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QS Directors met President of Shanghai Jiaotong University

On 28th November, 2014, QSIU Directors met Prof. Zhang Jie, the President of Shanghai Jiaotong University in London, during the UK trip of Prof. Zhang.

Prof. Zhang is the youngest President ever appointed to lead Shanghai Jiaotong University, an internationally known university, one of the top 5 in China, based on the QS World University Ranking.

 

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(Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit, President Zhang Jie, President of Shanghai Jiaotong University, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director of QS Intelligence Unit met on 28th November, 2014 in London, UK)

 

The meeting took place in Imperial Colleges London, a university President Zhang who also visited on the day. Mr. Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang,China Director, QSIU, met President Zhang, who was accompanied by a senior leader of the university.

It is the first time that any QSIU leaders meet President of Shanghai University. Therefore, President Zhang gave a brief introduction about the university’s history, its strategic focus and its dedication to internationalisation, innovation and cross-discipline research. President Zhang also discussed one of a recent article he was invited to contribute to Nature on 15th October 2014 on “Developing excellence: Chinese university reform in three steps“.

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(President Zhang Jie shared his views about Chinese universities reform, as part of the article he recently published on Nature.)

 

Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit congratulated President Zhang on his all the achievement Shanghai Jiaotong University have achieved under his leadership, and responded with a brief overview of the key areas of work QSIU covers to support international strategy of universities worldwide, especially The Wharton-QS Stars Awards 2014: Reimagine Education, which President Zhang was interested in submitting entries for next year’s intake.

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(Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit, talked about the Reimagine Higher Education Competitor to President Zhang Jie,of Shanghai Jiaotong University.)

The meeting lasted for about 1 hour, with President Zhang extended an invite for QS leaders to visit him again in Shanghai in the near future.

 

 

QS University Rankings:Asia 2013

Best Student Cities 2015

The QS Best Student Cities 2015 index was released today. Paris remains in top place, with a number of ranked universities and as a hub of employer activity. It also performed well on the Student Mix and Desirability indicators.

The Australian city of Melbourne, climbed up the ranking from fifth place to take second place, outperforming London who held this position last year. Melbourne has a number of ranked universities and scored the highest of any city for its diverse student mix. Being rated by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking as on of the most liveable cities in the world, Melbourne scored well on the Desirability indicator. It also scored strongly on Employer Activity. Like the other Australian cities in the index, Melbourne scored less well on the Affordability indicator.

London slipped to third place, scoring lower than many other cities on Desirability and struggling on the Affordability indicator. London however holds its place in the top three due to the high concentration of top ranked universities, as the top city in the world on the Employer activity indicator and with a strong student mix.

Having studied in both Melbourne and London, I have found them both great cities to study and live in. There are things that I have loved about being a student in both of these cities that aren’t perhaps so easily captured by the indicators of the index. I loved Melbourne’s thriving arts scene, fantastic café-culture, and multi-ethnic character. London on the other hand is a bustling global hub of business and culture – home to some of the world’s greatest cultural institutions, with a fascinating history, eclectic nightlife, and a wonderful melange of diversity. This mix of experiences wonderfully enhanced the formal education I was receiving.

There are numerous factors that students consider when choosing where to study, and the QS Best Student Cities is one of the tools that students may use to help them find what’s most important to them. Check out the full results.

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2014 International Trends and Enrolment Patterns in UK

The latest report of the ‘Universities UK’s Higher education in focus’ published by Universities UK (UUK), revealed the most recent international student trends and enrolment patterns in UK Higher Education Institutions. Attracting prospective international students is of vital importance principally because international students are a strong income feed for UK universities in a time of post-crisis fiscal constraints and increasingly competitive funding frameworks: over 2012-2013, almost 12.1% of total UK university income was derived from non-EU student tuition fees. International students, furthermore, also bring economic benefits to local economies in UK cities, namely, 18% of all jobs generated by the higher education sector. Nonetheless, overall levels of non-EU student immigration to the UK has been falling since 2011. Although the trend in higher education enrolments have shown only a marginal decline, it is significant because the number of students seeking to study overseas is growing and the patterns and motives of student choices is gradually changing.

