Dear Reader,

We are happy to present EduChat—the first edition of June 2020—to apprise you of key developments in the higher education space.

COVID-19’s impact on higher education ranges from the remote learning shift to longer-term implications for the provision and structure of higher education. Students are concerned about the quality of learning and the fairness of exams under remote and online study. While international students are willing to pay high tuition fees for an on-campus overseas experience, adoption of online mode is weighed down by the affordable study options in their home country. QS research about students’ mobility in context of COVID-19 finds considerable impact on Indian students’ international study choices and mobility within the Indian states in pursuit of quality higher education. Considering the change is triggered by restrictive global mobility and the Indian students’ lockdown experiences, there lies the likelihood of change in the students’ and government agencies’ stance in the future. As the dust settles down to unveil a reoriented future, Indian and other international students’ choices to study abroad could evolve new models in the new normal.

While international student mobility is under pressure, HE collaborations in research are expected to continue crossing borders. This is remarkable as universities have navigated their nations’ political environment to sustain major research projects with imperative international collaborations. The India and Australia bilateral virtual summit on June 4 where a new education partnership is also on the agenda, alongside supply chain in strategic sectors, is one such promising beacon of hope.

As international students realise that online format wouldn’t compromise education quality and convenience and universities consider attractive international pricing strategies (that can cover the costs of provision), we anticipate a step-change in cross-border online learning in due course.

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

Happy Reading and Stay Safe!!

Sustainability Goals

University rankings act as a tool for social impact, more sustainability, and resilient future

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated not only the planet’s interconnected nature but the urgency of building sustainability, and the seventeen interlinked SDGs serve as a road map toward a more sustainable, resilient future. By bringing together sustainability and higher education, the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings can both demonstrate the progress that universities are making and support them in moving more quickly and effectively toward delivering on the goals. Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) in collaboration with Ashoka University as part of the Innovating Higher Education for Greater Good series shows how THE developed and implemented its University Impact Rankings for a more sustainable, resilient future. The series share insights from HE leaders presenting stories, strategies, and lessons in rewiring HE’s purpose, relevance, and business models.

Australasian universities top the list when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals

For the second year in a row, the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings have assessed universities based on their success in delivering the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Universities in Australasia topped this year’s list, with the University of Auckland again taking out first place. While Australian universities failed to make the top 10 last year, in 2020 four local institutions cut—The University of Sydney (2), Western Sydney University (3), La Trobe University (4), and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University (10). This year, the ranking included 766 universities from 85 nations and regions, an increase of 299 additional institutions from the previous year. New Zealand and Australia were the top-performing countries overall, gaining an average score of 87.6 and 87.4 out of 100, respectively.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) raises USD 211 million in its first green bond issuance

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has raised USD 211 million through its first green bond issuance, making it the first university in Asia to issue a green bond. The bond proceeds will go into financing green projects. These green projects are aligned to five focus areas—green buildings or precincts; renewable energy and energy efficiency infrastructure; sustainable water and wastewater management; pollution prevention and control; as well as sustainable management of natural resource and land use. NUS has also launched a new green finance framework to provide the overarching criteria and guidelines for it to enter into green finance transactions such as green bonds and loans.

Practitioner Series: Volume 8

The Role of Higher Education in Enhancing Social Enterprise

Since the advent of the internet age, higher education has become more global. The internet has allowed the learner and educator to connect globally, or, as Manuel Castells famously coined the phrase, to become a ‘Network Society’ (Castells, 1996). This network society has developed a new wave of economic, social, political, and cultural formations.

Institutions are inherent in this development: public, private, and non-government organisations. These institutions shape the way society works.

A social enterprise is now a common feature in today’s word, given the way it can influence society. In many countries across the world, social enterprise is perceived as a real problem solver, which now delivers a series of services in government.

In the latest volume of our Practitioner Series Dr. Roopinder Oberoi, an Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Delhi, India, Mr. Michael Snowden a Senior Lecturer in Mentoring Studies at the University of Huddersfield, the U.K. and Mr. Jamie P. Halsall, a Reader in Social Sciences at the University of Huddersfield, the U.K., outlines a brief overview of the interlocking relationships between social enterprise and higher education in a global setting.The work comes from the findings of a UK India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) project that the authors are currently undertaking.

