Category Archives: International Students

Prioritizing Partnerships

Prioritizing Partnerships

February 19, 2015


WASHINGTON -- In international education circles, it’s not uncommon to hear of an institution that has 100 or more partnerships with foreign universities -- several hundred, even. But how should universities assess the value of these partnerships and determine which ones to prioritize -- and which ones, perhaps, to prune?

Those questions were at the forefront of a session on strategic alliances on Wednesday at the Association of International Education Administrators’ annual conference. Daniel Obst, the deputy vice president for international partnerships at the Institute of International Education, began the session by outlining the benefits of strategic alliances to universities -- including shared costs and risks, access to target markets, expanded teaching and research capacity, and new opportunities for students and researchers. He shared preliminary data from an ongoing survey showing that 80 percent of universities globally report having established a partnership with a higher education institution abroad and 68 percent distinguish a regular partnership from a strategic one.

When the University of Queensland, in Australia, first launched a data tool to measure the impacts of its various partnerships, “We knew that we had 705 active agreements; we were working with close to 400 partners in 52 countries," said Jessica Gallagher, deputy director of global engagement for the university. “But what we didn’t know was where we had more substantive relationships -- the high-volume, comprehensive partners. We wanted to know where we could grow, and we also wanted to know which relationships were transformational and which ones were more transactional.”

Queensland officials also wanted to know which partnerships were inactive. “When you’ve got almost 400 partners, maybe it’s time for you to say, ‘Well, do we actually need that many?’” Gallagher said. “It is just not possible with the resources that we have to service all those partnerships at the same level, and so we really needed to look at prioritizing.”

Gallagher explained that Queensland’s Partner Engagement Framework, which launched in 2012 and is now updated annually, measures the strength of each individual university-to-university partnership on 16 different teaching-, research- and engagement- oriented indicators, including indicators for student mobility, joint Ph.D. programs, joint publications, funded joint projects and alumni connections. Users can log in to the online tool with a Queensland ID to see a snapshot of the university’s engagement with any given partner on each of the 16 dimensions (see a sample screenshot here) -- and can click for more detail on an individual indicator.

"With some of our partners we’re very strong in teaching and learning, so we have a number of Ph.D. programs, and we have a student mobility program, but what we may not have is research activity, so it gives us an opportunity to look at, well, is there opportunity to expand?” Gallagher said. The university has more recently launched a complementarycountry engagement framework, which looks at the strength of Queensland’s international partnerships at the level of country rather than university.

Queensland's quantitative approach has its limits, and not only in terms of the labor and resources needed to develop and update the frameworks: as an audience member pointed out, some partnerships could look small on paper but be big in practice. Further, as Gallagher readily acknowledged, the impact of these measures isn't everything.

"Some of our strategic partners aren't necessarily the ones that are bringing in the largest student numbers or the big dollars in terms of [research] projects," she said, but rather, the partnership fits with the university's mission. She cited Queensland's relationships in Indonesia, for example, "where the partnerships are still relatively new, and we're still really looking to to see what will result from the collaboration, but it is about supporting our federal government's initiatives in Southeast Asia. It's about different kinds of research, and it's about being able to provide expertise and support capacity building."

Also during Wednesday's session, Ursula Hans, the director of the international office at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in Germany, described the university's approach to developing "profile partnerships." Hans described the university's international strategy as providing a "top-down framework" and organizational support for "bottom-up" initiatives.

"We would never suggest a strategic alliance with a university where we didn't already have two substantial projects in place," Hans said. "In other words, they build on substantial, long-term relationships and expand on a range of faculty interests."

Hans cited a number of reasons why a university might enter into a strategic partnership, including to enhance that university's reputation, to focus faculty interest in collaborations with international partner universities and to access third-party funding sources.

"Our motivation is really an exploratory one," she said. "It is to see whether there is an added value to linking yourself up very closely with another university, to see how far we can take that partnership concept both in students and in research and also in governance, because we think there's a lot out there to be learned for us in consulting with other people in other contexts. Some things cannot be adapted; others can."

