WENR, May 2014: Asia Pacific
Study: Middle Classes in Emerging Markets Prioritize Education
A recent Euromonitor International report predicts that emerging market economies will grow almost three times faster than developed ones, accounting for an average of 65 percent of global economic growth through 2020. And the newly minted beneficiaries of this rapid growth in wealth value education highly.
In particular, middle class households in emerging markets are twice as likely to report that spending on education for household members is one of their top five financial priorities (30 percent vs. 16 percent). The emerging middle class in Indonesia, Mexico and Colombia are especially likely to prioritize education (38 percent to 44 percent). And while the emerging market spotlight has long been focused on the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, the report, entitled Reaching the Emerging Middle Classes beyond BRIC, notes that attention is turning to smaller markets. The shift is being driven by the rates of faster economic and demographic growth in many of those markets – factors that are together fueling growth in consumer spending, including highly valued spending areas such as education.
– Euromonitor International
Demand for University Places Far Exceeds Supply as Increasing Numbers of Students Qualify for Higher Learning
More than 60,000 students took up places at the country’s public universities when the new academic year began in April, according to figures from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education. This compares to 40,000 a year ago, and around 15,000 three years ago. The rise in demand follows a record-breaking number of passes in university entrance examinations.
A further 34,000 students will be enrolled in private universities, according to Masoud Turishtwal, a ministry official. But there are far too few university places to meet growing student demand. Afghanistan’s higher education participation rate is among the lowest in the world, even compared to other post-conflict countries, with a gross enrollment ratio of around 5 percent, according to a 2013 World Bank report.
Higher Education Minister Obaidullah Obaid told donor countries and the World Bank at a meeting in Kabul in February that the ministry needed US$24 million to provide more university places, including expanding capacity in existing universities and creating new departments to teach subjects not generally available.
In 2012 public universities could only admit 25 percent of the 170,000 graduates who participated in the entrance exam known as the kankor. This year 254,000 took the exam and just 94,000 or 37 percent will be able to get places in public and private universities.
Afghanistan has 82 private universities that educate one in three of the country’s total of 200,000 students. Many opened less than five years ago, after Afghanistan began to allow private institutions in 2006. But the quality of private institutions continues to be of concern.
Turishtwal, who heads the private education institutions directorate in the ministry, said that in the first round of quality assurance investigations held recently, some 14 private universities were found not to be meeting criteria specified by the ministry and were asked to resolve the issues within two months or the government would not allow them to operate. None of the universities assessed met the government’s criteria for ‘excellent’. Only 14 were considered good, with the majority only satisfactory.
– University World News
March 14, 2014
International Enrollment Numbers Increase Year-on-Year for First Time Since 2009
Government data for 2013 show that, for the first time since 2009, there has been an overall year-on-year increase in the number of international students enrolled in an Australian institution of education.
There were a total of 526,932 international students in 2013, marking a 2.6 percent increase over 2012, and ending a three-year period of declining enrollments between 2009 and 2012. Even more encouraging for the Australian education export industry is a 9.3 percent increase in new enrollments across all sectors, suggesting bigger overall growth to come.
China remains the number one source country, accounting for fully 40 percent of international enrollments, followed by India, South Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. With the exception of India, which posted an 8.6 percent decline, all registered increases for 2013. Other big gains came from Brazil (up 16.3% to 17,554), Pakistan (+15.2% to 12,869), and Colombia (+18.8% to 12,030).
Graduate-level enrollments were up 19.4 percent, while undergraduate enrollments were down 3.5 percent. English-language first-time enrollments were up 21 percent (for a total of 91,405 commencements), while overall vocational and technical (VET) enrollments fell by 6.4 percent in 2013 and new enrollments by 0.1 percent. Higher education enrollments, which account for 44 percent of all international students, were up marginally overall but by a promising 8.1 percent among new enrollees.
– Australia Education International
Financial Visa Pressure Lifted for Students from ‘High Risk’ Countries
Australia has eased the financial requirements for students applying from ‘high risk’ countries including China, India and Pakistan as part of a move to streamline its student visa framework. The changes also lowered the evidence requirements for English language proficiency and previous study.
The former Assessment Level 4 (AL4) countries have been downgraded to AL3, as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) scraps the strict AL4 and AL5 categories. The higher a country’s AL classification – based on risk factors including rates of fraudulent documentation and visa cancellation – the more supporting evidence candidates are required to submit.
