WENR, November 2014: Asia Pacific


Online Learning Proliferates in Asia

Booming enrollment in online higher education, rapid content digitization, the rollout of national online education networks and teacher shortages in rapidly developing countries have led to huge demand for eLearning products, according to a recently released market research report [1] on eLearning, reports University World News.

While the U.S. leads sales, Asia is the second largest market with revenues from eLearning products projected to reach US$12.1 billion in 2018, up from US$7.9 billion in 2013, according to the research report by United States-based international research company Ambient Insight.

Seven out of the top 10 countries with the highest eLearning growth rates in the world are in Asia – Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan – with growth in these countries above 30 percent, the report said. Countries outside Asia with high growth in eLearning are Ethiopia and Mozambique in Africa, and Slovakia in Europe, with Africa described as the most dynamic eLearning market in the world

ChinaEdu in China has over 311,000 online students in both degree and non-degree programs – the second-largest online student population in the world after the University of Phoenix Online in the U.S.

In particular, English-learning courses are driving growth with new government policies “having a dramatic impact on the commercial eLearning technology markets in every country in the region,” the report said.

“Government initiatives surrounding English proficiency represent the clearest opportunities for digital courseware developers,” the report said.

University World News [2]
September 26, 2014

Report Predicts China and India Will Continue to Fuel Growth in Academic Mobility Over the Next Decade

new British Council report [3] forecasting trends in mobility at the graduate level through 2024 projects that China and India will continue to fuel growth in the number of outbound graduate students, and that the average annual rate of growth in the number of outbound students from India will exceed that of China. “For destination markets, this [India] is likely to be the real opportunity for inbound student growth over the next decade,” the report states.

Other countries that are forecasted to experience high rates of growth in the number of outbound graduate students include Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The report also predicts that the U.S. will remain the No. 1 destination country for internationally mobile graduate students in 2024, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia.

British Council [3]
October 6, 2014


Private Universities Put on Short Leash

Private universities are trying to shore up their credibility with publicity campaigns and newspaper advertisements, following a warning from Bangladesh’s higher education apex body the University Grants Commission [4] naming and shaming a dozen private institutions, reports University World News.

There are 79 private universities in the country with more than 512,000 students enrolled. University authorities said that warnings issued against universities would affect their ability to recruit students. The commission cautioned students and their families about 12 private universities – half of them for running unapproved campuses, a third for facing board of trustees conflicts, and others for violating the Private University Act.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that students are not deceived. The warning was issued so that guardians and students can be aware about the status of universities,” UGC chair AK Azad Chowdhury told University World News.

The 12 universities named by the UGC are: Darul Ihsan University; IBAIS University; Prime University; Southern University, Chittagong; International Islamic University, Chittagong; Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology; The People’s University of Bangladesh; Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology; Northern University Bangladesh; BGC Trust University; Queens University; and America Bangladesh University.

University World News [5]
September 18, 2014


China & Stanford Establish Electronic Credential Verification System

Stanford recently became one of the first U.S. universities to receive official electronic academic records from the Ministry of Education in China, marking the success of a project the university launched two years ago with the ministry and a U.S. software company.

The China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center [6] is now issuing “credentials reports,” which certify legitimate credentials from Chinese institutions of higher education with an academic transcript, including the courses the student has taken, as well as grades and credits for each one.

While many U.S. colleges and universities use e-transcripts, universities and ministries in other countries rarely exchange electronic academic records, according to Tom Black, Yale’s registrar.

“We strive to provide our graduate applicants and students the best student services possible,” Black said. “We hope that this program will be a standard bearer for other record exchanges with other countries. Also, knowing that the records are authentic and accurate helps protect Stanford.”

CollegeNET [7], the U.S. company that designed Sanford’s online graduate admission application, also designed the new online order and delivery system the university is using to exchange electronic academic records with China.

Stanford News [8]
September 25, 2014

Model for Research Funding Faces Major Changes

Dogged by corruption and the misuse of funds, the Chinese government’s competitive research grant system will be drastically reformed in the coming months and years, according to officials.

In late October, the Chinese government announced a plan to reshape federal science funding, including two programs that disburse large grants to researchers on a competitive basis. China’s 863 [9] high-tech development and 973 [10] basic research programs will be eliminated by 2017, replaced with “independent institutes” that will handle such activities.

“China will reform state research fund management, delegating power to independent institutes in a bid to curb academic corruption and sharpen innovation,” according to Xinhua, the state-run newswire. “The government will no longer be in direct charge of research projects.”

According to Nature News, the Chinese government’s announcement of the reforms indicates that wastefulness and mismanagement has led to inefficient use of research funds in the country. Currently, 30 different government departments oversee some 100 competitive grant schemes.

Science [11]
October 23, 2014


Universities Increasingly Offering English-taught Classes

Kyoto University plans to add about 100 foreign faculty members by the 2017 academic year to teach half of its elective liberal arts courses in English. The move has drawn opposition from within the university’s academic community. But this has not prevented a growing number of other universities across Japan from offering courses taught in English.

