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University Choice: Employment Before Self Actualization

 

Employment, employment, employment! Since the financial crisis of in 2008, youth unemployment has become regular headline news around the world. Enhancing the employability of recent graduates is a priority for the global higher education sector.

 

The golden days where one could easily secure a decent job after graduating from a good university are probably gone. The massive expansion of higher education means universities are producing more graduates every year in a wider range of subject areas than ever before. At the same time, a contracting labor market in many countries around the world is not able to create enough demand for new jobs. As a result, employers are becoming increasingly selective, recruiting candidates with higher levels of qualifications and relevant work experience.  In this competitive environment, many decide to further their education by investing in a master’s degree or a PhD, while others often have to lower their expectations in order to secure their first full-time job.

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International work and study experience is becoming increasingly important to employers. This is highlighted in the QS Global Employer Survey over the past three years, where 60% of 27,957 employers from 116 countries value an international study experience when recruiting graduates.

 

An important factor to consider when selecting a university is deciding where one wishes to live and work, post-graduation. The world power is gradually shifting from the traditionally affluent developed countries, mainly in the West, to the developing countries such as the BRICS and others, especially in Asia.

 

The economies of developed countries appear to be experiencing some kind of stagnation or saturation. Cutting fiscal deficits while finding foreign investment to stimulate domestic demand is a tactic employed by a number of governments in order to contain the detrimental effects of recession. Weakening economies offer fewer job opportunities; therefore, governments are often under pressure to tighten up immigration policies to limit the ability of companies to employ foreign candidates in an attempt to secure more jobs opportunities for domestic applicants.

 

Some of the most popular study destinations in the West are implementing new immigration regulations; hence it is advisable for international students to consult visa information from official government sources as part of their research for the best study option.

 

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Things seem to be quite the opposite in the emerging world where their economies are on the rise. The BRICS countries continue to show record GDP growth, especially when compared with the traditional super economic powers. Noticeable is also the rise of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, which, with a cumulative population of over 600 million and a combined nominal GDP of US$ 2.1 trillion in 2012, are predicted to grow 5.5% in 2013.

 

ASEAN countries are committed to integrating their economies by 2015 and create a free economic zone with free movement of labor, finance and trade between its ten member countries. Similar initiatives have been planned in Latin America and in Africa.  Some of these countries are increasing access to university education at national level, investing heavily in R&D and are welcoming talented minds from all over the world. Hence, when evaluating their next study move, students of the Millennial Generation should seriously consider the study and work destinations that will offer the best post-graduation career opportunities.

 

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Many will argue that going to university is not only about getting a job. I complete agree. I am a big fan of Maslow’s theory of the ‘hierarchy of needs’. In an ideal world, as advocated by many, education should be a human right to which everyone has equal access, whatever their background. In essence, university should be a ‘physiological’ layer, a basic need. Choosing the right university program should increase a student’s chances of reaching the most motivating layer of ‘self actualization’ in the work force and personal life. However, in reality, the bottom layers of the pyramid must be satisfied first.

 

The same theory should be applied when choosing the right degree program, university and country in order to unleash one’s full potential. In the short term, be realistic and pragmatic; find the right course in order to secure the ‘physiological’ layer first. Does the university have a good reputation among employers? If you wish to remain in the host-country after graduation, consider factors such as whether the country has favorable post-study work visa conditions for international students. Is the economy of the country vibrant enough to accommodate more graduate job-seekers? If these needs are satisfied, the ‘self actualization’ will follow behind closely.

 

The QS World University Rankings is particularly relevant to internationally-minded prospective university students because it is the only global ranking that takes into account the opinion of employers, who are asked to indicate the domestic and international universities from which they prefer to recruit. Students should use the rankings to glean information which can help them achieve their pragmatic goals before hopefully reaching the top of the pyramid in the long-term.

 

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The Rise of Glocal Education: ASEAN Countries

Recent years have seen growing interest in a new type of international student: the ‘glocal’ student. Glocal students have been defined by Dr. Rahul Choudaha, director of Research & Advisory Services at World Education Services, as students who have global aspirations, but prefer to stay in their home country or region for education – and the fast-developing ‘ASEAN’ countries are leading this trend.

The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company have predicted that by 2020 there will be 100 million people with middle class spending patterns across the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Will glocal students from this emerging regional demographic represent the future of transnational education (TNE)?

The new international students?

