WENR, February 2016: Europe

Finland: Syrian and Iraqi scholars get safe haven, financial support

The Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Finnish Government have partnered to provide scholarships for threatened scholars from Iraq and Syria. The IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture’s Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) will offer joint fellowships for as many as five Iraqi and Syrian professors to continue their academic work at institutions of higher education in Finland. CIMO has pledged up to  US$ 25,000 in matching fellowship funds. Finnish institutions will provide support including language training, housing, and assistance with cost of living expenses.

January 26
IIE [1]

U.K.: Higher ed reform and the Teaching Excellence Framework – Overview

University leaders and academics gathered in late January to discuss proposed changes to the U.K.’s higher education sector. Discussion focused on the government’s green paper on higher education, published in November. Since publication, the paper has generated widespread controversy and concern among  university leaders, students, and politicians alike. Much of the discussion has centered on the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF,) which would measure teaching quality in universities and allow universities to tie tuition to those measures. Recommendations in the green paper also seek to lower the bar to entry for new operators in the higher education sector, and to allow the closure of “failing” universities.

January 27
The Guardian [2]

England: Second-year retention rates rise among international students

The Higher Education Funding Council for England recently published data showing improvements in the drop-out rate among international students at the end of their first year. In 2012-2013, 11.4 percent fewer first year students left than in 2003-04. During roughly the same period, international student enrollments rose by nearly 70 percent. Retention of these students is critical, say observers, since their tuition fees account for a disproportionate percentage of the sector’s tuition fee income.

January 20
Times Higher Education [3]

U.K.: Wage-related visa changes may deter international students

In the face of record-high immigration, the U.K.’s Migration Advisory Committee has recommended an increase in the minimum salary threshold for migrants holding Tier 2, skilled-worker visas. The recommendations seek to encourage employers to hire domestic workers instead of their less expensive, visa-holding counterparts. However, experts in the international education sector say that these changes could have unintended economic consequences, making the U.K. less attractive to international students, most of whom use Tier 2 visas in order to work in the country post-graduation.

January 20
The Pie News [4]

England: Move to replace student grants with loans sparks protests

Next fall, an estimated half million higher ed students in England, most of them low income, may see the means-tested grants they depend on replaced by loans. The proposed cuts have sparked student protests and accusations that the government acted in bad faith. However, the government says the grants are unaffordable, and that loans, which are repayable after graduation, will provide the primarily low-income students they support with greater flexibility while they are in school.

January 19
BBC News [5]

U.K.: First-year international enrollments decline

A drop in first-year enrollments by international students has raised concerns in the UK higher education sector. New data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed such enrollments falling by three percent in 2014/2015. “[W]e need to take urgent steps to … stem this decline,” said Gordon Slaven, the British Council’s director of higher education. “Other countries are currently gaining at the UK’s expense.” The drop-off among students from India was especially steep.

January 14
Times Higher Education [6]

U.K.: Strong showing in the Times Higher Education’s top 200 globally-focused universities

The United Kingdom is home to the greatest number of internationally focused universities in the world, per the 2016 Times Higher Education list of the 200 most international universities worldwide. Sixty-four UK institutions, almost half of the UK’s total number, made the list. U.S. schools ranked poorly. Only the Massachusetts Institute of Technology placed in the top 100; only eight other schools made the second half of the list. Middle Eastern Qatar University earned the number one spot overall.

January 14
University World News [7]

Germany: Private institutions partner to prep international students for tertiary study

Two private German institutions, a language school and a university of applied sciences, have jointly launched a pathway program for international students seeking admission to tertiary-level applied science programs. Founders say public programs are unable to address the scale of demand among prospective students. The nine-month program will prepare students to take the Feststellungsprüfung – the entrance exam for applied science programs in Germany. Students are expected to come primarily from the Middle East, Japan, and Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine.

January 14
The Pie News [8]


Ireland: Crackdown on higher ed ‘visa factories’ will protect international students

‘Released last month, Ireland’s International List of Educational Providers will crack down on “‘visa factories” that exploit international students. The list includes all Irish or EU accredited higher education institutions and English language providers authorized to recruit students from outside the EU. Associated reforms seek to protect tuition fees, and increase transparency around school’s physical infrastructure , teaching capacity, and school ownership and management.

January 11
The Pie News [9]

Germany: Free courses for Syrian refugees

Despite political tensions, top institutions of higher education in Germany are stepping up to support Syrian refugees. Some 60 universities have begun offering free courses to Syrian nationals, with a handful of institutions waiving tuition fees outright. Germany hosts an estimated quarter of a million Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani refugees, and is at the heart of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.

January 6
Newsweek [10]

Sweden: Recruitment efforts pay off as international student numbers (finally) rebound

International student enrollment in Swedish institutions of higher education dropped precipitously in 2012, after the after the introduction of tuition fees for international students (a.k.a. non-EU/non-EEA students.)  Active and sustained international recruitment and marketing efforts by Swedish institutions are believed to have played a significant role in a recent turnaround. New data shows that, after years of incremental growth, numbers of non-EU students rebounded significantly between the fall of 2013 and the fall of 2014, with enrollments up by 46 percent.

December 22
ICEF Monitor [11]

Scotland: Universities face budget cuts

Scotland’s universities, which are funded by the government rather than student tuition fees, face budgets cuts in the coming year. Released in December, the government’s draft 2016-17 budget [12] features a roughly three percent cut for higher education funding. The move comes amid considerable financial uncertainty for students and universities throughout the U.K.

December 17,2015
Times Higher Education [13]

EU: Residency rules focus on international students, researchers

Seeking to attract greater numbers of non-resident students to the European Union, Justice and Home Affairs ministers agreed on common entrance and residency rules for non-EU students and researchers. Under the new rules, students and researcher can remain in the EU for nine months after their graduation or research project to look for a job or set up a business in Europe. (Countries retain jurisdiction over eligibility for work.) The rules, which will affect roughly a quarter of a million students and researchers, seek to facilitate legal migration of skilled knowledge workers across the EU, and support cooperation with countries outside the EU.

December 4,2015
University World News [14]


U.K.: International students may be removed from the permanent migration count

Under pressure from universities and others, the UK may cease to count non-EU overseas students as part of its net migration figures. With concern over the number of immigrants in the U.K. roiling, the proposed shift would benefit cash-strapped universities hoping to increase enrollments among international students.

December 2,2015
The Pie News [15]