From likes to leads: Winning new students with Facebook

 Marcel Creed is a committed educator and technologist.  After a decade in senior management across the ELICOS, VET and Higher Education sectors in Australia, Marcel joined Sky Software as their senior executive – business development. 

Universities often view their Facebook page as a requirement of modern marketing through which they can promote themselves to potential students. But more than another avenue to advertise courses and facilities, Facebook pages can be a highly valuable tool for increasing recruitment of international and domestic students.  Facebook is without question a highly lucrative hunting ground and most tertiary educational providers are acutely aware of students’ prolific use of social media platforms. For example, almost every student outside of China has a Facebook profile and uses the site on a daily basis.  But while every college and university has a Facebook page most struggle to extract its full potential to recruit students, and to do so effectively without adding staff.
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Continuing Education While Overseas

Each year, the number of students exiting a four-year university has been on the rise. As more college graduates make their way into corporate America, employers are faced with choosing from a larger applicant pool. The number of job candidates vying for the same position can often be a discouraging realization for someone who is fresh out of college. Because of this, an increased number of graduates are turning to other options as a means of either bolstering their resume for future work or finding employment elsewhere while they wait for the economy to straighten itself out. In the last three years, many recruiting companies that specialize in placing teachers overseas have seen an increased number of applicants, some even reporting growth of more than 60% than in previous years.

But as this previous rare occurrence in employment gives way to being more common (chances are you either know someone personally or have heard of someone who has taught overseas) an even newer trend is beginning to occur. While teaching overseas, many of these teachers were still thinking to the future and their eventual return to the United States. Even in a competitive job environment, certain factors will always be an essential component of being a successful candidate, one of which is education. While working as ESL teachers more and more E2 visa holders are pursuing graduate level certification abroad. Many institutions in Japan, Europe and South Korea have programs in place which allow for teachers who are working in their country to apply for spots in their respective programs. These programs often accommodate a wide variety of schedules with courses offered both in the morning and evening. With a few courses a semester, that two years abroad has the potential to not only give you valuable skills that will be transferable to many workplaces back home, but also the chance at receiving your master’s degree (often at a much cheaper price than institutions back home). Below is a list of countries that employ the highest amount of ESL teachers and the graduate level programs which they offer.

Seoul, South Korea
Arguably the most popular (and highest paying) of all the countries who utilize ESL teachers, South Korea has a myriad of Universities and colleges that not only offer graduate courses to foreigners, they readily encourage foreign applicants.

Seoul National University: Perhaps one of the most esteemed institutions in Korea, and ranking 4th from US News and World Report for universities in Asia, Seoul National offers the most variety in terms of courses and degrees offered. While the application and entrance for Korean nationals is quite competitive, the process for expats is slightly more relaxed. Individuals heralding from the United States have a slew of scholarship options that the Korean Government has made available. Spots at Seoul National are still very competitive and fill up quickly, so being proactive about enrollment is usually a good thing. To get the ball rolling while you are still in the US, head on over to their admissions page and inquire with the email address that is listed there.

Korea University: Located in the heart of Seoul, this university offers a robust selection of graduate degrees from courses offered in international studies to bio-medical science. The KU campus sprawls some 182 acres and boasts an eclectic mix of nearly 10,000 graduate students from all parts of the world. Filling out an application is relatively easy and can be done both overseas and in the individual’s home country. The form, located on their website can be submitted via the internet, fax or mailed. Prospective students of KU simply need to indicate which area of study they are interested in and ensure that they have a letter of recommendation from a professor in their undergraduate program back home, a copy of their transcripts and although a cover letter/letter of interest isn’t required, it’s generally a good idea.

Charles University in Prague: A popular destination for ESL teachers in Europe is Prague. Known for its beautiful architecture and abundance of teaching opportunities, prospective ESL teachers who wish to attain a job in Prague must first pass a TEFL course as set out by their government. Once certification is obtained, a wide variety of jobs open up both at the adult and adolescent level. Charles University offers graduate degrees in the areas of chemistry, geography, geology and environmental protection. Depending on your program of choice, up to three years may need to be devoted to the degree, but with the abundance of history and architecture that Europe has to offer, it’s sure to be some of the best years of your life.

