WENR, December 2014: Asia Pacific


SAT Scores Delayed in China and South Korea Due to Concerns Over Cheating

The Educational Testing Service said it would delay reporting SAT scores for tests taken in October by South Korean and Chinese students, amid allegations that “organizations that seek to illegally obtain test materials for their own profit” had compromised the integrity of the college-admission test.

ETS told the New York Times that it expected to be able to complete its investigation and to release the scores by mid-November, allowing test-takers to cite them on early applications.

The New York Times [1]
October 30, 2014


China-Australia Free Trade Agreement to Build University Ties

Peak university body Universities Australia [2] gave the recent signing of a China-Australia Free Trade Agreement a warm welcome in November, saying it would help foster an even deeper relationship with China in university education and research.

Belinda Robinson, the university group’s chief executive, said, “the Free Trade Agreement will further broaden and deepen an already close relationship on higher education and research between our two countries.” She said that since 2003, formal university agreements with China had grown by 171 percent to 1,237 in 2014 while the value of the agreements to Australia in terms of productivity, trade, foreign relations and cultural understanding was immense. Establishing the free trade agreement would help extend this partnership.

Robinson noted that the agreement included a framework to “advance” mutual recognition of higher education qualifications in both countries through a memorandum of understanding signed by Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

“Universities will also support continued discussion of options for enhanced mobility of students, researchers and academics in both countries and increased marketing opportunities for Australian education providers in China,” Robinson said.

Under the agreement, 77 new education institutions will join the existing 105 Australian providers who have federal government approval to enroll students from China – already the dominant country in terms of students enrolled in Australian universities, schools and vocational education colleges. Of the more than 535,000 foreign students enrolled in the various education sectors, 142,500 or nearly 27 percent are from China.

University World News [3]
November 18, 2014

Latest International Enrollment Figures Show Continued Growth

September Year to Date statistics [4] from Australia show a 17 percent rise in student visa applications for English language programs and a 15 percent increase for higher education, the sector’s best performance since peak year 2009, but there is a sharp slow-down of growth from July to September, suggestive of a leveling off of growth in the third quarter.

India leads most source countries in terms of percentage increase across all sectors (+32.2%), but there have been booms in visa applications from Mongolia, Iraq, Nepal, Hong Kong, Mexico, Venezuela, Italy, Taiwan and Thailand, reflecting a healthy global mix.

China still accounts for the vast majority of overall student commencements (24.2%), followed by India (11.1%) and Vietnam (5.0%). However, Southeast Asia as a whole is driving growth in English-language students particularly from Vietnam and Thailand. Peak body for the HE sector, Universities Australia said the increase in 18 of Australia’s top 20 source markets is an encouraging sign for the sector that shows a “return to trend.”

The YTD September statistics are based on Australia Education International student enrollment data, derived from the Provider Registration and International Students Management System (PRISMS) database and counts enrollments by students studying in Australia on a student visa.

The PIE News [5]
November 20, 2014


Foreign Scholarships Incite Local Anger

A new plan to bring in foreign students with generous scholarships by China’s eastern Jiangsu province, host to a number of foreign branch campuses, has sparked anger in the province over resources being directed towards “wealthy foreigners” while Chinese students struggle with a rising fee burden. Resentment has also grown as foreign students are provided with what is seen as far superior accommodation to that available for local students.

In mid-August, the province’s education bureau launched a ‘Study in Jiangsu [6]’ program to develop the province into a major destination for foreign students. Under the program, annual scholarships of 50,000 to 90,000 yuan (US$8,200 to US$14,700) will be made available to applicants from overseas wanting to study at universities, including joint overseas ventures such as Duke Kunshan University [7] and Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University [8]. Yang Shubing, director of publicity at the Jiangsu education bureau said the province had some 18,700 foreign students by the end of last year.

But the plan has sparked outrage, with local residents criticizing the scheme on China’s microblog site Weibo, in particular because it was announced at a time when universities in at least nine Chinese provinces were introducing steep tuition fee rises for local students this year.

Jiangsu is not alone, however: Shanghai is aiming to attract 70,000 foreign students by 2015, up from 40,000 this year and will increase the number of scholarships for those on longer degree programs. Some will be worth 200,000 yuan or US$32,700 over four years of study, including accommodation costs – a huge sum compared to loans and grants for local students, even when taking account of the higher accommodation costs for foreigners.

University World News [9]
October 30, 2014

Special High School Classes for Students Intending to Study at Universities Overseas

Attending international departments of Chinese high schools, which education specialists and insiders have called “study overseas without going abroad,” has become increasingly popular among Chinese students in recent years, reports China Daily.

At least one-third of public high schools in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai have launched their own international departments, which are separated from the domestic departments and offer international courses to students preparing for overseas study after they graduate, said Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of eol.cn, an online Chinese education website.

He also said that 2 to 5 percent of all students choose to study at international departments, and the proportion may grow in the future. A report conducted by eol.cn this year showed that by 2013, 22 public high schools in Beijing had established international departments, recruiting a total of 1,355 students.

