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

Georgia Institute of Technology introduces long-term initiative to advance the United Nations sustainable development goals

To advance its new mission and strategic plan, the Georgia Institute of Technology is launching a campus-wide sustainability effort. The long-term initiative will begin with two virtual events and a collaborative online activity during the Fall 2020 semester. Featuring objectives such as “Affordable and Clean Energy,” “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure,” and “Sustainable Cities and Communities,” the SDGs appear in the institute’s new strategic plan, aligned with its areas of expertise and mission to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.

The University of Sydney commits to climate action, sustainability

The University of Sydney announced that it was committing to a pathway of net-zero emissions, and aimed to send zero waste to landfill and reduce its potable water use by 30% by 2030 as part of a new sustainability strategy, adding its voice to a growing body of institutions calling for urgent action on climate change. The Sustainability Strategy 2020 is the result of 18 months of discussions between over 1,100 academics, operational staff, and students, and has a range of aspirational targets, and initiatives including a ‘living laboratory’ approach, where sustainability research and teaching can be put into practice and tested on the campus community

Chatham University praised in a report by the environmental advocacy group for sustainability efforts

Chatham University in Pittsburgh was ranked second in a study, by Penn Environment Research & Policy Centre, of the nation’s top colleges for their use and consumption of renewable energy. The report compares local colleges and universities to other institutions across the country, paying special attention to areas including electricity, heating, hot water, clean vehicles, and others. Chatham was ranked second (nationwide) in the report for its use of renewable heating, cooling, hot water, and other non-electric energy. The university uses three solar thermal systems to heat all of its water, according to the report. The report examined colleges in three main areas—shifting to renewable electricity, repowering buildings with clean energy, and adopting electric vehicles.

Practitioner Series: Volume 11

Recruiting Latin American Students—The Power of 7

With COVID 19 posing more challenges than ever before within international student recruitment, there has never been a more important time for universities to go that extra mile and manage a tailored approach to attract students. Unless the institution already has a strong brand name in Latin America, it can be hard to differentiate yourself from the competition. Successful universities have a clear understanding of their strengths and consistently play to these with clear communication.Aside from this, during this time of COVID-19, it is also important for institutions to clearly communicate their strategy regarding managing the virus and distribute this information to students regularly digitally. Furthermore, it is also important to summarise how students will be studying (distance, blended, or fully on-campus) and update this as the pandemic progresses.

Whilst online marketing and social media are important forms of communication, nothing is as important as face to face time and relationship building with key stakeholders. In the latest volume of our Practitioner Series Mr Simon Terrington, Director, EdCo LATAM Consulting, outlines seven important points to take into consideration to attract students from Latin America.

Digital Future

Equipping university students for a digital future

There’s no question the pandemic will upend the traditional “campus experience,” a fundamental component of university education. Yet, as millions of students around the world head into a very different fall term where most teaching will be online, this virtual learning experience can, through innovative approaches, provide benefits to students and society at large. These virtual environments allow universities to add an important dimension to the transformative impact of higher education. The virtual environment often brings out the best in students. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, many students understand that online learning can be more personalised than in-person courses. Some appreciate the flexibility to engage with the material on their own time. Others are more willing to participate actively in a class by asking written questions and joining teams and chats with peers, as opposed to raising their hand in a lecture hall or going to see a professor. To create a sense of community that is core to campus life, universities will need to innovate by moving student clubs online, developing virtual activities with external partners, sponsoring remote hackathons, and more.

Super Stats

Report—Undergraduate and Graduate students’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

A report released by The Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium examines the mental health impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on students, especially those who struggled to transition from in-person to remote instruction. The consortium, a higher education research collaborative between the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Minnesota and other institutions, used patient health questionnaires to screen 30,725 undergraduate students at nine research universities from May to July and found that 35% of them were positive for major depressive disorder and 39% for generalised anxiety disorder. The results of the study suggest that undergraduate, graduate and professional students are experiencing significant mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it appears as though between one-third to two-fifths of students screened positive for major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder, respectively.

  • 32% of students were positive for major depressive disorder and 39% for generalised anxiety
  • The rate of major depressive disorder among graduate and professional students is two times higher compared to 2019
  • Rates of the disorders were “more pronounced” for low-income and LGBTQ students, women and students of colour
  • The Report recommends for HEIs to allocate more resources, reduce barriers, and increase communications.
  • The report also recommends HEIs to engage faculty and academic advising staff.


