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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Volume 11, Issue 17; May 2, 2012


A boost for Arabic in Abu Dhabi.


The outs and ins of Japanese international education.


“The British are coming”. IDP crosses enemy lines.


Avoid learning lessons the hard way, Part II.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – A boost for Arabic in Abu Dhabi.

A new institute dedicated to the Arabic language has been established at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi. Offering a variety of degree-oriented programs, including Masters degrees in such areas as teaching, translation and interpretation, the hope is that the institute will help to “reinforce the national, regional and Arab identity”.

“The Institute for the Arabic Language is the first institute in the Arab world that will be specialised in developing the Arabic language curriculums,” explains Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. “The institute will be an international house of expertise, committed to develop the methods of teaching the Arabic language, and to assess and create new innovative teaching and learning manners.”

The institute will also include an international centre to teach the Arabic language to non-Arabs from around the world, and establish exchange programs with universities around the world.

“This centre will attract international students,” says Shaikh Nayhan, “and will turn the UAE into an international hub for those desirous to learn Arabic and explore its culture and knowledge.”

According to Zayed University officials, two more new institutions are also in the works, both of which will help reinforce the role of the Institute for the Arabic Language. These include the soon-to-be Institute for the Study of Emirates Society and the Gulf Region (which will offer research and teaching programs), and the Institute for Global Dialogue and World Peace, which is intended to become a hub for the world’s top thinkers and researchers – a place where they will meet to exchange insights for the benefit of humanity.

Source: “Institute dedicated to Arabic’s glory”., April 26, 2012.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – The outs and ins of Japanese international education.

Japan’s attempts to international its campuses in recent years led to the 100,000 International Students Plan and 300,000 International Students Plan. It has introduced government scholarship programs, relaxed immigration regulations, and reduced tuitions. Japan has particularly focused on countries such as China, where commission-based agents aggressively recruit for private Japanese institutions. Other new policies such as the “skilled migration approach” (promoting post-graduation employment of international students in Japan) have also come into play, and extra attention is now being paid to worldwide university rankings – something prospective international students use as a guide to help decide which university to attend.

But a problem, as Professor Hiroshi Ota, of Hitotsubashi University’s Global Education Program explains, is that even with all this ‘looking outward,’ little effort has been spent ‘looking in’ when it comes to internationalizing of the country’s own higher education system.

“Beyond student mobility,” Ota writes in a recent article published by the International Association of Universities, “internationalisation has been less developed in Japan, especially in terms of curriculum reform. The government and universities have historically typified the approach of importing knowledge and technology from overseas, modifying them for Japan’s use with the main purpose of advancing the country’s modernisation (internationalisation for modernisation).”

“Since the vast majority of course content originally came from the West, this model has prevented Japanese universities from internationalising their curricula for a long time,” Ota surmises – adding, however, that there is a new trend starting to develop.

“There are a growing number of international liberal arts institutions offering international learning experiences, incorporating a high percentage of English-taught courses, a highly diversified student population and faculty, and a variety of study abroad programs,” Ota explains. “Beyond just adding so-called international programs to the traditional curricula, these institutions have thus made the internationalisation of education and learning the first priority within their missions and efforts.”

This attitude, along with increased government support and the crucial need for Japanese universities to develop an effective internationalization “evaluation process”, Ota says are the keys to ensuring quality higher education in the country, and supporting Japanese universities to meet “the demands of the 21st century’s global knowledge-based society”.

Source: “Dispatches from Japan: Thinking beyond international student mobility”. Guardian Professional, April 23, 2012.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – “The British are coming”. IDP crosses enemy lines.

The brand used to be – ‘when you think Australia, think IDP’. No more. The front page of the April 30th edition of the Education Times supplement of the Times of India, proclaimed, “Study in UK” and was a call to attend IDP’s UK education fair in Delhi. IDP’s well known logo, years in the making as a symbol of Australian education global marketing prowess, is prominent in promoting British universities. The three letters together, “IDP”, appear seven times in a large advertisement dominating the page.

Still partly owned by Australia’s universities, IDP has crossed over to the most bitter of its once former rivals. In fact, past service suppliers for IDP had once been strictly told by the agency (founded as a consortium of Australian universities) that they may still take work for other global competitors, but never for the United Kingdom. You can’t say that now. The UK is now IDP’s first play when doing business in India.

No doubt the desperation over the disastrous decimation of Australia’s Indian student recruitment market, has once mighty IDP scrambling. It is already promoting US and Canadian universities. Now IDP has forsaken its most defining elements to a once proud brand.

