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

The London School of Economics launches an ambitious plan to embed environmental sustainability across its operations

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has launched its plan to tackle the climate crisis and announced it will be the first UK university to become carbon neutral, for all the emissions it currently measures. This status will be achieved through ongoing work by the School to reduce its carbon footprint and by offsetting residual emissions through the funding of carbon reduction projects elsewhere. Currently, LSE measures emissions associated with the School’s energy use, water consumption, waste generation and business travel. The leading social science institution has already significantly reduced its carbon footprint through investment in energy efficiency and other measures. These include sourcing 100% of the School’s electricity from renewable sources and retrofitting buildings to optimise energy use. The university’s Sustainability Strategic Plan was created in full consultation with the LSE community. Through a series of events and workshops, engagement with Student Union societies and an online survey, LSE students and staff made clear their desire for the university to take bold action on the environment.

Australian higher education supporting sustainable development

New research from the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility shows the alumni of Australian Government development scholarships and fellowships have contributed to all seventeen areas targeted by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Facility’s latest report is a synthesis of the research undertaken in the first four years of the program. It explores the themes and findings around the long-term outcomes of the Australia Awards and predecessor scholarships and fellowships over 70 years. The Facility was able to map the collective contributions of alumni to all of the seventeen UN SDGs.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) halves energy-related carbon emissions one year ahead of target

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has halved its energy-related carbon emissions one year ahead of target, announced in its latest sustainability report. The new report, being unveiled at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Conference highlights the continuous progress in many areas of DMU’s work to achieve its sustainability goals including, recycling, carbon emissions, teaching and learning. New statistics show DMU has recycled 91% of its non-residential waste since the last report and has also been ranked in the top 50 universities in the world for sustainability in the Times Higher Education rankings. DMU has been working closely with the United Nations (UN) to pursue the UN’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The goals articulate a series of global challenges to tackle issues like poverty, environmental health and equality. For its work to support these goals, the DMU was made the global hub for SDG 16, which focuses on promoting peace, justice and strong institutions.

Digital Future

How 5G can help educators make the best of remote learning?

This spring, remote learning was a scramble, as teachers – perhaps originally planning for a much shorter disruption – hastily set up free tools like Zoom. Governments were focused on the public health aspects of the crisis. As the 2020/2021 school year rolls along, that remote learning, at least in some form, is going to be with us for a long time. It’s worth thinking about the more profound structural changes that need to take place to make remote learning as effective as possible and how, with the right investments from government leaders, 5G can help bring it all to life. Here are some considerations for educators and public officials as we come to terms with remote learning:

  • It can’t all be virtual but virtual can open new doors: More crowdsourcing and “social swarming” can help meet that social need in remote learning. Remote learning can also introduce brand-new educational experiences.
  • Mobile internet can fill the gaps in areas without fixed broadband coverage: As we think about the infrastructure needed to run a remote learning program smoothly, there are many places with access to good, high-speed internet that will enable students to learn without interruption. 
  • Geography is no longer a barrier with remote learning: At the higher levels of education, 5G-enabled remote learning will empower the idea that you can learn anywhere – and at any time. High-calibre professors will be able to teach in more than one university, interacting with students in real-time. 
  • 5G can be the infrastructure for our new educational normal: As students, parents, and educators adjust to the new normal of remote learning, 5G, in particular, can deliver new meaning, bringing students together with expert voices and unique experiences from around the globe.

Super Stats

Report—PQA (Post-qualification admissions): Reforming University Admissions

The report from Sutton Trust, UK looks at options for admissions reform and examines the perspective of young people themselves. After the A-Level results crisis in August 2020, the trust polled university applicants to see how they felt about the current university admissions system, and whether it could be improved. Two-thirds of this year’s university entrants are in favour of switching to a post-qualification admissions (PQA) system. According to the Sutton Trust, the survey results and the controversy that surrounded this year’s A-level results show that the UK’s admissions system must be reformed. Moving to a system in which young people and universities can make decisions based on actual exam results would be “fairer than the current system.

