Category: UK

The benefit of ‘joined up’ thinking when teaching EAL

“EAL departments need to be seen less as stand-alone departments and more as departments encompassing and integrating all aspects of a school’s academic life”

 It seems common sense, but how often in schools and colleges across the country is EAL development held back due to a lack of communication between EAL teachers and their colleagues teaching other subjects?

As Pete Collier, Head of EAL at Kings College St Michael’s says, “if a student is performing a science practical it seems logical that in the preceding (EAL) support lesson they should receive vocabulary related to common laboratory equipment. Although a seemingly simple and obvious philosophy the lack of communication between departments often causes this approach to be neglected”.
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The big IP question: How well do students understand intellectual property?

“Without IP knowledge, it is likely that interns and graduates will miss opportunities to protect valuable ideas”

University students are constantly encouraged to be creative and to come up with new and innovative ideas, but are they being taught the value of their ideas and how to protect them?

Intellectual property (IP) knowledge is important not only for law students learning how to inform others about the value and management of IP but for individuals studying business, engineering and technology.
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“Thanks MAC, but we should go further”

“Taking students out of the net migration target is not about fiddling the figures”

In light of the recent and long-awaited MAC report, director of Universities UK International Vivienne Stern says that the UK’s stagnant growth in international student enrolments has been an “active policy choice” and highlights the need for a clear, compelling and competitive post-study work offer.

Last week’s report by the Migration Advisory Committee confirmed what many of us in the university sector have long argued – that the benefits international students bring to the UK are enormous. The MAC team should be congratulated on some excellent analysis. But their conclusions were disappointing.

Now, attention has turned to the government response, and I believe there is a live debate between departments about whether to accept the MAC recommendations or go further.

The government should have the courage to do so.
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UK universities can be much more innovative in marketing in India

“UK universities need to be more innovative, less conservative and worry less about the Post Study Work visa”

Indian student numbers to the UK have fallen substantially in the last few years because of tighter visa controls. India was left out of an expanded list in June this year relaxing Tier 4 visa rules. But this is the new normal now. British universities need not use these excuses to justify low recruitment in India but do need to become more innovative in how they recruit.

The Foreign Providers Bill was long seen as a panacea for UK universities to enter the Indian market. In 2015, India’s National Knowledge Commission in 2005 recommended the establishment of Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE), replacing the higher and technical education regulators. The Higher Education and Research (HER) Bill 2011 sought to do the same, additionally seeking to grant greater autonomy to well-performing institutions.

In June 2017, the current government announced its intention to replace both the higher and technical education regulators with the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) instead. A month later, reports suggested the plans were on hold. Sometime thereafter, they were back on track. Then, formally earlier this year, the plans were finally superseded with a version more acceptable to the sector.

There is a very simple reason for this policy vacillation. The education portfolio in the Indian government is not as prestigious as many others. Governments don’t like spending political capital on reforming this sector when far greater political dividends can be achieved elsewhere.

In the Joint UK-India Trade Review earlier this year, the UK government identified several barriers to entry for increased UK-India education trade, including restrictions on repatriation of investment profits, lack of mutual recognition of one-year UK Masters programmes, twinning programmes not being recognised and foreign universities not being allowed to set up.

These are all fair points to make, but there is little prospect of changes happening in India any time soon. Instead, UK universities would be better served by being more pragmatic.

“It sounds simple, but UK universities should focus more on what Indian students want to buy, not what the UK wants to sell”

First, provide guaranteed placements or internships to Indian students. Indian parents and students care far more about ROI than Chinese students and are less likely to be worried about a poor TEF rating if the course guarantees an internship, however short. I have had multiple cold calls from London-based universities asking me to take on international interns. Leaving aside the GDPR implications, I’ve been surprised at how poorly those organisations have understood the CV they are pitching to me. Some universities outside the Russell Group, are slowly beginning to realise the power of this marketing.

Second, reduce dependence on agents. This model of recruitment in India (indeed, elsewhere too) focuses on what a university wants to sell, not what the student / their parents want to buy. Agent models of selling work better for the top-rated universities, not the second tier. Online avenues of marketing like Shiksha.com have far better reach and are significantly more cost-effective.

Third, understand the Indian psyche better. UK institutions are not always on point when it comes to understanding the thought process of Indian students. A prospective European student may see a marketing message about a variety of on-campus clubs, societies and extra-curricular activities, and think that represents the opportunity to develop as a person. An Indian student may see the same marketing message and think about how much extra money this will all cost.

Fourth, focus on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Yes, they might not have a nice Sheraton or Taj, but there are plenty of rich parents there, who want to send through children abroad. British universities are – amongst its global competitors – the most conservative when it comes to targeting these smaller cities.

Fifth, understand the power of PR and networks in India. I recently arranged a guest lecture for a visiting academic at a TEF Gold institution at short notice, at a leading college in Bangalore, at the request of their India office lead. The students had great feedback and the college Principal thought it was a wonderful collaboration opportunity. Subsequently, at least a dozen leading academics from the UK university have visited different cities in India, and no guest lectures have been arranged.

