The PIE News News and business analysis for Professionals in International Education Mon, 12 Jun 2023 15:25:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brampton: Canada’s international education city looks to solve challenges Mon, 12 Jun 2023 15:22:29 +0000 Across Canada, post-secondary institutions focus on delivering classes to international students. But with 20,000 international students, institutions and local authorities in Brampton are looking to take one step further.

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Manil is a student from Sri Lanka in Brampton, Ontario, a city adjacent to Toronto, Canada’s largest metropolis. Since arriving in the country last year, he has struggled to find a part-time job to cover his $17,000 tuition fee and living expenses.

After months of searching, he finally secured employment as a cook at a golf club. However, to get there he has to travel two hours by bus each way. “There are a lot of students suffering but people don’t talk about it,” he tells The PIE News.

In most communities across Canada, post-secondary institutions only focus on delivering classes to international students. These newcomers are offered little support in looking for housing, finding employment and adapting to a new culture.

“There are a lot of students suffering but people don’t talk about it”

However, in Brampton a group of educators, city councillors, settlement and community service agencies and other supporters are working to change that.

More than 600,000 people live in Brampton. The city is part of Peel Region, which is home to 80 post-secondary educational institutions. Sheridan College, which is publicly funded, is one of the leading providers of international education. Algoma University, a public university based in northern Ontario, has established a campus in the city to tap into both the international market and the huge pool of domestic students in the Toronto area. In addition, Toronto Metropolitan University has a campus there.

In total, more than 20,000 international students live in Brampton, with the majority coming from just one country – India.

Many of Brampton’s post-secondary institutions are private career colleges, catering to international students and immigrants who are looking for a short course to give them Canadian credentials in the competitive job market. As for-profit schools, these institutions don’t focus on the additional services that international students may need.

And those needs are extensive. In 2021, several social services agencies in the community issued a report called Invited and Forgotten. It pointed to housing as a key issue facing students, with soaring rents and poor quality of accommodations. Students are vulnerable to being exploited by landlords and don’t know where to turn, the study found.

In addition, it raised the issues of a shortage of employment opportunities, mental and physical health, food security, racism and trouble adjusting to a new culture.

To its credit, Sheridan College is leading the way in helping international students in Brampton – even if they don’t attend Sheridan. In 2022, Sheridan and the City of Brampton co-hosted a two-day summit to address the challenges facing students.

The summit brought together educational institutions, social service agencies, city officials, the police and fire departments, religious groups and more. It also included local funeral homes, which have sadly had to deal with the deaths of international students through suicides and accidents. More than 250 people attended the event, with a further 600 online.

As a result of the summit, the group created the Brampton Charter to enhance the lives of international students. It includes a statement of principles that reflect the fact that international students face challenges that may be different from their domestic counterparts. It calls for everyone to recognise that the international student experience encompasses physical, mental, social, financial and cultural wellbeing.

The charter sets out goals that post-secondary institutions should work to achieve, sometimes in conjunction with other organisations.

These include: upholding ethical recruitment standards and practices; creating academic and wrap-around supports for learners; promoting safe and affordable housing and financial stability; providing opportunities for legal and reliable work; and championing well-defined and transparent pathways to citizenship for international students.

Sheridan has moved forward with several initiatives, including hiring a sexual health nurse and a housing coordinator. For students who are short on money, the college has organised food hampers and provides winter clothes and boots.

Getting Brampton’s private career colleges on board will be tougher. Many are too small to be able to offer comprehensive services to their international students. And for-profit institutions may be reluctant to spend on expanded supports.

At Sheridan, one of the key initiatives is to manage expectations, with agents in India often promoting Canada as a land of milk and honey. In fact, many students struggle to cope with school, work and family challenges.

Sheridan has organised pre-departure sessions online to give students realistic expectations about what Canada is like. When students arrive at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Sheridan has a welcome booth to greet them and assist them in transitioning to a new country.

These supports continue all the way through graduation to cover employment and immigration, if the student chooses to remain in Canada.

Sheridan has also partnered with the fire department to go door-to-door to talk to international students about fire safety and offer free smoke detectors. Again, this service is for everyone, not just those who attend Sheridan.

“The city was concerned that landlords were charging $900 for a student who got a mattress on the floor”

Rowena Santos is a city councillor who represented the municipality at the summit and serves on an international student task force.

“The city was concerned that landlords were charging $900 for a student who got a mattress on the floor and had to share a small apartment with several other students,” Santos tells The PIE News.