Key insights from the report:

  • The vast majority (almost 85%) of students receive predicted grades that prove to be incorrect.
  • The wake of this year’s exam results controversy provides an important opportunity to take another look at reforming the system.
  • Working-class students were less likely to gain a place at their first preference university when compared to their better-off peers (63% compared to 72%).
  • Over half (52%) had been underpredicted in their grades.
  • Many applicants also thought the universities they applied to would have made different decisions on their application if they had known their final grades.
  • It is time for the government to take a serious look at implementing Post-Qualification Applications from 2022 if some of the practical challenges can be overcome.
  • If the application period is moved to the summer, sufficient support must be provided to students from all backgrounds to make life-changing decisions on their future.


Post Pandemic: How must colleges and universities reinvent themselves?

We are in the process of reinvention, whether we like it or not. Post-COVID will not look like pre-COVID. During a time of multiple crises that are threatening both fiscal and cultural survival of academic institutions, what kind of leadership skills are needed most? How can administrators support faculty who have to teach in new ways and students who have to learn in new ways? Key Insights:

  • Faculty Training and Student-Centered Learning: Not two students will be learning in the same way. Some students might even have learning difficulties. Considering that, we should focus on understanding what students like to have out of these courses, and then we should also cater or provide more customized and personalized teaching experiences and learning experiences.
  • Make ‘Developing Leadership’ Your Mantra: Students must come out of college as thoughtful mission-driven leaders who think about other people, and think about how to impact the culture to include more people.
  • Corporate and Community Partnerships: Among students, it’s important to understand their types and needs. For example, those who are in college for the first time – they need an engaging experience at their respective institutions. Transfer students, most of whom work, need a flexible modality. Working professionals are looking to advance or reset their careers. Those who are in executive education programs need credentialing focused on developing competencies.
  • A New Value Equation for Higher Education: Flexibility is a broad term; these can be applied to offerings that higher ed’s already offered: an online offering and an incredibly significant variety of courses – having an online offering is now core to how students evaluate their enrolment options.
  • Preparing for the Cultural Demographic Shift: This is an approach that more universities should be taking because more and more of the student body and the faculty will be among the Cultural demographic shift (CDS) in the future.

Sannam S4 Initiatives

Sannam S4 new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Series

1) Webinar—Welcome & Discussion on US-India Higher Education with India’s Chicago Consul General

2) Webinar—India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) – Opportunities and implications for Queensland’s IET industry

3) Webinar—How will NEP reforms change internationalisation agendas in Indian universities?

4) Webinar—HE Reform Agenda: Key takeaways from the NEP

5) Webinar—Unpacking the new National Education Policy

6) Opinion— Sannam S4 views on the National Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet: 10 Key Takeaways

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 successfully. 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 the Internationalisation of Indian Higher Education.

Sannam S4 Podcast Season 3

Season 3 brings insights from India’s school university counsellors. Insights from those on the front line as they support students to adapt to the new normal and more about the challenges faced by students and the changing choices.

EdTech Developments

Ed Tech company Teachmint gets USD 3.5 million in seed funding led by Lightspeed India

Education technology start-up Teachmint has raised USD 3.5 million in seed funding led by Lightspeed India, along with participation from existing investors Better Capital and Titan Capital. Launched in May, the Bengaluru-based company has more than 120,000 tutors spread across 1,000 cities on its platform. Teachmint offers a mobile and video-first solution to offline tutors to take classes online, along with tools to evaluate student performance and other workflows. The start-up will utilise funds to build out its product suite, introduce new offerings and increase its geographic reach. Its services are already available in 10 regional languages, apart from English.



Byte Dance launches education technology brand Dali for China

Beijing-based Byte Dance announced a standalone education technology (ed-tech) brand Dali for the Chinese market, becoming another major tech player looking to capitalise on the sector’s boom driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dali, meaning “forceful strength” in Chinese, will host all the education business of Byte Dance and already has 10,000 employees. Demand for education technology grew during the coronavirus pandemic as widespread lockdowns in China and school closures forced students to take online classes from home for many months. Byte Dance entered into the education sector in 2016 by investing in ed-tech start-ups and also developing education products on its own. The company operates several education-related apps, from English tutoring to live courses.



