Dear Reader,

TThis 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

Durham University and SU (Students’ Union) sign the UN sustainable development goals accord

Durham University and its Students’ Union have signed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Accord, committing them to actively supporting its seventeen objectives. The Accord is designed “to inspire, celebrate and advance the critical role that education has in delivering the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the value it brings to governments, businesses, and wider society.” A motion requesting that the Students’ Union sign the Accord was tabled to its Assembly in February 2020 by outgoing opportunities officers.

Carleton University’s sustainability efforts recognized with Carbon 613 Award

Carleton University was recognized by Ottawa’s Sustainable Business Network—known as Carbon 613—with an excellence award for its sustainability efforts. The Emerging Excellence Award particularly recognized Carleton’s carbon-based program which has accomplished a 35% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005, its zero waste programs, and the level of high student engagement in its overall sustainability efforts. Carbon 613 is a network of Ottawa businesses committed to working toward a net-zero region by 2050. The creation of Carleton’s university-wide Energy Master Plan has already delivered the reduction in carbon emissions and the new ARISE Building was certified to 4 Green Globes.

Glasgow Caledonian University to help Sri Lanka ramp renewables

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in Scotland has secured almost GBP 1 million to help Sri Lanka meet its renewable energy targets. Researchers at the university have been tasked with helping the South Asian country upskill so it can deliver 80% of its energy from renewables. The project will look to achieve this by building skills in the designing, commissioning, and maintaining renewable energy projects, with a specific focus on solar and wind. The three-year project has been funded by Erasmus+ and is worth GBP 900,000, with GCU allocated GBP 124,000. GCU’s researchers will establish five training hubs across Sri Lanka.

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

Collaboration technologies for the future of online learning

As higher education leaders prepare for what remains an undefined fall semester, they face a whirlwind of decisions. Colleges and universities are depending on collaboration technologies to keep their students and faculty connected safely through the unforeseeable future of the global health crisis. By investing in reliable collaboration technologies that can support a seamless transition to hybrid classrooms, many postsecondary education decision-makers have already begun preparing for this new form of learning and teaching. Having software and hardware designed to bring in-person and remote classmates together is critical to ensuring learning success and productivity. More than anything, the pandemic has sped up higher education’s digital transformation. Colleges and universities are finding new ways to enable faculty and students to teach and learn from afar, implementing technologies that support collaboration and updating policies to support a more flexible learning experience.

Super Stats

Report—Grading and Assessment in a Pandemic

A report released by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment examines the results of a survey of hundreds of college instructors and assessment professionals about how they approached grading assignments, and other academic matters last spring. The fundamental reality underlying the report recommends that as much as college administrators, faculty members, and students may wish it were so, the teaching and learning environment won’t be anything resembling normal this fall. As it finds that most instructors and institutions alter their approach to student academic work, from altering assignments and assessments (away from high-stakes exams, for instance), being more flexible with deadlines and embracing pass/fail or other modified grading. Key findings in the report:

  • 97% of respondents made changes of some kind during Spring 2020 in response to COVID-19.
  • Changes included modifying assignments and assessments, flexibility in assignment deadlines, shifting to pass/fail, and modifying assessment reporting deadlines.
  • Less often made changes included acceptance of alternative assignments, modifying the assessment reporting process, modifying course evaluations, shifting to credit/no credit, and changes to assessment roles and responsibilities.
  • The majority of institutions made between 3 to 4 changes.
  • 75% of respondents felt the changes would not negatively impact the assessment culture of their institution.
  • The 25% with concerns worried about increased work demands, shifting assessment further away from teaching and learning, and accuracy of measures of learning.


Analysis: Hundreds of colleges and universities in the US show financial warning signs

Dozens of colleges and universities nationwide started 2020 already under financial stress. Now, with the added pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, the fabric of American higher education has become even more strained. The prospect of lower revenues has already forced some schools to slash budgets and could lead to waves of closings, experts and researchers say. The Hechinger Report created a Financial Fitness Tracker that put the nation’s public institutions and four-year non-profit colleges and universities through a financial stress test, examining key metrics including enrollment, tuition revenue, public funding, and endowment health. The analysis shows:

  • Nationwide, more than 500 colleges and universities show warning signs in two or more metrics.
  • The problems were not evenly spread among states. Combined, Ohio and Illinois have more than 10% of all the institutions potentially facing trouble. Ohio has 36 institutions with two or more warning signs. Illinois has 26.
  • Roughly 1,360 colleges and universities have seen declines in first-year fall enrolment since 2009, including about 800 four-year institutions.

