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The Higher Education Policy Institute, Kaplan and London Economics have sent a letter to all MPs as a reminder of the contribution international students make to the UK economy.

All 650 MPs in the UK have received a letter detailing the cost and benefit of international students in their constituency, and an estimate of their net contribution.

“The evidence on the benefits of international students is so clear”

Labour MP and shadow Brexit minister Paul Blomfield tweeted in support of the campaign, expressing his hope that new policy will recognise the positive impact of international students in the UK.

Great initiative by ⁦@HEPI_news⁩ in writing to all MPs on benefits international students bring to every part of the UK. Let’s make 2019 the year we see the policy changes which recognise this. ⁦@UUKIntl⁩ ⁦@UKCISA#weareinternational  https://t.co/jlCOJLhaPR

— Paul Blomfield (@PaulBlomfieldMP) December 17, 2018

At the beginning of the year, a report by London Economics commissioned by HEPI and Kaplan was published, showing that the international students’ contribution to the UK is 10 times the cost of hosting them.

According to the data, the 231,065 international students who commenced their studies in the UK in 2015/16 had contributed £20.3 billion to the UK economy. The public cost hosting international students – including education, health and social security – was set at a total of £2.3bn.

The research was submitted as evidence for the Migration Advisory Committee inquiry, with the hope it would influence its recommendations.

But when it was released in mid-September, the MAC report was widely deemed a “missed opportunity,” as it contained no recommendation for a new PSW visa and advised against taking students out of the net migration figures.

“We naively assumed this research would help persuade the Migration Advisory Committee to recommend a warmer welcome for international students (as in other countries) so that the UK could start recovering some lost ground,” HEPI director Nick Hillman wrote in a blog post.

“The sort of changes we envisaged were the removal of students from the official target for reducing net inward migration.”

HEPI, Kaplan and London Economics also produced bespoke information for each constituency for a drop-in session for MPs early this year, Hillman told The PIE News.

“Only a few MPs turned up, but those who did were really keen to engage with the data for their own area,” he said.

With the new immigration white paper reportedly around the corner – its publication is expected later this week – the organisations thought it would be a good moment to remind MPs of the economic contribution of international students.

Why we will all still need to go on talking about international students in 2019 – https://t.co/q0yV0ni4MJ pic.twitter.com/ttcl68uiIS

— HEPI (@HEPI_news) December 17, 2018

“Our hope is that [the letters] will help encourage MPs to put pressure on the government for a smarter approach towards international students before, during and after the publication of the white paper,” he said.

“We also hope it will help the MPs engage local support for a warmer welcome for international students. We remain hopeful the policy will change because the evidence on the benefits of international students is so clear.”

The post MPs reminded of int’l students contribution to UK economy – HEPI appeared first on The PIE News.

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UK language learners have been using Lingvist’s language learning app more frequently than their European counterparts over the last eight months compared to the eight month following the UK referendum in 2016, the Estonia-based company has said.

“Our figures show that there has been a clear evolution from the first eight months after the Brexit vote”

“These results are a positive insight into what the UK will look like post-Brexit,” Ott Jalakas, COO and co-founder of Lingvist said.

“Our figures show that there has been a clear evolution from the first eight months after the Brexit vote to the last eight months when it comes to Britons’ appetite for language learning.”

Jalakas added that the UK is becoming “more culturally inquisitive by spending time learning other languages”, as Lingvist experienced growth of 203% in uptakes from UK users within the last eight months. In the eight months following the referendum, uptake was at 65% growth.

These statistics indicate that British sentiments around the subsuming of other cultures are evolving, according to Lingvist.

Lingvist also reported an increase in English-as-source users overseas, recording twice the number of English-as-source users than English-as-target users in Germany over the last eight months.

“It is also great to see that British expats living abroad are spending more time learning foreign languages, as we’d always encourage any person living in another country to use a platform like ours whilst immersing themselves in a foreign language and culture,” Jalakas said.

