We are happy to present EduChat—the second edition of June 2020—to apprise you of key developments in the higher education space.
COVID-19 has kicked up numerous challenges to access and equity in higher education across the world. Although contexts differ, the pandemic has also highlighted common problems and global interconnectedness. Being off-campus and remote learning has been a “huge challenge”, especially for economically disadvantaged students and those from developing countries. Student-sending nations (abroad for study) have recognised the need for better digital penetration and quality connectivity to ensure the youth’s educational aspirations are fulfilled. This is likely to lead bolstered public spending on widening and deepening internet coverage, capacity, and connectivity.
Meanwhile in South Asia, universities’ initiatives suggest a forward-looking sentiment as increasingly authorities are starting online classes, deploying teleconferencing and telecommuting platforms for distance education, partnering with international universities on educational research, increasing capacity by setting up more universities and launching online search platforms for internships. These are positive signs of the region’s academia changing the conventional learning and teaching methods and models to contextualise them to the current times and render uninterrupted access to higher education.
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Over USD 200,000 awarded to ten teams from the University of Kentucky for sustainability efforts
Ten teams of the University of Kentucky students, faculty, and staff will begin work on sustainability projects next semester after being selected to receive Sustainability Challenge Grants totalling more than USD 200,000. This is the largest cohort of teams in the six-year history of this program. The Sustainability Challenge Grant program is designed to engage multidisciplinary teams from the university community in the creation and implementation of ideas that will promote sustainability by simultaneously advancing economic vitality, ecological integrity, and social equity.
The University of Saskatchewan led partnership awarded USD 2.5 million to advance global climate education
Working with international partners, the University of Saskatchewan (U-Sask) has been awarded a USD 2.5 million partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to increase climate change education, training and public awareness on a global scale. The project will get underway with thirty case studies over six continents to gain geographic and culturally diverse understandings of how climate change education and communication can help drive action on climate change across sectors.
The University of Connecticut now a platinum and green University
The University of Connecticut has gone platinum as one of the world’s most sustainable campuses. UConn rates sixth out of over 1,000 universities in forty countries in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2020 Sustainable Campus Index. UConn is one of the only seven institutions meriting platinum status. UConn continues to set ambitious goals for having an increasingly sustainable campus. New sustainability programs and initiatives implemented since the previous ratings include the expansion of the Recycling Bags program, which included a Sustainability Activity book for all first and second-year students to learn more about sustainability as they first set foot on campus. UConn also launched the Institute of the Environment in 2019 to facilitate the University’s portfolio of environmental research along with community-wide activities related to sustainability.
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.
Jisc, UK and Association of Colleges (AoC) launch plan to shape the digital future of further education and skills
Driven jointly by the UK’s education and research EdTech not-for-profit, Jisc, and the Association of Colleges (AoC), the project, called Shaping the Digital Future of FE and Skills, will bring together college leaders, teachers, students, sector bodies and EdTech experts. The group will research, collate and share the best examples of innovative teaching, learning, and assessment practice demonstrated during the pandemic crisis and establish a consensus on what “good” looks like in a transformed learner and staff experience ready for the reopening of campuses. It will also look at the impact on staff as well as students, the requirements for good leadership in a digital age, cover business operations, and identify funding and service needs.
Tackling the risk of growing inequality between universities
To better understand the disruption caused by COVID-19 on higher education and to investigate the first measures undertaken by higher education institutions around the world to respond to the crisis, the International Association of Universities (IAU) launched the IAU Global Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education around the World. The survey investigated the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of higher education, teaching, and learning, research, and community engagement. At almost all higher education institutions that responded to the survey, COVID-19 affected teaching and learning, with two-thirds of them reporting that classroom teaching has been replaced by distance teaching and learning. The data on partnerships and community engagements suggest the existence of two different groups of higher education institutions, with one group being in a weaker position than the other to react to the crisis and feeling its consequences more negatively. The best way to minimize this risk is through more collaboration between higher education institutions and between higher education institutions, governments, the private sector, and society at large inside and among countries.