After some strong debate, Brampton city council passed a motion to take action to offer greater protection for international students. It endorsed the Brampton Charter and plans to implement a licensing system for landlords starting in 2024. It would include random inspections of properties to ensure that landlords are following the rules – or their license will be revoked.

In addition, Santos wants action from both the federal and provincial governments. Ottawa controls the issuance of study permits and she would like the government to consider a cap based on the number of international students based on what cities across the country can handle.

Ontario is responsible for education and Santos says the province must do more.

“While the public post-secondary institutions are doing a good job, the private colleges are completely unregulated. There is a need for regulation and accountability. Some offer students support but there are others that leave international students high and dry,” she explains.

The Brampton Charter is just the beginning of a much-needed effort to provide the supports international students need to thrive in Canada. A lot more work must be done. But it’s a great start and post-secondary institutions across Canada – and their local communities – would be wise to have a look and see how they can adapt these principles and goals.

As for Manil, he is still hoping that his Canadian journey will work out. He has three children and a spouse back in Sri Lanka and would like to bring them to Canada to be with him and start a new life. However, he will need a job in his field to gain the necessary work experience to apply for status as a permanent resident.

It’s difficult to find employment related to his studies. “I don’t recommend anyone coming to Canada because of the job situation,” he says. He plans to tough it out for the next year and then see what happens to his Canadian dream.

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Study explores students’ ‘sense of home’ in UK Mon, 12 Jun 2023 15:08:56 +0000 Small-scale research has suggested international PhD students do not ‘assimilate’ in the expected sense and that their friends are not mainly ‘British’.

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A study has explored how international PhD students construct a sense of home in Britain – finding that students have different selves in “diverse social locations” rather than assimilating in an “expected sense”.

Researchers focused on the experience of a small number of PhD students, sponsored by the Algerian government, as they “learnt to be themselves” in their everyday lives in the UK.

The research, published in UCL Press, used data from a larger study carried out by one of the authors, Yasmine Sadoudi, back in 2022.

In that study, Sadoudi selected 13 PhD students on the basis of all having recently been through the Algerian educational system and visiting Britain, and in some cases travelling abroad, for the first time.

They were aged between 25 and 28 years and had been enrolled on the program for about one to three years, having undertaken a six-month British university PhD preparation program.

The data presented in the most recent piece of research concerned only seven of the students, but was informed by the context of all the data in the wider study.

It found that students draw resources from their “personal cultural trajectories within which their lives in Britain form another stage in a lifelong journey of identity construction”.

Researchers said the international students did not ‘assimilate’ in the expected sense and that their friends are not mainly ‘British’.

“Their brought multilingualism is characteristic of a natural hybridity that prepares them to be different selves in diverse social locations and with people of diverse origin on and off campus through an ongoing negotiation process of small culture formation on the go,” researchers said.

As part of the study, Sadoudi “immersed herself in the diversity of the circumstances that governed the particularities of how each of the students engaged in the activities of their daily life”.

She reported each student’s different personal experiences, lifestyles, hobbies and friendship patterns, all of which blended with the fabric of the broader society in which they found themselves.

“Feeling home is a more complex and multidimensional concept that can simultaneously refer to a place, a feeling and an experience in which the individual feels familiarity, safety and belongingness,” Sadoudi said.

“Home-making can be enabled through many processes”

“According to what I have observed, home-making can be enabled through many processes such as settling routines, negotiating, communicating and more importantly defying prejudices.”

The report said that this insight into the way the students experience life in British environments, and the way in which they negotiate their multiple identities and manage their lives as PhD researchers, is to do with their “hybrid identity”.

“We position and reposition ourselves in different ways at different times depending on multiple circumstances,” the report said.

“This means that ‘the intercultural’ has always been with us as we move through diverse settings in everyday life, from family, friends, school or work, through finding ways to be ourselves, and to feel or create familiarity wherever we go and whenever we interact, by negotiating our upbringings in the process of small culture formation on the go, wherever it is located.”

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Report reveals widening European interest and shift towards STEM Mon, 12 Jun 2023 11:32:07 +0000 Destinations across continental Europe, such as Italy and Portugal, are seeing increasing interest among prospective international students, new research shows.

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Students from Pakistan and Bangladesh are driving interest in education across continental Europe – a region that is maintaining a “strong appeal” for international students – but government policy, among other factors, may be impacting students’ choices, according to new research.