Jalakas added that, despite these encouraging signs, the UK has “a long way to go” when it comes to foreign language uptake as compared to other European nations.

“We’d like to call on the government and educational institutions to encourage students to take foreign language courses, to implement cutting-edge technology within their organisations to assist in this, and to promote this kind of technology for public use to ensure that the number of UK language learners continues to rise.”

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The Canadian Alliance of Students Associations presented recommendations to improve the immigration system for international students to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration last week.

CASA was one of the organisations providing evidence for the committee’s study on migration challenges and opportunities for Canada in the 21st century, which was launched in September.

With international students “crucial” in addressing skills shortages, the government should remove administrative and regulatory barriers that may prevent students from finding jobs and staying in Canada after graduation, CASA board chair Adam Brown explained to the committee.

“A diverse and cosmopolitan post-secondary experience…is instrumental in preparing Canada’s students to work in an increasingly global community”

A six-month window to look for employment post-graduation, participation into work experience programs and internships without an additional work permit and a relaxation of the rules that prevent post-secondary staff from giving immigration advice were the key recommendations CASA proposed.

“In Canada it takes an average of five months to find a job after graduation,” Brown said, arguing for a longer post-graduation window of opportunity.

“Students have just 90 days after graduation to find a job and apply for a permit. This timeframe is not reflective of the current workforce reality or of the fact that many other life challenges occur post-graduation.”

The requirement for post-secondary staff to obtain a certificate, which entails 300 hours and approximately $2,000 to be allowed to give immigration advice, leaves many international students without access to migration information on campus, Brown added.

“Not all institutions can afford this commitment of time and resources,” he said, adding that institution should be exempt from the requirement.

These are key issues that CASA has identified and has been pushing forward in a recent policy paper and another advocacy event in Parliament last month.

Brown made a passionate argument for the importance of international students for the Canadian society, beyond their economic contribution.

“A diverse and cosmopolitan post-secondary experience, enhanced by the presence of international students, is instrumental in preparing Canada’s students to work in an increasingly global community,” he said.

Brown’s full address to the Committee can be seen here.

The post Canada: CASA suggests immigration rethink appeared first on The PIE News.

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Japan will not accept visa applications from 12 Vietnamese agents for six months over concerns of forgery and rising crime rates under orders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to reports from within the country.

The bans are not expected to have an immediate impact on the number of students coming from Vietnam

The ban, which will see Japan’s embassy no longer accept applications from the 12 agents until March 2019, comes after an investigation by visa officers into Japanese proficiency, prompted by a rising number of criminal suspects in the country on a student visa.

According to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, which initially broke the story, more than 10% of Vietnamese students interviewed did not meet the Japanese proficiency requirements, but that figure grew to more than 30% for applicants from one of the 12 banned agencies.

Officers now suspect the agencies forged the Japanese proficiency certificates provided as part of the visa application.

The bans are not expected to have an immediate impact on the number of students coming from Vietnam, which currently represents the second largest source of Japan’s international student cohort.

Tomohiro Miyai, deputy director of Japan Student Services Organisation, told The PIE News the relatively short bans were likely a warning to the agencies to improve their practices, adding that any students they recruited would still be able to apply for a visa independently.

The MoFA also appears to be aware of the sensitivities surrounding the bans, and has not named the agencies. The Mainichi instead attributes the bans to “people familiar with the ministry’s action”.

Whether the number of Vietnamese students remains strong, however, is under a cloud, after data from Japan’s National Police Agency revealed the country represented 30% of all foreign arrests, 40% of which were on a student visa.

Students going to Japan grew to more than 267,000 in 2017 according to JASSO, pushed by a growing number of Vietnamese students attracted by the destination’s close proximity and work rights.

The post Japan bans 12 Vietnamese agents appeared first on The PIE News.

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The University of Michigan has announced it will not renew its agreement with the Confucius Institute when its current partnership expires in 2019.

