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 University of Sheffield pledges carbon-neutral campus by 2030

The University of Sheffield has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions on campus by 2030 and across all activities by 2038, placing it among a small number of institutions that have committed to this level of transformational action in response to the climate emergency. These commitments, set out in its new five-year sustainability strategy, are informed by its academics’ research, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) call for comprehensive climate action and the Tyndall Centre’s 2019 report, ‘Setting Climate Commitments for the City of Sheffield’. The strategy is the latest step in the University of Sheffield’s sustainability journey, in which its students have played a key role. Working with University staff to embed sustainable changes across the institution, students are involved at every stage, ensuring this new sustainability strategy reflects their priorities and ambitions.

University of Strathclyde students and staff complete 15,000 sustainable behaviour change activities

The University posted an update on its sustainability engagement and behaviour change scheme, hosted as part of Green Rewards’ Jump programme, revealing that it has mitigated almost 16,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions. ‘Jump’ works through a smartphone app and other digital communications channels, encouraging participants to engage in behaviours that reduce their waste, energy and carbon footprints while improving their health and mental wellbeing. Activities listed include walking or cycling instead of using cars, using reusable coffee cups and turning off electronics when they are not in use. Since 2019, all staff and 21,000 students at the University have been able to access the platform. It provides users with virtual ‘Green Points’ in exchange for their logged actions and, each month, the University provides prizes donations to the teams and individuals with the most points.

Solar partnership named a finalist for AASHE sustainability award

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) announced that the PA Higher Ed Consortium—made up of Lehigh University, Lafayette College, Muhlenberg College and Dickinson College—is a finalist for a 2020 AASHE Sustainability Award in the Campus Sustainability Achievement category, recognizing outstanding progress in higher education sustainability. The AASHE Sustainability Awards provide global recognition to the individuals and organizations leading the higher education sustainability movement. With the help of volunteer judges from the community, the awards program raises the visibility of high-impact sustainability projects, pioneering research, and student leadership, helping to disseminate innovations and inspire continued progress toward environmental, social and economic health.

Digital Future

Designing the Future of higher education through remote learning

Before COVID, higher education in the U.S. was a USD 578 billion industry growing at 4.5% annually. When the pandemic arrived earlier this year, schools of every size — from prestigious universities to community colleges — were forced to shut their doors. For many, the effects of this disruption will be felt for years to come. Though the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, it’s never too early to look for lessons in how academia responded to the crisis. One common theme is the importance of clear, effective communication with students, faculty and parents. In many cases, outdated technology made it difficult, if not outright impossible, to communicate effectively. This is why remote work, remote learning, remote everything is here to stay. A significant chunk of the CARES Act funding is for broadband. Between that and 5G, it will have a good effect on remote learning environments.

Super Stats

Report—The 2020 Higher Education Email Benchmark

Emma, a provider of best-in-class email marketing software and services, has released its 2020 Higher Ed Email Benchmark Report providing a big-picture overview of the higher education industry’s email programs. The report was developed after analysing hundreds of millions of higher education emails sent across CM Group brands during 2020. A significant increase in email engagement found in the report aligns with the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, with open rates increasing 47.8% over the previous year. The increase in engagement was sustained through 2020, even in the summer months, where there’s typically a lull in engagement. March saw the highest year-over-year increase in open rates of any month in 2020 at 12.4% with April following at a 6% increase of last year, a number that has been sustained through the rest of 2020. Click-through rates jumped 70% year-over-year in 2020 as higher education institutions relied more heavily on email communications during the pandemic to communicate incredibly important updates with various audiences including faculty and staff to parents and students.

Key insights from the report:

  • Average open rate: 34.3%, up from 23.2% in 2019, an increase of 47.8%
  • Average click-through rate: 6.8%, up from 4% in 2019, an increase of 70%
  • Average click-to-open rate: 19.8%, up from 17.2%, an increase of 15%
  • Unsubscribe and bounce rates were stable from 2019 to 2020.


