WENR, September 2015: Asia Pacific


More Australian Universities Join Top 500

Australia now has more than half its public universities listed in a prestigious international ranking after Queensland University of Technology made the top 500 for the first time.

Melbourne University was again named Australia’s best university by the Academic Ranking of World Universities [1], being placed at 44th in the world for a second year in a row. Making up four universities in the top 100, Melbourne was followed by Australian National University and the University of Queensland, both at 77, and the University of Western Australia at 87.

Australia now has 20 universities in the top 500, with its overall strong performance consolidated by three institutions — Curtin, Wollongong and Deakin — all making a significant move upwards in the Chinese-based ranking.

Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of Melbourne University, said he was incredibly relieved with the result having watched governments in Asia and Europe lift research investment in their universities.

“Having 20 universities in the top 500 is something to be proud of. That helps us attract the best international students which gives us the income to stay competitive,” Professor Davis said.

 – The Australian [2]
August 16, 2015



Boom in Online Learning

Distance learning is not a new concept in China. For two decades, the country’s education ministry has used the television airwaves to broadcast agricultural lessons to more than 100 million rural students—making it the largest such program in the world. And in the early 2000s, the charitable Li Ka Shing Foundation installed satellite dishes and computers to broadcast lectures to 10,000 rural schools. Now this top-down model of online learning is being joined by a surge in new commercial and university offerings.

And it’s no longer just about reaching rural provinces. In China a rapidly rising middle class—part of a population that now totals 1.4 billion—is creating a demand for education far outpacing what traditional teachers and schools can supply. In response, Chinese startups are identifying market niches and developing entirely new products, while universities are emulating online platforms first developed in the United States.

“There is a tremendous demand in China to get a U.S.-quality education,” says Bryan Stolle, a general partner at Mohr Davidow, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California, that is funding Hotchalk [3], a company in Campbell, California, that’s attempting to give U.S. universities a digital presence in China. Each year 750,000 Chinese students apply for college in the United States, and fewer than 200,000 are accepted, he says.

There are some concerns accompanying this trend. Although China has by far the world’s largest number of Internet users, with more than 640 million people online, Internet penetration is only about 46 percent, compared with 87 percent in the United States. And a number of studies suggest that the benefits of online education accrue mostly to the already advantaged. Justin Reich, executive director of the PK12 Initiative at MIT [4] and a research scientist in MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, who recently spent time touring startups at the MOOC Times Building and talking to educators in China, says he also heard concerns about students becoming isolated and losing out on useful peer pressure, but that he generally encountered great enthusiasm.

 – Technology Review [5]
July 27, 2015

China Dominates Latest BRICS Ranking

China has strengthened its lead in the QS University Rankings: BRICS, which compares the top 200 institutions in the BRIC countries. China claims seven of the top 10 places, up one from last year, ahead of Brazil, Russia and India with one apiece. Russia, with 53 institutions in the top 200, is second only to China with 67.

In the top 10, China took the first three places with Tsinghua University first, followed by Peking University and Fudan University. Lomonosov Moscow State University from Russia came fourth; the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore fifth; followed by three more from China, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the University of Science and Technology of China and Nanjing University. Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo came ninth and China’s Beijing Normal University came tenth.

As revealed in the report, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2014, only the United States now spends more on research and development, or R&D, than China. In 2012, China spent US$294 billion, compared to the US figure of US$454 billion.

China is on course to be the world’s top spender on R&D by 2019 and is planning to increase its share of gross domestic product spent on research to 2.5% by 2020.

 – University World News [6]
July 8, 2015

New U.S Doctoral Degree Program for Chinese Public Health Leaders

Johns Hopkins University [7] has announced its Bloomberg School of Public Health is establishing a doctoral degree with Tsinghua University [8] for aspiring public health leaders in China.

The Tsinghua-Johns Hopkins Public Health Management Program will be located at the Tsinghua Institute for Hospital Management in Beijing, and is expecting its first intake of PhD students in autumn next year.

The program, which is intended primarily for Chinese students, will be developed for those who wish to pursue careers in public health and hospital management. The program was also established in collaboration with Capital Healthcare Group, which specializes in health-related business, and they will be offering financial support to the program.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to help train the next generation of public health and health care leaders in China, leaders with a unique perspective on the specific needs of their country,” said Michael J. Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

  – The PIE News [9]
July 21, 2015


MOOCs Gaining Popularity in India

Throughout India, online education is gaining favor as a career accelerator, particularly in technical fields. Indian enrollments account for about 8 percent of worldwide activity in Coursera and 12 percent in edX, the two leading providers of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Only the United States’ share is clearly higher; China’s is roughly comparable. India’s own top-tier technical universities have created free videotaped lectures of more than 700 courses, with the goal of putting students at regional colleges in digital contact with the country’s most renowned professors.

In the United States and Europe, MOOCs have proved less revolutionary than their champions predicted when they launched on a wide scale in 2012. Rather than displacing traditional undergraduate programs, MOOCs in developed economies seem to find their biggest audience among those eager to learn more about history, psychology, or some other side interest. Those enrollees try lots of classes but often drop out after a few sessions.

