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.

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

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.

Read More

Branch campuses and Brexit: should universities be doing more?

“Branch campuses could, and should, be one of the major methods by which UK universities look to broaden worldwide access to education”

Is building new campuses in the EU the route to safety for UK universities in a post-Brexit world? Chris Hellawell, head of account management at Diversity Travel, argues it is, and King’s College London’s move to partner with TUD in Dresden should be the first of many such ‘branch campuses’.

King’s College London recently announced its intention to become the UK’s first university to open a branch campus in the EU. In collaboration with Technische Universität Dresden, it aims to create an ‘offshore King’s College Europe’, with TU Dresden dean Professor Stefan Bornstein commenting that the plan will allow King’s to have a presence in Europe and maintain access to European research funding post-Brexit.

Branch campuses are by no means a new phenomenon in the higher education landscape – in May this year, the University of Birmingham announced its intention to open its first international branch campus in Dubai next year, for example. With a total capacity of 4,500 students, within six years it will offer a full range of science, engineering, business, social science, and humanities programmes – mirroring those offered by the university’s home campus. Yet last year’s Brexit vote has dramatically increased the significance of these campuses and their potential value to universities.

Read More

How PEIs in Singapore can stay competitive

“Concern arises when the commercial aspect of the business overrides other considerations, including maintaining and enhancing the quality of the academic courses”

How can private education institutions stand out in Singapore’s competitive market place? Dr. Sam Choon-Yin, dean at PSB Academy one of Singapore’s leading private education providers argues that it requires institutions strike the right balance between and student-centered academics and their commercial goals . 

The private education market in Singapore is thriving. High demand for education in the recent past has been attributed to the growing middle class population in the emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region, the perception of higher education attainment as the passport to good life, and attraction of Singapore as the place to send children for further education.
Read More

Challenges and Opportunities: Malaysia’s Road to becoming a prominent education hub

“It’s time for Malaysia to seriously position itself as a “Gateway to Asia”


How does Malaysia position itself among the – in the Malaysian Higher Education Minister’s words – “traditional study destinations” such as USA, UK and Australia? Thomson Ch’ng, a recent Malaysian graduate from Australia and the former President of CISA, reflects on this alongside Prof Dr. Nor Haniza Sarmin, director of global education for Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

In 2007, the Malaysian Ministry of Education developed the National Higher Education Strategic Plan (Pelan Strategik Pengajian Tinggi Negara – PSPTN) with the goal of transforming the Malaysia’s Higher Education Sector and its institutions. This was followed by the launch of the Malaysia Education Blueprint  (2015-2025) for Higher Education.

“There needs to be a champion of international students in the Malaysian community

No doubt, the Malaysian Higher Education system has grown from strength-to-strength over the years, including the rise of global recognition in key dimensions of institutional quality and research publications. In particular, “Global Prominence” being one of the 10 “Shifts” outlined by the Malaysia Education Blueprint – with an ambitious target of 250, 000 number of international students to be achieved by 2025.

Strengthening its strategic coordination among stakeholders.

The Malaysian international education sector has come a long way. This is evidenced by the establishment of Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) by the Ministry to be responsible for International Education. However, there is a clear lack of coordination and partnership between government departments and agencies, education institutions and more importantly the international student body. Perhaps it’s now time for the nation to strike a balance between integration and specialisation.

Clearer Structure and Roles of different organizations.

While EMGS has been established as an agency to be responsible for promoting Malaysia as a study destination, the increasing responsibilities and roles that have been placed under the agency over the years are affecting the effectiveness of EMGS’s original role of the marketing arm for brand Malaysia. Among those, the differences of role between EMGS and Education Malaysia (EM), a division within the Department of Higher Education often create confusion towards stakeholders, such as education institutions.

“The differences of role between EMGS and Education Malaysia (EM) often create confusion

Over the last few years, EMGS has taken the ownership of managing student visas for international students by proactively working with Immigration. While the streamlined process is slowly getting the positive effect in easing the process of visa application, it has also taken up a lot of resources and time from the setting up to the implementation of this process over the last few years. Perhaps, it’s time to redefine EMGS’s role in providing a holistic international student experience in Malaysia.