A renewed focus on the practice of teaching

What happens when, with hardly any warning, you have to halt your class in the middle of the semester and you are told to switch from the familiar face-to-face teaching to the alien screen-to-screen format? Like thousands of institutions around the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made this abrupt transition to online teaching during the pandemic, thrusting all 1,251 of its spring 2020 courses online in late March. To try to understand what the faculty went through, more than 30 faculty members and also sifted were interviewed through a survey conducted at the end of the spring semester by the Office of Institutional Research. Across the campus, faculty members expressed significant interest in making classes more interactive in spending more class time working in groups, solving problems and discussing issues and less time lecturing. Some were surprised to learn that teaching online worked fine, or even better for particular topics. Other instructors were excited about the opportunities that teaching online could bring, such as allowing for guest lecturers to join the class from anywhere, or even collaborating with professors teaching similar courses at other institutions to create mixed group assignments and allow students to work with colleagues from around the world. Others embraced the chance to make the assessments more personal. While many instructors found positive elements to transitioning to online teaching, they confronted many challenges as well. Some noted that it was more draining to teach online, or that they didn’t find it as fulfilling as teaching in person.

Sannam S4 Initiatives

Sannam S4 new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Series

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

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


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

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

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

6) Webinar—Unpacking the new National Education Policy

7) 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 High School Counselling Excellence Network

Series one on counsellor well-being and embracing the new normal brings insights from a session on child and adolescent mental health. The session aimed to provide important information in regards to supporting the mental health of students and the well-being of our counsellors.

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

Amazon India forays into ed-tech with Amazon Academy

E-commerce giant Amazon has forayed into the online education space in India. Amazon India is currently running a test preparation platform called Amazon Academy, focused on preparing for the IIT-JEE engineering entrance exams for students of Classes 11 and 12. According to its website, JEE Ready has rebranded itself to Amazon Academy. Amazon Academy is in beta mode, meaning it has still not formally launched to all consumers. Academy runs test series for students and is primarily meant to supplement their existing classes and preparations for the engineering exam.



EdTech start-up Ulektz develops video communications solution for live online classes in partnership with Alcatel-lucent enterprise

uLektz, an education technology Software-as-a-Service start-up, announced the launch of uLektzMeet.com, a live online lecturing platform in partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, a leading provider of communications, networking and cloud solutions tailored to customers’ industries. The platform addresses the growing need for an engaging virtual classroom as India advances its digital economy. uLektz Meet is being launched as one of the products of uLektz Suite of software applications that are seamlessly integrated and provide a one-stop solution for all the needs of higher education. uLektz Meet is exclusively designed to provide an interactive and engaging online education experience.



As Ed-tech crowds up, Campuswire bets big on real-time learning

Campuswire was in a fortuitous spot when colleges and universities across the world shut down on short notice because of the threat of coronavirus. Founded in 2018, Campuswire is a virtual solution for any teacher who wants to digitize their internal classroom communications, from Q&A time to the lecture itself. The strategy, for the most part, has worked. Campuswire is now used at more than 300 universities among 200,000 students. So, after months of iterating, Campuswire has adapted its monetization strategy and announced that it is launching live courses taught by professors. Instead of solely working with professors to streamline internal class communications, Campuswire will now help teachers produce classes that students can then take for a fee. The tuition revenue will be split between the teacher and Campuswire. The move marks Campuswire’s further dive into synchronous learning. Campuswire’s model is built on how existing classrooms work in universities and colleges.



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

The University of São Paulo in Brazil to Establish Trimble Technology Lab for Civil Engineering

The University of São Paulo in Brazil has received a gift from Trimble to establish a state-of-the-art Trimble Technology Lab for civil engineering, survey and construction. The lab will expand the university’s leadership in training and research in 3D building design, Building Information Modelling (BIM), survey and georeferencing, scanning and the sustainable built environment. The Trimble Technology Lab will provide students enrolled in the University of São Paulo’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, including its Civil Construction Department (PCC) and Transportation Department (PTR), hands-on experience with a wide range of Trimble solutions. Applications of these solutions range from scanning buildings or construction sites, design of architectural building models, and digital construction cost estimating and scheduling to improve productivity and reduce costs. Partnering with Trimble allows the University of São Paulo to more fully integrate across its curricula the technological tools that are rapidly transforming how buildings and living environments are designed and constructed.

