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.

With this, we come to the end of an extraordinary year where the pandemic shaped higher education from vaccines and treatments to campus shutdowns, online classes and now to virtual hybrid learnings. We are also intended to start the year 2021 with fresh hopes and new challenges.

The next edition of this newsletter will be published in the second week of January 2021.

Here is wishing you a safe and peaceful holiday season from all of us at Sannam S4.

Stay Safe.

Editorial Team

Sustainability Goals

Universities should be drivers of local sustainability

Universities should reinvigorate the civic role of institutions to build ecologically and socially resilient communities as part of their efforts to help lead the United Kingdom’s strategy for tackling climate change, according to a new report. To do this, they should collaborate more locally, building alliances between scientists, artists, politics and society, particularly from marginalised communities, and become drivers of transition to sustainability in their local community. To take that role, they must also lead by example in redesigning their day-to-day operations to reduce emissions, including from staff and student travel, nurture biodiversity and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. But they can also make it part of their mission to open minds to change by helping to inform the public about the changing climate and ecological collapse.

The Loyola University Chicago launches School of Environmental Sustainability as a centre for research, action

The Loyola University Chicago boosted its commitment to addressing environmental and climate change issues with the unveiling of its new School of Environmental Sustainability. The school upgrades the status of its seven-year-old Institute for Environmental Sustainability, which already was one of only a handful of such programs at U.S. Catholic colleges. It is the first environmental sustainability school in the global Jesuit academic network. The school has played a leading role in Loyola’s sustainability plans, continuing efforts headed by the institute, including progress toward the university’s goal of eliminating its carbon dioxide emissions — which have been halved since 2008 — by 2025. Its two teaching labs and other programs have transformed the university in other ways — running a local farmers market, hosting an annual climate conference, converting food waste into fuel for its shuttle buses and even producing hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sustainability actions by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) highlighted in the global climate conference

Sustainable actions taken by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been highlighted as good examples in a global conference on climate action. During the event, some of DMU’s practice was highlighted, including efforts by the school of Fashion and Textiles to embed sustainability in their taught courses and the collaboration between DMU, University of Leicester and Leicester City Council to educate students and school pupils on how to take action to combat the climate emergency. Known as the European meeting for Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) in Education for Sustainable Development, the annual event focuses on local and regional efforts to address the climate emergency and educate on sustainability issues. DMU has strong commitments to sustainability and the SDGs, including acting as a Global Hub for SDG16 which calls for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

The University of Manitoba (UM) commits to carbon neutrality by 2050

The University of Manitoba (UM) has officially signed the Global University and Colleges Climate Letter, which acknowledges that our planet and climate are in a state of emergency. The letter, organized by The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, known as EAUC; the US-based higher education climate action organization Second Nature; and UN Environment’s Youth and Education Alliance, marks the first time further and higher education establishments have come together to make a collective commitment to addressing the climate emergency. Within the UM Sustainability Strategy 2019-2023, the first step in addressing UM’s climate impacts is the creation of a Climate Action Plan to fulfil the commitments of 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. UM is in the early stages of creating this plan, which will be publicly available in late 2021.

Digital Future

Moving forward and improving the future of hybrid learning

What will evolve after the pandemic is likely a hybrid of traditional and technology-based learning. It will be a case of cherry-picking either what’s best or what’s achievable under the prevailing circumstances. What are takeaways from unexpected “deep dive” into online learning?

  • Accessibility: The divides between communities of privilege and predominantly ethnic, urban neighbourhoods became undeniably evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease’s skewered incidence witnessed the restricted access of poor people to medical services and other means of sustaining well-being. Also, a corresponding “digital divide” was born out in students’ access to learning.
  • Privacy and Security: Educational institutions need a plan for dealing with security breaches, and students and educators need to be educated on digital security.
  • User Experience: The 2020 academic year has been a “baptism of fire” concerning online learning. As online learning becomes the norm, students will be less tolerant of “hacked together” solutions.
  • Connection: For educators and learners alike, online learning’s biggest threat is the fear of isolation and disconnection.
  • Motivation & Time Management: While some students thrived under the enforced, self-managed learning imposed by the pandemic, others struggled to stay motivated and manage their time effectively.

Online hybrid learning has progressed exponentially thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we advance, our challenge is to learn from the mistakes made and continue to improve on existing e-learning platforms. We also mustn’t restrict ourselves purely to the concept of remote learning but rather conceptualize a hybrid model that leverages the best of both traditional and cyber education.