Digital Future

Digital systems of learning may soon dominate higher education

One of the major impacts of COVID-19 has been an acceleration in the adoption of online and digital education at a pace that was unimaginable before. Initially many institutions wanted to start with small trials while others wanted to allow the category to mature before adopting the methodology. However, the COVID-19 crisis has made digital learning imperative for almost all kinds of educational institutions. As online and digital work becomes more pervasive, companies will be forced to require projects and internships to be done online, using digital media from home. Consequently, the importance of such experience will also grow for students. Therefore, online projects and work from home internships will grow, adding another digital layer to higher education.

Super Stats

Report—Future of International education

A report developed by The Future Laboratory and commissioned by Western Union Business Solutions, a company that handles payments for international transactions, including for some 600 education institutions has identified five areas where colleges and universities will have to develop the strength to woo future generations of international students: social engineering, sustainability, mindfulness, savvy use of technology and the ability to deliver a “transnational” education. The report has identified five international student types:

  • Social engineers: According to the report, 72% of students feel more engaged with schools that take stands on social issues, including politics, environmental issues, racial issues, gun violence, and gender equality.
  • Greener graduates: 58% of international students would boycott educational institutions with “bad sustainability credentials”.
  • Mindful scholars: This group is tuned into how their decisions and behaviours influence their wellbeing. The researchers found that 84% of students practice mindfulness.
  • Digital learners: Future international students will see technology as an extension of themselves, the report noted, “seamlessly integrating it into their relationships and actively socializing in mixed-reality, smart sensor-enabled environments.”
  • Hybrid thinkers: These students blur work, play, and rest, and are, the authors wrote, “the first truly global generation, constantly connected to culture from around the world via their digital devices.

Report—Indian student’s mobility report 2020: Impact of COVID-19 on higher education choices

A report titled “Indian Student’s Mobility report 2020: Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Choices” has been compiled by QS IGAUGE, which rates colleges and universities in India with complete operational control held by London-based QS. The report has also highlighted that while the magnitude of change will be exponential for international student mobility, there is likely to be some impact on Indian students’ inter-state mobility as well. Some of the key insights of the report are:

  • 47.38% of students in STEM fields changed their higher study plans abroad. The figure for non-STEM students is at 51.59%.
  • Non-STEM students have changed their plans after considering the lower return of investment and fewer chances of employability.
  • The significantly lower return of investment in an already expensive international higher education domain coupled with further reduced chances of employability in the post-COVID-19 world has a key role to play in this shift.
  • While higher education institutions might adapt sooner or later to the e-learning practices, it might take a relatively long time to come to terms with the drastic changes in student mobility for higher education.


Survival of Internationalisation of higher education in the ‘new normal’

The sudden and unexpected shock of the crisis has disrupted the whole system of higher education all over the world. The coronavirus pandemic is having a rapid and wide-reaching impact on the higher education sector and international students and universities should be looking at what this means for future internationalization of higher education. Institutions had to deal with the urgent while delaying the important. Many institutions had to make a quick transition towards continuing offering online teaching as a remedial activity just in the short term. Many of the significant inadequacies and limitations of international higher education have become more explicit, and, even more, many of the assumptions about international higher education are being challenged. While institutions transitioned to online teaching, not everywhere in the world and not in all cases has it been possible for students to access it.

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’s universities obtain positive outcomes from telework

Using all the possibilities of telework in the context of social isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Universidad de Oriente (UO) is in favourable conditions to resume its activities, affirmed sources from that institution. The professors maintained self-training activities from their homes, mainly using all the possibilities given by information and communication technologies. The processes related to postgraduate training, research, and university extension, among others, will resume their activities after finished this epidemiological situation and protocols related to the improvement of new programs and majors are also prepared.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) expands degree offerings to Latin America

As part of its ongoing efforts to expand access to high-quality, affordable education to learners around the world, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) has launched an initiative to offer its online degree programs in Latin America. SNHU was approved by its regional accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), to offer degree programs in Spanish in Latin America. The online degree programs offered in Spanish include BS Business Administration, BS Marketing, BA Communication, and five master’s degree programs: MBA, MS Finance, MS Marketing, MS Project Management & Operations, and MA Communication.

South Asia

Bangladesh draws up the policy to push remote learning at universities

The government has begun drafting a policy to implement online education programmes at public and private universities amid the coronavirus crisis. So far, public universities have not shown much interest in remote education although the University Grants Commission has already allowed private universities to conduct classes and exams online. If the policy is issued under the current circumstances, both public and private universities will be required to run academic programmes online. This initiative has been taken to resume education in the universities.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan receives 700 application for the grand challenge fund

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has received more than 700 applications for Grand Challenge Fund (GCF) launched by HEC in February 2020. Supported by The World Bank-funded Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project, GCF is a unique research programme. It aims to encourage university professors to help solve the pressing problems facing the country. With GCF, a new system of selection, as well as monitoring and evaluation, has been introduced to orient researchers towards achieving more concrete outcomes.