About 700 public campuses received less in state and local appropriations in 2017-18 than in 2009-10, and about 190 private four-year institutions saw the size of their endowments fall relative to their costs.

Analysis: COVID-19 and online education decisions

The Public Viewpoint: COVID-19 Work and Education survey found that Americans’ perceptions of the quality and value of in-person, online, or hybrid education vary widely. The majority of respondents, 35%, felt that online education offered the best value for money. But online was viewed as the least effective approach for learning, and the least likely to prepare students for success in their job and career. One in 10 survey respondents said they were likely to enrol in an online education or training program in the next six months. Recent graduates of online programs rated the value of their education higher than graduates of in-person programs. But most Americans (59%) believe that in-person education and training is more highly valued by employers than online training—an interesting result, given that employers wouldn’t necessarily know that a credential was completed online unless disclosed by the job candidate.

Sannam S4 Initiatives

Sannam S4 new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Series

The release of the new National Education Policy has released a wave of positivity, excitement, and debate In India and around the world about the future of the Indian Education System. Sannam S4 was honoured to host Dr. Leena Chandran Wadia, who served as a consultant on the NEP committee chaired by Dr. K Kasturirangan, for our first briefing session on the policy—Unpacking the new National Education Policy. During the webinar, we covered how the new policy aims to reform the HE system, its impact on the internationalisation plans for Indian as well as foreign universities, and what it would take to implement the policy, now that it has been approved by the Union Cabinet. Dr. Wadia shared her personal experience of working with the committee over the past few months and how they compiled over 200,000 recommendations received from all over the country during the formulation of the final policy document.

There are 1,036 universities, 41,901 colleges, and 10,726 stand-alone institutions in India—making it the third-largest higher education market in the world. The NEP 2020 has paved the way for transformative reforms in the sector by addressing the growing aspirations of Indian students to access a world-class education. For the second edition of our NEP Webinar Series—HE Reform Agenda: Key takeaways from the NEP, we invited Dr. NV Varghese, Vice-Chancellor of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, to decode the key policy changes proposed regarding Higher Education. We covered key topics such as institutional restructuring and consolidation of Indian universities and colleges; structure and lengths of degree programmes; HECI: A single regulator for higher education; National Research Foundation; and the move towards Internationalisation.

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

Coursera raises USD 130 Million amid a flurry of Ed-Tech deals

Coursera, the global online learning platform founded by prominent artificial intelligence researcher Andrew Ng, has raised USD 130 million in Series F funding, the company confirmed. NEA managing general partner Scott Sandell is leading the financing, with participation from other existing investors in Coursera including Kleiner Perkins, SEEK Group, Learn Capital, SuRo Capital, and G Squared. The company is also preparing for an initial public offering, although at the moment there is as much uncertainty about the future of the public markets as there are about schools’ fall reopening plans.



EdTech start-up Springboard raises USD 31 million from Telstra Ventures

Indian online education start-up Springboard, which offers courses, employability tools, and career services for professionals, has raised USD 31 million in Series B funding, led by new investor Telstra Ventures. Vulcan Capital and SJF Ventures also participated along with existing investors Costanoa Ventures, Pearson Ventures, Reach Capital, International Finance Corporation (IFC), 500 Start-ups, Blue Fog Capital, and Learn Capital. With this, Springboard has raised over USD 50 million.



EdTech start-up BibliU raises GBP 500,000 with support from Angel Investment Network

London-based EdTech start-up BibliU has raised GBP500,000 as part of a Series A extension funding round, supported by Angel Investment Network (AIN), the world’s largest online angel investment platform. BibliU is a digital education platform that provides students with digital access to their textbooks and libraries across all their devices. The campaign funding round, an addition to its GBP 6.5 million Series A, was in response to a surge in demand due to Covid-19. The company has digitized content from more than 2,000 publishers including Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press. The content is licensed directly to universities, who can then provide access to students and include the costs in their existing tuition fees.



EdTech firm ConveGenius acquires learning platform Gray Matters India

ConveGenius Edu Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates an education-technology start-up that addresses learning and skill gaps, has acquired Gray Matters India. The Gray Matters India, set up in 2013, operates a learning and analytics platform that provides insights through standardised assessments. Interestingly, both companies are backed by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The acquisition of Gray Matters India is another example of growing activity in the Ed-Tech space.



Byju’s acquires Mumbai-based ed-tech start-up WhiteHat Jr for USD 300 million

WhiteHat Jr’s financial advisor—DC Advisory, has confirmed Byju’s acquisition of the edtech startup. The second edition of Educhat in July had referred to the news of Byju’s $300 million offer to acquire WhiteHat Jr. The integration with WhiteHat Jr, a popular and unique coding platform will help Byju’s further expand its offerings in India. This acquisition will also accelerate Byju’s US expansion plans. Byju’s said this partnership is timely with the government pushing skills such as coding from early classes with the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020.