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Responses to UKK survey: Change in Number of new entrants in 2013-2014 compared to 2012-2013

Main trends highlighted in the UUK report:

  • By 2013 the number of overseas students arriving in the UK fell. Other main English-speaking destination countries, United States, Canada and Australia, have all witnessed an increase in the number of overseas applicants.
  • UK universities have reported a growth in overseas entrants for 2013-14, but Scotland showed an overall decline in all levels of study.
  • There is a clear split between a growth in students applying from the East Asia and Pacific region compared to the Indian subcontinent and parts of the Middle East like Saudi Arabia.
  • South-east Asian markets (China, Malaysia and Hong Kong) are growing but they follow different trends: the most demanded studies for Chinese students are in postgraduate studies in business and administration whereas Hong Kong students apply for undergraduate programs.

The report also stresses an important element that UK universities need to be specially attentive to. According to the 2014 NUS survey of international students already in the UK, the majority feel unwelcome, and a significant number would not recommend the UK as a study destination to their friends or relatives [1]. This negative word-of-mouth effect derived from the lived experiences of students might contribute further to the decline of the UK as a preferable study destination. More bad news in the report are the results from IDP international Student Buyer Behaviour Research 2013. In this study, the UK was rated as the worst destination among the Top 5 English-speaking destinations (US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) in terms of perceived graduate employment opportunities, and fourth in terms of student visa requirements/policies [2]. Finally QSIU Whitepaper on Globalization, Mobility and Rankings, adds that working on international cooperation can make border more accessible and it can impact upon immigration frameworks [3]. The reports paint a tense scenarios in a globalizing world where fluid movement is necessary, as with trade: the UK has seemingly less to offer to international students, and the postgraduate employment opportunities for non-EU graduates is likewise a key factor affecting the overall brand engagement and attractiveness of UK universities. Therefore, in order to secure a return to growth, the study recommends launching an international student growth strategy which would communicate a consistent message, namely, that the UK is a welcoming destination to international students and that post-study work opportunities exist independent of any net migration target.

[1] National Union of Students (NUS) http://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/press-releases/international-students-feel-unwelcome-in-uk-as-immigration-bill-set-to-create-new-barriers-to-study/

[2] IDP International Student Buyer Behaviour Research 2013 http://www.uk.idp.com/PDF/101372_IDP_MEL_Buyer_210x595mm_Infographics_V04.pdf

[3] QS Intelligence Unit: Globalisation, Mobility & Rankings. September 2014.

Photo by Kevin Dooley; licensed via Creative Commons.

UK: student failing degree trying to blame university

A story published a few days ago on the Times Higher Education caught my attention. This was explaining how a international student at the University of Warwick who failed her Master’s degree is claiming she should not have been accepted in the first place because the result of her English language test taken in Pakistan – the Warwick English Language Test – did not meet the minimum threshold required by the institution. In fact, it was slightly under (BCC) the required level (BBC) so the student now feels the university offered her a place in the programme because of the high tuition fees she was paying – particularly in the UK because of the university reforms and the consequent tuition fee hike allowing universities to increase the tuition fees to £9,000 for undergraduate studies. As for postgraduate studies, tuition fees can easily achieve more than £10,000 per year. The university later confirmed a typo in the test results led to this error of offering a place in the programme.

On the one hand the student may have not achieved the required English level during the admission test, but did not seem to query the institution why she was offered a place and did accept it so it is not entirely fair to claim something if this fact was ignored from the beginning. On the other hand, institutions could maybe make sure the admission standards have been taken into consideration. Mistakes happen, and that’s how we learn from them.

Speaking about the issue of English not being up to the required standard to enrol a university, as an international student myself from a country where English is not an official language, if I knew I didn’t meet the required level and I was still given the chance to study to a top university, I would definitely study harder to make sure to pass.

