Dear Reader,

This newsletter carries a selection of curated articles from India, South Asia, China, South East Asia, Latin America and the UAE that are of interest to higher education institutions from around the world with respect to student recruitment, partnerships, scholarships/grants, student/faculty mobility and the regulatory landscape. We also showcase key knowledge initiatives that Sannam S4 conceives of and delivers for the sector around industry practices, SDGs and advocacy.

We eagerly welcome your feedback which would help us to improve the quality and impact of the forthcoming issues.

Stay Safe.

Editorial Team

Sustainability Goals

Universities are key to achieving sustainable development

Universities have demonstrated to the world during the COVID-19 crisis why their expertise matters and why international collaboration in higher education is needed to solve the world’s pressing challenges. So now is the time for international universities to recognize the fundamental importance of higher education to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The IAU (International Association of Universities) has developed a global cluster on sustainable development where it invites universities from around the world to focus on one SDG and build international cooperation with up to eleven but at least five—universities around the world and the aim is to “look at all the dynamics required to apply to one SDG.

The University of Strathclyde has won the 2020 International Green Gown award

The University of Strathclyde has won the 2020 International Green Gown Award for Student Engagement for its Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development (VIP4SD) programme. The VIP4SD programme offers students the opportunity to work in partnership with their peers on ambitious research projects that tackle the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students work together from across disciplines and year groups, in partnership with experienced researchers and academics, while gaining academic credits.

Columbia University to establish a climate school to meet the challenges of a Warming World

Columbia University has announced the creation of a new Climate School to tackle the most urgent environmental and public health challenges facing humanity. It is the first new school in 25 years at the University. Columbia has long been at the forefront of academic discovery and involvement in issues of climate change. The new school will draw on the university’s strengths in these areas, building capacity from a hub of existing, world-class research centres and programs. These include the Earth Institute and its many centres, including the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the International Research Centre for Climate and Society, the Centre for Climate Systems Research, and the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network.

Practitioner Series: Volume 10

Challenges and opportunities for higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean: The fallout from COVID

Universities in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) were already facing daunting challenges before the global pandemic. Rising enrolments that overwhelmed institutional capacity, rigid governance structures, and severe budget restrictions have strained institutions across the region. The pandemic has not only compounded existing problems but has also created new difficulties for higher education. How universities respond to the crisis will likely determine the future of higher education in the LAC region for years to come. As the reality of the magnitude of the health and economic crisis in the region sets in and universities realize that they will not be returning to normal anytime soon, institutions are evaluating their changing roles and responsibilities, as well as determining how they will meet challenges and respond to new opportunities.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is that globalization and complex interdependence among nations are real. In the latest volume of our Practitioner Series Ms. Ann Mason, Founder, Mason Education Group, outlines a brief overview of a first-hand understanding of the challenges that universities are facing in the region.

Digital Future

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of higher education

The COVID-19 has redirected and amplified the concerns and actions of universities across the world, reshaping and challenging their interests into guaranteeing short-term operational continuity, while ensuring long-term institutional viability. Taking advantage of the virus-induced virtual culture for universities will require both imaginative and creative implementation, as well as open leadership, and an innovative mentality, as there still have so much to learn about the disturbing and confusing short and mid-term future. However, universities should bear in mind that being able to deliver teaching and research quality in a virtual or semi-virtual setting, respecting physical distancing, will not be the same as the previous complete, vivid college and residential campus life experience. Universities will always be the founding pillar of higher education and the necessary lens for envisioning its future.

Super Stats

Report—Advancing University Engagement: University engagement and global league tables

The report proposes a new framework to measure and assess university engagement, which could be incorporated into global university league tables. Doing so would recognize university efforts to serve local communities and wider society, while better showcasing the existing benefits they produce. Authored by senior leaders at King’s College London, the University of Chicago and the University of Melbourne, with support from management consultancy Nous Group, the report highlights the changes needed to counteract a “corrosive narrative” that universities are disconnected and elitist, at a moment when holistic engagement underpins significant university efforts to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and redress economic disruption and societal challenges. Key findings in the report:

  • The framework—which includes eight indicators of engagement—Is based on expert input, feedback from consultations around the world, and three pilot studies with twenty universities. 
  • Among the indicators, it proposes for universities are the proportion of their budget spent on procurement that has a societal benefit, on their carbon footprint, and their “research reach”.
  • While universities’ research output is already assessed by other frameworks, the authors suggest a new measure of reach beyond academic journals, which would include citations in grey literature, the media, and policy papers.
  • More broadly, the framework would also seek evidence of university commitment to the principles and practices of engagement, and how they are regarded by partners, including not-for-profits, business, and government.


