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Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 33; September 28, 2011

The Edge

Canada’s Aussie coast line.

Abroad Perspectives

Breaking new ground in Central Africa

Over The Counter

Lessons and changes in Irish MBAs.

Globe Tipping

Recovering from those long flights

1) “THE EDGE” – Canada’s Aussie coast line.

Two announcements last week, impacting on international students made about eight thousand miles apart – have a very intense intersection.

In Canberra, the Australian government announced changes to expedite student visas, and once in Australia, students who then graduate would be eligible for a four-year work permit. For a country reeling from a collapse in international student numbers – some of it was self-inflicted by alleged racially motivated assaults at home and volumes of bad press abroad – that’s called upping the ante !

Meanwhile in Kamloops, British Columbia, the Premier of the Province announced plans to increase international student enrolments in her province by 50 percent in the next four years – that’s 50,000 more visa students. Premier Christy Clark is looking for money and it’s very easy to say let’s bring in more foreigners paying spiked tuition fees.

Australia wants to go right back after that huge global pool of mediocre students where it has lost huge market share. There are domestic institutions Down Under closing due to shrinking foreign enrolments. Some are suspect private providers, but plenty of Australia’s public universities who rely on revenues from foreign fees, are struggling.

Only a few Australian institutions are the academic equals found in a great many Canadian universities, so for the pioneers of the commercialism of international student recruiting, this is all about economic survival and they will do what Aussies have done for two decades – admit pretty much anyone who applies and pays.

Meanwhile back in Canada, where many Canadians refer to British Columbia as “the Australia” of Canadian international education – the timing of the two announcements spoke volumes to the plans for each for a foreign student cash grab.

Where Premier Clark thinks these 50,000 more students are going to come from is probably not thought out. Global competition for visa-fee paying students is at an all-time high. Quality students have many options, and fact is, BC gets a miniscule piece of the global pie for quality students. Of course, the big juicy slices are not of academic quality – but slanted towards working abroad. That market has always been more about driving taxis than delving into text books.

BC’s announcement makes it very clear. It’s the numbers that matter. That’s been Australia’s strategy before, during, and now after its calamitous slide in the last two years. When it comes to international student recruiting, BC is a lot more south Pacific than west coast.

(Next week: why BC’s announcement has plenty of support in Canada)

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Breaking new ground in Central Africa

In a landmark development, the U.S.-based Carnegie Mellon University has announced plans to open a new branch campus in Rwanda – making it the first foreign university to offer a graduate degree on African soil.

The new university, called Carnegie Mellon Rwanda, is set to open its doors to about 40 students by next fall, when it will offer a master of science in information technology, followed shortly by a computer engineering degree and various other academic tracks. Offering courses in English, the institution says it will use the same admission and academic standards as are in place at Carnegie Mellon’s main campus in Pittsburgh, and Rwanda-based graduates will be awarded the same level of diploma as those studying state-side. Although preference will be given to Rwandan citizens, the program will also target students from elsewhere in the region – and remain open to applications from around the world.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for one, recently declared his optimism surrounding the new project. Stating disproval over many past efforts to help poor countries through “quick fix” solutions – which he says often result in much of the aid being misused – he applauded Carnegie Mellon’s form of long-term commitment.

“I do believe this is evidence of a changing tide in the global partnership,” Kagame said.

Already recognized as one of East Africa’s high-tech hubs, Rwanda has made a major commitment to boosting access to technology across the country. According to the United Nations, mobile phone users increased from 130,000 in 2003 to 2.4 million in 2010 – helped by the introduction of numerous new telecom businesses – and an ambitious fibre-optic cable project to ensure fast internet access has been undertaken. Meanwhile, the country’s gross domestic product has grown at about a 7.5% rate between 2004 and 2010.

According to Rwandan Minister of Education Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, the school fits well into the country’s vision of becoming an economy based on information and communications technology.

Sources: “Carnegie Mellon to open branch campus in Rwanda”. The Sydney Morning Herald, September 17, 2011.
& “Carnegie Mellon Rwanda to Train East Africa’s New Engineers”. Science Careers Blog, September 15, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Lessons and changes in Irish MBAs.

