Prime Minister Abe to Accelerate Internationalisation of Japanese Universities

ABEBy Martin Ince

Japan’s universities will be the big winners in prime minister Shinzo Abe’s push to globalise the nation’s economy and society, according to his remarks at a Mayday meeting of British and Japanese universities that formed a significant part of his recent visit to the UK.

He told a conference of university leaders from the UK and Japan that “the number of foreign students at a university will define its success,” a big statement from the leader of a nation whose institutions are consistently towards the lower end of the rankings on criteria measuring their appeal to international staff and students.

In an address to the event at University College, London, Abe said that while “19 universities in the QS World University Ranking” were represented at the meeting, he was disappointed that fewer Japanese students are studying abroad than a decade earlier. He said that he wanted Japanese employers to value international experience more highly, and added that the government might put money into “a stimulus” for Japanese students to study abroad.

An increase in the number of Japanese students spending part of their academic career abroad would improve Japan’s standing in the QS Asian University Rankings, which use both incoming and outgoing exchange students as a measure of universities’ global appeal. In the new AUR, Tokyo is the top Japanese institution, in 10th place, with Kyoto and Osaka at 12 and 13, modest positions for such a rich and populous nation.

It is notable in these rankings that Tokyo and Kyoto rank 107 and 116 respectively in Asia for inbound exchange students, and 170 and 196 for outbound exchange. Osaka does a little better at 73 for inbound exchange and 49 for outbound.

Horishi Matsumoto, president of Kyoto University, told the conference that the university aims to double all its internationally-centred rankings scores by 2020. As well as exchange students, this would include overseas faculty and overseas students taking full degrees. Tokyo and Kyoto are 159 and 103 in Asia respectively for international faculty, and 57 and 66 for students. This means that there is plenty of scope for improvement.

As one sign of the inward-looking nature of Japanese academe, it has recently been a big news story in Japan that Kyoto might consider a non-Japanese replacement for Matsumoto, who is close to retirement.

UK universities at the meeting vied for supremacy in their claims for the age and depth of their Japanese connections. In the 1860s, UCL itself educated the Choshu 5, a leading group of émigré students who later became the nation’s first prime minister and foreign minister and founded its mint, railway system and industry ministry. More recently, participants learned, Edinburgh has educated two Japanese princesses, while Oxford has made room for three Japanese princes and princesses. As Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor of the University of Oxford, explained, this means that his university has educated more members of Japanese royal family than of the British one.


Internationalisation of Chinese RMB: Opportunities for universities?

What has been one of the most interesting discussions in the financial world of London, it must be all the buzz on the internationalisation of the Chinese currency RMB.

Since 2003, China has initiated various policies to internationalize its currency. London has been very lucky to become an important host as a centre for renminbi (RMB) business outside China, since its launching on 18 April 2012.

Based on the press release from the HM Treasury and The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, In October 2013, London accounts for 62% of global RMB trading conducted outside of China and Hong Kong, and 28% of all international RMB payments, more than Singapore. The Guardian reported that the daily trade of RMB in London was about £3.1bn since 2012.

rise of RMB
(The rapid rise of using the Chinese currency to settle international trade and other financial accounts around the world since the start of the internationalisation of the RMB in the 2000s)

Obviously, this is such a big deal for people who are working in the financial sector in the UK, as well as overseas. But what does this mean to universities around the world? To manage such a massive transition in the financial sector around the world also means the huge demand of new talents needed. That is how some universities respond to this big opportunity, such as Nottingham University in the UK.

Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit was invited to join leaders of Nottingham University for a visit in China to witness the official launch The Guangdong Nottingham Advanced Finance Institute on 15th April 2014.

Between 2003-2010, there is a phenomenal growth in the Chinese financial market, which see the rapid rise of need to cultivate talents specialised in international finance from 2.8 million to 3.7 million, with an increase of 29%.

To meet this demand on talent cultivate, this institution was formed as a collaborative provision between the UK’s Nottingham University, Guangdong Provincial Government, China’s Guangdong University of Finance. The accounting and finance course in Nottingham University is also included in the QS World University Ranking by Subjects 2014. You could click here to find out more information.