Rape, acid attacks, kidnap: What girls face in fight for education

Rape, acid attacks, kidnap: What girls face in fight for education

AFP | Updated: Feb 10, 2015 01:19 IST

High-profile attacks such as the abduction 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan are a fraction of what is suffered by girls trying to get an education, the UN human rights office said on Monday. Many of the attacks are done in the name of religion or culture, while others are gang-related, notably in El Salvador and other parts of Central America, Veronica Birga, chief of the women's human rights and gender section at the UN human rights office, said at a presentation to launch the report.…/2015/2/Boko-Haram.jpg A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram obtained by AFP shows girls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying in an undisclosed rural location. AFP Photo Such violence is on the rise, the UN report said, citing acid attacks and poisoning by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, girls from a Christian school in India abducted and raped in 2013, and Somali girls taken out of school and forced to marry al Shabaab fighters in 2010. "Attacks against girls accessing education persist and, alarmingly, appear in some countries to be occurring with increasingly regularity," the report said. "In most instances, such attacks form part of broader patterns of violence, inequality and discrimination." Many of the attacks in at least 70 countries between 2009-2014 involved rape and abduction, the report said. "The common cause of all these attacks, which are very different in nature, is deeply entrenched discrimination against women and girls," Birga told the news briefing. In Mali, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan "very strict dress codes have been imposed through the use of violence, including sexual violence on schoolgirls", she said. Some attacks were based on opposition to girls' education as a means for social change and others because schools were seen as imposing Western values including gender equality, she said. She warned that depriving girls of education has serious knock-on effects. "They are more exposed to child marriages and forced marriages, they are more exposed to trafficking and the worst forms of child labour," she said.…/rape-…/article1-1315257.aspx

East meets West in MBA for future masters of universe

East meets West in MBA for future masters of universe

‘Billionaires come to us to study’, Chinese business school dean says of his role in £77,000 joint course

Success stories: Bing Xiang said CKGSB had the most ‘powerful alumni in China’

Academics in the UK may be fighting a fifth year of below-inflation pay rises, but some business schools seem to inhabit a different financial universe.

Last month, Times Higher Education attended a champagne reception – held at the top of the landmark Gherkin building in London’s financial district – to celebrate the launch of a new executive MBA. The price tag? Nearly £77,000 for 20 months’ tuition.

“It’s bloody expensive,” said Sir Tom Hunter, the man credited with being Scotland’s first billionaire, who is an adviser to the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), one of the schools running the programme. But, he told the assembled guests, the MBA was also “reassuringly expensive”.

Those who take the qualification – reassured by its price or not – will be taught by IMD, a business school based in Lausanne in Switzerland, and by CKGSB, at its campuses in Beijing and Shanghai.

In the MBA’s brochure, CKGSB boasts an alumni base of chairmen and chief executives who head companies that account for 13.7 per cent of China’s entire gross domestic product. In other words, their alumni run the rough equivalent of the world’s 16th biggest economy.

“We have the most powerful alumni in China,” Bing Xiang, CKGSB’s dean, told THE before the reception. “Billionaires come to our school to study.”

Just 11 years old, the school now has 43 full-time faculty, of which the “vast majority” have been lured away from a business school in the global “top 15”, Dr Xiang said. “We pretty much had to compete head on…with Stanford, with Columbia, with Wharton [for these staff],” he said.

The school is able to do this because it has the backing of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the philanthropy vehicle of the richest man in Asia, and so is privately funded, unlike other institutions in China.

But another key factor, according to Dr Xiang, is that CKGSB is also the only institution in China to be governed by academic staff, who have secret ballots to decide on strategy, promotions and appointments. He joked that this made him “the least powerful dean in China”.

