EduChat February 2020 Edition 1

Dear Reader,

We are happy to present EduChat—the first edition of February 2020—to provide you with key updates in the higher education space.

The outbreak of coronavirus resulting in international travel ban has impacted the global higher education sector significantly, especially Australian universities which are heavily dependent on Chinese students. The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland has issued a call for proposals from the UK universities to advance promising research into novel treatments for rare diseases.

As the sustainability initiatives and partnerships have increased momentum in the higher education space, we have introduced a section on ‘Sustainability Goals’. According to the Global Survey Report on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development 2019, a higher number of universities have incorporated sustainable development into their institutions than in 2016. The Swinburne University planned its university research collaboration initiative on ‘Good Health and Well-Being’. With the emphasis on ‘Quality Education’, Dubai has launched a knowledge hub to facilitate self-education and promote development among university students and researchers. Building a disability-inclusive higher education system is another factor to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education.

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

Happy Reading!!

Sannam S4 Annual SDG Conclave 2020

India, home to one-sixth of all humanity, contributes to 20% of the global SDG gap in 10 of the 17 goals. As a nation, it has a global responsibility to adopt, implement and monitor the goals to ensure a sustainable future for our planet. At Sannam S4, we believe that the 17th SDG, namely ‘Partnerships for the Goals’ is the critical backbone for achieving the SDGs in India by 2030. Multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilise and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources are needed to leave no one behind. SannamS4 recognises that the discourse on SDGs cannot be complete without universities, non-profits and corporates playing a leading role since they serve as critical hubs of innovation, research, and capacity-building across borders. To kick-start the conversation, Sannam S4 is organising a two-day conclave convening the leading Indian and International organisations who are working together to make an impact on the SDGs.


International student flows extend fallout from coronavirus outbreak

With the internationalisation of higher education, the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak—combined with larger than usual international student movements to and from China during the January holiday period—has meant that a large number of universities in different countries have had to bring in contingency measures to help control the spread of disease.

Stranded Chinese students to cost Australian universities billions in earnings

Australia’s universities, which earn more than USD 5 billion a year in tuition fees from Chinese students, are worst-hit from the coronavirus outbreak. If the stringent quarantine measures being applied in China and around the world don’t bring the coronavirus under control quickly then the hit on the university sector, particularly the elite Group of Eight, will be immense.

Regulations relaxed in Australian universities to cope-up with travel restrictions from China

Standard operational procedures for education providers in Australia are being relaxed so that discrepancies in attendance and facilitating online study can be accommodated, as universities pivot to cope-up with temporary travel restrictions from China.

Australian Universities coordinate outbreak response for students trapped in China

Australia’s higher education Global Reputation Task Force says the government has agreed that Chinese passport holders who are overseas but can prove they have been in a third country for at least a month will be admitted to Australia. The force has also established a hotline for students, with an email address alternative to facilitate contact with education and migration providers.

Sustainability Goals

The Swinburne University of Technology aligns design, science and tech in Philadelphia

During the annual International Design Factory Week (IDFW) organised by Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Design Factory Melbourne (DFM) of Swinburne University of Technology promoted opportunities to participate in their Challenge Based Innovation (CBI A3) Programme. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the framework for the programme and guide user-centred research and design to focus on areas of high sustainable impact. In 2019–2020, the CBI A3 is focused on SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing. Each university in the network is exploring and interpreting this SDG in a regional context.

BSRIA university partnership to focus on retrofit buildings and efficiency innovation

Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has partnered with London South Bank University (LSBU) to jointly manage a new research and innovation centre focused on building services and the built environment. The partnership is intended to build on BSRIA’s expertise and global work, looking at topics such as energy efficiency and carbon reduction, as well as LSBU’s background in education and training. The research centre aims to curb carbon emissions from the UK buildings while providing leadership that will deliver safe, affordable and sustainable domestic environments for communities in the UK and globally.

Developing disability-inclusive higher education systems to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education

Higher education systems must become disability-inclusive in order to meet international obligations and global frameworks. SDG 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The SDGs will not be achieved if the needs of people with disabilities are not considered and their rights not recognised.