China Daily [10]
October 23, 2014

US-China Agree to Greatly Expanded Visa Validity for Students and Visitors

Effective from November, Chinese visitors and students to the United States are being granted visas valid for up to 10 years after U.S. President Barack Obama announced at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing an agreement between the two countries that aims to strengthen economic and “people-to-people” ties.

The agreement will see the validity of short-term tourist and business visas extended from one to 10 years and student and exchange visas from one to five years for citizens from both countries. Education professionals in both the U.S. and China welcome the move saying it will facilitate education exchange between the countries for students, scholars and their families.

Until now, students have been required to renew their visas annually through scheduled consular appointments forcing them to travel home every 12 months.

The PIE News [11]
November 12, 2014

China on Pace to Become World’s Top R&D Spender

China is forecast to overtake the European Union and the United States in research and development (R&D) spending by the end of the decade, according to an OECD report on the global state of science, technology and industry published in November.

Squeezed research and development budgets in Europe and America have eroded the weight of advanced economies in science and technology research, patent citations and scientific publications, leaving China on track to be the world’s top R&D spender by 2019. According to the biennial report [12]OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2014, China’s intensity in research and development is driven by economic dynamism and its long-term commitment to science and technology innovation.

China has the ambition to spend 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP, on research by 2020 – and already spent 1.98 percent in 2012, the period under review. Meanwhile, South Korea has overtaken Israel as the world’s most R&D intensive country, spending 4.36 percent of GDP on research and development. Other high performers in Asia included Japan at 3.35 percent and Chinese Taipei at 3.06 percent.

The report revealed that China was the second largest R&D spender in 2012, allocating US$294 billion compared to top-spending America at around US$454 billion that year.

University World News [13]
November 14, 2015

Regulations Tightened for International Recruiting Agents

China is tightening up the licensing of China-based agents for overseas universities, with the sector sullied in recent years by allegations of falsified documentation and ‘conveyor belt’ essays produced as part of the application process to overseas universities. In particular agents outside Beijing, which are particularly difficult to regulate, will have to apply for a license in the province where they operate.

“Many parents say they do not trust agents,” said Yang Shuai, senior consultant to BOSSA – the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association – an organization for the agency industry backed by the Ministry of Education.

According to an official BOSSA evaluation of the sector carried out last year, some 454 licensed agencies are officially listed. Around 70 of them – usually the largest agencies – are in Beijing. Most are small to medium-sized operations sending no more than 500 students abroad each year. Three registered Beijing agencies help more than 10,000 students a year to gain admission to overseas universities in over 20 countries. But in Beijing alone there are at least 1,000 non-accredited agencies, according to official estimates.

In the past, study abroad agents had to apply for a license from the Ministry of Education. “But a few years ago they [the ministry] closed the door and stopped approving licenses because they believed there were enough agents,” said Yang.

The Ministry of Education and local authorities such as the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education currently lack the power to punish unlicensed agents. The new regulations will not change that but will tighten up on licensing and inspections in the hope that agencies will adhere to the rules rather than lose their license.

Professionalizing the sector is another way to reduce malpractice. Last month BOSSA launched an online training and certification program for study abroad agents. The China Education Agent Course, or CEAC, based on Australia’s agency credential program known as IATC, launched in collaboration with Pearson and ICEF. Another measure is to build up verification centers to assist overseas universities to verify documents received through agents in China.

University World News [14]
November 18, 2014

80 Percent of Wealthy Families Want Their Children to Study Internationally

Four out of five wealthy families in China want to send their children to study abroad, according to a recent study from the Hurun Report, a magazine targeted at China’s high net worth individuals.

In terms of destinations, the United States is their top choice for higher education, followed by the UK, and other Western countries such as Australia, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and France. In the 2013-14 academic year, 274,439 students from China were studying in the United States, an increase of 16.5 percent over the previous year, according to the Institute of International Education.

According to the report, the average age of Chinese millionaires’ children is 16 when they are sent abroad, many in the U.S. starting at summer camp and then going on to high school before applying to university.

China Daily [15]
November 25, 2014


Funding Plan Announced for ‘Super Global Universities’

Japan recently unveiled a Super Global Universities initiative designed to improve the rankings performance of its best universities. The cornerstone of this ambitious plan is the rapid internationalization of its inward-looking higher education sector, aimed at creating global universities and internationally minded students.

Under the scheme approved in April, and using extra funds being disbursed from the beginning of October, some 37 Japanese universities selected by an Education Ministry panel of experts from over 100 that applied, will receive government subsidies of around 420 million yen (US$3.6 million) annually for up to 10 years. One target of the plan is to elevate 10 Japanese universities – five more than currently listed – to be among the best 100 institutions in the world by 2020.

Experts view the latest government-led efforts as long overdue and a serious attempt to internationalize universities in comparison to former moves that focused heavily on increasing foreign student numbers.

