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Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Volume 11, Issue 5; February 8, 2012

1. ABROAD PERSPECTIVES

European unis vie for Indian students.

2. OVER THE COUNTER

Recruitment trumps Registrars. Easing admission requirements for foreign students.

3. THE PLAYING FIELD

Obama proposes new plan to tackle America’s skyrocketing tuition rates.

4. GLOBE TIPPING

The run-down on travel shots.

1) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – European unis vie for Indian students.

As institutions (not to mention entire countries) across the continent declare intentions to ‘up their intake’ of international students, European universities are wading deeper into one market in particular – India.

The University of Glasgow (the fourth oldest English speaking university in the world) is intensifying its recruitment strategy in south Asia. At a time when many universities around the world are struggling financially, Glasgow is introducing as many as 11 new programs – including Masters in areas such as Museum Studies, Global Security, Embedded Electronic Systems, Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Water Resources. Particularly targeting areas attractive to international students (including business – a top choice among Indian students), the university is now concentrating on building its ties with Indian institutions – to whom they also offer a number of placement and scholarship opportunities.

“[The] majority of the applications which we receive from Indian students are for post-graduate programs,” explains Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the university. At present, the institution receives around 3,800 applications from India each year, and about 220 Indian students are studying at Glasgow right now. According to Muscatelli, the university is developing new partnerships with Indian institutions – the goal to facilitate both staff and student mobility, as well as create more research opportunities.

Meanwhile Germany, is also flexing its muscles as an increasingly popular destination for Indian scholars. Between the 2009/10 and 2010/11 academic years alone, the nation’s campuses increased their number of Indian students by as much as 24%. Though it’s not just Indian students who are increasingly considering the nation’s higher education offerings – the country’s total number of international students also went up during the same period of time.

Why the sudden surge of interest? Besides the nation’s new adoption of a bill to launch the EU ‘Blue Card’ (an exciting new work and residence permit for international graduates), Christiane Schlottman, director of the German Academic Exchange Service’s South Asia office, points to a number of different factors behind the pattern.

“The recent years have witnessed a change in student mobility worldwide,” she explains. “Many students are seeking new destinations in Europe and even Asia itself, for example Singapore. Various factors like stringent visa rules, lack of employment opportunities after graduation and social threats in the traditionally popular destinations affect this trend. In Europe, Germany is the most popular destination for international students due to international degree programs (IDP) taught in English medium, tuition fee waivers, career opportunity after graduation and above all, social security. Germany tops the list of the most internationalised countries in the higher education arena (THES Survey 2011).”

Combined with Germany’s positive economic indicators (according to The Economist, the country’s GDP expanded at a rate of 2.5% in the third quarter, compared to Britain’s 0.5% and the States’ 1.5%), and its comparatively lower cost of higher education, it is no wonder that more international students – including Indians – are choosing the nation for their university studies.

Sources: “Indian enrolments soar in Germany”. Hindustan Times, January 17, 2012. http://www.hindustantimes.com/HTEducation/Chunk-HT-UI-HTEducationSectionPage-OtherStories/Indian-enrolments-soar-in-Germany/SP-Article1-798328.aspx
& “Glasgow opens up new career tracks”. Mail Online, January 17, 2012. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2087709/Glasgow-opens-new-career-tracks.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

2) OVER THE COUNTER – Recruitment trumps Registrars. Easing admission requirements for foreign students.

At a time when a number of American universities are receiving rude awakenings on the issue of ‘under-qualified’ foreign students (echoes of last week’s article highlighting the expulsion of five Chinese students from North Dakota’s Dickenson State University, due to their poor English skills), the University of Colorado (CU) has announced a rather curious decision – dropping previous requirements for international students.

Starting next year, foreign applicants to the University of Colorado will no longer be required to submit standardized SAT or ACT test scores to qualify for admissions. Officials have explained that the reason behind the decision is that too many countries face limited access to the materials necessary for students to successfully study. According to CU admissions director Kevin MacLellan, there was particular difficulty faced in accessing official SAT test sites for students in regions such as eastern Africa and China – a top source of international students for the university.

“It really became a hardship for many students,” McLennan explains, “and kept them from applying.”

McLennan took the time to stress, however, that all international applicants to CU will still be required to pass an English-speaking test – and that any students wanting to be considered for a merit-based scholarship will still need to submit SAT or ACT test scores.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, CU is not the only American university to drop SAT requirements for foreign students. Already on that list are Purdue University, Michigan State University, and the University of Oregon.

Also, the paper pointed out, enrollment of foreign students at CU last fall reached a record high of nearly 1,500 students – a number that the university wants to eventually boost to 3,000. To this goal, CU officials are now sending admissions officers overseas, recruiting in China, the Middle East, South East Asia and other regions worldwide.
Sources: “University of Colorado says standardized tests too tough for foreign students”. The Republic, January 31, 2012. http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/acf02a92769b41a7bb77dfb56618e44a/CO–Foreign-Testing/
& “CU drops standardized tests for foreign students”. Colorado Springs Gazette, January 31, 2012. http://www.gazette.com/articles/students-132663-tests-boulder.html

3) THE PLAYING FIELD – Obama proposes new plan to tackle America’s skyrocketing tuition rates.

With the U.S. federal election coming this Fall, American President Barack Obama is keen to tackle a growing issue popular among young voters – rising college tuition fees. After visiting the University of Michigan just days before, the president brought up the issue officially, during his State of the Union address a couple of weeks ago.

“We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” he declared. “We’ll run out of money… Colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.”

