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 Utah reaches 71% renewable energy with new solar contract

The University of Utah announced that it has signed a 25-year solar energy contract with the Castle Solar Project near Huntington, Utah. The contract will deliver 20 megawatts of solar energy to campus over its lifespan, powering the university toward its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. A geothermal energy contract signed in 2018 made the U of U the first public college in the state to receive more than half of its electricity through renewable sources. The new solar contract will bring the university to 71% of all electrical energy coming from renewable sources. This commitment to clean energy and sustainable investments persists even amidst current budget concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The solar energy contract has additional ties to the local environment and economy.

The University of Exeter introduces environmental reward programme

The University of Exeter has introduced a green reward programme to engage its 5,000 employees with environmental sustainability and wellbeing across its Exeter and Falmouth campuses. The digital engagement programme, provided by sustainability and wellbeing engagement provider Jump, is aimed at motivating staff to make behavioural changes to help the university achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040. The programme is initially being piloted among a targeted group, with the university planning to roll it out to all employees during the new academic year. The programme is structured to help instil positive behaviour in employees to support the organisation in achieving its commitment set in 2019 when it declared a climate emergency and set goals to cut air travel by 50%, increase recycling to 70% and halve plastic and paper use by 2025.

The University of Sheffield and Welsh Government plan ‘Food and Drink Packaging Sustainability Centre’

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is set to create an innovative Food and Drink Packaging Sustainability Centre at AMRC Cymru, after being awarded GBP 2 million by the Welsh Government. The funding will be used to build a central demonstrator, which will have a conveyor system linked together with Industry 4.0 technologies, and support the progress of new designs, materials and processes for the industry, with potential for applications across segments including bakery, snacks and confectionery markets. AMRC Cymru, based in the Deeside Enterprise Zone, opened in 2019. The advanced GBP 20 million facilities have secured the BITES (Business, Innovation and Tourism Escalator Scheme) funding to develop an emerging technology demonstrator specifically for the food and drink sector that will accelerate the adoption of waste-reducing eco-innovations by integrating Industry 4.0 technologies in the packaging industry.

The University of Iowa releases a rough rendition of 2030 sustainability goals

Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on instruction, the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability and the Environment is looking forward to the future of sustainability on campus, and recently released a rough draft of their 2030 goals for sustainability. The university released seven sustainability goals in 2010 to accomplish in the next decade. This year, the sustainability department created six more sustainability goals to implement over the next 10 years. When the office first created its 2010 goals, its primary focus was on areas within the facilities management team’s control, such as transportation and greenhouse-gas emissions. The university will now also focus more on encouraging research opportunities in sustainability on campus. The UI would grow more prairie on campus to not only expand research but to also localise research efforts.

Practitioner Series: Volume 12

Internationalisation and Indian HEIs: Best practices from Teaching Undergraduates in India, Israel and the United States

Beginning in March 2020, as COVID-19 travelled insidiously across continents destroying lives and livelihoods, the education of millions of students was disrupted globally. For international students, disruptions were compounded by campus closures and travel bans, many of which continue. Can we, for just a moment, imagine a scenario whereby these students could enrol for the year at an Indian university and carry credits back when travel eases? Would it reduce both student distress and parental anxiety about these uncertain times? Within caveats of revenue-sharing and so forth, could this be a win-win for both Indian universities and US-based ones? Currently, this is not an option. However, as the pandemic challenges our ways of working, learning and living, existing modalities for cross-border partnerships will undergo disruption too. What may new innovative models of inter-institutional partnerships look like?

Apart from infrastructure and resources, what may be some key elements in the course curricula that Indian HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) could draw from other high-quality internationally competitive undergraduate Liberal Arts programmes? In the latest volume of our Practitioner Series Dr Maina Chawla Singh, Scholar-in-Residence, School of International Service, American University, Washington D.C., offer reflections on two specific areas of undergraduate education which are key elements well-integrated in most competitive international undergraduate programmes.

