Pearson have published their Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment for 2014. The Index ranks countries based on cognitive skills (PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS scores in Reading, Maths and Science) and educational attainment (literacy and graduation rates). Heading up the 2014 ranking are the Asian educational powerhouse countries of South Korea, Japan and Singapore. It has been widely reported in the British press that the United Kingdom was ranked second in Europe – at 6th place, only behind Finland (5th place). Britain’s high performance seems to be the result of strong attainment rates, in particular, tertiary education attainment.
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.
- Could we do more to encourage the private sector to assist in the sustainable expansion of existing government schemes for international scholarship? In the UK, these include the prestigious “Generation UK” programme, the “Chevening Scholarships”, “The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan”, and many others?
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.
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?
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”.
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:
- 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;
- 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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
“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.