WENR, March 2017: Asia Pacific

Bangladesh: Rising Incomes and a Demographic Boom Drive Increased Outbound Student Mobility

Fueled by increasing demand for higher education and the growth of the country’s middle class, the number of international students from Bangladesh has increased by 33 percent between 2013 and 2015, to a total of 31,000 students. The number of students is growing quickly and is expected to reach 4.6 million by 2026, in part due to the fact that nearly half of Bangladesh’s population is under the age of 24. Despite a rapid increase in the number of private higher education providers, the domestic university system is unable to meet booming demand. Further accelerating outbound student mobility is the growing number of middle and affluent consumers in Bangladesh. Their numbers are expected to grow by 65 percent over the next five years, reaching 34 million by 2025. Most Bangladeshi students are enrolled in Malaysia, followed by the U.S., the UK, Australia, and Germany.

ICEF Monitor
February 27

China: Government Said to Increase Political Control Over Top Universities

Experts say that the Chinese government’s recent announcement of anti-corruption inspections at China’s top 29 universities is a thinly-veiled attempt to increase political and ideological control over the country’s universities.  The move follows public statements last December by President Xi Jinping, who called upon universities to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party and become “strongholds of the party leadership” upholding “the correct political direction.” In 2013, the government stipulated that university instructors avoid seven topics, including press freedom, Western democracy, universal values and civil rights, and questions about whether China’s system is truly socialist. In anticipation of the current crack down, universities like the normally liberal Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou have already extended the list of banned topics to include subjects like religion.

University World News
February 24


India: Uncertainty about U.S. Visa Policies May Benefit Countries That Offer Students a Clear Path to Employment

Private education consultants in India have begun to report a rising perception that the US is no longer welcoming to foreign students. The U.S. is the number one top destination for outwardly mobile Indian students around the world. In recent years, U.S. HEI’s have enrolled over half of all Indian students studying abroad. However, looming policy changes related to work permits, as well as increased violence, and anti-immigrant policy proposals under the new presidential administration may push applicants to new locales. France, Germany, New Zealand, and Ireland, all of which offer students a clear path to post-academic employment, are among the top contenders for these students.

University World News
February 24

Indonesia: Government More than Doubles Funds for Postgraduate Scholarships

The Indonesian Government has increased the scholarship funds it provides to master’s students and doctoral candidates through the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education from USD $105 million in 2016 to USD $225 million in 2017. The fund has been established to help increase educational attainment levels in Indonesia, where university graduates make up only 7.2 percent of the country’s total workforce, compared to 20.8 percent in neighboring Malaysia. Since its inception in 2013, the fund has supported 16,295 students, 7,889 of them international students enrolled abroad in countries like the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, the U. S., Japan, and Germany. The recent increase in funds is intended to accommodate growing demand, and improve access to higher education among disadvantaged students from poorer provinces.

University World News
February 23


Australia: International Student Enrollments Reach Record High

International enrollments in Australian higher education, and vocational education and training in 2016 grew by 13 percent and 12 percent respectively, reaching a historic high of 554,179 foreign students. The Australian government’s “International Students Strategy,” adopted in 2010 to improve conditions for foreign students, appears to have paid off. In recent surveys, 89 percent of foreign tertiary students said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience in Australia, listing a high degree of personal safety, along with the good reputation of Australian education and qualifications, as top reasons for choosing Australia as a higher education destination. Education is Australia’s third-largest export after iron ore and coal. Further gains in international enrollments are possible, due to potential shifts in student flows following the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Trump in the U.S.

University World News
February 22


Taiwan: Student Mobility from Mainland China Slows Amid Deteriorating Political Relations

For the first time in ten years, Taiwan experienced a decrease in the number of non-degree international students from mainland China, as enrollments of these students slightly dropped from 34,114 in the 2015-2016 academic year to 32,648 in 2016/2017. Over the past decade, the number of short-term students from China increased rapidly. It more than doubled between 2011 and 2013. The sudden slow down coincides with decreased tourist arrivals from mainland China. Some analysts believe that China is deliberately curtailing mobility in an attempt to put indirect pressure on the government of pro-independence prime minister Tsai Ing-wen without antagonizing public opinion in Taiwan.  Other observers attribute decreased student mobility less to political intervention, but to safety-related fears of Chinese students regarding the future relationship between China and Taiwan.

Voice of America
February 17


China: Regulations for Education Agents Changed

The Chinese Government has altered licensing requirement for education agencies that help students obtain admission to international schools. China’s State Council published a January 21 directive that alleviates the requirement that agencies be licensed by provincial education bureaus. Oversight will now be handled at a more centralized level, by the Ministry of Education and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce. The change may open opportunities for new agencies to obtain licenses, which tend to be dominated by established companies. How the move will affect fraudulent activities in the international education market remains unclear.

The PIE News
February 9

Posted in Asia Pacific, Regional News Summaries