student-loan

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.

Classroom

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

UCL

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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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

run-run-shaw

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.

philanthropy~001

Please click here to read Part 2 of this article.

 

 

 

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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.

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(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.

20140128_110058

(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. )

20140128_132506

(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. )

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(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.)

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(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)