“The [Chinese] government tends to have a heavy hand in the appointment of senior administrators in university academic institutions,” he said. Institutional autonomy and financial independence are therefore crucial to attract top US business scholars, who might otherwise fear an overly powerful dean will appoint his “buddies” rather than operating a meritocracy, he added.

Dr Xiang had tough words for most other business schools in China, which he said simply impart Western research to their students. “In China, most of the business schools adopt what I call a teaching factory model, a training company model.”

Among other shortcomings of MBAs in China, Dr Xiang listed their failures to teach a “global mindset”, to connect “Western theory with Chinese practice” and to develop “softer” interpersonal skills.

In contrast, CKGSB was producing original business research about China rather than regurgitating scholarship based on Western economies, he said.

In its bid to poach “top guns” from the US, Dr Xiang acknowledged that CKGSB “cannot outbid the US institutions”. But what it could offer, he said, was access to a fast-moving and diverse laboratory for research – the Chinese economy itself.

Job tests for graduates grow in Indian market

Job tests for graduates grow in Indian market

By Paul Fain, for Inside Higher Ed

Angst over the perceived “skills gap” and a dearth of trained workers is growing. Meanwhile, many complain that typical college transcripts say little about what someone knows and can do in the workplace.

One way for employers to find better job applicants might be to require all potential hires to take a test. This “GRE-for-job” assessment could measure both soft and hard skills. Employers might even require all job-seekers to get a minimum cut-off score.

There is a growing market for such workplace readiness tests in the US. One of the most established is ACT’s WorkKeys. The suite of 11 assessments help employers select, hire, train and retain a “high-performance workforce”, according to the non-profit testing firm.

Yet few if any major companies in the US require college graduates to earn a minimum score on a standardised skills-assessment to get hired. This is happening in India, however, and US-based companies are on board.

More than 1.5 million people in India have taken a test called the AMCAT (Aspiring Minds’ Computer Adaptive Test). The assessment measures aptitude in English, quantitative ability and logic. (Click here for a few sample questions.) It also includes a variety of situational and judgement tests, which scrutinise personality types and soft skills to see how they might apply in specific fields.

The test is proctored and takes two hours to complete. It costs 750 rupees or roughly $12 (£7.70) to take.

Multinational conglomerates are among the 600-plus companies that use the test from Aspiring Minds, a firm based in Gurgaon, a city located near New Delhi. Some require all applicants and all employees to take the AMCAT, said Varun Aggarwal, Aspiring Minds’ chief technology officer and chief operating officer.

Accenture and Deloitte, two massive, US-based consulting firms, go a step farther by setting “standardised cut-off” scores on the test for job seekers in India, Mr Aggarwal said. So do other companies.

One is Sapient Global Markets, a business and technology consulting company. Sapient uses the assessment this way for all of its technology-related jobs in India. Prashant Bhatnagar, an India-based director for the company, said Sapient requires college-graduate applicants for tech jobs to hit a minimum score on the AMCAT to qualify for an interview.

Mr Bhatnagar said via email that this is just the first part of a multistep hiring process, which he compares to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The test is a “great leveller”, he said. It allows the company to be more fair in considering applicants who have graduated from different colleges, by relying on something other than an institution’s prestige, Mr Bhatnagar said. Sapient also uses applicants’ scores on the assessment as “our own yardstick, year over year”.

Aspiring Minds would like to break into the US market. Mr Aggarwal said the company has had conversations with American colleges and companies.

The testing firm has partnered with edX, the massive online course provider run by MIT and Harvard University. Indian students who complete edX courses can register for free on Aspiring Minds’ platform to take the assessment and seek jobs.

Mr Aggarwal is a product of both the American and Indian higher education systems. He earned a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. Aspiring Minds’ CEO, Himanshu Aggarwal, graduated from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, as did many of the company’s 260 or so employees.

It won’t be easy to build a critical mass of users in the US, said Mr Aggarwal. The company has been operating in India for eight years, and only recently saw its test-taking numbers really begin to snowball. Aspiring Minds also operates in the Philippines, Ghana and the Middle East, among other places.

