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Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 9; March 9, 2011

The Edge

Student Polling Program (SPP).

Abroad Perspectives

Academic Migration: The tide flows to Turkey.

Over The Counter

Merger by necessity.

Globe Tipping

Beating X-ray delays.

1) “THE EDGE” – Student Polling Program (SPP)
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s recent troubles, and those of his governing Conservative Party, have an interesting intersection with the recruitment of international students to Canada’s community colleges.

As the Globe and Mail put it on March 4th:
“[There] are the 1.3 million South Asians living in the Greater Toronto Area. The Immigration Minister’s unceasing efforts to deliver their votes and those of other new Canadians into the welcoming arms of the Conservative Party have landed Mr. Kenney in the biggest trouble of his ministerial career.” (

There is little doubt that the Tories pushing of the Student Partners Program (SPP), which has led to a quadrupling of the number of Indian students in Canada, is right up the alley of a political strategy to entice the urban “ethnic” vote to join the congregation of Conservatives.

For decades this has been the domain of the Liberals and NDP, and played a key role in the final count when the Conservatives were on the outside looking in at power in Ottawa. As this demographic has become more dynamic to deciding election fortunes, Kenney and his colleagues are on record now, as going right after them.

So no surprise to read the Conservative strategy posted on virtually every front page in Canada. It confirms why the SPP was implemented. After all the program empowered so many individuals and organizations (many of which are unscrupulous education and immigration agencies) who see the Canadian study permit process as an easy mark for getting persons into Canada whether or not there is any intention to study there. For experienced observers of Canadian immigration matters, SPP seemed implausible for an immigration department which for years was extremely conservative and oversaw a disciplined, rigorous and robust review of study permit applications.

No doubt it’s been great for Indian students, mostly from Punjab, who have strong connections in Canada. It’s made those Canadian families, often with many voting eligible members, feel good about the political status quo. It’s benefited business people in India (again many who are connected to Canada) in the multi-million dollar people-moving business.

But it’s moving Canada over to the Australian student recruiting scheme of quantity at any cost, and for the cash. From many accounts from Provincially-funded community colleges in Canada who are the participating institutions for SPP, the last two years have seen a morass of unprecedented huge totals of applicants, many no-shows, an unprecedented number of tuition refunds issued once the “student” arrives in Canada (commonly indicating the student will not honour the study permit), and as a few college administrators put it – a real mess. Meanwhile the high-end degree bound students to Canada’s world-class universities, have been getting lost in the forest of fraud and poor applications.

Of course for the Tories – it’s a good strategy to win another election.

(“The Edge” by Mel Broitman, Director of the Canadian University Application Centre. Mel’s back in Pakistan this week, promoting Canadian education in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. You can read back issues of “The Edge” at

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Academic Migration: The tide flows to Turkey.

Little more than a decade ago, there was barely a handful of foreign academics at Turkish universities. But today, that number has risen to more than 1,300, according to the country’s Higher Education Board – almost 60% more than there were five years ago.

So why the big jump ?

According to an article in Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review, they’ve been drawn by the combination of increased opportunities in Turkey, and fewer ones at home.

“I searched for jobs in the United States, Canada, England and France,” the Daily News quoted one foreign professor (who wished to remain anonymous) as saying. “But it was almost impossible to find jobs there. After that, I started to look for job opportunities in Turkey.”

“There is an incredible shrinkage of jobs in England and the United States,” agrees Talat Halman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Letters at Ankara’s Bilkent University. “We can see it in the number of job applications we receive for positions.”

Along with the sheer number of job opportunities available in Turkey (a country with 53 private universities and 103 state-funded ones), the rapidly accelerating growth of its wealthy new private universities has also contributed to the boom in foreign academics. But the question now, is whether this migration translates into any real raise in quality of the country’s university education.

According to Yasemin ?nceo?lu, who works at the state-funded Galatasaray University, the answer is not so straightforward.