(Professor Sir David Greenaway, the sixth Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham spoke at the official launch of this joint-venture)

(Dr. Lu Lei, President, Guangdong University of Finance spoke at the launch of the joint UK-China Financial Institute. Dr. Lu Lei was the youngest president of this university and he was later promoted to become the youngest ever Head of the Research Bureau of the People’s Bank of China, “the brain” which decides the key policies of the central Bank of China).

This Institute aims to:
1. Build a platform to transfer advanced financial knowledge between the UK and China;
2. Access to London’s leading financial expertise and talent pool;
3. Develop multilevel talent for China, especially South China for its financial service sector;
4. Establish a cutting edge knowledge and expert base to advance research and development in financial innovations.

The majority of students this institute would be targeting are on-the-job training and higher level professional development working in the financial sectors in South China, with top lecturers drawing from China, UK and beyond.

At the end of the official launch, senior representatives from Nottingham University(Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor; Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation; Professor Nick Miles; Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Provost, University of Nottingham Ningbo China; Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement ), British Embassy in Guangzhou(Alastair Morgan, Consular-General, British Consulate-General Guangzhou);Dr. Lu Lei, President, Guangdong University of Finance; and representatives from the Guangdong Provincial Government.


light bulb

MOOCs: Employers view, a brief snapshot

Discussions surrounding Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have increased with an international momentum attracting both proponents and opponents. Perceived as a response to an ever digital and highly connected world, MOOCS are a platform for thousands of courses offered by world class institutions. This global platform continues to grow in popularity expanding far beyond the US. Multilingual platforms are now available in China and France, while Latin American and Middle Eastern initiatives are underway.

MOOCS, however, are still in their infancy and yet to glean global recognition from recruiters.

In order to measure employers’ perspectives, QS Intelligence Unit canvassed recruiters and their position on MOOCs in the annual QS Global Employer Survey.

Recruiters were asked whether they were familiar with MOOCs and of the 4,654 employers who responded, 71% said that they were not.

Perhaps what was most interesting was the regional distribution of responses. The highest proportions of recruiters with awareness or familiarity of MOOCS were based in Eastern Europe and US & Canada, from Kazakhstan, Russia and the United States. Latin America and Western Europe evidenced the greatest proportion of graduate recruiters who were unaware of MOOCs. A greater proportion of recruiters from Africa & Middle East displayed a  familiarity in comparison to their Asia Pacific counterparts.

A regional breakdown is presented below:





Those sectors to which  respondents responded positively were Consulting (24%), closely followed by Technology (22%) and Industry (17%).




Tracking a quickly evolving initiative such as MOOCs would be essential for higher education sectors and potential students alike. We at QS will continue to monitor the evolution of this phenomenon with the aim of maintaining a pulse on the market.


The philanthropic legacy of Sir Run Run Shaw(Part Three)

Local versus Global Endowment

Shaw’s  education endowment is managed through the Shaw Foundation Hong Kong Limited, the Sir Run Run Shaw Charitable Trust, and Shaw Prize Foundation Limited. It supports the local education of the Chinese in mainland China, and  through The Sir Run Run Shaw Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies, hundreds of Chinese and other Asian students have been supported to pursuit postgraduate study overseas in the US and UK, at universities including Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford.


Possible Actions for national policy makers:

  • Could central government do more to encourage private sector to play a more active role in financing domestic students to study/work/volunteer overseas, especially in the world’s most dynamic economies? The British economy needs to collaborate more with overseas emerging markets, especially with the BRICS, the ASEAN nations, and Africa and Latin America. This means that they need more employees who understand more about local markets overseas. It makes sense for the UK (or other western nations) to support their domestic students to have overseas experience in exchange for a few years employment with those companies.



maya-home-black-web_r1_c1Humanity Without Borders

When education institutions think about endowment, alumni fundraising is often their first thought. After all, why should one contribute to the development of an educational institution if one has never been educated there and benefited from this life-changing opportunity?

However, we also know that the sciences are without borders. The Brazilian Government “Sciences Without Borders” scholarship scheme is intended to send 101,000 Brazilian to study STEM subjects and the creative industries at top universities around the world.

Recognising that science knows no frontiers, when he was at his 90s, Shaw established the Shaw Prize, to recognise outstanding achievements in Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences. While astronomers regularly receive the Nobel Prize for physics, and there is a Nobel prize for physiology and medicine, there is none for maths. Since its foundation of 2004, 54 leading scientists from around the world have received this prestigious prize, and seven of them later won the Nobel Prize. The total prize amounts to HK$240 million (£19 million). Due to its growing influence and prestige, the Shaw Prize has been nicknamed the Nobel of the East.