According to the university, its decision not to renew the Confucius Institute for a third term is based on a “desire to encourage greater engagement in the arts of China” via its regular academic and cultural departments.

“We bring Chinese artists to Ann Arbor to provide opportunities for our community”

“This transition is driven by a desire to more broadly include the work of exploring and studying Chinese visual and performing arts within U-M’s regular academic and cultural units,” James Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs, said in a statement.

The University of North Florida announced it would close a campus branch of the Confucius Institute, which was one of the schools US senator Marco Rubio urged to terminate agreements with the institute in February, while the FBI warned that Chinese spies were operating at scores of US institutions.

Texas A&M also cut ties in April, N.C. State University in November, University of West Florida, Prairie View A&M University, University of Iowa, University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign

Holloway told The PIE News the Confucius Institute, which the University of Michigan has sponsored for the past 10 years, is different to others across the US.

“Rather than bringing language instructors to our campus, as most such institutes do, we bring Chinese artists and performers to Ann Arbor to provide an opportunity for our community to learn about Chinese performing arts,” he said.

“The timing of our decision is driven solely by the end-date of our current agreement with the Hanban, which is next summer,” Holloway added. “We plan to celebrate the work of the institute next winter with a Chinese grand opera.”

The post Uni of Michigan to close Confucius Inst. appeared first on The PIE News.

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With 2019 just around the corner, here’s a look back at this year, and some of the stories which have grabbed our attention and yours!

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Canada

If there was a prize for the most talked-about country in the industry, Canada would have probably won it in 2018. After smashing its 2022 goal of hosting 450k students five years in advance, the international education industry got “caught in the crossfire,” as one stakeholder put it, in a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia.

“The MAC Report was widely seen as a ‘missed opportunity'”

An online comment made by Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freedland, criticising Riyadh’s decision to arrest Samar Badawi, sister of imprisoned human rights activist and blogger Raif Badawi, prompted a “sharp response” from Riyadh.

Not only did the Kingdom freeze trade and investment deals, it also decided to suspend all King Abdullah Scholarships for students in Canada, and relocate Saudi KASP students already in the country to other countries to complete their studies – creating waves of concern and inconvenience.

Despite the hit, Canada’s had a very successful year – its policies being equally praised and envied by other destination countries. One example of such being the launch of the Student Direct Stream, which made visa processing times faster for students from four Asian countries. In fact, growth has led to growing pains, with some institutions referring the big surge of the last few years as like “firefighting“. 

China’s steady steps forward

Another country in the spotlight has been China, which saw plenty of headlines in The PIE in 2018, focusing on the solid performance of the country as an education destination with almost 500,000 internationals enrolled – similar to Canada’s curve. 

Trade or political tensions were a subtext to some of our stories, such as the news that from June this year, some Chinese students could have their visas restricted to one year in duration in the US because of concerns around intellectual property leaks back to China. Anton Crace also considered the reality of relations in Australia.

In August, we reported that as part of a series of positive policy changes, the Chinese Ministry of Education revealed plans to allow international students at Chinese universities nationwide to work part-time, while also boosting the allocated budget for educating of international students by 16%.

China’s investment into education operations in other countries continued to proliferate slowly, and those close to deal-making activity report that a number of Chinese and Hong Kong-based investors are keen on acquisition opportunities. Deals included new assets added to Full Circle‘s business portfolio in the UK and reports of Chinese intent towards the US.

New Zealand’s new work rights

“One of the biggest transactions in the sector was EC acquiring Embassy English”

Perhaps one of the biggest policy changes in our industry happened when New Zealand unveiled a generous new post-study work rights system. One of the main changes was aimed at reducing workplace exploitation by eliminating employer-sponsored visa.

But the news, while well received, wasn’t all positive. Below the degree level, where work rights have been limited, the government said the changes could lead to a reduction of between 1,200 and 6,000 fewer students, which it estimates would mean between $12m-$59m less in tuition fee revenue. PTEs remain a source of debate in the Australasian sector, and should be a space to watch in 2019.