Universities in Colombia launch strategy to stop desertion and help their students in passing

To reduce university dropouts, several higher education centres are throwing a kind of ‘lifeline’ to students who, due to financial problems, have no way to continue their careers. One of them is the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga, UNAB, which joined the Universidad de Los Andes in a campaign that will award ‘rescue scholarships’ to students at risk of dropping out of the university due to lack of money. Five other higher education institutions in the country are also part of this campaign: Minuto de Dios University Corporation, University of Ibagué, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar and Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. In Colombia, only half of the students who start a university career finish it, according to figures from the Ministry of National Education. With this panorama, added to the current situation, ‘Let’s go Pa’lante! Let nothing stop education ‘, will award “rescue scholarships” to final-year students of undergraduate programs with good academic performance and who are at risk of dropping out of college for financial reasons.

Columbia—Central Securities Depository and Universidad de Los Andes create financial education table

The Central Securities Depository (DCV) and the Financial Studies Center of the ESE Business School of the Universidad de Los Andes, convened the main representatives of the financial world to create a financial education table, whose purpose is to establish an instance capable of articulating a joint view of this sector around good practices, developments, progress and challenges around this key issue in development. The initiative is part of a strategic alliance between the two institutions that seek to deepen the work that both entities carry out individually and now lead it to specific jobs and projects that directly benefit the strengthening of the Chilean capital market and its users

South Asia

Bangladesh: UGC allows private universities to hold practical classes, exams following guidelines

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has published guidelines for private universities on conducting laboratory-based practical classes and examinations of their final year students vowing to maintain all health safety guidelines amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The seven-point directives were sent to the vice-chancellors and registrars of all private universities. The UGC asked the private universities to ensure that no student should enter the campus more than 30 minutes before their exam or class and leave within 30 minutes of finishing their respective exam or class. The regulatory agency for higher education also asked the universities to ensure six feet distance while conducting practical classes and exams.

Nepal: Tribhuvan University to resume exams halted by COVID-19 from December 13

The biggest university of Nepal, Tribhuvan University, has decided to resume various examinations posted due to the Covid-19 crisis for the past eight months. In the first phase of the exams, the university published schedules for the final examinations for graduate programs and Bachelor of education fourth-year students. The exams for all three programmes will begin on December 13. It has been learned that the university will now gradually schedule and conduct all examinations of all grades.

Pakistan: Universities in Pakistan jointly host a meeting on Belt and Road Aerospace Innovation Alliance (BRAIA) with China

Belt and Road Aerospace Innovation Alliance (BRAIA) 2020 Council Meeting and General Assembly were jointly organized by North-western Polytechnical University (NPU), Xi’an, China and National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan through an online session. During the meeting, new memberships of BRAIA and new regional development centre were announced, joint research cooperation projects were approved, and BRAIA annual work report and future work plan were presented. To further promote substantial joint research cooperation among BRAIA members and generate more fruitful scientific research output, NPU, as BRAIA Permanent Secretariat, initiated BRAIA Joint Research Seed Fund Program this year. Since its establishment in 2017, BRAIA has organized a series of student activities, academic exchanges and managerial meetings, which has improved the international reputation and global impact of both NPU and BRAIA members.

South-East Asia

Malaysia: Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) collaborates with Universitas Negeri Semarang Indonesia (UNNES) to research on role of social media

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia received a total of nine International Grants from Universitas Negeri Semarang Indonesia (UNNES) for research collaborations. This includes one for the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies (MASSCOMM). The grants were awarded based on a discussion on research projects funded by UiTM LESTARI-Semarang Research Grant Scheme, also known as the International Research Partnership-Matching Grant (IPRA-UNNES). This grant was introduced to encourage research activities to generate knowledge that contributes to the improvement of the intellectual level and to nurture the culture of research between UiTM researchers and UNNES researchers. Furthermore, this grant aims to strengthen the relationship and create a continuous flow of knowledge and cooperation between researchers from both universities. A matching grant from UNNES – the UNNES International Research Grant was also introduced for the same purpose.

Singapore: Nanyang Technological University (NTU) researchers lead the development of AI-powered ‘electronic nose’ to sniff out meat freshness, reduce food waste

Scientists from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have led an international team to invent an “electronic nose” that assesses the freshness of meat with 98.5 percent accuracy. The invention could help to reduce food wastage by confirming whether meat is fit for consumption more accurately than a “best before” label can. The electronic nose comprises two elements that mimic the way a mammal’s nose recognises fresh or rotting meat. A coloured “barcode” made of chitosan, a type of natural sugar, is loaded with different dyes and acts as a set of receptors for the gases produced by decaying meat. The NTU research team, which collaborated with scientists from China’s Jiangnan University and Australia’s Monash University, trained the AI algorithm to pick out patterns using more than 3,400 images of barcodes glued to the packaging film of chicken, fish and beef.