Dhaka University (DU), Bangladesh to start online classes, provide health insurance to students
Dhaka University (DU) authorities have decided to start online classes and provide all its student’s health insurance amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The decision came at a meeting of the Dean’s committee chaired by DU Vice-Chancellor (VC). After various discussions on this issue, the concerned have been requested to take necessary initiatives for online classes. Deans and directors of the faculties and institutes will coordinate the process and send requisitions to the university’s registrar after verifying the demands and deficits.
The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan deploys Microsoft teams to over 100 universities.
To accelerate remote learning in a safe and secure environment, Microsoft is supporting the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan by deploying Teams for official online and remote learning interactions across more than 100 public and private universities. The move is in response to the call by the HEC for ideas on how to address the impact of COVID-19 on education and research. This pandemic has forced educators and students to rush into distance learning.
Nepal’s Mid-Western University and Shijiazhuang Tiedao University of China signed a memorandum of understanding on educational research
The Mid-Western University (MU) and the Shijiazhuang Tiedao University of China have signed a memorandum of understanding on educational, research and cultural exchange and collaboration. As per the agreement, both universities will cooperate and collaborate in multi-dimensional sectors. It is said the Masters and Ph.D. level students of Mid-western University can go for studies in Shijiazhuang Tiedao University utilizing credit transfer. The agreement will be valid for five years from the date of its signing.
Sri Lankan higher education minister reveals plans to build ten more universities
Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has given the nod to proceed with a set of proposals presented by the Minister of Higher Education Dr. Bandula Gunawardena for the expansion of the national university system. The national university system, particularly the technical universities, will be expanded by the increased loan amount provided by the Asian Development Bank’s Science Technology and Human Resources Project. Under this Government, it is planned to increase the number of students admitted to Universities from 30,000 to 60000 and to establish one National University in each district.
The University of Auckland launches learning centres in China
The University of Auckland has launched two Learning Centres in collaboration with Southwest University (SWU) in Chongqing and Northeast Forestry University (NEFU) in Harbin. This will provide an alternative learning experience for its students unable to enter New Zealand because of current border restrictions. The University has been providing on-line teaching for more than 1,000 Chinese students unable to reach New Zealand campuses when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
China tightens international students applying for universities, colleges
China will further tighten international students’ applications for undergraduate programs in Chinese universities and colleges to uphold education fairness. The circular, issued by the Ministry of Education, noted that students whose parents are both Chinese nationals or one parent are Chinese nationals and who have acquired foreign nationality at birth are qualified for admittance to undergraduate programs of Chinese universities and colleges. Universities and colleges need to strictly examine the nationality status and qualification of international students applying for admission following the law.
Three Chinese universities join the Good Hope Net project to combat coronavirus
China’s Hunan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Xiamen University have joined an international science group named The Good Hope Net. The scientists from Russia, Finland, Italy, Canada, and China have high priority access to RSC Tornado supercomputer deployed at Joint Supercomputing Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences (JSCC RAS) for studying methods to fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus infection. This project aims to develop medicine for diagnostics and therapy against the coronavirus contagious disease that became the cause of the global pandemic.
UGC (University Grants Commission) asks universities, colleges not to force students for immediate payment of fees
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has urged universities and colleges not to insist upon immediate payment of tuition and exam fees given the financial hardship being faced by students due to the coronavirus. The institutions have been requested to consider the matter regarding fee payment sympathetically and if feasible, offer alternative payment options to students till normalcy returns. The commission sent a letter to vice-chancellors and principals after it received grievances from the students and parents that colleges were compelling them to pay fees immediately. The UGC has formed a task force to monitor concerns of students, teachers, and institutions and address them accordingly.
MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource and Development) launches TULIP portal to provide Internship opportunities to fresh graduates
To help fresh graduates in India find internship opportunities in all urban local bodies and smart cities, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) launched an online portal for ‘The Urban Learning Internship Program (TULIP). Through TULIP the government aims to fulfil twin goals of providing interns with the hands-on learning experience as well as infusing fresh energy and ideas in the functioning of India’s ULBs and Smart Cities. The government through this portal aims to provide internships to at least 25,000 young graduates in local and urban bodies.