Additionally, program preference is shifting towards artificial intelligence, data science & big data, business intelligence & analytics, entrepreneurship and engineering management.

Analysing data collected in the year up to May 2023, the Studyportals Destination Europe report delves into trends in master’s and bachelor’s programs, as well as taking a closer look at the business and management discipline – which the paper noted as most popular for international students in general.

One in five students looking to study in Europe are interested in the discipline, the company noted.

While Germany “holds significant global market share of student interest”, the analysis found a “drop in relative demand” for its programs, while Norway had seen the “largest decline” in relative demand. The drop is likely influenced by the introduction of tuition fees, the paper said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Italy is continuing to grow in its popularity among international students, at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Along with Italy, Ireland, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Austria all saw increases in interest. Photo: Studyportals

The research split student interest in disciplines in bachelor’s and master’s.

Studyportals noted the annual 50+ million unique visitors across its nine portals allows the company a unique perspective on student demand, which it can drive down to the city level, the destination of interest and study disciplines.

“By understanding the preferences of prospective students, universities can strategically develop and promote relevant programmes, ensuring they meet the evolving needs of international students,” the report read.

At bachelor’s level, design related programs saw “significant decline” in interest, with AI programs seeing notable increases.

Similarly at the master’s level, interest in international relations dropped, with students turning toward data science & big data type programs.

While excluded from the analysis due to the prevalence of English-taught programs, the report noted a 13.1% drop in interest in bachelors programs in the UK compared with a 6.1% rise in masters.

The trend in interest analysis corroborates with warnings that the UK is at operational risk as result of international students increasingly opting for master’s programs over bachelor’s level courses.

At bachelor’s level, researchers tracked a 19.7% drop in interested in Norway and a 5.5% fall in the Netherlands, while “small to moderate” increases were recorded elsewhere. Finland (+36.7%), Austria (+32%) and Belgium (26.4%) “led the pack” in regards to interest, Studyportals noted.

Among master’s programs, Norway also saw a 18.2% decline but the paper noted a “different pattern” compared with bachelor’s programs. Both France (-9.9%) and Germany (-6%) saw declines, with Czechia, Hungary and Italy all witnessing rising interest.

“You can see that Bangladesh and Pakistan have increased their share of the interest”

Portugal saw a substantial increase in interest at both bachelor’s and master’s level, the paper added.

At both levels, the proportion of student interest from India tracked has declined overall since 2019. This may be of interest to note as governments including Australia, the UK and the US seek to build closer ties with the country that recently became the world’s most populous.

“Although India generates the largest share of relative demand [at bachelor’s level], this fluctuates drastically and has gradually declined overall,” the report noted. “Conversely, you can see that Bangladesh and Pakistan have increased their share of the interest.”

The research tracks a similar trend in master’s, with India showing a “general decline in interest year-on-year”, with Bangladesh and Pakistan, alongside students in Turkey and Iran, showing “strong demand to study master’s programs”.

At bachelor’s level, computer science saw the most growth (+12%) and business increased slightly, while social science saw “a moderate decline” despite maintaining a large proportion of the overall demand.

Business & management remains the most popular discipline for master’s students, followed by social sciences and engineering & technology despite all three seeing mild declines in student interest.

Among specific programs, interest in artificial intelligence bachelor’s programs surged by 20.9% over the last year, with health sciences, computer science and informatics & information technology all seeing jumps in interest.

STEM also dominated in master’s programs with data science & big data, health science, biology and software engineering among courses that saw increases in interest.

For business programs, Studyportals recorded a shift away from the top three European master’s destinations – Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Italy, on the other hand, has seen interest in master’s programs in business over the past year rise by 21.5%.

Italy also saw increases in interest in business bachelor’s programs, while Finland – also with a lower starting point – led across the continent with a 60% year-on-year interest increase.

Spain, Denmark and France also all saw moderate growth for their bachelor’s business programs.

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Value of China cooperation highlighted in US Mon, 12 Jun 2023 08:45:17 +0000 It is "imperative" that all engage with higher education in China, speakers said at the two-day CIHE conference at Boston College.

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The Centre for International Higher Education at Boston College held its two-day biennial conference in June.

Simon Marginson, director of the Centre for Global Higher Education at the University of Oxford, was the keynote for the morning session, and asserted that certain policies are deepening inequalities within some countries which inhibits widespread social mobility and argued that higher education is often being blamed. “Perhaps governments focused on employability are losing faith in the core processes of education.”

