Category: Uncategorized

What do we mean when we say international experiences develop graduates’ employability?

‘Employability’ is one of the most frequently used buzzwords in international education sector, and underpins a great proportion of the work educators do. But what does it actually mean, and how do we measure it? Stella Williams, a lecturer in psychology and researcher at Newman University Birmingham, has developed a framework to bring some clarity to an often hazily-defined concept.

The term ‘employability’ is often used as a throwaway line: jargon which is chucked into the mix to show the importance or relevance of something, frequently used without clarification of what we mean by it. So it is unsurprising that we can relate it to international experience. But what exactly do we mean when we say international opportunities develop a graduate’s employability?
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Duty of care in the global institution

“We took calls from clients who had to sleep on the streets because their hotel was deemed too unsafe to enter”

Sean de Lacey, head of sales at Diversity Travel, a travel management firm which specialises in travel in the academic sector, discusses the importance of duty of care for growing institutions.

At an event in collaboration with the University of the West of Scotland, Diversity Travel invited procurement and finance personnel from UK academic institutions across the country to discuss key issues in academic travel. One of the main takeaways from the event was that many institutions have recognised the importance of overseas expansion and collaboration, and that it is essential that they travel to international markets to drive growth and development opportunities forward.

International travel gives these institutions access to a global network and allows academics to share first-hand experiences and insights with their students and fellow academics. Through a travel network that is becoming more affordable and easier to navigate, faculty can now reap the benefits of networking overseas to attract an international student base, and produce courses and research projects with a global perspective.
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Coverage of INZ’s investigation into student visa fraud reflects immigration at the heart of the political debate

“The media coverage here reflects an international trend that places immigration at the heart of the political debate”

An investigation by Immigration New Zealand into financial document fraud among some agents and bank managers in India has created bad press around the recruitment of Indian students via agents – but Brett Berquist, director international at the University of Auckland, offers his take on quality protections across the country;s universities and how the investigation fits into a wider debate about immigration and the need for international talent.

New Zealand is proactively developing its international education market and has seen some significant growth recently in the private training establishment sector (PTE), with a recent government announcement showing 13% growth overall for the IE sector in 2015. This is driven primarily by the PTE sector and growth from India.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s universities aim for slow and sustained growth,grow by 4% to reach 26k in 2015. Currently India is just 5% of our international enrolments in the tertiary sector. It is a complex market with a significant portion of it driven by migration goals. India is forecast to grow by 30 million people of tertiary education age over the next decade and the university sector is working to build visibility for sustained growth.
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Should we be concerned about the state of English in the Philippines?

“We need to address the gap in qualified ESL teachers and the issues around ensuring the quality of ESL schools”

Mike Cabigon is the manager of English for Education Systems of British Council Philippines. He writes about a roundtable event organised by the British Council, where sector stakeholders weighed in on what needs to be done to ensure the Philippines retains its competitive advantage.

The Philippines is recognized globally as one of the largest English-speaking nations, with the majority of its population having at least some degree of fluency in the language. English has always been one of the country’s official languages, and is spoken by more than 14 million Filipinos. It is the language of commerce and law, as well as the primary medium of instruction in education.
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The re-emergence of ‘Brand Canada’

Raed Ayad currently works for INTO University Partnerships as a Research and Policy Analyst. As a Canadian citizen who has studied in Canada and in the UK, he offers his reflections on the change in Government in Canada and its potential implications for Canadian international education strategy.

On October 20th, 2015 the front page of one of Canada’s leading newspapers, the Toronto Star, read ‘It’s a New Canada’, with a photo of newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrating his historic win with his family and supporters.
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Washington State & Vietnamese Students: A Story of Requited Love

Mark Ashwill, Managing Director of human resource development company Capstone Vietnam, writes about one success story of a US state recruiting Vietnamese students.

Washington state’s success in recruiting Vietnamese students is noteworthy.  In 2014/15, there were 27,051 international students studying in WA, a 5.9% increase over the previous year. WA was the 11th leading host of international students in the US. These students and their families contributed $789 million to the state economy, in addition to all of the other tangible and intrinsic benefits they bring to WA, 49 other states and the District of Columbia.
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Making e-learning a force for social inclusion at a global level

“E-learning is different. It’s about creating tools that simultaneously engage the learner and challenge their ways of thinking”

Jeremy C Bradley is the Director of Academic and Student Affairs at InterActive, a global e-learning service provider. He has experience working in an educational hedge fund that provides scholarship and resource capacity to historically black colleges and universities; at an independent day school; and as Creative and Development Director for a multi-state educational and social services organisation.