Prospective candidates of CU need to make sure that they have cleared all the necessary legal hurdles before applying to the program. These include proper visa documentation, notarized school documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation and proof of undergraduate work will all be necessary too. The application process can be started via their website but will need to be mailed in once completed.
Sophia University: Sophia University, located in the Chiyoda-ku district of Tokyo, is the perfect University for the English minded graduate course seeking expat. Offering one of the few programs in linguistics, Sophia University, students will also have the option of pursuing a Ph.D after completion of their graduate work.Tuition prices can be steep though, with about $15,000 for the first year and $13,000 for each subsequent year, most students will want to explore scholarship options in order to offset fees and the relatively high cost of living in Japan. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships available, to see which ones you might qualify for, take a look here.

After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education,Sean Lords packed up his bags and left to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master’s degree.

Internships enhance ESL learning for Dublin students

SEDA, an English language school based in Dublin, Ireland, has started its own internship programme as an additional service to its students. The programme, which was launched in November last year, allows international students to get work experience in Irish companies within various sectors of the economy – from information technology to the hotel industry. Some 40 learners have signed up to take part in the programme so far, with the majority of them already working. Already 27 students have been placed with Irish IT, logistics, distribution, marketing, hospitality and catering companies.

One of the successful candidates is Andre Gonzaga, an IT expert from Brazil, who has recently completed his internship in a Dublin-based company called E-Celtic where he was employed in setting up Linux servers. “I like working here very much because I am doing something in my area and learning English at the same time,” he said. “The job is easy because I did the same thing at home. But the work culture here is different and it is good to get to know it. I also learned some new techniques which I have never used before. It’s been a great experience!”

Student Andre Gonzaga with Brian Martin, director of E-Celtic

E-Celtic employs about 10 people in its Dublin office. It also has a development centre in India and a sales operation in London. The company’s main business is in search engine optimisation, digital marketing and application development. Its director Brian Martin said E-Celtic regularly took on interns: “We’re a rapidly growing company so we always need people to come on board. Internships are good because they give people a training period and then they can get a full-time role with the company. We’ve had a couple of people like that just recently. They started out as interns for a few months, but we were very impressed with them and offered them full time positions”.

Speaking of the SEDA student Andre Gonzaga, Martin said: “Andre’s got great expertise and so he can do things quite quickly. He’s been a really good help to us since he joined. So far he’s doing really well and we’ve got more projects for him. He’s a great guy!”

He added that since joining E-Celtic Andre’s English improved as he got more confidence: “I think it’s the main thing about learning any language: you need to be confident to speak it. Andre is working in a real environment and none of us here speak Portuguese, so he has no choice but to speak English”.

Another student, Elicio Pereira, was able to get an internship in the Dublin offices of global logistics company Kuehne + Nagel and said the placement was “like a dream come true”.

Work placements through SEDA’s internship programme are unpaid and generally last for 4 to 6 weeks. Students can apply for opportunities in IT, business administration, marketing, advertising, customer service and catering, tourism, architecture and others. Most positions are for learners with intermediate or higher levels of English, though some opportunities are also available for beginners.

Viktor Posudnevsky is a freelance journalist based in Dublin, Ireland. He edits SEDA News, Ireland’s first newspaper for international students. He also has a blog:

100 per cent commission, a few extras and no questions asked!

..One agency owner shares his opinion on the fallout of the Apple Languages collapse:

As The PIE News reported at the end of last year, Apple Language Courses Abroad went bust, owing a million euro of unpaid debts to language course providers.

Was this a shock? Does it matter to the international education industry?

The quick answers are: NO and YES.

No, it was not a shock because people in the industry, myself included, as Managing Director of LANACOS, started getting feedback from clients, early in 2011/2012, that there were hundreds of non-payment of invoices from this one agency and this was affecting such basic services as tuition and accommodation not only for the agency clients but other students too. Remember, our clients talk in many languages…

There was a definite lack of money in the system and standards were falling

As an agent with 20 years experience in the industry, I have always been wary of rumours and false alarms but I knew this was more serious because of the reaction of the language centres.

