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Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 8, March 02, 2011

The Playing Field

Asian schools rank high on German top 100 list for design results?

Abroad Perspectives

The allure of the East…of Europe

Over The Counter

Turkey takes on its troubling imbalance of many students going, and not enough coming.

Globe Tipping

Skype 101 for business travel.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Asian schools rank high on German top 100 list for design.

This year, Asian schools have earned many of the top spots on the list of the world’s best 100 design schools, as ranked by the Hanover-based International Forum Design (iF).

The ranking, updated earlier this month, is based on student results from the iF concept awards over the past three years. With contestants winning up to 20 points for their schools for each award-winning project – and with close to 11,000 applications from around the world for the 2011 award alone – the competition was indeed tough.

Besides the 26 German schools which made the updated ‘top 100’ list, 25 are South Korean, 15 Taiwanese, and another 15 Chinese – while the remaining 19 are split between a large collection of countries, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Brazil and Indonesia.

Particularly with schools such as the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) grabbing the No. 2 spot (along with the three other Taiwanese institutions that made it into the top 15), it’s clear that – at least as far as Germany is concerned – Asian design schools are quickly rising in global recognition.

Source: “15 Taiwan universities on German top 100 list for design”. CNA English News, February 16, 2011.

& “University receives approval for NYU Shanghai”. Washington Square News, January 25, 2011.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – The allure of the East…of Europe.

With more universities around the world developing English-language programs, there are increasingly more and more viable destination options for international students to choose from. Particularly in Europe, where the Bologna process is seeking to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) based on international cooperation and academic exchange, student mobility is most definitely on the rise. One country making a move to the front of the pack, is Hungary.

Having first offered English-language programs back in 1983, the country’s universities are well-known for their high academic standards, particularly in the areas of medicine and veterinary studies. Notable academic contributions in the past include University of Szeged Professor, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s 1937 Nobel Prize for isolating vitamin C. Today, hundreds of international students continue to flock to the university for its highly regarded faculties of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy.

Other popular study choices for international students in Hungary include psychology, engineering, architecture, and business. And with the capital city, Budapest, offering a highly vibrant and multicultural setting, the city itself attracted around 15,000 international students in the 2009/2010 academic year alone – up from 12,000 in 2006/2007.

The biggest draw? Some of the lowest course costs for some of the highest academic standards in the region.

Plus, according to former University of Szent Istvan student, Teresa Yam, international students such as herself feel very welcome in the city.

“Budapest is a student-friendly city,” she explains, “with a very large foreign student community. A student never runs of out things to do in Budapest, with so many cultural events of all genres taking place. On top of it, cost of living makes life very easy for a student, and the city is very efficiently served with a very reliable public transport system. A student cannot ask for more.”

Source: “Destination Budapest”. Independent Online, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Turkey takes on its troubling imbalance of many students going, and not enough coming.

In an attempt to increase its number of foreign students, the Turkish government recently introduced legislation to provide general health care coverage to the nearly 17,000 foreign students currently studying in the country. According to the new regulation, students and their dependents will now benefit from every available health care coverage by paying the equivalent of about sixty USD per month.

Since Turkey’s governing AK Party came to power, 63 new institutions of higher education have been founded – bringing the total number of universities in the country to 139. Even so, the number of foreign students has fallen far short of expectations, with a 1,500 student drop in the past academic year alone. The number is not even as high as it was a decade ago.

Some of the reasons for this downward shift, besides the previous lack of access to health care coverage, are believed to include poor overseas promotion, and high tuition fees of the country’s private universities – which range between $11,000 and $25,000 (prices on par with quality institutions elsewhere across Europe and North America). In addition, the headscarf ban at Turkish universities is also believed to deter many female students and families from the Middle East – as well as those from Turkey itself.

Each year, Turkey sends thousands of its own students all over the world for education. According to the country’s Board of Higher Education (or YÖK), as many as 44,204 Turkish students attend universities overseas. That’s compared to the US, who sends only 30,103 students abroad, and England, with 25,198.

Besides the new health care coverage option, the Turkish government has announced its intentions to tackle more of the problems preventing foreign students from coming. According to YÖK president, Yusuf Ziya Özcan, the goal is to actually double the number of students in coming years. Planning includes cooperative agreements with universities abroad and a new campus in Istanbul to house top foreign university branches.

Source: “Gov’t aims to double the number of foreign students in coming years”. Today’s Zaman, January 30, 2011.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Skype 101 for business travel.

Skype can be one of the best – not to mention cheapest – ways to stay in touch while out on the road for business. But just to make sure you’re making the most out of the service, here’s a few tips to help you out:

Choosing the best headset. Relying on your computer’s inbuilt microphone can result in echo heavy calls, with the sound of the person you’re speaking with being picked up and echoed back. So the better option then, is to use a set of headphones with a microphone built in. Note that the best travel headsets are those with wires. Bluetooth sets can cause unnecessary frustration when it comes to battery life, difficulties connecting them to your laptop, and rougher sound quality. Wired headsets with USB connectors should also be avoided, as any wobbles in the connection can cause drop-outs in the sound. Instead, your best bet is to keep it simple – basic earbuds with a microphone built into the cord.

Recording your Skype calls can be an extremely useful reference tool (just note that under a number of country laws, you do have to advise the caller first that the call is being recorded, and obtain their permission). For PCs, CallBurner ( does a great job and works well with the newest version of Skype (5.1). It records Skype-to-Skype calls for free – or you can pay $49.95 US in order to be able to record Skype-to-phone calls as well. For Macs, eCamm Skype Call Recorder ( works with Skype 5.0, and comes with a limited free trial. After that, it costs $19.95 US to buy it.

Avoiding global roaming fees. Beyond the basics of using Skype on your laptop in a hotel room, Skype is steadily becoming more available on a growing number of smartphones, including the iPhone, any Nokia handsets that run the Symbian OS, and Android phones. So, coupled with a SIM card that provides cheap internet access while roaming – like Tru in the USA / UK, or Bridge AsiaRoam DataSIM ( in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand or India – and you can make ultra-cheap Skype phone calls straight from your mobile. Or, if you’re in the States, try out this try trick, which let’s people call you for free – (

Avoid hotels sabotaging your Skype connections. Although it may sound like a paranoia-fuelled conspiracy, some hotels (and governments) have been known to deliberately mess with Skype data in the hope of forcing travellers to use standard phones. The easiest way to ensure a hotel can’t do this, is to run a VPN service on your laptop (visit to find out how to set up a VPN on your laptop). This encrypts all your data so the hotel can’t see what you’re doing, and you can often make Skype calls with top quality sound – even if it is breaking up and dropping out on the hotel’s standard internet connection.

Help other people call you. To help people who may not be comfortable (or have access) to use Skype, you can make things easier by setting up a Skype Online Number (, and this way anyone can call you using their regular phone. Additionally, Skype has also introduced a feature that lets you get a number in your country of choice that connects to any other number in the world, using Skype’s low calling rates. Visit to find out more.

Source: “Top 5 Skype tips for business travellers”. Australian Business Traveller, February 28, 2011.


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