The UK’s MAC report – a missed opportunity

Another country’s international sector was hoping for changes to its post-study work regime, but its government had other plans.

Sector stakeholders in the UK had long awaited the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on the impact of international students, hoping it would recommend the introduction of a new post-study work visa. But while there was a relaxation of some post-study work rights at master’s level, the committee ruled out a new visa category per se – and recommended to keep students in the net migration count. This was widely seen as a “missed opportunity” by those in the sector.

Sarah Cooper of English UK noted the ELT sector was overlooked.  “The committee did not seem to appreciate the significance of English language students on the overall international student journey, and in particular the transition to HE,” she told The PIE.

She hoped the government would abolish existing work restrictions, also allowing students to transfer from ELT to HE without having to return home to apply for a new visa.

“Britain’s forgotten immigration scandal”

Still in the UK, the case of the international students who had their visa cancelled or were deported following the ‘TOEIC cheating scandal’ in 2014 has finally made it to parliament, where one MP defined it “Britain’s forgotten immigration scandal.”

The PIE has been following the case since its very start and charting the real emotional impact on those affected – for the full picture, click here.

Enhanced powers in Ireland

Meanwhile, across the water in Ireland, QQI – the agency responsible for assuring quality in Irish education and training – welcomed cabinet approval of a Bill that will enhance its powers in the area of English language education.

This was a key milestone in the Irish ELT sector’s long battle for the introduction of an International Education Mark and the establishment of a ‘Protection for Enrolled Learners Fund’; the importance of which came to light most recently when the snap closure of Grafton College in Dublin left more than 400 students without a school and teachers fearing “homelessness”.

Key acquisitions and business moves

“I have no doubt that closer coordination and partnership will be important in reversing enrolment trends”

Sticking with the ELT industry, this year also saw one of the biggest transactions in the sector with EC acquiring Embassy English. The company will be closing eight of the Embassy adult schools across the world as part of its process of merging the Embassy English portfolio into the EC operation.

Global education provider Navitas Group received an unsolicited AUD$1.97bn bid from a consortium – which included former Navitas chief executive Rod Jones – to take over the publicly-listed company and move it into the private RollCo, but the firm rejected the offer.

There were also rumours in the UK press about the sale of INTO University Partnerships mid-year, although nothing has been published of note since this suggestive story.

ELT, EMI, OMG? 

From ELT to EMI, the Netherlands debated internationalisation and language at length this year. While increasing numbers of international students has highlighted some capacity problems, especially in regards to accommodation, the proliferation of English-medium of instruction university courses has generated discontent in some parts of the industry.

For some it’s a question of accessibility, for others of identity – but the debate should be shifted to understand internationalisation as more than just incoming student mobility, Nuffic’s Freddy Weima told the Dutch Parliament.

And while the association that sued two universities for offering too many English-taught courses lost its case in court, the minister of education, culture and science reminded the sector that internationalisation needs to be managed to ensure that higher education remains accessible to local students.

Rapprochement between State and Commerce in US

Finally, US stakeholders were excited at the appearance of the US State Department – representing the EducationUSA network around the world – on the same stage as the US Department of Commerce at the recent AIRC Conference.

With declining new enrolments in the US documented by the Open Doors report for the second year in a row, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs was in Miami to announce to the AIRC community that the EducationUSA network was ready to engage with education agencies among “all our counterparts in the US higher education community”.

Agencies accredited by AIRC are considered to show best practice within the business of education advising. Past president of AIRC, David Di Maria told us: “I have no doubt that closer coordination and partnership between AIRC, EducationUSA, higher education institutions, the US Commercial Service and reputable third-parties, such as AIRC-certified agencies, will play an important role in reversing troubling enrolment trends.”

