Educhat - April 2020 Edition 1

Dear Reader,

We are happy to present EduChat—the first edition of April 2020—to apprise you of key developments in the higher education space.

With the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic shifting from China to Europe and the United States, 800,000 people in 200 countries are affected across the globe. To combat the rate of virus spread, affected countries have announced partial or complete lockdown. In the battle to contain the spread of COVID-19, the respective governments are announcing relief measures and the corporate sector is stepping in to offer monetary and non-monetary support.

We have been curating pertinent news (including facts and figures) across select countries—India and South Asia, the USA, the UK, the UAE, and China. We have been running a weekly news digest about the Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Students overseas. Please visit “Coronavirus Updates” for the comprehensive coverage.

Higher education institutions are also doing their bit by deploying computer and data scientists to uncover the potential of data analytics in tracking and combating the pandemic, offering campus infrastructure to be set-up as quarantine facilities, designing emergency ventilators and manufacturing hand sanitisers. However, coronavirus related disruption can help educators define what learning should look like for Generations Z, Alpha and beyond. The potential of technology in disseminating education can be felt worldwide as universities are adopting virtual mode of teaching. The role of educators may shift to facilitating the development of learners by imparting life skills to adapt to the future work environment.

Thank you in advance for your feedback which would help us to improve the quality and impact of the forthcoming issues.

Happy Reading!!

Sustainability Goals

NC State University sustainability efforts lead to significant water, energy usage reductions

In just under 20 years, energy consumption at NC State University has decreased by 34%, while water usage has decreased by 44%. This can be attributed to various sustainability initiatives such as the lighting upgrades in buildings such as Witherspoon Student Center and Biltmore Hall and the Holiday Energy Saving Initiative, a project that began in 2005 and focuses on dialing back energy use in buildings during the holiday break.

Hannon Armstrong makes USD 115 million Preferred Equity Investment in the University of Iowa’s transformative Utility System Project

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital, Inc. (“Hannon Armstrong”), a leading investor in climate change solutions, has announced a USD 115 million preferred equity investment in a utility public-private partnership (“P3”) between the University of Iowa, ENGIE, Meridiam, and Hannon Armstrong, to help the University meet its zero-carbon energy transition objectives, becoming coal-free in energy production on campus by January 1, 2025. Under the agreement, ENGIE will provide heating, cooling, and electricity to the campuses through a dedicated network while also managing high-quality water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer services.

Practitioner Series: Volume 6

Coronavirus Crisis and Digital Education Preparedness

The global coronavirus epidemic has significantly disrupted the International Higher Education Sector. With student and faculty movement mobility being brought to a halt, many university campuses have closed down completely. As a result, fully-online courses quickly have taken center stage as an alternative for teaching and learning. As the coronavirus began spreading from China to more countries including the US, important questions have surfaced for leaders, faculty, and administrators of universities with an international operation. In the latest volume of Practitioner Series  Ms. Hongxia Liu, Director (Non-Executive) at Sannam S4 details what to expect and how to prepare in terms of opportunities and challenges as associated with digital education, and how best to support faculty and students in such a crisis situation

Digital Future

Three ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve campus cybersecurity

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a necessary tool for higher education institutions because of the sheer size of their networks and the speed at which bad actors can launch AI-based cyberattacks. AI can identify networking traffic and assess what “normal” looks like on a university network at a larger scale than humans can accomplish in the future. AI will not replace analysts looking for threats but it can help to identify AI cyber-attacks faster to make better and more informed decisions about vulnerabilities as they happen.

Super Stats

2020 College Hopes & Worries Survey Report

The Princeton Review has conducted the College Hopes & Worries Survey annually since 2003. The 2020 survey findings are based on responses from 12,845 people—80% (10,276) were students applying to colleges, and 20% (2,569) were parents of applicants―across 50 states and 100 countries. Some of the key findings are:

  • 40% of respondents said “Taking ‎Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), American College Testing (ACT) or Advanced Placement (AP) exams” was the toughest part of their (their child’s) application experience.
  • 45% of respondents chose the answer, “High school transcript, grades, and GPA,” as the most important part of the college application.
  • 60% of respondents rated the guidance and support from their college advisors/counsellors as “Good” or “Excellent”.
  • 87% of respondents said financial aid would be “Very” or “Extremely” necessary to fund a college education. 


Higher Education needs data-driven insights today to save its tomorrow

Managing or enhancing Information Technology (IT) by focusing on data—and, more specifically, investing in taking a data-driven approach to solving problems—can lead to some impressive payoffs for colleges and universities. Moreover, higher education institutions will have to entice students to attend their schools, and the ways students will be convinced that the investment in tuition will pay-off will rely heavily on demonstrable return on investment (ROI) and the unique student experiences offered by specific institutions. Data analytics is the key to understanding and explaining that value proposition.

Education Fairs –  India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan

Our Education Team compiles all the education fairs that are happening in South Asia.

Regional News

Latin America

Uruguay’s Pasteur Institute succeeds in sequencing SARS VOC 2 genome

The Pasteur Institute of Uruguay has managed to sequence the first complete SARS-Cov-2 genomes of 10 patients with COVID-19 in the country enabling to know where the strains that entered Uruguay come from, when they arrived and if there are different variants of the coronavirus. To continue working in this line, a group of collaborators from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of the Republic (UDELARr) and the Clemente Estable Institute is being created, which will join forces to increase the capacity of sequencing and analysis of the genomes of the novel coronavirus.