Sri Lankan President tells universities to reorganize tertiary education to prepare graduates for the labour market

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told the administrators of the island’s universities to reorganize the tertiary education system to prepare the graduates to fit the labour market. The President emphasized that the higher education system should be designed in such a way that would enable graduates, who enter the labour market upon completion of their university education, to find employment opportunities speedily. President also pointed out that there should be an education system that makes job opportunities run after graduates instead of them staging demonstrations demanding employment.

Northshore Sri Lanka Campus partners with Liverpool John Moores University UK

Northshore Campus in Sri Lanka recently announced a historic partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, UK (LJMU). This partnership would explore the potential for jointly developing academic and educational needs such as the exchange of research materials, publications and information, development and operation of collaborative programmes, exchange of students and academic staff between LJMU and Northshore Campus as well as the development of common curricula in areas of mutual interest.

Country News


China’s higher education enrolment increased in 2019

The gross enrolment ratio in Chinese higher education reached 51.6% last year, with over 40 million students studying in colleges and universities. According to a statistical report on China’s education sector in 2019, released by the Ministry of Education, the country had 2,688 colleges and universities last year, 25 more than the previous year. The report showed that Chinese higher education institutions enrolled 916,500 individuals for graduate studies last year, including 105,200 doctoral students and 811,300 master’s students. Staff in colleges and universities totalled over 2.56 million in 2019, an increase of 79,200 from the previous year, up 3.18% year on year, according to the report.

China pivot towards Europe in higher education, research ties expected

The international mobility of Chinese students to Western countries is in decline and the return of Chinese scholars to China is expected to rise further. Academics predict an intensified China pivot towards Europe in research and higher education collaborations, but at a time when European higher education and science are reeling from the after-effects of the pandemic, and also within a more politicized environment which European and other universities will have to navigate carefully. It underlines the importance of international collaboration because, increasingly, individual universities will not be able to sustain major research projects.

Guangzhou University signs agreement with Charles Darwin University (CDU)

A teleconference signing ceremony sealing a partnership between Guangzhou University and Charles Darwin University (CDU) has taken place. The collaboration has been driven by CDU’s College of Engineering, IT and Environment, the Darwin City Council, and the Guangzhou Municipal Government. It will develop future collaboration between the two universities in joint research, scholarly and student exchange, and joint programs that will focus on the growth of partnerships in China. The initial plan is to form a four-party strategic alliance to receive financial support in joint research and industry collaboration through commercialization. Collaboration between CDU and GU researchers in food science is already underway.


One-year foreign masters’ degree set to be recognized in India

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) will soon give equivalence to one-year postgraduate degree courses offered abroad. This will put those degrees at par with the two-year master’s degree courses offered in India. This will benefit students who have completed or are doing a one-year master’s degree course in universities in the United Kingdom, Ireland, or Australia. The higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission (UGC), is also holding discussions on the issue, though no decision has been taken as yet. Granting of equivalence and recognizing the one-year master’s program at par with two years in India is a long-standing demand.

Start-ups look to work with Indian universities under E-Vidya Higher Education Mission

With the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has been ensuring that there is an undisrupted supply of all essential services. Among these is online learning as the government expands its official EdTech programmes with the launch of E-Vidya for multi-mode access to online education. Knowing the challenges in the government’s great EdTech dream, several start-ups like Toppr, UpGrad, and Goprep have also offered their technology support to colleges and universities. The Indian tech start-ups have already invested heavily in building their tech platform, bringing teachers on board, and managing a larger number of students to interact, learn, and attend classes seamlessly.

Twelve Indian institutes get E-LEAD (Learning Excellence for Academic Digitisation) certification for quality online teaching by QS IGAUGE

As many as twelve Indian universities have received E-LEAD certificates from QS IGAUGE—the Indian wing of QS Ranking for E-Learning Excellence for Academic Digitisation (E-LEAD). These certificates were conferred virtually and universities and colleges were assessed on the quality of online education. After an audit, universities were awarded marks out of 150 and those who secured 120 marks were given the certification. This is the first batch of E-LEAD certificates and more batches of universities are expected to follow. The QS IGAUGE has launched the E-LEAD programme to commend higher education institutes for their digital shift.