It’s a different story in India. There, online courses from the U.S. or Europe are finding a big following among college students and recent graduates, says Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera, which is based in Mountain View, California. They are a more serious bunch, hoping that the right technical courses can help them win better jobs. In a boon to Coursera’s bottom line, emerging-market learners are also frequently willing to pay $29 to $250 for a certificate that attests to their successful performance on a final exam.

“I believe that India ultimately will be a much bigger market for MOOCs than the U.S.,” says edX chief executive Anant Agarwal, who also is an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science. Indian students crave advanced knowledge that can open doors to a more prosperous life, Agarwal says: “If you’ve been trampled all your life, now you find you can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best.”

 – Technology Review [10]
July 27, 2015

Sharp Increase in Indian Students Going Abroad

Indian higher education institutions and IITs are losing US$6-7 billion annually to their foreign counterparts as more students look to study overseas, the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India [11] has claimed. The industry body has called on government to create an independent commission to improve quality across public and private sectors of education.

In a report, ASSOCHAM argues that the lack of quality institutions in India has led to extreme competition for places at domestic universities and is pushing a growing number of Indian students to study overseas. The study found that Indian families spend between $6-7 billion a year to send their children abroad for higher education.

According to ASSOCHAM, last year 680,000 Indians went abroad, up from 290,000 the year before, motivated mostly by a lack of quality education, better opportunities and lifestyles elsewhere, it reasons. “A minuscule number of them choose to return home,” it added.

The top destination for Indian students is the US, followed by the UK and Australia. European countries including Germany and France and other Asian countries like Singapore, and China are also becoming attractive destinations for outbound students, ASSOCHAM notes.

 – The PIE News [12]
July 31, 2015


Korea Ramps up Efforts to Attract International Students

The Korean ministry of education has revamped plans to increase foreign student enrollments after three years of falling enrollments have shown a previous goal to increase student numbers by 2020 will likely go unmet.

In order to attract more international students, the ministry will encourage universities to develop special degree programs, offer scholarships for foreign students and provide more appealing residency options for those who stay and work in key industries.

In 2011, the ministry of education announced aims to host 200,000 university students by 2020. However, government data shows that the number of foreign students has dropped from 89,537 in 2011 to 84,891 in 2014.

The ministry said it will allow universities to create specialized programs designed specifically to attract foreign students in the country’s strength industries: shipping, automobiles and information technology. More state-run student service centers will also be set up to support foreign students, and integrated residences will be built to allow students from different universities and colleges to form communities. The ministry also aims to make it easier for students already in the country studying the Korean language to transfer to degree programs.

The PIE News [13]
July 20, 2015


Universities Introducing ‘Flipped Classroom’ Learning

Introducing free online courses, converting facilities to suit “flipped classroom” learning, and exploring new pedagogies that leverage mobile technology—these are some of the initiatives that Singapore universities are working on, as institutions around the world find new ways to accommodate students’ changing learning habits.

Local universities such as the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are among those riding on the popularity of massive open online courses. They launched a number of such courses on online learning platforms such as Coursera two years ago, to enable more people to benefit from their educational offerings while building their global presence.

The unconventional flipped-classroom idea has also made its way into institutions in Singapore. NTU, for example, introduced the flipped classroom in its renaissance engineering and medicine programs, and the approach will be rolled out progressively for other courses.

In March this year, the university unveiled a $45 million learning hub – composed of 12 eight-story-high towers of stacked, rounded rooms – to support the teaching method. Each of the building’s 56 “smart” classrooms comes equipped with flexible clustered seating, electronic whiteboards, multiple LCD screens and wireless communication tools.

The Straits Times [14]
July 13, 2015


Universities, Businesses Collaborate to Increase Student Employability

Universities where curriculum development is done in collaboration with businesses led to an increase in employability of students, Siep Littooij of the International Projects Desk at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands said at a conference held in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

Eighty-one percent of graduates at Vietnamese universities involved in a pilot project organized with the Netherlands found employment within six months, and 44 percent found a job within three months, he said. The results from Vietnamese universities are similar to findings in the Netherlands by NUFFIC, the Netherlands organization for international co-operation in higher education,

The project, called Strengthening Profession-Oriented Higher Education (POHE), was carried out in eight pilot universities in Vietnam from 2005-2009. It measured employability through a tracer study in 2014, receiving data from 1,360 out of 1,922 alumni, who graduated between 2010 and 2013 in 10 revised (POHE) university programs. Based on the employability statistics and the positive qualitative evidence, POHE programs held promise for graduate employability in Vietnam, Littooij said.

The annual two-day conference, with the theme of Quality in Higher Education: Global Perspectives and Best Practices, was held by the Vietnam-based Regional Training Centre of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO RETRAC). It attracted 110 local and foreign experts, managers, lecturers and researchers from many countries

 – Vietnam News [15]
August 3, 2015