Possible Actions for national policy makers:

  • When individual philanthropists consider to repaying society and educational institutions through education endowment, could they consider this principle of “Science Without Borders” and “Humanity without Borders?” They might set up a Nobel Prize or Shaw Prize- type award to support the advancement of human civilisation as a whole, rather than just the university or the country who cultivated them. What should national government and inter-governmental organisations do to encourage this approach? Tax relief already exists for most such donations in most nations.
  • One might object that most important disciplines are already covered by Nobel Prize and the Shaw Prize, and others such as the Kavli Prize. Well, there are six subject areas in the Nobel Prize and three overlapping areas of the Shaw Prize. The QS World University Ranking by Subject includess, 30 main disciplines which most top universities around the world offer. This leaves over 20 subjects that are waiting for the next Alfred Nobel or Sir Run Run Shaw to recognise.


Some of these subjects are hot topics for us all nowadays, including Environmental Science, Earth and Marine Science (the subject of the Vetlesen Prize), which helps to address global warming and pollution; and all the engineering and technology related subjects. We now appreciate that 3D printing, invented in 1984, only became global headline news in 2013, and other new subjects are emerging all the time. If a billionaire really wants to spare a few million dollars per year to help the world to become a better place collectively, finding the right discipline to award won’t be that difficult.

'GIVE' surrounded by British pound sterling symbols - Charity concept


The philanthropic legacy of Sir Run Run Shaw (Part One)

Sir Run Run Shaw, the Hong Kong media mogul died on 7th Jan 2013 at the age of 106. In the  48 hours after the news about his death, there were more than 500 pieces of news in English on the subject, and 3,500 in Chinese. Most western media associated the legacy of Sir Shaw with his success in the entertainment industry, especially his work in introducing Kung Fu movies to the west. But instead of adopting this approach, most of the Chinese media featured detailed discussion of his philanthropic activities in the education sector.


According to the official statement from the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, Shaw has donated more than $ 4.75 billion HK dollars (370 million GBP) since 1985 to create more than 6013 education projects covering 31 provinces and cities throughout mainland China. This endowment, benefited tens of millions of students from primary school to university. If we also include the figure of his donation to the healthcare in mainland China, it is a staggering total of more than $ 10 billion HK Dollars (785 million GBP)


On 7th January 2013, a picture demonstrated the distribution of Sir Run Run Shaw Buildings around China become a media sensation in mainland China, it is said that a search for his name in Baidu map, the Chinese google, there are more than 30,000 education, hospital and research buildings in mainland China that are named after him. This picture was named by the Chinese netizens as the picture that “Touched the heart of China”. On day after his death, there are more than 2.5 million results of weibo discussion on “The Sir Run Run Shaw Buildings” in Sina Weibo, the Chinese twitter. A current trend is for people to take photos of the lecture halls, and libraries donated by and named after Shaw, where they have spent years studying. The idea is to show their respect to this philanthropist, who is widely considered as PRC’s greatest private contributor to the education sector ever.


What could the rest of the world learn from the role of Sir Run Run Shaw in his philanthropic activities in the education sector?


Figure 1:

A search for “Yifu”, the Chinese name of Sir Run Run Shaw in Baidu, there are more than 30,000 results. A picture that is considered “Touched the Heart of China”.

Sir Run Run Shaw Map

Public-private Collaboration

The Sir Run Run Shaw Foundation will only consider fundraising proposal recommended by a selected pool of experts employed by the Ministry of Education in the PRC. Also higher education institutions which submit proposal for endowment are required to commit to fundraise three times the funds donated by the foundation. So once a university submits a proposal to the foundation, it will already have official backup from the municipal or provincial governments who will be committing to finance the rest of the project to make the submission eligible, or alternatively, the institutions themselves will need to finance the rest.


For example, in 1986, Sir Shaw donated HK$110 million to 11 Chinese universities. Each of those 11 Chinese universities either gets another HK$30 million from its municipal or provincial government, or manages to finance the rest itself.