Digital Future

Five insights on the new digital reality in higher education

As HEI’s push the boundaries of innovation, they have to ensure that by doing things differently they will do things better. Unpacking these considerations three leading academics from Egypt, Australia and Kenya shared five takeaways on the shift to digitalisation:

  • Technology goes beyond the internet—Significantly, the dual potentials of technology must be considered when adopting the medium within higher education and technology could exacerbate inequalities and expose the digital divide, or, if used consciously, it could mitigate such inequalities.
  • A blended approach is needed—The future of higher education is blended – a combination of physical and virtual interactions, not just because of the nature of their work or studies, but because maybe it provides a safe space with access to facilities.
  • Digital can transform research—There are so many forms of academic expression and rigorous academic content that can be presented from the global south to level the playing field so that everyone can benefit and learn.
  • Old concepts must change—The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to harness creativity and shape a new norm of open educational resources. Like a shift toward different models for institutional structures, including ideas such as multi-campus consortia, the internationalisation of content, and joint research networks and curricula.
  • The information must be shared affordably—Differentiation is key when requiring a financial return on sharing information, and recommended packaging content in new versions – from the more expensive hardcover book to the more affordable e-book – and staggering payment options according to people’s financial situations. The model of depending on student fees and donations is not enough, universities must partner with corporate companies, such as those in the telecommunications industry, to fund content and “encourage connectivity.

Super Stats

Report—The Future State of Higher Education: How Institutions are Planning for the Future with Remote Learning

Jitterbit, the API transformation company revealed the results of The Future State of Higher Education report, which examines how institutions are preparing for the future. Ninety-two per cent of respondents said COVID-19 is the greatest challenge higher education institutions have faced, and many are struggling to adapt to this new environment. The report details education institutions’ approach in setting up remote-learning technology, the challenges faced, and the tools used to overcome those challenges. Responses from the Jitterbit survey suggest that remote learning is a huge priority, and higher education institutions are looking to provide personalised experiences by connecting multiple systems. There are many different learning styles, from visual to auditory to solitary to social learning, so the key is to provide a blended learning experience using the right technologies that map to different learning styles for optimal learning experiences.

Key insights from the report:

  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents Jitterbit surveyed confirm they are continuing to invest in tools that support remote learning.
  • Nearly half (46%) are considering enabling Virtual Reality for the academic year.
  • Approximately two-thirds (67%) of institutions have six or more applications they need to integrate to offer an engaging online learning experience. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents agree that it is important to use integration technology to seamlessly connect all of their systems.
  • A majority (52%) of respondents said that giving lectures or showing slides is one of the biggest challenges to remote learning and also an activity that needs improvement. The two biggest areas that were identified as areas for improvement include the ability to help at-risk students, and student collaboration.
  • Nearly 70% of respondents said, “providing a safe, healthy, and productive environment for students to learn in” is their top priority for the 2020 academic year.
  • More than one-third (35%) listed needing the ability to seamlessly move from in-person classes to remote learning as a top priority.



Student digital experience insights survey 2020: UK higher education findings

This year, 20,575 students from 28 UK universities took part in student digital experience insights survey. The survey was conducted between October 2019 and May 2020. The high level of satisfaction from students in terms of the quality of organisational provision and use of technology in teaching and learning is encouraging, but there are also some major concerns:

  • Digital inequality presents significant barriers for students who do not have adequate access to devices, Wi-Fi and other essential systems and services.
  • The rapid move to remote learning has amplified the need for pedagogical learner-centred approaches with technology-enhanced learning and teaching as an integral aspect of learning design. The number of students who engaged in active and collaborative digital learning practices was low.
  • The survey findings show that more needs to be done to develop students’ digital capabilities and confidence throughout their learning journey. Student confidence in essential knowledge and behaviours such as digital wellbeing and safety was low. Substantial numbers said they never had an opportunity to develop their digital skills.
  • Few students engage in collaborative activities online. This not only emulates workplace practices but also helps to connect students with the wider learning community and can help mitigate feelings of isolation, build support networks, friendships and maintain motivation to study.


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

  • The Consulate General of India, Chicago, US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), and Sannam S4 organised a discussion with the new Consul General in Chicago, Mr Amit Kumar, about US-India collaboration on higher education. The objective of the session is to introduce Provosts, Vice Provosts, and Senior International Officers of US higher education institutions, particularly those located in the Midwest US, to the new Consul General and for him to share his priorities related to the sector in his new post.
  • India’s historic release of its National Education Policy 2020 provides opportunities for foreign universities to form a cohesive strategy for engaging India on student and faculty mobility, internationalisation best practice, and joint research and we will explore those opportunities in this session.

