WENR, May 2015: Asia Pacific
Australian Universities Encouraged to Market to International Middle School Students
A third of prospective international students start considering their university options between the ages of 11 and 15 according to a survey of students applying to Australian universities carried out by Hobsons. Another 14 percent of the 45,000 respondents said they started considering their university options even earlier, between the ages of seven and 10.
The study found that graduate employment and subject rankings are the greatest influencers in the decision making process which Hobsons argues should influence university marketing strategies targeting younger students. The report instructs universities to make “a concerted effort to provide students with the essential skills and connections to ensure employability, in a global context.”
It identifies an essential “order of importance” within a communication strategy. “Indicators of return on investment from international students are subject rankings, graduate employment, university ranking and price, followed by graduate starting salary. Marketers should seed content through automation based on this order of relative importance.”
– The PIE News
April 2, 2015
New Strategy to Attract More International Students
The Australian government recently released a Draft National Strategy for International Education to boost international enrollments above the 2009 record of 631,000 students at institutions in Australia and abroad. Last year, there were 590,000 enrolled across all Australian providers.
Higher education has continued to be the big draw card for foreign students and their numbers grew by 11 percent in the five years to 2014, whereas enrollments in vocational education colleges plummeted by 28 percent and in schools collapsed even further with a 32.5 percent drop.
The draft strategy notes that the global competition for international students has become fiercer with the U.S., “already the world’s leading destination for globally mobile students,” poised to become a more active recruiter.
“A forecast from the US Department of Education that domestic college enrollments will slow through to 2022 is likely to result in more institutions looking to international students to fill the additional places,” the document states. The document also refers to Australia’s competitors in other English-speaking countries with the UK, Canada and New Zealand all releasing international education strategies in the past two years.
The draft national strategy finds that Latin American countries are encouraging their students to study overseas to solve local skills shortages. The government will work with governments in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa to sign bilateral education agreements and increase scholarships for students from these regions. The biggest source country for international students outside Asia is Brazil with 22,000 students currently studying in Australia. This compares to 150,000 from China and 63,000 from India.
April 1, 2015
TV Investigation Exposes Use of ‘Corrupt’ Recruiting Agents Among Top Universities
Australia’s leading universities, including the prestigious University of Sydney and the Australian National University, have engaged corrupt education agents who are falsifying the academic records of prospective international students to ensure their acceptance into the Australian tertiary system, according to an investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners.
The program, which also exposed soft-marking, mass-cheating, and the bribery of academics as a commonplace occurrence in Australia’s higher education sector, reinforces concerns that Australia’s booming international student market is contributing to a decline in academic standards through the routine acceptance of students with inadequate English proficiency.
The investigation found many students were arriving at Australian universities with scores of 4.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – well below the test’s recommended minimum score of 7 for university entry. The revelations come as some of the most prestigious universities in New South Wales grapple with the fallout of a Sydney Morning Herald investigation into systematic cheating, which revealed up to 1,000 students hired a Sydney-based company to write their assignments and sit online tests.
A number of Chinese education agents, who represent the University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Newcastle, were found by the ABC investigation to be willing to accept forged academic transcripts with the network of collusion extending into the universities’ internal processes.
– Sydney Morning Herald
April 20, 2015
Government Creates List of Approved TNE and Joint Venture Programs
The Ministry of Education in China is creating an online information management system for transnational education partnerships, it has announced. It has also published an updated list of approved joint ventures, including seven new programs.
The ‘one-stop’ portal on the Ministry of Education’s Joint Education and Supervision Information Platform will enable Sino-foreign higher education ventures to apply and register for approval and assessment by the Chinese government and publish materials online.
It will also include a registration system for joint programs and institutes below degree level; a registration and verification system for overseas qualifications and degrees; and a publication system for annual reports and other relevant information from joint programs and institutes.
The Chinese government’s updated list of approved TNE programs now numbers 86 in total. The seven newly-added programs which are recruiting students for the first time include a joint PhD program between the Central University of Finance and Economics and Tilburg University Netherlands and two partnerships between Beijing Jiaotong University and Rochester Institute of Technology in the U.S.
– The PIE News
April 7, 2015
Many Barriers Remain in Attracting International Students
Despite undergoing major reform over the last three decades, China’s higher education system still faces significant obstacles when it comes to recruiting international students and staff, and developing world class research according to the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE).
