WENR, July/August 2014: Europe


Study: 183 Publically Funded International Scholarship Programs

There are some 183 nationally funded scholarship programs for outbound academic mobility around the globe, with just over half of the world’s countries – 102 in all – offering at least one. Yet measuring the impacts and effectiveness of scholarship schemes is rare, according to a recent study of 11 countries.

The Rationale for Sponsoring Students to Undertake International Study: An assessment of national student mobility scholarship programmes [1] was produced by the British Council and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), working with the Boston College Center for International Higher Education and the GO Group.

The study found that many governments appeared to be failing to provide support for students on their return home. This was despite the fact that governments were funding hundreds of thousands of international students a year at an average cost of around US$35,000 per student. The most commonly cited reason for establishing outward mobility programs was an interest in advancing national development – not surprising, considering all of the programs under review were funded in whole or in part with public resources.

The findings are based on responses to questionnaires with international student mobility schemes in 11 countries: Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Apart from counting the number of grant alumni who return to their institutions after completing studies abroad, none of the countries was known to be measuring other institutional impacts.

Students undertake study abroad for many reasons, the report said, among them to obtain knowledge and credentials not available at home, to gain the prestige of a foreign degree, to improve their professional prospects and, in some cases, to emigrate. Most mobile students seek full degrees, with roughly equal numbers pursuing undergraduate and graduate study. Business, management and STEM fields attract the majority of international enrollments. Most students pay for their education themselves.

A striking difference when comparing outward mobility programs was their size. At one end of the spectrum was Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program, or KASP, which offers about 30,000 scholarships per year. At the opposite end Egypt, India and Pakistan each sponsor, among their portfolio of programs, a handful of scholarships that send fewer than 50 participants abroad each year, with several sending fewer than five. Excluding these large and small schemes, programs sending between 500 and 1,000 recipients abroad each year were most common among the case countries reviewed.

Brazil has sent more than 39,000 students and scholars abroad since 2011. Saudi Arabia has funded more than 165,000 scholars abroad on KASP scholarships since 2005. And schemes in Mexico and Kazakhstan have sent more than 65,000 and 10,000 students abroad respectively over their long histories. That several national outward mobility scholarship programs have been in existence for more than 20 years, and that many new schemes have been established since 2000, showed that countries increasingly consider them a worthwhile investment.

University World News [2]
May 1, 2014


UK University in the Buffer Zone

Pyla is one of the last remaining villages in Cyprus to have a mixed population of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and is also home to a branch campus of a British university. The settlement sits inside the 180km-long United Nations-patrolled buffer zone that splits the divided Mediterranean island in two.

Although the village is administered by the Republic of Cyprus (the internationally recognized, majority Greek Cypriot state), it is policed by the UN. This is where the University of Central Lancashire [3] has chosen to build its Cyprus campus, within the zone also known as the Green Line. The move has brought objections from the UN, which has described the campus as “unauthorized” and warned of security concerns.

Northern Cyprus is recognized as a separate entity only by Turkey. Its universities are barred from international recognition in some respects: they are not part of the European Higher Education Area, the Bologna Process or the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange program.  However, most of them hold international accreditation from numerous bodies. Reunification of the island would bring coveted international recognition for universities in Northern Cyprus. Some also believe it could permit the island to become an international higher education hub – a goal to which both sides already aspire.

Uclan, which welcomed the first students to its Cyprus campus in October 2012, has gone through the Cypriot government’s procedures to create a fully fledged for-profit university in Pyla – one of only eight universities in the republic. If Uclan Cyprus achieves its aim of growing to 5,000 students, it could be the biggest private university in the country. The campus has a School of Sciences offering undergraduate programs in computing, mathematics, psychology and sport and exercise science; a School of Business and Management offering undergraduate and graduate programs in business, accounting and marketing; and a School of Law.

Melinda Tan, rector of Uclan Cyprus, says part of the plan is for UK students to supplement their time at Preston at the home campus with a year in Cyprus or at a planned Uclan campus in Sri Lanka. This will provide “an international outlook in everything they do,” which “helps with their employment” prospects, she says.

At present, Uclan says, the campus has 366 students of which 330 are Greek Cypriot. The remainder are from overseas, including 11 from Russia and five from Tanzania. But the 2014-15 academic year will be the first that UK-based Uclan students will be able to study there as part of their degree programs.

Times Higher Education [4]
April 24, 2014


Universities to Remain Tuition Free for Non-European Students

The pilot project in which nine Finnish universities and 10 polytechnics charged tuition fees from some non-European masters students closes at the end of this year. But already most of the institutions have announced that they will not charge fees from students admitted this fall.

During the pilot program, higher education institutions could charge fees to non-EU students in a university or polytechnic masters program delivered in a foreign language. Institutions could independently determine the amount they would charge.