“These were missed opportunities to reach out to the right kind of enthusiastic student, without having to pay for stalls at student fairs or commission to agents”

Supplement this with more marketing through WhatsApp groups and a concerted PR campaign means that the universities can reach an audience that goes much beyond just a student fair.

According to Rohit Ramesh, Head of International Recruitment at Liverpool University, they were one of the first universities to successful try the PR route in India, paying significant dividends in terms of recruitment. Dr Sonal Minocha, Pro Vice Chancellor at Bournemouth University, has led an annual Festival of Learning in India and other countries, that enable UK students to experience India, and establish an innovative way of marketing the university in-country.

There is plenty of scope for UK universities to expand in India. To do this, UK universities need to be more innovative, less conservative and worry less about the Post Study Work visa.

About the author: Pratik Dattani is Managing Director of EPG Economic and Strategy Consulting, and has worked with educational institutions around the world on establishing innovative models of partnerships.

The benefits of studying the International Baccalaureate

“What has inspired me the most about the IB is its ability to encourage students to become internationally minded”

As students start to plan their future, choosing the right upper school curriculum is often a difficult decision to make. Faced with so many options, from A-levels to the International Baccalaureate (IB) or even the American Advanced Placement (AP) or high school diploma, the question is which one is the best fit for their abilities? And which one will more likely lead to a good degree?

I wish there was a simple answer, but it just depends on what type of student they are. Whether a good all-rounder who enjoys studying a wide range of subjects and rises to the challenge of investigative projects and exams like in the IB, or perhaps they are a more analytical mindset who prefers time to ponder their work with a curriculum focused on fewer subjects and graded more equally on coursework and exams like some A levels and the AP or whether no exams at all like the high school diploma.

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How to win international students with a mobile-first approach

“Mobile content and understanding how international students communicate is key to attracting top applicants”

Global student mobility has never been higher: there are now almost five million international students around the world at various stages of their studies.

However, despite an increase in student numbers between 1995 and 2010, growth has slowed and there is huge competition between schools, colleges and universities. Students can now pick from an ever-expanding number of establishments around the world, as well as highly respected courses online.

As applicants use technology to do everything from researching schools right through to completing their applications, it is crucial that establishments provide a high-quality digital experience, which reflects the content and experiences that students engage with daily.
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How will Brexit affect the UK’s international student community?

“The changing landscape of immigration laws could mean that youngsters need to choose their degree more wisely in order to study abroad”

Since Brexit negotiations began, UCAS has reported a surprising surge of European and international students applying to study in the UK – with figures exceeding the 100,000 mark for the first time. Many have speculated that the increase in applicants is due to a fear growing among international students: that access to further education in the UK will be limited once freedom of movement has ended come 29 March 2019.

What we know:

There is no abrupt close-down for students wishing to study in the UK in the immediate future: students starting in the academic year 2018/19 can continue undisturbed since they are secured under ‘transitional protection’.
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How educational institutions can capitalise on the rise in Chinese students

“Gain a deeper understanding of the decision-making process Chinese international students and their parents go through”

With over 500,000 Chinese students heading overseas for their education every year, China remains the top country of origin for international students worldwide. This number is expected to grow proportionately to the number of China’s upper-middle-class and affluent households, which is estimated to reach 100 million by 2020.

While the US, UK and Australia remain the most popular study destinations for Chinese students, we are starting to see new trends and preferences emerging. For instance, there has been an increase in Chinese international students going to non-English speaking countries and studying at 2nd and 3rd tier universities in English-speaking countries.
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eTextbooks: bringing learning to life for international students

“International education is changing, and it’s up to us all in the sector to keep up with the technologies that shape its future”

There is concern in the UK higher education sector that Brexit and tighter government controls on immigration are starting to put some prospective foreign students off studying in the country. It’s more important than ever for universities to improve the learning experience of international students, and in this week’s blog, we look at how digital course materials can aid students’ transition to a course in a new location.

The latest UK Council for International Student Affairs report shows that there are over 442,375 international higher education students in the UK, of which 6% are from the European Union and 13% from the rest of the world. The number of Chinese students exceeds any other nationality; almost one-third of non-EU students in the UK are from China.

“If English is not a student’s first language, absorbing the key messages across significant amounts of texts can present a real challenge on top of already stressful degree demands”

Many university courses rely on print as the primary resource to support learning and some reading materials can be very text heavy and dense to process.  Engagement with the material can be quite static and mastery of the subject can be more challenging than it should be as a result.
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Why the Duke of Edinburgh Award is important for international students

“The DofE has progressed to become more than an outdoors leadership challenge… it now reflects a much more diverse and interconnected world”

In today’s highly competitive world, young people are under enormous pressure to succeed. However, success is rarely achieved without a helping hand or a positive, life-changing experience, writes Clare Lane, head of sport at Bellerbys College.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was set up in 1956 to help young people from all walks of life navigate the challenging path to adulthood; broadening their life skills and preparing them for their future work or studies.

While individual institutions around the world may offer similar programmes, as far as I’m aware there isn’t a program on a national level comparable to the DofE Award. Agents may not be aware of the benefits the program presents tor international students in particular, which is why we should be talking about it today.

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