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The motto of the United Nations is, “Think globally, act locally”. In a globalized economy, every student should be educated as an international student, a global citizen with the aspiration to compete globally. However, not everyone is lucky enough to be blessed with the talent and wealth to be admitted to the world’s most competitive and expensive universities.

Transnational education, defined as education for students based in a different country to the degree-awarding institution, is becoming increasingly popular. It often offers students an international experience with the advantages of better affordability, lower English language requirements, less competitive admission standards, and regional economic initiatives.
The rise of ASEAN countries

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In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Asia has increasingly attracted the attention of the world with its booming economy and the abundance of business opportunities in countries such as China, India and now ASEAN. The ASEAN countries are home to 600 million people, with a combined nominal GDP of US$ 2.1 trillion in 2012, predicted to grow at an annual rate of 5.5% in 2013.

What is also striking is their economic ambition: by 2015, ASEAN aims to integrate the whole Southeast Asia region into the ‘ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)’, with free movement of goods, services, investment, labor, and capitals.

Just look at how the European Union operates now, and you can imagine what a massive change this would bring in two years’ time to everyone who is lucky enough to be connected with ASEAN, or Asia in general. This applies both to students and universities.

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Developing southeast Asian universities

Higher education will play a crucial role in supporting the continued economic integration of ASEAN by 2015. An ambitious plan was set up in 2009, aimed at creating a systematic mechanism to support the integration of universities across Southeast Asia.

Student mobility, credit transfers, quality assurance and research clusters were identified as the four main priorities to harmonize the ASEAN higher education system, encompassing 6,500 higher education institutions and 12 million students in 10 nations. The ultimate goal of the scheme is to set up a Common Space of Higher Education in Southeast Asia.

Individual ASEAN governments have increased public investment in universities to support the ASEAN Higher Education Area, and the region’s burgeoning knowledge economy. Measures have been set up to strengthen the performance of Southeast Asian universities across a wide range of indicators such as teaching, learning, research, enterprise and innovation.

These initiatives also pave the way for further collaboration and integration between universities in the region, enhancing the overall reputation of Asian universities compared to their competitors in the West and elsewhere in the world. It is not surprising to see the improved performance of many ASEAN universities in this year’s QS University Rankings: Asia.

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“Asian higher education is undergoing a rapid transformation, and Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Korea are at the forefront of the assault on the global academic elite,” says Ben Sowter, head of QS Intelligence Unit, which compiles the QS University Rankings: Asia and the QS World University Rankings. “There are already 17% more Asian universities in the global top 200 since the recession, and the next two decades could see leading US and European universities objectively overtaken.”

At the moment Singapore is the only ASEAN country whose universities are operating at the forefront of Asian higher education. But if Asia continues on its current path and emerges as a genuine competitor to the West in the coming years, the increased financial power of a unified ASEAN could start to have a major impact on global higher education. And glocal students in the region would be among the foremost beneficiaries.

HE News Brief 13.9.10

by Abby Chau

Here are this week’s news stories:

  • The QS World University Rankings® published its top 200 global universities rankings, with Cambridge University taking the top spot, dethroning Harvard as the number one university in the world.
    Full Story: BBC News

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) published its annual Education at a Glance last week. The report addressed the question of whether Higher Education is indeed necessary by pointing out that graduates are more recession-proof and they contribute more in income taxes than people who do not have tertiary degrees. It also argues that the future job market will be changing to one of a more highly skilled labour force. In addition the report proclaimed a dire sentence for the UK,  with countries like Canada and Finland who are showing better graduation rates as well as spending more on Higher Education per GDP.
    Full Story:Guardian
    More: FT


  • US universities are eyeing up branches in India – but not the elite universities first purported when the new law allowing foreign branches to open shop in India was first proposed to much fanfare. The so-called Tier 2 universities such as Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Virginia Institute of Technology, and Georgia Institute of Technology have all expressed interest in setting up a branch in India. The law has not been official approved but the draft says that foreign campuses must leave 10.5 million dollars in deposit with the government, and teaching staff must have at least 20 years experience before they can be considered.
    Full Story: New York Times
    Read more

2010 QS World University Rankings® Video – Asia Pacific focussed

Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of QS Quacquarelli Symonds, gives a brief description of the QS World University Rankings®.

Ben Sowter, Head of the QS Intelligence Unit, gives an overview of the performances of Australian and Malaysian Universities.  

Martin Ince, convenor of the QS Academic Board, gives his views on the great performance of Korean Universities.