Dear Reader,

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

The COVID-19 pandemic is set to change the world sooner than we know. The way our governments, institutions, organisations, and people think and function, will radically change— perhaps for the long term. Online has become the default mode of education during this long lockdown period in the wake of Covid-19. At least for two decades now, Ed-tech enthusiasts have been predicting that technology will become the biggest intermediary of the learning and teaching processes. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of students across the globe had to leave their university spaces, and professors have been confined to their homes. Higher education stands disaggregated, and faculty and students are grappling with the sudden new norm of completely tech-mediated teaching and learning.

In the past, the time between February and April has always been marked by a flurry of curricular and assessment activities. However, this year since the third week of March academic institutions and students are under pressure to not lose academic time and have tried to re-invent their learning and teaching experience online.

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

The University of Auckland retains the number one spot in international sustainability rankings

For the second year in a row, the University of Auckland has ranked Number one in the world in Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, which assess the social and economic impact of universities using metrics based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The global ranking was launched in 2019 to measure the broader impact of universities. It highlights the work being delivered by universities within their communities, demonstrating the differences they can make to the world against measures such as providing inclusive and equitable quality education, achieving gender equality, and championing environmental sustainability.

The University of Chicago raises the goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The University of Chicago is targeting deeper cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions, setting a goal of a fifty percent reduction across University operations by 2030. Previously, the University planned on a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and it is ahead of schedule to reach that target. The University’s target is now based on overall emissions rather than based on emissions per square foot of building space. The University is also increasing access to data on energy use in campus operations to allow members of the University of Chicago community to provide ideas and input on how to advance sustainability efforts.

The University of Stirling receives USD 1.5 million to study global sustainability

A new USD 1.5 million project led by the University of Stirling is aiming to “deliver critical step change” to help resolve conflicts between the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using hydropower as a model, the study will provide evidence and tools to identify, forecast, prevent and mitigate issues caused by the competing objectives of the Goals (SDGs) and, ultimately, help achieve equitable sustainable development across the world.

Practitioner Series: Volume 7

The Hidden Burden: Tax Exposures for Foreign Higher-Ed Institutions in India

The COVID-19 Pandemic is engulfing our world and invoking unprecedented responses and strategies. Global HE, as well as businesses and organisations, is facing drastic challenges that will re-define the basics of running international operations. The coming years, probably at least the first half of this decade, will see a paradigm shift where economies, institutions, and companies will not only re-orient themselves but will also change their cultures and ecosystems. Within this re-alignment, the international higher-education sector can be at the forefront of change. Despite these uncertain times, India will remain as important as ever, and continue to be a top source market for global institutions seeking to meet their international objectives. In the latest volume of our Practitioner Series Mr. Kapil Dua, Co-Founder and Managing Director, APAC and Mr. Abhinav Sood, Head of Client Relations and International Projects-Financial Consulting at Sannam S4 outline why India will remain an important market for international institutions.

They further highlight key regulations that will require a proper impact assessment of taxation, recognising potential savings and alternate strategies for collaborative development, implementation and the understanding of compliance requirements.

Digital Future

Harnessing technology for global higher education

Educators are adapting to new realities as they grapple with the disruption caused by the spread of COVID-19. Virtual exchange programs are versatile, and various models meet the needs of implementers and participants. For many higher education institutions, the successful implementation and sustainability of a virtual exchange program involves getting buy-in from campus stakeholders, including leadership, fellow faculty members, and the technical support team. This is an inflection point for many educational leaders to continue to diversify the various ways in which their students gain global perspectives as well as skills for the 21st century.

Super Stats

Report—Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on UK University finances

London Economics was commissioned by the University and College Union to consider the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education institutions’ enrolments and finances. Some of the key insights of the report are:

  • Combining the impact of the economic downturn with the expected deferral rate due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, compared to 2018-19 first-year enrolments, approximately 232,000 students will no longer enrol in higher education in 2020-21 equivalent to a 24 percent decline compared to the baseline (2018-19) cohort.
  • In terms of the financial impact associated with this loss in first-year students, the total decline in just tuition fees and teaching grant income experienced across the sector was estimated to be GBP 2.47 billion.
  • Although the average loss in income per higher education institution stands at approximately GBP 20 million, given the differences in the reliance on international students by different institutions, this varies significantly. Some institutions might expect to lose more than GBP 100 million.
  • If university expenditure declines to the same extent as the expected decline in income, this would result in approximately 30,000 job losses across the higher education sector.
  • Combining the direct reduction in university income and expenditure with the subsequent indirect and induced ‘ripple effects’ throughout university supply chains and the wider economy, the pandemic would be expected to result in a decline in UK economic output of approximately GBP 6.1 billion, as well as a total of 63,000 job losses.


