International Education in New Zealand: New Applications for “№8 Wire”

“Policymakers are positioning international education within a fragile eco-system where sectors of the economy could collapse without the contributions of international students”

 

In 19th century New Zealand, №8 wire was the preferred wire gauge for sheep fencing, so farms often had plentiful supplies. It was said that one could just about fix anything with a handy piece of №8.

Over time, the idea of №8 wire came to represent the ingenuity, resilience and resourcefulness of New Zealanders and became a symbol of the nation’s ability to improvise and adapt. Today, New Zealand faces an array of more complex challenges.

As if with a piece of №8 wire in hand, Anthony Ogden, executive director of education abroad and exchanges at Michigan State University writes, the nation’s leaders have begun to reimagine international education as a viable strategy that can be repurposed to solve some of the country’s pressing challenges.

Although international education is generally discussed in relation to international student and scholar mobility, it is being framed in New Zealand as a dynamic industry in terms of export value, immigration, and as “supply chain management” to bolster the domestic workforce.

The nation’s policymakers are positioning international education within a fragile eco-system wherein certain sectors of the economy would potentially collapse without the economic and workforce contributions of international students.

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Student scammers and how to stop them

“Students have always served as a favourite target for phishing scams – perhaps due to the combination of just setting out into the world while armed with a sizeable student loan in their bank accounts”

The rise in sophisticated cybercrime means a growing number of students are falling victim to malicious email scams, writes Agari field CTO, John Wilson. But are educational institutions doing all they can to protect their students from becoming targets? 

The beginning of a new academic year means millions of students are just starting their journey into higher education. It’s a time that should represent unlimited horizons and discovery for students and educators alike. Unfortunately, thanks to the growing number of cyber criminals around the world, the new academic year also means a fresh crop of unwary victims and the opportunity for a bumper payday in stolen funds.

Email phishing scams – where the criminal tricks their victim into giving up personal information through a fraudulent email – is a growing problem that even sophisticated businesses are struggling to defend against. These emails will usually impersonate a trusted identity, such as a well-known brand, public authority or even a personal contact, to trick their target into opening them.

“The more seasoned criminals will take pains to ensure their emails are indistinguishable from the real thing”

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The challenges of providing high quality pastoral care in boarding schools

“The UK’s pastoral care of international students is widely regarded overseas as being one of the major strengths of the UK boarding school… however there are concerns that loopholes still do exist”

The UK’s boarding school system is world class, and attracts students from around the world, writes UK Education Guide director and co-founder, Pat Moores. But with concerns over the lack of agreed guardianship structures, could the reputation be under threat?

The UK’s pastoral care of international students is widely regarded overseas as being one of the major strengths of the UK boarding school system and one that schools and guardians work hard to maintain.

“UK schools are distinctive in the strength of their commitment to pastoral care – they care about this almost as much as they do about academic matters. We hear that it is this ‘holistic’ approach that is so appreciated by overseas families,” said Diana Stewart Brown, Head of Operations at Keystone Tutors Singapore.

However, there are concerns that certain loopholes still do exist and this then relies on the professionalism and conscientiousness of both schools and guardians to make sure, on a case by case basis, all the gaps are filled.

The legal position according to Matthew Burgess from solicitors Veale Wasbrough Vizard is that the school never loses the overall ‘duty of care’ in the case of full time boarding pupils and in the case of day students the ‘duty of care’ rests more heavily on the guardian as the child is effectively being privately fostered and, if under 16, the family the child is living with has to be registered with social services as a foster family.

“As there is no legally defined guardian role, the provision of non-accredited services is open to interpretation”

There is a recognition that getting pastoral support right, from the very moment a child arrives in the UK, can set the tone for a child’s future happiness. Excellent continuity of communication between admissions teams, houseparents, parents and guardians is critical from day one; “the most successful handover of information from admissions to boarding staff is always achieved through conversation as well as information on file,” said Gareth Collier, principal of Cardiff Sixth Form College.

Regarding ongoing care, there seems to be some consensus from schools where challenges still exist.

“The biggest loophole is the approach that we have to school holidays. Houseparents are often the key pastoral lead in most schools but when the holidays come, and these hard working staff take a well-deserved break, [and] there is little school back up to provide often essential information to parents, students and guardians,” adds Gareth Collier.

“Strong partnerships between schools and guardians are essential to providing excellent care to each young person studying in the UK”

During holiday and exeat weekends when schools close, the role of the guardian therefore becomes even more critical. However, as Caroline Nixon, general secretary of BAISIS, pointed out: “currently neither EU nor non-EU students of any age legally have to have a guardian, although BAISIS believes it is best practice for those under 18”.

Additionally, ensuring high quality guardianship provision is a significant challenge as there is no legal framework as to what services a guardian must provide and their role also depends on the pastoral provision of each individual school.

“The guardian role can cover everything from arranging dental appointments, registering with a doctor to dealing with a child who is potentially about to be excluded from school,” said Julia Evans, Director of Cambridge Guardian Angels.

For this reason, BAISIS has recently created a template for an agreement between individual BAISIS schools and their students’ guardians which outlines the school’s expectations of a guardian’s responsibilities.