Ahmedabad university starts admissions to UG programmes based on class 10th, 11th scores

Ahmedabad University has started admissions to undergraduate programmes based on Class 10th and Class 11th scores, while students await their Class 12th results which are delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Admissions to the institute’s graduate & Ph.D. programmes for the session of 2020 are also underway. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Indian universities are now evaluating carefully how they can best support students who hope to enter the college this year.


Malaysian Higher Education Ministry: All university lectures to be online-only until end 2020, with a few exceptions

The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has said that all university lectures must be conducted purely online, with no face-to-face lessons allowed, until December 31, 2020. In a statement, the ministry said that exceptions are, however, given to five academic categories involving students. The first category involves post-graduate students who are in research mode in public and private universities and have permission to continue their research immediately. MOHE said that this relaxation, however, is only allowed to students who are required to attend physical laboratories, workshops and design studios or rely on specialized equipment to carry out their research.

University Teknologi MARA’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering Signs MoU with the University of Malaya for Academic Cooperation

Faculty of Electrical Engineering (FEE), University Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Malaya (UM), to further strengthen the collaboration between the two higher educational institutions in Malaysia. While UiTM is the largest public university in Malaysia, UM is the oldest university in Malaysia and is the highest-ranked Malaysian institution of higher education according to several international ranking agencies. The signing of this MoU and Exchange Agreement between the two institutions symbolizes a partnership which will lead to many new joint research initiatives to produce new synergies and add academic value for both UiTM and UM in the years ahead.

Huawei Malaysia launches ASEAN academy which aims to empower Malaysia’s digital talent

Huawei Malaysia unveiled the Huawei ASEAN Academy, a dedicated training module to empower Malaysian digital talent and support the country’s vision to be a regional digital hub. As part of this commitment, Huawei aims to nurture 50,000 Malaysian talents over the next five years across various businesses and technology sectors. The academy will be providing more than 3,000 ICT courses involving 100 skilled trainers. The academy will also be addressing pain points in the country’s talent gap within three core pillars—ICT Industry Trend Guidance, Ecosystem Talent Enablement, and Skill Improvement.


EGA (Emirates Global Aluminium) young engineers and professionals support UAE universities students’ distance-learning

Young engineers and professionals from Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest industrial company in the United Arab Emirates outside oil and gas, are supporting UAE university students’ distance learning by leading online seminars on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in industry. The online seminars, which have all been led by UAE National engineers and professionals under the age of 30, have so far been held with students from the American University of Sharjah, UAE University, and the Higher Colleges of Technology. Young EGA engineers and professionals usually visit universities in person to discuss the industrial applications of students’ fields of study, under EGA’s ‘Ambassador programme’. More than 600 UAE university students participated in these sessions last year.

Grade 12 students in UAE asked to register for university admissions

Grade 12 students in the UAE have been asked to register for enrolment in higher institutions so they don’t miss out on admissions for the next academic year. The Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research said the students in grade 12 for the academic year 2019-2020 should register for enrolment in universities and other higher education institutions and for foreign scholarships to secure places for their future education.

Dubai’s first fully integrated purpose-built student housing community nears completion ahead of the new academic year

The Myriad Dubai, an urban styled student housing community located in the heart of Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) is now 90% complete and set to welcome students in time for the new academic year starting in September. This will be welcomed news for the increasing number of students who are now focused on staying in the UAE for university, amid the global pandemic that has resulted in country-wide lockdowns and travel restrictions.


Dual degree programmes start this academic year

Several universities in HCM City will launch dual-degree training programmes in the 2020-2021 academic year in an aim to offer more diverse choices for students. Students at member universities under Vietnam National University-HCM City will be able to study their own major plus an additional major taught by other member universities. If they choose to major in journalism, psychology, international relations, English language, or tourism and travel administration at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, they will finish their first academic year at the university for which they initially applied.

University enrolment regulations for 2020 declared

University enrolment regulations for the 2020 intake will be adjusted to improve limitations in the university entrance exam last year, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) declared. The regulations will be applied for all university and college admission and this year, institutions will not enrol for the intermediate training level like before and will concentrate on the college and university training level only. The regulations this year also added that students studying a foreign curriculum at high schools in Vietnam will be allowed to take the university and college entrance exam if the curriculum is recognized by their local country and at the same level as the curriculum in Vietnam.

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