How Teaching Changed in the (Forced) Shift to Remote Learning

A survey released by Bay View Analytics offers insights into the transition that virtually all colleges, instructors, and students undertook as the novel coronavirus shut down campuses across the country. It finds, for instance, that the vast majority of institutions (90%) engaged in some form of emergency distance/virtual education to conduct or complete the spring term; those that did not were typically colleges that already were exclusively online, or in the few areas in the country where shelter-in-place orders were not in force. Similarly, three-quarters of instructors (76 percent) reported that they had to move some of their courses online to complete the term.

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

Universities in Costa Rica implements virtual classes as part of the preventive measures

Abiding by the recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the government of Costa Rica as a measure for students to continue their studies has implemented the modality of virtual classes based on the use of digital platforms. The University of Costa Rica (UCR) chose to duplicate all the Internet links in its precincts and sites to meet the need to virtualise the courses, with the aim that their students and teachers had access to all the virtual courses. A positive aspect of this crisis due to the COVID-19 Pandemic is that it provides the opportunity to streamline remote learning methodologies and delve into those changes that the world is embracing through the fourth industrial revolution.

Adtalem Global Education completes sale of Adtalem Educational do Brazil to YDUQS—Ed Tech Company

Adtalem Global Education a leading workforce solutions provider, has completed the sale of Adtalem Educational do Brazil to YDUQS, the second largest higher education company in Brazil. Adtalem’s Brazil assets contributed USD 225.8 million in revenue and USD 17.5 million in operating income. YDUQS is a leading Brazilian educational group focused on transforming lives through higher education. With 576,000 students across all Brazilian states, YDUQS is a pioneer in online learning and a leader in high-quality programs with its medical and law schools.

South Asia

Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) urges for special internet package for students

Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) has proposed creating student-friendly special internet packages so that students across Bangladesh can continue their classes online, in a hassle-free manner. Considering the current reality, it is not possible for all the students, now scattered across Bangladesh, to continue classes online and there is a need for a special student-friendly internet package so that students can continue their academic activities. Many private universities have already started researching how they can maintain online education using feature phones and 2G connections.

Nepal’s private colleges running online, public ones shut

With the likely continuation of the nationwide lockdown for the foreseeable future, the education institutions in the country are having a challenging time completing their courses on time. However, thanks to technology, students and teachers are now able to connect through various online platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom, and even Facebook. Some private colleges are already using these tools to run classes online during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Madhyapaschim University, Nepal signs MoU with Open Educational Resources for Universities (OERu) on providing educational materials online

A memorandum of understanding has been reached between Madhyapaschim University and Open Educational Resources for Universities (OERu) on providing educational materials online. The agreement has been a pivotal step in the educational sector not only being limited to the University level, with this project in effect, students, but lecturers and professors can also access educational materials and research reports online.

Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan orders all universities to begin online classes

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has directed all universities and accredited institutions with sufficient resources to start online classes. HEC has asked all universities which have well-built learning management systems (LMS) to initiate online classes. HEC has taken several steps to make sure that the students are imparted with quality education during the closure, instituting a technical support committee (TSC) to help universities’ staff adapt to the online mode of education.

Country News


Chinese EdTech Ventures Raised USD 1.48 billion under the COVID-19 Crisis

Financial markets across the world have been shaken by the spread of COVID-19, while education investment in China seems to buck the plummeting venture trend in the first quarter of 2020. From January through March 2020, 55 China EdTech ventures have raised about USD 1.48 billion. Even though about 58% of the companies have been still at an early stage. As countries worldwide are acing challenges of combating the coronavirus, leading companies in each sector will have more strength to get through the cold winter.

Tsinghua University, China launches international learning platform

Tsinghua University in Beijing launched an international version of its online learning platform XuetangX that will be made available to students and teachers around the world who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. XuetangX was first launched in 2013 as part of the university’s strategic plan for online education, its international version has an English language interface and there are plans to add Russian, Spanish, French and Japanese versions soon.


