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Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 32; September 21, 2011

Aim Higher

Cheating in Toronto points to much bigger problem.

The Playing Field

New UK visa rules claim their first victims.

Abroad Perspectives

Korean island builds its own ‘education city’.

Globe Tipping

Top Hotel Booking Apps

1) “AIM HIGHER” – Cheating in Toronto points to much bigger problem.

The Toronto Star ran related stories in the past days regarding a litany of egregious practices in Toronto private high schools in which, to sum up, students were getting grades and diplomas on unsustainable bases. Hardly a new story, the report is nonetheless important for its sheer sweep and depth of excavation in this area.

Is there an international angle here? Indeed, there is. For years, we’ve reported on widespread cheating practices around the world and their implications including fairness and justice. We often hear institutions taking the position that overseas credentials ought to be taken at “face value”, with little regard to the risk that documents are faked, or as here, that gross inflation of grades (including conferring passes or better in entirely unwarranted circumstances) has taken place and apart from the complicated matter of developing a sense of concordance of a course mark from one jurisdiction to an equivalent in our own).

One doesn’t have to plumb the depths of other academic jurisdictions to have seen the problem. Our own frequent travellers to China would have seen common-place practices of the kind reported by The Star in provincially-regulated high schools. In our student recruitment work we have participated in several thousand personal interviews and overseen similar numbers of personal essays where it was apparent that the individuals’ reported official provincially-regulated English course mark could not possibly comport with the calibre observable orally and in writing. The chasm was unmistakable.

Now, we see that right here at home, and not at an isolated, single school, but extensively under the watch of the Ontario government, money is being traded for marks. If greater scrutiny is clearly needed in our own backyard, how much more so in programs run abroad, whether under the aegis of a Canadian Province or otherwise? And pity the Australian university, unwittingly, as we would be if the reverse were the case, that the Canadian student conferred with an ample scholarship offer there, was barely worthy of a high school pass here.

Sources: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1055379–star-investigation-slacking-off-gets-high-marks-at-this-high-school?bn=1 & http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1054778

2) THE PLAYING FIELD – New UK visa rules claim their first victims.

Less than six months after the British government announced tighter restrictions for student visas, at least one university has said its being forced to close one of its campuses due to the new regulations.

Schiller International University, which is based in Florida and has four other international campuses (in the UK, Germany, Madrid and Paris), is now closing its London campus, and will no longer start its autumn semester, as originally scheduled.

According to university officials, 80 to 85% of its students were from non-European Union countries – thereby requiring them to obtain visas to study in Britain.

“The decision to close our London campus was directly related to the new U.K. immigration rules,” said William Moore, executive vice president of the university.

After the first of the new visas rules came into effect last April (with more restrictions to be imposed throughout the next year), the British Home Office released a report, saying that the nation’s economy stood to lose £1.3 billion to £3.6 billion, or $2.1 billion to $5.8 billion, over the next four years, largely as a result of lost productivity from foreign students, graduates and their dependents.

Universities also stand to lose £170 million from tuition fees, while the UK Border Agency would lose £160 million in visa processing fees, the report said.

Gina Hobson, chief executive of the British Accreditation Council, an independent accreditation body for independent colleges, said the changes will likely effect more institutions in future.

“We’re aware of a couple of other institutions that have decided that it’s no longer viable to run,” she says. “Given the impact the immigration policies will have on the sector, I expect to see further closures in the private education sector, which may include institutions with partnerships with U.K. universities.”

In 2010, a total of 334,815 student visas were issued by the British government, but the British Home Office has predicted that these new measures will result in around 67,000 fewer per year.

Source: “Stricter Visa Rules in U.K. Put Some Colleges in Bind.” NYTimes.com, August 28, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/world/europe/29iht-educside29.html?_r=2

3) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Korean island builds its own ‘education city’.

A Korean island has undertaken an ambitious project to build an international education city, in order to house a cluster of international schools, foreign universities, business centers, and tourism attractions.

The Jeju Global Education City (JGEC), modeled after Dubai’s Knowledge Village, is to be spread out over a 261,000 square meter site near the city of Seogwipo, on Jeju Island. A unique cluster of tourism and business already located on the island is expected to provide tenant schools a chance to share work and collaborate effectively with many hotel chains and companies.

Divided into five zones – school zone, university zone, culture zone, education center and business zone – it is being promised that the JGEC will be welcomed and supported by other facilities in the area.

“Jeju will minimize the problems from establishing foreign branch of universities as the city is designed for education,” says Lee Seung-hoon, deputy director of the JGEC office. “We will help foreigners here in Jeju education city live an easy and comfortable life, especially when dealing with administrative works. We will make it possible for foreigners to handle administrative works in English.”

The goal of JGEC is to host between10 to 15 top global universities by 2016, offering Korean students a viable alternative to overseas study and attracting foreigners as well, all in the bid to become a new educational hub in Asia. Additionally, education city officials expect there will be about 9,000 students from the elementary to secondary school level, with about 1,000 graduating each year.

Already, a number of institutions have signed on to the idea, including the North London Collegiate School (U.K.), the Korea International School, Branksome Hall (a girls’ private school in Canada), and two American boarding schools – U.S. Noble and Greenough School and St. Albans School.
Source: “Jeju seeks to host cluster of top foreign universities”. The Korea Herald, September 5, 2011. http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110905000670

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Top Hotel Booking Apps

A trove of new hotel-booking apps made specifically for smartphones is changing the world of travel. Beyond helping hoteliers fill up their otherwise unused rooms (note: in under a year, the InterContinential Hotel Group’s mobile booking profits rocketed from $1 million to $10 million a month), these apps also help bookers snag the best deals, in advance, or at the last minute. And the best thing about them? They’re all free!

Here are five of the world’s gems:

Hotel Tonight: An easy-to-use app tailored for last-minute hotel bookings – offering up to 70% off at hotels in 20 cities and counting. Tips: While most bookings with this app are for one night (to be booked the same day as your stay), some hotels allow stays up to five nights at discounted rates. Rooms go on-sale every day at noon.

Priceline Hotel & Car Negotiator: Based on the popular website, users can set their own price based on an area and hotel’s star category, then instantly find out whether the bid was accepted. If you don’t want to haggle, you can also choose to directly book a room at a discount up to 50%. Tips: Now comes with a rental car service, which offers instant bid acceptances as well as 40% off last minute direct rentals.

Choice Hotels Locator: Hotel booking for 5,800 hotels worldwide, with a GPS interface that allows you to find affordable, available rooms closest to you. Includes road-trip friendly options like Sleep Inn, Comfort Suites, and EconoLodge.

Omni Hotels: Quick, real-time reservations with GPS capability to book rooms at any of the 45 Omni hotels across the U.S. Includes mobile check-in. Tips: This app offers special discounts for mobile users only.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts: Easy same-day bookings for each of the 7 major brands, including InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express. Includes the ability to change or cancel reservations, and use reward points if enrolled in the Priority Club Rewards. Tips: Although not many bonuses, it does offer alerts for special discounts.

Source: “Top 5 Hotel Booking Apps”. Travel News from Fodor’s Travel Guides, August 29, 2011.
http://www.fodors.com/news/story_4759.html

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