Practitioner Series: Volume 4

Developing Global Talent through Higher Education (HE)

In the latest volume of Practitioner Series, Professor Sonal Minocha and Dr Dean Hristov, highlight the global skills mismatch which remains prime on the agenda of governments, HE institutions and policy organisations across the world. The HE institutions can respond to this challenge by integrating workforce development requirements and new subject areas such as Automation, Artificial Intelligence etc. into content creation and dissemination models.

Digital Future

How digital assistants are changing higher education

The advancements in virtual assistants could lead to more institutions using them in higher education over the next several years. Several universities have already begun to utilise Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Home interface to help with things such as financial aid questions and housing queries. This saves the university costs from staffing their call centre and streamlines the informational request process, for the ease of the students.

Funding Opportunity

Harrington Discovery Institute invites proposals for 2020 Harrington UK Rare Disease Scholar Award

The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, and its registered UK charity Fund for Cures UK, Ltd. (Fund for Cures UK) have issued a call for proposals for the 2020 Harrington UK Rare Disease Scholar Award, a new programme to advance promising research into novel treatments for rare diseases. In addition to grant funding, Harrington Discovery Institute provides guidance and oversight in all aspects of drug development, while taking no rights to intellectual property, which is retained by the scholar and their institution.

Super Stats

IAU’s Second Global Survey Report on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) 2019

International Association of Universities (IAU) is the leading global association of higher education institutions and organisations from around the world. The report shows that the higher education community is engaging in all dimensions with the 2030 Agenda, in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since the first IAU Global Survey on HESD, conducted in 2016, participation rates and commitments of universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) have visibly increased, with 536 respondents answering the 2019 iteration of the survey compared to 120 in 2016. Some of the key highlights are:

  • Not all SDGs are equally addressed by universities. Engagement with SDG 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality) and 13 (climate action) is high, while the SDGs 14 (life below water), 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) receive little attention.
  • In comparison to 2016, not many more HEIs have incorporated sustainable development fully into their institutions by 2019. Yet, an increasing number of HEIs are in the process of including sustainable development into their strategic plans, with a decline of 7% from 2016 in those institutions who do not have a strategic plan at all.
  • In 2019, 35% of respondents indicated that they were very knowledgeable about the 2030 Agenda, compared to only 16% in 2016. A similar picture can be found for the SDGs, with almost 50% in the 2019 survey and 36% in 2016 indicating that they have a high understanding of the SDGs.
  • The adoption of the SDGs increased interest in sustainable development at HEIs globally, with 64% indicating that interest has augmented since 2015. Interestingly, 80% of heads of institutions who responded to the survey saw an increase in interest in sustainable development owing to the SDGs, indicating high leadership support.

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 and China sign an academic collaboration agreement

The University of Arts of Cuba / Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) and the Hebei University of International Studies signed an academic collaboration agreement that establishes the participation and development of research activities between both the institutions.

Cuba and Djibouti envisage expanding cooperation in higher education

Cuban and Djiboutian governments envisaged increasing bilateral cooperation for the education sector as Djibouti´s Minister of Higher Education was interested in the master´s degree and PhD academic training, in which Cuba has vast experience and a wide range of products for the academic training of postgraduates.

South Asia

Nepal seeks cooperation from Bangladesh in establishing the Defence University

Nepal has sought cooperation from Bangladesh in establishing the National Defence University of Nepal. At present, many members of the Nepalese Army participate in different courses of National Defence College of Bangladesh to enhance their skills and capabilities.

Uniform admission test for public universities in Bangladesh

A uniform admission test will be held next academic year to enrol students at all public universities in Bangladesh. Once implemented, this will reduce admission hassles for the students involving extra time, cost and travel required to sit for separate admission tests in public universities in different districts.

Sri Lankan government to set up the 500-acre special zone for foreign higher educational institutions

The government is planning to set up a 500-acre special zone for internationally recognised higher educational institutions with the aim of positioning Sri Lanka as a leading international educational hub. The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a concept proposal to attract foreign and non-resident Sri Lankan students to pursue their higher studies in the country.