In particular, the extra funds will be used to boost the number of foreign academics at the selected universities. Currently, just 4 percent of staff are foreign nationals in top Japanese universities. Japan also falls behind in measures of international research cooperation – 26.4 percent of publications are co-authored with foreign authors compared to almost double that number of British papers.

The Super Global Universities project has two tiers.

University World News [16]
November 20, 2014


China Branch Campus Under Construction, Classes to Begin Next Fall

Construction has begun on Xiamen University [17]‘s Malaysia branch campus, the first wholly overseas Chinese university campus, which is slated to open its doors with the beginning of the 2015/16 academic year.

The planned initial intake of 500 students is projected to grow to 5,000 by 2020. The historic CNY1.3bn (US$400m) project was launched last June after Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak issued an invitation in 2011 for Chinese universities to set up campuses in his country.

Xiamen was chosen as the first Chinese university to put down roots in Malaysia thanks to its longstanding ties with the country. Initially the site in Salak Tinggi, 45km from Kuala Lumpur, will be home to five schools: Chinese language and culture, medicine, information communication technology, economics and oceanography. Later, schools of chemical engineering and energy, biological engineering, electronic engineering, material sciences, and mass media and animation will be added. Programs will be taught in English, with the exception of Chinese studies and traditional Chinese medicine.

The PIE News [18]
November 5, 2014

New Zealand

Government Encourages Universities to Establish More Overseas Operations and Programs

New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has claimed that moving the country’s universities offshore, namely to Singapore and Southeast Asian countries, will boost university income and attract more foreign students.

Joyce said that overseas university expansion forms part of New Zealand’s broader internationalization strategy: “The benefit of our whole society and our economy is to have those international linkages.”

Joyce was also keen to drive home the value of New Zealand’s international students to its economy: “We have to keep bringing in international students because that’s part of the modern university life.”

While Joyce was supportive of Massey University [19]‘s Singapore campus as one of New Zealand’s few overseas success stories, Massey’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for its College of Creative Arts, Dr Claire Robinson has described Joyce’s strategy as “absolutely ludicrous.”

“It’s a ‘catch-22′ situation,” said Robinson. “You need the high numbers and quality of international students to raise your international ranking but the international students are attracted to universities that have high international rankings.”

The PIE News [20]
November 5, 2014


Rising Fees Hamper Attractiveness of Singapore as International Study Destination

Rising university fees for international students are casting a cloud over Singapore’s future as an Asian regional hub for international students – particularly from the rest of Asia. This is despite many parents in the region believing that paying for education is a good investment.

A report by HSBC Bank, The Value of Education [21], found that families in Asia were willing to pay high fees, but recent developments in the city state have shown that tolerance levels for high fees are being reached.

Singapore is now one of the most expensive countries globally to obtain an undergraduate degree once the high cost of living in the city-state is taken into account. Foreign student numbers have fallen as fees have been rising – and at a much faster rate than those for locals.

At Singapore’s top-ranked public universities, undergraduate fees for foreign students are around S$15,300 (US$12,000) for humanities and social science degrees, an increase over last year of more than 11 percent, compared with an 8.6 percent increase for Singaporeans. The cost of a business degree or management degree has risen in the past year by as much as 15 percent for foreign students – to US$24,500, compared with a 6 percent increase for Singaporeans. The fees rise coupled with high living costs has been exacerbated by a strengthening of the Singaporean currency, HSBC notes.

With undergraduate tuition fees and living costs per year combined, Singapore is second only to Australia in terms of cost among 15 major higher education destinations for foreign students. HSBC puts Singapore at US$39,229 a year compared with US$42,000 in Australia. Comparable amounts for the U.S. and UK are US$36,500 and US$35,000 respectively.

Immigration authority figures show that some 75,000 foreign student pass holders were issued in July, compared with 84,000 two years ago. The number will be even lower for university students as these figures include those attending secondary schools in Singapore. Singapore had set itself the headline target of attracting 150,000 foreign university students by 2015 compared with about 30,000 a decade ago. But it is now clear it will fall well short of its ambitions.

University World News [22]
October 24, 2014


International Outflow of Vietnamese Students Picks Up Steam After Years-Long Lull

Vietnam has a growing middle class, and a growing number of students over the last decade have sought educational opportunities internationally.

Much of the recent growth in international student numbers from Vietnam occurred in the period from 2006 to 2010, with 90 percent of outbound students being self-funded. However, growth was modest-to-non-existent in 2011 and 2012, leading some to wonder if demand from this emerging market had started to cool.

Recently released figures on 2013 enrollment would suggest, no. The Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training reports that 125,000 Vietnamese students studied abroad in 2013. This represents a 15 percent increase over 2012 and the largest year-over-year jump since 2008/2009.

The top ten destinations for Vietnamese students in 2013 – both secondary and postsecondary – were as follows:

ICEF Monitor [23]
November 4, 2014