With Ireland’s economy recently plunging to the ranks of Europe’s most delinquent economies, a fierce debate has risen over the root causes of the collapse – with many accusations flying at the doors of the nation’s most elite business schools.

Michael Flynn, MBA program director at Trinity College Dublin, the country’s oldest and best-known university, explains that, in the public mind, business schools are being seen as partly responsible for the financial crisis, sharing the blame along with bankers, developers and inept regulators.

Though he thinks this blame is misplaced, he admits that many people feel the business schools have been producing graduates “with a narrow sense of duty, a really narrow sense of responsibility and a narrow sense of what leadership is. Selfish, greedy – all these words are used.”

Nevertheless, Flynn feels Trinity’s MBA program can not only survive, but actually thrive from the current debate, due to the university’s long-running focus on responsibility and leadership business training. Other schools, meanwhile, are feeling the heat.

Patrick T. Gibbons is acting dean of the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin. He believes that the reputational damage Ireland is facing over the mishandled crisis has in fact tarnished the brand of Irish business schools – making it that much harder to attract quality foreign students.

“Undoubtedly we have lessons to learn on how we have educated people,” he says.
But it’s not all bad news for the business schools. For example, as a direct result of the domestic recession, both Trinity and Smurfit MBA programs have experienced a huge increase in Irish applications.

“My impression is that people are much more focused on job security [after the recession]”, says Trinity’s Flynn, “and an MBA adds to security. In a buoyant economy you might not have gone to university at all, or you might have got an undergraduate degree and thought you’re on a pretty good track and there are plenty of job offers out there, [so] who needs an MBA?”

Today, the market has changed, and as a result, the universities are receiving a lot more applications from older individuals – mostly professionals such as lawyers or engineers who lost their jobs in the property crash, and are now using their redundancy pay to gain additional credentials in order to up their job prospects. In response, some schools are even redesigning courses to better serve these new-era applicants. At Trinity, for example, where the average MBA age is now around 34, a special MSc is being offered for “pre-experience” non-business graduates.

“We’re answering the needs of society,” explains Flynn.

The renewed focus, according to both Trinity and Smurfit? Helping new candidates to not only understand what happened in this financial crisis, but to continue preparing them for the next.

“Managers need to be ready for change,” says Flynn, “in whatever form it comes.”

Source: “Ireland: lessons to learn”., September 19, 2011.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Recovering from those long flights

Although you can’t do anything to reduce the length of your flight, eliminate any bumpiness, or force your seat to magically become more comfortable, you can help to reduce the amount of recovery time post-flight. Read on for how to do this.

1. Be sure to schedule meetings at your destination based on the time zone from which you came. For example, if you on the west coast and have a meeting in the east, set the meeting for 1pm, which will be 10am for your internal clock. This helps you to be more focused and sharp during such meetings – especially if you have to make a quick turn around.

2. Drink lots of water during your flight. Airplane cabins are extremely dry, and dehydration makes it tougher to recover from. To ensure you’ll have enough, buy some at the airport after you’ve gone through security (so that it’s not confiscated). Continue drinking water once your reach your destination, and avoid alcohol of caffeine – both of which will further dry you out – while on board.

3. Gauge your arrival time to either sleep or stay awake on the plane, accordingly. Ie: if you arrive in the later half of the day, then stay away on the plan – that way you’ll be tired and ready to sleep when you land. If you land in the morning, then try to sleep on the plane so you’ll be refreshed when you land.

4. Exercise on the plane – even if just a little bit. Get up and stretch periodically, and walk up down the aisles whenever possible. While seated, perform small stretching exercises centered around your legs and feet. This keeps your blood flowing and prevents aches, which can lengthen your recovery time post-flight.

5. Caffeinate not on board, but after you land in the morning, in order to keep you alert and awake until evening. Try to avoid napping during the day, so that you can engage in your normal sleep cycle that evening.

6. Along with caffeine, exercise in the morning after you land – especially you can do so outdoors in the sunshine or in a brightly lit gym. The light and activity help your body reset its internal clock to the ‘new daytime’.

Source: “How to Recover From Air Travel”.


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