There was a definite lack of money in the system and standards were falling, cost cutting was ubiquitous. Accounts departments were nervous. They were defensive when you asked them simple questions about transparency and investment dropped.

Then, speaking to other agents and directors of  language centres, the truth came out. Although Apple Languages was a “trusted partner agency of IALC”, they had serious financial problems and they owed a substantial amount to their friends. The exact amount varied but a reasonable amount has been reported now as 1 million Euro (+/-).

There was a mention of “moral obligation” to pay but these are words not actions

The next story was that no-one in their right mind wanted to buy the business but an agency was prepared to save the business for the “sake of the industry” yet was very careful to highlight they had no responsibility to pay the one million Euro debts. There was a meaningless mention of “moral obligation” to pay but these are words not actions. It is only worth the paper (or email) it’s written on.

So what are the implications for the rest of us solvent companies in international education who pay invoices and send clients to these language centres?

  1. Our education partners, by not recouping the debts, are essentially giving Apple Languages a 100% commission on courses as well as giving free accommodation and superb terms and conditions, unheard of in any other industry. As we say in English it’s not cricket or fair play. Is it fair to give such favourable terms to an agency that has already benefited from naïve and poor judgement?
  1. This will affect future contracts and negotiations with other agencies, because…

A)   other agencies will not get such favourable terms or commission rates

B)   staff numbers at language centres will fall to cut costs

C)   investment will suffer through lack of funds and concerns about this happening in the future with other agencies. Result: the end product will deteriorate.

Ultimately, Trust and Transparency will suffer because the market has not been allowed to take its proper course. Some players will believe that they control the market and believe (or delude themselves) that they will get their money back.

Unfortunately, this is an international market and competition is rife on the Internet, some companies, in the end will have to pay for these generous 100% commissions.



Dr Martin Pickett is Managing Director of LANACOS, based in the UK.

 All opinions are the views of the attributed author.

A Skilled Migrant writes….

Arundati Dandapani, graduated international student in the UK, shares her experience of seeking permanent employment in the UK..

“Life as a foreign student in the UK can be challenging to say the least.  I have encapsulated my experiences over the past year as a Publishing graduate on a tier 4 student visa in a format that I hope is both interesting and useful to readers of the PIE:

The end of a worker-friendly era: backed by a simple liberal arts degree from America and with four years of working at writing and editing jobs in India, I applied for a Masters in the UK, fully intending to work there after studies. At the time of application, I was entitled to two years of Post Study work, as well as qualify for Fresh Talent Scotland, but then an angry bout of youth riots wrecked the streets causing panic in the British parliament and in homes. Quickly in April 2012, the Post Study work permit that earlier allowed non-EEA students to stay on for two years on the condition of a job offer (from any company) was repealed, leaving me with a small fistful of potential employers or publishers to approach. These were what I memorised to be 1500 pages of licensed sponsors as approved by the UKBA.

“I had to apply to 105 places to actually get called in to 10 interviews”

Education is a purely commercial enterprise:  and one has to demand value for it. Professors will limit availability, answer emails rarely, and restrict office hours. They will wax and wane about being more academic than insightful, and, you have to customise your degree to suit your own good priorities: be it a job offer, professional networks, grades, or leisure holidays. I focussed on a job priority, and failed, although I did gain a few good professional experiences in the bargain.

People won’t mix with you: It is a close-knit society, but if you find a group of like-minded or other professionals with whom you can share simple working hours with, CLING until it blossoms into something. A year is not enough to make friends in Great Britain, but at least some good working relationships are a goldmine.

The Job market is suspicious of you: I had to apply to 105 places to actually get called in to 10 interviews. They all declared my CV impressive and predicted I’d “go far.” How much farther! I would protest. By the time my dream job opening came up in the middle of December, I had already booked my tickets back to India, as I neared the expiry date on my visa.

Internships are contentious: You don’t have a national insurance number and nobody asks for it at your internship, they may not even look at your passport. Employers are not paying you a minimum wage, and yet the more interning you do, the better you get a chance at actual employment. Six internships got me a fixed term employment as an ebooks assistant.