Not all faculty members are happy about the university’s push toward an Anglophone education system. “The quality of an undergraduate is achieved by learning a variety of subjects,” said a protest statement released by a faculty group last year. “If many students are unable to keep up with its courses, their educational levels will ultimately suffer.”

According to the education ministry, 222 institutions – about 30 percent of all four-year universities in Japan – held classes taught in English in the 2011 academic year. In the 2008 academic year, 190 universities (26 percent) had held such classes. In 26 departments at 16 universities, students can earn enough credits to graduate by attending only English-taught classes.

Asahi Shimbun [12]
September 19, 2014

37 Institutions Selected by Government as ‘Global Universities’

Japan’s Education Ministry has said it will help finance the globalization and personnel training programs of 37 Japanese universities, including the University of Tokyo, to strengthen their international competitiveness.

The selection of the 37 schools as ‘global universities’ comes after the Education Rebuilding Implementation Council set the goal of having at least 10 Japanese universities in the list of the world’s top 100. Applications were submitted by 104 universities.

The ministry has designated 13 schools as top universities that will focus on acquiring proficient teachers from overseas and promoting cooperation with prestigious universities worldwide. It has also chosen another 24 universities to lead globalization efforts. Over the next 10 years, the top universities will each receive about ¥420 million (US$3.8 million) in annual subsidies and the universities leading globalization efforts about ¥170 million.

Japan News [13]
October 1, 2014

Japan’s Internationalization Efforts Lack the Pulling Power Seen in Neighboring China

Japan’s efforts to increase the number of international students coming to its shores are being dwarfed by similar initiatives in neighboring China. Lofty goals such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to attract 300,000 foreign students by 2020 appear to be struggling to gain traction, reports Japan Times.

While China now hosts 8 percent of the world’s 4.3 million international students, it accounted for less than 2 percent just a decade ago, according to the Institute for International Education (IIE). During this time, Japan has remained fairly constant with a 3 percent market share. Globally, China has become the third most popular destination for higher education after the United States and United Kingdom, with an international student body that has been growing by 10 percent annually.

Japan’s booming economy was once the main draw for international students coming to Japan. Now, China is benefiting from the same phenomenon. Japan is still a popular destination for those interested in pop culture trends like anime, manga and J-pop, but that is not a huge draw. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has pledged to invest $500 million over a 20-year period in its Cool Japan [14] global PR campaign, with this demographic in mind.

Some have criticized Japan’s higher-education sector for its narrow international focus, arguing it has undergone an “Asianization” rather than internationalization. Of the 135,000 international students in Japan, 90 percent come from Asia, with 60 percent from China alone. A commonly cited obstacle to studying in Japan is the predominance of classes conducted in Japanese. Because of language similarities, this is a less intimidating hurdle for students from Northeast Asia.

As an incentive for foreign students to study in China, Chinese universities are forging partnerships with globally renowned universities. Students can enroll in the MBA programs of Tsinghua University or Fudan University and graduate with a degree from the host school and a course certificate from the MIT Sloan School of Management [15], for example. These programs are taught entirely in English and in the American style.

Another route for international students and Chinese nationals alike is to matriculate at the branch campus of a Western university in China, such as New York University in Shanghai [16], the soon-to-be-opened Duke University site in Kunshan [17], or the University of Nottingham campus in Ningbo [18].

Bruce Stronach, dean of Temple University Japan [19], the Tokyo campus of the university based in Philadelphia, recalls that there were about 40 foreign U.S. institutions with Japan campuses in the 1980s. Most closed, he says, “because of two basic factors: faulty business plans and no real sense of mission. Their business plans really depended upon continued funding from the Japanese side, and that dried up over time in the post-bubble era. They never really designed their programs to be self-sustaining with study abroad and domestic students.”

China is also investing heavily in scholarships for incoming students, with 50,000 scholarships available annually through the China Scholarship Council [20], a nonprofit institution affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education. In tandem with Beijing, the U.S. is promoting the use of these scholarships by American students. In 2009, President Barack Obama announced the 100,000 Strong China [21] initiative to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the Asian country. The Chinese government offered an initial 10,000 Bridge Scholarships just to get the program started.

Whether projects like the recently announced Super Global Universities project, which will subsidize 37 universities’ efforts to internationalize (see above), will make a difference remains to be seen. If all goes according to Abe’s plan, Japan will have 10 universities within the list of 100 top-ranked higher education institutions within a decade. Conversely, the worst-case scenario is that a lack of investment and initiative will leave Japanese universities lagging behind their up-and-coming competitors in emerging countries such as China.

Japan Times [22]
October 26, 2014


On Track to Welcome 200,000 International Students by 2020

The Malaysian government says it is on track to meet its goal of attracting 200,000 international students by 2020 as it implements new measures to raise English language levels within its higher education system.

