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What’s the impact of globalisation on student choices and universities?

Whether a prospective student is looking to study maths or Chinese with German, one factor they will need to consider is how well the degree they select will develop their international outlook.

Of course there will always be careers one can pursue upon graduating that are within organisations operating locally, rather than nationally or internationally. Equally, one could pursue a career in academia or performing arts for example, which doesn’t seem to demand international outlook as a primary skill. However, if an organisation is expanding due to its success, it will likely want to reach out internationally at some point. Equally, if it’s a well-regarded institution, it is likely to already be concerned with internationalisation and have a culturally-diverse staff and student body. And if one does become an actor, they will likely want to be globally-renowned one day?

Why is this happening? Globalisation. Here’s a definition from the Financial Times:

A process by which national and regional economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through the global network of trade, communication, immigration and transportation.

Where’s the evidence this is happening? It’s all around us. Just how far we have come in international trade, student mobility and even tourism in the past few decades is phenomenal. And yes, perhaps, we cannot predict with complete certainty that this trend will continue but, unless the World War III breaks out, I think we are pretty safe to assume.

Moreover, whilst global trade may be somewhat more sensitive to political circumstances, student mobility numbers are continuously going up. This naturally puts pressure on universities to become more creative in attracting international students. UNESCO provides some insight on this in their article ‘Trends in International Student Mobility’:

”Although student mobility is expected to grow, institutions have to compete hard for talented and self-funded students.”

As is documented in this paper, countries such as the US, UK, Australia and Canada have had a steady growth in numbers of international students and they are currently considered to be the higher education leaders of the world.

An article from the Guardian supports this by providing the top 10 places for international students:
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If we look at World Trade Organisation’s statistics as evidence for globalisation, we can easily note that the export and import in the world’s most economically-developed countries keeps growing too.

This is yet again affirmed in the ‘Education at a Glance 2011’ paper released by the OECD:

We can see from the above graph that the number of international students is steadily growing and this is evidence of globalisation in itself.

There are figures from the World Tourism Organisation to say that the youth today travel more, spend more and reach much further destinations. This is also true for those that going away for work experience, study or volunteering.

It seems to me that the variety of different data available on this today allow us to reach one and the same conclusion – developing one’s international outlook is a necessity in the 21st century.


Application Open for UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks


QS, as the compiler of one of the world’s top 3 most influential World University Ranking, has a long tradition working closely with global intergovernmental organisations, such as UNESCO.

On 16 and 17th May, 2011, UNESCO together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank organized the ‘Global Forum on Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses’ at its Paris Headquarters when Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit was invited to speak on the QS World University Ranking.

Inspired by the Forum, a book “Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses” brings together all key opinion leaders on universities rankings worldwide to reflect the wide range of views that exist in the higher education community was published. Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit is invited to contribute Chapter 3 in Part One: Methodological Consideration explaining how QS World University Rankings have been developed over 10 years. This book is launched on Friday 28 June 2013, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, as the first of a series of studies to consider trends in education today and challenges for tomorrow.


In addition, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, was previously invited to sit on the Education Committee of UNESCO UK National Commission 2010-2011, to discuss a wide range of global policies on education, including being recommended by UNESCO UK National Commission to represent the UK to contribute to the policy formation of World Bank Education Strategy 2020 Learning For All.


QS would like to draw the attention of UK higher education leaders about this exciting opportunity to get involved in UNESCO UK National Commission. If you are a high education leader outside UK, please check the website of UNESCO on opportunities available in your own country. Hope you would find this information useful.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a UN Specialized Agency which contributes to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, culture, sciences, and communication.

2. The UK National Commission for UNESCO:

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) is the main organisation in UK to discuss and coordinate all UNESCO-related policies and activities on education, culture, the sciences and communication. It works in partnership with all relevant UK Government and civil society.

3. UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks:

In 1992, UNESCO established chairs and UNITWIN Networks to advance research, training and programme development in UNESCO’s fields of competence.