“A year is not enough to make friends in Great Britain, but some good working relationships are a goldmine”

Cold Calls to Every Employer on the Register of Sponsors! On tele-calling every publisher featured on the UKBA’s register of sponsors, some claimed unaware of their UKBA status, and when I explained, they said upfront that they had no “quota” left, and would not consider my application if I did not have an existing work permit.  I replied that although  I had a student visa that allowed me to work fulltime until January, I could only apply for a proper work visa after I had a job offer in hand, so couldn’t I still apply? The response was negative.

Nobody wants you: Graduation drew near, and classmates who barely talked to me opened their mouths only to ask me, “When are you going home?!” When the annual London Book Fair happened, I knew London was it. People were actually interested in my skills, ideas and were actually having conversations about publishing. Internships took shape, and I narrowed the longer term prospects, focussing my job search to publishing alone (although I did approach a bakery and some advertising agencies who were licensed sponsors), because only a handful of international publishers were eligible to sponsor a tier 2 non-EEA migrant.

Talk to Everybody: I applied to 105 places, got called to 10. Interviewers called me interesting, adventurous and a lot of other adjectives that I quickly realised were not helping my case. They were perhaps referring to the geographic diversity I was used to. After learning the lingo of career centres and speaking with recruitment consultants and insiders from the industry at publishing events, I took a few more hints.

“Increase the extent of student visas issued to migrant labour, to offer time for job search”

Failure makes you stronger: Only about three publishers were actually explicit about an open and willing policy to hire, but by the time I qualified for any eligible positions within these companies and by the time their vacancies opened, it was the middle of December. After having completed over six internships alongside my degree studies and a fixed term employment within a hot market function of publishing, I had lost eventually.

Office Gossip (not love) makes the world go round: Towards the rundown to Christmas and near the end of my fixed term at a publishing house, colleagues took turns commenting, “What a pity they did not renew your contract.” They knew I was on a fixed term contract, my nationality was different, my length of stay would be limited to the duration of tasks, and so, short term, etc..

Three weeks into my job, another candidate was taken on to fill the same duties towards what immediately struck me as eventual permanence at a lower salary than if they had decided to sponsor me. Colleagues delighted in this set-up for rivalry. By the end of my tenure I was itching to depart, the daily six-hour round trip commute only got longer as we nudged sub-zero temperatures, and constant delays caused by flooding and regular suicides on the railway tracks. The only things that got me through those months were my persistence and positivity.

Is Britain unprepared for a diverse workforce? Britain is a tiny country that cannot sustain its own recession, but Norway is not bigger than Britain, and yet offers more diversity in the workplace and by about 2050 about half its population will be taxpaying migrants/immigrants. If UK businesses do not take initiative to look outwards, the government will not make it its business. UK’s businesses are built around individuals whose mindsets and openness towards skilled migrants will only determine how dynamic or multicultural the UK workplace actually is.

Going by the passionate words of London Mayor Boris Johnson or Scottish Cabinet Secretary of Education Mike Russell, one would be inclined to believe that UK desires foreign students and flexible work rules for non-EEA migrants. But if the UK is actually serious about increasing its intake of foreign students and not losing out to Canada or Australia — destinations with an edge of more flexi work rules, then I can propose the following two ways in which to rectify the current situation:

  1. Increase the extent of student visas issued to migrant labour, to offer time for job search (My American fellow students enjoyed a longer term visa than myself).
  2. Allow non-EEA students who have graduated from the UK to apply for a tier 2 visa even after they return to their home country without complications. Let there be some incentive to studying in the UK.

When skilled foreign graduates from UK universities are not viewed with the same professional parity as Europeans or migrants from other privileged economies in the Great British workplace, it signals both mistrust and xenophobia. In a world where everyone is looking for collaborations and looking outwards, it is a pity that the UK is not encouraging of foreign workers and ensuring a dynamic or diverse workplace.

Arundati Dandapani is very shortly returning to India after completing her Masters at the University of Stirling, UK.

Teaching Abroad Is a Viable Option for Qualified Teachers

“Teaching abroad is not a new idea or career option, but with the growing demand for western teachers in developing countries, combined with a difficult job market in western economies, it is easy to understand why so many qualified teachers are now seeking teaching jobs abroad.