“It’s not that the US is declining, it’s just that other countries are also internationalising”

In addressing delegates during the Philip Altbach lecture entitled, The inevitability of difference in global higher education, Marginson addressed geopolitical tensions, global ecological concerns and decolonising curriculum. He noted that climate science is being “ideologically undermined” and predicted it is going to get worse.

“We cannot solve geopolitical tensions, inequality, faltering capitalism, and ecological destruction solely from within higher education,” he said.

However, Marginson proffered that higher education and international educational cooperation are sources of hope. “We incubate critical thinking and creativity. We generate and codify new knowledge… We foster international understanding [and] can build a reflexive pressuring agency that’s touched by inclusion multiplicity and justice… and I think we are beginning to do so.”

Marginson shared research by the CIHE from nearly a dozen countries and indicated that common support exists for the role of higher education in “furthering public good”.

He said the American hegemony of 1945-1995 has passed and will not return. “More than 60 countries now enrol half of the young people in tertiary education,” he stated.

Marginson called for a suspension of the US hegemony in thinking and the acceptance of “the inevitability of difference”, which he said may lead to a more just future.

“It’s imperative that all engage with higher education in China,” he continued. “China is globally important to us but also, we non-Chinese people need to change the way we understand China. We need to stop seeing China through western lenses.”

Altbach, founding director of CIHE, added during a World Café session at the event, “It’s not that the US is declining, it’s just that other countries are also internationalising and are increasing branch campuses.”

The scholars concurred that internationalisation is a process of integrating international and intercultural global dynamics into higher education. However, they also warned of reinforcing the global hierarchy.

Marginson concluded, “I think in international higher education, there’s a shared moral order and a consensus about the global common good based on the quality of respect and epistemic diversity that can unite us across the colonial divide between the West and the rest.”

Other speakers at the conference included preeminent scholars such as Philip Altbach, Hans de Wit, Betty Leask, and Lily Tran.

Speaking about the deep impact of the CIHE event, University of Melbourne associate dean and founder of VicWise, Shanton Chang shared, “The opportunity for engagement and conversations between generations of scholars in international higher education is crucial. It’s about extending, challenging and exploring existing and new implications for higher education globally.”

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Standards can be ‘industry-led’ as ICEF milestone hit Fri, 09 Jun 2023 15:41:45 +0000 ICEF has reiterated the importance of recognised training credentials as the 2,000th agent graduated from the foundational ICEF Agent Training Course.

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The 2,000th graduate of the foundational ICEF Agent Training Course completed their course in May, with the head of the international education company urging educators to engage with players that hold recognised training credentials.

The agent to hit the milestone was Alice Gibron Temu from Top Education Consulting in Tanzania. ICEF noted that the IATC run by ICEF Academy “continues to raise professional standards in international education”.

In a comment to The PIE News, ICEF CEO Markus Badde explained that professional agencies are the ones that have well-established best recruitment practices.

They can “truly distinguish” themselves by participating in vetting and certification processes and by making a continuing commitment to staff training, he said.

“The important thing to understand is that there are currently few barriers to entry for newcomers to the sector, especially given the increasing emphasis on digital recruiting and remote advising over the last few years,” Badde noted.

“It also goes without saying that recent scandals involving so-called ‘dodgy agents’ were not actually caused by real bona fide education agents, but rather by bad actors, posing as agents, and trying to take advantage of students.”

Temu stated that the certification, not only allowed her to enhance her knowledge and skills but has also increased her credibility as a recruitment agent.

“Additionally, obtaining certification with ICEF enables me to be recognised as an international student recruiter, not only in Canada but also worldwide,” she added.

Authorities in Canada and Australia – the UK’s former universities on June 7 called for more governance of agents – are looking to regulate the agent sector. But for ICEF, any attempts to regulate the sector directly are likely to be ineffective given the “scale of the education agent sector and its wide distribution in markets around the world”.

“Governments are rather better placed to regulate educator performance”

“Governments are rather better placed to regulate educator performance as it relates to international student recruitment in their jurisdiction, but the more practical solutions to advancing professionalism and quality standards with respect to agents are more likely to come from within the industry itself,” Badde said.

The verified Letter Of Acceptance mechanism Languages Canada introduced earlier this year and ICEF’s continued investments in agent training, agent vetting, and agency recognition are examples, the CEO suggested.

Additionally, the organisation is currently implementing a new code of conduct which will be signed by 17,200 agent training course graduates and it is also tightening up its agent accreditation program.

