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Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 23; June 15, 2011

The Playing Field

Flipping for the Philippines.

Abroad Perspectives

The Nigerian Student Market.

Over The Counter

In Korea, news of change is in the air…

Globe Tipping

Watching your body language: Part Two

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Flipping for the Philippines.

Thousands of foreign university students are flocking to the Philippines, attracted by four main things; high quality courses, cheap costs, English language, and friendly locals.

With more than 2,100 private and state-run institutions nationwide, a wide array of courses, and a foreign student-friendly immigration policy, this former American colony is quickly turning into a major player in the international student recruitment world. As of March, nearly 20,000 foreign students held special study visas for the country, according to its immigration bureau, and the number is expected to be as high as 25,000 starting this month, as June marks the start of a new school year. This doesn’t even begin to include the tens of thousands of students enrolled in shorter English-language courses, which are extremely popular among South Korean and Chinese students.

Even though the Philippines is one of the poorest countries in Asia, with one of the biggest divides of wealth on display, it is also home to one of the regions’ highest literacy rates, at around 90%, according to government data. And after a major government education push in the 1980s, the nation has seen a major boom in the types of courses on offer – from English language, to aviation, hotel and restaurant management, agriculture, medicine, and maritime-related classes, among many more. Since 2000, further advancements have even seen a number of exchange programs crop up between Philippine schools and universities in countries such as Australia, the U.S., South Korea, and Canada.

“Many Philippine schools are accredited abroad,” adds one professor at the University of Santo Tomas, Evelyn Songco, “and those who graduated from here have created a good impression around the world… Our diplomas are competitive abroad, and Philippine universities have always strived to do justice to the tuition fees these foreigners pay.”

Tuition fees which range, on average, from between $1,000 and $2,500 a year, for a four-year degree course – making it a far cheaper degree destination than many other countries.

Beyond cost, however, and the fact that English is widely spoken across the Philippines, is the reputation Filipinos have for being extremely friendly. South Korean psychology student Juhyun Kim (now studying at the Ateneo de Manila University) explains: Koreans are very welcome here,” she says. “Filipinos sincerely care. I like staying here.”

Of Philippines’ 2,000+ educational institutions, four have entered QS’s list of top 200 Asian universities for 2011. These include the University of the Philippines (62nd), Ateneo de Manila University (68th), University of Santo Tomas (104th), and De La Salle University (107th).

Sources: “Filipino-Americans and foreign students crowd Philippine schools”. GulfNews, June 1, 2011.
& “Philippines’ top education attracts foreigners”. AFP, June 1, 2011.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – The Nigerian Student Market.

Each year, more and more Nigerians are choosing to pursue higher education opportunities abroad. Beyond the overwhelming popularity and perceived ‘glamour’ many students associate with studying in such destinations as the UK or US, however, are some much more concrete reasons for the growing trend.

Although Nigeria has strived for years to attain quality education standards, the truth is that corruption remains present throughout the country’s institutions – with universities being no exception. Even the institutions that are fully accredited and recognized, are still far from ‘world class’ standard – particularly those located away from the nation’s major cities, and deep divides continue to cause conflict and disparities between the country’s three regions.

As a result, students are looking elsewhere for opportunities – and today, the country tops the list of African nations sending the most students abroad to study. Particularly popular among the students are special technical courses, many of which directly pertain to growing industries back in Nigeria. At Northampton University in the U.K., for example, over 100 students are said to be enrolled in courses covering Business, Engineering, Law, Oil and Gas, as well as Environmental Management. Another popular choice among students at other UK institutions is Public Health. Expertise in all of these areas is in high demand back home. And the students, it appears, are in high demand abroad.

Beyond the fact that English is the main language of instruction in Nigeria – making it that much easier for students to fit in at many foreign institutions – the nation’s students are also becoming known for their eager attitudes. The Canadian University Application Centre’s Executive Director, Dani Zaretsky, explains:

“Notwithstanding problems in Nigeria’s education system,” he says, “the country continues to produce a wealth of stellar students, many of whom are 17 years of age or even younger.” The major issue from a recruitment standpoint, he explains, is understanding the way the country’s high school test results, or WAECs, work – which can be extremely difficult to compare against western marking schemes.

“For WAEC results, be sure to look at the transcript for the entire 3 years of study. Bear in mind there are significant differences in marking across schools, and WAEC results do not necessarily address these. It is also noteworthy that WAEC examinations are 100% finals written on one occasion only, across the country. Hence, for example, a student who had malaria on that day is stuck with her performance.”