Education tech firms in India corner almost all USD 100 million bracket funds post COVID

From school students to working professionals, the pandemic has created a large addressable market for start-ups in education tech, or ed-tech, which saw significant interest from private equity and venture capitalist investors over the last six months. Among the eight funding rounds of USD 100 million and above in Indian start-ups during April-September, five involved ed-tech companies like Byju’s, Vedantu, Unacademy and Eruditus. According to data sourced from Venture Intelligence, one-third of the USD 1.5 billion raised in these eight investment rounds was by Byju’s. According to India Brand Equity Foundation, with more than 250 million school-going students, there is a huge demand-supply gap in the education sector with an estimated additional requirement of 200,000 schools, 35,000 colleges, 700 universities and 40 million seats in vocational training centres. Consultancy firm RedSeer pointed out that with factors such as relaxation in regulations governing degrees, the online higher education market is expected to grow to USD 5 billion over the next five years, a 10-fold increase from its current size.



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

Argentina opens third Confucius Institute at its oldest university—National University of Cordoba (UNC)

Argentina’s third Confucius Institute officially opened its doors at the National University of Cordoba (UNC), offering introductory to advanced courses on Chinese language and culture at the country’s oldest institute of higher education. The Confucius Institute opened following a four-year joint effort by UNC leaders, China’s University of Jinan and the Chinese Embassy in Argentina, expanding a network that includes institutes at the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of La Plata. Currently, the Confucius Institute at the UNC offers introductory and beginner courses in reading comprehension of Chinese in Spanish and English, and a business Chinese workshop in English. It is also preparing the HSK (written test) and HSKK (oral test) exams to certify Chinese language proficiency. Professors from other Chinese educational institutions have joined the activities of the UNC Confucius Institute, teaching classes on Chinese literature and politics.

Chile—New higher education entry system more flexible to increase inclusion

Chile’s 16-year-old access system for universities, professional and technical institutes is being replaced this year. The new system gives higher education institutions greater flexibility in assessing entry tests, secondary education score marks and school ranking, which are the main instruments used by universities and technical institutes for admitting students. The main purposes of the change, according to educational authorities, are to make access more equitable by expanding opportunities for applying students and valuing talent diversity as well as providing educational institutions with greater flexibility for promoting their educational projects. The new access system replaces 2003 standardised, written, university selection test (PSU for its Spanish acronym) by two obligatory access tests – one on reading abilities and another on proficiency in mathematics – plus several elective tests. The PSU tested knowledge while the new tests measure abilities.

Costa Rica—UCIMED School of Medicine officially entered the list of schools with international accreditation 

The School of Medicine of the University of Medical Sciences (UCIMED), officially received international accreditation by the Mexican Council for the Accreditation of Medical Education (COMAEM), however, it was this September that it officially entered the list of internationally accredited medical schools. The list is prepared by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), a recognized commission that assesses the preparation of medical graduates who graduate outside the United States, to enter residency or scholarship programs in that North American country. To achieve international accreditation, the university had to voluntarily undergo a rigorous assessment of its study plan, the quality and experience of its teachers, the level of its infrastructure, its trajectory in scientific research, the didactic equipment with which it counts, continuous improvement, the quality of international agreements and even the quality of its graduates.

South Asia

Bangladesh: Bangladesh extends closure of educational institutions till November 14 2020

The government of Bangladesh has extended the closure of educational institutions till November 14, 2020. Earlier, the educational institutions were closed till October 31. The educational institutions in Bangladesh have remained closed since March 17 after the outbreak of Corona pandemic in the country. Earlier, the government had announced that the annual examination for Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) will not be held to control the spread of Coronavirus in the country. In the meanwhile, the Prime Minister has urged people to follow the health guidelines to protect themselves from the second possible wave of the COVID 19.

Nepal: Timely reforms needed in higher education

In Nepal, although the educational policy is not appropriate to meet the need of time, the concerned authorities have not paid proper attention to bringing about reforms in it till now. Since minor changes in the existing educational policy will have no visible impact on society, a dedicated policy is necessary to bring about radical changes in education and to reap more benefits from it. Constructing more schools and colleges in different parts of the country alone cannot serve the purpose of education because quality is the fundamental issue, which is possible through an effective curriculum and efficient teachers. In Nepal, education has been limited to written examinations at all levels. However, to meet the present need of time, education should not be limited to such types of examinations. For this purpose, an effective evaluation committee comprising practically qualified teachers and so-called experts should be formed in every educational system. Such a committee should strictly and impartially keep watch of students and educational development concerning their age, sex and other factors to allow them to utilise their knowledge and skills in practice.

