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Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 44; December 15, 2010

 ”The Edge”

Change. Crisis. Coming…to Canada.

“Abroad Perspectives

UK U-turn. “Study and go home” is the new message.

Over The Counter

Sri Lanka eyes piece of the action.

Globe Tipping

Travel Gift Ideas.

1) “The Edge” – Change. Crisis. Coming…to Canada.

If you were shocked by Russia and Qatar’s winning bids to host future World Cups of soccer, then your eyes are have been closed for the past few years. You are missing the huge flashing neon signs declaring dramatic changes around the world. Change in soccer, in power, in finance, and more. As New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote on November 11, 2010, about change and the speed of this global transformation:
“It will come with amazing swiftness. The bond markets are with you until the second they are against you. When the psychology shifts and the fiscal crisis happens, the shock will be grievous: national humiliation, diminished power in the world, drastic cuts and spreading pain.”

And there is plenty of change coming in education, right across all classes and all countries. It would have been hard to imagine a few months ago, that British Royals would be pelted in a protest over tuition fees. But UK universities are in serious crisis. Aside from all the questions about learning systems and outcomes, the most pressing problem is a cash crunch. There are reports that dozens of British universities are on the edge of closing. Higher education, like so much in western societies, can no longer sustain the luxuries of the status quo.

Crisis in Canadian post-secondary education is coming as well. The current fiscal realities at Canadian universities are not sustainable. Take a look at the publicly available salaries of university faculty. With so many making well over $100k per year, ask how shrinking budgets can meet payrolls. All those guaranteed pensions for professors and their spouses – how will they be paid out over the next several decades ? Are universities going to be able to meet their pension commitments by growing their funds with minuscule interest rates ? Are they going to return to jeopardizing pension funds on tenuous equity markets ? Are governments going to let tuition fees skyrocket to pay the bills ? In Canada, it will be political suicide to ask a middle class populace to further fund the perceived largesse of universities.

It’s why we are now reading on the front pages of Canada’s leading newspapers about lapsing the seemingly sacrosanct regulations governing university budgets, so a VP Finance can run a deficit and even dip into pension funds for annual operating expenses.

To repeat Mr. Brooks:
When the psychology shifts and the fiscal crisis happens, the shock will be grievous: drastic cuts and spreading pain.”

Hard choices lie ahead, and it’s for serious and committed people to make them.

“The Edge” by Mel Broitman, Director of the Canadian University Application Centre. The CUAC has brought almost 5,000 students to Canadian universities since 1998, and in doing so, injected approximately $200+ million dollars into the Canadian economy.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – UK U-turn. “Study and go home” is the new message.

Last week, the UK government announced plans to limit the nation’s future intake of university students from overseas – plans designed to support the Conservatives’ already standing promise to cut the country’s overall number of immigrants from 215,000 in 2009 to a promised “tens of thousands” by 2015.

If the plans go through, a much more selective intake system will soon be put in place, in addition to changes being made to amend certain ‘favourable’ visa policies which currently allow international students to remain in Britain and look for work after their courses are finished.

Reacting to claims that such changes would lead to a substantial fall in the number of international student recruits from countries such as India – students who would consequently likely choose to study in such countries as the US or Canada instead (where there are fewer work restrictions) – was one of the UK Border Agency’s regional directors, Phil Taylor. Although he acknowledged that numbers are indeed likely to drop, Taylor explained that the Home Secretary (Theresa May) is simply acting on “the platform on which she and her government were elected into power”.

“The point I have to emphasize,” he said, addressing university and college representatives at the recent British Council’s Education UK Partnership conference, “is that the government’s policy is if you come here to study, you come here to study. You do not come here to work. The principle is study, and the emphasis is: you come here to study and you go home.”

It’s a shocking reverse for what’s been happening for years. Tens of thousands of international students have picked the UK over the last decade, for work. You only have to conduct frank discussions right across Asia to learn this basic reality.

Among the professional bodies quick to criticize the government plans was Universities UK – whose chief executive, Nicola Dandridge, called for any future decisions on student immigration policy to be “based on proper evidence and not anecdote”. Warning that international student mobility was “crucial” to the success of British universities, she demanded that the Home Office publish more thorough information from its investigations into the country’s current international student landscape, before any final decisions were made.

“We do not think international students should be counted as migrants,” Dandridge said, stating her own organization’s point of view. “They are not here for economic reasons. Unlike workers, their time in the UK does not count towards any later application for settlement, and they have no recourse to public funds. If students wish to progress onto further study or take up employment, they must apply to the Home Office for another visa.”

The government paper in question – which also includes proposals to introduce tougher English language requirements, improve the accreditation process for schools and colleges, and limit students’ entitlements to work and their ability to bring in dependents – will be open for discussion for the next two months. If the proposals go through, the government aims to have any changes to student visas in place by the next academic year – starting autumn, 2011.

Sources: “Come and study…then go home”. Times Higher Education, December 9, 2010.
& “British gov’t unveils plans to cut non-EU student numbers by up to 120,000”. People’s Daily Online, December 8, 2010.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Sri Lanka eyes piece of the action.

Sounding suspiciously similar to other nations in the region (Malaysia, for example), Sri Lanka’s Higher Education Minister, S. B. Dissanayake, recently announced the country’s intention of positioning itself as an international education hub for the region.

roughly 5% of students admitted to the institutions will be from overseas – primarily China, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. In addition, the government plans to offer 150 scholarships to such students.

Attempting to quell the fears of those who believe that the foreign universities will create a disadvantage for the current state institutions, Dissanayake compared the shift to the privatization of health care within the country – a move which he said actually raised the standards of the government hospitals, who were pressured to up their game as a result.

“The private universities will help make the government universities more competitive,” he explains. “We want to raise the standard of our universities to an international level. This is the only way that our students can broaden their knowledge and become competent to meet international standards.”

Source: “Locals to get 20% quota on merit to non-state universities”. Times Online, December 9, 2010.–quota-on-merit-to-non-state-universities-sb

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Travel Gift Ideas.

Looking for the perfect gift to give your favourite traveler this holiday season? Something small, non-liquid (or at least not over 100ml), and lightweight, that is….? Well, look no further! Here’s a list of perfect little items to help you say Happy Holidays – and Bon Voyage!

A cord organizer: With travel these days involving more electronics than ever (phones, cameras, laptops, iPods, kindles, etc, etc), the amount of cords and chargers one needs to pack can get a bit overwhelming. The solution? A cord organizer – keeps everything in place and enables you to charge with just one plug!

Binoculars with built-in camera: Particularly great for any travelers keen on capturing the wildlife out there.

Travel candles: Pocket-sized companions to help make even the most rundown motel seem a bit more cozy – and smell nicer to boot!

A cashmere throw: Although it may sound a tad ‘over the edge’, a fine cashmere throw can make for a great versatile travel item; offering cozy warmth on the plane, train, or at the hotel, or doubling up as a pretty shawl or wrap, this lightweight item folds up perfectly into a bag.

Noise-cancelling headphones: To leave you in blissful silence – cancelling out annoying chatty seatmates and engine roars alike.

Travel or hotel voucher: If your friend or loved one is headed off soon, research the stops where they are headed, and arrange a rail pass, special hotel stay, or spa visit – a bit of pampering can go a long way, especially at the end of a long journey!

Local experiences: Cooking classes, yoga lessons, a city tour, wine tasting – if you know their schedule, it’s easy to book such treats in advance.

Priority Pass Membership: To make killing time at the airport a far more enjoyable experience – granting your friend access to business class lounges regardless of what class ticket they’ve got.


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