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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Volume 11, Issue 6; February 15, 2012

The Playing Field

Indian students going ‘public’ in the U.S..

Abroad Perspectives

Scottish application numbers re-fuel controversies over UK tuition decisions.

Over The Counter

Change the name, and they will come…?

Globe tipping

Protecting your laptop in hot climates.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Indian students going ‘public’ in the U.S.

With their rupee’s recent slide against the dollar, it appears that more Indians are choosing public universities in the U.S., versus “higher ranked” (and higher-priced) private options.

According to the Economic Times, around 100,000 Indian students enroll in US institutions each year. A recent report compiled by the career counseling website,, indicates a distinct change in their study choices. Of over 1,000 students surveyed by the website, the majority of new Indian applicants (62%) are now opting for public universities – compared to only 43% in the last academic year.

“This season,” explains website CEO, Mohit Gundecha, “there is a visible increase in applications to public universities which are easier on the pocket for students and their parents. The study also shows that there is a visible interest in applying for scholarships and interest-free loans to offset the increased monetary pressure.”

To illustrate: of the website’s more than one thousand respondents, 40% of the students said they applied specifically to universities with fees ranging between $15,000 and $20,000 a year, with another 17% choosing institutions with fees even lower than that. Meanwhile, in comparison, 27% of the respondents opted for universities with a fee above $25,000, and some 16% said they applied to universities with a fee between $20,000 and $25,000.

According to Gundecha, some of the most popular (and more affordable) public choices this year include options such as San Jose State University and the University of Florida – while more traditionally popular private competitors, such as North Eastern University, actually saw a decline in their number of Indian applicants.

“Indian students are stuck in the dilemma between affordability and preference to top universities,” Gundecha says. “With the rupee falling and [costing more than fifty to buy one dollar], the incidental increase in tuition fees to study abroad has become a concern for aspiring students.”

Indian students currently make up the second largest group of foreign students in the US (Chinese is first) and constitute almost 14 percent of all foreign students, according to the more recent Open Doors Report (published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Source: “More Indians students opting for public universities in US”. Economic Times, February 1, 2012.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Scottish application numbers re-fuel controversies over UK tuition decisions.

According to the Scottish admissions body, Ucas, international student applications to Scottish universities are up by more than a quarter from last year. That involves a 24.7% quoted raise in the number of non-EU applicants, and a 6% raise in the number of applications from elsewhere within the EU.

Meanwhile, the number of EU applications to universities in nearby England, Wales and North Ireland are all dropping – both of which trends are believed to be a result of the recent increase in tuition fees at English institutions… A policy not adopted by Scotland.

While a UK government decision last year has allowed English universities to charge home students up to £9,000 in tuition fees per year, Scottish universities fought to keep their educational offerings free for Scottish students – as well as for other scholars from across the E.U.

According to Robin Parker, Scottish president of the National Union of Students, these new application figures can be seen as a ”ringing endorsement” of the Government’s policy on scrapping tuition fees for Scottish students.

”Overall, applications to study in Scotland are close to steady which is great news,” he explains. “With applications in England showing a drop of almost 10%, it’s clear £9,000 fees are putting huge numbers of students off, and cutting off opportunities for people to study, re-skill and get the education that gets them a job…. At a time of high youth unemployment, we now need to build further on this year’s increase in places.”

The student applicants not benefiting from this decision, however, are those from elsewhere in the UK – as basically, when it comes to UK students outside of Scotland, the Scottish institutions matched the UK tuition raises with their own… resulting in a drop in the number of UK applications to Scottish universities, as well as some increased criticism from opposing politicians.

“These figures lay bare the true extent of the inherent inequalities of the [government’s] policy on fees,” says Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman. “A huge increase in students from the European Union has seen a coinciding fall in the number of students applying from the rest of the UK. At a time when budgets are tight, the Scottish government is duty bound to explain to taxpayers why they are being asked to foot the bill for the tuition fees of foreign nationals.”

Sources: “Non-UK applications to Scots universities rise”. BBC News, January 30, 2012.
& “Applications to Scottish universities show tuition fee divide”. The Guardian, January 31, 2012.
& “International students lead rise in applications to Scottish universities”. The Courier, January 31, 2012.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Change the name, and they will come…?

With competition to recruit international students on the increase at universities around the world (and the dollar signs associated with them), it only makes sense that some institutions are taking bold measures in order to attract more of the lucrative crowds. So then, what one of the new ploys? How about changing your name.

