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

Colleges reassessing energy needs, sustainability goals in the face of COVID-related shutdowns

To accelerate their renewable goals, several U.S. colleges and universities have been using COVID-related shutdowns to assess their energy needs, how those needs are filled, and what more they can do. Some schools, like Loyola Marymount University (LMU), are exploring new options, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power feed-in tariff program. This would let the school lease its solar roofs out to the utility to provide green power to the grid. Numerous U.S. colleges and universities have adopted ambitious renewable energy commitments as part of decarbonization strategies.

Delhi University, India to start School of Climate Change and Sustainability with MHRD

With rising climatic problems, universities across the globe are introducing courses that may help the world shortly to deal with prospective challenges. The University of Delhi has announced that it is all set to establish a School of Climate Change and Sustainability to train “human resources capable of addressing and managing the emerging challenges of climate change” and sustainable development. The School of Climate Change and Sustainability will run under the Institute of Eminence (IoE) scheme of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development to achieve sustainable development goals.

NACDA and USG announce the Ohio State University as 2020 sustainability award winner

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USG Corporation have announced The Ohio State University (OSU) as the winner of the sixth annual USG NACDA Sustainability Award. Ohio State received the award for its work on The Schumaker Complex. As the winner, Ohio State will receive USD 40,000 in USG products. The Sustainability Award was designed to recognize NACDA member institutions across all divisions, honouring athletics directors and their universities for incorporating sustainable practices and materials into their athletics facilities.

Practitioner Series: Volume 9

Teaching and learning—Changing the way we do it

Victoria University (VU) changed the landscape of Higher Education in Australia in 2018 when they introduced a revolutionary new model of student learning, known as The VU Way. Other universities require students to undertake four subjects at once over a 12-week semester followed by a period of exams and then an agonizing wait for results.

However, at VU, students complete just one subject at a time over four weeks and receive their results before moving on to the next subject. They still complete four subjects each semester; however, they attain a more in-depth focus and immersive learning experience by studying one subject at a time.

This reimagined and transformative learning and teaching model has resulted in a more positive student experience, and this is evident from the significantly improved results for all VU students. While initially introduced as an innovative model for first-year students, the student success and demand for this unique way of learning has led VU to implement it across all years of sub-bachelor and bachelor courses offered at our campuses in Melbourne and Sydney. In the latest volume of our Practitioner Series Ms. Trish McCluskey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching (Interim) at Victoria University, and Dr David Day, Program Director for the First Year and Beyond team at the University, outline a brief overview of the impact on student performance evident for all cohorts of students at all year levels, especially those students that come from low socio-economic status, non-English speaking background or Aboriginal and Torres Strait background.

Digital Future

The Future of Apprenticeships

Virtual apprenticeships could be a boon to the future after the COVID-19 pandemic, some experts say. They would open up opportunities for those with disabilities that make working in an office difficult or provide greater access to those in areas with a dearth of apprenticeship options. But virtual options could lack the important pieces of apprenticeships that make them successful. Virtual apprenticeships would require technological supports to truly broaden access. They could broaden access, but they would have to be done right. Other experts emphasize that virtual apprenticeships need to be held to the same standards as traditional apprenticeships.

Super Stats

Report—Will universities need a bailout to survive the COVID-19 crisis?

Universities UK in their latest report has called on the government to provide universities and businesses with funding to set up paid internships for graduates, as well as an in-study interest break on the postgraduate master’s loan. It also says that due to the scale of the challenge, which will result in fewer job opportunities and increased competition for graduates, the government should support a national programme of “recovery internships”. The report points out that figures from the Institute for Student Employers estimate graduate recruitment is already down 12% compared with last year. Key findings in the report:

  • The total size of the university sector’s losses is highly uncertain: Estimated that long-run losses could come in anywhere between £3 billion and £19 billion, or between 7.5% and nearly half of the sector’s overall income in one year. The central estimate of total long-run losses is £11 billion or more than a quarter of the income in one year.
  • The biggest losses will likely stem from falls in international student enrolments (between £1.4 billion and £4.3 billion, with a central estimate of £2.8 billion) and increases in the deficits of university-sponsored pension schemes, which universities will eventually need to cover (up to £7.6 billion, with a central estimate of £3.8 billion).
  • Large sector-level losses mask substantial differences between institutions. In general, institutions with a large share of international students and those with substantial pension obligations are most affected.
  • Universities are unlikely to be able to claw back a large portion of these losses through cost savings unless they make significant numbers of staff redundant.
  • For the university sector as a whole, net losses in our central scenario are only slightly larger than five years of surplus at the pre-crisis level.
  • In the central scenario, 13 universities educating around 5% of students would end up with negative reserves and thus may not be viable in the long run without a government bailout or debt restructuring.


International Students’ Worries During the Pandemic

International students report adapting well to remote instruction at higher rates than their American peers, but they have concerns about staying safe and healthy and about navigating the health-care and immigration systems during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a new survey of 22,519 undergraduate students and 7,690 graduate and professional students at five public research universities conducted by the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium. International students’ biggest concerns are not with academics, not with remote instruction, but rather with the larger environment—health, safety, and immigration. Compared to their domestic peers, international students reported higher levels of satisfaction with the support they received from their instructors to successfully learn online, higher levels of satisfaction with the overall quality of their courses that were moved online and higher levels of satisfaction with their university’s overall response to the pandemic.

