Dear Reader,

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

With more than 160 countries affected and no signs of a vaccine or medication to treat COVID-19 in the immediate days and weeks, collective action is the only way to flatten the curve. A flatter curve assumes a slower infection rate causes less stress on the health care system, fewer hospital visits on any given day and fewer sick people being turned away. Besides disinfection and self-isolation, social distancing has been several nations’ messaging for their citizens to help slow down the virus’ spread. Most of the world population is under lockdown including students at higher education institutions. Adapting to the situation, international universities are rapidly moving to online education to ensure continuity of education for their students at pace with the routine curriculum dissemination.

Notwithstanding the impact of the global pandemic, countries are continuing to develop an efficient higher education system at a national level by initiating collaborations, making regulatory changes, and leveraging technology such as Blockchain systems. Efforts to contribute towards a nation’s sustainability continue to be in full-swing amongst its higher education sector to relay ideas of a clean and green footprint within the larger community.

Given the rapid worldwide spread of coronavirus, we have decided to reschedule our inaugural SDG Conclave to 2021. To maintain the interests of the 150 attendees from Indian and international universities, government stakeholders, corporate houses, and non-profits, we have re-imagined the key components of our Conclave. Towards this, we are organising a diverse range of interactive webinars, podcasts, events, and blogs, details of which have started being posted on our SDG Conclave website. We are looking forward to engaging with you over the next 12 months and welcoming you to our Conclave in 2021.

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

Happy Reading!!

Sustainability Goals

University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) holds its first sustainability week

During the week starting March 9, several thematic events were held across the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM)’s first sustainability week. Organised by Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM) students, the week was established to push the crucial idea of one’s “footprint” and its effect on the environment.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale gets recognition for its sustainability efforts

For a third consecutive time, Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale is gaining national recognition for its campus-wide sustainability efforts. Several working groups are in place featuring students, faculty and staff working collaboratively to find ways to be more sustainable in the areas of air and climate, energy, food and transportation

Practitioner Series: Volume 6

Coronavirus Crisis and Digital Education Preparedness

The global coronavirus epidemic has significantly disrupted the International Higher Education Sector. With student and faculty movement mobility being brought to a halt, many university campuses have closed down completely. As a result, fully-online courses quickly have taken center stage as an alternative for teaching and learning. As the coronavirus began spreading from China to more countries including the US, important questions have surfaced for leaders, faculty, and administrators of universities with an international operation. In the latest volume of Practitioner Series  Ms. Hongxia Liu, Director (Non-Executive) at Sannam S4 details what to expect and how to prepare in terms of opportunities and challenges as associated with digital education, and how best to support faculty and students in such a crisis situation

Digital Future

The promise of blockchain and its impact on higher education

The National Center of Scientific Research in Paris is investigating new opportunities about decentralised technologies such as blockchain to enable new governance models and participatory decision-making through the concept of governance-by-design. While the technology was initially seen as a tool for disintermediation that would potentially displace existing higher education institutions, today it is increasingly regarded as an opportunity for both public and private institutions to transition towards a new era characterised by greater transparency and accountability.

Funding Opportunities

Supergen ORE (Offshore Renewable Energy) Hub launches second offshore renewables funding call

The Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub has launched the second round of flexible funding to advance research into the opportunities and challenges of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy. The second round will award up to USD 1.47 million to researchers at the UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Research Council Institutes and Centres, and Independent Research Organisations.


Why coronavirus looks like a ‘Black Swan’ moment for Higher Ed

With the coronavirus outbreak, many colleges are cancelling in-person classes and scrambling to create remote-teaching alternatives. The pace at which colleges are moving to online teaching hints that the reaction to this emerging national emergency will be more than a blip, even after the particular risks of Covid-19 have passed. This is because once colleges develop the ability to serve their students via technology, there’s little reason for them to abandon 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

Sandia, Puerto Rican university collaborate to develop energy projects for global tropics

A new 10-year agreement between Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, has the potential to bring more reliable electricity to remote communities and the latest in electrical grid technology to rural areas in the world’s tropics. Collaborative projects undertaken as part of this agreement will leverage the university’s academic and research expertise in addressing problems relevant to energy resiliency, critical infrastructure and energy-efficient process development aiming to treat, clean and reuse water and soils.

Brazilian Ministry of Education proposes issuing diplomas on the blockchain

In an attempt to fight against the falsification of university diplomas in Brazil, the Ministry of Education (MEC) has proposed creating a Blockchain-based platform to issue digital certificates among non-state universities. To finance the creation of the platform, the resources will come from the private educational institutions themselves since they will be exclusively responsible for issuing diplomas.

