Category Archives: Recruiting 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."

PhD Student Customized Counseling

PhD Student Customized Counseling

Congratulations! You are now in an elite category of students who is dreaming of earning a doctorate from a US university! As you may know, the United States has some of the most prestigious, comprehensive and rigorous doctoral programs in the world. The rewards of earning a PhD from a good US university are enormous in terms of prestige, career growth, and earning potential. If you are hard-working, dedicated, and persevering, success is guaranteed. PlanetGPA (A service of USAsiaEdu, Inc) is here to assist you every step of the way!

We do not accept every student that applies for our services. Instead, we carefully select the students that we want to work with. Once we accept you, PlanetGPA will provide you with step-by-step guidance regarding short-listing universities, selecting the right program, timelines, application process, and career counseling. Our goal is to make sure that every student of PlanetGPA is fully funded in the doctoral program. We work only with students that are fully committed to earning a doctoral program. The more dedicated and responsive you are, the higher are the chances of your success in gaining funding and admission to a top doctoral program.

Funding: One of the great benefits of a doctoral program in the US is that most doctoral students are partially or fully funded, thus reducing the financial burden on a student and his or her family. On the other hand, since the student is funded, US universities receive a large number of applications from international students eager to enter the doctoral program. Hence, your grades and test scores must be good and your application must be thoughtful, well-written, and nearly perfect! Our goal is to make sure that students like you get the maximum amount of financial aid available.

An important point to note: even though you may get funding, in order to get a visa, financial documents showing that you have funds to support your education are essential.

Timing: You must start the application process as soon as you can. Hence, if you are interested in enrolling in August 2011 in a doctoral program, your application must be submitted latest by January 2011. The earlier, the better and time is of the essence.

Tests: It is important to take the tests that are relevant to your discipline and to score well on these tests. If you do not wish to take these tests, there are a few universities that may not require them; however, in all likelihood these will not be top-notch universities.



We follow the following rigorous steps in assisting you with your doctoral application. Comprehensive

  1. Student Profile Form: We are able to successfully short-list universities based on our in-depth understanding of you, your career goals, your research interests, your academic profile and accomplishments, and your personality and preferences.

This form consists of the following sections:

  1. Contact details
  2. Academic Profile
  3. Financial Profile
  4. Career Goals
  5. Research Interests
  6. Preferences


  1. Review and Assessment: Based on the information you provide, we will do a comprehensive assessment of your profile and provide you with feedback on how to improve your chances of gaining admission to a good doctoral program.


  1. Customized and comprehensive list of doctoral universities: Unlike other degree programs, short-listing universities for doctoral students is one of the most critical and time-consuming steps. It requires in-depth knowledge and expertise on the part of the counselor about US doctoral programs, admission criteria of institutions, funding opportunities and other related matters. Your report will include information on the following factors:






Average GRE score
Average TOEFL score
Publications per Faculty member
Citations of faculty work
Percent faculty with grants
Awards per faculty member
Percent new students with full financial support
Average Completion Percent
Time to degree
Percent PhD with Academic jobs
Alumni employment
Percent of Foreign students
Number of PhD graduates (2002-06)
Percent Interdisciplinary faculty
Percent new students with external grants
Student work space


Why are these factors important? These factors are important because they will affect not only your chances of gaining admission, but also your career opportunities and future earning potential. Hence, while any consultant can come up with a few names of universities that offer doctoral programs, the key is to find an experienced counselor who is an expert in doctoral programs. PlanetGPA specializes in admission to doctoral programs.


  1. Review of universities and selection: Based on the information we provide in our Customized Report, you should review the list of recommended universities. This review should be thorough, on your part. If you have any questions as you review these universities, our counselors will be happy to assist. Based on your review, you should identify 3 to 5 universities and rank them in the order of preference.