Sri Lanka: Focus on online exams in universities—UGC (University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka) 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) is contemplating holding the university examinations online. According to the chairman Senior Professor Sampath Amarathunga, this step has been taken to continue the studies without interruption due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Currently, discussions are ongoing at higher levels to make it fair for every undergraduate. A specific date has not been decided and discussions are being carried out with University Vice-Chancellors assessing the pros and cons and practicability of online evaluation methods. Options like open book assessments and moving on to analytical questions can be regarded as solutions.

Pakistan: Plans to attract foreign campuses in new ‘Knowledge city’

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has unveiled the new Namal Knowledge City, a mega project of academic facilities near Mianwali city in Punjab province, referring to it as the country’s “first knowledge city”. The multi-million-dollar facility, some 200 kilometres south-west of the capital, Islamabad, is to be completed by 2027, and it is envisaged that it will include housing, research and development institutions, technology start-ups and foreign university branch campuses. Britain’s Lancaster University, Noor International University of Bangladesh and the Scotland’s University of Strathclyde initially signed agreements to locate offshoot campuses in the Lahore park. The first phase of the Namal Knowledge City project designed by Tony Ashai, an Indian-American architect, projected to cost some USD 100 million, is planned to be completed by 2023 when the term of the current government ends. The second phase is planned for completion by 2027.

Country News


Academic session in engineering colleges, technical institutions from December 1, 2020

The academic session for freshers in engineering colleges and other technical institutions across the country will begin from December 1 and the deadline for admissions has been further extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Due to prolonged emergent conditions in the country, requests from various state governments and the ongoing admission process of IITs and NITs, the council has extended the last date of admission to first-year engineering courses (UG and diploma lateral entry) to November 30, 2020. The guidelines framed by an expert committee, set up for revising the academic calendar given the COVID-19 pandemic, were accepted by the UGC and accordingly, the universities have been recommended a six-day teaching-learning schedule every week.



Ministry of Education names OP Jindal Global University ‘Institution of Eminence’

OP Jindal Global University (JGU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Union Ministry of Education and has been conferred the status of an Institution of Eminence (IoE). This is a historic recognition for JGU as all legislative, regulatory and procedural requirements under the IoE regulations have been duly met, enabling JGU to function as an ‘Institution of Eminence’. The IoE Policy was launched to implement the commitment of the Government of India to empower Universities and Higher Educational Institutions to help them become world-class teaching and research institutions.



IIM Indore signs MoU with University of Denver; plans to offer additional one-year study at American varsity

Students of the Indian Institute of Management in the association will have an option to pursue an additional year of study at University of Denver (DU) in the USA to earn a transcript graduate certificate, along with a degree at their institute. IIM Indore, concerning the same, signed an MoU with the DU, Colorado. The MoU aims to develop academic and educational collaboration and to encourage mutual understanding between the two institutes. This agreement will focus on several key initiatives supported by the Office of Internationalization, with a long-term goal of expanding collaborative initiatives to other academic units.




Chinese universities admit more students with disabilities

Colleges and universities in China saw a rise in the enrolment of students with disabilities from 2017 to 2019. A total of 12,362 students with disabilities were admitted into universities in 2019, up from 10,818 in 2017 and 11,154 in 2018, according to the federation. The China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF) has worked with relevant departments for years to facilitate the employment of college students with disabilities through special online and offline job fairs and an online service platform to help people with disabilities find jobs or take up entrepreneurship.



China’s top universities’ graduates prefer to stay in the nation

Fewer graduates from China’s top two universitiesTsinghua University and Peking University, have chosen to continue their education abroad in recent years, according to data from the two institutions. Tsinghua University said 15.3 per cent of last year’s graduates went abroad to study, down 1.2 percentage points from 2018 and 1.7 percentage points from 2017. It added that the figure has continued to fall this year, without providing details. Meanwhile, it said that 29 per cent of last year’s graduates have chosen to continue their studies at domestic universities and research institutes, compared with 28.5 per cent in 2018 and 2017. Graduates who have chosen to work after graduation preferred Chinese State-owned enterprises and private firms rather than foreign companies.




