News And Events

Watch for shifts in Indian outbound this year

20th February2017
22 Feb 2017 Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • India has increasingly become a key sending market and a major player in international student mobility
  • Indian students’ choice of study destination, however, is highly influenced by visa policy generally and the availability of post-study work opportunities in particular
  • The US is the top choice for Indian students, and the UK a traditional favourite as well, but recent developments in both countries have called their continuing appeal into question
  • This in turn has opened the door for alternative destinations to claim a greater share of the Indian outbound market

India has been a major driver of growth in overall mobility, and particularly so over the last few years. While it is perhaps somewhat overshadowed by China – which remains far and away the world’s leading source of international students – India’s growth has actually outpaced China’s between 2013 and 2015.
Indeed, as China’s year-over-year growth has begun to slow, India is emerging as a more important driver of future growth for receiving markets, including those outside of the major English-speaking destinations, such as China and Germany.
For the moment, consider this: .

  • Indian enrolment in the US grew 62% between 2013 and 2015
  • The number of Indian students in Canada expanded by 40% over the same period
  • Australia also recorded 50% growth over those two years
In all three cases – the US, Canada, and Australia – India is the number two sending market, second only to China, and accounts for a substantial percentage of total foreign enrolment in all three destinations.
This stands in sharp contrast to the UK, where Indian undergraduate enrolments have fallen for five years in a row, and where overall Indian numbers fell off by 10% between 2013/14 and 2014/15 alone. That downward trend has pushed India to the number three position among sending markets for the UK, after China and the US.
Many attribute the falling Indian numbers to more restrictive visa policies, and particularly to moves that have reduced or eliminated post-study work rights for foreign students. Indeed, surveys of prospective students have consistently shown that post-study employment options are a major factor in the attractiveness of a destination. One recent study alone found that nearly four in ten students who opted out of studying in the UK did so because of concerns about their post-study work prospects.
In the end, this cause-and-effect relationship in the UK provides a cautionary tale of how a change in the perceived or actual attractiveness of a destination can result in abrupt shifts in student mobility.
We may be seeing another such case in New Zealand currently where increased scrutiny of visa applications has contributed to a notable decline in approval rates and total visas granted to Indian students through 2016. The importance of this development is that New Zealand has been on a growth trajectory since 2013, due in large measure to burgeoning Indian enrolment that included, for instance, a 45% increase in Indian student numbers between just 2014 and 2015.
So part of the Indian growth story for some major destinations is that they are picking up market share from others. But the bigger story at work here is that the Indian market has taken off again since about 2012, and, recent challenges of monetary policy aside, it shows every sign of being a major player in international mobility for many years to come.
The latest data from UNESCO reports 233,540 Indian students enrolled in higher education abroad in 2015 for an overall increase of 23% since 2013.
Trumping Brexit
Most Indian students (about half of all outbound numbers) go to the US. Meanwhile, the UK has been a traditional leading destination for years, and, even with the recent erosion of its market share, remains a top choice for Indians going abroad.