‘We need to bring learning to people instead of people to learning.’ – Elliot Masie

Learning has never been so easily accessible and flexible as it is now. Thanks to online learning, today’s students, professionals and corporations enjoy a completely different relationship with education than the previous generation did less than two decades ago. But, certainly, there is a lot more to it.
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Time to consider higher education during and after violent conflict

“Higher education is very rarely considered a key priority in post-conflict environments; investment in HE is commonly viewed as a luxury that war-torn societies can ill-afford”

Professor Sultan Barakat, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar and Dr Sansom Milton, is research fellow at the University of York’s Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit, write about the need to safeguard higher education in conflict regions.

The past two decades have witnessed many failed attempts to reconstruct nations in the aftermath of war. The litany of failures includes the squandering of vast resources in post-2003 Iraq and the inability to stabilise Afghanistan despite spending billions of dollars over more than a decade of intervention.

“War-torn societies have again and again been denied the opportunity to own the reconstruction process”

There are many reasons why this has been the case, but central to explaining this dismal record is the fact that war-torn societies have again and again been denied the opportunity to own the reconstruction process; to play a key role on the ground in terms of planning, designing, and implementing reconstruction policies, programs, and projects; and, most importantly, to hold national and international reconstruction actors to account.

A lack of capacity at all levels of these societies—including a shortage of appropriately qualified graduates combined with rapid deskilling (as a result of lost job opportunities) or displacement—has often provided the international community with an excuse for why the role of local actors in reconstruction is unavoidably limited.

While the skills and capacity gap is now widely acknowledged, conventional “neo-liberal” reconstruction policies—which are partly responsible for the poor record of reconstruction efforts—have not sufficiently realised the importance of higher education for redressing it. Preoccupied by issues of hard security and a multitude of short-term humanitarian challenges, higher education is very rarely considered a key priority in post-conflict environments; rather, investment in higher education is commonly viewed as a luxury that war-torn societies can ill-afford.

“For local societies to occupy the leadership role in the recovery process, a bold and transformative long-term approach to rebuilding is required—one that places HE at the centre of its agenda”

Years of study and experience have led us to conclude that for local societies to occupy the leadership role in the complex recovery process, as is necessary for its success, a bold and transformative long-term approach to rebuilding is required—one that places higher education at the centre of its agenda. Only by investing in domestic capacity building can nations meet the increased demands that emerge in the aftermath of war for skilled workers and advanced knowledge in a wide range of priority sectors for reconstruction and statebuilding, including health, engineering, education, law, and the economy.

In addition, higher education, when approached strategically, has the potential to bring divided societies together—despite their varied ethnic and religious backgrounds—to engage in critical inquiry on open and diverse campuses. Offering an avenue to constructively engage the critical age group of 18-25-year-olds is of particular value when it comes to dealing with the consequences of violent conflict in our times.

To ensure that higher education can begin to contribute towards recovery as discussed above, it is imperative that more is done to protect the sector—its scholars, students, and infrastructure—during and in the immediate aftermath of conflict. Sadly, over the past few years higher education has increasingly been caught in the crossfire of violent conflict. This trend is powerfully illustrated by the recent bombing of universities in Syria, Gaza, and Yemen; the shocking campaign of violence that claimed the lives of up to 1,000 Iraqi academics; and the tragic attack on Kenya’s Garissa University College in April 2015 in which 147 people were killed.

“It is imperative that more is done to protect the sector—its scholars, students, and infrastructure—during and in the immediate aftermath of conflict”

Effective protection is therefore vital to minimise the deleterious impact of conflict on higher education’s human, physical, and institutional resources. Some efforts have been made to protect institutions of higher education including increased physical security through checkpoints and blast-walls and enhanced policing of campuses, while international efforts have focused on rescue schemes that protect displaced and threatened scholars and students. Various global actors have also committed to protecting schools and universities from attack, including as outlined in the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict and the Principles of State Responsibility to Protect Higher Education from Attack.

Protection of higher education is preferable to costly rebuilding efforts that can take a generation to complete. Yet for many societies picking up the pieces in the aftermath of war, rebuilding higher education is a necessity.