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 2

As we come to terms with the new normal in the COVID affected world, Season 2 of the Sannam S4 Podcast brings to you “Voices from India”. In this series we put the spotlight on our in-market representatives to enquire how India’s preferred study destinations are responding to the disruption caused in recruitment plans of universities.

EdTech Developments

Chinese Ed-tech giant Zuoyebang raises USD 750 million

One of China’s top online tutoring platforms Zuoyebang announced the completion of a USD 750 million Series E led by Fountainvest Partners and Tiger Global. The coronavirus pandemic has drawn investor interest to China’s biggest education technology players as students were forced to study from home during the lockdown. The funding comes fewer than three months after rival Yuanfudao raised a USD 1 billion Series G at a valuation of USD 7.8 billion.

Unacademy acquires ed-tech start-up Prep Ladder for USD 50 million

Indian ed-tech platform Unacademy, acquired Prep Ladder, a postgraduate medical entrance exam preparation platform for USD 50 million. The acquisition is expected to strengthen Unacademy’s presence in the medical entrance examinations categories such as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical post-graduation courses. Earlier this year, Unacademy had acquired ed-tech start-up Kreatryx to strengthen its presence in the GATE and ESE segments in the test prep market, and Mumbai-based competitive programming platform CodeChef.

Byju’s makes $300 million offer to acquire WhiteHat Jr

Think and Learn, which owns and operates ed-tech platform Byju’s, has made a $300 million all-cash offer to acquire WhiteHat Jr, after new funding round from Bond, the investment firm led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker. WhiteHat Jr is already in the market to raise  USD 50 million in fresh financing and has held discussions with a number of venture capital and private equity firms, including Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Steadview Capital, GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Singapore and Renuka Ramnath-led Multiples Alternate Asset Management. Founded in 2018 by Karan Bajaj, the former chief executive of Discovery Networks India, WhiteHat Jr operates in the K-12 segment.

Malaysia reinvents national ed-tech platform with Google, Apple, Microsoft

In the wake of the pandemic-driven shift towards online learning in recent months, the Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE) has unveiled a revamped digital learning platform for students and educators in the country. The platform is known as DELIMa (“Digital Education Learning Initiative Malaysia”) and is providing a range of e-learning applications and resources that is part of the national requirements of the Malaysian schooling system. The system has now been updated with educational technology (ed-tech) enhancements from some of the biggest technology firms, including material from Google Classroom, Microsoft 365, and Apple Teacher Learning Centre.



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 to resume current session year in September, new session year will begin in November

Cuban Minister of Education announced that for 2019-2020, students and teachers will return to the classrooms of 22 universities on September 1, 2020 (in the second phase), and from then on adjustments will be made to finish subjects, make career changes, and final, extraordinary and end-of-course exams. He announced that the graduation of 21,066 professionals is expected in the 2019-2020 academic year and that the new course (2020-2021) will open on November 23. Before returning to the classrooms, it will be essential to prepare the conditions, emphasizing the elimination of overcrowding and compliance with hygienic-sanitary measures, in coordination with government and health authorities.

Will Covid-19 trigger a new model of higher education in Latin America?

Cuban Minister of Education announced that for 2019-2020, students and teachers will return to the classrooms of 22 universities on September 1, 2020 (in the second phase), and from then on adjustments will be made to finish subjects, make career changes, and final, extraordinary and end-of-course exams. He announced that the graduation of 21,066 professionals is expected in the 2019-2020 academic year and that the new course (2020-2021) will open on November 23. Before returning to the classrooms, it will be essential to prepare the conditions, emphasizing the elimination of overcrowding and compliance with hygienic-sanitary measures, in coordination with government and health authorities.

South Asia

American International University Bangladesh enables virtual classrooms for 13,000 students with Microsoft

American International University Bangladesh (AIUB), one of the leading private universities in the country is enabling virtual learning for 13,000 students with Microsoft 365 Education, which provides a customized hub for class teamwork with Microsoft Teams that include video meetings, online versions of the Office 365 apps, as well as compliance tools and information protection. Using Microsoft 365, AIUB has been able to build a comprehensive and efficient online education system for the students and faculties, while ensuring lesson continuity with interactive teaching. Student sessions through Microsoft Teams which resulted in completing an entire semester online.

Sri Lanka’s state universities to re-open subject to conditions

Sri Lanka’s state universities recommenced their academic activities, subject to eleven conditions. Vice-chancellors of all state universities have been authorized to recommence lectures and exams for third and final year students, subject to the conditions imposed by the UGC as well as the COVID-19 prevention guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. Sri Lanka’s universities had been closed since March 13, with several faculties offering lectures online.

Pakistan government considering reopening of universities from July 15

The federal government of Pakistan is considering to reopen the universities across the country from July 15. According to details, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has been formally informed in this regard while suggestions have also been sought from universities administrations. In March 2020, the Pakistani government had closed all the schools, colleges, and universities due to the coronavirus outbreak. The decision was taken in a meeting of the National Security Committee.

