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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 20; June 2, 2010

Let’s Go Canada

A One Way Street

Abroad Perspective

Cutting (and Raising) Costs in Malaysia

Over The Counter

Foreign Students: Import / Export?

The Ege

Say Sorry swiftly. Good “call” Canada!

1) LET’S GO CANADA – A One Way Street

During a time when the Canadian government is highly concentrating on promoting the virtues of ‘study abroad’ (in a push to attract more foreign students to its own campuses), a new study has suggested that less than 3% of Canada’s own students actually take courses overseas themselves.

Although most Canadian students identified themselves as interested in global issues and attracted to the idea of studying abroad, a number of issues were consistently cited as standing in their way of doing so, including: cost, difficulty in meeting degree requirements, and a lack of awareness regarding specific opportunities.

While Canada seems to be lagging behind in this department, other countries are currently making it easier for their students to study abroad. Including the U.S.A., where a bill before Congress is currently proposing funding to support up to one million America students to study abroad each year. 

According to the lead researcher on the study, Queen’s University professor Sheryl Bond, a lack of general accessibility is the largest hurdle standing in the way for Canadian students – something that needs to be worked out at a higher level.

“We need to see these programs as more than just a frill for an elite group,” she says. “If we really believe this is important, then we need to make it as easy to study abroad as it is to study at [our] own campuses.”

Source: “Fewer than 3% of undergraduates opting to study abroad, study finds”. The Globe and Mail, May 26, 2010.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVE – Cutting (and Raising) Costs in Malaysia

Starting this July, foreign students wanting to study in Malaysia will have to pay their course fees in full – a new policy since the government has announced it will no longer subsidize these tuition costs.

According to the country’s Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, the subsidy for local students will still remain in place. But for foreign students, the fees will rise to equal those imposed by private institutions of higher learning.

According to the Minister, the original subsidies were put in place to attract international students – but are no longer necessary.

“[T]hese universities have now grown in strength and are able to attract international students on their own without the subsidy. These students need to pay the fees in full,” he said.

These changes, along with a recent rise of the country’s Inti University College to the level of Inti International University, have caused the minister to express his feelings that Malaysia is on its way to becoming a hub for higher education.

Source: “No More Subsidy For Foreign Students from July”. BEERNAMA, May 31, 2010.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Foreign Students: Import/Export?

With the number of students studying outside their home countries increasing by 57% (up to three million worldwide) over the last ten years, the race is on… The Great Brain Race, that is.

It’s also the title of a new book by Ben Wildavsky, who formerly ranked universities for U.S. News & World Report. “The Great Brain Race” refers to recent worldwide trends involving the steadily growing business of providing university educations to foreign students.

So why the massive growth? According to Wildavsky, it is partly based on “the notion that a well-educated person today must be exposed to ideas and people without regard to national boundaries.” That, along with governments’ “quest[s] to build knowledge-based economies” … and the more simple, straightforward “financial attraction for many Western universities of overseas students who pay full freight.”

So which countries are currently leading the pack?
According to Wildavsky, the U.S. leads with 22% of all foreign students choosing to study on its soil. Close behind are other nations including Australia (with one-fifth of its university enrollments comprising of foreign students) and Germany (host to 190,000 Chinese students alone). The competition is heating up, and in a bid to control the trade, strategic movements are being made.

With growing powers such as India and China making multi-billion dollar investments to improve the lure of their own universities’ educations (and new leading institutions such as Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – funded with a $10 billion donation from the King himself, and seemingly springing up overnight), some countries are pulling out all the stops.
But it is not all a matter of “up and up”. As Wildavsky points out, not one nation has yet to get it completely right. Some U.S. schools have closed their foreign branches due to lack of students, and hesitancy over branching out and protecting “brands” has prevented other contenders from potential growth.

Still, as a Wall Street Journal review of the book sums up the situation: “Something big is happening.” And “making the most of human capital—a key to competitiveness and prosperity—is more and more the work of globalized universities competing for the best thinkers and the best ideas.”

“The Great Brain Race” is published by Princeton University Press, and can be purchased at Amazon.com for between $16 and $27 USD.

Source: “Mind on the Move: A new kind of free trade as universities around the world compete for students and scholars”. The Wall Street Journal Book Review, May 20, 2010.
 
4) “THE EDGE” – Say Sorry swiftly. Good “call” Canada!

It’s the biggest news Canada has made in India in years. Unfortunately, it was not good news. India’s media machine (dozens of newspapers and hundreds of television stations) roared with headlines and stories of Canada’s slap in India’s face.

It was a new story in the news, but not a fresh episode. For several years Canada has been refusing visitor visas to some Indian army officials, especially those who served in the sensitive and violent Kashmir region which is still bitterly and militarily disputed with Pakistan.

It was well played by India’s government which used the potential of upsetting the upcoming G-20 summit in Toronto as the stick in voicing its dissatisfaction (which must have been simmering) and calling Canada’s High Commissioner to India to the carpet in Delhi.

It then only took a couple of days for Canada to reverse the visa rejections and quickly apologize. “The Government of Canada deeply regrets visa refusals to Indian nationals [which] cast false aspersions on the legitimacy of work carried out by Indian defence and security institutions,” was the announcement from Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Canada got it right here in swiftly saying sorry, and doing it in a very expressive manner. “Canada has the highest regard for India,” and “Canada values the increasing ties and cooperation with India,” were the comments coming from Ottawa.

Indians are critical of their own country, but when it comes to disparaging remarks coming from abroad or discrimination, India is very sensitive. Some of the sensitivity comes from its still relatively recent rise out of colonization. But much of it comes from its modern status and growing self-identity as a major global force. Sure, most of India looks as it did a century ago, and is still an impoverished landscape. But there is plenty of gleaming prosperity and advancement, and India takes great pride in seeing itself as already emerged as a power, and not, emerging.

Canada’s slap echoed the recent troubles in Australia, where Indian students have faced discrimination, abuse and assault. Australia’s government’s failure to quickly own up to its responsibilities to addressing the challenges within its own society and systems, was met with great anger in India. The Indian media (always looking to sensationalize a story in a very competitive and rich advertising market) ran wild with anti-Australian articles for months and stoked the flames of an emotionally charged public. The damage has been to decimate much of Australia’s billion-dollar education revenues from India and Australia’s image in India will take years to recover.

Canada didn’t mince words and have got this story off the pages and the airwaves of the Indian media. That’s very good news for Canadian companies, universities and colleges – looking to do business in India.

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