“It’s a market-making business and people don’t like tests,” he said.

Even so, Mr Aggarwal argues that the AMCAT helps make the hiring process more meritocratic, by verifying what job-seekers know and can do. It’s a way of identifying talent, which is crucial for both companies and the millions of skilled yet underemployed workers in India.

Aspiring Minds is one of a growing number of firms that want to tap into the market for post-college, workplace assessments. Many seek to measure non-cognitive skills and problem-solving. Like Aspiring Minds, they typically feature adaptive elements, meaning the tests change based on a user’s answers. The group includes Evolv, Gild and Knack.

Some startups seek to link undergraduates students with employers. One new addition, JobVille, is described as a combination of Candy Crush (a popular Facebook and smartphone game) and LinkedIn. Diana Cobbe, the startup’s founder, recently won a $10,000 prize from the Lumina Foundation for the app.

Cobbe said that JobVille will introduce students, beginning as freshers, to three types of jobs and one employer each day. “It takes about five minutes a day,” said Ms Cobbe. “They need to have employer networks.”

Colleges should pay attention to this emerging field, said Louis Soares, vice-president for policy research and strategy at the American Council on Education and head of the council’s Center for Policy Analysis. For one thing, students might be able to benefit from the assessments. Companies are using them as hiring tools, he said, and colleges could steer students toward the tests and cover some or all of the fees.

Skills assessments are also worth tracking because of what they say about the value of a degree.

“It calls into question the current credentialing system,” said Mr Soares. “They upend conventional wisdom.”

Major testing firms will continue to a play a role in developing job-market assessments.

In addition to ACT, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has created two tests employers could use, although they are aimed at colleges. Another player is the Council for Aid to Education, which last year released a revised version of its College Learning Assessment, which is dubbed the CLA+.

WorkKeys was one of the first on the scene. So far it has mostly been used in manufacturing and other fields that do not typically require job applicants to hold bachelor’s degrees. But that may be changing.

The 11 WorkKeys assessments can be used by a broad range of employers, said Chris Guidry, ACT’s director of career and college readiness. And ACT continues to tweak WorkKeys based on expected changes in job markets.

The testing firm designs its assessments based on specific information about local hiring needs. It uses job descriptions from a federal database as well as research from its own trained job profilers, who are deployed around the nation. They study the tasks and skills associated with jobs in each area, said Mr Guidry.

The three types of assessments that see the most use are ones that measure reading for information, the ability to locate information and applied math skills. As a result, jobseekers who pass those assessments quality for ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). They can earn one of three possible levels of readiness on the certificate. So far ACT has issued more than 2.6 million of the credentials.

In addition to those three tests, ACT offers eight assessments measuring different skills, including ones in applied technology, business writing and teamwork. Companies can offer the tests that make the most sense for their employees.

Guidry said some employers use the tests when they are seeking to relocate to a new area. For example, the results can help “whittle down” 200 applications for 20 new jobs. Employers also test current employees, sometimes to remediate where their skills are lacking or to learn more about high-performing workers.

However, ACT does not recommend that employers rely solely on WorkKeys in the hiring process. And Mr Guidry said companies typically allow applicants and current employees to retake the tests multiple times.

“It’s not about excluding” anyone, he said. “People have good days. People have bad days.”

Rich world attainment is rising fast but not for all

Rich world attainment is rising fast but not for all

Karen MacGregor
30 January 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 352

There has been a sharp rise in education attainment across the world’s wealthy nations, driven by young adults studying longer. But at the same time, nearly one in six young adults in OECD nations does not have the skills essential to function in the modern world, according to an interim Education at a Glance report for the OECD. There has been a sharp rise in education attainment across the world’s wealthy nations, driven by young adults studying for longer. While at the turn of the century, tertiary qualifications were held by 26% of people aged 25-34 years living in OECD countries, the proportion had soared to 40% by 2013, according to an interimEducation at a Glance report.
For 55-64 year-olds, the share with higher education rose from 15% in 2000 to 24% in 2013.