Currently, there are 819 UNESCO Chairs and 68 UNITWIN Networks established worldwide including over 854 institutions in 134 countries.

In the UK, there are 13 UNESCO Chairs and three UNITWIN Networks established in the UK.

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4. Applications:

The UK National Commission for UNESCO is calling for applications for the 2015 intake of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks.

5. Deadlines:
Outline proposals is 29 January 2015
Full proposals is 12 March 2015.

6. How to apply

All UK higher education institutions wishing to apply for the UNESCO Chairs or UNITWIN Networks Programmes must submit their application through the UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC). All proposals will be evaluated by the UKNC through a two-stage peer-review process.

7. Useful links

8. More information

For more information, please contact Andrea Blick at the UK National Commission for UNESCO at / 020 7766 3491



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 to create an account and complete an application.

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




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 or email



No better time to look at BRICS universities

Since Jim O’Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, coined the acronym “BRIC” in 2001 to describe four of the world’s fastest growing economies (namely Brazil, Russia, India and China), the BRIC countries have been under scrutiny, and has even been the subject of a forum organised by Columbia University, which they labelled BRICLAB. BRIC added an S in 2010 when South Africa joined the group. These five countries, making up more than 40% of the world’s total population, have reached a point where their further economic development is strongly correlated with the way they build quality higher education systems.

In fact, earlier this year, a comparative study of the BRICS higher education systems by Stanford scholars was published. University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs? takes a close look at how the massive higher education expansion in Brazil, Russia, India and China is having a significant impact on the world supply of university graduates – particularly engineers and computer scientists. This expansion may also shift, at least partially, the locus of future development in the global knowledge economy towards the BRICS countries.

Perhaps a sign of the important role the BRICS are increasingly playing in matters of education, Ministers of Education from the five BRICS countries agreed to join forces with UNESCO to support education progress globally through coordinated actions and advocacy during a landmark consultation organized on the margins of the 37th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris this past November. UNESCO’s Director-General said at the opening of the consultation:
“Your countries have enormous potential individually to influence global education trends – this power is multiplied through collective action, through the experience you can share, through your growing roles as development partners, and through the new approaches you are developing for international cooperation.”

This is why there is perhaps no better time to look at the BRICS countries from a university rankings perspective. QS has been publishing a global university ranking – QS World University Rankings since 2004, and two regional rankings – QS Asian University Rankings since 2009 and QS Latin America Rankings since 2011. In December 2013, QS, in conjunction with the Russian news agency Interfax, will launch its first BRICS University Rankings. The BRICS will undoubtedly play a crucial role in tomorrow’s higher education landscape; however, they will also have to tackle massive challenges, such as quality education for all as only a minority of students go to the elite institutions that are considered world-class.

Find out the results of the first BRICS University Rankings on 17th December 2013 on In the meantime, please find more information on this post or on to register for the QS BRICS University Forum in Moscow on 17-18th December.

Africa. Source:

Developing world leads in student population growth

Student numbers are increasing more quickly in the developing world than in industrialised countries, but much of the growth is in vocational courses rather than university degrees, new research has demonstrated.

A report by The Research Base (, a UK consultancy specialising in education and skills, shows enrolments on academic courses rising fastest in Africa, with growth there averaging 16 per cent a year. But this is dwarfed by increases of 41 per cent a year on vocational courses in South and West Asia.

In all four developing regions highlighted in the report – Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and West Asia – vocational courses have seen stronger growth than their academic counterparts. Even in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has seen most growth in degrees and other academic courses, this has been outpaced by increases of 20 per cent a year in vocational courses.

Matilda Gosling, managing director of The Research Base, says: “This rapid growth means that these nations are building up their skills base and their ability to sustain economic growth. The economic crisis has been less severe for the developing world, and there are clear benefits for individuals and for nations in having a more educated population. Over the past five years and across the world, there is a clear correlation between economic growth and growing student numbers.”