South Asia

Pakistan unveils biggest-ever scholarship programme for undergraduates

The Pakistan government has set aside USD 155.15 million for four-year scholarship schemes to support 200,000 undergraduates under Ehsaas Programme. This is to bring a sizable segment of youth under the net of higher education and create equal educational opportunities for all. Half of the scholarship recipients will be girls belonging to low-income groups.

The National University of Sciences and Technology becomes only Pakistani university in top 300 world universities of Engineering and Technology

Building upon its global reputation for its academic and research and development base, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) has unlocked yet another crowning achievement in the world rankings by becoming the only Pakistani university in top 300 world universities in Engineering and Technology.

Sri Lanka bolsters efforts to attract foreign universities to its shores

The Sri Lankan government plans on opening up the country for establishing international branch campuses of the foreign universities. These policy changes include establishing a “free education investment zone” in Horona that will provide tax breaks for international universities setting up overseas outposts, under the condition that their academic staff will also support local universities.

Huawei signs MOU with Sri Lanka’s Moratuwa University to enhance Information and Communication Technology (ICT) knowledge transformation

As part of Huawei’s long-term digital inclusion initiativeTECH4ALL, Huawei Sri Lanka and University of Moratuwa (UOM) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enable the educated and talented youth in Sri Lanka to enhance their skills in the ICT domain and be competitive in the ever-growing ICT industry. 

Country News


China to optimise network services for online education amid a pandemic

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China will provide better internet services for online education amid the fight against the novel coronavirus. The ministry urged local communication departments and basic telecom operators to strengthen network coverage and provide discounts on internet charges. The MIIT will carry out monitoring toward performances of the platforms at all levels such as download speeds and provide them to the public.


Ministry of Human Resource Development to rework a single higher education regulator plan

The government plans to have a single regulator for higher education which will house three separate arms, instead of creating four independent bodies as suggested by the new education policy drafting committee. The rethink comes after reservations were raised during inter-ministerial consultations about the feasibility of four separate bodies at a time the government is talking about merging existing regulators like University Grants Commission and All India Council for Technical Education.

Colleges, universities go online, ed-tech players offer free courses to tackle coronavirus pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic rapidly spreading across the globe, Indian players are gearing up to offer online lessons in case of a prolonged shutdown. In India, however, online classes have not yet begun in full swing. The institutes have not yet decided on shifting daily lectures to the online mode and are waiting for further clarity on the virus outbreak in India. Moreover, educational technology players are offering free digital classes for students to ensure that students don’t miss out on the daily lessons.




New government creates separate higher education ministry

Malaysia has decided to split the existing large education ministry into two: a higher education ministry and a separate education ministry overseeing the primary and secondary sectors to have a more focused development of higher education institutions.



Graduate employability: A priority of the Malaysian Education Ministry

In Malaysia, with the increasing number of graduates year after year coupled with the challenging economic climate, chances of getting a job appear challenging. To counter this, the industry has been actively involved in developing academic programmes, mentoring lecturers and students and providing industrial experience via practical training, internship programmes and work-based learning programmes to the students.



Universities activate e-learning mode

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, public universities have activated the e-learning mode for classes and postponed out-of-campus activities. Academic staff are strongly encouraged to activate e-learning for teaching and learning (T&L), using SPeCTRUM (University of Malaya’s in-house e-learning platform) and other online T&L applications. 




Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) delegation discusses cooperation on artificial intelligence with Egyptian Higher Education Institution 

A senior delegation from the MBZUAI, the world’s first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence university, recently discussed potential collaboration opportunities with Egypt’s educational institutions touching upon the importance of the exchange of students and knowledge in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), to provide reciprocal benefits for the UAE and Egypt.

UAE University is the country’s top higher education institution

As per the annual poll of QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020, the UAE University’s rank in the business and management studies (segment by subject) improved from 351–400 band to 301– 350. Universities across the UAE are continuing to enhance their academic performance, according to the latest world rankings. Researchers found the Emirates was improving in numerous fields, including business management and civil and electrical engineering.


Vietnam’s three universities up in QS rankings

Vietnam’s five training branches at three educational establishments have been named in the UK’s 2020 QS Stars University Ratings. The Hanoi University of Science and Technology had three disciplines in top 400–500 globally, including electrical engineering and electronics; mechanical engineering and aeronautical engineering in top 351–400, and computer science and information systems in the top 451–500, up 50–100 places from 2019.

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