• If there’s a story you think we’ve missed, or you found particularly intriguing – email us here! We’re always looking to understand our audience needs better. 

We look forward to seeing what 2019 will bring, and seeing you all very soon at global events!

The post 2018: A year in IntlEd with the PIE News appeared first on The PIE News.

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The number of international students in Sweden increased by more than 5% in 2017/18, but the number of Swedes studying abroad decreased for the third year in a row, statistics from the Swedish Higher Education Authority revealed.

The Swedish Higher Education Authority, UKÄ, recorded a total of 37,834 international students in the country in 2017/18, up from 35,892 in 2016/17.

Figures show that 64% of the year’s total were full degree students, while the remaining 36% were exchange students. The total number of new international enrolments passed 24,200 in 2017/18.

“International students increase our quality in education”

The rise in student numbers was largely thanks to a rise in non-European students studying in the country. While around 8,900 students came from outside the EU, enrolments from within the European bloc saw a slight drop, from 11,812 in 2016/17 to 11,362 in 2017/18.

Nearly 4,000 international students studying for the first time in Sweden were listed as country unknown.

The number of non-EU students in Sweden has been increasing over the past few years, recovering from a drop after the country introduced tuition fees for non-EEA students in 2011.

In 2017/2018, Sweden hosted 7,000 fee-paying students, marking an increase of 1,400 on the previous year. However, the vast majority, 17,300 international students, did not pay tuition fees.

But the total number of EU students in Sweden still exceeds the numbers of students from the rest of the world, Niklas Tranæus, marketing manager at Study in Sweden, told The PIE News.

Tranæus described the decrease in the number of exchange students from EU countries as “not a very large drop”.

The Swedish Institute, the public body which finances Study in Sweden, works in collaboration with Swedish universities to promote the study destination, mainly targeting countries outside the EU, he explained.

“Digital channels – including social media – have in recent years become increasingly important as a means of reaching out to international students,” Tranæus said, while Swedish embassies and consulates around the world can apply for funding and get training from the Swedish Institute to participate in fairs and organise events to support Swedish universities in their international recruitment.

Despite a public inquiry on the internationalisation of higher education deciding not to propose a target for international student numbers, there is widespread agreement that internationalisation and increased incoming mobility is something positive, Tranæus told The PIE.

Sweden recently announced recommendations to increase its international recruitment, which included a closer collaboration between government agencies to promote Sweden abroad.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology has had the highest increase of first time international enrolments since 2013/14, with 2,240 new international students beginning in 2017/18.

KTH also enrolled the most new incoming students who paid fees, at 630.

“We cannot increase the number of exchange students due to limitations in government funding”

According to Åsa Andersson, head of international student recruitment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the school has reached a top level of international students and is now primarily focusing on improving student quality.

“We cannot increase the number of exchange students or European degree program students due to limitations in government funding,” Andersson told The PIE.

The number of non-European, fee-paying students can still increase, she added.

“China and India are the largest markets, but we try to focus also on other markets with excellent students, to ensure diversity. We can mention Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico and Colombia, where we recruit actively. US, Iran and Pakistan are other markets.”

“KTH wants to recruit the best students and in order to do that we need to compete internationally. International students increase our quality in education, in terms of excellent students but also in terms of diversity in the classroom and a recruitment base for a future research career.”

The numbers of Swedish outbound students for the year fell by 300 students to 23,800, from 24,100 in 2016/17.

The decrease is largely due to a lower number of full-time outbound international students, which fell from 17,000 in 2016/17 to 16,410 this year. Outbound exchange students have in fact increased from 7,110 in 2016/17 to 7,420 in 2017/18.

The post Sweden: int’l students up 5.4%, but outbound mobility decreases appeared first on The PIE News.

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Stakeholders in New Zealand’s international education industry have criticised the government’s decision to increase the export education levy after the central government fund it supplies almost ran out earlier this year, due to provider closures.