But at the same time, nearly one in six young adults in OECD nations does not have the skills essential to function in the modern world. There are 13 OECD countries with 15% or more unqualified youth – including France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Italy. And there has been little change in the past decade.

Andreas Schleicher, director for educational and skills at the OECD, believes a substantial proportion of under-educated young people poses a “major risk for labour markets and societies. Progress has to be achieved across the educational ladder, with priority given to diminishing the share of the least educated among the young.”

The publication, Education at a Glance Interim Report: Update of employment and educational attainment indicators, was one of two released simultaneously by the OECD late last month that touched on education and employment.

It is a successor to Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators released last September and presents updated data on three major topics – educational attainment, labour market outcomes, and the transition from school to work. The other publication was Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making reforms happen.

The report has data on education from the 34 OECD member countries, and partner countries Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Educational attainment

In recent decades, almost all OECD countries have seen 'significant increases' in education attainment, and in most countries more than four out of five young adults have attained at least an upper secondary education, says the report.

On average across the OECD, 40% of younger adults have a tertiary qualification, but there are wide national differences.

“In Canada, Ireland, Japan and Korea, the majority of young adults hold a tertiary qualification, while it is the case for less than 30% in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey and the partner countries Brazil and Colombia.”

Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Slovak Republic have extensive upper secondary vocational systems, the report notes, resulting in 60% or more of young adults attaining upper secondary education and low proportions – 11%, 6%, 13% and 6% respectively – with less than upper secondary.

“Therefore, these countries belong to the group with low proportions of young adults with low skills, while Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey have some of the highest proportions of younger adults with low qualifications.”

Trends in educational attainment

“Between 2000 and 2013, upper secondary (or post-secondary non-tertiary) and tertiary qualifications gained more and more terrain across OECD countries which means that the proportion of the population with only a below upper secondary education is shrinking” – from 35% to 23% for all adults.

The proportion of people with tertiary education grew to 33% of all adults in 2013.

The rise in attainment is being driven largely by younger generations studying for longer. In 2000, tertiary qualifications were held by 26% of 25-34 year-olds and this proportion soared to 40% by 2013.

While progress has been made across all countries, says the report, the five countries with the highest proportion of older adults with low qualifications are also those with the highest share of younger adults with low qualifications – Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

“In Portugal and Spain, the proportion of young adults with low qualifications is more than 30%, and in Mexico and Turkey more than half of younger adults have not attained an upper secondary qualification. Among these five OECD countries, only in Italy is the proportion of younger adults without an upper secondary qualification below 30%.”

Overall, the proportion of younger adults with low qualifications dropped from 25% in 2000 to 17% in 2013 – it was 18% for younger men and 15% for younger women.

“Despite this dominant trend, in some OECD and partner countries, namely in Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Norway, there was an increase in the share of younger adults with low qualifications,” the report says.

Participation in the labour market

Since 2000 there has been a contraction of labour markets across most OECD countries. Employment rates have been decreasing and jobless rates growing among people with all levels of education.

In all OECD countries, people with high qualifications have the highest employment rates and in most countries, they also have the lowest risk of being unemployed.

Employment rates are 83% for people with tertiary education, 73% for those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, and 55% among people with qualifications below upper secondary education.

“Unemployment rates are 5.3% for individuals with tertiary education, 8% for those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education and 13.7% for those with qualifications below upper secondary education,” the report says.

For adults with tertiary qualifications, the highest unemployment rates are found in Greece and Spain – 15% or more.

Employment rates vary to a degree by age group, but are consistently lower for older adults. However, joblessness “hits younger generations the hardest” for all levels of education, the report continues.

On average across the OECD, about 10% of older adults who do not have upper secondary education are unemployed, compared with about 21% of younger adults, and 11% of younger adults with an upper secondary education are jobless compared to 7% of older adults.