Plans for Malaysian campus of Tsukuba University on track

Plans for the establishment of a branch campus of Japan’s Tsukuba University in Malaysia — the first-ever by a Japanese university overseas — are on track and now expected to be fully operational by 2023. The original plan is to launch in 2022 but this has not worked out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the discussion is now underway between Japanese and Malaysian sides and no more major delays are expected as everybody is eager to bring this project to reality. Tracing the background leading to a Japanese university’s proposed presence here, for a long time, has been the main focus of Japan-Malaysia bilateral relations, particularly after Malaysia launched its Look East Policy aimed at learning from Japan in the early 1980s.



Ministry: External exams at private universities, colleges exempted from CMCO

Private universities and colleges may proceed with scheduled international examinations even if they are in locations under a conditional movement control order (CMCO), the Higher Education Ministry has announced. The decision to allow these private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) to continue with the tests were made during the National Security Council meeting, which took into account the fixed schedules these must follow. The exemption affects a total of 3,031 local and 195 international students situated in four states and federal territories currently under the CMCO. However, these students must obtain verification letters from their institutions before attending the examinations.


Educity looks to establish a transit hub

Malaysia-based education centre EduCity is looking to establish a transit hub to allow students to enrol with international institutions in a “conducive learning environment” while travel restrictions prevent them from studying overseas. According to EduCity – which hosts international campuses including the UK’s Southampton and Reading universities –the transit hub will also permit international universities to continue recruiting students locally despite the pandemic. Universities providing more online provision than face-to-face or are offering staggered enrolment will be able to offer students “an environment which is very supportive and gives that student experience” but without requiring international travel.




Ajman University partners with Huawei to offer professional-level ICT qualifications 

Huawei, a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices, has partnered with Ajman University (AU) to deliver training and certification programs to the university’s students via the Huawei Authorized Information and Network Academy program (HAINA). The step aims at further building the ICT capacity and expertise in Ajman, and the UAE as a whole, by upskilling local talent. Ajman University will provide classroom and other teaching facilities to accommodate Huawei ICT equipment for the program, and will also embed the HAINA certification courses in its curriculum, and liaise with the local networking industry to deliver the training programs across a wider outreach of population in the ICT industry across the UAE. Additionally, Huawei will provide Huawei Certification Academy Instructor (HCAI) training for the university’s professional instructors for each course direction.



The University of Sharjah and Indonesian National Nuclear Energy Agency sign cooperation agreement 

The University of Sharjah and the Accelerator Technology Science Centre (CAST) of BATAN signed a cooperation agreement to use the virtual nuclear research reactor to train students of the university in the field of accelerator technology and environmentally-friendly nuclear energy. The virtual practical training that the students will receive through live viewing of the experiments taking place in the research reactor at CAST-BATAN will have the greatest impact on enriching the educational process by linking theoretical courses with practical experiences and providing students with important experiences and skills. The continuation of cooperation between the two parties in the future to include scientific research areas related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.



Capital College UAE in partnership with Rome Business School launches the world’s 40th ranked Master in Fashion & Design Management 

Capital College, UAE’s leading higher education institution launches Master in Fashion & Design Management as a new program in exclusive partnership with Europe’s most international university, Rome Business School. The program is set to launch in the upcoming months where UAE students will be able to attain an international qualification from Rome. This Master’s program is ranked 40th worldwide and is recognized by the Eduniversal’s Best Masters and MBA 2019. The accredited postgraduate program is a one-year rigorous program where students will develop management skills to work in the design and fashion industries.




VinUniversity inaugurates Its first academic year

VinUniversity (Vingroup) the first private, not-for-profit university of excellence in Vietnam officially opened its first academic year with seven majors in three fields: Business Administration, Engineering and Computer Science, and Health Sciences. VinUniversity (VinUni) has celebrated its first convocation ceremony after a rigorous selection process, capping admissions at just 260 students for the first academic year (2020 – 2021). Of these, 230 are full-time undergraduate students, 30 are exchange students in the “Study Away” exchange program cooperated between VinUniversity and international universities (Cornell University – USA, and University of Technology Sydney – Australia). The students of the inaugural academic year are the most talented of nearly 4,500 applicants, with high school grade point average within the top 2.5 per cent of the country.





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