Recent developments in both countries, however, have placed a question mark next to those market share figures.
In the US, the new Trump administration is sending strong signals of more restrictive visa policies on the horizon, which has led in turn to a growing perception that the US may become a less welcoming study destination than it has been in the past.
Most recently, US lawmakers have introduced bills that, if passed, will lead to changes in the H-1B visa programme – that is, to the path to extended post-study work opportunities for many foreign graduates in the US. The H-1B is especially relevant to Indian graduates of US STEM programmes (science, technology, engineering, and math), and so the new bills, introduced at the end of January, have received considerable attention in the Indian press.
“Studies followed by [Optional Practical Training, or OPT] followed by H-1B followed by green card is the route taken by many international students, especially from India,” notes The Economic Times. As uncertainty grows over regulatory change to either the OPT or H-1B programmes, greater numbers of Indian students appear to be looking more closely at other destinations.
Naveen Chopra, founder and chairman of The Chopras agency, said in a recent interview with The Times of India, “Our company advises and processes applications for 36 countries worldwide. The number and mix of these countries changes when their regulatory frameworks change. Given the current US scenario, the countries that are seeing increased applications are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Singapore.”
A similar pattern continues to play out in the UK where concerns about visa policy and post-study work opportunities weigh heavily on some prospective students from India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with his British counterpart, Theresa May, in London late last year, and a bid to relax tough visa rules for Indian students and migrants was reportedly high on the agenda. In the end, Mr Modi’s efforts were frustrated and those same visa controls remain in place.
In a post-summit press briefing, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman noted, “I did raise the issues of visa fees, student visas, and how Indian students no longer prefer to go to UK universities, which was the top priority earlier, because of the nature of visa regulations and requirements.” She added that, due to the current visa policy in the UK, Indian students were showing a greater preference for alternate destinations, such as Australia and New Zealand.
Brexit is of course the other major development that bears on the UK’s international attractiveness this year. A recent item in The Hindustan Times cites international education consultant and researcher Dr Rahul Choudaha, who anticipates that post-graduation employment and immigration prospects will become more restricted during and after the Brexit process. Even with the high quality and reputation of British higher education, he anticipates that this will further impact the attractiveness of the UK for foreign students. “UK universities rely heavily on international students to meet their enrolment goals,” he says. “Competing destinations like Australia and Canada with more welcoming immigration policies may benefit from this turbulence.”
Where will they go? As these comments indicate, Australia and Canada are expected to be among the big winners if Indian outbound numbers continue to shift away from the US or UK to any great extent.
But other destinations will contend as well, notably Ireland, which recently extended its post-study work window for advanced degree-holders from 12 to 24 months, France (which too offers a 24-month “stay back” option for Indian graduates), and Germany (with its strength in STEM programmes and an 18-month post-study work window for foreign graduates).
The bottom line is that Indian students are looking for quality programmes but also for a clear and predictable path to work opportunities after graduation. To the extent that their prospects of securing a study visa, and eventually a post-study work visa leading to such international professional experience, are cast into doubt, they will increasingly and actively explore alternate destinations.
Any such shifts are likely to be one of the big stories in international student mobility this year, and one that could have profound effects on the foreign enrolments of both established and emerging study destinations.

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Ireland announces 24-month “stay back option” for international postgraduates

9th February2017

The Irish government has extended the period during which foreign graduates of masters and doctoral programmes may remain and work in the country after their studies. Under Ireland’s Third Level Graduate Scheme, international students completing advanced degrees may stay in Ireland to seek employment, work for up to 40 hours per week, and/or apply for a further work permit or green card.
Up to this point, graduates from outside the European Union/European Economic Area were entitled to stay and work in Ireland for up to 12 months after graduation. But under the recently announced expansion of the programme, this term has now been extended to 24 months for those completing recognised degrees at either Level 9 (master’s degree or post-graduate diploma) or Level 10 (doctoral degree) of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). A notice on the Education in Ireland website confirms that, “This will allow eligible graduates who have studied in Irish higher education institutions and whose award is granted by a recognised Irish awarding body at masters or PhD level to remain in Ireland for two years to seek employment.”

"An excerpt from the Irish National Framework of Qualifications. Source: Quality and Qualifications Ireland"

Writing in the University Observer, the student newspaper of the University College Dublin, Chloe Maguire Sedgwick notes, “Previously for some employment sectors, the restriction of the working period for international students was a disincentive in hiring them. The new extension is welcomed as a way to fill the skills gap and to improve the employability of postgraduate students emerging from Irish higher education institutions.”
Non-EU/EEA students completing Level 8 programmes (honours undergraduate degrees) will continue to have a 12-month stay back option, whereas those completing a Level 7 qualification (ordinary undergraduate degree) will also remain eligible for a six-month stay back.
The move to expand post-study work rights for advanced degree-holders was foreshadowed by the October 2016 launch of Ireland’s international education strategy, Irish Education Globally Connected. Building on several years of steady growth between 2010/11 and 2014/15, the strategy sets out a number of ambitious goals for further expansion, including the following.

  • A 33% increase in international enrolment in Irish higher education to reach 44,000 foreign students by 2019/20.
  • A 25% increase in enrolment in English Language Teaching (ELT) programmes to reach 132,500 students in the first half of 2020.
  • A one-third increase in the overall economic impact of the sector, which would see the economic outputs of international education in Ireland grow from €1.58 billion (US$1.67 billion) in 2014/2015 to €2.1 billion (US$2.34 billion) by 2019/2020.