In a recent report, the OBHE argues that in order to truly be competitive, Chinese institutions could learn from joint TNE ventures between foreign and Chinese universities, which are showing the greatest ability to face challenges like limited academic freedom and poor student services.
“The report makes clear that ‘foreign’ higher education provision in China is prized, by students, parents and to a large extent governments, insofar as it is seen to embody critical thinking and creativity, attributes viewed as often stymied by the domestic system,” OBHE director Richard Garrett told The PIE News.
With a government mandate to host 500,000 international students by 2020, foreign providers are lauded for enhancing student participation and promoting academic integrity by promoting critical thought. In 2014, 377,000 foreign students studied in China but “few universities are really geared up to deal with the problems that confront international students in China,” the report notes. Challenges for students include integrating with the domestic student body, attending poorly ranked universities, and dealing with an academic culture that is slow to change, creating tensions with broader social and political norms.
– The PIE News
April 2, 2015
Government Sets New, Stricter MBA Enrollment Rules
A recent decision by the Chinese government to limit who can enroll in executive MBA programs threatens a lucrative set of partnerships operated by top American business schools, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The new rules bar government officials and managers of state-owned enterprises from attending expensive courses “or other training programs, which seemingly for study, are actually for networking and making friends.” The rules explicitly mention executive MBA programs.
The ban is part of a sweeping campaign by Xi Jinping, China’s president, to stamp out corruption and extravagant spending by government officials. The ban affects only certain American programs, but the sweep and unexpected nature of the edict show the risks foreign universities face operating in China, where regulations can change quickly for unclear reasons.
During the last 10 years or so, there has been an explosion of executive-education and management programs in China, some run by business schools of prestigious American universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, Duke, and the University of Maryland. So far, China’s own programs have been hit the hardest by the rule; The Wall Street Journal reports that enrollment is down 15 to 30 percent for programs at some of China’s top business schools. American schools say they have not experienced the same drastic decline in enrollment, but they are concerned nonetheless.
If the ban continues, executives connected to the government may not be the only ones who could stop showing up in class. Other students from global companies often attend such programs to have networking opportunities with classmates from the government and government-run industries.
“For EMBA programs in China, networking is really important, maybe the top reason for students to attend,” said Bruce Peng, the founder of an investment company focused on China’s education sector. “I think these programs are and will continue to become less appealing for students from other industries.”
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 27, 2015
New Gaokao Admission Test Set to Pilot
China’s 38-year-old college entrance exam – or gaokao – is set to undergo major changes, with the country’s State Council releasing new guidelines last year. This year, the new system will be piloted in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province.
The reform will eliminate the current strict division of humanities and science subject streams. While not revamping the high school curriculum, it will offer students a greater degree of flexibility in choosing which universities and departments they want to apply to. The flexibility is also reflected in the university admissions process, where score-based tiers will be replaced by a “matchmaking” between students and majors.
All students will still be tested in Chinese and mathematics, while English will now be one of a choice of six foreign languages, rather than the mandatory foreign language. Instead of having to take all three subjects from either the humanities stream (history, geography, political studies) or the sciences (chemistry, physics, biology), students will be able to choose three out of seven electives (ethics, history, physics, geography, chemistry, biology or technology).
To reduce the pressure of cramming for the examinations, all subjects except Chinese and mathematics will be offered twice a year (June/October) versus once (June), and scores will be valid for two years versus one. In addition, test scores will be supplemented by high school test scores and performance.
– Shorelight Education
April 21, 2015
UGC Issues Guidelines for Standardizing Credits and Grading
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines for India’s new Choice Based Credit System, to be used across all institutions of higher education in the country. The guidelines have so far been created for 19 undergraduate programs.
The main aim of the Choice Based Credit System is to increase student mobility and transfer options across universities in India as well as abroad. This is to be achieved by standardizing course credit weightings and grading systems. It is also designed to increase student choice by increasing the number of elective courses that make up a degree program. It enables students to opt for courses they’re interested in, but that may not be directly related to the major. It is also designed to restructure the way courses content is designed and to reduce teacher-centric learning.
– India Today
April 13, 2014
New Education Blueprint Looks to the Future
The government released its vision for Malaysian higher education over the next 11 years in April with the release of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education).