Survey: Majority of learners believe the pandemic will fundamentally change higher education

In a recent survey of learners of all ages around the globe, 79% of respondents agreed that colleges and universities will fundamentally change because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 88% said that online learning will be part of the higher education experience moving forward. The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson, polled 7,038 people aged between 16–70 years old in seven countries about key trends in education and work. Among the findings:

  • 66% of respondents think their country’s education system has done a good job adapting to the needs of students during the pandemic, while 34% feel it has failed students.
  • 74% believe fewer people will be able to afford a university education as a result of the pandemic, and 65% think fewer people will seek out traditional university degrees.
  • 78% believe online learning will give people more access to quality education, but 87% conceded that not everyone has access to the technology they need to learn effectively online.
  • 84% said the pandemic has made the digital divide more obvious between those who have access to technology for learning and those who don’t.
  • 88% said educational institutions should take advantage of tech to maximise learning, but 67% feel education institutions are less effective at using tech than other industries, such as healthcare or banking.
  • 87% agree that colleges and universities need to adapt faster to the needs of today’s students.

Sannam S4 Initiatives

Sannam S4 new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Series

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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 firm Byju’s raises USD 122 million from DST Global

EdTech player, Byju’s has raised more funding as part of its ongoing Series F round, raising USD 122 million from DST Global. DST Global is an investment firm led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. As per regulatory filings sourced from paper, Byju’s, in a virtual general meeting on August 19th, issued shares to DST Asia, DSTG VI Investment, and DSTG VII Investment, funds run by DST Global. The company had recently raised funding from Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s fund BOND capital, which valued the company at over USD 10 billion. Before that, Byju’s had already raised nearly USD 500 million at the beginning of the year from Tiger Global and General Atlantic.



Dublin’s SoapBox Labs partners with Amplify on US ed-tech

New York ed-tech firm Amplify announced the release of a voice-enabled reading assessment programme for students that it has built-in collaboration with Dublin’s SoapBox Labs. It claimed that the platform, Text Reading Online, is the first literacy assessment of its kind to enable remote evaluation of oral reading fluency, accuracy, and comprehension, which are critical indicators of development for young readers. Through its work with Amplify, voice technology company SoapBox Labs wants to ensure that teachers can still perform literacy assessments that require direct observation of students by trained educators. Text Reading Online aims to help educators tailor instruction and avoid reading loss during a critical development stage, even in a remote setting.



Facebook CEO fund may back EdTech start-up Eruditus at USD 850 million valuation

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a non-profit organisation headed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, is reportedly in advance talks to invest in Mumbai-based ed-tech start-up Eruditus. CZI along with a clutch of US-based tech-focused funds to invest nearly USD 80 million at a valuation of USD 800 million to USD 850 million. The company plans to use this funding to expand to more countries, improve product functions, and make selective acquisitions. Before this, the company was valued at USD 400million last January, after raising USD 40 million in Series C round led by Sequoia Capital India. The round also saw participation from existing investor Bertelsmann India Investments.



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

Cuba restarts academic year on September 1st

The Minister of Education has announced that the school year will resume in all the country’s provinces on September 1st, 2020, except Havana, given its current epidemiological situation. She reported that managers and workers are returning to educational institutions to prepare them for the restart of the 2019-2020 school year, after the period of forced confinement. Subsequently teaching activities will be resumed and evaluations will be carried out to end this school year, which will run until October 31. Two days later the 2020-2021 academic year will begin. In the case of Higher Education, students and teachers will also return to class in 22 universities on September 1st (second phase) and from then on, adjustments will be made for the closure of subjects, changes of careers and finals, extraordinary and end-of-year exams.

South Asia

Bangladesh: Education Ministry forms committee to update private university law

The Ministry of Education has formed a three-member convening committee to review the law on private universities to expand and ensure quality education across the country. The Directorate of Secondary & Higher Education issued an order signed by Deputy Secretary. The convener of the committee will be a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Two other members of the committee will be members of the Bangladesh Accreditation Council and the deputy secretary of the Directorate of Secondary & Higher Education, the letter stated. The UGC and the Bangladesh Accreditation Council will appoint their representatives to the committee. The committee will submit a report with amendments, additions, changes, or modifications to the Private University Act 2010 to ensure quality education and proper management at the private universities, the letter said about the committee activities.

Pakistan: All educational institutions will reopen on September 15th, 2020

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood clarified that educational institutions would be reopened on September 15, 2020. He said a conference of the inter-provincial education ministers will be held on September 07, 2020, to discuss Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) for educational institutions and to further see possibilities of opening the institutions on September 15, 2020. Addressing a press conference about his ministry’s two-year progress, the minister said many initiatives were launched during the period.