The report uses a combination of data from UNESCO, the World Bank, the UN Development Programme and other sources. They show that while the developing world is continuing to focus on expanding post-school education as a tool of economic growth and social cohesion, participation is stagnating, or even dropping in some more developed nations.

Central and Eastern Europe have seen a decline of 1 per cent a year in academic enrolments and a drop of 4 per cent a year in the number of vocational students over the period 2005-10. North America and Europe have seen continued growth in academic student numbers, fuelled partly by international recruitment from outside those regions, but vocational numbers have been static.

The report says there is a clear link between economic growth and the number of students over the age of 16, particularly on vocational courses. But causality remains a matter if dispute, with some economists arguing that more young people become students in times of economic success, rather than actually bring about growth.

Politicians in many countries have tried to encourage more students to take vocational courses, rather than degrees – often as a response to rising graduate unemployment. But the generally higher status of university education and its long-established reputation as a route to prosperity has made families reluctant to heed this advice.

The Research Base report argues that too little attention has been paid to vocational education in major international studies. The authors conclude: “It is likely that developing countries are seeing growing student numbers because there are clear returns to education, especially in vocational education and training, which challenges much of the previous research in this area. In contrast, the developed world has seen increasingly diminishing returns to education, meaning that student numbers are static and, in some cases, falling.”


HE News Brief 29.11.11

by Abby Chau

  • SOUTH KOREA: Recognition of foreign diplomas paves the way for Asia-Pacific higher ed collaboration
  • UK: Initial figures show that applications for 2012 sees a 15% shortfall
  • CANADA: Positioning itself as a popular destination for international students
  • RUSSIA: Recognition of foreign degrees in 2012 Read more

HE News Brief 21.9.10

by Abby Chau

Here are this week’s news stories:

  • Up until a few years ago, Dubai appeared to be financially invincible, it boasted the tallest building in the world and even the SATC girls were paying homage to the city. But fast-forward a few years later, and the economic recession has hit the real estate sector and now many are worried that it will also affect Higher Education. George Mason University of Virginia in the UAE closed a few years ago and recently Michigan State University’s foreign branch in Dubai also shut down its operations. However the executive director of Higher Education Warren Fox, says that the forecast is actually encouraging – in 2004, four foreign campuses operated in the free zone and now the number is close to 30. Fox remains optimistic, saying that it can take a few years before foreign campuses can find an audience.
    Full Story: New York Times
  • Portugal is looking to revamp their higher education system, much in the same way vein as Asia’s institutions. Secretary of State for Higher Education Manuel Heitor says that in order for a country to compete in the economic realm, they must invest in HE. In the 80s, Portugal invested .4 percent of gdp in education, and in 2008, that figure jumped to 1.55 percent. After years of oppression, Portugal has slowly been rebuilding its infrastructure but now it has partnerships with Harvard Medical, MIT, University of Texas at Austin, and Carnegie Mellon.
    Full Story: Chronicle of Higher Education
    Read more

HE News Brief 2.08.10

by Abby Chau


Here are this week’s news stories:

  • More than five years after the Labour government made studying languages optional after the age of 14, the new Coalition government is looking to plug the hole in the second language gap by offering undergraduates and postgraduates up to two years studying abroad. Universities Minister David Willetts says that developing cooperation with countries like India, where a reported 40,000 Indian students study in the UK whereas only 500 UK students travel to India for academic studies, would make students more competitive in the diversifying job market.
    Full Story: Telegraph
  • As Britain has just approved its second private university recently, the U.S is delving deeper into its disillusionment of for-profit universities like the behemoth University of Phoenix which takes an astonishing 1 billion of government money this year in the form of grants. This op-ed argues that for-profits like the American Public University (who will be teaching Wal-Mart employees) and Kaplan University are here to stay as long as the accreditation process and the impotence of legislators continue to dominate the educational landscape. These issues no doubt will come to a head as President Obama is set to launch his highly anticipated “Race to the Top” educational programmes.
    Full Story: Chronicle of Higher Education
    More:  New York Times
    Read more