Country News


UK Universities are chartering flights from China to encourage overseas students to return in September

British universities are chartering flights from China, India, and Africa to encourage international students to return the next academic year. Bolton University and Queen’s University Belfast have already drawn up plans to fly overseas students over to the UK in September, with several other institutions expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. It comes amid rising concern among university chiefs about their finances. Institutions are anticipating a drop in the number of international students this year, meaning they face a significant loss of income.



Almost 11 million students in China appear for university exams as COVID-19 cases reduce

Almost 11 million students began taking China’s university entrance exam after a delay as the country worked to bring down coronavirus infections. The gruelling two-day university entrance exam can be a key determinant of a student’s future and was pushed back weeks from its scheduled date. The exam is believed to be the first mass gathering event since the virus outbreak and administrators are enforcing strict rules to prevent infections, including proof of wellness, social distancing, and the wearing of masks.




Over 100 colleges and universities in India go online with upGrad

In a first mover’s advantage, upGrad, India’s ed-tech leader, had announced access of its proprietary tech platform to all colleges and universities, at the very onset of COVID-19 pandemic, before Lockdown 1.0. Over 100 colleges and universities so far are using upGrad’s platform to replicate their offline classes, online. Institutes include Jamia Hamdard University, Lovely Professional University, who are amongst the MHRD’s NIRF Top 100 universities, with the former being recommended as Institute of Eminence by Government of India.



MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) allows colleges to hold final-year exams, UGC (University Grants Commission) wants exams to be wrapped up by September

Students in universities and colleges across India will have to now “compulsorily” take their final-year exams this year. Ministry of Home Affairs, in a letter to the Union Higher Education Secretary, permitted the conduct of examinations by universities and institutions. The final term examinations are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC guidelines on examinations and academic calendar and as per the standard operating procedure approved by the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare). The UGC will allow institutes to conduct exams in the mode most feasible to them.




Malaysia to reopen universities in October

Malaysian Higher Education Minister announced that the country will fully reopen university campuses in October, 2020. International university students will be allowed to enter the country subject to several conditions, including being tested for COVID-19 three days before entering the country. The Malaysian government has been easing curbs since early May and life is gradually returning to normal.



Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) sets up committees to boost the excellence of private higher learning institutions

The national task force for facilitating private higher learning institutions (IPTS) as an industry (PEMUDAH IPTS) is established by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) as an effort to recognize private higher education as a strategic industry for economic growth. The task force, comprising various government agencies and the IPTS would identify issues and challenges and offer the best solutions for IPTS’ to advance and compete globally. IPTS’ played an important role in the country’s higher education ecosystem by contributing a significant USD 7 billion to the economy.




Blended learning is the way forward for UAE universities 

UAE universities would have to show the same agility and resilience they displayed in responding to the COVID-19 crisis three months ago. With strict precautionary protocols announced for the next academic year including physical distancing rules, their focus is on diversifying the delivery methods to ensure high-quality education with all the concomitant benefits. Blended learning seems to be the consensus on the way forward, with an eye on offering the best possible university experience. It is important to ensure that the face-to-face time spent by students on campus must be optimized, with the use of innovative and effective pedagogic strategies.



UAE approves USD 87 million budget to improve local universities 

The UAE Cabinet has approved the allocation of USD 87 million to local universities to help “improve their future performance.” Schools and universities in Dubai are now expected to reopen for classes in September, with safety measures in place. Earlier, classes were held online with institutions offering e-learning to ensure students did not miss out on critical education.



Hyperloop, one pens AI research agreement with UAE university 

The UAE-based Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) has penned an agreement with California-based Virgin Hyperloop to research several high-tech applications of AI. MBZUAI and Hyperloop will engage members of both teams to pursue three core objectives: joint fundamental research in several key AI domains such as computer vision, as well as in cloud computing initiatives and commercial projects in the smart transportation industry.




World Bank approved USD 422 million toward Vietnamese universities and climate resilience

The World Bank has approved USD 422 million to boost academic capacity at Vietnam’s three national universities and improve Mekong Delta’s climate resilience. Vietnam National University-Hanoi, its Ho Chi Minh City sister, and the University of da Nang will receive USD 295 million to improve their teaching and research capacity. The credit package will allow the universities to update their infrastructure from overcrowded and obsolete to modern, integrated, green, and digital-ready. It will also aid in equipment enhancement and knowledge transfer. The funding aims to help the universities become regionally competitive institutions with advanced teaching and research capabilities.



Vietnamese universities join project supporting Korean language teachers

Two Vietnamese universities are among the seven foreign educational institutions joining in a new project on the training of Korean language teachers starting from 2021. They are the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Vietnam National University (VNU) – HCM City and the University of Languages and International Studies of the VNU – Hanoi. The project is based on a plan on bolstering the teaching of the Korean language in foreign countries in 2020. It aims to train more than 200 teachers at primary and secondary schools abroad. A wave to learn the Korean language is rapidly spreading in Vietnam owing to the popularity of Korean pop culture and the deepening economic relationship between the two countries.

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