From 1 January 2019, universities, private schools, and institutes of technology and polytechnics will pay 0.5% of international tuition fees into the fund, an increase of 0.05%. PTEs have been further impacted, however, with their rate almost doubled to 0.89%, while state schools and state-integrated schools will remain at the original 0.45%.

“We asked NZQA to ensure that any providers that are at risk in the future are managed better”

“We have listened to feedback from the sector and have decided on a balanced approach to address some of the key concerns raised during consultation, including the financial impacts on the sector, while continuing to address the immediate financial pressures on the EEL,” said education minister Chris Hipkins.

“This is the first increase to the EEL in its 15 years. The Ministry of Education is doing its bit by reducing annual expenditure commitments against the levy by NZ$300,000.”

Established initially to fund marketing and promotional activities, and reimburse student fees in the case of a provider closure, the EEL was almost emptied earlier this year, after several PTE closures accounted for $4.1 million in payouts over two years.

The closures prompted the rate increase, but representatives from both universities and PTEs have hit back, arguing reputable providers should not be held responsible for the behaviour of their low-quality counterparts.

“Any increase was unacceptable to us”

“Any increase was unacceptable to us as it is in effect the quality providers subsidising the poor-quality providers that have now been closed,” said Craig Musson, chair of private provider representative group ITENZ.

“Any increase in costs affects any business and the export education sector is no different. In many markets, any increase in fees will also make us less competitive in respect to other countries.”

Musson said it was a “saving grace” by the government to take into consideration ITENZ’s consultation submission, and step back from a more drastic proposal to almost treble the levy for PTEs. But he called for better handling of providers to prevent closures and limit need for the levy.

“We have asked NZQA to ensure that any providers that are at risk in the future are managed better to ensure that it is the provider that is responsible for covering any transfer costs for students,” he told The PIE News.

According to an ITENZ spokesperson, there is now discussion among PTEs over whether the increase should be passed onto students or assumed by the provider as an additional compliance cost. As Musson observed, private providers are already required to protect tuition fees in a trust.

“This is the first increase to the EEL in its 15 years”

Universities New Zealand also disagreed with the increase and chief executive Chris Whelan echoed Musson’s sentiments.

“The universities felt that they should not have to pay for costs associated with students caught out by program and provider closures among some PTEs,” he told The PIE.

“However, the actual EEL increase for universities is relatively small, and the sector is willing to meet this as a contribution to ensuring New Zealand continues to be seen as a high-quality education provider that cares about all its international students.”

The government itself appears to reflect industry concerns, with Hipkins signalling an industry-wide review to address problems and further potential changes to the EEL over time.

“It may be possible in future to introduce a system where PTEs that are delivering a consistently high-quality service might pay a lower levy while the few PTEs falling into risk categories, including having previous quality issues, might face a higher one,” he said.

The new EEL rate is the latest change from New Zealand’s government and sees it meeting yet another pledge made during the lead up to the 2017 election.

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The US Department of State has officially endorsed the usage of education agents, for the first time, by attending the AIRC conference and speaking in collaborative tones at a plenary alongside counterparts from the US Department of Commerce.

This is an historic and significant move, given the EducationUSA network managed by the State Dept had previously not maintained business relations with agents, unlike the Department of Commerce.

It is also a coup for AIRC, the membership organisation that vets and approves education agency members, who can then connect with its US institutional members.

“It has never been more important for the sector itself, both private and public, non-profit and for-profit, to be focused on bring the bigger picture of working together to promote the United States as the destination choice for international students,” said Caroline Casagrande, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

A letter was distributed to all delegates from Casagrande’s superior, Marie Royce, who thanked “colleagues” at AIRC for their support of international education and Casagrande noted a new more open collaborative approach, with EducationUSA making its resources more widely available.

“We have opened up Education USA’s primary recruitment resources that were previously only available to US colleges and universities that registered with us on our website. They are now publicly accessible to everyone,” she said.