AEGIS, The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students, has also gone a long way to adding structure to the guardianship role. AEGIS accredits UK guardianship organisations through a rigorous inspection process and Yasemin Wigglesworth, executive officer at AEGIS, said: “more schools are now insisting that an international student has an AEGIS accredited guardian or close family member in the UK as a condition of admission.”

Currently there are approximately 27,000 International students in the UK aged 18 and under with parents living abroad, but only around 5,000 are in the care of AEGIS registered guardians. This is not to suggest that the care provided by non-AEGIS members is sub-standard but, as there is no legally defined guardian role, the provision of non-accredited services is open to interpretation by each provider and many of these students will not have a guardian at all.

As acknowledged, high quality pastoral care is something that sets UK education providers ahead of international competitors but, in the absence of legal frameworks, strong partnerships between schools and guardians are essential to both maintaining this competitive advantage and providing excellent care to each young person studying in the UK.

Meet the new boss, similar to the old boss: new agent regulations unveiled in Vietnam

“It will take a while before the ‘Wild West’ becomes less wild”

Vietnam is a country in flux and the international education sector is no exception. In fact, it is a case study of changes and reforms. Mark Ashwill, the MD of Capstone Vietnam, looks at the current regulatory system for education agencies and what consultants must do to succeed in this exciting market.

Here’s how a typical scenario plays out: the government will attempt to address a concern or deficiency through a policy change. If the desired result is not achieved, or there are negative consequences, the policy will be rescinded and replaced by another. Such is the case with certification requirements for education agents. This reflects Vietnamese flexibility and the never-ending search for workable solutions to vexing problems.

Out with the Old and In with the New – After an interlude

In August 2016, I wrote about a policy that was implemented in 2014 in response to a decision on the Regulation of Overseas Study of Vietnamese Citizens, issued by the prime minister of Vietnam in January 2013. Of particular interest to education consulting companies was chapter three, entitled Management of Overseas Study Services. This section stipulated that education agents would henceforth need to meet certain requirements related to staff qualifications, official certification, and financial capacity “to ensure the settlement of risk cases.”

The stated purpose of these regulations was to raise the standards of practice and improve the quality of service by regulating educational consulting companies on some level. In a December 2014 article, I noted that as with all new approaches, it will take a while before the ‘Wild West’ becomes less wild, less greedy and more responsive to the needs and demands of its clients and higher education partners. This type of certification is a step in the right direction.

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Can the international education sector do more to welcome refugees?

“Supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees is one way we can contribute… to the wider community”

Working in education we are uniquely placed to respond to a range of societal challenges, writes IDP  UK and US director Arlene Griffiths.  At times it can seem daunting to know where to begin in order to make a difference. Over the past two years IDP has developed a corporate social responsibility strategy, and after a few “false starts”, the aim to support refugees in south Wales led IDP to the Welsh Refugee Council. This experience shows the value of CSR, both to our sector and the wider community we operate in. 

We knew we wanted to support local refugees, and we had some ideas, but how to reach them? Then a colleague on his daily commute happened to walk passed the Welsh Refugee Council offices. This sparked a thought, which then led to tentative conversations with the WRC about their needs and where we might be able to support their work by drawing upon the employability skills within our team. A year on, and the impact that we have been able to make through our collaboration with the WRC has been life changing for myself, my team, but most importantly, the people we have been able to help.

We began small; piloting some initial workshops on CV writing and job applications, before progressing onto lessons in business English, personal branding tips and the use of LinkedIn as a vehicle to connect and build a professional network. We had some amazing participants that were fully committed to re-building their lives in the UK. They were well-qualified people with good English, hungry to learn new skills that make them ready for the workplace and attractive to UK employers or, in a number of cases, prepare them for UK universities to undertake further study.

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A perfect storm is massing against British universities

“This tempest massing against British universities will create financial damage and reduce the UK soft power in the world”

A leaked document putting forward proposals for more stringent controls on workers and students from the EU has dashed hopes that the UK government might be considering a more liberal approach to international student visas. Aldwyn Cooper, vice chancellor at Regent’s University London, says the higher education sector is already at breaking point.

The latest proposal by the government in a leaked document – stating that the Home Office wants to introduce a crackdown on overseas students from the European Union following Brexit – is another example of what appears to be the systematic demolition of the attraction, stability and international reputation of UK higher education.

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The current state of one of America’s most important exports – international education

“Universities in America, more so than ever, have had to rely on international students to help keep enrolment up”

 

One sector that normally isn’t in the spotlight with respect to international trade is international education, writes Richie Santosdiaz, an expert in economic development and international trade, and founder of Young American Expat.  People generally see exports and international business in terms of tangible products like manufactured goods (such as cars or food). With respect to services, people generally think of the financial sector. International education doesn’t commonly appear in conversations on trade, exports or international business. But it should. 

International education is big business. According to data from the Institute of International Education, nearly one million international students are now enrolled in US universities, and contribute around $35.8 billion to the US economy.