“The gap between the two age groups is the smallest among tertiary-educated adults: about 8% of younger adults in this group are unemployed compared to about 4% of older adults.”

Unemployment rates can be quite high among younger adults with a tertiary qualification in some countries such as Greece (33.1%), Italy (16%), Portugal (18.4%), Slovenia (10.8%), Spain (20.8%) and Turkey (11.1%).

And in a few countries, unemployment rates are higher among tertiary educated adults than among those with education below upper secondary.

In Mexico unemployment rates increase as education levels increase. This is the case among all adults – 5.2% and 3.8%, respectively. “In Mexico, the highest unemployment rates across all levels of education are those for the tertiary educated 25-34 year-old men (7.9%).”

Marked gender differences

A far higher proportion of 25-34 year-old women have tertiary education than men – 46% and 35% respectively – while the opposite is true for 55-64 year-old women and men – 24% and 26% respectively.

“In Australia, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, at least one in two young women (25-34 year-olds) has a tertiary education, and in Canada, Japan, Korea and the Russian Federation more than 60% have a tertiary education.”

“The picture is quite different among young men however: only in Japan and Korea have more than one in two men attained a tertiary education.”

Employment outcomes vary according to gender across all OECD countries and education levels, the reports find. “On average, only 66% of women are employed compared with 80% of men.” The gender gap is the biggest among adults with the lowest education levels.

“The gap between men’s and women’s employment rates narrows as educational attainment increases. Yet, employment rates among tertiary educated women across OECD countries are still considerably lower than those of men, even though a higher proportion of women hold tertiary education credentials."

On average, 8.3% of tertiary educated younger women are unemployed compared to 7.3% of younger men. “Gender differences in employment could be a result of more women being outside the labour force, probably due to traditional roles in regards to the family unit.”

Transitions from school to work

The ageing population in OECD countries should favour employment among young people, the report says. But during recessionary periods, people with more work experience are favoured over new labour market entrants, and most countries are adopting policies that raise the age of retirement, slowing job rotation.

In unfavourable market conditions, young people tend to stay in education longer. On average, since 2000 about one year had been added to the duration of formal education. “In the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey and the Slovak Republic, two years and more have been added.”

“In 2013, a typical 15 year-old in an OECD country could expect to spend about seven additional years in formal education during the next 15 years,” says the report.

Almost eight years would be spent not in education, in which the typical student would be employed for around five-and-a-half years, be unemployed for just over one year, and be out of the labour force – neither in education nor seeking work – for just over one year.

The report says that varying levels of employment among students of 15-29 years old can be explained by cultural, economic or social differences across countries. OECD students spend on average nearly two out of seven years in education working while studying.

Studies have shown that a combination of work and study can enable students to try different jobs before fully entering the world of work, and can help them gain financial independence, develop a sense of responsibility, enhance self-accomplishment and social integration, and develop knowledge and skills that help them find work after their studies.

It has been demonstrated that students who work between 10 and 19 hours a week have a stronger academic performance than other students – working or not – “showing that an optimal work-study balance provides structure and discipline that are harder to acquire if working too few or too many hours”.

In Latvia, Poland and Turkey, more than 60% of students who were employed worked 35 hours a week or more.

Countries in which a large share of 15-29 year-olds were employed and studied at the same time usually showed low proportions of students working 35 hours or more per week, the report says. “More than 25% of students were working in Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands, but less than 20% of them worked 35 or more hours per week.”

Austria and Germany are different because of the prevalence of work-study programmes, which involve about half of all working students. About one in five young adults was both studying and working in the two countries in 2013, and about half of them were working 35 hours a week or more.

In the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden about half or more of the 15-29 year-olds working during their studies in 2013 worked nine hours or less per week.

In Canada, Iceland and the United States, more than half of employed students worked between 10 to 34 hours per week, while in Greece, Hungary and Italy the proportion of young people who were in education and in employment was below 5%.

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