Pakistan to launch USD 7 billion nutrition plan in collaboration with universities

Pakistan will launch a USD 7 billion programme to tackle the consequences of the country’s high burden of stunting and childhood malnutrition. The project will use inter-sectoral collaborations to implement the 12 most proven nutrition interventions in collaboration with public and private sector experts from all sectors, including academics and researchers.

Country News


The Open University of China provides free services to support the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) “Home Study” Initiative

In response to the Central Government’s call to join forces in the fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Open University of China (OUC) has mobilised its digital educational resources as backing in the wake of the MOE’s decision to delay the start of the spring semester, to support students at all levels to continue studying at home, to publicise measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, and to meet the needs of diverse learners.


Budget 2020: Education sector allocation up 5%

Budget 2020 has increased the allocation for the education sector by 5% to USD 13.9 billion in FY21. Of this, the department of higher education has been allocated USD 5.5 billion with a higher outlay for the salary scale of teachers at USD 265.6 million in FY21 to attract talented teachers. To boost graduate employability, apprenticeship embedded degree/diploma courses will be started and internship opportunities to fresh engineers will be provided.

Anant National University launches Fellowship for Climate Action

Anant National University is launching a first-of-its-kind Fellowship for Climate Action. The long term mission of the Fellowship is to create a community of climate change trailblazers who work together and cross-pollinate each other’s work with ideas and expertise across sectors, regions and generations.



The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and Rice University collaborate to devise solutions to the energy and environmental challenges

The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) and Rice University signed a memorandum of understanding to share resources and perform research in the development of energy solutions, materials and sustainable technologies and then expand to other areas. Through this MoU, Rice University is the first US university to have a physical presence in India in the form of Rice–IITK Research Center, located at IIT Kanpur.



The University of Exeter comments on the similarities between Mumbai and Wuhan to suggest an infection control protocol in India

Dr Bharat Pankhania, the senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, Department of Medicine and Health, in London, talks about the coronavirus outbreak and how a megapolis like Mumbai needs to handle such an outbreak. Self-isolation is one of the ways suggested to curb the human-to-human transmission of the virus.


The University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) and Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) forge partnership with MoU on human capital

The University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) and Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU), with the objective of cooperating in human capital development through training or other industry-engaged learning programmes. Such strategic partnership would be set to become a platform for UCTS alumni to grab employment opportunities in SEB which, in turn, would help nurture more local talent in the relevant disciplines.


The UAE’s academic research output rises 16-fold in 20 years

The UAE’s academic research output has increased 16-fold over the past two decades. Researchers said the growth of existing universities in the country combined with the opening of new research-intensive institutions had helped drive the increase. However, the range of studies remained heavily skewed in favour of engineering, energy and environmental sciences.

Self-education ‘Digital Knowledge Hub’ launched in Dubai

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), unveiled the ‘Digital Knowledge Hub’—a comprehensive online platform to facilitate self-education and promote development among school and university students, as well as researchers and experts in all disciplines. In support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals’ aim to prioritise quality education for everyone, the Digital Knowledge Hub provides access to all of MBRF’s publications, issued to spread knowledge, fill the digital gap in the Arab world, and serve as an optimised platform for building custom digital repositories for organisations.



Leading world universities to participate in the Global Education Expo 2020 in the UAE

As a part of Global Education Expo 2020, a wide range of international universities are coming to the UAE to offer students the opportunity to choose courses of their choice to pursue higher education abroad. During the education fair, students can meet the deans, admission officers and directors of the universities from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Malaysia, Cyprus, Russia, Caribbean, and other countries.





University research team makes rechargeable batteries out of rice husks

A team of researchers and students at the HCM City University of Science—Việt Nam National University—Ho Chi Minh City have succeeded at making a prototype lithium-ion rechargeable battery from rice husks, a common agricultural waste in Vietnam. Unlike the costly process to create pure silicon, rice husks as the raw material source could be promising for low-cost and functional silicon dioxide (SiO2), which has high energy efficiency, is environmentally safe, and can be easy to scale up for synthesis.



Private and Public universities in Vietnam launch new majors to meet labour trends

Many public and private universities throughout Vietnam will launch new majors to meet labour market trends and demands in the 2020–21 academic year. Many private and public universities are using available lecturers and facilities to teach classes for the new majors, but are also recruiting more lecturers and investing further in facilities.



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