The vast amounts of foreign direct investment US universities have made overseas also shows the importance of international education for the US economy. Taking a step beyond just affiliating themselves or forming partnerships with overseas universities. For example, the Middle East has benefited from investments from the American HE system, including New York University setting up an overseas campus in Abu Dhabi and Georgetown University setting up one in Qatar.

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Ambitious Asia – why students should go East for internships

“A structured, short-term employment experience in Asia enables students to be exposed to Asian optimism whilst also providing an unrivalled opportunity to work in a diverse workplace environment”

 

One of the most common employability skills required by top global employers is the ability to ‘adapt in a diverse workplace environment’. Although many have the ability to gain these skills through paid-for internships in economic hubs such as China, Japan and Vietnam, those from disadvantaged economic backgrounds are increasingly missing out. Shaun Butcher of CRCC Asia looks at why Asia is the perfect place for young people to develop key employability skills, and the benefits to all students this opportunity presents.

 

Why Asia in particular?

During a time where young people in Europe are surrounded by uncertainty, those in Asia have a positive vision to aspire to. The ASEAN nations are ambitious and optimistic. Determined to pursue unprecedented economic growth, these countries want to become ‘RICH’ (That’s Resilient, Inclusive, Competitive and Harmonious) by 2030.

“First-hand experience of interning in China exposes students to a workplace culture that is aligned with their worldview”

Asian nations are filled with increasingly engaged millennials who are more optimistic than their counterparts in developed nations. Whatever the merits of the ambition, the positivity and optimism are infectious. Those who actively engage in work experience in Asia return with a myriad of relevant, interesting, unique and truly transformative experiences that can be discussed with passion and excitement in any interview. Young people should go East and be immersed in this atmosphere – they have lots to learn.

We all know the statistics: the more engaged the student, the more they earn after graduation. This statistic increases further when we factor in global mobility. Interestingly, those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are mobile during their degree are more likely to be employed in graduate level jobs than their non-mobile peers. We must therefore find the right experiences to enable all of our students to thrive and we should ensure that all students, whatever their background, have the ability to experience this.

A structured, short-term employment experience in Asia, designed to maximize learning outcomes whilst also empowering students to strengthen essential hard and soft skill sets, enables students to be exposed to Asian optimism whilst also providing an unrivalled opportunity to learn how to adapt in a diverse workplace environment. The experience is unique to each individual – everyone’s story is different. The challenge for the student is how to translate this experience into a language that employers understand.

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How to maintain integrity as an education agent

“With each client there is more learning, as no two cases are exactly the same”

You don’t have to look far to find criticism of education agents in the field of international student recruitment.  From headlines condemning onshore student ‘poaching’ to accusations of application fraud, it’s harder to find praise for the role they play in helping students make one of the most important decisions of their lives. Maintaining integrity is essential for this controversial profession. Dharmendra Patel, managing director of the Aussizz Group, explains some of the key principles education agents must abide by. 

“Being an advisor who helps prospective students meet their future possibilities means having important responsibilities”

In the past not many people had access to study or work opportunities in different countries. But times have changed, and for the better. Countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and a few mainland European countries have emerged as leaders that offer education and jobs highly desirable to today’s prospective international students. It is not merely that they pay the top dollar, but they provide a chance to nurture one’s talents and grow to be a contributor. Apart from better-paying jobs, and renowned degree, it is the overall experience one can have which is ever more captivating.

Education agents are often responsible for introducing people to these opportunities. Being an advisor who helps prospective students meet their future possibilities means having important responsibilities. Their role is a diverse one, and the overseas consultant significantly impacts the life of a person who comes to them for proper guidance about the crucial decision of studying abroad.

In most cases, to better understand the client’s perspective and provide the best solution, all dealings happen face to face. With each client there is more learning, as no two cases are exactly the same.

Due to the important role agents play in their clients’ lives, preserving truthfulness and being upright with the people seeking advice is vital. There are certain practices that a consultant can observe to maintain the integrity in the entire process.

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Bundled pathways unbundled. Can universities have their cake and eat it too?

“In the context of financially strapped universities with decreasing domestic enrolments, the prospect of large numbers of international students paying out-of-state tuition rates makes the bundled pathway an attractive proposition”

Are so-called bundled pathways the future of international student recruitment at US universities, and the world over? At a time when the international education sector is dominated by conversations on change, Jean-Marc Alberola, president of Bridge Education Group takes a detailed look at options for internationalisation in higher education. 

In recent years, much debate and a significant amount of controversy has surrounded the advent of third-party international student pathway programs in the US higher education marketplace. The debate is particularly active in international educator circles and was a hot topic at the NAFSA annual conference this year, with at least four sessions devoted to the theme, including a study commissioned by NAFSA itself.

These new pathway programs, whose main protagonists include a few large, often private-equity backed firms such as Shorelight Education, StudyGroup, INTO, Navitas and Kaplan, have been well documented in the press.

Some of the confusion and misunderstanding surrounding international student pathway programs is a result of the term being broadly used to describe a wide variety of models, including intensive English programs that prepare students for university admission, TOEFL waiver partnerships, and progression from community colleges to four-year institutions.

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