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

Mr Gitesh Agarwal (Queensland Trade and Investment Commissioner, India) and Sannam S4 discuss what the new National Education Policy could mean for:

  • Australia-India University collaboration
  • Opportunities for online education
  • Opportunities for vocational education

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

The new National Education Policy 2020 positions India as a global study destination—providing premium education at affordable costs. To achieve this mission, the policy sets forth a range of measures including:

  • Setting up an International office at each Indian HEI hosting foreign students
  • Promoting research and teaching cross-border collaborations
  • Encouraging student and faculty exchanges between Indian and global institutions through special efforts
  • Inviting the top 100 universities of the world to operate in India
  • Permitting transfer of credits from foreign institutions to be counted towards degrees

To deep dive into how these NEP reforms will change internationalisation agendas in Indian universities, Sannam S4 invited Professor Prabhu Aggarwal, Vice-Chancellor of NIIT University, and Professor Sangeet Jaura, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Chitkara University for the third edition of NEP Webinar Series held on August 26, 2020.

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

There are a total of 1036 universities, 41,901 colleges, and 10,726 stand-alone institutions in India – making it the third-largest higher education market in the world. The new National Education Policy has paved the way for transformative reforms in the sector by addressing the growing aspirations of Indian students to access a world-class education. For the second edition of NEP Webinar Series, Sannam S4 invited Dr. NV Varghese, Vice-Chancellor of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, to decode the key policy changes proposed regarding Higher Education.

5) Webinar—Unpacking the new National Education Policy

The release of the new National Education Policy has released a wave of positivity, excitement, and debate In India and around the world about the future of the Indian Education System. Sannam S4 was honoured to host Dr. Leena Chandran Wadia, who served as a consultant on the NEP committee chaired by Dr. K Kasturirangan, for our first briefing session on the policy—Unpacking the new National Education Policy. During the webinar, Sannam S4 covered how the new policy aims to reform the HE system, its impact on the internationalisation plans for Indian as well as foreign universities, and what it would take to implement the policy, now that it has been approved by the Union Cabinet. Dr. Wadia shared her personal experience of working with the committee over the past few months and how they compiled over 200,000 recommendations received from all over the country during the formulation of the final policy document.

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

The Union Cabinet has officially cleared the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 to bring transformational change to the Indian education system after 34 long years. The new policy aims to establish India as a global knowledge hub by imparting 21st century skills and multidisciplinary education, while continuing to be deeply-rooted in Indian values and ethos. The government plans to increase the Higher Education Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50% in 2035 by kick-starting a series of reforms pertaining to the overall regulatory structure of Higher Education, enabling the use of technology and upgrading curricula, as per the latest skills and knowledge requirements. In this article, Sannam S4 outline the 10 major takeaways from the press briefing conducted earlier today by members of the newly renamed ‘Ministry of Education’ (formerly known as the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

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 successful. 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 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

EdTech startup StayQrious bags USD 2 million in seed funding

Bengaluru-based ed-tech startup StayQrious has raised USD 2 million in a seed funding round from Learn Capital’s dedicated seed fund Learnstart, Draper Associates, Y Combinator, First Principles VC Nitin Sharma, Lavni Ventures and Japan-based Dream Incubator. It will use this funding to build its product, coach tools and instructional content that will enable its ‘classroom of the future’. StayQrious is an ed-tech start up that focuses on skilling students in computer applications such as coding through online group classes. The company also focuses on collaboration, critical thinking and creativity through these virtual classrooms. The company was a part of Y Combinators’ winter batch that graduated earlier this year, along with Able Jobs, Chutney, Deep Source, Farm Theory and others.



Boosted by COVID-19, global ed-tech funding crosses 2019 mark with 3 months to go: Report

Online education start-ups globally have raised USD 4.89 billion from investors across 377 rounds this year, the second-highest amount in a year, surpassing 2019 with three months to go as the coronavirus pandemic has boosted learning from home and made it mainstream overnight. Ed-tech start-ups had raised USD 6.2 billion across 648 rounds in 2018 and USD 4.8 billion across 604 rounds in 2019. Despite the funding boom this year, there were only 377 rounds—the lowest in four years—indicating larger cheque sizes per start-up, with winners raising an outsized portion of the total capital. China’s Zuoyebang—the country’s largest online learning platform for K12 (Kindergarten to Class 12) students has raised USD 1.83 billion, the most by a single ed-tech start-up this year. India’s Byju’s is second, having raised USD 1.5 billion this year from Tiger Global Management, DST Global, Silver Lake Partners, among others. The most-funded start-ups are those that are using mobile-based tools, augmented reality or virtual reality in their products, and helping learners of all ages learn programming and other technological skills.