The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) discussing the best solution over tuition fees of higher education institutions
The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) is studying issues related to the institutions of higher education (IPT) semester tuition fees for students affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The National Student Consultative Council (MPPK) was reported to have asked the MOHE to study the semester study fee for students affected by Covid-19. During the implementation of the movement control order (MCO), almost 80 % of the students had returned to their villages and did not fully utilize the university facilities. The MOHE previously announced that all teaching and learning (PDP) activities should be implemented online by December 31 and that PDP activities are not allowed face-to-face.
Xiamen University gets cloud computing boost
Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Xiamen University Malaysia (XMUM) to enhance cloud computing education and skills among the latter’s staff and students through the Alibaba Cloud Academic Empowerment Programme (AAEP). Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Malaysia general manager Jordy Cao said the demand for information technology and cloud professionals was expected to rise exponentially as more businesses embark on digital transformation. The collaboration between Alibaba Cloud and XMUM will empower more students to stay ahead so they can boost their career prospects in the digital economy.
Malaysian university moots robot graduation ceremonies to cut COVID-19 risk
Malaysian university is considering using robots dressed in gowns and mortarboards to act as stand-ins at graduation ceremonies to prevent coronavirus infections. A video of the planned ceremonies released by the university shows two elegantly attired, waist-high robots being handed diplomas by high-ranking university officials. The students’ faces appear on screens mounted on the robots’ heads.
Middlesex University Dubai achieves a five Star Rating in the KHDA Higher Education Classifications 2020
Middlesex University Dubai goes from strength to strength and has rounded off a stellar academic year of achievements for students, faculty, and staff by being awarded a five Star rating in the 2020 KHDA Higher Education Classification developed in partnership with QS. The academic year 2019/20 began with regional industry recognition; with Middlesex University Dubai being awarded ‘Best Media Centre’ at the Forbes Middle East Higher Education Awards 2019. The title was awarded in recognition of the outstanding curricula, achievements, and facilities of the University’s esteemed Media School.
UAE plans to introduce new regulations to combat fake education certificates
The UAE is planning to introduce new regulations to prevent people from cheating their way into employment with forged university degrees and certificates, according to authorities. The Federal National Council (FNC) committee on education, culture, sports, and information affairs said it has remotely discussed the federal draft law amendment on the use of bogus education certificates, especially from foreign higher institutions, to secure jobs in the country. The proposed tougher legislation, which will be taken to the FNC meeting for further discussion before being passed by all members, targets dishonest job seekers and will also punish recruiters and employers who knowingly accept fake degrees and other certificates.
UAE universities expect more local applicants amid COVID-19 uncertainty
Universities in the UAE expect more applicants from within the country amid a growing reluctance to study aboard because of the pandemic. Campuses closed in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and lectures were forced to move online till summer break. It is currently unknown if campuses will re-open regularly in September when the new term begins. UAE education authorities are monitoring the situation and will announce guidelines related to how and when universities can resume campus learning. Some universities, such as the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester in the UK, have already announced that lectures in Fall 2020 will be online only.
Vietnam exam changes create TNE (Transnational Education) opportunities
The country’s high school examination will now only recognize the completion of twelve years of education, rather than use it specifically to enroll students in universities. The change will give students more flexibility and universities more academic autonomy. Many universities have announced their enrolment plans, using different methods to assess students’ abilities and to ensure a smooth enrolment process. The university enrolment regulations also captured a market trend that more students are now looking for options of studying foreign programs offered in-country or by local universities.
Recruitment demand in IT industry quadruples in Vietnam
The recruitment demand of the IT industry has quadrupled after a decade, according to the report “Information Technology Human Resources of the 2010s and 2020″ released by Vietnam Works, a leading online recruitment website, belonging to the Navigos Group. The seven fields in the IT industry with the highest recruitment demand are software development; technical assistance; project/product management; user experience and interface; QA/QC; and data science. From 2010 to early 2020, the recruitment demand for the software development segment accounted for more than 50 percent of total demand and had the largest impact on the recruitment demand of the entire IT industry. When comparing the first half of the decade and the second half, the recruitment demand for this segment nearly doubled.