges a part of their research agenda.

The government aim in Jammu and Kashmir is to provide campus placements to 40,000 students over the next five years with the help of the National Skill Development Corporation, a public-private partnership that funds vocational training initiatives in the private sector.

“Less than 20 percent of eligible Indians are pursuing higher education. If we want to get to 30 percent [gross enrollment ratio] by 2020 we have to go all out in increasing access,” said Professor SS Murthy, vice-chancellor of the Central University of Karnataka.

The University of Kashmir is opening three satellite campuses in Leh, Kupwara and Kargil – three hilly, inaccessible districts – with funding assistance from the central government.

While opening up access to higher education and opportunities to the less privileged, institutions in poor and remote areas do face challenges, most notably in attracting qualified faculty.

University World News [17]
October 5, 2013

Indian Universities to be Coached on Ranking Performance

Indian universities and institutes of higher education are now being coached on how to perform better in global university rankings. Based on the concerns of President Pranab Mukherjee over the absence of Indian institutions in the rankings, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has instructed universities and institutes of higher learning to seek expert advice in filling out details about their research and teaching achievements for the rankers.

The HRD Ministry recently organized workshops to brainstorm on how India can perform better in the rankings. “During the workshops we learnt that a lot of universities and higher education institutes are not aware of how to fill the forms listing out their achievements, some of them do not understand what needs to be highlighted. For instance the research work that is carried out at the Indian Institute of Technology is not reported well, so it has been decided that these universities can rely on the know-how of ranking majors like Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds (Q5),” said Ashok Thakur, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, HRD Ministry.

Citing the example of Panjab University, which highlighted its achievement and got placed between 226-250 in the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings list 2013-14, Mr. Thakur said: “Indian universities are overall considered teaching universities and not research ones, but now it is imperative for the universities and institutes to present their data well so that they can improve their chances of making it to the global top ranking lists.”

President Mukherjee has asked the universities to establish at least one center of excellence each and to enhance collaboration with specialists from India and abroad and compete to find a place in the global top 100.

The Hindu [18]
October 31, 2013

New University to Offer Liberal Arts Education

A group of successful professionals and entrepreneurs, some of them alumni of India’s best universities, have come together to establish an alternative to what they say is an educational paradigm that overly emphasizes technical capabilities while neglecting vital skills like critical thinking, communications and teamwork, reports The New York Times.

Pending final government clearances, their goal is to open Ashoka University [19], a 1.3 billion rupee (US$20.8 million) project they describe as the first private Ivy League-caliber liberal arts institution in India. Construction of its residential campus, just six miles from the Delhi border in Kundli, Haryana, is already under way. Classes, which will be almost exclusively in the humanities and social sciences, are slated to begin in August 2014.

Meanwhile, Ashoka has partnered with a number of top Western universities, including Oxford, Sciences Po in Paris and Yale. The partnerships are aimed at forming credit-sharing and exchange programs, and also at lending global credibility to this brand new university, which recently began its admissions process for its first batch of students.

The New York Times [20]
November 26, 2013


New Foreign-University Law Attracts No Foreign Universities

No foreign university has applied to operate in Indonesia despite laws passed last year that were designed to make it easier for foreign institutions to set up on a non-profit basis in collaboration with local universities, reports University World News.

Higher Education Director General Djoko Santoso confirmed that to date no foreign university was operating in Indonesia. Although several unnamed foreign universities had met with the department, “not even a single proposal” had been received by the ministry, he said, despite reports that at least two Australian institutions had shown interest.

Article 90 of 2012’s Higher Education Bill states that foreign universities can open a branch if the university is accredited and-or recognized in its home country, and has permission from the Indonesian government. Foreign institutions must be non-profit and collaborate with an Indonesian university, and are required to hire Indonesian lecturers and staff.

Australia’s Monash University was tipped to be one of the first to set up a branch campus in Indonesia. But Eugene Sebastian, director of global engagement in the vice-chancellor’s office at Monash, told University World News: “No physical presence is planned for Indonesia.”

“In a restrictive regulatory environment, more flexible, fluid, innovative and ‘win-win’ partnership models are required,” he said. These included research partnerships and higher degree research training.

Despite the passage of the bill last year, the government has still to determine the areas to allow foreign university participation, and the types of programs and disciplines they may offer. Education Minister Mohammad Nuh was recently quoted in local media as saying that Indonesia would not follow the example set by Malaysia, which he claimed had allowed foreign universities to enter without preconditions.