In the case of post-invasion Iraq the higher education system was shattered—84% of universities were burned, looted, or destroyed. In extreme examples including Afghanistan and Somalia, entire higher education systems have been brought to the brink of total collapse due to protracted conflict.

“In extreme examples including Afghanistan and Somalia, entire higher education systems have been brought to the brink of total collapse due to protracted conflict”

Higher education systems are complex, multi-faceted institutions that require significant financial and technical resources, even in comparison to national primary and secondary education systems. Rebuilding and revitalising higher education in the aftermath of war is therefore a major challenge that requires a collective effort between a range of national, regional, and international educational actors.

There is a pressing need for creative thinking on how best to respond to the challenges higher education faces in conflict-affected countries and how to harness the capacity of the global sector so it can contribute toward recovery and transition

The aftermath of crises and conflicts can bring about an opportunity to reform and realise improvements during rebuilding, rather than merely restoring flawed social and economic systems. The starting point for such recovery must be a better understanding of the remarkable resilience demonstrated by academic communities throughout conflict.

The need to protect and rebuild higher education was the focus of a meeting in York in the UK jointly hosted by the Brookings Doha Center, the Institute of International Education, and the University of York this month, where leaders from across the world signed the York Accord. Under the Chairmanship of President Jorge Sampaio, participants will engage in a dialogue over how best to protect and rebuild higher education in conflict zones and how to enshrine that critical goal as a collective global responsibility. Read more about the Accord here.

The authors address the protection and rebuilding of higher education at greater length in a recent policy briefing published by the Brookings Doha Center.

In the classroom or cultural immersion: the best way to learn a language

Helen Wallis writes about different learning styles and offers some guidance on how students can be encouraged to immerse themselves in a new language.

As a language teacher I have had many people pass through my classroom door. Some are just taking their first tentative steps towards learning a language; some are brushing up on their rusty grammar; while others want to take their existing skills to a previously unreached level of fluency.

Although there are now many ways to learn a language including private lessons, online courses and mobile apps, I have found for my own students that the fastest way to fluency is through immersing themselves in the local culture. Being able to send students abroad to live with a native speaking family allows the learning process to move much more quickly, especially if they are able to attend lessons at a local language school.

The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, because they will be speaking the language every day their ability to converse will improve vastly. Out of necessity students will quickly learn how to ask for things, request directions and they will learn to function in society using their newly acquired language. Furthermore, everyday conversation will help to widen the students’ vocabulary considerably.

Secondly, the time in the classroom at a language school will provide students with more structure and importantly it will teach them the rules of grammar. It will also give exposure to the written form of the language they are hearing and speaking every day. It is all very well knowing how to speak a language but to become fluent it is also necessary to learn how to read and write in that language.

The problem that most teachers will have is persuading students to travel abroad to study and not just to go on holiday. However, I find that this is mostly due to a lack of confidence. So the easiest way to get students to undertake study whilst abroad is to inspire confidence through continual praise and recognition of improvement.

There are some additional steps towards language fluency I have found particularly helpful in creating confidence in my own students:

  • Suggest that they should watch television and films in their chosen second language. Being able to apply context will aid learning and allow them to hear the language whilst also being given a visual accompaniment, which will help the meaning fall into place. Watching television is something that people tend to do most days, and can be used as a tool to help with learning and increase exposure to the new language.
  • Ask students to change the language on their mobile phone, tablet or even laptop. This is a method which is becoming increasingly useful as people spend more of their time on the internet and social media. Having to navigate the familiar device in a different language will allow the student to widen their vocabulary, and then apply it to speaking and listening.
  • Students of all levels should be encouraged to read books in their chosen language. Beginners should not be embarrassed to choose books aimed at children; picture books, comics and magazines can be particularly helpful as the images help with the meaning of the text. It can also be quite fun and will quickly build confidence as their vocabulary grows.

When students travel abroad, encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone. Even though this may be especially hard whilst in in a foreign country, it will ensure that they are maximising the time that they spend speaking and listening to a language. Ask students to take up every invitation that comes their way, whether it is attending social gatherings or being the one to speak to staff in a restaurant. Make sure to tell students not to be embarrassed by making mistakes as locals will be extremely appreciative that they are making the effort.

A few years ago I taught a lady who came for her first few lessons before going abroad for work for three months. Before leaving she was just starting out on her journey to learn the language, but, by the time she returned I could hardly believe the improvement in her fluency. Spending three months immersed in the language and the culture of the country she was visiting had allowed for huge improvements to be made.