This trend is due to continue with the growing developments of international schools and education campuses in the Middle East, as well as ongoing investment in language centres and international schools throughout East Asia.

Inexperienced university graduates still have the option to travel the world and teach English – mainly in South Korea, parts of South East Asia and central America – but the international market for qualified, experienced school-teachers now makes it possible for those qualified teachers to earn a good salary and live a great quality of life in a foreign country.

It’s not just private organisations that are trying to tap into the education boom in developing countries. Governments from Saudi Arabia to Singapore understand the importance of educating their young populations for the changing future economies. The investment in education in these countries is resulting in new schools being built, new curriculums being implemented, and new teachers being hired.

“A quick glance at the increase in numbers of schools in China pays testament to this boom in education”

In addition to government investment in education, the increase in the global mobility of international companies and their workforces is also resulting in new schools and higher student numbers enrolled in already established schools. A quick glance at the increase in numbers of schools in China and other parts of East Asia in the past 10 years pays testament to this boom in education.

The goal of TeacherPort is to make it easy for teachers and new graduates to find out about these international opportunities. We feel that teachers should be able to understand what opportunities are available to them outside of their home country, and especially in the current teaching job market. Whether you want to teach primary school in the UAE or teach English in South Korea, we hope TeacherPort will have the right teaching job for you.

If you are interested in learning more about your teaching abroad options, head over to TeacherPort’s free Teaching Abroad Guides. Once you have narrowed down the type of position you would like to pursue, you can find a number of recommended positions found on our Teaching Jobs Abroad section.”

Greg Rogan works for TeacherPort, a free online resource for qualified teachers and new university graduates to find suitable teaching jobs abroad. Connect on Twitter @TeacherPort

We’ve decided to be very transparent in our work with student recruitment agents

Vincenzo Raimo, Director, International Office at the University of Nottingham, UK, writes…

“The value of international students to UK universities is unquestionable and much more than just financial: they help create more diverse and interesting student communities, they help UK students develop a more global outlook and they help UK universities compete with the very best in the world by ensuring our student body, particularly at postgraduate level, is made up of the very best students from around the world.

But the need to bridge income shortfalls has put a great deal of pressure on international student recruiters to bring-in more students and increase income levels.
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What is the role of the teacher as leader in this complex international environment?

“In a globalised world and with the rapid expansion of information technology, schools across the globe need to ensure that they are developing the right skills in students that will equip them to be happy and fulfilled, but also ready for a competitive  international environment fraught with challenges and uncertainty.

Business as usual in the classroom will not lead to the adaptability, innovation, resilience, critical thinking (especially discernment and information analysis) and creativity that researchers, philosophers and organisations are showing us are more and more needed in an interconnected world.

While many argue that it is the entire schooling system that is at fault or that we need to re-design curriculum, I believe that the real question is not in the structure or the content of education (although these factors are still important) but in the teaching and learning.

What is the role of the teacher as leader in this complex international environment?

If we look back, the expression of leadership reminds us of the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu’s belief that a good leader is someone who does not take centre stage.  As such the teacher is not a “sage on the stage” but a “facilitator”, someone who stands in the wings and gives the student as much freedom as possible.

In pedagogy this model is still very popular with Discovery Learning programmes across the United States, world-wide web-based learning projects that allow the student to take full ownership of the learning process and many inquiry-based Primary School educational programmes. The word “facilitator” is used more and more and the word “teacher” less and less.

The word “facilitator” is used more and more and the word “teacher” less and less

Whilst educational philosophy might correspond with our beliefs and tastes, it is not scientifically researched and does not necessarily benefit from any hard evidence to back it up. Does the research in education tell us that the best model of learning is one where the teacher is a facilitator and the student is at the centre?

Arguably the most comprehensive study of pedagogical practice in schools is John Hattie’s 2009 publication Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Hattie’s work synthesises thousands of studies and looks at effect size (a calculation of the benefits using statistical data) of a large palette of strategies for learning.