  • In support of these top-line targets, the new 24-month stay back option appears to be aimed at boosting Ireland’s international competitiveness as a study destination. Indeed, a related item in the online newspaper DNA India concurs that, “The possibility of gaining valuable post-study work experience makes Ireland a very compelling option for Indian students with the added advantage of a world class education that offers better value for money.”
    For additional background on recent developments in Ireland, please see “Ireland’s ELT numbers up 10% in 2015; student weeks increase by 38%” and “Ireland implements student immigration and quality assurance reforms”."

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United Kingdom charms Indian students with 'Great Scholarships'

8th February2017


  • To draw more Indian students for higher studies in the UK, the British Council on Monday announced Rs 8.38 crore 'Great Scholarships 2017' scheme.
  • A total of 29 under-graduate and 169 post-graduate scholarships will be provided to students in various fields.

HYDERABAD: To draw more Indian students to pursue higher education in the United Kingdom, the British Council here on Monday announced Rs 8.38 crore 'Great Scholarships 2017' scheme.

As part of the 'Great Britain' campaign, the council has come up with a new proposition 'Study UK: Discover You' wherein students can avail 198 'Great scholarships' in subject areas ranging from art and design to engineering, law and management. A total of 29 under-graduate and 169 post-graduate scholarships will be provided to students in various fields.
For students to explore options, British Council is set to host an exhibition on 'Study UK: Discover You' at Hotel Taj Vivanta, Begumpet on February 7 from 2pm to 7pm wherein representatives from 20 UK universities will be available to resolve queries. Students can get all their questions answered on course choices, visas, applications, scholarships and more.
Moreover, students can also benefit from career seminars on MBA, IT, and engineering, manufacturing coupled with insightful sessions by experts on student visas.
The universities that are participating in the exhibition are University of Arts, London, Aston University, Edinburgh Napier University, Middlesex University, Kingston University, University of Warwick, London Metropoli tan University, University of Bristol among others.
Apart from this, a mobile App has also been launched by the British Council on 'Study UK: Discover You' exhibition wherein students and parents can plan their visit to the exhibition. The App contains all necessary information about UK-based institutions. "The UK hosts four of the top 10 universities. Visas issued to Indian students has seen an increase of six percent in the last three quarters as compared to the previous year. Nearly 20,000 students from India visit UK for higher studies every year," said Meikwei Barker, director of British Council, South India.
Explaining further on the Chevening, British government's flagship programme, Andrew McAllister, British deputy high commissioner, Hyderabad said, "The number of applications that we get for Chevening are not enough. Chevening is mostly for mid level and senior level professionals who can visit UK and get an opportunity to learn in various fields for a period of two to three months."

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Record increase in students coming to York St John University

6th February2017

Students clearly love York. York St John University has accepted a record number of students onto degree courses in 2016.

Latest figures released by UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) show a growth in both applications and acceptances at York St John.
The increase of represents a 28% growth on the number of acceptances made in the previous academic year.
That puts York St John top amongst all English universities for a rise in places offered to students.
On-demand courses The introduction of new, demand-led courses has contributed to this year’s successful student recruitment and the rise indicates that the university is doing well in a competitive market.
Vice Chancellor of York St John University Professor Karen Stanton said its ambitious growth strategy was paying off.
We have invested significantly in student facilities and continue to provide excellent teaching and learning for all our students. We have every reason to believe this growth will continue into next year and beyond.

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Southeast Launching New Engineering Program in Fall 2017