ICEF Academy runs seven agent training courses, including destination specific programs for Australia, Canada, US, Ireland, China and France.

Total agent training course registrants on the e-learning platform are currently at over 140,000 and there are 17,200 counsellor graduates in 120+ countries, Badde noted. The IATC was launched in 2010 as a foundational course for agents.

With more than three decades of commitment to advancing the standards of practice and quality in our industry, ICEF is and always has been an active participant in government consultations, he continued.

“As a leading organisation concerned with quality standards in international student recruitment, we feel that we can contribute a valuable point of view, also given our broad international outlook, our track record to date, and our global footprint.”

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CAIE comes to US for the first time; calls for proposals Fri, 09 Jun 2023 13:02:59 +0000 The 2023 CAIE will identify solutions to climate change, continental migratory flows and international challenges, as it comes to the US for the first time.

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What are the challenges the American international education sector is facing post-pandemic? How is it placed to urgently address climate change and the implication of the continent’s migratory flows? And how can the region promote international research and academic collaborations and develop global talent?

These will be the key themes at this year’s Conference of the Americas on International Education, to be held in the US for the first time ever – in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The continental forum is appealing to the international education sector for proposals for its parallel speaking sessions and poster opportunities. The call for proposals closes June 18.

“We hope to receive proposals that can present multi-actors from various institutions and/or various countries together,” David Julien, executive director of OUI-IOHE Inter-American Organization for Higher Education, explained.

“For those who are less familiar with CAIE, it is similar to EAIE for Europe or APAIE for the Americas, being a one-stop-shop conference to engage with delegations from North, Central and South America.”

Running from November 6-8, CAIE will bring together higher education institutions, international education practitioners, scholars and academics, government representatives and civil society.

Interested higher education institutions are being urged to submit proposals for either parallel sessions to speak at CAIE-2023 or posters to be published in the exhibition area, Julien detailed.

Four sub-themes will cover national, international, and transnational collaboration in research, innovation, and knowledge transfer projects; teaching and learning beyond the classroom; innovation in internationalisation; and progressive strategies to address the UN Sustainable Development ambitions.

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Humanitarian work honoured at GoAbroad awards Fri, 09 Jun 2023 10:41:09 +0000 Study abroad company GoAbroad honoured a man who led efforts to get families from Ukraine to safety after the invasion of the European country began.

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GoAbroad honoured a man who assisted volunteers from the study abroad company in an effort to get families from Ukraine to safety after the war started in the European country.

At the annual GoAbroad awards, founder and chief of MAD (Make A Difference) Foundation John Lawler was given a special Humanitarian Award, after he dropped “everything” to go and help in the war-torn country just days after the invasion began. 

Lawler joined Troy Peden, GoAbroad’s founder, and his son who were already on their way out to find a van to ferry as many people to safety as possible. 

“As soon as we saw what was happening, I came to help. We purchased the first van not long after I arrived,” he told The PIE.

“We just did what we could; we had the time. We stayed for a year. I’m still in and out now every few months, just to keep the the work going,” he continued. 

Peden said that the award was not a “celebration, but an acknowledgement of our shared humanity”. 

Speaking with The PIE, he said that there were so many examples of how the Operation Safedrop – that Lawler coordinated – helped those who were affected by the war. 

“There was one family we were supposed to drive to Lithuania, and their father was supposed to have a military exemption. We started driving them, got to the border in Ukraine and they told us that he needed another document for the exemption, which he didn’t have and was back in territory surrounded by Russia.” The team had to return to area to retrieve the document. 

“We continued to drive to Lithuania after we left the border and about an hour out having dropped them off [at a facility], a girl called up and said that there were men who were doing drugs in the building – so we went and got them again. 

“We were trying to figure out what to do about it and then we got a call from another person in the community who runs a school in Ireland, who said we could send them there,” he explained. 

The family ended up being able to settle temporarily in Ireland, amid consistent overcrowding in other countries surrounding Ukraine like Poland. 

Another story, which involved Barcelona Study Abroad Experience, saw founder Rich Kurtzman open his own doors to a family who had been displaced. 

The other big winners at the awards were CEA CAPA Education Abroad, which was awarded both Innovative Study Abroad Program with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Innovation in Alumni Engagement. 

Other winners included Global Glimpse, which won the award for Innovation in Diversity with its Commitment to Diversity and Equity project – and Pacific Discovery ‘Te Haerenga’, which won the award for Innovation in Sustainability.

