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Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 26; July 21, 2010

Overseas Overwhelmed 2010

Registration underway for this September’s “don’t miss” recruitment event

Let’s Go Canada

High rising building and student recruitment numbers

Abroad Perspective

Adjusting to England. Saudi women scholars.

Over The Counter

Australia’s loss…New Zealand’s gain?

Globe Tipping

Facing the wait.

1) OVERSEAS OVERWHELMED 2010 – Registration underway for this September’s “don’t miss” recruitment event

“Overseas Overwhelmed 2010, Going Global for Grad Students”, takes places on Monday, September 20, 2010 at the Osgoode Professional Development Centre in Toronto. 

The seminar will feature several workshops focused on improving international student recruitment for Canadian universities – with key addresses from some of the country’s most experienced recruiters, and plenary workshops aimed at tackling specific challenges in the field. 

For more about Overseas Overwhelmed 2010, visit:

2) LET’S GO CANADA – High rising building and student recruitment numbers

The big just keep getting bigger. They also want to get better. Competitors complain because its all about being richer.

Regardless, the University of Toronto’s (U of T) new student housing plan, announced last week, is impressive and daring by Canadian university standards.  If it goes through, it will be an off-site, thirty to forty storey condo-style residence tower, costing $120 million, and the first such building in Canadian university history to be privately funded.

It’s provides the U of T with a potent weapon in the fight for lucrative international student recruits. Canada’s largest university, located in its largest and most internationally recognized city, wishes to address its biggest perceived shortcoming to bring in more students – the question of sufficient and affordable housing in a major metropolis.

Already other universities in Ontario quip that a large “sucking sound” in Toronto is what ultimately pulls in many of their prospective students. Until now, they can point to a problem of just too many students for the Toronto universities to keep up with. At U of T there are only 7,400 student housing spots available to serve an overall student body population of 75,000.
Meaning that tens of thousands of students are left to scour the city for alternative housing options on their own.

 “We know we don’t have enough beds,” said Nadeem Shabbar, U of T’s chief real estate officer. “So when the opportunity comes along to do a joint development with a private developer, it’s exciting because we don’t have to find the capital.”

The company that has agreed to finance the project, Knightstone Capital Management Inc., has yet to receive the official go-ahead from Toronto’s City Hall, but hopes to start construction on the site in spring 2011. The tower – which will be co-owned equally between Knrightstone and the University, is designed to accommodate up to 1,400 students. Its rooms, which would be offered to students from U of T as well as those from Ryerson University and York University, would go for the same price as the university’s other residences nearby – roughly $10,000 per room, per school year.

Source: “Universities team up with private sector to solve student housing woes”. The Globe and Mail, July 14, 2010.

3) ABROAD PERSPECTIVE – Adjusting to England. Saudi women scholars.

The United Kingdom is a top choice for Saudis wanting to study abroad. More than 15,000 Saudis are at UK universities, and a quarter of them, women, have their own unique adjustments to make.

Most female Saudis settle into British student life quite well, but some continue to face considerable difficulties.

With verbal assaults and/or attacks on Muslims not uncommon in Britain, the Saudi women often become easy targets – many of whom are easily identifiable as such by their hijabs, or niqabs (the Islamic veil that covers womens’ faces below the eyes). Such instances of assault have prompted some Saudi women to reconsider how they dress in public. Reportedly, on ‘football days’ when many Brits are out celebrating victories or mourning a loss at the pub, some women will actually leave their hijab at home, tucking their hair under a hat instead, to avoid unwanted attention.

At Newcastle University, located in the northeast of the country, female students typically give pubs a pass (some fearful over what reactions they might encounter there), and tend rather to frequent Turkish and Iranian restaurants near campus. Most of their friends include other Saudis or Arabs whom they feel comfortable with – though the women rarely mix with their Saudi male colleagues.
“Saudi men avoid us and we in turn avoid them,” said Miramar Damanhouri, a second-year Newcastle PhD student in her early 30s. “It could be that we got so used to the segregation that is rooted in our educational system that we cannot overcome it. I’d rather talk to anyone from any nationality, but not a Saudi man, simply because his reaction is unexpected. He might misjudge my intentions.”
Mixed-gender classrooms are just another aspect of British life the women must adapt to, and many Western classmates who have perceptions of Saudi women being shy and reserved – their generally strong academic performance and assertiveness in leading discussions quickly proves them to be anything but.

Pressure from family members back home, difficulties in finding suitable prayer facilities, and restricted travel can also pose considerable difficulties for these women. Even with all the obstacles, the overall sense the women give is that they are indeed enjoying their independent lives, and are, more than anything, excited to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study abroad.

