Planning without a crystal ball: study abroad must remain flexible

“Navigating this phase requires flexibility and proactive collaboration regarding study abroad policies and information”

I contributed a blog a few months ago about responding to crises in international education – namely Covid-19 – and focusing on staying connected, open-minded and organised amidst feelings of uncertainty to help our international ed community through to the other side, writes Kerry Geffert, product evangelist for Terra Dotta. While we’ve collectively survived the initial stages of the pandemic, we must build on this mindset to move through the next phase – from response and into recovery.

Keeping things in perspective and understanding that there are pathways forward will be critical for international education staff making decisions that are in the best interests of students and faculty. In speaking recently with collegiate study abroad staff – both from institutions and program providers – it is clear that student outcomes and growth remain our guiding principles. And that students still very much want to have a study abroad experience.

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Why verifying the qualifications of students matters

“Verifying students’ qualifications has become a major requirement but it doesn’t need to be a major hurdle.”

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, writes Abdel Abu-Qoura  of Qualification Check, it’s that no matter how advanced and evolved our lives might be – there are fundamental components of life which are at its core. Think about health, sanitation and security. Security – whether it’s as an employee or an employer, student or a university – means personal stability but also safeguarding a family or an organisation. It’s an element of life and business which has always existed and always will.

As the nature of the educational world changes, and student recruitment and application processes transition, security needs to remain intact. Universities need to be confident about who they’re accepting as students and verification is the best way to do that.

Verifying students’ qualifications has become a major requirement but it doesn’t need to be a major hurdle. Indeed, verification should be seen as helpful rather than a hindrance to the application process. It’s a valuable tool in empowering organisations to assess the fundamentals of a candidate, gaining insights into their honesty and integrity before accepting them.

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Helping boarding schools stand out in a Covid-19 world

“An increased and continued focus on IT seems a good place to start.”

It’s a very competitive world boarding schools are facing – the market was already competitive pre-Covid-19 – and the reality is some schools won’t survive and won’t re-open in September 2020, writes Pat Moores, director and co-founder of UK Education Guide.

So how can schools enhance their offer to make sure they do thrive in this new world?

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Why should an English-language proficiency test be backed by research?

“Test providers should carefully research the types of tasks students need to perform and replicate such tasks as accurately as possible.”

English-language classrooms around the world all look and function differently, writes Spiros Papageorgiou of ETS. But one common thread among them is that teachers of English consistently look for reliable information from language tests to assess whether their students have achieved specific learning goals.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in an English-speaking country are typically asked to submit scores from a language test to demonstrate that they can cope with the language demands their university classes require.

As such, developers of these language tests should be establishing a rigorous program of research in order to support the intended uses of these tests, and further be able to provide evidence that substantiates claims about what test takers know or can do based on their scores.

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How international schools can soothe back-to-school panic

“It is important that schools show a willingness to hear the worries and fears of parents.”

Many teachers might soon be asked to put away their computers and webcams and return to reality at the front of the classroom, writes Katie Harwood of Haut-Lac International Bilingual School in Switzerland. Naturally, this restoration of normality might not be so simple as it seems on the surface, and students and staff alike will likely feel a little daunted by it. Many might even have to return from their home countries, having sought comfort from familiarity during the pandemic. However, there are a few simple things schools can do to make their teachers and students feel more comfortable about the situation.

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Lessons learnt from lockdown – how international business is evolving

“My worry was that being forced to work from home could be very demotivating and this would be absolutely disastrous.”

At the end of February I went to Abu Dhabi for the BSME conference, remembers the director of m2r Education Munir Mamujee,  a great event which was supposed to be the highlight of our Q1 international business develop strategy. The conference never happened due to Covid-19 and I ended up in lockdown  at the hotel for five days. It was a rather surreal experience and one I hope never to repeat.

Fast forward and here we are. My team could have vanished, our international business could have ended and all of us could have been on our respective sofas watching daytime TV.

Yes we, like virtually every business out there, have had to make some dramatic changes and accept that for some time to come, it’s not business as usual.

As a business owner I initially went through the usual initial emotion of woe is me, head in hands, wondering what the hell we were going to do.

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The “new normal” for universities: how Covid-19 could reshape higher education

“In many ways we’re seeing an acceleration of the nascent changes that already existed”

 

Covid-19 has forced sudden and great change across the entire education sector. We have seen rapid investment in edtech to safeguard students’ courses and ensure some form of continuity, writes Stewart Watts, vice president EMEA at D2L.

The UK government’s backing of the Oak National Academy online learning platform, the supply of laptops and 4G routers to students to ensure they can connect remotely – the coronavirus has forced the first stage of the edtech revolution.

Yet what does this mean for when the current crisis has abated? It’s unlikely that we’ll go back to exactly how we were before, and there are several ways in which the higher education sector could change even after the viral risk has disappeared.

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The PIE stands in solidarity with the George Floyd movement and Black Lives Matter

“Within our own industry more can be done and we should all try to broaden access where we can”

 

The PIE stands with all activists advocating for change in light of the appallingly brutal murder of George Floyd in the USA.

Systems need to change – justice systems, education systems, arbitration systems, employment structures – to try and ensure greater equality and opportunity in our world.

International education can help achieve this although within our own industry, more can be done and we should all try to broaden access where we can.

The PIE is proud that Andrew Gordon of Diversity Abroad won our PIEoneer Award in 2019 for Outstanding Contribution to the industry and to support the #StudyAbroadStrong movement.

We need to be bold and unafraid to start dialogues around discrimination: how to be aware of it and then eliminate it.

We will endeavour to remember our responsibility to level up opportunities within the global education sector and ensure our news coverage shines a light on efforts to ensure equality, diversity and solidarity in our own industry.

A new tool to improve international recognition of TNE qualifications

“UK NARIC has been working to develop an enhanced service aimed at improving international understanding and confidence in TNE qualifications”

 

The TNE Quality Benchmark scheme will be an important tool to inform UK NARIC international engagement aimed at improving the recognition climate for TNE qualifications of demonstrated standards, quality and relevance, writes Dr. Fabrizio Trifiro. Fabrizio Trifiro is head of Quality Benchmark Services at UK NARIC.

As education systems and institutions worldwide are trying to adjust and respond to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, transnational education (TNE), and in particular online modes of delivery, can become an increasingly important way to sustain international activity and growth going forward.

Students might not be allowed to return to their university’s campus, and many international students might not be able to travel or might not want to take the risk to travel until the likelihood of further peaks of Covid-19 and further lockdown measures have receded.

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How Mandarin schools in China are coping with Covid-19

“A well-developed online learning platform is essential for Chinese language schools to maintain their profits during Covid-19”

 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the Chinese economy and Chinese people’s daily lives, writes Ivan Suchkov of That’s Mandarin. Here he discusses how Mandarin-language schools based in China are shifting online for classes.


 A large number of enterprises and factories had to suspend production to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, the situation has got a lot better now in China, and all the production lines (except for some industries like the educational sector) have fully resumed work.

However, thousands of private Chinese companies are now still on the verge of bankruptcy, as their businesses have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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