Costa Rican universities designing emergency ventilators to help patients with COVID-19

The University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC) are creating emergency ventilators that could be used by health professionals to treat patients in respiratory distress due to COVID-19. These ventilators will support the movement of infected people facing difficulty in breathing to a hospital, where they will be placed on a full ventilator

Cuban President highlights the contribution of universities in 2019

The President of Cuba has highlighted the contribution of universities during 2019 to the development of the country in terms of innovation and links with national companies. The government has emphasised linking university students and teachers to projects in strategic sectors to boost the application of science and technology at the societal level.

South Asia

Tribhuvan University of Nepal postpones all scheduled exams

To prevent the possible spread of COVID-19, the Tribhuvan University has announced a postponement of the university-level examinations (yearly and semester) which were earlier scheduled to commence from March 20 and March 22, and those which are currently being held. The university has further notified that regular administrative activities will take place, as usual. However, it has directed concerned bodies to maintain proper hygiene and sanitation within their premises.

Association of Private Sector Universities Pakistan (APSUP) requests educational relief package for private universities

During the lockdown period to combat COVID-19, Association of Private Sector Universities Pakistan (APSUP) has sought government help to make arrangements for the provision of salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff of private sector universities so that they can easily feed their families without worries and stand shoulder to shoulder throughout this difficult time.

Amidst shortage, universities in Bangladesh produce their hand sanitisers

Before educational institutes were shut down owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, several leading universities of Bangladesh produced their hand sanitisers, not just to meet internal requirements, but also for distributing some for free amongst the masses to combat the shortage of hand sanitisers amid rising fears of the coronavirus in the country.

Free internet facilities for e-learning in Sri Lankan universities

Amid COVID-19 outbreak, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) will provide free internet facilities for all undergraduates in State universities, who have registered for e-learning to continue with their education without interruption. All relevant details of these registered students have already been provided to the TRCSL by the University Administration and the University Grants Commission.

A special charter flight operated from Colombo to Bhutan to bring back university students

A special ‘Tashi Air’ charter flight operated from Colombo to Paro, Bhutan to carry Bhutanese students studying in various universities in Sri Lanka back to Bhutan. The special flight was operated due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country resulting in the closure of the universities in Sri Lanka.

Country News


University of Nottingham Ningbo China provides students living on campus with a safe environment

At the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), a few international students who did not go home during winter break have been living on campus throughout the outbreak, with no reported case of coronavirus to date. Beside increased sanitation efforts, all sorts of resources are in place to help maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of those in self-isolation, including videos for home workouts, free facemasks, counselling services and medical advice. UNNC has also arranged for the essential campus businesses to reopen, such as canteens and grocery stores, to support those living on campus.


Ahmedabad University collaborates with the University of California, Riverside

The Ahmedabad University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of California, Riverside (UCR) agreeing to collaborate on several areas of common academic interests such as exchange of faculty, PhD scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, and administrators in the area of education, research and outreach; exchange of academic information and research material; as well as explore ways to cooperate in postgraduate education and training.

National Testing Agency (NTA) extends application deadlines

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has extended the last date of submitting the application forms for various university entrance examinations. This has been done given the hardships faced by the parents and students due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the resultant nation-wide lockdown.

Amid lockdown, universities start preparing an online tutorial for students

Amid the lockdown due to the COVID-19 threat, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has instructed universities to prepare online tutorials to avoid academic loses of the students. The varsities have been directed to ensure that the faculty members and researchers should utilise this period for academic activities such as the development of online content and online teaching and online evaluation.


Higher Education students to receive one-off USD 46 each

Higher Education students will receive a one-off payment of USD 46 each as part of the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package announced to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is part of the USD 58 billion stimulus package announced by the government.

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM) introduces Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholarship

In its endeavour to widen Malaysians’ access to quality UK education, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia recently introduced Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholarship for local women who wish to pursue careers in these fields. With WISE, more Malaysian women will be able to gain access to quality teaching and learning that will give them a strong footing on their way towards successful science and engineering careers.

Institutes of higher learning to be a part of Special COVID-19 screening team

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) and the Higher Education Ministry (KPT) have formed a Special COVID-19 Screening Team to conduct tests in 10 diagnostic laboratories easing the burden faced by the Ministry of Health (KKM). The diagnostic laboratories at research institutes, institutions of higher learning (IPT) and university hospitals are collectively capable of carrying out 1,414 tests a day summing up to 42,420 screenings within 30 days.


All UAE schools and universities extend e-learning until June 

As a precautionary measure to avoid the spread of coronavirus, the Ministry of Education announced that the distance e-education system will be extended until the end of the current academic year ending June 2020. This will cover all students of schools and public and private universities. Only examinations will be held within these educational institutions.

Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi scores high in distance learning

In line with the government’s instructions and procedures to limit the spread of the emerging coronavirus (COVID-19) and the university’s responsibility to protect students, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi announces its success in launching distance learning. The university’s preparedness for distance learning is the result of a long-term strategy that was developed by the university in previous years.


Twenty countries, territories order COVID-19 test kits made in Vietnam

The Vietnamese test kits, which utilise molecular biology techniques, including reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), were developed by the Vietnam Military Medical University and the Viet A Technologies firm, funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology and approved by the Ministry of Health. According to the science ministry, these test kits provide quicker results and are easier to use than those used by the US Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation.

Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT) University dorm readies to house quarantined people

Dormitories of FPT High School and FPT University in Hoa Lac, Hanoi are ready to house 2,000 quarantined people. Sanitation works have been ramped up to receive isolated people while trucks of military forces have been delivering food and other necessities to the quarantined area.

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