Source: “Saudi Women Simultaneously Navigating the Classroom and British Culture”. The Media Line, July 13, 2010.

4) OVER THE COUNTER – Australia’s loss … New Zealand’s gain?

New Zealand has long welcomed foreign students into its schools, but its numbers are nowhere near those of its neighbour, Australia – who, up until now, bring in about $18 billion from the industry a year, whereas New Zealand takes in only $2.4 billion.

However with Australia’s recent spat of violent attacks against Indian students, and the significant drop in the number of new foreign students expected to arrive next year, New Zealand may be poised to take the opportunity to up its own numbers. It’s a feat which will be helped, no doubt, if the recently proposed changes to the Government’s rules and practices concerning the nation’s export industry are implemented.

The changes, if approved, may include both short-term study entitlements and work rights for international students. Seeing that the number of international fee-paying students in New Zealand rose from 88,570 to 93,500 during the last year alone, the potential for future growth in the area does seem highly possible, not to mention attractive. And the benefits would not be limited to tuition fees alone.

80-year-old Otto Groen is head of the North Shore International Academy, a private training school for almost 1000 student hospitality workers from all over the world. He recently sat down with the nation’s Prime Minister John Key to chat about what the education industry really needs – and also, what it’s really worth.

Based on the estimate that each dollar coming into the sector actually multiplies five or six times, Groen urges his country to take the industry more seriously.

“Students pay their fees,” he explains, “for which they get no support from Government. Then they pay for lodgings or rent, food, transport, they buy consumer goods like TVs and radios, you name it. Almost all of them buy cars. They spend money and it all comes from overseas, the parents support them.”
Now compare that to tourism, an industry heavily relied on and built upon in the country.

“Tourists come here for two or three weeks,” Groen says. “Students come here for three years; that’s a big difference. Students come here for education then go back to their home countries. If you treat them well, they go back as ambassadors for life. That encourages tourism. Education and tourism can balance our books. I believe that.”

While its local economies are poised to prosper from student ‘guests’, international students (and visiting parents) continue to report long waits and/or rejections for their visa applications to New Zealand. It’s the same situation for all countries competing for a bigger piece of the spoils, a lot has to come together for success.

Sources: “Changes to benefit international students”. Indian Newslink, July 14, 2010. “Balancing the books”. The Aucklander, July 15, 2010.

5) GLOBE TIPPING – Facing the Wait.

Even yards away from the airport departures board, you can still see the signs, mocking you in yellow and red – delays, and (even worse) cancellations. Your stomach starts to churn as you continue your move toward the truth, a silent plea racing through your mind: Please, please, please – not my flight!
Sound familiar?

Some things cannot be avoided, or helped, no matter how hard you try – or how many lucky charms you rub. But it may surprise you to find out: flight delays are not one of them! With the annual summer travel peak well under way, here are some tips on how to avoid losing out on the departure board lotto:

  • Although it might not seem a very pleasant prospect, the earlier the flight the better – as flights leaving later in the day (or at peak times) are at higher risk for delays.
  • Whenever possible, book direct flights. The more connecting flights and/or stopovers there are, the higher the chance for delays.
  • If you can live without that 3rd sweater, liquids or scissors, do yourself a favour and pack carry-on luggage only – for extra ease and speed if you need to clear customs or collect and re-check bags between flights.
  • Prepare in advance for a delay or cancellation. If an on-time arrival is critical – in the case of a wedding or business meeting – try to give yourself an extra day for leeway.

Did all of the above and still found yourself facing a delay or cancellation? You might want to consider the following tips as well, on how to deal with the dreaded inevitable:

  • Being friendly and cooperative with gate agents is the best bet to get them to help you – no matter what the shrieking woman in front of you seems to think.
  • Request a hotel voucher if you’re stranded between flight connections, but make sure you do your research! You may get a free stay or discounted rate, but realize that airlines typically have agreements with hotels further away from the airport. So be sure to find out how far the hotel is, how much it will cost you, and if there’s a complimentary shuttle service available.
  • Play it safe. Call your airline to try to change or buy yourself a new ticket while you wait in line – otherwise, they might be full by the time you make it to the front.
  • Know your options. Jot down numbers for other airlines flying to your destination.
  • And finally: books, magazines, music, a laptop…. It’s not a bad idea to arm yourself with boredom-killer tools, just in case you find yourself facing the wait.
  • Source: “Useful flight tips for busy travel seasons”. The Tribune, June 21, 2010.


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