Pathway providers are the biggest likely beneficiary of the move, according to observers, as students from countries like China, India and Pakistan favor programs that package English language courses with degree study.
The changes, which came into effect on March 22, are based on the recommendations of a 2013 DIBP review into the visa assessment framework. When the review was published, there were no AL5 countries and only 6 percent fell under the AL4 category.
– The PIE News
April 1, 2014
Tertiary Enrollments Increase As Do Barriers to Entry for Poor
Although tertiary enrollment numbers have increased significantly in Bangladesh in recent years, among the poor this has not been the case. In fact, proportionately, higher education opportunities for the poor are declining, according to the World Bank.
Critics have said that higher education expansion in the country has been fueled by growth in the number of private higher education institutions, which the poorest are unable to access, and the latest figures seem to bear out the contention that the poor have not benefited from the sector’s expansion compared to better-off students. Of the country’s 82 universities, 51 are currently privately operated
The net enrollment rate (percentage of college-age students enrolled in higher education) grew from 6 percent in 2000 to 9 percent in 2010, according to a World Bank report, Seeding Fertile Ground: Education that works for Bangladesh, released in March. The report said inequalities begin in secondary schools, where the gross enrollment rate among the poor is 45 percent versus 76 percent for the non-poor.
But while net enrollment for the non-poor increased from 9 percent to 11 percent between 2000 and 2010, for the poor it remained at the same level as 10 years ago, “thereby widening the gap between the two groups.”
Figures released by the University Grants Commission showed that the number of students in private universities grew from 124,267 in 2006 to 314,640 in 2012 – an increase of 153 percent.
– University World News
March 28, 2014
Government Publishes List of 10,000 Recognized Foreign Institutions
China’s Ministry of Education has published a list of over 10,000 authorized foreign educational institutions in 44 popular study-abroad countries, in an effort to help internationally mobile Chinese students choose legitimate overseas institutions of higher education.
The list was published to address three overseas-study issues identified by the ministry as troubling: the quality of overseas institutions, a “certain blindness” with which students and parents approach study abroad, and unscrupulous consulting agencies.
The ministry hopes that by enabling students and parents to identify authorized institutions, they will be able to avoid being ‘duped’ into attending low quality institutions.
The list of U.S. institutions can be seen here.
February 24, 2014
Growth in Chinese International Academic Mobility Slows
The number of Chinese students studying abroad continues to grow, but much slower than it has in recent years, education officials in China said recently.
In Shanghai, 10,234 students received study abroad visas in 2013, slightly less than the previous year’s 10,442, according to Zhang Jin, an official from the Shanghai Education Commission. Nationwide, the growth of students going abroad to study is also slowing. In 2013, about 413,900 students went overseas to study, an increase of only 3.58 percent from 2012, according to the Ministry of Education.
“This reflects that Chinese people have become more rational in regard to studying abroad,” Zong Huawei, an official from the Overseas Study Service Center under the Ministry of Education, was quoted by Shanghai Morning Post as saying.
– China Daily
March 13, 2014
College Entrance Exam to be Divided into General Academic and Vocational Admissions
Chinese authorities will soon release details of their planned reforms for the centralized college entrance examination, which will reportedly include two separate tests for technical and academic students, an educational official revealed in March.
The test targeting technically inclined students, such as those who want to be engineers, senior mechanics and tradesmen, will assess both technical skills and academic knowledge in combination. The more generalist test will remain similar to the current university entry examination, or gaokao.
Students can only choose their majors after they have passed the gaokao under the current system, which may be an impediment to the chances of technically gifted students, according to education officials.
“At the age of 16, the students can decide their future development modes when they are even in the high schools,” deputy education minister Lu Xin explained recently.
March 22, 2014
Huge Demand for International Schools in Hong Kong
The number of Hong Kong children enrolled in international schools has almost doubled from 34,200 to 66,138 since 2000, according to figures from the International Schools Consultancy Group, which also details strong demand to establish new schools. The government tender process to open new schools is reportedly seeing up to 40 bids to operate sites for new schools.
Almost half of Hong Kong’s international schools follow a UK curriculum, while 42 percent have a more international orientation such as the International Baccalaureate.
The shortage of international school places could have implications for global businesses operating in Hong Kong. According to ISC, multinational businesses that depend on employee mobility are “seriously concerned” that this may prevent them from recruiting expatriate staff with families.
– The PIE News
April 2, 2014
Accreditation Agencies Gain Autonomy from Government Interference
In a move aimed at improving and maintaining quality in higher education institutions, the Indian government announced that national accreditation agencies will now be autonomous, fully free of government interference.