University World News [21]
October 25, 2013


University of Tokyo Considers Quarters as it Looks to Internationalize

Officials at the University of Tokyo are considering the replacement of their two-semester academic year with a quarter system to make it easier to shift to fall enrollment, which would make lining up with international standards easier.

The university released a report in June that was compiled and submitted to its board recommending the four-quarter system. The panel discussing the university’s basic policies, including the timing for starting the academic year in autumn, was set up last year after President Junichi Hamada announced in 2011 his intention to introduce fall enrollment by 2015.

The difficulty of changing the social environment to allow such a dramatic break from tradition led the panel to come up with the quarterly system. The new academic calendar will benefit Japanese students as well as encourage more foreign students to consider studying at the university, the report said.

As the Japanese school year traditionally starts in April and ends in March, Hamada’s proposal sparked both interest and criticism. Some universities as well as businesses showed interest, while concerns were also raised regarding potential drawbacks, including the timing for companies’ recruiting activities and the gap that would be created between high school graduations in March and not entering a university until the fall. The report contains two slightly different four-quarter plans and proposes introducing either of them by the end of the 2015 academic year.

Japan Times [22]
June 20, 2013

Internationalization As A Pillar of Higher Education Reform

Japan, it is well known, is in the midst of a period of steep demographic decline. The government estimates that its population will continue to fall, from the current 127.5 million to 117 million by 2030 and 97 million in 2050, continuing a trend that has already been unfolding for 20 years. In the context of higher education, the college-age population (18-23) is predicted to fall to 7 million, from 12 million in 1995.

And the economy suffers as a result of the smaller workforce. Per capita GDP has fallen from second in the world to 27th, while 20 percent of next year’s university graduates (more than 100,000) will be without a secure job. Education reform is one of the main pillars of the government’s response to the slump.

In an interview with The New York Times, education minister Hakubun Shimomura discussed the need to make the country’s universities ‘more competitive globally’ by fostering technological innovation and moving beyond Japan’s traditional strengths in automobiles and electronics into areas like medicine and health care. In April the ruling party’s education reform panel presented the government with proposed measures to double the number of science and mathematics doctorates to 35,000 a year. The ultimate aim is the development of ‘global human resources;’ Shimomura notes that Japanese higher education does not foster global talent. He would like to see 10 universities in the top 100 of global rankings within a decade. Currently Japan has two universities in the Times Higher top 100 (Tokyo and Kyoto), three in the Academic Rankings (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka), and six in the QS list.

Internationalizing the higher education sector is seen as the way to get there. The government wants Japanese universities to increase the number of international academic staff, raise the number of classes conducted in English, make TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) mandatory for entrance exams at all Japanese universities, double the number of international students coming to Japan and double those going to study abroad.

Current trends suggest that Japan will fall well short of its 2020 target of 300,000 incoming international students, which was announced in 2008 by the government in a ‘Global 30’ [23] recruitment and internationalization initiative. For the Global 30 project, 13 universities (seven national and six private) were designated for degree provision fully in English, for foreign faculty recruitment and for money to pay for it. These institutions have seen a doubling of international student numbers. As of April 2013, 155 new degree programs fully in English had been introduced.

An additional measure designed to attract foreign talent has been the launch of a points-based immigration system to give preferential treatment and incentives for ‘highly skilled foreign professionals’ such as IT and technology engineers, researchers and executives. In the first year the system netted 434 people, while the target was 2,000.

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education [24]
October 2013


Non-Traditional Students One Answer to Taiwan’s University Crisis

In 2008, Taiwan’s government began offering subsidized university programs for older people as a way to help them live more active lives. At first, older people had to be persuaded to attend college. Now they bring their friends and travel from other cities to take classes ranging from healthcare to history and law. This year, 100 universities in Taiwan offered these programs and the older student population has shot up from about 800 in 2008 to more than 3,000 today, according to a recent report from the BBC.

This is happening as many of Taiwan’s 160 universities are facing declining enrollment from younger students, amid a demographic decline and lowering of the national birth rate. At Taipei’s China University of Science and Technology, the student population has dropped by several hundred this year. The university had 10,000 students a few years ago, but is now down to about 9,000.

Universities that must compete for a shrinking number of students fear that some will have to close in the coming years if the trend continues. Universities blame the decline on Taiwan’s low birth rate. Many young people are delaying getting married, not marrying at all, or are having fewer children or none at all. As early as 2016, Taiwan’s 65-and-overs will outnumber those under the age of 14 for the first time. By 2060, four in every 10 people on the island will be 65 or older.

BBC [25]
October 25, 2013