There are currently about 91,000 international students in Malaysia, according to Education Ministry figures. In September, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that all university students will be required to pass English language proficiency tests, currently taught as a second language, in order to graduate from university.

With the new policy to strengthen English at all levels, Muhyiddin said he was “sure more international students will make Malaysia a destination of their choice.”

Backed by the Prime Minister, the policy also requires all lecturers in public higher education institutions to be fully proficient in English – a step up from previous legislation announced in 2012 requiring English language teachers to pass the Cambridge Placement Test.

The PIE News [23]
September 30, 3014


New Education Bill Passes Into Law

Myanmar’s overarching National Education Bill has been passed into law after being approved at the end of September by the Union Parliament – despite concerns from many groups about lack of autonomy for higher education institutions.

The bill is considered to lack adequate safeguards for university autonomy and freedoms for students and academics, and has angered students and teachers who have held protests in several cities around Myanmar. The wording is considered to be vague on many issues, and among other things it fails to protect the right to association for students and teachers, critics have said.

“Even after the National Education Bill has now passed into law, there are not a lot of changes for higher education, and the legislation does not guarantee freedom for universities,” Maung Thar Cho, a professor of Myanmar Literature at Yangon University, told University World News.

Ma Phyo Phyo Aung, secretary of the Myanmar Federation of Students Unions, agreed that the new law did not bring in many changes. It would take time to see whether the law would be effective for higher education reform, she told University World News. Student groups said they were waiting for a more detailed sector-specific higher education bill – and a similar basic education bill for schools – hoping it would allow greater autonomy for universities and officially allow students the right to form unions, which is currently banned.

University World News [24]
October 9, 2014


Government Looks to Build 8 World-Class Universities

The Philippines aims to build eight world-class universities in the next three years in a bid to develop globally competitive higher education institutions, reports the Sun Star.

Higher Education Commissioner Ruperto Sangalang said during a recent National Education Forum that globally competitive universities have high quality campuses and well-equipped buildings and facilities, have outstanding leaders with global vision and strategies, and enjoy academic freedom and autonomous governance structures.

Resource requirements to develop world-class universities were estimated at P45 billion (approximately US$1 billion) over next three years until 2016.

Sun Star [25]
September 23 , 2014


Nanyang Technological University Tops Young University Ranking

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) overtook Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to top the new QS ranking of the world’s top 100 universities under 50 years old [26]. There were 25 countries with at least one university in the ranking, and with 10 places, Australia had the most excellent young universities.

“All the Top 5 universities in this ranking are from Asia, a reflection of the rise of young Asian universities in the international academic arena. NTU Singapore is also part of the global trend of STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] universities that have scored well in this year’s QS Rankings,” QS said in a news release.

In the global ranking, NTU Singapore was placed 39th and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was number 40. Both institutions were established in 1991 and so are young even for the Under 50 ranking. In third place is KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology – which opened in 1971 and was ranked 51 in the global QS ranking. Two institutions that switch places are South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology at number four this year (86 in the global ranking) and City University of Hong Kong at five (108 in global ranking).

NTU Singapore climbed 35 places up the global QS ranking to reach 39 this year, “leapfrogging the likes of New York University, Technical University of Munich and Peking University in the last four years,” said the university in a statement.


University World News [27]
September 26, 2014

South Korea

British University Consortium Offers $1.6 Million in Scholarships to Korean Students

The Northern Consortium UK [28] (NCUK [28]), which provides international pathway programs to 16 member universities situated in the north of England, has launched a £1 million (US$1.6 million) scholarship fund for Korean students to mark its 25th anniversary.

Students will receive £5,000 for each of the three years of study that make up the undergraduate program. The scholarships – 57 in total – of up to £17,000 will be awarded to top performing students on NCUK’s International Foundation Year (IFY) course, which leads to entry to an undergraduate degree program at one of the consortium’s universities. They will be open to students enrolling in April or September 2015.

NCUK has targeted the Korean market after finding its students to be “among the most committed and high achieving graduates who have thrived at UK universities,” a spokesperson told The PIE News.

The PIE News [29]
October 9, 2014


Minister Calls for 40% Reduction in the Number of Universities

The number of universities in Taiwan should be reduced to 100, according to remarks by Education Minister Wu Se-hwa at a Legislative Yuan education and culture committee session in September.

Since lower birth rates are impacting on higher education enrollment, Wu said that the number of Taiwanese universities should be reduced by 30 percent to 40 percent. In 2016, the number of students applying for university may decrease by 30,000. Wu said he hoped that the Ministry of Education would come up with a proposal for universities to reform by the end of the year

To reform universities did not mean closing institutions down, Wu explained, but “enhancing the role universities play in our society.” Currently, university education is mostly directed at students aged 18 to 22 years old. Wu said he hoped that to accommodate Taiwan’s aging society, the student age group would be broadened to include 50- to 60-year-olds in order to encourage Taiwanese to pursue lifelong studies.

The China Post [30]
September 25, 2014