1st February2017

Southeast Missouri State University will launch a new engineering degree program beginning with the fall 2017 semester to help meet workforce demands and offer access to students seeking STEM education opportunities in southeast Missouri. Last month, the University received approval from the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) to offer a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering in Southeast’s Department of Polytechnic Studies. The CBHE acted after the University’s Board of Regents approved the new program in December 2015. “Southeast has a long history of delivering engineering-related programs in areas such as Engineering Physics, Engineering Technology, Industrial Technology and Technology Management, in addition to a minor in Engineering Physics and Southeast’s Pre-Engineering Program,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “The ability to offer this degree at Southeast will provide access to a high-skill program in a part of Missouri where some students are more place-bound due to financial constraints or familial responsibilities, and where other students are more likely to leave Missouri to pursue their education at schools in neighboring states that are closer than other institutions in Missouri. Perhaps most importantly, this program will help respond to national, state and local workforce needs.” University officials say the new program will provide much needed access to an affordable engineering program in this part of the state. Outside of this region, the nearest public institutions in Missouri with similar programs are in Rolla and Columbia, Missouri. Southeast can now offer a program closer to home for students in southeast Missouri and at a significant cost savings from Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri-Columbia. “We are grateful for the leadership of Commissioner Zora Mulligan at the Missouri Department of Higher Education and her staff for the guidance and feedback they provided us in the development of the Industrial and Systems Engineering program, and we are excited about the opportunity this degree provides Southeast to contribute significantly to the development of the southeast region and beyond,” Vargas said. For southeast Missouri to continue to compete and prosper, the region must grow and develop a highly skilled and capable STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – workforce, University officials say. Every student in southeast Missouri must have access to quality STEM education so they are prepared to enter the region’s workforce as scientifically literate graduates energized to lead and innovate in emerging and STEM fields. The need for STEM graduates is profound. According to the National Science Foundation, of higher education degrees conferred in Missouri in 2011, only 22.5 percent were in science and engineering. State, regional and national surveys have identified engineering fields among the top workplace needs. A Sept. 29, 2016, search of for industrial and systems engineering jobs within 100 miles of Cape Girardeau provided ads for 952 positions across a number of industries: operations research; quality engineers; manufacturing engineers; supply chain analytics; warehouse operations; power systems engineers; health care; and industrial sales engineers. This large number demonstrates a need for individuals with a skill set based on education in industrial and systems engineering.

In addition to the data, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) includes “industrial engineers” in their top five list for most job openings. Members of Southeast’s Department of Polytechnic Studies Advisory Committee representing the manufacturing, banking, transportation, logistics and health care sectors also have reported the need for industrial and systems engineers in this region. The field of industrial and system engineering has long been recognized as a prime source of management talent. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics, projects a total of 223,300 industrial and systems engineering jobs by 2022 with average median pay of $78,860 a year. The need is also apparent at the regional level in manufacturing and other employment sectors. That’s why Southeast has taken this important step to strengthen the state and local workforce. The K-12 population in southeast Missouri and larger region is a richly and academically talented pool. University officials believe this new program will give students interested in science and mathematics the opportunity to both pursue an engineering degree and work in the engineering field who may not have otherwise have had the opportunity to do so. John Mehner, president of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, said he believes the new program will attract students to Southeast who, without this degree option close to home, might leave Missouri to pursue their education. “As a key stakeholder in southeast Missouri, I commend Southeast for launching innovative programs like this that will assist the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce in attracting business and industry to the region that are seeking a technically educated workforce.”

Southeast’s new program will train industrial and systems engineers who design, analyze and control complex systems, such as manufacturing systems, global supply chains and service systems in healthcare and the financial sector. Industrial engineering focuses on optimizing systems for maximum efficiency, minimum cost, quality improvement, safety and other interests to systems stakeholders. In essence, they save industries and companies time, money, materials, energy and other resources. This differs from other engineering disciplines that apply skills to specific areas. “The skills of industrial and systems engineers can be applied in a wide range of areas, and more organizations are recognizing the significance of the industrial and systems engineering profession,” said Dr. Brad Deken, chair of the Department of Polytechnic Studies. “The goal of the program is to get students to understand and then optimize the products, processes, tools and technologies used in industry and other complex systems,” Deken said. While many jobs in this region for graduates of the program will be in manufacturing and related industries, the skills can be applied in municipalities, transportation and logistics, healthcare and other fields using complex systems, he said. Graduates with this degree will likely have career opportunities as industrial, systems, manufacturing, quality, product/process and plant engineers, as well as engineering analysts. “Engineering talent is a need in this region,” Deken continued. “Many of the companies attending our career fairs have consistently been recruiting for engineering fields. Companies would prefer to hire engineers from the region, but there are not enough of them. Since we are a regional institution where a majority of students come from our region and a majority of graduates stay in the region, I believe we can build this program to meet the needs of our students and industries in this region.” Fred Ducharme, senior general manager of Toyoda Gosei, TG Missouri Corp., said Southeast’s new program will attract and develop strong engineering candidates that will stay in and assist with growth in the region. “TGMO will gain access to valuable engineering talent willing to stay employed in the region,” he said. “This is needed to stabilize our technical foundation for the growth yet to come.”