Take Canada’s formerly-known University of Western Ontario. Although the institution is still legally known by that name, it is currently undergoing a “re-branding” transformation – a process raising a lot of eyebrows, especially among the university’s alumni. As one former ‘UWO’er, Paul Wells, explained in Canada’s Macleans magazine a few weeks ago:

“It all comes down to this guy, Amit Chakma, born in Bangladesh, president of [the now named] Western University Canada for these past few years. …[H]e’s very serious about transforming Western … from a very good regional university to one with international ambitions and a reputation to match.”

Having recently pointed out Western’s low international-student enrollment, low rate of students choosing to study abroad, and general low awareness of the institution outside of Canada, Chakma decided to lead a ‘re-branding’ of the institution (a controversial $200,000 process, according to Wells). The real purpose of which, Wells adds, is clearly to impress “prospective students, researchers, research partners and tech-transfer collaborators around the world.” At least, that’s the plan.

And then there’s the case of Rockford College, in Illinois, USA. Having already upped their recruitment efforts to reach a 10-year enrollment high last fall (full-time undergraduate enrollment increased 5% from the past year), the private liberal arts college is now considering an even more aggressive – and increasingly popular – marketing ploy. Namely, changing its name to include the title “university”.

Although there is no state or federal distinction between “college” and “university” in the U.S., some experts suggest that “university” tends to carry more cachet with prospective students than “college” does – especially in overseas settings, where “college” can often mean the same thing as “high school”.

According to David Tretter, president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, it is not unusual for colleges to move to ‘university status’.

“It’s been done before,” he says, “and the schools that I’ve seen that have done it all seem to be surviving and thriving.”

“‘University’ may carry more prestige than ‘college’,” Tretter explains, adding that some newly named universities “did get a bump on being noticed by people who maybe wouldn’t have noticed them [otherwise].”

Sources: “That’s Western University to you”. Macleans OnCampus, January 26, 2012.
& “Is name change to university in the future for Rockford College?” Rockford Register Star, January 31, 2012.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Protecting your laptop in hot climates.

Whether it be typical summer heat at home, or a muggy, tropical destination – hot weather can wreck havoc on electronics – particularly laptops. Add to that the possibility of regular power outages in many developing nation destinations, and you’re looking at serious weather-related wear and tear to your computer.

There are, however, a few ways to prevent some of the damage:

1. Most laptops operate in the ‘safe temperature range’ of 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 10 to 35 Celsius). Keep in mind, however, that whenever bringing a laptop in from hotter temperatures, to let it cool down to the interior room temperature before using it. Same rule applies if moving outside into a hotter area – let it warm up to that temperature before turning it on.

2. Just as you wouldn’t leave a child or a pet, don’t ever leave your laptop in a hot car. Leaving it in a closed vehicle in hot temperatures can cause damage, both to the internal components as well as the external casings.

3. If you must use a laptop outside in bright sun, consider using either a laptop glare screen (which cuts down on the glare caused by the sun), or a laptop ‘hood’ (which cuts down the amount of light directed at the laptop display. Whenever you can avoid having it in sunlight (whether it’s turned on or off), then do so.

4. Humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) can damage internal components of a laptop in a way that you may not even realize damage has occurred. The recommended safe range of relative humidity is 10-80% – so if you can avoid anything greater than that (or help your computer out by storing and/or using it in drier areas whenever possible, such as air conditioned rooms), then do so.

5. If using your laptop in hot temperatures, consider using a removable hard drive to store your data on. This can both help protect your data and ensure the hard drive stays protected away from direct heat and sun exposure.

6. Consider using equipment to help protect your laptop (and other mobile gear) from power surges and outages, such as surge protectors, power inverters, and spare batteries. External battery charges that don’t require an electrical connection going straight to the laptop can also be a wise investment.

7. Use a laptop stand to disperse heat that your laptop generates. Though there are a range of different stands available (including many with built-in fans), a cheap alternative is to place four water-bottle tops under each corner of your laptop. Although there is no fan in this option, it still helps the air and heat circulate underneath your computer – and even better, means less luggage.

8. And finally, pack your laptop wisely. Using a properly fitted and well-padded case for your computer helps insulate it against heat, moisture, and direct sunlight.

Source: “Tips for Using Your Laptop in Hot, Warm Weather”.



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