Through its partnership with Litter Intelligence, the New Zealand-based gap year and summer program specialist has been teaching students how to invest in sustainable practices. 

“Working with organisations like Litter Intelligence, honestly is incredible, because it’s where our students become citizen scientists through the activities like beach cleanups and learn what it actually takes to do that, clean up and then collect that data locally,” Erica Schultz, representing Pacific Discovery, told The PIE. 

“We’re very excited with this recognition – this is a very new program for us, so we’re excited about what the future will hold.”

The People’s Choice Award went to the International TEFL academy – and IES Abroad’s student Clarence A. won the Innovative Student Video award with his entry, “Not My Life”. 

In a statement ITA co-founder Ian Davis noted, “The last few years have been tough for everyone, and the international education community experienced a lot of volatility.

“To be recognised by our peers means so much to me. We’ve all weathered this storm together, and hopefully we all come out stronger. There are so many amazing organisations that deserve their flowers, it’s an honour to be among them.”

The full list of winners is below: 

Innovative Technology

The Community-Based Global Learning Collaborative, The Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions Toolkit

Innovation in Alumni Engagement

CEA CAPA Education Abroad, Passport: A Gamification Platform for Alumni Ambassadors

Innovation in Diversity

Global Glimpse, Commitment to Equity and Diversity

Innovation in Sustainability

Pacific Discovery, Te Haerenga

Innovation in Philanthropy

University of the People, Scholarships for Earthquake Impacted Turkish and Syrian Students

Innovation in Marketing and Digital Media

Universities Study Abroad Consortium, See Yourself Studying Abroad

Innovative Volunteer Abroad Program 

United Planet, Volunteer to Support Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova

Innovative Intern Abroad Program

Connect-123 Global Internship Programs, Pediatric Healthcare Internship Program in South Africa

Innovative Study Abroad Program 

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and CEA CAPA Education Abroad, Black Lives Matter: A Global Comparative Study

Innovative TEFL/Teach Abroad Program

Na’atik Language and Culture Institute, English Program

Innovative Student Video

“Not My Life” by Clarence A. – IES Abroad

People’s Choice Award

International TEFL Academy

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Australia’s concurrent course policy is “misused” – education department Fri, 09 Jun 2023 09:22:55 +0000 Australian immigration has cancelled the visas of some international students enrolled in more than one course, as institutions and agents continue to call for a crackdown on course-hopping. 

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Australian immigration has cancelled the visas of some international students enrolled in more than one course as institutions and agents continue to call for a crackdown on course-hopping. 

At least 21 student visas have reportedly been cancelled since May, some of which were linked to concurrent study and course-switching. 

In a Facebook post, one migration agent wrote about a student who changed courses from a Bachelor’s “to a package of trade courses”. According to the agent, the student’s visa was revoked for changing to a lower-level course, but the agent successfully appealed this decision. 

The practice of students switching to cheaper providers has been ongoing for years in Australia, with students often enrolling in multiple courses under concurrent study rules. 

This has come under greater scrutiny in recent months as institutions claim that uncapped work hours have led to a rise in the number of students doing so. 

Meanwhile, the issue has been discussed numerous times during recent ongoing inquiries into the international education sector, including at recent hearings by the joint committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade, which heard that onshore agents are helping students to switch. 

It has been revealed that the Education Department highlighted the issue internally in March 2022, in a leaked memo noting that concurrent study rules were being ‘misused”, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.  

The memo reportedly said that between 2018 and 2021, “in a very large majority of cases, the initial [course] was not continued after one month of enrolment and the student instead continued only in the second course”.

Writing on LinkedIn, Ravi Lochan Singh, director of Global Reach, described the revelation as “shocking”. 

“The government has known of this issue for years and department even recommended a fix but no action was taken,” he wrote. 

The Association of Australian Education Representatives in India sent a petition last week to Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, repeating calls for the government to link student visas to institutions. 

“Institutes and agents who have spent considerable amount of time and money on the recruitment activity overseas are losing revenue”

“While students are allowed to study a second course and this is a good option but the concurrent CEO policy is also misused with the loopholes in the system have encouraged certain RTO’s to act unethically and commercially,” the group wrote. 

“As a result, institutes and agents who have spent considerable amount of time and money on the recruitment activity overseas are losing revenue and rules are being flouted,” AAERI continued, adding that the loophole is “attracting non-genuine students”. 