“So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

Considering the “fact sheet” handed out by his staff at the University of Michigan, it appears his solution for the problem goes something like this, as summed up by CBS commentator Andrew Ferguson (who is also a senior editor at The Weekly Standard): “[to] use the mighty muscle of the federal government to bring the higher educrats to heel”. Ferguson continues to explain the plan, based on his understanding of it:

“Campus-based aid” – meaning some kinds of student loans and work-study programs –would be allocated to schools based on how well they “provide good value” and “set responsible tuition policy.” A new piñata stuffed with federal money, totaling $1 billion, will be dangled before state legislatures to inspire them to reduce costs. And several new initiatives are intended to give parents and their college-bound children — higher education’s customers–more information about the various schools they consider. These “College Scorecards” might even include information about each school’s graduates, what kind of jobs they get after graduation, if any, and how much money they make. Most colleges and universities have stubbornly refused to gather this kind of follow-up information, for good reasons (it’s very hard to collect) and bad (it would make most of them look terrible).”

Although it remains to be seen how much of this plan will actually be realized – and how ‘real’ the financial penalties will then be for any schools that fail to ‘meet demands’ – the issue seems a wise one to address. As Ferguson points out:

“The anxiety is everywhere and well grounded in reality. Writing in Inside Higher Ed, Hamid Shirvani, a president in the California State University system, calculates that the average tuition at a public four-year university in the United States increased three and half times between 1980 and today, adjusting for inflation. Two years ago, tuition rose 7.9% from the year before. Last year tuition rose another 8.3%…and yet 94% of American parents expect their children to go to college, according to a Pew Research Center survey last year. At the same time only 22% said college was affordable for most people, and 57% said “the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend.” With the unemployment rate of college graduates at an all-time high, the failure to provide good value looks even more irresponsible.”

Source: “The latest big pander: Student tuition”. CBS News, January 31, 2012. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-215_162-57368899/the-latest-big-pander-student-tuition

4) GLOBE TIPPING – The run-down on travel shots.

When going abroad, particularly to tropical locations, there are always health concerns to take into account – and things that need to get done before leaving home… like shots. Although when it comes to vaccinations there is no “one size fits all” approach, here, we give a quick rundown on some of the basic shots you might want to consider bringing up with your doctor – including both travel specific ones as well as boosters.

Hepatitis A: Typically spread by contaminated food and water in less developed countries, but also found throughout the world, Hep A causes fever, jaundice, and a risk of liver failure. An initial vaccine dose protects most people for at least a year, while a second dose can last 20+ years. Commonly recommended for any serious traveler.

Typhoid: A gastrointestinal infection spread by contaminated food and water. Two forms of the vaccine (the first being a shot, which usually requires a booster every two years, the other a course of swallowable pills that protects between four to five years) are currently available in North America. Note, however, that both of which provide only around 70% protection against the disease, and that there have been cases where having the vaccine has caused tests to turn out positive later on, even though the person does not actually have the infection. Still, it is typically recommended for anyone going to the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The good news is that, unlike most other vaccine preventable diseases, typhoid (though a nasty illness) is easily treatable with antibiotics.

Hepatitis B: Though the symptoms of all types of hepatitis are similar (hepatitis itself means “liver inflammation”), the Hep B virus is transmitted by direct contact with blood or body fluids. Sexual exposure and medical treatment abroad carry the biggest risk for travelers. A series of vaccine to protect against Hep B (usually involving at least three shots) is routinely given to children and young people, but is also commonly recommended for many travelers. One of the most popular forms of the vaccine is TwinRex – a combination vaccine protecting against both Hep A and Hep B. Protection is long lasting.

Rabies: A uniformly fatal infection of the brain and central nervous system transmitted by bites, licks and scratches from infected mammals. For prevention, three doses of the vaccine are required, spread out over three to four weeks – but note that, whether you’ve had the vaccine or not, you will still need to get yourself to a hospital immediately for more shots if you have been bitten by a suspected rabies-carrying animal. Basically, the upside of having the vaccine beforehand is that it gives you a tiny bit more time post-infection before treatment is absolutely necessary – but as the vaccine needs boosters and is highly expensive (costing close to $1000 in some cases), many travelers opt out of having it. It is most highly recommended for anyone spending long periods of time in rural areas.

Yellow fever: A viral infection spread by mosquitoes in part of tropical Africa and South America. Symptoms include fever, nausea, and jaundice. In severe cases, hemorrhage and organ failure can lead to death. One dose of the vaccine protects for at least ten years, but as it is a live virus, it can cause complications in anyone with reduced immunity (such as the elderly). For anyone travelling to a yellow fever zone, however, it is often required – and if you don’t carry a booklet proving you’ve had the shot, you may risk being forced into a ‘vaccination on the spot’ by (typically medically untrained) border officials. Best to avoid this at all costs. And if you decide to get a shot, just make sure you do so at least ten days before you travel – that’s the time in which the protection takes to become valid.

Meningitis: A serious bacterial infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, usually spread by close contact with people carrying the infection. Though there are two types of vaccines available, and it is commonly recommended, most leisure travelers are not at high risk.

Japanese Encephalitis: A viral infection of the brain and central nervous system transmitted from farm animals to human by mosquitoes in very rural parts of Asia. Infection is rare, but complications can lead to death. A new vaccine (which comes in two doses) is available – worth considering for backpackers and long-term travelers going to rural areas.

Source: “The Informer: How to Deal with Pricks”. Conde Nast Traveler. http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/health/2011/06/The-Informer-How-to-Deal-with-Pricks

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