Super Stats

Report—Bridging the digital divide to engage students in higher education

To better understand the impacts of the current dynamics on higher education institutions, staff, faculty, and students, Microsoft Education partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on a report—Bridging the Digital Divide to Engage Students in Higher Education. The EIU conducted surveys and interviews with faculty and students in the US, UK, Australia, and Germany, as well as with global higher education experts. Insights indicate that rather than being a short-term solution, remote and hybrid learning is likely to be a future operating model for many higher education institutions alongside on-campus programs.

Key insights from the report:

  • The EIU survey insights indicate that remote learning is anticipated to evolve from a short-term band-aid solution or pandemic experiment to a future operating model for many higher education institutions.
  • A striking two thirds (66%) of students claimed they did not feel mentally prepared for the coming academic year. This was a shared sentiment among the student community in all four countries, but particularly in the UK (70%).
  • Higher education faculty, on the other hand, felt considerably more equipped for the coming academic year.
  • Almost half (48%) of higher education students claim the pandemic has worsened their ability to remain focused and engaged.
  • Nearly half of the students surveyed said the biggest social and environmental challenge in their post-pandemic learning experience has been the limited ability to engage with fellow students.


Survey: Students in campus housing had positive learning and social experiences during a pandemic

A new survey from American Campus Communities, one of the largest student housing developers and providers in the United States, found positive academic and social outcomes for students living on or near campus in college housing this fall and determined that students also closely followed coronavirus safety guidelines. The answers of the nearly 42,600 undergraduate and a small number of graduate students who responded to the survey, all of the residents of properties owned or managed by ACC, paints a rosy picture of their living conditions and their effects on learning. Whether they were learning fully online or had some in-person classes, due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, all the students surveyed during late October to early November were living with other college students in one of 84 living communities across the United States, rather than at home with family members. ACC officials have been supportive of colleges opening campus housing to students, regardless of whether classes are being held only online, especially as the company experienced a seven per cent drop-in student leasing rates between 2019 and 2020 due to the pandemic. Some findings in the survey that pointed to the positive academic and social results for students who lived among peers during the fall semester.

Sannam S4 Initiatives

Sannam S4 new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Series

1) Webinar— Navigating the Indian Market Now: Deliver On-ground Insights into the Recruitment Landscape 

2) Webinar—Welcome & Discussion on US-India Higher Education with India’s San Francisco Consul General

3) Webinar—Welcome & Discussion on US-India Higher Education with India’s Chicago Consul General

4) Webinar—India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) – Opportunities and implications for Queensland’s IET industry

5) Webinar—How will NEP reforms change internationalisation agendas in Indian universities?

6) Webinar—HE Reform Agenda: Key takeaways from the NEP

7) Webinar—Unpacking the new National Education Policy

8) Opinion— Sannam S4 views on the National Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet: 10 Key Takeaways

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 successfully. 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 the 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.

Sannam S4 High School Counselling Excellence Network

1) Webinar— Sannam S4 High School Counselling Network: Kindness in the Time of COVID

The session aims to inspire with stories of kindness as well as a discussion about the efforts their institutions have made to encourage kind communities. It has been a difficult year for all, the discussion hopes to give hope, inspiration and perhaps add some insights into how we can all make the spaces in which we work and live.

2) Webinar – Series one on counsellor well-being and embracing the new normal brings insights from a session on child and adolescent mental health.

The session aimed to provide important information in regards to supporting the mental health of students and the well-being of our counsellors.

EdTech Developments

Indian EdTech upGrad Partners with the UK’s University of Essex

EdTech upGrad, India’s largest online higher edtech in a first-of-a-kind arrangement becomes a recognised enrolment partner to the UK’s leading University of Essex, thereby further strengthening transnational education in India. A list of 72 undergraduate and postgraduate online programs will be delivered through the Kaplan Open learning (KOL) who is an academic/academy partner to the University. The EdTech major will be facilitating the enrollment process for learners in India, along with international territories like Africa, Middle East, South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The cohort is scheduled to commence in January 2021.



Ed-tech start-up Edu Tinker launches teacher-student management app

Ed-techEdu Tinker, an Ed-tech start-up, has recently launched its app to automate the physical classroom activities and drive efficiency in the era of remote learning. Developed with an idea to provide comprehensive students’ activity management platform, the app is the one-stop solution that makes it convenient for teachers to make all class-related communication available on a single platform. The newly launched app assists teachers in boosting online classroom interaction with its intuitive features such as writing on a collaborative whiteboard, showcasing study material tools, and enabling teachers to share the study materials and videos for better understanding of the students. Furthermore, the app features tools that upscale teachers’ productivity by allowing them to create and share assignments with students.