“There is increase [in] fraud and the brand of international education in Australia is being affected.”

Student visas are already linked to institutions in the UK and New Zealand. 

In the long term, AAERI said the government should ban commission for the onshore recruitment of students. 

It comes as Australian universities continue to refuse to accept applications from students in certain regions of India, citing concerns around fraud. 

Federation University and Western Sydney University are the latest to inform agents that they will no longer accept students from regions including Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat. 

Nishidhar Borra, president of AAERI, said universities should avoid “region-based bias”. 

“The assumption by a few universities that all students from certain parts of India are ‘high risk’ is grossly unfair and discriminatory,” he said. 

The Australian Department of Home Affairs did not respond to questions from The PIE ahead of publication of this article.

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“Inclusive future” in the spotlight at NAFSA 2023 Thu, 08 Jun 2023 16:54:46 +0000 Attendees at the NAFSA conference in Washington DC lauded the event’s true “back to business feel” after years of Covid-induced turbulence.

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Attendees at the NAFSA conference in Washington DC lauded the event’s true “back to business feel” after years of Covid-induced turbulence.

The CEO of NAFSA, Fanta Aw, acknowledged that it takes a “village” to put on the organisation’s conference, as the attendees celebrated an overarching theme of “inspiring an inclusive future”.

More than 8,000 people attended the 2023 event – not up to the usual numbers of 10,000, but climbing fast after two years of Covid-style conferences – and a cancelled event in 2020.

The opening plenary was given by Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, who told delegates that the industry’s value is more important than ever before, especially given her own experiences.

“Education teaches us about others – about respect, about kindness and about love,” she said.

“It starts in the cradle, with compassion and tolerance of other people; treating boys and girls equally, celebrating differences and highlighting similarities.

“Once we start school through literature and history, we can appreciate each other’s cultures and countries. We can more easily imagine their thoughts and feelings,” she continued.

Murad’s story, wherein she was raped, tortured and kidnapped by the Islamic State in Iraq, touched many delegates, but her consistent dedication to education bridging gaps inspired many, aligning closely with the conference’s theme.

“My female friends and I knew in our bones that education would lead to better jobs and better wages. In fact, a single year of primary education has been shown to increase a girl’s wage later in life by 20%,” she noted.

“Education teaches us about others – about respect”

“But more than this, educating that girl will also improve her family’s future and teach her independence.

“We also need to do more around human rights. We still have a lot to do to make woman’s rights human rights,” said Murad.

Speaking of inclusivity, NAFSA’s sessions covered a breadth of different workshops and topics on just that.

On a panel examining how staff can help LGBTQIA+ students feel more comfortable whilst studying abroad, one delegate said there were difficulties with some aspects of the LGBTQIA+ experience when studying abroad, especially for students going to the Middle East – where legality can even be a problem.

“We’re having these conversations, difficult ones, but ones that need to happen. We can’t pretend that these difficulties don’t exist in the Middle East, but we can get in trouble for even talking about it with students,” the delegate said.

Jena Curtis of SUNY Cortland, leading the session, said the legal frameworks often present a challenge – even at home in the US, where many legal frameworks directly, negatively affecting LGBTQIA+ people are being drafted and written into law.

Another delegate, LaKendra Brunston-Parker, who spoke to The PIE News at the conference, told of how NAFSA’s quest to continue inclusivity actively supports her own organisation for study abroad.

“The pulse around is that the price is a big issue”

StudyAbroad4711 is an agency study abroad provider that gives HBCU students an affordable opportunity to study worldwide, at the price points of only $4,000, $7,000 and $11,000.”

Students that have gone on to study abroad with the company are from various HBCUs, including Morgan State University and Virginia University, out of which Brunston-Parker is based.

“I love NAFSA. I don’t like conferences per se, because they always have discussions – especially around DEI – on how and there’s no implementation. For me, NAFSA is a place where I can literally see the how and I now have the tools and information that I can implement at StudyAbroad4711,” she added.

However, in a year where there was an expectation that the attendance would be bigger than ever before, others at NAFSA also disclosed to The PIE that the conference’s steeper price tag somewhat did not reflect the experience they may have been able to get out of it.

“I’m personally not finding it as busy as I expected it to be – it’s slightly better off than last year in Denver when we were still coming out of Covid – but the pulse around is that the price is a big issue,” Sushil Sukhwani, director of EDWISE International told The PIE.