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Student loans: Challenges in reforming loan structure

The issue of student loans has been flaring up on both sides of the Atlantic quite recently, with some serious implications for higher education if many of the changes were to be implemented in the next few years.

In the US, the efforts of the administration to enact legislation that will ease the financial burden incurred on university students by way of their student loans and the federally subsidized grants has been a major point of friction with Republican opposition. Student loan debt is estimate to close to 1 trillion USD, increasing at a staggering rate of 300% in ten years , whereas the average debt load for the graduates of higher education is approximately $20,000 on average. Given the recovery phase of the US economy and the financial woes that have troubled it since 2008, it becomes obvious that debt restructuring is a key issue.

The importance is twofold. Student loans are proving to be a heavy financial burden, stifling entrepreneurship and forcing many graduates to abandon career aspirations and seek even low-paid employment in order to repay their loans; in the days of the financial crisis aftermath, many find themselves still unemployed and with a negative credit score, painting a rather bleak personal picture of the future. In addition the student loan apparatus involves the federal government, the universities and a series of market players, such as debt relief companies and others, which makes reform not only gruelling but also politically tense.

In the United Kingdom, the government will be conducting research on the issue of student loans, although the department of Business, Innovation and Skills has not confirmed a change in policy. The UK has a relative advantage to the US system since tuition for undergraduate study is capped at £9,000 per year. The system is also more generous, since it allows repayments only if the graduate is employed and earning over a certain amount and the debt itself has a 30 year write off term limit, with outstanding fees written off after that period has elapsed.

The proposed research will be exploring the possibility of making universities partially responsible in underwriting student debt. In theory, this would lead to a closer connection between the graduates and the university, perhaps increasing the investment and effort UK universities will need to put forth in order to ensure high employability rates for the students. It will also mean a shared and thus diminished risk taken on by the Treasury, reducing exposure for the government.

The key issue in the UK remains that if such moves were ever to be implemented, debt to earnings ratios within universities would shrink or even disappear, making universities less able to secure their financial position and thus undertake large and important steps in improving infrastructure, offer scholarships and bursaries to under-represented groups and of course continue to strive for improving educational services without the worry of debt repayment in a flux economic climate. In fact, any alteration to the student loan scheme would have to take under consideration the realities of tertiary education and the job market so as to ensure that the drive for minimal government exposure to debt would affect the teaching quality and outcomes in universities.

QS Courses

QS launches latest product – QScourses.com

There has been an upward growing trend in the number of prospective students searching and applying for business and management related courses here in the UK.  In light of this, QS has partnered up with local institutions to offer a comprehensive directory containing detailed information on more than 5,000 courses spanning the higher education spectrum.

QScourses.com enables prospective students, globally, to search for business-related courses offered by UK universities and business schools. The platform also offers a free student support service that guides prospective students through the application process, helping them to identify programs that match their background and requirements, as well as assisting universities in their search for finding quality students to fill their programs.

To find out more about QScourses.com, contact Anca Bratu.

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Britain and the Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment

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.

Read more

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University College London to host IREG-7 conference

By Martin Ince

The IREG-7 conference in London, organised by QS and its partner organisations, is now only a few weeks away. It will be held at University College London, the fourth-ranked institution in the World University Rankings.

The theme for this conference is Employability and Academic Rankings, although there will be sessions on a full range of rankings topics.

To help us think about the link between university rankings and graduate employability in the global market, we have a distinguished panel of speakers from employers including Airbus, Siemens and others. Contributors from universities, and external observers from bodies such as the World Bank, will look at employability and skills as a new measure of higher education performance. This issue has emerged in recent year as a major concern for universities around the world.

There are also to be strong sessions on current and future rankings systems, globally and increasingly regionally, for example in the Middle East and the BRICS nations. An especially strong set of presentations will look at developments in Russia and Eastern Europe. In addition, the QS Asian University Rankings for 2014 will be released on May 13, immediately before the opening of the conference.

