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Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Volume 11, Issue 19; May 16, 2012

1. THE PLAYING FIELD

Much ado about recruiting in Japan.

2. ABROAD PERSPECTIVES

Malaysia set for a new global campus experience.

3. OVER THE COUNTER

Private school shortcomings in Vietnam.

4. GLOBE TIPPING

Tips for taking a laptop on board.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Much ado about recruiting in Japan.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Japanese lined up outside of Tokyo’s elegant Imperial Gardens, all waiting for their chance to gain a glimpse of it. It wasn’t a movie star or a sports icon. It was, in fact, all about a cleverly designed UK University’s marketing ploy.

The crowds lined up at the British Embassy were there to see a rare first folio of plays written by the legendary William Shakespeare – a £4 million document brought to town, thanks in large part, to the UK’s De Montfort University. Along with the folio, the university also hosted workshops on the literary treasure for hundreds of local high school pupils, and De Montfort’s vice-chancellor (and Shakespeare) scholar, Dominic Shellard, gave a public lecture on the writer’s life. Additionally, a lively recital from Much Ado about Nothing was performed during a reception for dignitaries and university leaders at the British Embassy. Each of the events was welcomed enthusiastically – and showed just how far cultural diplomacy and understanding can go in attracting attention for foreign universities … regardless of how globally prestigious (or, in De Montfort’s case, lesser known) the institution may be.

As De Montfort’s director of international strategy, Martyn Kendrick, explains, bringing cultural treasures to Japan has helped the university establish meaningful relationships with Japanese institutions.

“We are not so arrogant as to say we are coming here and taking [home] hundreds of students with us,” he admits. “But if we show we are here for the long haul, I think that is more effective than the [student recruitment] agency model in the long term. It has to be a win-win for both parties or it is not sustainable.”

Additionally, Kendrick adds, increased student exchanges may be possible in the future, as De Montfort is busy introducing both Mandarin and Japanese language study options. De Montfort’s Professor Shellard is confident the number of Japanese students coming to the UK (which currently rests at around 4,000) will significantly grow in future.

Source: “It is the East, and Rising Sun is the new object of affection”. Times Higher Education, May 10, 2012. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=419883&c=1

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Malaysia set for a new global campus experience.

In the 90’s, Malaysia singled out higher education as one of its strategic investment areas. Since then the Malaysian government has been boasting of its aim to become a ‘regional hub’ for university students. A lofty goal no doubt, but one that is suddenly becoming a lot more believable, with the launch of the nation’s new 350-acre ‘Educity Iskandar’ campus.

This Educity campus, which first reached out to partners in 2004, is set to host several universities, including three from the UK. These institutions – Newcastle, Southampton, and Reading – will take their place alongside the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Raffles of Singapore, Australia’s Monash University and a Californian cinematic art school – all currently in talks with Iskandar’s management.

By pooling resources, these institutions are ensuring that the shared campus will feature state-of-the-art facilities, including a 14,000 seat stadium and an Olympic-length swimming pool. Given the partnership is a commitment to adhere to certain standards, University of Reading in Malaysia’s CEO and Provost, Rob Robson, explains, “working together is going to be terribly important”. “If one institution does badly, and gets a poor reputation, that will be harmful for all us,” Robson points out.

Overall the partner universities view it as a “golden opportunity” to develop their respective internationalization strategies – an area of growing priority for institutions around the world.

“Like many civic universities in the UK we have little flags all over the world which have normally grown up through research collaborations and all the rest of it,” explains CEO of Newcastle’s Medical School in Malaysia, Reg Jordan. “Our vice-chancellor felt it was time to pick a few strategic areas and plant one or two large flags. The international campus here – a fully owned branch of Newcastle University – is a golden opportunity to do that in south-east Asia, and brings us to the new markets.”

Newcastle already has partnerships with higher education providers in Singapore, which is located just 35 minutes away from the new Iskandar campus. So, as Jordan explains, the chance to build on this foundation was not one to be missed: “The World Bank will tell you that there’s going to be an increasingly exponential demand for higher education,” he says, “but it’s largely going to come from Asia and south-east Asia.”

Source: “Inside Educity Iskandar: a university partnership in Malaysia”. Higher Education Network / Guardian Professional, May 8, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/may/08/educity-iskandar-malaysia?newsfeed=true

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Private school shortcomings in Vietnam.

A new survey by the Non-state owned School Association in Vietnam has revealed there are more “poor” students enrolled at private universities in the country than there are at state owned schools (it’s usually the other way around in Asia). It is a trend, as explained by local online news source VietNamNet, directly resulting from the fact that more and more private institutions are being forced to award increased numbers of scholarships, incentives, and lower admission requirements, just to keep their student numbers up.

In Vietnam, state-owned schools receive 70% of their total operating expenses from the State, while private – or “people founded” – schools receive no financial support. In this sense, most public schools if they want to succeed, are forced to make heavy investments during their first few years of operation – both to build up their brands, and ensure they have enough students to continue operating. In order to attract these students, the schools regularly offer tuition remissions and full scholarships, often to less wealthy scholars. It is a common tactic.

With so many scholarship students not paying full tuition (and tuition being the school’s main source of income), the institutions are left with little choice, and often end up pushing their ‘regular tuitions’ far above the amounts charged by the other state owned schools. Making it, understandably, that much more difficult for them to attract the full-paying students.

To insure they make profits, many of these schools are resorting to over-enrolling their programs. In recent years, a number of such “people funded” schools have reportedly enrolled up to 70% more students than the government quota (granted by the Ministry of Education and Training) actually allows. In order to pay off the government fine for breaking this quota, they resort back to their first tactic – charging full-paying students even higher rates, and lowering their admissions requirements to attract more such students.

Source: “Non-state owned school require high tuitions, offer low quality training”. VietNamNet, May 9, 2012. http://english.vietnamnet.vn/en/education/22095/non-state-owned-schools-require-high-tuitions–offer-low-quality-training.html

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Tips for taking a laptop on board.

Although it’s not illegal to put a laptop in your checked luggage, it’s not exactly the best idea to do so – considering how many bumps those bags are forced to endure. A better idea is to carry it on board with you, and here are some simple tips for doing so:

1. Consider buying a “checkpoint-friendly” laptop bag to help ease the screening process. These bags (which include laptop sleeves, as well as butterfly or trifold-bags with ‘laptop-only’ sections that can be laid flat on the belt) allow X-ray machines to get an unobstructed view of your device, so you don’t have to take it out of its casing each time you pass through security.

2. Check that this bag does not have metal buckles, zippers, or snaps, and don’t put anything else inside the laptop-only compartment – for a clear view on the X-ray, the laptop needs to be visible without any obstructions.

3. Place power cords, zip drives, and any other accessories in a separate compartment or bag. These items must be scanned separately.

4. If you decided against using one of these laptop-friendly bags, make sure your laptop is easily accessible so you don’t have to hold up lines / unpack half your carry-on bag whenever you need to clear security.

Source: “How to Pack a Laptop for Flight”. Travel Tips – USAToday.com. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/pack-laptop-flight-103485.html

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