“We hope this will empower more actors and those who are working towards our common goals. This includes our signature publication, The USA Education Global Guide, which is a detailed summary of region and country-specific recruitment information and a compilation of resources.”

Mike Finnell, executive director at AIRC, called the State Department’s intervention “a monumental event” at this year’s 10th anniversary conference.

“After years of discussion, deputy secretary of state Casagrande and Eduction Bureau chief Alfred Boll formally recognised AIRC for its leadership and best practices in international recruitment during an emotional plenary session,” he related.

“AIRC, its staff, board and dedicated members are extremely optimistic that this announcement will help shape and grow international recruitment opportunities in the US in the years to come.”

Casagrande also referred the audience to the video message from Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, which was published for International Education Week.

Her impassioned presentation suggested a top-level realisation that a cohesive approach to working to maintain the USA’s competitive position is needed, after Open Doors data indicated a decline in new enrolments for 2017/18.

“This is an extremely encouraging development for US higher education,” commented David Di Maria, associate vice provost for international education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

EducationUSA has 550 advisors and 456 offices around the world and is a significant asset to building interest in US international education. Indeed, as Casagrande put it, its offices “offer free guidance to international students on the full range of higher education institutions to help them navigate the education process to find the best US college or university of their choice”.

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Representatives from the NUS, Association of Colleges and The Russell Group have presented their views on the implications that Brexit could have on student exchange programs to the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords, calling for more clarity on funding and describing a no-deal scenario as potentially “catastrophic”.

After the UK leaves the EU in 2019, it remains unclear whether or how the UK will continue to participate in Erasmus programs.

“At the moment the keyword is uncertainty”

But although the UK government has agreed to underwrite funding for projects under the current framework, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, full association to its successor program has not yet been guaranteed and details of UK research funding post-Brexit are lacking.

Representing The Russell Group, Gail Armistead said that while the UK government has provided some funding reassurance, the potential of a no-deal scenario is bringing to light questions about students already overseas on exchange programs.

“We have students who started courses in September who are planning to be in Europe in 2020/21, and at the moment the keyword is uncertainty,” she told the committee.

“We are trying to reassure students that we will continue to support them and deliver the exchanges and experiences they are anticipating, but greater clarity on how the underwrite funding would work, the practicalities of it would be hugely beneficial.”

Echoing this, John Latham representing the Association of Colleges added that European education partners are beginning to “hedge their bets” when it comes to partnering on projects.

“[Partners] at the moment are asking questions and are, perhaps, looking elsewhere,” he said.

“Although the [funding] guarantee is in place, it doesn’t stop [partner institutions] erring on the side of caution… and in my experience, we have been invited on to fewer projects this year.”

Speaking for the NUS, vice president (Higher Education) Amatey Doku pointed out that the underwritten funding doesn’t extend far enough for students starting in the 2018 academic year.

“If the idea behind the underwrite was to reassure students, I’m not sure that is being done,” he told the committee.

“A no-deal scenario would be catastrophic. If the immigration status of students, practitioners and academics change suddenly – which everyone expects it to in no-deal scenario – it’s unclear to me how the fallout from that could be resolved quickly and seamlessly enough to continue these programs.”

The current Erasmus+ program has supported 128,000 UK participants since 2014, while the UK is also a popular study destination for participants.

When asked about the general feeling among EU member states for the UK’s continuation into the next phase of Erasmus, Armistead said relevant national agencies and bodies have so far been “overwhelmingly supportive”.

“The message is very clear; they very much want us to be involved,” she added.

But the question as to how that mood would shift if immigration status for EU students looking to study in the UK becomes dramatically different was a point that Doku was quick to point out.

“If you think about the hoops and hurdles that non-EU students have to go through [before coming to the UK], I think if we suddenly transition to much tougher rules, we would start to lose some of that capital we have in these conversations.”

Readers can view a full recording of the debate via Parliament.tv here. 

The post No-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” appeared first on The PIE News.

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