  1. Essay Development and Review: The essay is one of the most important parts of your application. Unlike other degree programs, essays are reviewed carefully by doctoral committees and funding decisions are sometimes based on the quality of your essay. One essay does not fit all schools! Your essay has to be customized to the vision and mission of the institution and the department. Your essay should show your knowledge and understanding about the department, its programs, and faculty profiles. Your essay will be reviewed by our experienced counselors for content and then it will be reviewed by an editorial team for writing style and clarity. You should expect several iterations of your essay and should be patient and cooperative throughout this process.


  1. Letters of Reference: Like your essay, your letters of reference can make or break you. We will work closely with you to draft letters that align with your research interest and career goals. Further, your letters should appeal to the unique interests of the institution to which you are applying.


  1. Application Assistance: We will assist you to complete the doctoral applications to three universities of your choice.
  2. Comprehensive Review of Documents: All documents will be mailed to the US office for a thorough review before it is mailed to the university. Each university has its own unique processes and procedures that must be met for successful admission. The more thorough and accurate your application package is, the better are your chances of admission. A team of US counselors will review your documents, ensure everything is in order, and mail the package to the university once the checklist is complete.


  1. Follow-up: If and when necessary, we will follow up with the university to determine the status of your application.


  1. Deadlines! Deadlines! Deadlines are firm in the US. There is no leeway. Hence, one of our tasks is to make sure that you meet all deadlines. In fact, we highly encourage early applications as funding decisions at some universities are made on a first-come, first-served basis.


  1. Visa Counseling (Applicable to Indian Students only): Our expert team in India will prepare you for your visa interview. With years of experience and knowledge about the visa process, they will ensure that your visa interview is smooth and successful.


  1. Ethics: We hold ourselves and our students to the highest standards of integrity and ethics. We expect our students to provide accurate and truthful information at all times.


  1. Communications: You can schedule a 1-hour weekly online chat session with our counselors by appointment.

PlanetGPA has earned a world-wide reputation as a leader in assisting doctoral students pursue  doctoral programs in the US with funding. If you are committed to pursuing a PhD, PlanetGPA is your best and most trustworthy resource.

Everyone wants international students! Why?

There is hardly a college or university in US or Europe that is not actively recruiting international students. They spend significant resources to recruit international students using dedicated staff, glossy marketing materials, and country tours. It is worthwhile to ask the question, "Why?" Why are colleges and universities interested in recruiting from around the world?

The standard and widely cited reasons for this massive effort are:

  •  internationalization is good;
  • a global view is essential in today's world;
  • graduates must be global citizens;
  • we want to create a "global village" within our campus;
  • diversity is good for society;
  • our students must learn to work with people from all over the world;
  • new experiences opens our thinking and enhances our creativity;

I am sure there are a few other good reasons as well besides the above list. Presidents' of many colleges and universities are sincere when they cite the above reasons. After all, which institution wants to be known for graduating an ignoramus?

Today, recruiting international students is a thriving business. There are many for-profit and non-profit organizations and corporations dedicated to recruiting international students (including my company!). The websites of many colleges and universities has a dedicated web link that shows photos of happy international students set against the backdrop of colorful flags from all over the world. The message is "Come home to us!"

However, one of the most compelling and less widely known reasons for the big push for international students is economics - yes, good old economics - international students pay anywhere from two to three times the tuition rates of domestic students. In short, they are a great source of revenue for colleges and universities and they don't cost a dime more than educating a domestic student.

In addition, many international students excel in math and science and are dedicated lab assistants, graders, and graduate teaching assistants. They fill doctoral programs and love to live and sleep in labs, passionate about their research and their dissertations. Frequently, they don't have transportation and thus stay glued to the library or the lab. I know because I was one of them.

In today's economic environment, with the state coffers drying up like a patch of desert water, the push for recruiting international students is likely to increase. There are great schools that are genuinely dedicated to the ideals listed above and are passionate about graduating global citizens. And then there are those that want a warm body from another country. It is up to students to be careful when they shop for a university. If you (student) do, you will get a great education in a great country; if you don't, you would have done nothing for yourself - just helped a college or university get rich at your expense.

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the President and CEO of Global Cube Consultants, an international higher education consulting company. She can be reached at