The findings are not always what one would expect and make us step back and re-think the way we do things. The greatest effect sizes, indicating the greatest change after the use of a chosen strategy, do not come with the student at the centre and the teacher facilitating on the side, but on the contrary with what Hattie calls “active” teaching: the teacher drives the learning, makes learning objectives very clear and uses punchy techniques such as remediation (catch-up), mastery learning (the idea that a student should not move on to new material until the previous parts have been mastered), direct instruction (explicit sign-posting of learning objectives) and setting the students challenging goals.

So the research is telling us that the teacher as leader needs to be in control of the class and showing the way with a challenging, carefully structured pace, not letting students fall behind as they try to figure it out for themselves.

“We need to provide them with a reliable compass to navigate the storms”

Hattie’s synthesis shows that quality feedback is the single greatest creator of improvement. The teacher needs to sit down with the student and explain exactly what needs to be done in order to improve. It seems obvious but how often is the teacher so hard pressed to get through a pile of marking or finish a syllabus that this vital coaching technique falls by the way-side? If we want our students to improve then we have to make sure they have understood and internalised how this can be done.

Our students are entering a turbulent, chaotic era in a competitive globalised world and we need to provide them with a reliable compass to navigate the storms. As teachers, let’s use the benefits of research to make sure that we have empowered them to do so by teaching for learning and not being afraid to lead the way. After all, the Greek word Pedagogy means “to lead the child”.

Dr Conrad Hughes is Director of Education at the International School of Geneva and recently delivered a speech on the ‘Teacher as a leader’ at the annual Cambridge Teachers Conference, run by Cambridge International Examinations.

Works Cited
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Oxford: Routledge.
Rousseau, J.J. (1762). Emile ou de l’Education. Paris: Garnier.

Trend Reporting in International Education: WES Survey Results Can Mislead

by: Anthony O’Donnell and Aleksandar Popovski

In its recent report, “Not All International Students Are the Same: Understanding Segments, Mapping Behavior” (“the WES Report”), World Education Services (WES) proposes a model for segmenting international applicant pools based on a student’s financial resources and levels of academic preparedness.

The WES Report [covered here on The PIE News] is based on survey data taken from 1,600 international students during their application for credential evaluation, one of the services offered by WES.

Although 2,500 students started the survey, 36% “dropped out when asked about their experience with agents,” resulting in the 1,600 results used for the report.  The previous two sentences hint at three common statistical biases briefly acknowledged by WES in the section “Data Limitations.” These biases make most of the claims in the report statistically invalid.

The first limitation is sampling bias.  Ideally, we would like to use reports such as the WES Report to guide substantive policy decisions. To do so, the means of gathering data must conform to the basic statistical requirement of random sampling. If we perform random sampling, the data we collect should be representative of the population we want to study, and should not over-represent, under-represent, or distort the “real” population in question.

WES does not randomly draw from the population of international students; it draws from its own clients. With the data collected, we cannot answer questions about prospective international applicants in general but only answer questions about prospective international applicants who also use WES services.  We cannot make reliable statistical inferences about the overall population of international students based on this data.

Another data limitation is self selection bias, where some respondents are more likely to take the survey than others.  Since the survey was conducted in English, only students with a working knowledge of English could have taken it.  Hence, the group that volunteered for the survey is not representative of all potential students.

Students with low English proficiency may have been excluded from the analysis because they could not complete the survey on language grounds. Incidentally, these students would need the most help to navigate the complicated process for applying to a U.S. university, and are most likely to utilize agent services.

The third limitation is that of missing data. With missing data, WES’ claim that one-sixth of respondents used agents cannot be a reason to conclude that “the use of agents might not be as widespread as previously indicated”. As noted above, 36%, or 900 respondents, dropped out of the survey when asked about their experience with agents. WES notes that those students may have dropped out because they “perceived agent-related questions to be sensitive.”

The only way for missing data to not be an issue is if only one-sixth of the 900 that dropped had used an agent. However, it is possible that anywhere from 0 to 900 used agents. Of the 2,500 original respondents, from 10% to 46% could have used agents.  This, coupled with the possible omission of weak English speakers from the survey (self-selection bias), casts serious doubt on WES’ claim that agents are sparingly used by international students.

