Tag: Education

Student scammers and how to stop them

“Students have always served as a favourite target for phishing scams – perhaps due to the combination of just setting out into the world while armed with a sizeable student loan in their bank accounts”

The rise in sophisticated cybercrime means a growing number of students are falling victim to malicious email scams, writes Agari field CTO, John Wilson. But are educational institutions doing all they can to protect their students from becoming targets? 

The beginning of a new academic year means millions of students are just starting their journey into higher education. It’s a time that should represent unlimited horizons and discovery for students and educators alike. Unfortunately, thanks to the growing number of cyber criminals around the world, the new academic year also means a fresh crop of unwary victims and the opportunity for a bumper payday in stolen funds.

Email phishing scams – where the criminal tricks their victim into giving up personal information through a fraudulent email – is a growing problem that even sophisticated businesses are struggling to defend against. These emails will usually impersonate a trusted identity, such as a well-known brand, public authority or even a personal contact, to trick their target into opening them.

“The more seasoned criminals will take pains to ensure their emails are indistinguishable from the real thing”

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The challenges of providing high quality pastoral care in boarding schools

“The UK’s pastoral care of international students is widely regarded overseas as being one of the major strengths of the UK boarding school… however there are concerns that loopholes still do exist”

The UK’s boarding school system is world class, and attracts students from around the world, writes UK Education Guide director and co-founder, Pat Moores. But with concerns over the lack of agreed guardianship structures, could the reputation be under threat?

The UK’s pastoral care of international students is widely regarded overseas as being one of the major strengths of the UK boarding school system and one that schools and guardians work hard to maintain.

“UK schools are distinctive in the strength of their commitment to pastoral care – they care about this almost as much as they do about academic matters. We hear that it is this ‘holistic’ approach that is so appreciated by overseas families,” said Diana Stewart Brown, Head of Operations at Keystone Tutors Singapore.

However, there are concerns that certain loopholes still do exist and this then relies on the professionalism and conscientiousness of both schools and guardians to make sure, on a case by case basis, all the gaps are filled.

The legal position according to Matthew Burgess from solicitors Veale Wasbrough Vizard is that the school never loses the overall ‘duty of care’ in the case of full time boarding pupils and in the case of day students the ‘duty of care’ rests more heavily on the guardian as the child is effectively being privately fostered and, if under 16, the family the child is living with has to be registered with social services as a foster family.

“As there is no legally defined guardian role, the provision of non-accredited services is open to interpretation”

There is a recognition that getting pastoral support right, from the very moment a child arrives in the UK, can set the tone for a child’s future happiness. Excellent continuity of communication between admissions teams, houseparents, parents and guardians is critical from day one; “the most successful handover of information from admissions to boarding staff is always achieved through conversation as well as information on file,” said Gareth Collier, principal of Cardiff Sixth Form College.

Regarding ongoing care, there seems to be some consensus from schools where challenges still exist.

“The biggest loophole is the approach that we have to school holidays. Houseparents are often the key pastoral lead in most schools but when the holidays come, and these hard working staff take a well-deserved break, [and] there is little school back up to provide often essential information to parents, students and guardians,” adds Gareth Collier.

“Strong partnerships between schools and guardians are essential to providing excellent care to each young person studying in the UK”

During holiday and exeat weekends when schools close, the role of the guardian therefore becomes even more critical. However, as Caroline Nixon, general secretary of BAISIS, pointed out: “currently neither EU nor non-EU students of any age legally have to have a guardian, although BAISIS believes it is best practice for those under 18”.

Additionally, ensuring high quality guardianship provision is a significant challenge as there is no legal framework as to what services a guardian must provide and their role also depends on the pastoral provision of each individual school.

“The guardian role can cover everything from arranging dental appointments, registering with a doctor to dealing with a child who is potentially about to be excluded from school,” said Julia Evans, Director of Cambridge Guardian Angels.

For this reason, BAISIS has recently created a template for an agreement between individual BAISIS schools and their students’ guardians which outlines the school’s expectations of a guardian’s responsibilities.

AEGIS, The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students, has also gone a long way to adding structure to the guardianship role. AEGIS accredits UK guardianship organisations through a rigorous inspection process and Yasemin Wigglesworth, executive officer at AEGIS, said: “more schools are now insisting that an international student has an AEGIS accredited guardian or close family member in the UK as a condition of admission.”