After consulting more than 10,500 individuals and referring to studies by the World Bank, Unesco and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the blueprint aims at guiding the transformation of Malaysia’s higher education landscape. By 2025, the ministry hopes to increase access to higher education by increasing tertiary enrollment rates from 36 percent to 53 percent. This would require an additional 1.1 million enrollments, mainly in technical and vocational education and training, private higher learning institutes and online learning.
Additional measures designed to increase participation include greater use of online learning through initiatives such as a compulsory 70 percent ‘blended learning’ model for all programs and the adoption of massive open online courses.
There is also an emphasis on quality and research output in the plan, moving graduates from a mindset of job seekers to job creators, according to officials. The ministry also aims to ensure equal education opportunities for all Malaysians and is committed to improving the enrollment and completion rate of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
No significant increase in funding is planned for the sector. To ensure financial sustainability, public universities will be given greater autonomy and will be encouraged to reduce their dependence on government resources by focusing more on monetizing assets, carrying out research and development, and obtaining endowments from alumni members.
– The Star
April 12, 2015
Chinese Universities to Accept Malaysian Mandarin Proficiency Exam for Admissions
Results of the Chinese language examination in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, or Malaysian Certificate of Education, will soon be recognized by Chinese universities, marking a success for the Malaysian Chinese Association’s efforts to promote learning of the language and increasing academic mobility between the two countries.
Describing it as “the biggest breakthrough for Malaysian Chinese education,” the Malaysian Chinese Association Deputy President Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong revealed that Chinese Language 6351 in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia will be acknowledged to be on par with the Chinese Proficiency Test.
According to Dr Wee, the draft memorandum of understanding with China was tabled before the cabinet in April, and was subsequently approved. “Once signed, it will allow students passing the subject to enroll in all Chinese universities without having to take the standard language proficiency test,” he said, adding that students with good results could even apply for scholarships at Chinese universities.
– The Star
April 12, 2015
New Student Loan Rules Could Force Closure of Private and Foreign Universities
Many of Malaysia’s private universities, including foreign branch campuses, are facing financial and managerial problems and more than half will experience financial distress as a result of recent changes to the national student loans scheme, according to a new report.
In a bleak assessment of the outlook for the private higher education sector, the report by the Penang Institute says the performance of private universities lags behind public institutions and many are struggling to maintain educational standards amid a deteriorating financial situation. It says up to three quarters of foreign branch campuses and 70 percent of other private institutions could be affected in the coming year. The report notes that 35 percent of all private universities were “running on negative reserves, meaning that their total debts exceeded their total assets.”
More than half of the eight foreign branch campuses failed to make a profit in the period covered by the institute’s analysis, which is based on company reports and a study of Ministry of Education data for 2013 – the latest available.
The analysis shows that private institutions are lagging behind public institutions on major indicators of quality and it reflects national concerns for almost a decade about standards in private universities. This followed their speedy growth from the early 2000s when Malaysia had just a handful of private universities.
Of major concern are changes made last November to publicly funded student loans known by the Malay initials PTPTN. The changes could cause even greater financial distress to institutions that are not on a sound financial footing, the institute report states. Late last year, the education ministry cut the level of student loans by 5 percent for public universities and 15 percent for private universities, while leaving loans for medical programs unchanged. The institute report says the new loan rules could force an estimated 69 percent of local private universities to the “brink of financial ruin in the coming year.” Around 76 percent of university colleges and three quarters of foreign branch campuses will face the same squeeze on their finances, it says.
– University World News
April 17, 2015
Institution Numbers Increase, Quality Falls
The number of public universities has increased rapidly over the last decade, however teaching and research standards have slipped due to plagiarism, mismanagement, financial irregularities and the establishment of illegal campuses, according to a recent article in The Express Tribune.
According to data from the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the number of public universities has increased 400 percent, from 30 in 2002 to over 160 in 2015. But when it comes to quality of administration and teaching faculty, most of the universities have failed to meet minimum standards.
HEC Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmad told a vice-chancellors’ committee last year that the establishment of new or sub campuses without the commission’s permission would not be allowed. The decision was aimed at discouraging the mushrooming of such campuses that according to the HEC chief, had reached over 140. Dr Ahmad said that action would be taken against campuses that lacked required facilities. He said that many universities had recently been told to close their doctoral programs for not following standard protocols and lacking required facilities.
– The Express Tribune
April 6, 2015