Latest visa statistics published by Australia, the United States and Canada all point to increasing international higher education student enrolments. The United Kingdom on the other hand recorded a slight dip for the first time in more than quarter of a century last month – although the forward signs are positive. In this blog, Tim O’Brien looks at student enrolment patterns, rising costs of an international education and the impact visa policy is having on students from South Asia.
In 1964, the science fiction author and Boston University academic Isaac Asimov (pictured, right) imagined the world the world 50 years ahead (2014), in an article published in the New York Times. Surprisingly, he did quite well. He forecasted the advent of Skype and Face Time. He hinted at the wireless world and flat screen televisions. But he was wide of the mark on a range of other areas – that routine jobs would all but disappear; that we would live a life of enforced leisure.
The academic teams in the centre have been experimenting with a range of techniques to further enhance this. In this blog post we explore how the use of video and YouTube is helping international students develop core mathematical skills. Continue reading “Flipping academics?”
Over the weekend the BBC reported that the influential Public Administration Committee claimed data used by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for estimating who enters and leaves the country were a best guess and not fit for purpose as a means of calculating net migration figures upon which major policy commitments are based. Interested observers already know that the Migration Advisory Committee also think that the ONS method is likely to significantly over-state net migration and particularly the impact of international students attending courses in the UK.
To recap, net migration is calculated as the total number of people entering the United Kingdom for a year or longer minus those who leave the country. The Coalition Government in the United Kingdom is committed to reducing the net migration number from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. At present this is calculated based on something called the International Passenger Survey – which is a random sample of up to 5000 people each year asking them why they are entering or leaving the country. From that the Office of National Statistics extrapolates the net migration number. A deeply flawed and unreliable mechanism, given the millions of entries and exits to the UK each year. Continue reading “Can’t count, won’t count – should be made to count”
In this blog post, we bring you some personal stories from the graduation ceremonies at Newcastle University this week. These stories of young lives transformed remind us why we do what we do. The students leave university to pursue their careers and further studies, having made friends for life and with warm memories of the UK and of the North East of England. They serve as a timely endorsement of the extent to which these students and tens of thousands of other international students enrich our campuses, communities and country. In times of intense global competition, the whole country should be proud of what we, as a sector, achieve. Our hats go off to colleagues in Newcastle in particular and to all of those working in higher education delivering life-changing experiences to students from all over the world.
Attracting the brightest and the best international students is a major policy priority for almost every university in the developed world and across most in the emerging economies. Indeed a report produced by the UK’s Office of Budget Responsibility on 16th July 2013 went further and argued that the United Kingdom requires a steady flow of migration to offset the challenges of an ageing population. This is rather at odds with how the UK is currently perceived in some quarters.
In a world where universities, employers and students are increasingly obsessed with league table performance, the number of ‘good honours’ degrees attained – defined as 2:1s or first class degrees – has become a significant criterion for ranking purposes. While it is entirely laudable that universities should strive to increase the number of students achieving top degree results, it does beg an obvious question: If 2:1 and firsts are good honours, does that mean students achieving 2:2s are bad or less good?
On a Sunday afternoon in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, young people gather in the central park to meet with their friends, practise their English and perfect their guitar playing. All under the benevolent gaze of Ho Chi Minh himself.
Coming to the end of a short holiday in Vietnam and Cambodia, what has struck me most powerfully is the sheer energy, dynamism and YOUTH of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s economic powerhouse. According to the latest international census data, almost 25% of the population is under the age of 14, (compared to 18% in the United Kingdom.) In fact more than half the population weren’t even born when the Vietnam war ended in 1975.
Earlier this year McKinsey, the global consulting firm, produced a hard hitting report on Education to Employment. The report describes a global paradox: crippling levels of youth unemployment around the world – close to 50% in Southern Europe and the Middle East, yet 40% of employers surveyed claiming an equally dangerous shortage of appropriately qualified staff. The report also forecast a global shortage of up to 85 million skilled workers by 2020. To quote from their report:
“Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes. To put it another way, they have fundamentally different understandings of the same situation. Fewer than half of youth and employers, for example, believe that new graduates are adequately prepared for entry-level positions. Education providers, however, are much more optimistic: 72 percent of them believe new graduates are ready to work..
During a lull in a long meeting over the summer, a couple of colleagues at INTO were wrestling over our “elevator pitch” – what makes us distinctive. And we then broadened it out to think about ways in which universities can communicate their distinctiveness, a word appearing on many people’s lips across the sector. It’s difficult when there is so much change and much analysis is unremittingly bleak.
The first years of this decade have brought us funding challenges on both sides of the Atlantic, the emergence of the discerning customer, disruptive market entrants to higher education, confusing and poorly executed government policy on student visas and so on. It’s not easy being a traditional university in this environment. Moreover, after years of steady and quota-secured growth in tertiary enrolments, universities are facing serious structural challenges as various quasi-markets are created by government policy. The squeezed middle is very real.