Sri Lanka: BIT external degree from University of Moratuwa offered via ESOFT metro campus branch network

ESOFT Metro Campus, the pioneer in Sri Lanka’s higher education industry in the field of Information Technology (IT) has joined forces with the University of Moratuwa, an institution that’s both locally and internationally reputed for producing engineering and technical professionals, to offer an External Degree programme in Information Technology (BIT). These courses are scheduled to be conducted at the ESOFT Metro Campus branches in Colombo, Kalutara, Kurunegala, Kandy, Galle, Negombo, and Jaffna. ESOFT Metro Campus, Colombo is approved by the University Grants Commission as a Non-State Degree Awarding Institution. Also, ESOFT Metro Campus conducts a Higher Diploma and Degree programmes in the fields of Information and Communication Technology, Business Management, Engineering, and Hospitality Management as well as Language and Institutional Training.

Nepal: Agreement between Nepal Telecom and the University Grants Commission to facilitate teaching, learning

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the teaching, learning process, an agreement has been signed between Nepal Telecom and University Grants Commission to facilitate the teaching and research activities. With this pact, Nepal Telecom will provide the “Happy Learning package” to all those involved in the teaching, learning, and research activities from the universities and colleges of the country. Happy Learning package is a special mobile data package that enables using cellular data for online learning and other data requirements for students, teachers, researchers, and educational staff. There are two data packages in Happy learning pack of Nepal Telecom. The pack dedicates a large volume in applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.

Country News


Flipkart forges academic collaboration with IIT Patna

Leading e-commerce player Flipkart has entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology Patna (IIT Patna) to jointly create industry-focused applied research in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML). As a part of the MoU, IIT Patna will undertake several programmes like joint research activities, writing research papers, organising seminars, internship and mentorship opportunities. The academic collaboration is expected to bring real-world industry exposure to students and scholars of IIT Patna and provide an opportunity for faculty members to work closely with Flipkart on research projects.



Coding Ninjas collaborates with Chitkara University to offer programming courses to first-year B. Tech students

Coding Ninjas, one of the largest online tech education company in India focusing on teaching Coding and other Programming courses, has collaborated with Chitkara University in Punjab. Under this partnership, Coding Ninjas will help the first-year B. Tech students of Chitkara University learn ‘Programming Fundamentals in Python’ during their first semester. Designed to be taught in a blended learning format, the students will be able to learn from Coding Ninjas’ programme and get live sessions from the Faculty Members of Chitkara University. The collaboration will complement Chitkara University’s existing education methodology to thousands of students with the Coding Ninjas’ programme. With this programme, Coding Ninjas intends to educate with fundamental knowledge of the technology domain.



Mphasis partners with Ashoka University to create ‘Mphasis Laboratory for Machine Learning and Computational Thinking’

Mphasis, an Information Technology solutions provider specialising in cloud and cognitive services, is coming together with Ashoka University to set up a laboratory for machine learning and computational thinking, through a grant of INR 10 crore (USD 1.3 million) that Mphasis F1 Foundation, the CSR arm of the company. The Mphasis Laboratory for Machine Learning and Computational Thinking will apply ML and design thinking to produce world-class papers and compelling proofs-of-concept of systems/prototypes with a potential for large societal impact. The laboratory will be the setting for cutting edge research and a novel educational initiative that is focused on bringing thoroughly researched, pedagogy-based learning modules to Indian students. Through this laboratory, Mphasis and Ashoka University will work to translate research activity into educational modules focusing on the construction of entire systems that allow students to understand and experientially recreate the project. This approach to education is aimed at creating a more engaging and widely accessible mode of learning.



Beijing universities to reopen, ask all returning non-local students to undergo COVID-19 tests

After almost seven months of suspended campus life, universities in China are set to reopen and welcome the new cohort of students. Universities in Beijing have informed students travelling from other provinces and regions that they must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to further safeguard the prevention work in China’s capital city. There have been no new cases of domestic transmission of COVID-19 in the Chinese mainland for seven consecutive days as of Sunday following the sporadic resurgence of outbreaks in Beijing, Dalian, and Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region since June.



First China’s university under foreign management to be set up on Hainan

The Hainan government and Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences (Germany) signed a strategic cooperation agreement, according to which first China’s educational institution will be set up on the island and will be fully managed by a German university. The institute will be located in the Yangpu Economic Development Zone in the northwest of the province. It aims at training highly qualified personnel, promoting the development of Hainan’s free trade port, attracting investments from Germany, and creating enterprises with foreign capital on the island.