In 2011, 24 programs were approved for the pilot project. Fees were charged to 110 students, more than 80 percent of them studying at Aalto University or Lappeenranta University of Technology. The tuition fees charged ranged between €3,500 (US$4,700) and €11,750 (US$15,900) per academic year. The most commonly charged tuition fee was €8,000 (US$10,100) per year.

Of the students charged tuition fees, almost all received grants of different sizes from higher education institutions or the Erasmus Mundus program. The grants covered the tuition fee either in full or partially, and some also included funds to cover some living costs.

University World News [5]
June 13, 2014


German Universities On Track to Enroll 350,000 Foreign Students by 2020

The latest figures from the German Academic Exchange Service [6] (DAAD) show growth of 7 percent in the number of international students in Germany, reaching 300,000 in 2013. Based on these figure, DAAD says its goal of hosting 350,000 foreign students by 2020 is “more than achievable.”

Additional data from DAAD’s annual report [7] suggest that the goal of sending 50 percent of German students overseas for a study period by 2020 might be more challenging. This is despite a government budget increase for DAAD of €224 million, leading to a 6 percent increase in scholarship awards. In 2013, 120,000 total scholarships were awarded for both domestic (70,000) and foreign (50,000) students, double the 2010 number.

To continue on its trajectory of growth, the organization plans to rely on its network of 70 branch offices and Information Centers to promote internationalization at German universities and provide expertise to advance scientific collaboration worldwide where possible.

The PIE News [8]
June 4, 2014

German Students Becoming Less Interested in Vocational Training

German high school graduates are enrolling in university programs in favor of vocational options, according to recent government data.

Government officials said in June that the new data show that 2013 was the sixth consecutive year in which there was a decline in the number of high school students seeking vocational training. Germany’s education system, long hailed as a key to the country’s economic growth, has a strong divide between vocational training and universities for those finishing high school.

Wall Street Journal [9]
June 13, 2014


New University Ranking to Exclude Institutions in Europe and North America

Russia has announced plans to compile an international ranking of higher education institutions, including universities in the Commonwealth of Independent States, BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Central Asia) countries by June 2015, the government said in May.

“The Ministry of Education and Science of Russia and the interested federal executive bodies and organizations ought to organize the production of the international rankings of higher education institutions, including those of the CIS, BRICS and SCO countries, providing measures to ensure international recognition of such ratings. The results should be reported to the government by May 25, 2015,” the government said on its website.

The call for the rankings was based on instructions given by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a state council meeting earlier this month on priority national projects. Medvedev also noted the importance of ensuring the international competitiveness of Russian educational institutions.

RIA Novosti [10]
May 27, 2014


Work and Immigration Rules Relaxed for International Graduates

Effective immediately, doctoral candidates in Sweden will be able to qualify for permanent residency provided they have held a study permit in Sweden for four out of the past seven years. In addition, foreign students will be allowed to stay in Sweden for an as-yet-unspecified amount of time to look for work or set up their own companies after graduating.

This will replace current laws about work and immigration that foreign students in Sweden have been protesting; such laws allow doctoral students only 10 days to find work in Sweden after graduating. A Statistics Sweden study estimated there were roughly 5,000 foreign PhD students in the country in 2013.

The new legislation has been introduced to boost Sweden’s competitiveness in the market for foreign talent after the introduction of tuition fees in 2011 drastically reduced the number of non-EU students in the country. When fees were introduced, enrollment dropped by 80 percent from nearly 8,000 to 1,600, with the greatest fall-off among African and Asian students.

ICEF Monitor [11]
June 17, 2014


Report: 45,000 More Academics Needed

A report examining the state of higher education in Turkey over the last 30 years concludes that universities are in need of 45,000 more academics.

Presenting a comprehensive analysis on the past, present and future of Turkish higher education, the report – titled Growth, Quality and Internationalization: A road map for higher education in Turkey – claims that the low number of academic staff in Turkey compared to the size of the student body poses a serious threat to quality.

The report states that there are more than 141,000 academics in Turkish universities. Comparing the number of academics per student to universities in OECD countries, the report concluded that 45,000 more academics were needed to bring Turkey in line with international standards.

Cihan [12]
May 12, 2014

United Kingdom

Complaints by Students Up 10% Since Tuition Fee Cap Increase

Responses from 120 universities across the United Kingdom revealed that total academic appeals and complaints were 10 percent higher in 2012-13 than in 2010-11. Universities Minister David Willetts welcomed the finding. He said it showed that students were demanding more for the £9,000 a year (US$15,000) fee.

The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to 142 universities across the UK, asking how many complaints and appeals they had received since 2010. A total of 120 responded. The results showed universities were upholding more student complaints than ever before. The amount paid out in compensation had also risen. The total paid since 2010 was more than £2 million.

Willetts said it appeared that since tuition fees rose to £9,000, students were more likely to hold their universities to account when things went wrong.