Indonesia: Australian and Indonesian universities launch the innovative two-degree program in Jakarta

The University of Newcastle, Binus University and Nurture Higher Education (UK) have partnered to offer a unique joint teaching program for Indonesian students. The initiative enables students to complete business and commerce subjects and receive bachelor degrees from both universities, delivered entirely in English at the Binus University campus in Jakarta. Students benefit from the opportunity to complete an Australian degree in Indonesia with the option to transfer to the University of Newcastle’s Australia or Singapore locations at any time with full recognition of prior studies. Students on the program must satisfy the entry requirements of both university partners to graduate. The first cohort of students will graduate in 2022 with degrees from both Binus University and the University of Newcastle, and have access to a global network of peers through the partnership with Nurture Higher Education.

Vietnam: Vietnam National University signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Saigon Hi-tech park to promote the start-up ecosystem

The Management Boards of Saigon Hi-tech Park (SHTP) and Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City (VNU-HCMC) signed a collaboration agreement for the period from 2020 to 2025. This agreement is supposed to promote the establishment of the Eastern Innovative, Highly Interactive Urban Area and the forming of an innovative start-up ecosystem for the city, with a clear focus on human resources training. Accordingly, both partners will cooperate in the three main programs of developing scientific-technological potentials, training high-quality human resources for key industries, and promoting innovative start-ups. The strengths of both partners make them ideal choices for high-quality human resources training to serve the market’s demands in HCMC. It is expected that this cooperation will also promote the commercialization of research results of both partners for the sake of national development.

Philippines: Quezon City University students to get laptops from government

The local government of Quezon City will provide laptops to the students of Quezon City University (QCU) enrolled this school year. QCU has allotted around USD 3.5 million for the procurement of the said gadgets. Aside from laptops, the university will also provide its students with monthly Internet allowance and pocket Wi-Fi. The local government has advised QCU students, whose classes already started on October 5, to wait for the distribution of their laptops, which is set by the end of November.

Japan: Sophia University allies with Hello Work to help foreign students find jobs

A Japanese university and a public job placement office in Tokyo signed an accord to support foreign students seeking jobs in Japan — the first such agreement concluded in the country. Sophia University and Hello Work Shinjuku will cooperate in explaining the Japanese recruitment process to foreign students in a bid to encourage them to work in the country, according to the university and the labour ministry. Under the agreement, the job placement office in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward will dispatch lecturers to explain Japanese recruitment rules to international students at the university and provide information on internships and seminars. Meanwhile, Sophia University, which has nearly 2,000 students from about 90 countries and regions, will inform the job placement office about the needs of job-seeking international students.

Thailand: Thammasat University joins Thailand AI Consortium for Developing Human Resources Equipped with AI skills

Thammasat University (TU) together with Thailand AI Consortium aims to develop human resources and knowledge about AI. Human resources are Thailand’s strong suit in AI development, and it will be enhanced even further after the government step up their game and establish the “Thai AI Consortium” with top educational institutions, private sectors, professional associations in the country. The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) and 45 partners established the Thai AI Consortium for the first time in the country on September 14, 2020. TU and other partners also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create “AI Academy Alliance, creating the curriculum and developing the digital knowledge as well as creating a standard for AI skills. The consortium will closely support this project which is another milestone for the country’s development. This partnership is a very first step and the most important yet in developing the human resources equipped with AI skills.

Country News


University Grants Commission (UGC) allows re-opening of universities, colleges on phases

The University Grants Commission (UGC) issued guidelines for the reopening of colleges and universities across India, outside containment zones. The commission has advised a six-day schedule, reducing class size, setting up isolation facilities on campus, and COVID-19 screening of students, faculty, and staff in its list of guidelines. It has also recommended that the teaching hours in a day may be extended according to the requirements of the institution. The Universities and other educational institutions across the country have been closed since March 16 when the Government of India announced a countrywide lockdown as one of the measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.



Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati and University of Western Sydney collab to encourage water research

Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in collaboration with the University of Western Sydney from Australia and twenty-one other partners from both countries virtually inaugurated the Australia-India Water Centre. The MoU signed between the parties will include collaboration in water research, a joint Master’s level programme in water futures, student and staff exchanges, workshops and conferences and provide short-term training in the water sector to government agencies and other participants. The MoU, signed for five years will develop longer-term collaboration in water research, capacity building and knowledge and technology transfer, particularly focusing on water and food security, safe drinking water supplies, river health, water-energy-food nexus, water for liveable cities and other related aspects of mutual benefit to Australia and India.



