Category: Immigration

Access to education: one idea, many actions

“What we didn’t have back then was a way to reach people in refugee contexts as it’s unlikely they’d know to look for our learning content”

This Refugee Week, Chloe Shaw, partnerships strategy manager at Cambridge Assessment English shares how a suggestion from a colleague has turned into a flourishing staff-led initiative focused on helping give refugees and asylum seekers access to education.

Back in 2016, we were in the throes of an organisational change program and a key part of that was around hearing from staff about what matters to them and what kind of organisation they wanted to be working for. It was also a time when the global refugee crisis was rarely out of the media.

One of our colleagues, Sarah Rogerson, put forward the idea that, as a global education organisation, we could be doing more to help forced migrants. Very quickly a small team formed around this idea and began to plan.

MOOCathon

Given what we do is help people learn English, we already offer a lot of free learning materials and different kinds of teacher support. What we didn’t have back then was a way to reach people in refugee contexts as it’s unlikely they’d know to look for our learning content or be studying in a typical classroom situation.

So our starting point was to talk to lots of people – our existing partners, NGOs, charities and grassroots organisations – to build up our knowledge of the challenges learners face in these contexts. We also went to events, such as the British Council Language for Resilience conference and a Techfugees Hackathon, to learn more and network. We quickly found that we could play a role in bringing people together.

So not just us partnering with other organisations to make things happen but also facilitating conversations and bringing people together who might not otherwise meet. This led us to organise our own conference with Techfugees so we could get refugees, teachers, educators, NGO, charities and investors all together in the same room to work on some specific language education challenges.

One of the most exciting solutions to come out of the event was our free online courses.

Filming the MOOC

We announced the first in April 2017. ‘Aim higher’ helps refugees and asylum seekers access higher education in the UK. SOAS University of London, UCAS, University of Nottingham, British Council, The Student Room, Article 26, Techfugees and Star Network all helped to make this course a reality and over 3,000 people registered for the first two runs of the course.

We’re also helping people prove their skills by offering exam bursaries for several of our English exams, including C1 Advanced and OET (Occupational English Test). Through our IT department, we now clean up and donate our old laptops and mobile phones and donate them to refugee charities in places like Lebanon, France and Greece. Staff in our Assessment department have also been teaching refugees online and face to face.

We were delighted to be shortlisted for a PIEoneer Award last year for all our work in this area which has spurred us on to achieve even more.

PIE AWARDS

This Refugee Week, we’re putting a call out to people who might like to help us launch an online ‘Language for employability’ course. We know from speaking to teachers at IATEFL this year that there’s already a lot of interest.

So, if you think you can help, please do get in touch. In fact, we’d love to hear from you if you have other ideas of how we could collaborate to help refugees access education – you can reach us at partnerships@cambridgeenglish.org

Refugee week is a program of arts, cultural and educational event and activities that celebrate the contribution of refugees and promotes a better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. 

Zero-Sum Thinking: Why Trump Risks Zeroing Out America’s International Education Sector

“The colleges and universities that will be hurt most deeply by the flight of international students will be those in states that voted for President Trump”

The Trump administration policies are having a notable effect on the number of international students studying in the United States. Managing Director of University Ventures Ryan Craig writes about the impact of “zero-sum thinking” and the effect it could have on American universities and colleges that depend on international students for their survival.

Ever since I read The Art of the Deal in the 1980s, I’ve not been a fan of Donald Trump. In August of 2015, writing in Forbes, I marvelled that he was leading the pack of Republican candidates for President, calling him “untrustworthy,” “fickle,” and an “entertainer playing a businessman.” Nonetheless, I never expected him to be economically illiterate as well.

Many have commented that Trump’s approach to civil liberties appears to be that freedom from discrimination for one group doesn’t result in a net gain for society because “their gain is your loss.” This “zero-sum” thinking is equally clear in his approach to immigration. In Trump’s view – at least as played to his steadfast base – every immigrant is taking a job that would otherwise go to a native-born American.
Read More

U.S. is Losing an Opportunity for Economic Growth

International students studying in the US become powerful contributors to the economy…impacting foreign relations in ways that can lead to global growth. 

It is easy to view the value of international students in terms of economic impact says Gretchen M. Bataille, senior consultant at Navitas USA. But, as she explains, international students contribute much more than tuition fees, and unfortunately, the US seems to be missing the memo. 

Education is not often considered an export. However, contrary to images of barges laden with goods, the United States’ most valuable exports are services, including education. In July 2017, services accounted for over one-third of total exports at $65.8 billion.