Australian universities, many of them already at odds with IDP for years, may be uttering a famous phrase from the English queen. You can almost hear them call out “we are not amused,” from Sydney to Perth.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Avoid learning lessons the hard way, Part II.

From the expert advisors at Conde Nast Traveler, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common ‘travel problems’ that crop up along the way. Our advice? Read now and avoid learning them the hard way! Continued from last week’s issue…

11. Make them pay. Frustrated with an airline or hotel that promised a reimbursement you never received? Sadly, you’re not alone. But to ensure this doesn’t happen, be persistent. Try to get written proof of the guarantee, and slowly work your way up the company’s ladder, each time requesting your compensation from a higher-up individual, with the hopes that eventually, someone will be decent enough to honor the promise.

12. Avoid excess baggage fees. With constantly changing (ie: shrinking) baggage allowances, and no real uniformity amongst airlines, it can be extremely difficult to pack for any trip – especially any trip for which you’re travelling on multiple airlines. To help save yourself hassle later on, be sure to check individual carriers’ websites before you start packing – and realize that, for many airlines (particularly low-cost ones) you can save a lot of money by paying any excess luggage fees online, when you book your ticket, rather than waiting until you arrive at the airport.

13. Avoid double bookings. An unpleasant off-shoot of some online travel agencies is double booking – duplicate reservations that can be mystifying at best, extremely pricey and non-refundable at worst. Often this happens when users think they are just comparing prices or options before confirming, when really every item they click on is being purchased. In order to make sure you don’t accidentally ‘double book’ something, keep fully aware of what you are seeing and purchasing – and do all of your ‘comparing’ before you enter in your credit card details. If you’re not sure whether a purchase went through, check first for e-mail confirmation before you attempt any transaction for a second time.

14. Don’t trust hotel safes. In-room safes are not as reliable as they might appear, and hotels have virtually no liability for items stolen from in-room safes. If you have to travel with valuable items, front-desk safes are usually your best bet, as most hotels do offer some protection for stolen items if kept there, and many home owner insurance packages also provide some coverage for items even when you’re on vacation.

15. Make your connections. Though airlines and travel agents are known to book them, 45 minute layovers aren’t really long enough to ensure you can de-board, find a new gate, and board another plane before it takes off. And especially if there is any delay in your first flight – even ten to 15 minutes – this connection can quickly become impossible. In order to ensure you can make connections, it’s advisable to ensure at least two hours between flights, or even longer if you know you’ll have to change terminals or clear any customs or immigration points. Also, make sure that if you’re travelling on multiple airlines that they’re code-sharing partners. That way, if you do miss a connection you’ll be put on the next available flight without being charged extra. Otherwise, the second airline can simply treat you as a no-show – which in some cases means you’ll have to pay a hefty fine, or even buy a brand-new ticket.

16. If planning to cruise, know the weather policies. Although some cruise lines offer passengers the option of cancelling their trips without penalty within 24 hours of being notified of any itinerary changes, while others have been known to completely change their destinations with no word to their passengers – who don’t find out until after they turn up to board the ship. To avoid this happening, be sure to read the fine print – and if your port destinations are more important to you than the journey itself, you might be better off flying directly there, rather than relying on a cruise.

17. Minimize lost luggage. At check-in, make sure all your bags are labeled with your contact information, that your bag is tagged to the proper destination (listing each layover airport along the way), and that your luggage stubs on the back of your ticket match the number of bags you’ve checked. In addition to luggage tags, also consider sticking a label or piece of paper with your name, address, and contact details inside each suitcase – that way if your main tag gets somehow ripped off, airline employees can check inside for this information.

18. Don’t get bumped. With airlines trimming costs, the likelihood of flights being overbooked has risen. To best ensure your chances of staying on the plane, arrive early, check in early, and get to the gate in ample time. Also note that if you are bumped involuntarily, you can request cash, though airlines typically offer compensation in the form of vouchers.

19. Complain in time. Paying for travel-related purchases by credit card gives you some extra protection if things go wrong – but only if you take up the dispute in a timely manner (normally within 60 days of the transaction date). First try to resolve the issue with the company or provider whose chargers you are contesting, then go to your credit card company.

20. Safeguard Miles. Some airlines wipe out your miles if there is no activity in your account for a period of months or years, so to avoid losing your hard-earned miles, keep on top of any expiration dates with the carriers whose programs you are enrolled in.

Source: “Ombudsman: Hard-Won Wisdom”. Conde Nast Traveler, September 2007.


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