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Bulletin: US announces travel ban for Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen

31st january 2017
Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • An executive order of the US President bans entry to the US for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for the next 90 days
  • The order also calls on US officials to establish strengthened screening processes for visitors to the US
  • The move has been met with widespread confusion and protests within the US and abroad
  • The order affects nearly 20,000 students and scholars currently in the United States, the vast majority of which are from Iran
  • Late Friday afternoon, newly elected US President Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively blocking entry to the United States for the next 90 days for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. The countries included in the order are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The full text of the executive order has been released by the White House. While there had been advance reports that the new US administration was contemplating such a move, the signing of the order late last week still came as a surprise to many, including affected US government agencies and front-line staff, none of which had received any advance notice or consultation around the implementation of the order. The move affects more than 17,000 students from the seven countries that are currently enrolled with US institutions, 71% of which (or 12,269 students) are from Iran. Another 2,300 scholars from the seven affected countries are currently in the US as well – and again, a strong majority of these professors and researchers (82%) are from Iran.

While the full implications of the executive order are not yet clear, here is what we know so far:

  • It prevents citizens from the affected countries, with the exception of those travelling on diplomatic credentials, from receiving a visa to enter the US.
  • It requires US officials to put in place strengthened screening processes for visitors to the US, including foreign students. This “uniform screening standard and procedure” is expected to include such measures as “in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.”
  • Over the weekend, US educators were quick to reassure foreign students and scholars that they can continue their studies uninterrupted. However, students are also being advised not to leave the US during the 90-day travel ban. Nor will family or friends from abroad be able to visit students in the US while the ban is in effect. Aside from those specific points, there has been considerable confusion and protest in the wake of the executive order. Reports indicate it has been inconsistently applied by travel operators, airport officials, and border control staff in these early days of implementation. And it is unclear what additional screening processes will be put in place following the travel ban, or how any such new provisions will affect new students, current students, foreign scholars, and US host institutions. We will have a more on this story in the coming days, particularly its longer-term implications for US educators and foreign students in the United States.

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Education portal launched in Germany for Indian students

21st january 2017

An education portal has been launched by the Indian Embassy in Berlin for Indian students in order to ease their transition there. Indian students studying, or aspiring to study, in Germany may obtain information about job opportunities, internships, scholarships, accommodation, visa and student related issues.

"Image source:"

An education portal has been launched by the Indian Embassy in Berlin for Indian students in order to ease their transition there and to keep them abreast of opportunities and events back home. Considered as the third most preferred study destination by students across the globe, Germany has emerged as the new higher education destination for the Indian students. In a survey, it was also observed that it could soon overtake the UK as the most popular study destination in Europe for international students.

About the portal is a non-commercial project/movement in association with the Indian Embassy in Berlin (Germany) with a goal to facilitate open communication and sharing of information across all the Indian students and student organisations in Germany. Indian students studying, or aspiring to study, in Germany may obtain information about job opportunities, internships, scholarships, accommodation, visa and student related issues. Germany offers low-cost or even free education to students at its schools and universities. The country is becoming an attraction for Indian students, with their numbers tripling in the last six years. The embassy also gives support to some Indian students' associations in Germany to celebrate annual festivals from time to time, through its cultural wing. Majority of Indian students there are involved in research in scientific and technological aspects and participate in the high standards of German education in these sector.

How can ISG help?

  • Will provide students with verified information through their Facebook Page
  • Will connect students with potential employers in small/medium-sized Indian/German companies through the ISG job portal
  • Will provide immediate assistance either directly or by connecting to nearest Indian associations for various issues related to admissions, jobs, visa etc.

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Why should Indian students be looking at Canada now?

11th january 2017
"The number of new immigrations to be allowed into Canada in 2017 was kept at 300,000, the same as 2016.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)"

Some good news has come in for young Indians aiming to study in Canada. The number of new immigrations to be allowed into the country in 2017 was kept at 300,000, the same as 2016. However, though there was a drop in the intake of refugees, the targets for categories most used by Indians (economic and family unification classes) were raised. Refugees and citizenship minister John McCallum also reportedly admitted recently that international students were being short-changed by unfriendly policies and laws that made it difficult for them to become Canadian citizens. An announcement would change things soon, he promised. The minister admitted that international students were not treated well and that they were among the most promising group of immigrants – as they were young, could speak English or French and knew a lot about Canada. “We’re going to give them more points under express entry and make it easier for them to become permanent residents,” McCallum promised

Education policy

However, even before these friendly moves, Canada’s new education policy in 2014 had marked India out as a priority country. Universities Canada (then the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) played an active role in consultations led by the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. It highlighted Canadian universities’ commitment to internationalisation and interest in a multi-faceted approach to international education, including two-way international student and faculty mobility, international research collaboration, joint academic programming etc. Universities Canada noted that the rapidly emerging economic powers (Brazil, China, India) were priority countries for many Canadian universities, which were also building people-to-people linkages and institutional partnerships with other emerging markets on the horizon. “The development of Canada’s International Education Strategy was informed by recommendations in the Advisory Panel’s final report,” a Universities Canada official said.