His advice for recruiters? Whenever possible, send a staff person to Nigeria, in order to get a better feel “for how paper results do and do not conform to actual calibre.”

Source: “Nigeria: Why UK Universities Recruit Students from Nation”., May 19, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – In Korea, news of change is in the air…

According to Korean news sites, the number of South Korean students going overseas to study is now on the decline.

Based on figures from the Korean Education Development Institute, the number of elementary and secondary students alone fell for the third consecutive year in 2009, by some 34%. And among those students who did choose to study abroad for their early education (which for years, has been an extremely popular choice among primary and secondary student families), many are now deciding to return home for their university studies.

Kim Young Academy, a private ‘cram-school’ or ‘hagwon’ that prepares students for transfer between and/or into Korean universities, for example, saw enrolment by foreign-educated students jump from 134 in 2007 to 215 in 2010. And counting only up to April this year, 70 had already signed up.

Although economic recession is being targeted as an easy scapegoat for the change, some Korean experts are instead pointing to another reason altogether; that foreign-educated Koreans are beginning to find it harder to find jobs – both abroad and at home.

For those looking for employment abroad, the main battle is competing with all the native English-speaking applicants, in addition to the growing number of other Koreans (and other foreigners in general), all competing for the same jobs. A battle made even more difficult, no doubt, by all the newly tightened visa and residency regulations in many western countries.

For those hoping for employment back home, on the other hand, the search is proving equally difficult – even with the growing opportunities in the capital city, Seoul, which was named by Forbes as the sixth most economically powerful city in the world, as of 2008. As a personnel manager with one large conglomerate in Korea explains; “Many conglomerates set aptitude tests to find out if applicants meet their requirements, and they tend to be disadvantageous for foreign-educated students who aren’t familiar with the Korean organization culture. Korean companies no longer pay much attention to graduates of foreign universities other than top-notch universities like Ivy League schools.” (Note that multimedia conglomerates currently in Korea include such heavy-hitters as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai-Kai).

Even Korean companies with branches in foreign countries are said to be showing growing preference to Korean-educated staff, for their knowledge of Korean customs and work culture.

Consequently, many Korean students are starting to believe that it’s easier to establish personal connections and find jobs if they study in Korea – particularly at the university level. And with ever-growing numbers of English language schools, “hagwons”, and quality university programs, the old draw of ‘better English learning opportunities abroad’ truly does appear to be starting to fade.

Sources: “Overseas Study Loses Its Luster”. The Chosun Ibo, May 23, 2011.
& “Fewer Korean students Going Abroad to Study”. The Chosun Ibo, February 10, 2011.
& “Seoul”. Wikipedia.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Watching your body language: Part Two.

When visiting other countries, it can be extremely difficult knowing what body language is acceptable, which is not, and which is downright offensive. Although many locals are willing to graciously forgive a cultural mishap here and there, wouldn’t you rather know what to avoid? Read on for the second half of our tips on ‘body language etiquette’ (the first five were in last week’s issue).

6. Italian culture is known for its expressive emotion – and physical demonstration, so expect to see lots of cheek kissing, embraces between men who are good friends, walking arm-in-arm (common among men and women), and lingering handshakes. Also, pushing and shoving in busy places is not considered rude, so don’t be surprised or offended by it – just try to hold your ground! The Italian body language vocabulary is also quite extensive, so it might be worth looking through a travel guide if you’re keen on a fun ‘deciphering’ lesson.

7. Shaking hands across a threshold is considered unlucky in Russia, as is making any transactions. Ie: Some pizza delivery guys even refuse to trade money for pizza in the doorway, so you’ll either have to go out to the hall or invite them just inside the door.

8. In India, it is a tremendous compliment to approach a person with your tongue between your teeth, gathering the air around the person’s head with your hands and drawing it into your own personal space. This gesture means that you find the person either unbearably beautiful or extraordinarily intelligent.

9. Be careful signaling the number two in the UK. Ie: Don’t stick your index finger and middle finger up with the palm of your hand facing towards you, as it’s the equivalent of giving someone the finger. Rather, signal ‘two’ with your palm facing out, like when showing the ‘peace’ sign.

10. When meeting someone in Morrocco, shake with your right hand then touch your hand to your chest, to indicate that you’re taking the meeting to heart. Good friends may tack on up to four air kisses, accompanied by a stream of well wishes, lasting up to ten minutes: ‘How are you? Everything’s good with you? I hope your parents are well? Baraka (blessings) upon them!’ Etc

Source: “Travel etiquette 101: body language – travel tips and articles”. Lonely Planet, February 26, 2011.


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