“We have made the National Board of Accreditation totally autonomous, and we are in the process of making the National Assessment and Accreditation Council independent,” Higher Education Secretary Ashok Thakur announced while addressing a world summit on accreditation in New Delhi in March.
The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) previously operated under the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the regulator overseeing technical education in India. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) functioned under the University Grants Commission. The NBA accredits programs and the NAAC accredits institutions. Both the AICTE and UGC are government bodies.
Due to inconsistencies in accreditation procedures, some universities – such as the highly regarded University of Delhi – have shied away from the voluntary accreditation process in the past. However, accreditation was made mandatory for all institutions of higher education last year through an executive order.
This led to a rush of applications for accreditation. Between January and December 2013 the NAAC received 2,978 letters of intention for accreditation – the highest annual number received by the NAAC, which used to receive around 800 requests per year. With such a large number of institutions applying for accreditation and the higher education sector in India expanding rapidly, the government now wants private entities to share the job of accreditation.
Ashok Thakur said the government was setting up a new authority, which would be “an arm’s length body,” away from direct government interference, to facilitate and coordinate the work of accreditation with little influence from the UGC or other agencies. He said the new body would short-list competent entities – including private ones – to do the job of assessment and accreditation.
– University World News
March 14, 2014
Universities to Receive Instant e-Libraries and Other Support from Abroad
Universities in Myanmar have been given e-libraries with hundreds of thousands of digital books and academic journals to help them catch up after decades of isolation under military rule.
Students and staff can search databases and download books and articles onto computers in the library. The next aim is to give students access in their own rooms and using their own laptops.
Oleksandr Shtokvych, of the Open Society Foundations, which supported the project, says it would not have been practical or affordable to wait for a traditional library of printed volumes. There was an immediate need for up-to-date materials.
What made the need for improvement urgent was the return of the first undergraduates to the University of Yangon campus for over two decades. Previously, universities had been seen as centers of resistance to military rule and heavily restricted. Yangon’s university had been one of the most prestigious in Southeast Asia, but had been caught in a cycle of protests, repression and shutdowns.
Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), a non-profit organization that worked with the universities in creating the e-libraries, negotiated with publishers to reduce the cost of the online library, with the titles provided worth $1.5 million.
There have been other international library links. More than 5,000 law reports, statutes and textbooks have been donated by Oxford University’s Bodleian Law Library to help the law department at Yangon. Oxford is also providing training in university administration.
Partnerships of U.S. universities and businesses, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington and Microsoft, have plans to bring teaching and training to Myanmar. It’s also seen as an emerging recruiting market. In February 30 U.S. universities were in Yangon, the capital, trying to recruit students.
– BBC News
April 1, 2014
New Academic Calendar Gains Traction with Top Universities
Two more big universities in the Philippines have implemented an academic calendar shift and will open classes in August, following similar moves by top universities in Metro Manila. Under the new calendar, which better matches the international and especially ASEAN semester system, classes will run from August to December and January to May.
Saint Louis University and the University of Baguio will be joining the University of the Philippines, Baguio, as the three universities outside Manila that will now open the academic year in August, according to the Commission on Higher Education.
– Solar News
March 31, 2014
Graduate Numbers Up, But Qualified Faculty Numbers Still Lag
An announcement by Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training that 207 undergraduate programs at 71 universities and colleges will be axed in the forthcoming academic year – in part because of under-qualified academics – has been cause for much concern in the Vietnamese higher education community.
The list includes some prestigious programs, such as oceanography offered by the highly regarded Ho Chi Minh City University of Science. But the most badly affected are fine arts, modern languages and vocational programs taught at degree level by practitioners rather than academics with PhDs.
According to the new regulations, bachelor programs must have at least one lecturer with a PhD degree and three lecturers with master’s degrees.
Just released statistics from the Ministry of Science and Technology show that Vietnam has 24,300 PhDs and 101,000 masters degree holders – an increase of 7 percent and 14 percent respectively over the previous year. However, just 8,520 PhD holders were teaching in universities, while 633 were at junior colleges – an indication that many PhD holders choose not to take on higher education jobs, preferring posts in government and state-owned enterprises.
The government has implemented a number of measures, including a plan to send thousands of young lecturers to study for PhDs abroad and cutting student enrollment to maintain a reasonable ratio of lecturer-to-student.
– University World News
March 19, 2014