Recruiting top talent

The Canadian government was making a targeted effort to recruit top talent in India, so through various initiatives India’s students were being made aware of “Canada’s value proposition – a consistently high-quality education at an attractive price in a tolerant, diverse, safe and welcoming environment,” the official said
The numbers are growing. Between 2004-2005 and 2013-2014, the number of international ­students enrolled in Canadian universities almost doubled, from 66,000 to 124,000. Their population grew 88% between 2004-2005 and 2013-2014 even as the number of Canadian students grew by 22%.
When it came to individual source countries for Canada in 2013-2014, the top five were China (34.1%), France (7.6%), the United States (6.2%), India (5.7%), and Saudi Arabia (4.5%).

Popular fields of study

In 2013 (from the latest available data from Statistics Canada), the most popular fields of study for full-time international students from India were: architecture, engineering and related technologies (37%), business, management and public administration (22%), mathematics, computer and information sciences (12%) and physical and life sciences, and technologies (11%).
Canada was seen to be attractive for many reasons. The universities were known for high-quality, internationally-recognised education, regardless of size, location and area of focus, all at an affordable cost. English, French and bilingual universities ensured there were language barriers for English and French speakers.
Lifestyle counted too. Three Canadian cities – Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary – were among the world’s top five most livable cities, according to The Economist 2015 list. Montreal was also ranked high in 14th place. What were the problems that Indian students were likely to face? In a Quora response, Shilpa Isabella, a ‘Bangalorean in Toronto’ says the cold is hard to deal with. University is also no joke. “It is hard. B (minus) or 70% is the passing grade. In India, 70% was a distinction at my university, here it meant I barely scraped through. It doesn’t matter what course you take. Every class would need 100% commitment.”

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Now Valmiki at Dwarakanagar, Visakhapatnam

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$1m committed to education platform for displaced students

A global database of scholarships and education opportunities available to displaced and refugee students is set to launch with backing from a new philanthropic organisation, supported by former British prime minister Gordon Brown.

"Many in the higher education community have indicated that they are willing to accept refugee students. We aim to provide them with the education they deserve,” said John Sexton at the platform launch at IIE’s headquarters in New York City this month. Photo: IIE

PEER – the Platform for Education in Emergencies Response – will be the first initiative to receive support from the Catalyst Trust for University Education, a new fund founded by former NYU president John Sexton and advised by Brown.

The platform has received $1m in backing from the trust, which will join together with the Institute of International Education to build the clearinghouse. IIE will begin collating opportunities for university-aged students offered by its partners including the British Council, DAAD, Coursera for Refugees, and the Global Platform for Syrian Students.

Speaking with The PIE News, Sexton explained the trust will partner with IIE “because of the experience and ability that IIE brings to the project – in this instance, the knowledge, ability, and network of contacts to be able to identify and bring together the universities, educational institutions, NGOs, and governmental organisations offering resources for Syrian refugee college-age youth.”

The web-based mobile ready platform will give up to date information on scholarships and application guidelines, online courses and MOOCs, translation services, education and advocacy groups in both English and Arabic.

It will also connect students with personalised advising services.

“IIE will conduct in person and virtual training for advisers working directly with refugees on how to use the database, as well as provide capacity building workshops for advisers,” said an IIE spokesperson. “IIE will also work with local organisations, universities and government partners to train them on PEER.”

Universities, institutions and other stakeholders will be able to submit information on their programmes and initiatives to PEER.

Allan Goodman, president and CEO of IIE remarked, “As the crisis multiplies, there is a real prospect of a lost generation. We must not let that happen. IIE’s new partnership with the Catalyst Trust to build the PEER clearinghouse is a tremendously valuable breakthrough in connecting displaced students with resources anywhere in the world.”