Byju’s continues to rack up more funds, this time from three new US investors

Byju’s has added three new US investors—BlackRock, Sands Capital and Alkeon Capital—to its long list of backers as it continues to raise gobs of cash amid a boom in online education. The investment is part of an ongoing funding round announced earlier in September led by US private equity major Silver Lake, which made news in India by joining in Reliance Jio’s mega fundraising earlier this year. Byju’s valuation has jumped to USD 11.1 billion from USD 10.8 billion when it announced its latest USD 500 million funding round led by Silver Lake in September. The Bengaluru-based company said existing investors General Atlantic, Owl Ventures and Tiger Global were also participating in the new round. The Indian ed-tech sector has gained from high growth rates during the pandemic as school shut across the country.



EdTech start-up Teachmint witnesses 20x month-on-month growth

In a bid to eliminate the troubles faced by tutors as they shift online and to help them get rid of several fragmented and complex digital tools once and for all, Bengaluru-based ed-tech start-up Teachmint came up with a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform in the form of an all-in-one free live tutoring application. Teachmint has launched a mobile-first video-first app that enables tutors to seamlessly digitise their tutoring business with a simple and familiar mobile experience. Within four months of its launch, the simplistic and effective teaching platform created by Teachmint has been used by more than 75,000 tutors to regain control and authority in their tutoring businesses, by helping them connect to students and continue teaching effectively through the online medium. These tutors and their students are spread across 850 plus cities and towns of the country. The start-up has seen enormous growth in tutors over the past one month.



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

Coursera expands in Latin America by adding three new university partners

Coursera.org announced new partnerships with the following three Latin American universities.

  • Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM)—A first-course, Geometría Analítica Preuniversitaria, was launched on Coursera. The institution plans to expand its online catalogue with general education courses.
  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL)­—Its first course on Coursera, Cuidando a la persona en situación crítica de salud en UCI, helps nurses care for patients hospitalised in the intensive care unit. UNAL also plans to launch courses in basic physics and chemistry.
  • Unversidad de Palermo (UP)—The new course of this Argentinian university, Psicologia is issued. Courses in business, psychology, and other areas are also planned.

The company now has 15 university and industry partners in Latin America, and over 530 courses subtitled or natively in Spanish.

Brazil’s largest city to resume in-person university classes

Sao Paolo, the largest Brazilian city and also one of the hardest hits by the coronavirus pandemic, has authorised the restart of in-person classes at universities from October 7, 2020. In an announcement, Mayor Bruno Covas announced that classes throughout the educational system have been held online since the last week of March, as part of lockdown measures designed to contain the outbreak. A decision about resuming in-person classes at the primary and secondary levels will be made in November, a month before the end of the academic year.

Cuban universities prepare closure of school year interrupted by pandemic

Cuban universities are preparing to close the 2019–20 school year, interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and resumed this September in the country, except in the territories affected by the current outbreak of the disease. Cuban Minister of Higher Education José Ramón Saborido affirmed that the priority is to finish the completion of studies before October 30 and close the academic year in all universities “before the end of December”. Given the exceptional situation that Cuba is experiencing due to COVID-19, universities have adopted initiatives to discuss diploma works such as videoconferences through social networks, and the creation of tribunals with the support of other educational centres.

South Asia

Bangladesh: Government plans a uniform national qualifications framework for education

The government has decided to have a uniform national qualifications framework in place to ensure global standards in education. The framework will apply from primary education to higher education levels. The decision was taken at a virtual meeting to finalise the draft on “National qualifications framework of Bangladesh” prepared by the University Grants Commission (UGC). During the meeting, the UGC proposed a draft of the National Qualification Framework (NQF) for higher education, while the Ministry of Education submitted Bangladesh Qualification Framework (BQF) for other education criteria. The final framework would be prepared in line with the models of some Asian countries as well as Europe and the USA, which will harmonise the qualifications with international standards, said stakeholders at the meeting. The UGC has developed a national qualifications framework for higher studies for Bangladesh Accreditation Council (BAC), which would guide students pursuing higher education. The framework will help maintain international standards in Bangladesh’s education system.

Nepal: Govt decides to open Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM)’s branches in three provinces

After realising the need for expanding hotel and tourism management-related education for the overall development of hospitality sector, the government has decided to open Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM)’s branches outside Kathmandu valley. The Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM) board meeting has decided to launch Bachelors in Hotel Management (BHM) and Bachelors in Travel and Tourism Management (BTTM) programmes at Birtamode of Jhapa district in Province 1, Bardibas of Mahottari district in Province. The ministry has allotted almost USD 200,000 budget for setting a basic infrastructure and other equipment for running classes. Staffs selection has also been processed for the same. Plans for construction of research centre, video-conference room, the establishment of incubation centre, where new ideas, innovation would flourish—are also on the cards.