The IT Investments securing the future of higher education

From securing remote learning to modernizing infrastructure and implementing transformative technologies, IT leaders have been at the forefront of safeguarding and fulfilling the new normal. Although cybersecurity has always been a never-ending concern for IT leaders, it’s more crucial than ever in today’s remote learning and working landscape. Shortly, higher education institutions will likely have some staff work from home while others return to campus. To make this new arrangement possible, colleges and universities need powerful collaboration tools. Also, Cloud-based client computing, such as a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, can deliver a consistent and secure online learning environment for students and faculty, on almost any computing platform. According to the survey, 40% of education leaders say that improving online experiences for students is key; it is one of their top priorities when it comes to planned uses of technology.

Sannam S4 Initiatives

Internationalisation of Indian Higher Education

At Sannam S4, we understand the enormous and border-less responsibility the education sector has to bear. We partner with 85 of the world’s leading institutions to ensure that student and faculty mobility, research and general operations occur seamlessly on campuses and beyond. Given our large partner network of international universities as well as in-house expertise we have the required capabilities to support institutions during their internationalisation journey. In the present-day scenario, it is evident that Indian and overseas universities will have to look towards embracing International partnerships, adopt new technologies and test different modalities for student learning. These initiatives will not only require investment but also significant expertise and knowledge sharing with industry leaders who may have traversed this space and emerged successful. We believe that this moment presents a unique opportunity to upend existing frameworks and chart new models to deliver world-class education in the country. To that end, Sannam S4 is launching a new series of events focused on Internationalisation of Indian Higher Education.

Sannam S4 Podcast Season 3

Season 3 brings insights from India’s school university counsellors. Insights from those on the front line as they support students to adapt to the new normal and more about the challenges faced by students and the changing choices.

EdTech Developments

Ed-tech firm Toppr raises USD 46.76 million in series D funding

Ed-tech firm Toppr has raised USD 46.76 million in series D funding, led by Foundation Holdings. Existing backers, including Kaizen Private Equity, also participated in the funding round. With the latest investment, Toppr’s total funds raised stand at USD 93.52 million. The funds will be used to launch new platforms for coding and schools, the company said in a statement.



IIT Madras, Edtech company launch programme for tech professionals to advance career

IIT-Madras and ed-tech company, Great Learning launched an ‘Advanced Certification Programme’ to enable tech professionals to advance their careers by learning software engineering technologies using cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. This nine-month-long offers 300 hours of online video and live learning sessions with a series of practical projects in cloud computing, blockchain,ed-techa  and IoT.



Brazilian Ed-Tech Vendor Looks To Raise $300 Million From Wall Street IPO

Cogna—Brazil’s largest for-profit education company—has spun off a K-12 ed-tech firm called Vasta Platform and filed to raise more than USD 300 million with the subsidiary in an initial public offering. Vasta Platform provides digital content and administrative technologies, with a customer base in Brazil that currently includes more than 4,100 private schools and about 1.5 million student accounts. The company sees the potential to grow in Brazil’s massive school market — described as the world’s fifth-largest — and potentially take its products to other markets, too. The company offers a full range of ed-tech tools to private schools, from digital content and test prep to teacher training and STEAM-based offerings.



Online learning platform Coursera raises USD 130 million at reported USD 2.5 billion valuation

Coursera, the online learning platform that offers classes taught by instructors at top universities like Stanford and Johns Hopkins, has raised an additional USD 130 million. Investors are valuing the company at a reported USD 2.5 billion. That’s up from USD 1.66 billion when it last raised money in April 2019, according to Pitchbook. Coursera’s total capital investment is USD 464 million. The pandemic has given a huge boost to virtual learning providers. Coursera’s enrolments have quintupled year over year. Coursera was on Forbes’ list of Next Billion-Dollar Start-ups in 2018 and the subject of a feature story.