We very much hope to see you at IREG-7. The full programme is here and you can register here.

 

 

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L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science UK & Ireland Fellowships

 

There has been a lot of discussion to support more students to study STEM subjects in the UK and Ireland, as a special efforts to support long term economic growth. It is the same with many other countries around the world.

However, how to support women to play a more active role in STEM subjects never seems to be easy.

I used to sit on the Education Committee of the UK National Commission For UNESCO. I recently come across this prestigous international fellowship to women in science. I thought I should do a short blog about it so that people who are interested in it could find out more.

Hope you will find it useful.

Best regards,

Dr. Christina Yan Zhang

 

 

2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland Fellowships For Women In Science

1.      Introduction
The L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland Fellowships For Women In Science are awards offered by a partnership between L’Oréal UK & Ireland, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the Irish National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Royal Society, to promote, enhance and encourage the contribution of women pursuing their research careers in the UK or Ireland in the fields of the life and physical sciences.

The National Fellowships are offered under the umbrella of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Programme, which has promoted women in scientific research on a global scale since 1998.

Four Fellowships will be awarded in 2014 to outstanding women scientists in the early stages of their career to enable and/or facilitate promising scientific research. The Fellowships are tenable at any UK or Irish university or research institute to support a 12-month period of postdoctoral research in any area of the life or physical sciences.

The value of each fellowship is £15,000 (equivalent € for candidates in Ireland). The Fellowships are designed to provide flexible support. The prize money can be spent in innovative ways to enable women scientists to pursue and continue their research careers – such as buying equipment, paying for childcare or funding travel costs to an overseas conference.

 

 

2.  Who is Eligible?

 

  • Candidates must be female postdoctoral level researchers who have already been awarded their research doctorate in the fields of life or physical science.
  • Candidates must have no more than 10 years’ active full-time equivalent postdoctoral experience (discounting career breaks, but including teaching experience and/or time spent in industry).
  • Candidates must not currently hold a permanent academic post, or have ever held a permanent academic post in the past, or have received, before the start date of the award, the promise of a permanent academic post.
  • Candidates must be undertaking research in the life or physical sciences. Computer science, engineering, mathematics, psychology, science education and social sciences are not eligible for this Fellowship.
  • Candidates must be conducting their research at a UK or Irish university or research institute.
  • Candidates must be a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA), or a Swiss citizen, or have permanent residence status in the UK or Ireland; and must be residing in the UK or Ireland at the time of application.
  • Applications are welcomed from candidates who wish to establish/re-establish themselves after a career break or other period of absence from active research or where the candidate is establishing a research career as a mature entrant or after experience in other fields.

 

 

3.     Application and Deadline
We can only accept applications made online. You will need to visit www.womeninscience.co.uk to create an account and complete an application.

Closing date: 14th March 2014 at midnight (BST)

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4. Criteria are as follows:
1) Intellectual merit of candidate
· Academic records
· Ability to interpret and communicate research findings
· Evidence of originality, initiative and productivity
· Strong recommendation in reference letters (two requested)

2) Clearly articulated research proposal
· The relevance of the research and its impact
· The originality of the research proposal
· The proposal should be presented in a clear and compelling way

3) How the fellowship will enhance the candidate’s career and/or assist with a successful return to scientific research
· Whether the candidate has made a convincing case for the difference that this fellowship will make to her.

 

 

5.  Key Dates
· Applications website will be open from the 1st February – 14th March 2014 (Midnight)
· Reader assessment of applications takes place between 28th March – 8th May 2014
· Jury assessment of applications takes place between 9th May – 29th May 2014
· Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by phone and by email on Friday 30th May 2014
· Assessment day and awards ceremony takes place on Thursday 19th June 2014
2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland Fellowships For Women In Science Application Terms & Conditions

 

 

6. Further Information
For further information, visit www.womeninscience.co.uk or email fwis@unesco.org.uk

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