He also said that while Canada is still the number one destination for India in his experience and the UK still going strong at second the US is still in third position, despite the UK’s recent negative rhetoric against international students, and Canada’s issues with student deportation.

“Most go to the US for STEM designated programs – you may get some for the premium finance or STEM MBAs. The demand is definitely there, and the US has great career options demand is that the U.S. has good career options, but does not have good immigration opportunities,” Sukhwani noted.

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Unpopular opinion: a sense of relief over UK dependants ban? Thu, 08 Jun 2023 15:48:24 +0000 While the UK's decision to ban some students from bringing dependants with them was met with disappointment, is the mood in universities different?

The post Unpopular opinion: a sense of relief over UK dependants ban? appeared first on The PIE News.

The UK government’s decision last week to ban certain international students from bringing dependants with them was met with public expressions of disappointment.

QS forecast a potential £10 billion annual deficit to the economy while others warned that women will be disproportionately impacted by the new policy.

High profile spokespeople including UUK director Vivienne Stern and Succession actor Brian Cox appeared in the British media highlighting the value of international students to the economy and warning the government not to go any further in limiting their work or visa rights.

On the ground however, at networking events and on campuses, the mood among some university staff is different.

Dismiss it as unpopular opinion, but there seems to be a sense of relief amongst recruitment, admissions and student support staff, particularly at high-growth institutions.

And who can blame them?

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of students bringing dependants doubled in 2022.

The number of international students coming to the UK over the past five years has risen by 211,000. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 10%.

Only Canada has experienced the same level of rapid growth as the UK.

Many of these staff have been stretched to the limit in recent years and the thought of some respite is welcome news, even if their vice chancellors and chief finance officers might feel differently.

A lesson in individual motivations

The vast majority of university professional service staff have no incentive to deal with greater volumes of students.

They aspire for peer recognition, to make a difference in students’ lives and to do a good job, but, for many, they are simply protecting their mortgages and enjoying the flexible benefits that the public sector can offer.

“I’m pleased to see the policy change regarding switching the visa”

Their pay doesn’t grow with the size of the intake. But their stress levels do.

The best minds in international education work with passion to solve a global social problem – how to educate our young people and prepare them for a rapidly changing future.

But what policy makers and private sector disruptors often misunderstand is the politics within an institution. For all the headlines on growth in international recruitment, the people tasked with delivering it would take quality over quantity everyday.

“I’m pleased to see the policy change regarding switching the visa – it was much needed,” explained Shivani Bhalla, head of international student recruitment at Brunel University London.

The issue of students switching to full time employment in the care sector soon after enrolling has been a huge headache for international directors trying to forecast numbers and manage capacity.

“Many UK universities had a healthy international student recruitment intake pre-Graduate Route,” Bhalla continued. She probably won’t be the only one remembering calmer times with fondness.

According to Unite90% of its accommodation in the UK was already sold for the 2023/24 academic year by April.

Britain has a backlog of 4.3 million homes missing from the national housing market. It is a struggle for university support services to find accommodation for students, let alone for their dependant families.

The reality is some universities started advising agents months ago to dissuade students who intended to apply with dependants, as they simply could not offer the support needed around accommodation and schooling.

IHEC commission chairman Chris Skidmore, in response to government reassurance that it is still committed to the intentional education strategy, said, “It is right that the issue of dependants is looked at, in order to create a more sustainable international higher education system.”

Similarly UK trade minister Lord Johnson wrote “we recognise that the immigration of international students and their dependants must be sustainable”.

Be careful what you wish for

With the legal migration of students one of the few measures that the government can actually control in reducing net migration, there are genuine concerns that the Graduate Route may be shortened or even removed in the near future.

The UK government removed a successful post-study work visa back in 2012 which triggered a major decline in overall students coming from India.

Subsequently it lost market share to countries like Canada, Ireland and Australia who had attractive post-study work visas and paths to permanent residence.

That gap between the top four anglophile study abroad destinations has significantly narrowed in the past five years (by 350,000 students) as US numbers have slowed and other destinations have become more competitive on price and visa rights.

The post-covid world is one of global competition.

With other countries already extending the length of time graduates can stay, the number of hours they can work and even the incentives they pay to support regional migration – will it be so easy for the UK to turn the tap back on if it does want to take a break?

Do you work in international student support or recruitment at a UK university? Are you relieved to see the government introduce restrictions on dependants? Do you think the UK has over-recruited in recent years? Have your say in the comments below or anonymously by emailing

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