Sri Lanka: European Union (EU) funds nine capacity-building projects for higher education in Sri Lanka

The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in collaboration with the University of Peradeniya announced EU-funded capacity building for higher education (CBHE) projects for 2020. The announcement took place at the University of Peradeniya together with fifteen other participant institutions. The EU is Sri Lanka is funding nine capacity-building projects in 2020 through the Erasmus plus programme, which aims to promote the sustainable development of its partners in the field of higher education. Fifteen universities are participating in the EU-funded CBHE projects. EU Delegation Head of Cooperation Frank Hess welcomed the occasion and congratulated all Sri Lankan partners. He also acknowledged the coordinating role played by the University of Peradeniya.

Pakistan reopens schools, universities, as Covid-19 shows a downward trend

Pakistan began phased reopening of schools, after a break of nearly five months. As per the health protocols, twenty students or less can be seated in a classroom. The students have been divided into groups and will attend schools on alternate days. Masks are mandatory for teachers and students. The institutions will ensure availability of hand-washing facilities and sanitisers at the entry gates. All educational institutions in Pakistan were closed on March 16 after the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Country News


IIT Madras researchers collaborating with MIT to develop productive usage for agricultural and industrial by-products

Indian Institute of Technology Madras Researchers are working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the U.S., to develop a novel framework for high volume usage of by-products in structural materials. Industrial by-products are generated in huge quantities across the world and are now going into waste. This will be a major step forward towards a sustainable future. The main outcome expected from this research is achieving a paradigm shift in material selection criteria for exploiting the use of agricultural and industrial by-products. By successfully utilizing vast amounts of otherwise-undesired materials, the next generation of sustainable and durable building materials could be designed. These novel building materials will be attractive due to lower cost and environmental impact than existing materials.



Govt initiates plan for IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and other top Indian institutes to open campuses abroad

The central government wants top higher education institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and others to set up campuses abroad. This is a part of the plan laid down in the new National Education Policy (NEP), which calls for internationalisation of education. According to the NEP, foreign universities will be allowed to set up campuses in India and top Indian institutes will be allowed to set up branches outside the country. Ministry of Education has already written to IIT, Delhi, asking about its interest in “taking this up” and its plans and approach towards it. If IIT Delhi sets up a campus in the Middle East, they will have students and faculty from there and footprint will increase.



University Grants Commission (UGC) releases revised 2020-21 academic calendar: Classes to begin from 1st November 2020

A revised academic calendar approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) now states that classes for first-year students will start from November 2020. To avoid the financial burden being faced by parents due to lockdown and related factors, a full refund will be made on account of all cancellation of admissions/ migration of students, up to 30 November.



Bills to set up Forensic Sciences University, Rashtriya Raksha University passed in Rajya Sabha

Two bills to set up the National Forensic Sciences University and the Rashtriya Raksha University were passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote. Both the bills have already been cleared by Lok Sabha. The National Forensic Sciences University Bill seeks to establish a National Forensic Sciences University by upgrading the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University. The proposed university would facilitate and promote studies and research, and help achieve excellence in the field of forensic science in conjunction with applied behavioural science studies, law, criminology and other allied areas. The Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, on the other hand, seeks to establish the Rashtriya Raksha University in Gujarat. Its key objectives include providing dynamic and high standards of learning and research and providing a working environment dedicated to advancing research, education and training in the domain of policing.




Chinese colleges take flexible epidemic control measures for students in a new normal semester

After months of lockdown, students from Wuhan University finally returned to their familiar classrooms and dormitories to begin the new semester, but some changes are in place as the campus is trying to balance resuming classes and epidemic control. If students at Wuhan University need to leave campus, they need to fill out an application on the school’s “Wisdom Luo Jia” app that will be reviewed by teachers as soon as possible. After approval, the system will rapidly send a QR code to the students for leaving and entering the school gates. Most universities like Wuhan University have adopted closed or semi-closed campus management, requiring teachers and students not to leave the campus unless necessary and not allowing off-campus personnel to enter without an appointment.



Royal Agricultural University, UK partners with Qingdao Agricultural University, China to help expand transnational higher education

Gloucestershire-based RAU and Qingdao Agricultural University (QAU) was one of only eleven that were selected by the Chinese Ministry of Education to be established this year. The timing comes as Covid-19 heightens both the UK and China’s awareness of international food security, global food supply chains and the interdependence of agribusiness. Named ‘The RAU Joint Institute for Advanced Agrotechnology at QAU’, the partnership will see double-award degrees offered across four BSc (Hons) programmes. These will include Agriculture; Environment, Food and Society; International Business Management; and Food Production and Supply Management. The degrees will be delivered at the QAU campus, with students being taught in English by both RAU and QAU academics.