Indian EdTech startup INurture raises USD 1.3 million in from BlackSoil

Bertelsmann and Ascent Capital-backed ed-tech startup iNurture Education Solutions has raised USD 1.3 million (INR 10 crore) in debt funding from the Mumbai-based new-age venture debt platform, BlackSoil. This is in addition to the undisclosed amount of equity capital the company is raising from its existing investors. The Bengaluru-based start-up will use the funds to accelerate its digital higher education platform and meet its working capital requirements. This is the second time Blacksoil Capital has invested iNurture, after it invested in the company in April 2017.



Coatue leads USD 100 million funding round in ed-tech startup Vedantu

Bengaluru-based online tutoring starts up Vedantu has raised USD 100 million in Series D funding round. The investment was led by US-based investment firm Coatue with participation from existing investors. Rahul Kishore, Managing Director, Coatue will also join Vedantu’s board. The company claimed that with this round, the company has been valued at USD 600 million.



ByteDance in talks to invest in edtech firm Lido Learning

TikTok parent ByteDance is in talks to potentially invest in Mumbai-based EdTech firm Lido Learning, as the Chinese technology company seeks to get a foothold in India’s rapidly growing educational technology sector. ByteDance has held multiple discussions with Lido Learning, but there is no certainty that the discussions will fructify into a deal, the sources said. The ed-tech firm has also been in talks with several other potential investors, they said. Founded last year, Lido Learning has been in the market to raise USD 20 million and more.



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

Cuba-Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) would provide relief to HEIs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a meeting with local education leaders in Cuba, the United States senator unveiled the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) which would provide much-needed relief for institutions of higher education impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. CCCERA intends to provide more than USD 430 billion across the country, including in the southern tier. The funding will expand the scope of programs established in the CARES Act, like the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which will provide an additional USD 132 billion in federal funding for emergency financial aid grants to students for necessary expenses like food, housing, child care, and technology supplies, and to colleges too as they face the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn.

South Asia

Online teaching future impact on universities in Bangladesh

Universities in Bangladesh had no choice but to use online platforms and tools for teaching, learning, and assessment after universities were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the uncertainty of returning to normalcy and the long separation of students from their studies, public university authorities are also deciding to teach online for their students. The online learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic will increase the use of the software in future university activities, and Bangladesh will gradually enter the digital age. However, with this opportunity, many institutions can be set up to deceive students in the name of awarding degrees online.

Pakistan in talks with Poland to establish Urdu chairs in universities

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Poland Malik Mohammad Farooq disclosed that discussions to establish an Urdu chair in several Polish universities were underway, intending to strengthen cultural ties between the two countries. The programme would be introduced at Jagiellonian University—one of the universities in the country—that is playing an important role in the field of research. The Ministry of Education and the university administration have agreed on the Urdu chair and similar talks are underway for Warsaw University as well. The ambassador noted that initiating the chairs would boost Pakistan’s political and cultural ties with Poland.

Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan signs project for medical education with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) 

Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will implement a technical cooperation project. Under the “Strengthening Medical Education in Bhutan” project, JICA would provide experts, training, and necessary equipment. The project would enhance the quality of medical education to build the capacity of health care providers and strengthen sustainable health human resources development to improve health care service delivery. Other expected outputs are fostering a supportive environment and improving the governance of medical education.

Tribhuvan University, Nepal affiliated colleges to open

As the Nepalese government has uplifted the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown, the Tribhuvan University (TU) has ordered all its affiliated colleges to resume operations from July 22, 2020. With this, all the affiliated campuses of TU are set to resume administrative services and examination activities. All the teaching and non-teaching staff, who were on a public holiday given the pandemic, are supposed to return to their jobs. However, regular classes and library services will not resume until further notice. Tribhuvan University is preparing to conduct all the postponed examinations beginning from the third week of August following proper security measures.