Chinese Academy of Science sends out admission letters with sounds from space

The University of Chinese Academy of Science officially sent out its admission letters–but the letter is more than a piece of paper. The letters included an attached vinyl record as a special welcome gift to each of its freshmen, which contains recorded sounds from space that resemble horses riding over grassland, heartbeats, firecrackers, or raindrops. Such sounds were recorded through China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST)—the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. With the start of the fall semester in September, top Chinese colleges have designed creative admission letters. For example, Nankai University issued its admission letters with two lotus seeds. Students can plant one in their hometown and one on campus, which represents roots and future growth.




Tourism Malaysia, UiTM (Universiti Teknologi MARA) to collaborate on exchange programmes

Tourism Malaysia aspires to facilitate exchange programmes with international students in the future following the signing of the memorandum of collaboration (MoC) with Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Tourism Malaysia. The national tourism agency collaborates with the industry including higher education institutions to formulate new strategies to ensure its sustainability, which is facing challenges in marketing digitalisation to cater to the targeted market segmentation. The MoC focuses on the exchange of expertise on the tourism industry, to create opportunities for future joint or allied funding activities and projects, as well as to create a mutual understanding of business opportunities and needs of both parties.



Taylor’s University, Malaysia inks MoU with Lovely Professional University (LPU), India

Taylor’s University, Malaysia, and Lovely Professional University (LPU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to lead students and faculty of both universities in academics and research exposure. The collaboration between the two universities sets forth the areas of developing research projects jointly and avail of funding; exchange of academic information, materials and facilities; students and faculty exchange; organisation/ participation in the joint symposium, seminar, conferences, workshops; developing articulations for twinning/joint programmes; allowing students to undertake part of the programme/course of study at each institution; and promotion of such other activities/programmes as mutually agreed from time to time.


Small and medium industry (SMI) entrepreneurs encouraged to collaborate with universities in technology transfer

The Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) has encouraged small and medium industry (SMI) entrepreneurs to collaborate with relevant local universities, institutions, and government agencies in the area of technology transfer research. The endeavour could potentially produce SMI entrepreneurs with skills in new technologies that would lead to innovations and sharing of expertise. Entrepreneurs in the programme would be helped enhance their company’s productivity through technology injection aside from the opportunity to interact or collaborate with universities and local research institutions.



Universities in the UAE to reopen with limited attendance and partial online learning

Universities across the UAE will partially reopen while still offering classes online for any students who do not need to be on campus. The Minister of Education said priority would be given to students who needed to use facilities, such as laboratories, on campus. Face masks will be mandatory and procedures are in place in the event of a suspected Covid-19 case. E-learning will begin for all courses from the last week of August while some subjects requiring lab and studio time will switch to classes next month.



Emirates Talent Association and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) partner with global technology pioneers to train youth

As part of its continuing efforts to establish a highly qualified generation of technology and knowledge pioneers, the Emirates Talent Association and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) marked the launch of two new programmes under the “Emirati Programmer” programme. This latest development aims to increase learners’ abilities in cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), and 3D printing in line with the wise leadership’s directives to foster innovation and technological advancement and invest in young talents to support them in their role in shaping the UAE’s future. The ‘Cloud Computing and IoT’ programme is being developed in cooperation with Amazon Web Services (AWS), a global pioneer in cloud computing services. Meanwhile, the ‘3D Printing’ programme is the outcome of a partnership with Signify, a world leader in IoT-based lighting and building automation solutions. The partnerships with technology pioneers reflect industry leaders’ trust and confidence in the Emirates Talent Association.



American University in Dubai (AUD) made a progression agreement with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)

The American University in Dubai (AUD) now has a progression agreement with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in the UK. Students who complete three years of the BBA programme at AUD can transition for their last year to Manchester, and graduate with an additional BA (Hons) business administration-management degree at MMU. The MMU BA programme courses focus on areas such as globalisation, social responsibility, and leadership. The launch of the programme is timely as many students who were applying abroad are now choosing to stay in the UAE. With the first three years at AUD, this programme offers a top-ranked education and an authentic American campus life, followed by the option to go to the UK for their final year.




Vietnam introduces higher education comparative ranking system

The Vietnam National University-Hanoi (VNU) launched a higher education comparative ranking system developed by Vietnam named “University Performance Metrics” (UPM) at an international workshop. So far, as many as 160 Vietnamese higher education institutions and more than 300 training programmes have been accredited by prestigious domestic and international accreditation organisations. UPM is a data and analysis centre, which can provide consultancy and support to the national higher education system, as well as to national and regional higher education institutions. Higher education institutions can use UPM to self-evaluate their performance, at the same time use it as a tool for strategic management, brand development, and partner development.



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