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Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 11; March 23, 2011

Let’s Go Canada

Canadian med school peddles seats to Saudi students.

Abroad Perspectives

Tony Blair on Globalizing the University World.

Over The Counter

Picking up the pieces in New Zealand.

Globe Tipping

Complaining successfully.

1) LET’S GO CANADA – Canadian med school peddles seats to Saudi students.

In an attempt to balance its budget, Dalhousie University’s medical school has decided to sell 10 vacant first-year seats to students from Saudi Arabia.

Although the scheme may be a one-time offer, it is hoped that these seats – priced at $75,000 per year – will generate enough money to make up for the holes left by last year’s reduction in provincial grants.

The plan, which comes at a time when universities across the country are looking to increase their foreign student enrolments (and consequently, their incomes), was made possible after the school opened a satellite campus in neighbouring province, New Brunswick – thus freeing up spots for its main campus in Halifax. And with the school’s 63 government-funded places already full, Dalhousie’s medical dean, Tom Marrie, set his sights abroad.

After deciding that recruiting from the U.S. would take too long, Dr Marrie considered the school’s long history of training Saudi resident doctors – and quickly, the new plan was born. Although the Saudi students will pay considerably more than their domestic colleagues (whose tuition remains less than $40,000), Dr Marrie says it’s “not unreasonable” when compared to other international fees.

After completing their studies, the 10 students will be expected to return to Saudi Arabia for their residencies.

“We’ve got to find a way to run the place. This is one of those ways,” he says. “We just need this money to function.”

Source: “Dalhousie medical school to sell Saudis 10 seats”. The Globe and Mail, March 17, 2011.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Tony Blair on Globalizing the University World.
Tony Blair’s faith foundation works with universities in countries including the UK, US, Canada, China, and Sierra Leone. He also gives lectures at Yale. And according to this former British Prime Minister, it’s the globalization of higher education that is leading the quickly accelerating pace of changing ideas, values, and beliefs around the world.

“When I am asked to define the leading characteristic of today’s world, I say: It’s the speed of change,” he explains. “We adjust or we are swept away.” And, in his mind, it is this change – particularly as it affects such ‘big ideas’ as government policies, cultural values, and religious ideologies – that universities must aim to embrace…as well as lead.

“It is now up to institutions of higher education to engage directly on these issues – not only their students, but current world leaders in politics, finance, and international diplomacy, along with the general public. ”

“If universities begin to foster this kind of dialogue in the public sphere, they will create a safe and objective space for these questions to be addressed and explored, which will not only produce a better informed public but also force advocates of exclusive political or religious ideologies to support their positions with rigorous and convincing arguments – no small feat.”

The main four ways that Blair sees globalisation already impacting the international university system are as follows: 1. The fact that universities are increasingly eager to connect with others around the world in long-term projects and partnerships; 2. Universities’ increasing awareness of the multitude of global perspectives that exist on every academic issue (particularly the growing amount of attention paid to scholarly contributions from previously overlooked areas, such as Asia and South America); 3. More diverse university campuses than ever before; and 4. The technological advances that give more people access to higher education – finally reaching beyond previous barriers of geographical isolation and/or financial restraints.

“In addition,” he says, “one of the things that has become incredibly clear in working with the universities involved in the Faith and Globalisation Initiative is that the world’s richest and most rigorous universities are deeply committed to capacity development within countries and institutions that have not been able to benefit from the same social or economic advantages.” One such example he gives, is the University of Sierra Leone’s Fourah Bay College, recently brought into the Initiative.

Blair says that the more encouragement from ‘acknowledged’ and/or affluent universities around the world to build partnerships and share learning with such institutes as Fourah Bay, the more promising the future looks – for everyone.

Source: “Tony Blair’s global ‘battle of ideas”. BBC News, March 7, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Picking up the pieces in New Zealand.

After last month’s devastating earthquake, it seems that Christchurch’s $381 million education industry has all but disappeared. But according to New Zealand’s Tertiary Minister Steven Joyce, the battered sector will survive.

Although Joyce has voiced concerns over the “significant decline” in international student numbers since the earthquake (before which there were 6,600 international tertiary students enrolled with Christchurch providers alone), many institutions report that most of their foreign students have indicated that they will return once classes resume.

At Canterbury University, vice-chancellor Rod Carr says only 35 out of the 1,095 international students enrolled before the earthquake hit have so far requested their full fee refunds – though they will still be able to do so until April 21st.

“A number of our international students are enrolled but went home,” he explains, “and we won’t know [if they are coming back] until at least a couple of weeks pass.”

“It’s important people don’t feel that the university is trapping them, taking their money and not delivering a service, yet on the other hand we clearly need to maintain our own resource base in order to deliver the research and teaching.”

According to Joyce, Christchurch plays a “big part” in the country’s overall education market, and has a strong reputation for quality providers – a reputation that will hopefully see it through the current situation. Already, about half of the city’s 120 private training establishments are back to operating (many of which offer English-language classes to various levels of international students).

The biggest hurdle now, adds Education New Zealand spokesperson Michelle Waitzman, is to convince the international community that the country is not only ‘fine’, but also safe: “We need to say to them that natural disasters can’t be predicted. There’s no more chance of them happening in New Zealand than anywhere else.”

Source: “Hope despite fall in foreign students”., March 18, 2011.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Complaining successfully.
When ‘mistakes’ happen out on the road, and it seems that your trip or holiday may quickly be unravelling because of it, it’s sometimes difficult to stop yourself from immediately firing off an emotional or threatening complaint. But the more effective tactic for producing results, according to travel experts, are cool, fact-heavy modes of communication. And, writes one travel journalist, Chris Pritchard, before you complain, read the small print very carefully. It may turn out you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Especially when dealing with low-cost providers, such as cheap airlines, complaints are more likely to be dismissed. With business plans almost completely price-driven, most are sure to cover themselves against almost any sources of complaint within their contracts (to which you agree by flying on the airline), and are printed at the end of tickets.

On the positive side, however, most hotels, airlines, and other travel operators rely on repeat business, as well as good ‘word of mouth’ advertising from happy customers – and therefore usually try to rectify legitimate complaints. The trick, however, is to remain realistic.
“[Some passengers] have expectations of compensation from suppliers way beyond the complaint’s severity”, says Nathan Feld, managing director of the Australian-based Voyager Travel Corporation. “If entertainment systems don’t operate, they expect free first class tickets – and if hotels are unsatisfactory, they expect accommodation costs to be waived or upgrades to top suites.”

What to do
Once you decide to lodge a complaint, the best piece of advice is to be polite, but assertive. Don’t apologize for contacting them – it’s your right as a victim to get in touch – but avoid any opinion, threats, or bursts of anger. Instead, stick to the facts. Include times, places, names, and any other details you have about the incident. If any employee refuses to give their name, then describe them; ie, “the dark-haired man at check-in counter 31 at 2:30pm on April 7″. Attach photocopies of all relevant documents, and if you sent it by mail, do it registered so you can record the delivery date that they received it.

Or, generally even more effective – if you booked through a travel agent, lodge the complaint through them, as soon as possible after the incident it occurs. With their strong relations with providers, they’re more likely to get a good reaction – and hopefully, get it quickly. However, warns veteran travel consultant Darryl Laing, of Travelscene Caloundra in Queensland, Australia, the biggest thing to remember is that buying only by price has its hazards.

“My number one tip is buy to a quality, not to a price, because you truly do get what you pay for.”

Source: “Top tips on successfully complaining”., February 28, 2011.


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