T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) and University of Southampton sign MoA for academic, research collaborations

T A Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal, and the University of Southampton, United Kingdom signed a memorandum of association (MoA) to develop academic and research collaborations. Faculty from both schools also joined the signing ceremony that was held digitally. TAPMI and the university are both crowned by double international accreditations — Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and Association to MBAs (AMBA). Both are in pursuit of EQUIS. In many ways, both institutions share common goals and interests. The heads of internationalisation in both schools emphasized that both institutions have already conceived research ideas, subject level roundtables, and avenues for faculty and student exchange over the next three years.




Over 7,000 Chinese students flown into Manchester on 31 specially chartered flights

More than 7,000 students from China have been flown into Manchester for their studies at universities in the city and across the North of England. In total, 31 specially chartered flights have been organised between Chongqing Jiangbei Airport in central China and Manchester Airport to transport the students. All students have been transported straight from the airport to their accommodation to self-isolate for 14 days after landing. More students are due to fly in but as a result of the new lockdown measures, all flights were suspended from November 8. Leaders say there is an aim to restart flying in January – with students working remotely until they can travel.



Tsinghua University, China and Leiden University, Netherland signs agreement to co-foster PhDs in astronomy

Leiden University, Netherlands held its first online signing ceremony, signing an agreement with China’s top university Tsinghua to establish a joint PhD programme to co-foster young researchers in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. In the agreement, both parties commit to setting up a structured programme between Leiden and Tsinghua to co-supervise PhD candidates coming from both sides, engaging in frontier research in astronomy and astrophysics. In 2017, Leiden University signed a memorandum of understanding with Tsinghua University, agreeing on promoting collaborations for education and research. Since then, active collaborations have been established not only in astronomy but also in the fields of law, life science, environmental science and mathematics.



China’s Ministry of Education launches AIDS prevention campaign on university campuses

China’s Ministry of Education this week launched a campaign for AIDS prevention and control on college campuses. The initiative includes establishing counselling and testing stations on campuses and providing anonymous urine delivery testing for students. The campaign aims at further strengthening existing policies of AIDS prevention and control and promoting the physical and mental health of young students. According to the notice, in light of various local conditions, self-service testing facilities such as counselling and testing stations, quick detection stations and anonymous urine delivery testing facilities should be set up on campuses. The campaign will focus on six parts, including AIDS education, guidance from experts, and providing professional services. It was launched by the Ministry of Education under the guideline of the Plan of Health China 2030.




New York University Abu Dhabi signs a memorandum of understanding with United Eastern Medical Services 

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical) in Abu Dhabi, the parent organization of Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children, Health Plus Network of Specialty Centres, and Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi. A major outcome of the MoU is establishing the Health Plus Diabetes & Endocrinology Centre in Abu Dhabi as one of the main clinic sites for the UAE Healthy Future Study (UAEHFS) set to accept participants. The collaboration will also offer support on current and future research, education, innovations, and workshops in the field of health sciences.



Gulf Medical University launches online education centre 

As Gulf Medical University (GMU), Ajman celebrated its 22nd anniversary, it has launched a dedicated centre that will design and deliver online professional education to medical professionals, students and individuals around the world. Called BA Centre for Online Education, it has been launched in honour of renowned Indian businessman and philanthropist, the late Dr B. Ahmed Hajee Mohiudeen, founder of BA Group India and father of Dr Thumbay Moideen, founder and president of the Board of Trustees of GMU.



The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) launches master of business analytics degree to meet rising global demand for data specialists 

The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), the first international university in the UAE and the premier Australian university in the region, announced the launch of its new Master of Business Analytics program. Designed in consultation with SAS, a global leader in analytics, the degree aims to help outgoing student graduates develop technical, analytical and decision-making skills that are critical in the modern global business environment. From January 2021, students will also be able to attend their classes in person at UOWD’s new ‘Campus of the Future’, where 100 per cent in-class learning will be back in full. On completion of the degree, students will be prepared for career paths ranging from quantitative analysts, hedge fund managers, and management consultants to business analysts.



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