International students studying in the US become powerful contributors to the economy and contribute new ideas, lifestyles, values, and experiences to their home countries, transforming their local economies and impacting foreign relations in ways that can lead to global growth.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

How Trump’s immigration ban may lead to uniting America and the world

“The United States’ image was compromised by the executive order, but there’s another side to this story: fortunately, the public outcry was immediate and widespread”

Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration was damaging and divisive. But the US is refusing to be divided, argues Jill Welch, deputy executive director, public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

When President Donald Trump signed his executive order on immigration in his first week of office, US and international citizens alike were alarmed to see a country that has prided itself on being a nation of immigrants, suddenly turn its back on those fleeing violence and shut its doors on those seeking opportunity with the mere stroke of a pen. This does not represent the America that we aspire to be.
Read More

Jill Welch is NAFSA’s deputy executive director for public policy. She has been engaged in working with Congress and the Executive Branch on international education issues for more than a decade, and she leads a team of talented staff in promoting international education as central to constructive US global engagement and to peace, security, and well-being in the United States and the world.

Fairer Home Office regulations for smaller institutions

“The political imperative to tighten the numbers of immigrants entering the country must be balanced against the need for a fair system for all institutions”

In the UK, concerns have been brewing for some time that strict Home Office regulations – including the cap on the number of visa refusals institutions are permitted to keep operating – may be disproportionately harming smaller institutions, writes Alex Bols, deputy chief executive of GuildHE. What can be done to remedy the situation?

The UK has a world-class higher education system, the strength of which is – at least in part – the result of the huge diversity of universities, of all sizes and specialisms.

Many students deliberately choose to study in a smaller or more specialist institution because of the world-class facilities as well as the safer and more personalised experience that they will receive and these opportunities should be available to the many international students wanting to study in the UK.
Read More

Alex Bols is Deputy Chief Executive of GuildHE – one of the recognised representative bodies for UK higher education. In addition to working in UK higher education he was also Secretary General of the European Students’ Union.

International education as an industry: “only talent that has truly been educated is an asset to an economy”

“Teaching and learning is not an industrial process; it is a human endeavour with all the triumph and tribulation that comes with it”

Hanneke Teekens, Chair of the Board at AFS Intercultural Programmes in the Netherlands and former member of the board of directors of the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC), writes on attitudes towards international education, asking how helpful it is to approach it as an ‘industry’.

Over the years I have resisted the term ‘ the industry’ when referring to the internationalisation of higher education. Perhaps because I am a non-Anglo, coming from a tradition of public and affordable higher education that is seen as a non-commercial good. But ask any person in the street what is meant by ‘the industry’ and nobody would come up with international higher education. In other words, it is an in-crowd term in ‘our circle’ that is best avoided with a wider audience.

Moreover, using this terminology denies the specific context of education. Producing knowledge, to stay with the vocabulary of the market, is built upon a relationship that involves teaching and learning and not one of selling and buying. Education requires personal involvement of both teacher and student. A student must want to learn. The affective part of learning is the first step and requires an attitude of curiosity and engagement. In international education even more so.

Sure, diploma mills can sell a diploma and they do, but that does not mean anything has been taught and learned. Education is an intrinsic cultural and social good, with clearly a strong economic impact. Teaching and learning is not an industrial process; it is a human endeavour with all the triumph and tribulation that comes with it. Universities have a long tradition of imbuing society with critical thinking and innovation. It is essential for our industrial society to acknowledge that autonomous role.

“Universities have a long tradition of imbuing society with critical thinking and innovation. It is essential for our industrial society to acknowledge that autonomous role”

Education is not for free and neither is it cheap. Some parts of the world have capacity issues and declining enrolment of home students in other countries makes the inflow of foreigners an attractive option – on the one hand to help battered finances, but also to enhance the quality of education.

Moreover, international graduates are considered important ambassadors and increasingly are seen as potential immigrants to strengthen the workforce. Talent is on the move and there is no denial that economic considerations are a top priority. But only talent that has truly been educated is an asset to an economy. Hordes of people with a whole list of impressive degrees, but with no competencies to deal with globalised working and living conditions will feel frustrated and so will business and industry. More research on how to improve the relevance of international education for the international workplace is clearly needed.

“Hordes of people with a whole list of impressive degrees, but with no competencies to deal with globalised working and living conditions will feel frustrated and so will business and industry”

I write these lines high above the clouds from Amsterdam to Brazil, where later this week I will present at the Faubai conference in Joinville. My workshop concerns the impact of international student mobility on the home institution. The main question addresses the curriculum. How do we prepare all graduates, both home and international, to deal with globalised working and living conditions?

I kill time and read a whole stack of papers and journals. One article really catches my attention. The headline is ‘From Communism to Catholic school’ , by Kyle Spencer. (International NY Times, April 8, 2014). The accompanying picture shows us a pensive 18-year-old Di Wang, one of 39 Chinese students at a suburban school in New Jersey. The article informs us that Ms. Wang wants to continue to go to college in the US but will remain an atheist. At the same time the director of the seminar that teaches the basics of Catholicism comes to the conclusion that unless you know about Jesus it is going to be really difficult. Fortunately Di Wang sometimes prays to thank God for a beautiful day and the DePaul Catholic High School receives a wonderful fee.

In the end Ms. Wang sums up her learning experience as ‘do good, avoid evil’. It is an insight that Confucius came up with centuries before the Catholic Church even came to exist. More importantly, or downright worrying, is the fact that Di Wang may never be aware of this.