Simplilearn sees surge in B2B enrolments: Upskills more than 50,000 corporate learners in the last 6 months

Simplilearn, the world’s leading online Bootcamp for digital economy skills training, today reported a surge in their B2B business for the last six months. Over this period, the company has onboarded over 50,000 corporate learners across 12 countries, led by India, the USA, Thailand, and Oman. The top industries that contributed the largest share of learners were IT Services and Products, education/universities, and telecommunications. Simplilearn’s short term and Master’s programs in digital skills and new technologies, delivered via multiple corporate partnerships, offer effective L&D solutions for organizations across the globe.



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

Brazil—Samsung announces new Ocean headquarters at the University of Campinas

The State University of Campinas is the newest member of Samsung Ocean, the company’s technological innovation and training program. The innovation pole of the university will have a physical space with complete infrastructure for activities that, in this first moment, will be carried out in the online format due to social distance. The courses, lectures and workshops offered will be integrated with the Universities of São Paulo (USP) and State of Amazonas (UEA), in Manaus, which already have a partnership with the Samsung initiative. The new Ocean unit is located in Unicamp’s Science and Technology Park. The Samsung program offers technical training to the community and promotes the creation of technology-based companies (start-ups).

Costa Rica- The Technological Institute of Costa Rica and New Horizons offer new technology grants from Micitt’s innovation program

The Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC) and the firm New Horizons, specialized in training in information technology, are also offering scholarships for refresher courses and specialization. The scholarships are provided by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (Micitt), as part of the Innovation and Human Capital Program (PINN) with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). New Horizons is a recognized company in information technology training and in Costa Rica, it is represented by Applica.

Cuba- The Agrarian University of Havana aspires to promote Cuba’s food Sustainability

Professionals from the Agrarian University of Havana, located in Mayabeque, are working on an international project to promote food sustainability in Cuba, based on the scientific development of agriculture. The program in the approval phase is carried out in conjunction with experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and the university institution. The dean of the Faculty of Agronomy of the Agrarian University of Havana leads, on the scientific side, this international project to be developed in five provinces of the country. The purpose is to boost productivity to increase the supply of products, regulate the market and boost the income of a vulnerable and necessary sphere, such as agriculture.

South Asia

Bangladesh: The University Grants Commission (UGC) allows public universities to hold exams

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to allow public universities to hold semester exams for final year students. This move comes following a virtual meeting of the vice-chancellors (VC) of a total of 39 public universities with the UGC. Now the country’s public universities will be able to conduct final exams for both their undergraduate and postgraduate students amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Academic councils of the concerned universities will take all the necessary steps to implement this decision to negate session jam and make students qualified for sitting in the upcoming BCS exams.

Nepal: The Tribhuvan University (TU) preparing to run classes in the physical presence of teachers, students

The Tribhuvan University (TU) is planning to resume classes formerly disturbed by the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. According to the Registrar of TU, as a significant number of students could not attend the virtual classes, the university has decided to direct all campuses to resume classes at the physical presence of the teachers and the students. The decision of TU’s Executive Council has facilitated the way for the university to direct the colleges under it to run classes in the physical presence at the colleges. The Council has, however, decided to let the respective colleges and the local levels decide the postponement of the classes in case the pandemic spread gets worse there.

Pakistan: Restructuring of higher education department directed

The Chief Minister has stressed the need for restructuring of the higher education department and directed the authorities concerned to submit a feasible proposal to this effect and complete restructuring process of Educational Testing and Evaluation Agency (ETEA) as soon as possible. He also directed the authorities of higher education department to complete the appointment process of vice-chancellors to public sector universities across the province within a month, according to a statement issued. He issued these directives while chairing a review meeting of the higher education department.

Sri Lanka: Philanthropist Dhammika Perera launches DP Digital University free online learning platform

Extending higher education facilities designed to enhance employability and opportunity for Sri Lankan youth, philanthropists Dhammika Perera and Priscilla Perera launched DP Digital University, a free online education portal that offers an extensive portfolio of courses from reputed universities and institutions across the world. Marking an unprecedented milestone in Sri Lankan higher education, the new platform will provide access to over 8,000 courses from over 55 world-renowned universities including Harvard, Cambridge, MIT, IBM and Monash. Most importantly, the majority of these courses are provided free of charge for self-learning at your own pace and will be available for every Sri Lankan to access remotely, irrespective of their economic and social statuses.

