Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
NYU eyes the world.
Post Mubarak. Still lots to worry about for students in Egypt.
In Australia, losing face-time, and face, with China.
Making 2011 a better travel year.
1) THE PLAYING FIELD – NYU eyes the world.
In a landmark decision, China’s Ministry of Education has just approved New York University’s proposal to build a new degree-granting campus in Shanghai.
While the approval is an important step towards the realization of the new institution, NYU President John Sexton and Provost David McLaughlin have cautioned that there are still several issues that need to be resolved before plans are finalized, including the new campus’s budget.
However, if all goes as planned, the proposed institution, to be operated jointly by NYU and the East China Normal University, will start its first executive-education program (which will not offer degrees) as early as the 2011-2012 academic year. After that, a professional master’s degree program will start the following year, and undergraduates will arrive by the fall of 2013. The goal is to eventually host about 1,600 undergraduate students – mostly from China, but also recruited from the US and elsewhere in Asia.
If completed, NYU Shanghai would be the university’s second overseas campus. It’s first opened earlier this year in Abu Dhabi. Aiming to accumulate a collection of study abroad sites and professional programs in other countries (such as the Tisch film production program in Singapore), international research sites, and overseas campuses, NYU administrators consider a new Shanghai campus to be a major step toward reaching their goal of becoming a truly “global network university”.
While there are no concrete plans yet, discussions have been held regarding the possibility of opening up a third international degree-granting campus in the near future – this time in Europe.
Sources: “China Approves NYU’s Plan for a Shanghai Campus”. The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 2, 2011.
& “University receives approval for NYU Shanghai”. Washington Square News, January 25, 2011.
2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Post Mubarak. Still lots to worry about for students in Egypt.
While governments around the world scrambled in recent days to evacuate their citizens out of Egypt safely, international university students have felt the pressure from the country’s ongoing anti-government demonstrations. Particularly those students hailing from Asian or other Middle Eastern countries.
For years, Egypt has had a strong reputation as not only a popular tourist destination, but also an education destination. Though most Western students only visit the country for short-term study abroad or exchange programs, it is the other international students (those from elsewhere in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East), who are mainly there for the duration of their degrees. And it is these students who are now facing a most difficult decision – whether to stay and try to wait for the still very uncertain situation to sort itself out, or to go home.
With the country’s universities closed and courses currently postponed, it is unclear when classes will resume. For many of the full-time students, their Egyptian courses and credits are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to transfer over to other institutions.
Many governments, including Uganda, Kenya, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Thailand – have already launched and/or completed large-scale citizen evacuation plans. While, others, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, have even greater reasons to want their students out.
With high numbers of Indonesian and Malaysian students in Egypt – a large portion of whom are there for Islamic studies – there was concern from the beginning of the unrest that the foreign students might be tempted to join in with Egyptians protesting on the streets, and now, possibly siding with political parties promoting Islam. Malaysia’s Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says such actions should be avoided at all costs.
“[The students] have their own views [about what is happening in Egypt] but the situation is tense and fraught with danger and they should in no way risk their lives,” he was quoted by the official Bernama news agency as saying.
With some 14,000 Malaysians in Egypt before the crisis (11,300 of them students pursuing either Islamic studies or medicine), Malaysia decided to send military aircraft and a navy ship, as well as commercial aircraft, in order to remove its citizens. Among those students who left, there are serious concerns about how easy it will be to return to the country when classes do resume. While for those students who decided to stay – it’s now still a waiting game to see how everything turns out.
Source: “EGYPT: Thousands of Asian students evacuated”. University World News, February 6, 2011.
3) OVER THE COUNTER – In Australia, losing face-time, and face, with China.
It’s not just the decline of students from India causing major (and growing) concerns in Australia. It’s also the drop in student numbers from China – one of Australia’s largest trading partners. The drop say some, could cause further deterioration to the country’s already questionable relationship with the growing Asian super-power.
The newspaper The Australian pointed to Australia’s new Prime Minister’s failure to visit or engage with China in “any meaningful way” since Julia Gillard took office eight months ago. The paper went on to highlight the significance (and potential impact) of lessening human relationships and direct ‘face time’ (things that mean far more in China than they do in the West).
Besides contributing greatly to the $18 billion higher education sector (with Chinese students making up 25% of Australia’s international student population), the presence of Chinese students help to ensure just this type of ‘personal relationship’ continues between citizens (if not directly governments). So while the effects of the unfolding higher education disaster in Australia have yet to fully be felt, leading Beijing education agent, Li Ping, explains how the impacts may reach far beyond just the revenue-related.
“The decrease in student numbers will lead to reduction of influence in China,” Li says. “It’s not just an issue of making money but spreading the reputation of your country.”
“The strongest cultural links between Australia and China are students – people-to-people relationships. I don’t think the Australian government has realised the importance of this influence.”
Source: “Canberra drops ball over Beijing”. The Australian, February 11, 2011.
& “‘Sham’ US university blames Indian staffer for immigration fraud”. The Times of India, February 1, 2011.
4) GLOBE TIPPING – Making 2011 a better travel year
Severe snowstorms, volcanic ash… 2010 was a year that travel hit headlines for all the wrong reasons – leaving many people stranded and out of pocket as a result. In fact, according to a study by the travel and leisure website, lastminute.com, the average amount that such trouble left travelers short by in 2010 was €181 – with many experiencing losses of far more.
However, according to experts with the website, better preparation could have helped lower this number.
“While there is no way to guard against ‘acts of God’ and inclement weather,” says lastminute.com spokesperson, Carey Withey, “we advise holidaymakers to do their ‘holiday homework’ [for 2011].”
And so, to help avoid running into some of the disappointment and disaster that so many experienced in 2010, here are three basic tips to help you ensure your own way is slightly easier.
1. Leave a paper trail. According to the report, 33% of people do not print off their travel confirmations – causing potential difficulties in backing up any future claims, should they arise.
2. Terms and conditions apply. Nearly three quarters of travellers admit to skipping through holiday terms and conditions. Besides carefully reading them through, check that the supplier you’re booking with is registered with your national aviation enforcement body, which processes complaints going in and out of your home country.
3. Get insurance. It might cost a little more – but one major mishap and all your past investments could be more than worth it. Also, take great care to read the small print, and really understand the scope of your coverage.
Source: “Travel chaos survival tips”. JOE.ie, January 15, 2011.