WENR, July/August 2016: Asia Pacific
New Zealand: New Protections for International Students
With an eye on maintaining its standing as a destination for international students, New Zealand released an updated Code of Pastoral Care early this summer. The new regulations focus on a number of protections designed to ensure that the higher education institutions are committed to international student well-being once on campus. Included are: an enhanced focus on student outcomes, measures to protect against recruiting agent abuses, requirements around transparency in recruitment, and a dispute resolution mechanism. The code also puts more systems in place to better monitor existing programs and ensure quality, as well as to quickly remove low-quality programs from the international higher education system.
New Zealand: Visa Rejections Prompt Focus on Diploma Mills
A sudden spike in visa declines for Indian students has raised concerns about rogue higher education institutions. In a six month period leading up to May, 51 institutions across New Zealand, including half of the country’s polytechnics, saw visa decline rates of above 30 percent. More than half of applications were rejected among applicants from most of the institutions. The decline rate at one school was a staggering 86 percent. In response, Immigration New Zealand has increased audits of a handful of higher education institutions, where an excessive number of student visa application have been denied.
Radio New Zealand
China: New Education Minister Expected to Focus on Higher Education Access, Quality
The announcement of Chen Baosheng as China’s new education minister surprised many analysts and academics. Widely viewed as an outsider, Baosheng is expected to maintain many existing higher education policies, including intensive focus on establishing world-class institutions and research departments. He is also expected to focus on ensuring greater equity in access to high-quality universities, focusing especially on the lack of quality options available to students from rural communities throughout China. Given his former post in the Communist party, Baosheng is also expected take a hard line on the perceived proliferation of Western influence in the academic realm.
University World News
Australia: Increased Use of Casual Staff, But At What Cost?
The number of adjunct professors – or casual academic staff – at Australian universities is on the rise. Between 1989 and 2013, numbers of casual staff increased by 221 percent. Researchers speculate that the increased use of casual staff could create a disconnect between students and their departments, and note that high turnover among part-time faculty carries high replacement costs. During the same period, full-time student numbers nearly tripled, from 350,000 to 940,000, while full-time equivalent staff numbers only doubled, from 28,000 to 53,000.
Inside Higher Ed
Australia: International Students Need Increased Protections, Say Students
The Council of International Students Australia has outlined an agenda focused on improving student experience, outcomes, and welfare. The focus is a response to Australia’s newly released National Strategy for International Education 2025, which seeks to increase international enrollments from nearly 500,000 to 720,000. Ongoing reports of wide-spread discrimination, systemic wage fraud, and other abuses against international students has been prevalent in the headlines, raising widespread concern that if abuses remain unchecked, enrollment numbers will suffer. The international education export sector in Australia is worth an estimated $18.2 billion a year.
The PIE News
India: New Measures to Enable More Collaboration between Overseas Universities
Seeking to clarify regulations that govern transnational higher education relationships, India’s Human Resource Development Ministry has issued rules that allow top-tier Indian colleges and universities to apply to partner with overseas colleges and universities. The new policy builds on 2012 regulations, which allowed foreign institutions (but not domestic ones) to initiate such partnerships. The latest rules also seek to simplify credit mobility and address perceived bureaucratic barriers that may have contributed to a lack of such transnational partnerships to date. Under the new regulations, joint degrees are prohibited, while twinning and other partnerships are permitted.
University World News
China: Decentralization of Degree-Granting Authority May Signal Broader Change
Despite massive growth and systemic reforms that have radically transformed the Chinese higher education sector in recent years, lack of academic freedom and other systemic issues continue to pose limitations on China’s efforts to create a world-class education system, say observers. However, a massive shift in oversight may signal a new era: This summer saw the first steps in a plan to grant all Chinese universities the autonomy to issue their own degrees – a task that has, until now, been centrally administered only by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
University World News
Indonesia: Government Plan to Import Foreign Rectors Sparks Debate
A government plan to bring foreign university rectors into Indonesia was met with mixed reactions from administrators and commentators. While the recruitment of overseas rectors is intended to improve Indonesia’s higher education system, some argue the attempts are misguided as the imported administrators don’t understand the unique challenges that affect Indonesia. Many who oppose the foreign rectors still support the recruitment of foreign professors and students.