Country News


India gets new education policy after 34 years, MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) renamed to Ministry of Education

The cabinet gave its nod to the National Education Policy. Consequently, the Human Resource Development Ministry has been renamed as the Ministry of Education. The National Education Plan proposes far-reaching changes in the system of education not only in India. It also wants a self-sufficient domestic ranking system for Indian educational institutes. Under the new system, flexibility will be given to students both in choosing the subjects for education as well as in the entry and exit in college degree programmes.

Important highlights:Click here to read



Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) collaborates with Kingston University London

Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) has announced a partnership with Kingston Business School, Kingston University (KU), London, to bring to aspiring Indian students its acclaimed undergraduate programme in Business Management, at less than half the cost of pursuing it entirely in London. This programme offers students the unique opportunity to undertake the first two years of this degree in India at ISBF, and then move to Kingston University for the third year and graduate in London. Throughout the programme, all students are full-fledged Kingston University students, with the curriculum and the final degree both also coming entirely from Kingston University.



IIT Roorkee, Alberta University signs agreement to provide joint doctoral degree programs

Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) has announced a partnership with Kingston Business School, KingstIndian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee has signed an agreement with the University of Alberta, Canada, to provide Joint Doctoral Degree Programs (JDPs). Under this collaboration, the JDPs create a two-way flow for academic exchange, giving UAlberta and IIT students the chance to research at the partner institution for six months up to a year and providing them with international experience and special certification upon graduation. IIT Roorkee is one of the three IITs partnering to provide Indian and Canadian students with JDPs others being IIT Bombay and IIT Kharagpur.



Seven higher education institutions in India introduce AWS educate cloud computing curricula in mainstream college education

Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) has announced a partnership with Kingston Business School, KingstIn a new approach, seven higher education institutions in India will adopt cloud computing curricula from the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Educate global initiative into their mainstream college syllabus to help develop the next generation of cloud professionals. The cloud computing content will be offered as part of an undergraduate degree and postgraduate diploma programs starting in September 2020. The education institutions offering the newly-designed Bachelor of Technology degree programs in Information Technology (IT) and Computer Science are—Chitkara University, Punjab; Galgotias University, Uttar Pradesh; Manav Rachna University, Delhi and NCR; Noida Institute of Engineering and Technology, Uttar Pradesh; Sharda University, Delhi and NCR; and SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Tamil Nadu. The ASM Institute of Management and Computer Studies in Maharashtra will offer syllabus combined with the AWS Educate cloud curricula for its Post Graduate Diploma in Management—Emerging Technology.



IIM Rohtak to offer sports management degree in collaboration with Ulster University

Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) has announced a partnership with Kingston Business School, Kingst>IIM Rohtak has collaborated with Ulster University (UK) to offer a degree in Sports Management. Participants of Executive Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Management at IIM Rohtak will be eligible to obtain a Master’s in Sports Management from Ulster University, UK. All course work undertaken in IIM Rohtak will be considered by Ulster University towards the award of a Master’s degree. Interested students will have an option to enrol and undertake an online internship with Ulster University faculty. These activities are in addition to all subject courses offered in IIM Rohtak, which may take an additional duration of 6 months.




Chinese colleges to provide online consultation to candidates

Chinese colleges plan to provide online consultation to students who sat the national college entrance exam earlier this month for epidemic prevention by the Ministry of Education (MOE). This year’s national exam had been delayed by a month due to COVID-19. The MOE clarified that the online consultation for students and parents will last from July 22 to July 28, during which they can get access to consultation and instruction services of various colleges through a website or a mobile phone app. The MOE has stressed the openness of enrolment policies and procedures, adding that information will be released promptly.



Leader Education, third-largest private higher education firm in China’s Heilongjiang province, seeks USD 70 million from Hong Kong IPO

Leader Education, the third-largest private higher education provider in China’s north-eastern Heilongjiang province in terms of admission quotas, is seeking to raise to USD 70 million in an initial public offering in Hong Kong. The company is targeting a debut on the mainboard in August. It is currently marketing the deal to institutional investors. Leader Education plans to use the net proceeds raised from the IPO to expand its campus and repay existing debt. The company’s IPO comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced educational institutions to shut. And while the outbreak has forced its students to use online learning as they stay away from campus until the fall semester of the incoming 2020-2021 school year.



