WENR, March 2016: Asia Pacific

International schools on the rise in China

English-medium international schools are big business in Asia, nowhere more than China. One education consultant estimates that he has “100 UK schools looking to go into China.” The boom is driven by factors such as the aspirations of China’s new middle class and stiff competition for admission to China’s top-tier higher ed institutions. Especially at the elementary level, the government keeps a tight rein on curriculum.

BBC News
February 24

Fraud watch: Certification program seeks to train ethical education agents

Education agents are a fact of life in China, but many thousands operate without training, certification or professional standards. In an effort to staunch common abuses such as ghost-written applications and credential forgery, the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association (BOSSA,) together with ICEF, launched an agent training initiative in 2015. In mid-February, the organizations announced certification of 104 agents. The newest agents will join the ranks of just over 400 educational consultants who were already officially recognized by China’s Ministry of Education.

The PIE News
February 18

The future of Chinese enrollments in question

A weakening economy and devalued currency threaten to curtail Chinese students’ outbound mobility, creating increased global competition for valuable enrollments. Other factors such as an improved university system at home may also keep more students at home. Barron’s examines the potential impact on higher ed institutions in the U.S. and U.K., and posits that diminished interest in the U.K. may stem in part from a 2012 decision to end a popular post-study work visa.

February 12

Chinese students abroad targeted for ‘patriotic instruction’

An estimated 1.7 million students living overseas are a focal point of a new directive by the Communist Party organization of the Chinese Ministry of Education. The directive calls for all Chinese college and university-level students to be instructed in “the dangers of negativity about the history of the party, nation, [and] revolution.” International students are of particular interest as a source of “positive patriotic energy” that is integral to “a multidimensional contact network linking home and abroad.” Among the 304,040 students now estimated to be studying in the U.S., rising enrollment in fine and applied arts programs [1] may signal a generational shift in interests and attitudes among the youth of China’s growing middle class.

The New York Times
February 10

Vietnamese higher ed requirements aligned to international norms

To better accommodate international student mobility, the Vietnamese government announced plans to cap the length of study for most undergraduate degrees at four years. The move seeks to bring the Vietnamese higher education system into alignment with standard practice in other countries. According to the latest quarterly numbers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security [2], Vietnamese students are now ranked sixth as a supplier of international students to the U.S. (Quarterly DHS numbers are more current than the numbers reported by the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors statistics, which rank Vietnam as the ninth leading supplier of students to the U.S.)

February 10

Atheism at home? Not a barrier for Chinese teens seeking a U.S. education

The majority of high-school-age Chinese students in the U.S. attend Christian schools, reports Foreign Policy. The publication found that, over a 15-month period, 58 percent of U.S.- bound secondary students from China obtained visas to study at Christian schools. Why? FP attributes the trend, which is similar for all secondary-level international students in the U.S., to “restrictions on foreign student enrollment in U.S. public high schools.” Global mobility among secondary students headed for the U.S. is on the rise, and more than tripled from 2004 to 2013. There were roughly 23,000 Chinese students attending American high schools in 2013.

Foreign Policy
February 8

The downside of extreme growth in Asian higher ed

How many graduates is too many? Professor Joshua Mok Ka-Ho noted that China alone graduates seven million students each year – roughly the population of Hong Kong. Citing high unemployment among graduates as well as the impact of mass enrollments on overworked, underpaid, and in some cases underqualified professors, Mok called for a return to a “humanistic perspective” in the Asian higher education sector. Mok is one of a rising chorus of voices critiquing the unintended consequences of the “massification” of higher education throughout the region.

Times Higher Education
February 2

New visa policies foster intra-regional student mobility

Chinese and Indonesian regulatory changes that affect student visa processing and foreign student work rights are “an indication of [a] country’s commitment to its international recruitment goals, and will directly influence its attractiveness to students in the region,” says the ICEF Monitor.

ICEF Monitor
February 2

China’s soft power initiative extended to the Arab world

As part of an ongoing effort to extend its global influence, the Chinese Government recently issued an Arab policy paper outlining a goal of establishing educational collaborations throughout the region. The effort will focus on support for the development of scientific and technical expertise in the Arab states’ workforce. The paper proposes establishing a joint China-Jordan university, and increasing the number of student and governmental exchanges between the two countries.

Al-Fanar Media
February 1