Times Higher Education
South Korea and Hong Kong: ACT Cancelled Without Makeup Date
ACT announced it will not be scheduling a makeup date for test-takers in Hong Kong and South Korea. ACT cancelled the June 11 exam after test materials were leaked. Some 5,500 students planning to sit for the exam at 56 test centers were affected. Cheating on the globally administered exam, which is required by many U.S. institutions as a standard part of an admissions requirements, is a major concern for ACT managers as well as U.S. university administrators. Reuters reports that ACT has 14 staffers dedicated to ensuring security at test center sites in 177 countries.
Inside Higher Ed
China: Facing a Tough Job Market, Many New College Graduates Looks for Other Options
New research indicates that, for Chinese youth, undergraduate degrees are no longer translating as readily into jobs. MyCOS, a Beijing-based research firm focused on higher education, notes that in China’s slowing economy, many graduates either opt to continue their studies at the graduate level, or to take a more entrepreneurial tact, joining start-up companies rather than seeking more traditional employment. Since 2013, there has been a 3.2 percent decline in the number of Chinese able to find full-time employment after graduation.
China: Digital Landscape Requires Savvy Recruitment Techniques
Recent research sheds light on the ways Chinese students use digital media to make decisions about studying abroad. In many other parts of the world students primarily rely on search engines and other school selection sites for discovery, and then turn to social media for more information; for Chinese students, social media is often the primary means of both discovery and research. This difference is partly due to the nature of Chinese search engines, which filter out foreign websites. To recruit effectively in this environment, institutions need to consider new tactics such as hiring Chinese-language staff to navigate the countries unique social networks.
China: New Higher Ed Admissions Policies Spark Outrage
The Chinese Ministry of Education’s effort to combat inequality at top schools for students from less-developed rural provinces was met with outrage and public protests from parents, many of whom believed their children were hurt by revamped admissions criteria. New policies reserved a record 6.5 percent of seats for students from under-represented provinces, and awarded extra points on entrance exams to applicants from underrepresented ethnic minorities. Parents from wealthier regions reacted with fury to the belief that the changes unfairly deny their children access to coveted seats at China’s top schools.
The New York Times
Pan-Asia: English Language High Schools Industry Booming
International high schools are a popular destination for wealthy Asian students angling for foreign university degrees. In 2015, English language international schools numbered nearly 8,000 globally. For-profit, government-backed, university-sponsored, and reputable independent schools all target the ambitions of the growing global middle class. The explosive growth in the numbers of schools, as well as the broad range of providers and business models, create a number of questions about academic quality, admissions fraud, student exploitation, and other issues.
The PIE News
Australia: Chinese Financial Support Has Strings Attached
Is China buying influence over Australian universities? The Australian Financial Times made the case that, through the donation of libraries and other funding, China is attempting to use its soft power to influence foreign policy. The authors quote the head of the National Security College at the Australian National University as saying that donations are part of a more comprehensive effort to “shift domestic public opinion in Australia on sensitive issues such as the US alliance and the South China Sea.” China’s effort to use universities and academic partnerships to extend its soft power across the globe is widely recognized.
Times Higher Education
Vietnam: Efforts to Increase Student Mobility between ASEAN Countries
The Vietnamese education sector is working to attract students from the ASEAN region, as well as to increase student mobility among member countries. Vietnam has implemented a National Qualifications Framework to help achieve this goal. Vietnam Universities now offer courses in English, looking to boost appeal and set the stage for joint training programs, as well as encouraging the development of training institutes by foreign investors and universities.
South Australia Unveils New Plans to Revitalize and Develop International Education System
The South Australian government is looking to increase international student enrollment to 64,500. While there is no set deadline to achieve this target, the government is making international education a top economic priority and wants to meet the goal as soon as possible. The plans to increase international student numbers are accompanied by plans to up the sector’s state contributions, open an office for overseas staff in Vietnam, launch new programs to strengthen work-study opportunities, and build the South Australian International Education Office to monitor and develop the sector.
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