Having addressed the statistical issues in the WES Report, we turn to the claim that 62% of agent users “are not fully prepared to tackle the academic challenges of an (sic) U.S. education.” This claim is only valid under random sampling. Without random sampling, we cannot conclude that there are proportionately more academically prepared students among non-agent users than among agent users. Missing data compounds this problem, because of the 900 students who did not answer the survey there may have been a large proportion of highly-qualified agent users. Considering the many problems posed by statistical biases, we should discard this claim.

Finally, we should be cautious of any study that discusses academic preparedness from an a priori perspective. Whether a student is academically prepared to tackle the academic challenges of a U.S. education may be more a function of the admissions/academic standards of universities and less a function of the academic quality of students. What is a good student for some universities may not be a good student for others. Given that U.S. HEI’s form a wide spectrum of institutions from community colleges to big research centers, students may find a place at U.S. HEI’s with huge variations in academic preparedness.

WES presents an interesting strategy for international market analysis. However, given the statistical deficiencies with the survey, the conclusions drawn are of limited value for purposes of policy making in the area of international recruitment.

Aleksandar Popovski ( is Assistant Dean of Admissions and Recruitment for the Graduate School at Binghamton University. Anthony O’Donnell ( is a graduate assistant and data analyst at Binghamton University.

What Study Abroad in the UK Did for Me

In 2004, while pursuing a degree in Texas, I took advantage of my school’s helpful and well-run study abroad office to take the chance to go to England.

I applied to the University of East Anglia, and was not only accepted but given a small scholarship, a stipend of 500 pounds, which made it much more possible for me to take this leap, and also set a positive tone that made me feel exceptionally welcome.

To subsidize all the travel, I decided to pursue summer employment in London before my fall semester began. I enrolled in an exchange program called BUNAC that sets American students up with British work visas (and vice-versa).

For the first couple of weeks, my employment situation was grim. My friend and roommate who had gone ahead of me “found a great deal on rent,” subletting from a Chinese grad student living in what turned out to be the garage of a council flat, though we didn’t know it until we took down a poster, revealing one wall to be a pair of outward-opening garage doors. No wonder it was so drafty.

Meanwhile, we were working for a rather shady catering company that hired other transient workers from around the globe – terrible work, but we made some good friends. Still, I wanted more. Being a writing major, I found the name of a publisher in the BUNAC directory that had offered internships before, got interviewed, got the job (due to my knowledge of Latin – probably the first hire on that basis since the Middle Ages) and set to work finding out-of-print titles for their new classics line.

Once fall came around, I packed up my bags again and took the train to Norwich. I studied creative writing there – UEA is a hallowed place for that subject in the UK, with alumni like Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro, and I eagerly soaked up the atmosphere of artistic seriousness, along with many a Snakebite.

Which is not to say I didn’t work hard academically during that semester; my grades were transferred back as pass/fail, but I got the equivalent of all As, meaning I probably took classes more seriously than necessary, if anything. My papers were extremely well-received by tutors and professors, and I came away with the impression that humanities education in the UK was both less demanding and more enriching than in the US – much more emphasis on simply taking your own time to read and write.

If I could do it over again I’d spend slightly less at the pub, and travel more within the British Isles rather than blowing my scholarship money on Ryanair jaunts to the continent, but I have no real regrets. The highlight of my whole experience was probably cooking a turkey dinner to introduce my British associates to the glories of an American Thanksgiving. Which goes to show: the benefits of international study even extend to those who stay home, and meet weird people like me from faraway lands.

Integrating with the people of a host country can be hard, even if, as in the case of my transatlantic adventure, you’re “divided by a common language.” I won’t lie: I was often homesick. The recent Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education shows the health and vibrancy of study abroad programs, but surveys have shown problems with integration that reinforce the importance of building these bonds. So for those of you engaged in this field: be active in encouraging social assimilation, and don’t let any of us fall through the cracks! I want everyone to have as great an experience as I did.

An experienced writer on all things related to higher education and business, Amanda Watson spends her days covering the latest stories on various topics such as online mba rankings, web entrepreneurship, and social media marketing. You can contact Amanda at