Peking University held a video conference with the Royal Academy of Engineering and the University of Strathclyde on future collaboration

The President of Peking University held a video conference with Jim MacDonald, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and president of the University of Strathclyde. Both sides exchanged views on future collaboration. Peking University has thrown its weight behind the fight against COVID-19, not only stepping up efforts in education but also participating in the global anti-pandemic effort. As Hao noted, global cooperation is especially important to this regard. Both the Royal Academy of Engineering and the University of Strathclyde boast a wealth of academic resources and strong research capacity. There is huge potential for collaboration between PKU and the two institutions across a variety of professional fields. PKU hopes to establish an academic partnership with the two institutions, and jointly contribute to China-UK engagement in the areas of humanities and education in the post-pandemic era.




Universiti Teknologi MARA(UiTM) signs a three-Year MoU with Yakult Malaysia to strengthen the collaboration

A three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Yakult (Malaysia) was signed by Emeritus Professor Datuk Ir. Dr. Mohd Azraai Kassim, Vice-Chancellor of UiTM and Mr. Hiroshi Hamada, Managing Director of Yakult Malaysia. This move is considered essential for both academia and industry to work together to raise the standard of education, research, and graduates for the benefits of the nation. The MoU will commit both UiTM and Yakult Malaysia to work more closely together towards promoting business and academic cooperation among other things.



Higher Education campuses to fully reopen in October

Higher education campuses in Malaysia will fully reopen in October, said the Higher Education Ministry. All institutes of higher learning would be given the flexibility to determine the most suitable modes—Including online learning—for their respective programmes.




Gulf Medical University’s launches Master’s Program in drug discovery and development in collaboration with the University of Arizona 

The College of Pharmacy, Gulf Medical University has announced the accreditation of its new ‘Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development (MDD)’program by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), Ministry of Education, Higher Education Affairs, UAE. The Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development (MDD) is a pharmaceutical sciences thesis-based research program offered in collaboration with the College of Pharmacy of the University of Arizona (UA). The master’s program focuses on three major disciplines associated with preclinical drug development including drug design and synthesis, drug delivery, pharmacology, and pharmacogenomics.



A new initiative to support UAE universities’ online learning 

The UAE Ministry of Education and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education have launched the University Consortium for Quality Online Learning (UCQOL), a new initiative that aims to support select UAE universities in developing accredited online university programmes and launch them by 2022. In a joint virtual meeting co-organized by the Ministry of Education and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, the two entities announced the launch of two-year public-private partnership intent on making high quality accredited online programmes accessible to a wider pool of students in the UAE and beyond, increasing collaboration among universities in the UAE and building their capacities in the field of online learning.



Abu Dhabi University announces the launch of its ‘Health and Wellness Ambassador Programme’ 

The College of Health Science, CoHS, at Abu Dhabi University has announced that it is launching the “Health and Wellness Ambassador Programme”, targeting the college’s students and graduates. The programme aims to stimulate and engage students to participate and engage in preparing wellness programmes and health-related activities for the Abu Dhabi University and outreach to the UAE community. The Health and Wellness Ambassadors will be planning for awareness campaigns and activities on various health topics to enhance awareness in the community. The Health and Wellness Ambassadors will receive special training and guidance by CoHS Faculty who will support and monitor the activities of the programme.



Amanat Holdings plans to sell Middlesex University Dubai to Study World Education Group 

Amanat Holdings looks set to offload its Middlesex University Dubai campus after signing a sale and purchase agreement with Study World Education Holding Group. The company did not give a sale price or any details concerning the transaction but disclosed it would “update the market if and when there are any material developments in this regard” in a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares trade. Set up in 2014, Amanat has investments across several sectors such as education, health care, and property. In education, its portfolio includes school operator Taaleem, Abu Dhabi University Holding Company, and Middlesex University Dubai. It also owns the property assets of the North London Collegiate School in Dubai.



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