“Although [private] universities have great advantages in terms of equipment and using new technology, they also have disadvantages because they adopt a profit-oriented approach to education,” she says. “But their financial offerings attract academics, which force the state universities to reconsider their own visions and missions.”

Source: “World’s academic ‘brain drain’ becomes Turkey’s ‘brain rain’”. Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review, February 4, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Mergers by necessity.

As more institutions around the world struggle to balance their budgets (particularly facing the axe of more government cuts), the prospects of educational alliances and mergers are increasingly popping up. It’s happening in Ireland.

Two years ago, discussions regarding a research alliance between the University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity led to a new and much bigger idea. Then, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen and his advisers proposed a full merger of UCD and Trinity. Pooling the best of the two prestigious universities they argued, would help create one reshaped institution that could compete with any ‘top list’ of universities around the world – and hopefully, help to attract more international students (numbers are currently on the decline with applications from India dropping more than 40% between 2007 and 2008).

In the end, the merger never happened. Although the research merger, known as the Innovation Alliance, was agreed upon, the idea of a full merger was just too far flung. But other Irish universities are moving ever closer to taking just that leap. NUI Galway has entered into a strategic alliance with the University of Limerick. Dublin City University is in advanced discussions with NUI Maynooth and the Royal College of Surgeons regarding a new working partnerships. Numerous institutes of technology are linking up with neighbouring colleges. All this, encouraged by the Government – which has been pushing colleges to boost performance, while cutting costs.

So although to date none of the alliances are actual ‘mergers’ (each college retains its own structures and independence), it’s definitely a step towards that end.

It’s quite likely, the merger movement will grow globally. If not by desire, they by necessity.

Source: “Fewer universities with one big brand leader known as the University of Ireland is in the wider national interest”. The Irish Times, February 25, 2011.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Beating x-ray delays.
You know the story – you’re rushing to catch your plane, you’re trying to separate your laptop from your cords, you’re struggling to do your shoelaces back up, and the metal detector just won’t stop going off. It’s security checkpoint hell!

Hoping to avoid this type of scenario on your next business trip? Read on for some advanced tips on how to pass through the x-ray and metal detectors as quickly (and painlessly) as possible:

  • Choose your line carefully. Avoid lines with anyone who looks like they’ll take extra time – babies, small children, obvious tourists, and the elderly are especially avoidance-worthy. Also be sure to check what’s at the end of the line – although a line might be slightly longer than the others, if it has two or more x-ray machines or metal detectors at the end of it, then it will likely move twice as fast. And finally, don’t rely on any “Fast Track” security lines – at key business travel times these are actually busier than the “slow tracks”.
  • Travel in a jacket with pockets. That way, you can put anything from your other pockets or on your body (mobile phones, wallet, keys, jewellery – anything likely to set off the metal detector) directly into your jacket pockets while you’re still waiting in line. Then you can just set your jacket in the tray and walk through.
  • Use the right carry-on bag. Specifically, one that allows you to pull your laptop out quickly might be your best bet (perfect are the ones with a top-opening laptop specific pocket). However, beware packing too much electronic equipment in one bag – as they might make you take all the cords, batteries, gadgets, etc out separately (so that they don’t come through the x-ray machine as a jumbled mess).
  • Wear a tried and tested belt – or none at all. No point battling to take it on and off for the metal detector. Another option would be to consider buying a non-metallic belt so that you don’t have to worry about setting off the alarm – or, alternatively, go old school and get the kind of (non-metallic) suspenders that attach by sewn-in loops to your suit pants.
  • Try slip-on shoes. With many airports demanding everyone to remove their shoes for x-ray machines, the easier they are to take off and put back on, the better. Additionally, check carefully for a metal frame in the sole or heel of your shoes – which, if you wear them through the detector, will likely set off the alarms.
  • Source: “How to get through airport security quickly and easily”. Australian Business Traveller, February 16, 2011.


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