When the conflict in Syria started more than five years ago, over a quarter of the country’s 18-24 year olds were already enrolled in tertiary education. Now four million Syrian children are out of school, including at least 150,000 university-qualified Syrians who were enrolled in university or on track to do so when war broke out, according to the UNHCR.

The Catalyst Trust was founded to support “initiatives that bring educational opportunities directly to the neediest children”. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown chairs the organisation’s advisory board and is also the United Nations special envoy on global education.

“We are looking to spark a wide spectrum of education-related activities — especially activities that are innovative and have the potential to scale up in a meaningful way — that will advance our mission of expanding access to a meaningful education for children in difficult situations,” said Sexton.

“Once our seed projects have taken on a life of their own, we will step back altogether, let our partners take over entirely, and move on to the next initiative.”

PEER will focus on displaced Syrian students initially but aims to expand the platform to add assistance and opportunities for K-12 students, with the long term goal of helping students at all levels displaced by conflict from anywhere in the world.

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Norway scores highest for international student satisfaction

Norway has claimed the top spot in this year’s international student satisfaction awards from StudyPortals, overtaking Ireland which came out on top last year.

"The University of Oslo (pictured) was rated as 'outstanding'. Photo: flickr/urban_lenny"

Based on 15,965 online reviews from international students who studied abroad in Europe on StudyPortals’ in 2015-2016, Norway scored 9.26 out of 10, regaining the lead for the Nordic countries. Last year’s first place, Ireland, dropped to second with 9.19.

Despite only being ahead by 0.1, Norway “has always performed well in terms of international student satisfaction,” Manon Bolderman at StudyPortals told The PIE News. “But this year the recent changes in terms of university mergers and reorganisation might have something to do with students in general being happier with the new system,” she said.This year, five universities were formed as a result of merging existing institutions, with the aim of improving quality in higher education and research.

The availability of courses taught in English, along with the helpful faculty members and friendly students, were plus points pulled out by international students in their online reviews.

“The combination of a great course structure, good professors and their teaching methods exceeded my expectations,” said one student from Brazil, studying in Norway.

Poland, which last year had a score of 8.85 and came in at sixth place, jumped up to the third highest ranked by international students this year with a score of 9.09.

“Polish universities are becoming more well known amongst European students,” commented Bolderman. “And the universities are very well prepared to welcome the students.”

The reviews regularly referred to the lively student environment, the cities and the people, according to Bolderman.

“Cheap accommodation in dormitories with lots of other Erasmus students,” was one advantage of studying in the country, noted an Italian student in their review.

“Good courses to learn Polish. Everything is cheap,” they added.

Students from France were the most satisfied with their time abroad, according to the awards, with the average French student rating their experience at 9.03.

On the other hand, those from Finland and the Netherlands were the least satisfied, which could be attributed to the education experience at home versus abroad, said Bolderman.

“Since Finnish and Dutch universities usually offer quite a high teaching quality and great student experience, it can be that Finnish and Dutch students have really high expectations when going abroad, which some of the host countries can simply not live up to,” she commented. Meanwhile, 153 individual universities qualified for an award, for having over 20 reviews with an average score of between 8 and 10 for student satisfaction.

Fourteen of these were rated as ‘outstanding’, including Poland’s AGH University of Science and Technology, and Wroclaw University, and Norway’s University of Oslo. This marks the fourth edition of the student satisfaction awards with reviews collected on

Taking into account all the reviews, the overwhelming majority of students were very satisfied with their study experience abroad, with the average score being 8.8 out of 10.

Only 7.3% of all respondents scored their experience 6 out of 10 or lower.

News Partner: THE PIE NEWS

NACAC amends code of ethics to improve transparency in agent use

On Saturday, September 24, NACAC added two amendments instructing institutions to ensure agents they work with tell students which institutions are compensating them.

NACAC’s members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the latest amendments to the SPGP at the association's national conference over the weekend. Photo: Chuck Fazio Photography.

And in their own promotional materials targeting international students, institutions should “offer to verify whether they have authorised any third party agents to represent them and indicate how students may request this verification”.

NACAC’s members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the latest amendments to the SPGP at the association’s annual national conference in Columbus, Ohio, with a majority of 194 to 8.

The update is “rooted in a desire to see more light shining on a practice that’s too often shrouded in secrecy”, Eddie West, director of international initiatives at NACAC, told The PIE News.