Support from Community Stakeholders

The fact is, international education is not an island. Coordinated efforts from various  stakeholders is essential. The role of the Department of Immigration, Local Police and Emergency services, Accommodation / Employers association, foreign embassy, community groups and other commercial and non-commercial services providers, more important, student groups shouldn’t be underestimated.

The presence and the importance of international students in Malaysia needs to be recognised. There needs to be a champion of international students in Malaysian community.

Effective Public-Private partnership

The partnership between government and the sector needs to be an effective one. Currently, the highly-centralised decision-making process by the Ministry of Higher Education needs to be enhanced as to allow innovative ideas to take place.

Bureaucrats need to learn how to think out of the box and allow the exploration of possibilities of new ideas to take place. Instead of finding 100 reasons why things won’t work, we need bureaucrats who can encourage new ideas for projects and initiatives.

Redefine Malaysia’s Value Proposition for Malaysia as a Study Destination

The tagline “Soaring Upwards” is great to highlight the continuous improvement of the quality of education standard by Malaysian universities. While it may be effective to encourage our domestic students to consider local institutions as an option for their tertiary education, the question here is, is this the right strategy for Malaysia to compete effectively with other traditional study destination such as UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand?

Or perhaps Malaysia should look into its strength as a nation in offering  rich cultural experience and warm hospitality – something that is being recognised globally? The truth is, the slogan “Malaysia truly Asia” is a very well recognised slogan globally. It’s time for Malaysia to seriously position itself as a “Gateway to Asia”.

Moving Forward

The fact is, there’s still a long way to go for Malaysia to be globally prominent. While it’s important to celebrate the achievements, it’s not the time for Malaysia to be complacent yet. More importantly, governance of this important sector needs to be safeguarded.

It can be done by setting up an international education stakeholder council which includes various experts and international student representatives to drive this sector moving forward, achieving “Global Prominence” as outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint.

Lessons from learning abroad: higher education beyond the US

“I was pretty unprepared for the variances in education by country, perhaps due to a largely American worldview and a bit too much presumption”

International educators spend their lives working with international students, but it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be one. Colleen Boland of Young American Expat reflects on some of the things that have surprised her as an American studying in the UK and Spain.

When I decided to embark on higher education abroad, I have to admit that I was pretty unprepared for the variances in education by country, perhaps due to a largely American worldview and a bit too much presumption. I did study abroad in Italy during my undergraduate degree, but it was through my American university, and the classes were therefore adapted to the American experience. My first truly different learning experience was earning a master’s in London, before embarking on my currently underway doctorate in Spain.
Read More

Myanmar: a new frontier for international student recruitment

“Since political and economic liberalization, the advent of a multiparty democratic system, and the lifting of economic sanctions, the country has been opening up to the world in grand fashion”

The number of Myanmarese students heading overseas for study may be low at the moment, but political shifts and a growing economy mean it is a rapidly growing student market. The time for education institutions in the US and beyond to begin recruiting is now, say Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, and Deepak Neopane, founder of City College Yangon and managing director of Academics International.

Situated between two of the largest countries in the world, India and China, Myanmar has significant geopolitical importance in Southeast Asia. Until the early 1960s, Burma, as it was then known, was the region’s most developed, most well-educated, and richest nation. Yangon University was a prestigious institution in the region and Yangon Airport was a major regional hub.
Read More

Creative thinking in the UK boarding schools market: the key to survival

“Schools that stick rigidly to their systems suffer untold reputational damage, which could take a generation to dilute”

Pat Moores, director of UK Education Guide, looks at some of the challenges facing the boarding schools sector in the UK, and how schools are adapting by opening up new markets.

Under increasing international competition, many schools are looking at new, emerging markets to benefit all pupils and school finances.

“Smart schools celebrate high levels of diversity in their international population and know their British students have much to gain from living and learning side by side with a broad range of nationalities,” says Maura Power, international student recruitment manager at Culford School.
Read More

Choose your words wisely: why study abroad needs to speak the language of employment

“Without this type of research as a foundation to measure the value of study abroad on careers, there is no basis to argue its place”

By Carrie Rackers Cunningham, director of institutional research at IES Abroad, makes the case for collecting more hard data on the link between study abroad and employability, to help practitioners speak the language of employment.

What do employers look for? We know the list: interpersonal communication, ability to work in a team, make decisions, solve problems, etc.
Read More