UGC (University Grants Commission) panel suggests starting university & higher education academic sessions from September

In the wake of the lockdown in the country due to the ongoing battle against coronavirus pandemic, a panel appointed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended that academic sessions in universities and higher educational institutions can be started from September instead of July. Two committees were constituted by the UGC to look into the issues of academic loss and online education. The second panel has suggested that universities should conduct online exams if they have the infrastructure and means or wait for the lockdown to get over and then decide a date for pen-and-paper examinations.

Indian Ed-Tech UpGrad to allow learners to opt for university-certified Masters, MBA degree programmes at just USD 130

UpGrad, India’s largest online higher education company, is reshaping the online education landscape, ever since the nationwide lockdown through launching back to back initiatives. In its most recent move, the ed-tech major announced that learners can now start a Master’s or MBA degree programs, offered by the top 1% universities worldwide, at a nominal cost of USD 130 only. They can experience the brand’s world-class learning platform for two months, until June 15, 2020, and then choose to continue or quit.


Students at Malaysian universities hard at work to make, distribute face shields for front liners amid Covid-19 pandemic

Students in universities around the country are doing their part in making face shields for front liners amid the Covid-19 crisis. They are either teaming up with creative platforms or utilising their workforce to create these crucial headgears for medical professionals. The university collaborated with other social enterprises such as Me. Reka, biji-biji Initiative and their partners have launched a digital platform to gather makers, volunteers, and even front liners. Consisting of 40 lecturers and students from various facilities, they have made and distributed a total of 5,000 units of face shields to front liners in Kuala Lumpur and Johor.

University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to offer 100 MOOCs this year

University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) is targeting to make available 100 massive online open courses (MOOCs) this year to allow its students to develop self-directed learning. UMK has been designing and producing MOOCs since 2015. While the courses available are mainly catered for the UMK learner community, there are a few that have students from abroad enrolled. These courses will drive attributes, such as analytical skills, digital design, advanced social media, and gadget expertise. These attributes will be infused, integrated, and embedded in our courses that will be visible in our MOOC development.


The new evaluation system for UAE university students, no dismissals during Covid-19 crisis

The UAE’s Ministry of Higher Education has said that university students will not be issued academic warnings, placed under monitoring, or dismissed during the current distance-learning phase. Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills added that students too have a responsibility to adhere to the rules and regulations of the remote evaluation process, including allowing the use of electronic monitoring tools, such as live-streamed videos, during examinations. He said that all institutions should have in place practical remote education solutions, including ‘virtual internship’ systems.

Coronavirus: Dubai universities announce fee cuts to reduce strain on families

Some universities in Dubai have slashed tuition fees to help ease financial pressures on students and their families sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes after schools across the Emirates announced discounts to reduce the burden on parents affected by the damaging economic impact of Covid-19. Canadian University Dubai reduced its fees by 30 percent for existing and returning students. The University of Wollongong in Dubai offered a 25 percent discount to all new students for the summer intake in June and for autumn entrants in September. Harvard University said it will not be refunding or reducing tuition fees for the spring term though classes are held remotely.

Coronavirus UAE: Universities host virtual career fairs

Some universities in the UAE are hosting virtual career fairs to connect students with potential employers as campuses remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Colleges are hosting web-based recruitment events, which include video interviews, as an alternative to in-person networking on campus. The ‘AUD 2020 Career Hunt’ was due to host over 80 of the region’s “top companies”, start-ups and government entities on campus from across all sectors. Another new trend is “off-site” internships within industries such as social media, content editing, data analysis, information technology, graphic design, writers, digital marketing, and research.


Universities provide scholarships to ease the burden on disadvantaged students

Many universities in HCM City plan to provide scholarships to students whose families’ livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or who live in the Mekong Delta and are affected by drought and saltwater intrusion. The Open University has announced that it will give scholarships of USD 85 to students if one of their parents loses a job or their family faces difficulties in selling agricultural produce. There are 3,000 scholarships on offer, and priority will be given to the worst affected by drought and saltwater in the delta

Universities want to use graduation exam results for enrolment

The Ministry of Education and Training plans to use the high school graduation examination this year simply to recognise students who finish the high school’s education programme, instead of doubling up as the university entrance exam. Colleges and universities will be allowed to enrol students using their criteria instead of solely relying on the high school graduation examination results as before. The move would help colleges or universities use separate results to make better decisions.


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