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

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

Regional News

South Asia

Huawei begins ‘Seeds for the Future 2020’ programme in Bangladesh

Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Limited virtually inaugurated its annual program of “Seeds for the Future 2020” in the country. “Seeds for the Future” is a flagship CSR program of Huawei, designed to develop local ICT talents and a thorough transfer of knowledge. The program mainly focuses on bridging the gap between academic and industry knowledge. Selected participants get insights into the latest developments in the global ICT industry and get the opportunity to enhance their ICT expertise and skills. The program is also a long-term CSR activity dedicated to the top Stem (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), as well as information, and communication technology (ICT) students worldwide. In Bangladesh this year, students from Dhaka University (DU), BUET, CUET, KUET, and RUET will be participating in the program.

Pakistan: Senate body recommends increasing the education budget to 4% of GDP

The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education, Vocational Training, National History, and Literary Heritage recommended that the education budget should be increased to 4% of the GDP for the promotion of education in the country. Representatives also briefed the committee in detail on the issue under consideration. The Standing Committee decided to form a sub-committee comprising the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, the HEC, the delegation and other concerned, should submit a report to the standing committee within a month.

Sri Lankan government to carry out feasibility studies for 10 high-tech universities

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has given its consent to fund feasibility studies to set up ten high-tech universities in ten districts around Sri Lanka. This will be done to enhance the opportunities provided by the sectors of information technology, engineering technology, and biotechnology, as mentioned in the “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.” Accordingly, the Cabinet considered the information submitted by the Minister of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation that necessary actions have been taken by the University Grants Commission for the commencement of the initial feasibility study process concerning the ten districts of Nuwara-Eliya, Kalutara, Hambantota, Matale, Puttalam, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Galle, Polonnaruwa, and Kegalle.

Nepal: Consultation held to establish Yogmaya University

The Legislation Management Committee has consulted with former vice-chancellors of various universities on the ‘Yogmaya Ayurveda University Management Bill’. During the consultation, former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University Prof. Hiraman Maharjan stressed the need to introduce the bill to open up avenues for collaboration with foreign universities. Office-bearers of Yogmaya University should be managed like that of other universities in Nepal. Former vice-chancellor of Pokhara University Khagendra Bhattarai underlined the need to develop the university as an academic hub.

Country News


Nokia to set up robotics lab at Indian Institute of Science for research on 5G

Nokia has announced a collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the country’s leading institute and university for research and higher education in science and engineering, to establish the Nokia Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Networked Robotics. The CoE will promote interdisciplinary research involving robotics, advanced communication technologies, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop socially relevant use cases across areas like emergency management, agriculture, and industrial automation. The centre will promote engagement and cooperation between academia, start-ups, and industry ecosystem partners in research and development of use cases. This centre supports and aligns with the Government initiatives of Start-up India.



Degrees won’t be recognised if no exams held: UGC (University Grants Commission)

The University Grants Commission (UGC) told the Supreme Court that degrees would not be recognised if no examinations are held for final-year students even as the country was facing a coronavirus crisis. The UGC response was conveyed by its counsel, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on a batch of pleas that challenged the UGC schedule for final-year university exams before September 30.



Bow Valley College Calgary, Alberta to start healthcare academic pathway with Chitkara Universitys

Bow Valley College Calgary, Alberta has announced a pathway program in collaboration with Chitkara University, India, in the faculty of healthcare for students. Candidates from the university from any stream of the healthcare programs are now able to transfer to the Health & Human Services Management (HHSM), a one-year post-diploma certificate at Bow Valley College through Chitkara University. Eligible candidates will be offered a letter of acceptance from Bow Valley College, Canada, from which they can apply for their study permit and go through four weeks of orientation programming at Chitkara University, before shifting to Canada.



India to review Chinese language programmes across universities

Close on the heels of its decision to drop Mandarin from its list of suggested languages under the National Education Policy, the Ministry of Education (Ministry of Human Resource Development) has decided to put several higher education institutes that offer Chinese language training under the scanner. Also, the ministry and University Grants Commission (UGC) are in the process of reviewing the work being done by higher education institutions as part of agreements/educational arrangements with foreign institutions.




China plans to build a new university of science and technology

Hunan Province in Central China unveiled a plan to construct a new university of science and technology amid the on-going China-US tech war, according to a three-year plan published on the website of Hunan provincial government. The new science and technology university is expected to be named after well-known Chinese scientist Qian Xuesen (1911-2009), who played a key role in China’s missile and space program. To support the development of higher education in the region, the province is set to promote the construction of the university in Liuyang city, the plan states.