Clariant announces new R&D partnership with Tianjin University on new catalytic solutions

Clariant Catalysts and Tianjin University (TJU) put the spotlight on the future development and commercialisation of new catalytic solutions to better serve the needs of the Chinese market. They announced a long-term, strategic partnership that will focus on the research and development of new catalysts. The partnership will establish the “Clariant-TJU Academy”. This pioneering academy will offer students opportunities to gain industrial experience with Clariant’s scientists and it will enhance the industrial catalysis knowledge of researchers and faculties. The cooperation will also provide a way to commercialise the joint research results using Clariant’s established infrastructure.




Foreign students can now return: Malaysia immigration

Foreign students can now return to Malaysia to resume their studies provided that they apply beforehand and their universities are open. The Malaysian immigration department will also consider new applications for a student visa for those enrolling in universities that are open and have organised classes for students. Aside from students having to write in, universities need to inform the department that they have classes running. While the department would look through new applications for a student visa, approval would not be given to prospective students from one of the twenty-three countries whose citizens had been prohibited from entering Malaysia. The immigration department has also updated its list of procedures for Malaysians leaving and entering the country.



SAS commits to analytics training, targets 500 Malaysian students in 2020

SAS has committed to up-skill a minimum of 500 students in analytics across Malaysia by the end of 2020, in response to increased demand for data science expertise. Under the banner of SAS Software Certified Young Professionals (SCYP), the programme will collaborate with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to help drive the adoption of emerging technologies across the country. Central to such efforts will be enabling students to work towards SAS certification in programming, machine learning and visual analytics through e-learning courses, supported by access to online communities and webinars. Once students have completed the e-learning courses and attended the associated webinars, a certification exam will follow before connections with SAS customers seeking young data science professionals.



UK-Quality Assurance Agency and UAE-Commission for Academic Accreditation ink MoU for further collaboration

The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has signed an agreement with the national accreditation agency for UAE – the Commission for Academic Accreditation – to open opportunities for further information sharing and collaboration on projects and activities. The memorandum of understanding will build on previous engagement, the two agencies explained. QAA and CAA will develop a report for UK higher education providers around transnational education opportunities in the UAE, and cooperate on an International Quality Assurance programme to meet the needs of the UAE and the broader region.



Two universities now offer a master’s degree in space science in a first for UAE

Two universities in the UAE—the University of Sharjah and the UAE University in Al Ain—introduced a master’s programme in space sciences to cater to an increasing number of students interested in pursuing a degree in the field. Academics believe the Middle East’s thriving space industry was inspiring young people to follow a career path in disciplines such as space science, engineering and astronomy. The UAE launched its first Emirati-built satellite KhalifaSat in 2018 and sent the first Emirati astronaut, Maj Hazza Al Mansouri, into space in 2019.



UAE, Israel universities ink agreement to boost Artificial intelligence (AI) collaboration

An agreement inked between two universities–the UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed University of AI (MBZUAI) and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science—will see the establishment of a virtual institute for artificial intelligence (AI), to advance the development and use of AI as a tool for progress. The MoU, which is the first of its kind to be signed between two higher education institutes from the UAE and Israel, covers a range of opportunities for collaboration—student and postdoctoral fellows exchange programmes; conferences and seminars; the exchange between researchers; and sharing of computing resources. The agreement follows the historic Peace Accord agreement that normalises relations between the UAE and Israel. The MoU was signed virtually by Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Chairman of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees, and Weizmann Institute President Professor Alon Chen.




Universities offer assistance to students as tuition fees increases

Universities have developed a variety of assistance programmes to help students access higher education, including loans, scholarships, housing and food aid. Hong Bang International University in HCM City, for instance, is cooperating with Sacombank to provide preferential loans for its students. The loan term for four years of study is 10 years. Parents and students can apply for the loan at any Sacombank branch in the country. Students can also use the bank’s credit card to pay tuition fees at Hong Bang International University. They can pay in interest-free instalments within 24 months. Van Hien University in the city will provide 30 billion VND (1.3 million USD) scholarships for its new students from the Hung Hau Heart Fund. New students will receive a 40% discount on tuition for the first semester. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the tuition fees of public universities that have not been granted autonomy will increase, unlike previous years.





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