Currently there are approximately 27,000 International students in the UK aged 18 and under with parents living abroad, but only around 5,000 are in the care of AEGIS registered guardians. This is not to suggest that the care provided by non-AEGIS members is sub-standard but, as there is no legally defined guardian role, the provision of non-accredited services is open to interpretation by each provider and many of these students will not have a guardian at all.

As acknowledged, high quality pastoral care is something that sets UK education providers ahead of international competitors but, in the absence of legal frameworks, strong partnerships between schools and guardians are essential to both maintaining this competitive advantage and providing excellent care to each young person studying in the UK.

A perfect storm is massing against British universities

“This tempest massing against British universities will create financial damage and reduce the UK soft power in the world”

A leaked document putting forward proposals for more stringent controls on workers and students from the EU has dashed hopes that the UK government might be considering a more liberal approach to international student visas. Aldwyn Cooper, vice chancellor at Regent’s University London, says the higher education sector is already at breaking point.

The latest proposal by the government in a leaked document – stating that the Home Office wants to introduce a crackdown on overseas students from the European Union following Brexit – is another example of what appears to be the systematic demolition of the attraction, stability and international reputation of UK higher education.

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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.

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Don’t be too quick to write off for-profit education providers

“If the government has to cut funding for social programs to provide additional support for a publicly funded institution, is tuition inexpensive and good value for money? Or has the cost been shifted?”

In the education sphere, people can be quick to criticise for-profit education – but having worked in both the public and private sectors, Michael Evans wonders if we’re asking the right questions.

A recent article posted in The PIE News reported on the results of a study carried out by the UK based Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), which looked at for-profit degree granting institutions in six countries. I suspect most educators working in HE education in the last ten years would able to predict many of the study’s results, as well as the tenor of the post.

That there are issues in for-profit education is by now conventional wisdom. As well, certainly no one would suggest anything but the most robust policies to protect student tuition and uphold natural justice in dealings between the student and institution. However, when opinions are so ubiquitously held around other more complex issues, does it not beg the question as to whether we are fully understand the issues?  I am not an apologist for private education; however, having worked in both public and for-profit education, I think the conventional thinking around these issues demonstrates the need for a different approach.
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Tighter regulation in Canada will act as a seal of quality for international students

“The new act will be a key protector of international students’ rights. It will make all institutions, both private and public, accountable”

The International Education Act was given royal assent Canada’s the Manitoba legislature last month. Susan Deane, college director and principal of the International College Manitoba, a Navitas pathway college, explains how the legislation will help bolster quality by making institutions accountable.

“In 2012, the Canadian International Education Advisory Panel recommended increasing Canada’s international student numbers from 265,000 to more than 400,000 within 10 years.

Though progress has been made in recent years, the size of the Manitoba international student population still lags behind other provinces. British Columbia, for instance, accounted for 25 per cent of Canada’s international student population, while Manitoba claimed only three per cent.

Now, thanks to new legislation, the province of Manitoba has the leverage to attract more students from around the world by demonstrating that international education in Manitoba is of the best quality and is maintained by stringent standards: Bill 44, the International Education Act, was given royal assent in the Manitoba legislature Dec. 5. The legislation will act as a seal of quality to show prospective international students and their families that Manitoba provides education worth investing in.

The International Education Act would establish a code of conduct for institutions that educate international students, creating consistent high standards across the province. This will set requirements on recruitment methods, course quality and student supports, and will aim to prevent misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to international students.

It will also mean that an education provider must be approved to enrol international students. Lists of non-complying providers and recruiters will be made public.

Accountability has always been a top priority for the International College of Manitoba (ICM), and for this reason we welcome the International Education Act. ICM has a recognition agreement with the University of Manitoba whereby it offers the equivalent of first year university on the University of Manitoba campus to international students in a supportive environment. Upon successful completion, students enter second year in regular classes at the University of Manitoba. This soft landing helps students move successfully to a Canadian learning environment.

ICM has more than 850 students, and we’ve educated students from more than 72 countries. A further 825 students have completed the ICM program, 95 per cent of whom have been admitted to the University of Manitoba. These are high-achieving individuals worthy of our support.

“Canada has long lagged behind other top international education destinations in the regulation for international students”

The new act will also be a key protector of international students’ rights. It will make all institutions, both private and public, accountable — something Navitas, ICM’s parent company, has been doing for many years.

Canada has long lagged behind other top international education destinations in the regulation for international students. The International Education Act will start to elevate Manitoba to international standards, building the province’s reputation as a high-quality education destination.

As the flow of international students into Manitoba increases, the creation of an industry benchmark for international education, and the protection of student’s rights, will become ever more important.”