BBC [13]
June 3, 2014

University Applications Skyrocket in 2013/14

Applications to UK universities surged by more than 20,000 in just 12 months, with figures showing that approximately 634,600 people applied for degree programs by the end of May – an increase of 4 percent in a year and the second highest number on record.

The increase has been fueled by rising demand from foreign students, including those from European Union member states, with overseas applications up by more than 6 percent. The increase comes despite concerns that foreign students are being put off applying to British universities because of new stringent visa rules regulating entry to the UK.

The disclosure – in data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – brings applications close to levels seen in 2011 when record numbers of students applied just before a near tripling of tuition fees. It also appears to confirm government claims that students have not been put off university by fees of up to £9,000 a year (US$15,000).

Ministers are funding an extra 30,000 places for British and EU undergraduates this year before controls limiting the number of students each institution can recruit are abolished altogether in 2015.

The Telegraph [14]
May 29, 2014

UK Tuition Fees Drive Students to the U.S.

The lure of a broader liberal arts curriculum, and the chance to combine science with humanities, has contributed to a steep rise in applications from British students to American universities, according to officials at the US-UK Fulbright Commission, an organization funded by the American and British governments to promote educational exchanges. But the British government’s decision two years ago to allow English universities to triple their tuition fees has also made a big difference, reports The New York Times.

At Britain’s top-ranking Oxford University, annual tuition is now the equivalent of $15,000, with limited bursaries on offer. By comparison, U.S. universities tend to be much more generous with scholarship opportunities for talented students, as detailed by a number of anecdotal examples in the NYT article.

The two UK-based students cited in the article are beneficiaries of a collaboration between the Sutton Trust, a British charity dedicated to improving social mobility through education, and the Fulbright Commission. The trust has long run summer programs for British students from low- and middle-income backgrounds to encourage them to apply to elite universities. In the summer of 2012, it first sent 64 students to Yale for a week, and 21 ended up going to American schools. Last summer, 150 students joined the program, hosted at Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Of those, 64 — triple the number of two years ago — will head for America this fall.

To be eligible for the program, students must have a family income of less than £45,000 a year (US$75,000). This year, 60 percent come from families with annual incomes below £25,000, and nearly the same percentage will be the first in the family to attend university. John Jerrim, an economics researcher at London University’s Institute of Education, said that for such students, who could expect to graduate from a top English university with debts of £34,000 to £40,000, the chance to graduate debt-free from an American university is too good to turn down.

The New York Times [15]
June 9, 2014

Top Business School Announces Partnership With Chinese University

The London Business School (LBS) and Fudan University, in Shanghai, have announced they will teach a Masters in Management double degree program from September 2015.

The move is designed to give the top-ranking LBS a foothold in another of the world’s top financial markets – the school already has campuses in London and Dubai and teaches in New York and Hong Kong in collaboration with Columbia Business School and Hong Kong University.

The announcement by Fudan and LBS came in the same week as an announcement from Cornell University’s Johnson School and Tsinghua University in Beijing that they will also be teaching a double degree MBA program together. Johnson and LBS will be charting similar territory to the Kellogg School of Management, which announced in February that it would run an executive MBA degree with Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.

The first year of the two-year LBS and Fudan program will be taught in London, the second year in Shanghai, with both schools recruiting students for the double degree. Masters in Management degrees, which give a general management education to those with little or no work experience, have been widely adopted in Europe but they are also proving to be increasingly popular in both the U.S. and Asia.

The double degree is one of the first steps in LBS’s strategy for the Chinese market, which includes working more closely with Chinese companies and growing the school’s reputation in China. The school recently launched a webpage in Mandarin.

Financial Times [16]
June 6, 2014

Government Cracks Down on Student-Visa Fraud, Suspending Licenses of 58 Colleges

A total of 58 private colleges have had their operating licenses suspended. The University of Bedfordshire and the University of West London have also been prevented from taking any new international students, although their licenses remain intact.

The shock move came after an investigation into fraud in English language testing, specifically into tests administered by the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service’s international subsidiary, ETS Global. The Home Office removed ETS from its list of approved language test providers earlier this year after the BBC news program Panorama uncovered “systematic fraud” at TOEIC test centers in the U.K. Revelations of English language testing fraud are likewise having major reverberations for the universities that have been found to sponsor students with invalid scores.

But the government probe, which began in February, appears to have been substantially wider in scope and looked into student tax records to uncover cases of students working illegally. An investigation into the London branch campuses of UK universities – where the “worst abuse” is alleged to be taking place – will now be carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency.

According to the immigration minister James Brokenshire, who announced the suspensions to the House of Commons in June, as well as looking at language testing fraud, immigration officials looked into universities and colleges where there were “wider concerns about their conduct.”

Times Higher Education [17]
June 26, 2014