The amendments were tabled in response to a request by NACAC’s affiliate, International ACAC, to “do more to promote transparency, accountability and integrity among international student recruitment practitioners”, he said. International ACAC had particular concerns over ‘double dipping’ – when agents pocket a fee from both the student and the institution.

“International students and their families are often unaware that the agencies who are advising them are doing so on a per-capita commissions basis,” West added. “Instead, they mistakenly assume they’re receiving unbiased, objective advice.”

Agent use for international recruitment in the US is lower than in other study destinations, such as Australia and the UK.

However, in recent years, more colleges have begun to work with overseas agents, particularly after NACAC amended its SPGP in 2013 to permit their use. Until then, the organisation had been publicly against working with agents and there was heated debate over whether it should endorse the practice.

“If members choose to use incentive-based agents when working with international students outside the US, they will ensure accountability, transparency, and integrity,” the SPGP states.

Over the last three years, NACAC has stepped up its work to encourage best practice in international student recruitment, particularly when it comes to agents. In 2014, the organisation published a guide on how to work with agents.

“We believe [working with agents] is inherently risky – risky to institutions and to students alike, though in different ways,” West said. “Without direct and vigorous regulation by the US government, we feel we have an important role to play in promoting more transparency and quality assurance. “That’s especially true since we feel some responsibility for the uptick in the practice, since it’s occurred after we voted to permit the activity among our member institutions a few years ago.”

News Partner: THE PIE NEWS

U.S. Department of State Announces New Cultural Heritage Initiatives

At a reception held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 20 during the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly and attended by the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, new State Department projects were announced designed to help preserve and protect endangered cultural heritage resources and to strengthen U.S. Government interagency coordination of these efforts. This announcement followed a panel discussion hosted by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan and Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South and Central Asia Knox Thames entitled, “Today’s Struggle to Protect and Preserve the Cultural Heritage of Religious Minorities.”

Cultural heritage sites and objects can promote peace building, ethnic reconciliation and economic prosperity. We are working to end the theft, looting and trafficking of cultural heritage objects, and supporting the training of professionals to secure them during and after conflict.

Implementation of HR1493 and Creation of Interagency Cultural Heritage Coordination Body
In the wake of President Obama's signing into law of the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (HR1493) on May 9, the Department of State, in close coordination with the Departments of Treasury and Homeland Security, has moved rapidly to implement emergency import restrictions that prevent Syrian archeological and ethnological material from illegally entering the United States. The State Department is also creating a new interagency coordination body to raise awareness and capacity building in cultural heritage preservation and protection efforts, and strengthen law enforcement efforts against trafficking in antiquities and terrorist financing. The new coordination body will hold its first meeting in October 2016.

Increased Funding for Cultural Antiquities Task Force (CATF)
The State Department has made available an additional $500,000 for projects and activities led by the Cultural Antiquities Task Force to combat the theft, looting and trafficking of historically and culturally significant objects originating in other countries. This funding will support additional training opportunities for U.S. and international customs agents, further analysis of web-based antiquities trafficking, and initiatives aimed at assisting countries which find themselves on major cultural property trafficking routes. The Task Force was established in 2004 with the objective of coordinating efforts across federal agencies, including law enforcement, to block trafficking in cultural property.

Training for the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) in Erbil
In Fall 2016, the State Department will support the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage’s efforts towards long-term protection of cultural heritage by funding the training of IICAH Master Trainers. The heritage professionals will be given professional development plans and focused instruction on pedagogical techniques, as well as classroom and laboratory management to utilize in concert with the State Department funded Preservation and Restoration of Archeological Ceramics course. The State Department has supported capacity building for IICAH since 2008.

Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Religious Minorities
In August 2016, the State Department, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, convened a workshop at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage to better understand the cultural preservation needs of religious and ethnic minorities in northern Iraq and to help them understand steps they can take to protect and preserve their religious and cultural patrimony. In addition, again in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the State Department funded the creation of a training manual for Kurdish and Iraqi security forces to educate them on protecting cultural and religious heritage sites in and around Mosul in preparation for the upcoming liberation. Lastly, in July, the State Department convened a major international meeting with over 30 different countries including the European Union, the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on ways to protect religious and ethnic minorities who have been victimized by Da’esh, with a special emphasis on protecting the religious and cultural heritage of ethnic and religious minorities.

News Partner: U.S. Department of State