South-East Asia

Malaysia: Higher Education ministry targets seventy-five per cent marketability of Malaysian graduates in 2021

The Ministry of Higher Education (KPT) is targeting a 75 per cent marketability of graduates in Malaysia in 2021. The percentage was fixed after taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic, which has also affected the country’s economy. The allocation for the ministry under Budget 2021 was later approved at the committee stage through a majority voice vote. Meanwhile, the allocation for the Ministry of Education under Budget 2021 was also approved at the committee stage through a majority voice vote after 17 MPs from the government and opposition blocs took part in the debate session.

Singapore: The National University of Singapore (NUS) launches new interdisciplinary College of Humanities and Sciences

The National University of Singapore (NUS) officially launched a new college that will bring together two of its oldest faculties – arts and social sciences, and science – and take in more than 2,000 undergraduates. The College of Humanities and Sciences, which will admit its first cohort of students in August 2021, marks a major shift from the traditional way of learning in separate disciplines. Students will still graduate with a bachelor’s honours degree in arts, social sciences or science within four years. But a key difference is that they will have to take thirteen common modules in areas that cut across different fields of study, such as design thinking, artificial intelligence and scientific inquiry.

Indonesia: Tomks State University (TSU), Russia and the Indonesian University of National Development develop a partnership for exchange and scientific programmes

Tomks State University (TSU), Russia signed a memorandum with the Indonesian University of National Development “Veteran” Yogyakarta for mutually beneficial collaboration. Universities intend to develop programmes of scientific and student exchange, joint research, and exchange of scientific publications. Representatives of the universities discussed the main areas of interaction, shared plans for a joint future, and consolidated their intentions in a memorandum. Both universities named the most interesting areas for collaboration: the exchange of teachers, staff, and students for research and training, the implementation of joint research projects, the exchange of information and scientific publications. But at the same time, both sides do not exclude the possibility of new ideas for mutually beneficial interaction.

Vietnam: India’s HCL enters into Vietnam market with 3,000 digital skills jobs

Intending to serve local and global clients, Indian technology consulting major HCL announced its entry into Vietnam. From its first delivery centre in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, the company will deliver advanced technology solutions to its global client base across several industries and verticals, including banking and financial services, healthcare, infrastructure, engineering and cybersecurity, said a statement. The company informed that it had begun its business operations in Vietnam in July 2020 and plans to hire over 3,000 local university graduates and experienced professionals over the next 3 years.

Philippines: The University of Santo Tomas flood-control project to be finished by mid-2021

The University of Santo Tomas is closer to becoming a flood-free campus, with its drainage project nearing completion. The project will replace the existing drainage lines with a new drainage system and provide detention facilities that could accommodate floodwater within the 21.5-hectare campus. UST’s drainage system will be able to accommodate rainwater of about “four and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Japan: National universities to accept more international students

The Japan education ministry plans to allow an increase in the number of foreign students studying at Japan’s national universities beginning in the 2022 academic year, to increase the universities’ international competitiveness and secure their financial stability. National universities are distinct from public universities, which are run by local governments. The “liberalization” of tuition fees, which would allow the universities to increase tuition for foreign students, is likely to be discussed as well. The ministry plans to issue a notice by next summer. It has not yet decided on a new ceiling on foreign student admissions. There are concerns that increases without limits could lead to a shortage of teachers and classrooms.

Thailand: Huawei Technologies & Mahidol University sign MoU to establish 5G powered smart platform for medical services

Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co. Ltd. and the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, under Mahidol University, has signed the 5G Powered Smart Hospital Enabled with Cloud and AI Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a smart platform that will enhance innovative medical services. This MoU comes in response to the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital’s mission to serve better by becoming a smart centre that will apply integrated digital technologies using 5G infrastructure, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud edge computing, to offer enhanced services.

Country News


Auckland University of Technology (AUT) strengthens bilateral ties with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras

AUT has signed an MOU with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, the first agreement between IIT Madras and any university in New Zealand. The MOU formalised the well-established history between the two universities which has included joint research activities, funding applications and collaborative post-graduate programmes. The MOU states that AUT students will get the opportunity to complete their final year project or internship at IIT Madras which is an exciting prospect for all students and especially for those of Indian origin.