Possible Actions for national policy makers:

  1. A model, varying in detail from country to country,  could be developed between the public and the private sector to establish a joint partnership to finance the country’s education sector;
  2. Governments, and national organisations for the education sector, might consider a more open-minded and flexible approach to encourage private sector involvement in education endowment.



Life-Long-LearningLifelong, Comprehensive, Unbiased Endowment:

Universities are widely considered to be the phase of education with the biggest potential returns for individual venture capitalists, investors or entrepreneurs. The majority of fund receiving by the education sector goes to higher education, rather than to schools or further education.


However, further education has played a crucial role in the upgrading of some of society’s most deprived communities. For example, it is a central part of the European Commission’s life-long learning agenda.


In the case of Shaw, 80 per cent of his endowment went to schools, special schools and technical institutions, and only 20 per cent to universities.



Possible Actions for national policies makers:

  1. HEFCE published a report entitled Philanthropy to UK Universities (the Pearce Report) in 2012. It sets the target of £2 billion a year in charitable gifts to UK universities by 2022.  The relevant national bodies could undertake a similar review process to boost schools and further education. . The recommendations of these reviews could be amalgamated to form a coherent UK national strategy for philanthropic endowment in education. Other nations could adopt the same approach.


Please click here to read Part 2 of this article.





QS attended International Conference on MOOCs

On 28 January 2014, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director of QS Intelligence Unit was invited to attend a major international conference in London with senior education leaders around the world to have a discussion on the future of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

This conference is organised by The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, University of London International Programmes, and Leadership Foundation on Higher Education’s titled ‘MOOCs: What we have learned, emerging themes and what next’, in the Senate House of University of London, UK.


(Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University gave the keynote speech at ‘MOOCs: What we have learned, emerging themes and what next’, in the Senate House of University of London, UK.)

Some of the most influential speakers on MOOCs have confirmed to speak at this high profile conference, including:

Confirmed speakers:

· Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of London

· Tim Gore OBE, Director of Global Networks and Communities, University of London International Programmes

· Dr William Lawton, Director, Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

· Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities & Science, Minister for Universities & Science, Department for Business, Innovations and Skills

· Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University

· Professor Jenny Hamilton, Director, University of London Undergraduate Laws Programme

· Jon Harman, Learning Design & Media Director, College of Law

· Professor Stephen Brown, Professor of Learning Technologies, De Montfort University

· Professor Neil Morris, Chair of Educational Technology, University of Leeds

· Professor Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair on Open Learning

· Michael Gaebel, Head of Unit, HE Policy, European University Association

· Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor, University of Delhi

· David Lock, Director of International Projects, Leadership Foundation

· Dr Mark Pegg, Chief Executive, Leadership Foundation

· Professor Daphne Koller, Chief Executive, Coursera [via video]

· Will Archer, Chief Executive, i-graduate

· Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn

· Tom Flynn, Vice-President Education, University of Bristol Students’ Union

· Professor Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal Knowledge Management, University of Edinburgh

· Michael Kerrison, Director of Academic Development, University of London International Programmes

· Michel Bernard, Universities Relations Manager, Google

· Stephen Haggard, Education Consultant

· Dr Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive, Association of Learning Technology

· Marielle van der Meer, Minerva Project

· Benjamin Barbon, Reader in English Literature and Digital Education

During the opening session of the conference when Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University gave the keynote speech, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit asked Martin a question on if there has been any research done properly globally on how employers see the future and values of the MOOCs development globally. Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University said Christina asked a great question because currently around the world, most of the empirical research on MOOCs are usually from the views from universities. There s a gap to start to engage employers in this important process.

Dr. Christina Yan Zhang also talked to and met other senior leaders of the conference and discussed potential opportunities for collaborations.


(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit asked Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University a question on if there has been any research done properly globally on how employers see the future and values of the MOOCs development globally. )


(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit talked to old friend Tim Gore OBE, Director of Global Networks and Communities, University of London International Programmes on the opportunity to work closely on promoting on-line education globally)

Christina with Google UK Director

(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang and David Black, Director of Google UK talked about the possibility of participating in QS Global Employer Survey, as well as enjoyed an interesting discussion about the rise of WeChat around the world and reaction from Google about this booming mobile phone based app. )

Denish 1

(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit met Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor and Professor of Mathematics on a discussion of the MOOCs development in India.)


(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit met Professor Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair on Open Learning and had a discussion about getting QS involved in UNESCO’s work on opening learning)