Welsh universities are going to charter planes to bring students from China

Universities in Wales plan to charter planes to bring thousands of returning and new students from China. Swansea University, which has more than 3,000 international students, said it has joined with a group of universities, including Cardiff, Cardiff Met, the University of South Wales, Bristol, the University of the West of England, Exeter and Plymouth to fly the students to Cardiff or Bristol airports. Aberystwyth University also confirmed it is looking at chartering flights and arranging travel from airports to its campus. Cardiff University alone has 8,620 international students, a majority from China. Chartering flights make it easier for universities to bring in students from overseas all at the same time in terms of quarantine and plans for studying if they have to start later than September/October.




Malaysia: International students can return, but the entry for new students on hold

International students can enter Malaysia but the entry for new international students is on hold until further notice, announced Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), the one-stop centre for international student services under the purview of the Higher Education Ministry. International students must undergo quarantine at designated stations set by the government of Malaysia, and they must bear the costs. EMGS also states that “all incoming international students are subject to the quarantine order and non-compliance to this instruction will result in legal action”. The government’s move to halt the entry of new international students into Malaysia has raised concerns among higher education providers about its impact on the sector.



Higher Education Minister: 15% hostel, activity, admin fee reduction for public varsity students

Students at public higher learning institutions will get a reduction of up to 15% for their hostel, administrative and activity fees. The Higher Education Minister said the discount is applicable for those who are in the second semester of their 2019-2020 academic session. This is to help reduce the burden of students and their families, especially those who have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 523,318 students in public universities nationwide are expected to benefit from this decision.


Taylor’s University the first to be endorsed as an APEC-LSIF Centre of Excellence in Malaysia

The Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences at Taylor’s University endorsed as a “Training Centre of Excellence (CoE)” by the Asia-Pacific Economic Committee (APEC) Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) for “Global Supply Chain Integrity”. The faculty is the first APEC CoE in Malaysia, and the third institution in the world to receive this endorsement from APEC-LSIF. The first two institutions are based in the United States (US). This endorsement is a recognition by APEC for Taylor’s University’s expertise and capability in providing training and consultation in this important area, closely related to the provision of healthcare. This important milestone for the university, and nation, could not be achieved without the strong support from the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia.




UAE students, parents to seek out universities in virtual fair

Thousands of high-school graduates and their parents are expected to join a virtual university fair called ‘Global Education Expo 2020’ organised by Dubai-based education consultancy Qadri International on August 15 and 16. Universities from 12 countries, including UK, US, Canada, Malaysia, Georgia, will walk candidates through admissions for undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes for the Fall 2020 semester, as well as for 2021. The programmes at the participating universities include medicine, engineering, business, law, arts, and others. The online fair follows on from the previous in-person edition held in February, before the COVID-19 related lockdown in the UAE.



World’s first graduate-level AI university opens admissions cycle for Fall 2021

The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence (AI) university in the world, has opened its admissions cycle, which will see accepted students begin their AI education journey at the state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi campus in Fall 2021. MBZUAI has also recently extended admission offers to 100 students for the first academic year commencing in January 2021, with nearly 90% of the admitted students have already accepted their offers. Students accepted into the first cohort were selected from a high calibre group of 2,223 applicants of 97 different nationalities. Admitted students come from 31 countries, with a majority hailing from outside the MENA region.



The University of Wollongong in Dubai announces three new STEM programs to future-proof UAE’s technical workforce 

The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), the first international university and the highest-ranked Australian university in the UAE, announced the launch of three cutting-edge degree programs in Computer Science for the September 2020 intake. The new programs in thriving industry sectors including cybersecurity, big data, and game and mobile development are set to cater to the growing local and international demand for professionals within these industries. The new programs aim to support the UAE’s growing focus on artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cybersecurity, and gaming, in a bid to further its development as a major technology hub.




Hyundai Motor kicks off education program in Vietnam 

Hyundai Motor Co. has recently signed a four-party memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help bridge educational inequality across Vietnam. Hyundai Motor will run ‘H-Jump School Vietnam’ until 2022 in partnership with non-profit educational social venture JUMP, Volunteers for Peace Vietnam (VPV), and Vietnam National University, Hanoi (VNU). H-Jump School is a volunteer program for university students funded by Hyundai Motor, which aims to mitigate various social inequalities. The company will select a total of 150 Vietnamese university student volunteers over the next three years, divided into three groups. University student volunteers taking part in H-Jump School Vietnam will receive scholarships and mentoring from career counsellors, which will help them grow as professionals.

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