Shiv Nadar University inks MoU with University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Museum for collaboration and exchange

Shiv Nadar University’s Centre for Archaeology, Heritage and Museum Studies (CAHMS) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Museum have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the intent to establish a programme of collaborative partnership. The programmes potentially aim to facilitate scholarly cooperation, communication, and exchange; enhancement of comprehensive and interdisciplinary training for students and professionals; and the development of innovative consortia models for global cooperation. The potential areas of cooperation between the CAHMS at Shiv Nadar University and Penn Museum include but are not limited to faculty exchanges, student opportunities at both undergraduate and graduate levels, research programmes, and shared training initiatives in archaeological sciences, research methods, digital archaeology, and heritage studies.



Ben-Gurion University to open a research facility in India, collaborate on desert agriculture

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba has announced that it will collaborate with the Indian company ABAN and establish an agricultural research facility in Chennai that will offer Indian students the opportunity to enrol into BGU courses. The joint academic initiative will allow Indian students to enrol into advanced degrees at BGU without leaving their country. The new institute’s research will entirely be conducted by students, with supervision from BGU researchers. The project will include exchange programmes and ABAN will send students and lecturers to Israel for further training.




Cranfield University partners with Jiangsu University to accelerate the green economy

The green economy in China is being boosted with the opening of the Jiangsu University Cranfield Tech Futures Graduate Institute (JSU-CU Cranfield Institute), a specialist postgraduate venture in China to train future leaders. The partnership between Cranfield University in the UK, and Jiangsu University in China, build on their 20 years of international academic collaboration and will offer Masters’ and PhD programmes in agricultural, environmental, mechanical engineering and engineering management.



Peking University and Moscow State University sign agreement on China-Russia Mathematics Centre

Peking University and Moscow State University initiated the establishment of the China-Russia Mathematics Centre. They invited top universities, and research institutes from both countries to set up a China-Russia international mathematics research cluster. The Centre undertakes important research to meet the needs of national development and plays a key role in talent training. The joint training agreement signed this time aims to further this partnership and promote a unified training programmes for doctoral students, master students, and senior undergraduate students. The agreement also hopes to bring together world-leading experts and scholars to cultivate top talents in mathematics with innovative and enterprising spirits, international vision, and world competitiveness.



Hargeisa University and Chung Yuan Christian University sign partnership agreement

Universities of Hargeisa in Somaliland and Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in Taiwan have signed an agreement declaring the two institutions “Sister Universities”. The two universities will cooperate on research, exchange students and teachers programme and are expected to issue PhD publications. Among the areas, the two institutions will work together include health, energy and science.




American University of Sharjah (AUS) signs research and exchange MoU with leading European technical university

Students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) will soon have the opportunity to study abroad at one of Europe’s leading technical universities for engineering, architecture and design, under a new collaborative agreement with Italy’s Politecnico di Milano. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) enables exchange opportunities for both students and faculty, as well as research collaboration and advancement. Starting in Fall 2021, undergraduate, graduate and PhD students from AUS will be able to experience a semester abroad in Milan, benefiting from opportunities for cultural and academic exchanges at the institute, which is among the world’s top 20 technical universities. The agreement further facilitates sabbatical semesters for faculty, as well as internships, scholarly visits, workshops and lectures, joint projects, and the expansion of research, education, activities and more.



A strategic partnership between Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University and Fakeeh University Hospital to enhance training and practical experience in healthcare

Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) has announced the signing of a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fakeeh University Hospital (FUH), allowing learners taking up their master’s and bachelor’s programs in healthcare to obtain essential training and practical experience in the field of healthcare management. The agreement is in line with HBMSU’s commitment towards creating strategic partnerships under the ‘Together we grow’ principle, which aims to empower the youth with knowledge, experience and innovation, and efficiently contribute to enhancing health services and addressing future challenges in the field.


UAE graduates are given an employability boost with future skills programme by HSBC and Education for Employment

Over 60 young Emiratis have successfully graduated from a national future skills programme designed by Education for Employment (EFE) and HSBC, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah HR Department and Zayed University. The Design Your Future Career programme was created to equip the graduates with skills to help prepare them for the job market. The programme supports youths to develop and practice entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial skills and teaches them how to create opportunities and engage with external stakeholders. Graduates have the opportunity to join an Entrepreneurship Training programme that focuses on marketing, financial, and operational skills that are vital for starting a small business.




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