Category: Higher education

Can an American liberal arts approach improve the British higher education system?

“In the best of circumstances, an American liberal arts education… focuses on how to ask the right questions”

As an American, I’ve been immersed in the liberal arts all my life, so I’m always surprised when I’m asked by colleagues in the UK about its benefits, and how it could improve British higher education.

The breadth of a US liberal arts education is truly remarkable. Generally a four-year programme for undergraduates, it encompasses studies in the humanities, arts and sciences and increasingly stresses the informing interaction of the disciplines to prepare students for ever-changing life and work.

The UK understanding of liberal arts is arguably restricted to the humanities and does not include the sciences, thus limiting the flexibility of thought that comes from mixing academic disciplines often thought mutually exclusive.

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Are students ready for the future of work?

“There is perhaps too much emphasis on exam grades and not enough on the students’ actual learning journey”

With a myriad of factors influencing the future of work such as automation, globalisation, mobility, and flexibility, the future of work holds endless possibilities for change and opportunities for growth.

As many admin centric and unskilled tasks are now being automated, it’s important to understand what self-management and unique human skills will be valued in the future. The role of education has traditionally been to prepare students for their future workplaces, but as the pace of change accelerates, are curriculums keeping up with the evolving requirements of the future of work?

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The UK can do better than “the land of fish and chips”

“Far from portraying the UK as a “lifestyle” destination, we should promote our world-leading graduate outcomes”

A radio advert carried by a number of leading Malaysian radio stations for the previous British Council Education Exhibition – promoted the UK as “the land of fish and chips” with universities that “provide scholarships & discounts.”

Is this really how we want to be portraying UK higher education, in any market especially what is a mature and established market, the third largest sender of full-time international students to the UK?

Far from portraying the UK as a “lifestyle” destination and cutting the cost of our world-leading degree programmes, we should change direction and promote our world-leading graduate outcomes.

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How do students find their ideal university?

“Students are wary of university marketing gimmicks, and do not pay any heed to them”

Students researching to study at international universities are pretty selective about the sources of information on which they rely.

In recent research done by Media Minds, they found that students rely significantly on verified student reviews on independent websites. Verified student reviews are a vital part of deciding on a university.

Trusted Sources for Students

The only more credible source of information for students is feedback from people they know personally. Since student reviews have started influencing decisions for students as to which courses to study or which university to enrol in, verified student platforms are now playing a great role. In fact, verified student reviews are as trustworthy as the University website. That’s a big thumbs up to these trusted student review sites.

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Tips on How to be Successful in Vietnam – A Quick Guide for HEI’s

“Successful recruitment strategies in Vietnam require a lot of patience”

Hosting a thriving economy underpinned by population growth of 1% annually, in demographic terms, Vietnam is currently in a golden age. 

This ‘golden age’ features a young population eager to study overseas. Furthermore, unlike other regional countries, Vietnam is not expected to be overly affected by an ageing population for another two decades. Such conditions make Vietnam an engine of future growth and a worthy addition to an institution’s portfolio; but how can HEI’s make the most of the Vietnam market?

  1. Increase Your Market Visibility

Perhaps the most important aspect when it comes to recruitment in Vietnam is market visibility. Unless your brand is world famous, without a sustained effort to come to market you will struggle to make much ground in what is an increasingly competitive market. The most successful institutions in Vietnam are the institutions that recognise this and visit at least a 3/4 times per year.

If your institution is working on a tight budget, you’d be best off planning these visits around the same time as exhibitions so you can be on hand to assist with follow up of student leads. Another visit later in the cycle to help with the conversion of offer holders goes a long way, too.

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Why food really matters to international student well-being

“Importing ingredients that help make a ‘local’ dish truly authentic can make a huge difference to students”

Most of us happily take it for granted that we will be able to buy the food we like when we want to. For international students coming to study in the UK, access to the food they like to eat is not a given so schools and colleges that see the true importance of food as a way to; ease homesickness, increase social interaction and improve general well-being should be applauded.

Recent research puts the issue into perspective

Masters student, Erika Stewin undertook research on “food insecurity” issues among international students at two Canadian universities. Her research found that “many students described experiencing food insecurity, students related feelings of depression, homesickness and identity loss, hunger, difficulties with weight loss or weight gain, and stories of being forced to compromise religious beliefs in order to eat.”

So, how can institutions do their very best to ensure food is seen as a crucial aspect of pupil/student wellbeing?

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Using your university website as a recruitment tool

“A smooth mobile-responsive website acts as a trust signal for students, encouraging them to find out more about your institution”

Recent research from UniQuest revealed that 91% of international offer holders at partner institutions were “stealth applicants”, meaning they made no contact with the institution before applying. What’s more, over half of the students only used the university website when deciding on where to study.

Prospective students often use multiple sources of information and more than one device, which can make tracking their journey to application incredibly difficult. Universities must increasingly invest in sophisticated multi-channel tracking and attribution modelling, in order to gain insightful data on students and leverage the information sources that influence applications.

However, the research also highlights the importance of providing students with informative and engaging content across your website, as well as an excellent user experience. Some universities are already taking advantage of this, with the University of Sussex and Keele University both launching new websites for their respective International Study Centres.

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Implementing the Augar report would help democratise education

“While the Augar report may be flawed, it does make some really important recommendations”

The Augar report was overdue. Not since 1963 had the Government ordered an examination into further and higher education. And while not all of Augar’s recommendations have been universally welcomed, the report does propose measures that aim to democratise education and transform access to learning for all adults.

Beyond the headline recommendations of lowering student fees and extending the period in which graduates repay them, the Augar’s report should be admired for offering a holistic approach to the challenges in adult education and exploring alternatives to traditional university qualifications that can meet the needs of the economy.

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The instrumental impact of EU funding

“As a research-led University with a strong sense of civic mission, regional economic and social development are a major priority”

As Wales braces for what could be a perfect economic storm in the months ahead, Ceri D. Jones, director of Swansea University’s Research, Engagement and Innovation Services looks at the impact of EU funding on regional development, and some of the seeds of hope in the pipeline.

Recently Ford announced its engine plant in Bridgend is set to close in autumn 2020, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.  Just weeks ago, British Steel was put into compulsory liquidation – re-igniting major concerns about an industry that employs thousands in Wales.  With the UK set to leave the European Union on the 31 October, Wales is set to lose out on hundreds of millions of pounds each year in EU funding that has been driving economic and social regeneration in recent years.

Swansea University is located within the ‘West Wales and the Valleys’ region, which has been identified as one of the most deprived regions within Northern Europe, and as such, is a net beneficiary of EU funding.

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Number of Vietnamese Students in the US Rebounds

“Viet Nam remains a shining star in a rather dark and gloomy international student recruitment galaxy for US educational institutions”

For those US colleagues who recruit in Viet Nam, there is some good news in challenging times.  According to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers update from March 2019, there are 30,684 Vietnamese students studying in the US at all levels, an increase of 3% over August 2018.  Overall, Vietnamese students in the US comprise 2.62% of total international enrollment vs. 2.47% last August.

As you can see below, Viet Nam still ranks fifth among sending countries and is now in the same statistical league as Saudi Arabia, which saw a sizable decline of nearly 9%.  (The only other top 10 sending country with an increase was Nigeria.)  Read More

Dr. Mark Ashwill is managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company in Viet Nam with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Ashwill blogs at An International Educator in Viet Nam.