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Canada Seeks to Attract International Students; Agencies Combine Recruitment Efforts

Five major university associations in Canada have agreed to form an international student marketing campaign to help attract more international students to Canada.  The Canadians are responding aggressively to increased competition from the U.S., U.K. and Australia, countries which are hoping to attract international students to their own universities.  Canada has the smallest international student population at this point but that might change if Canada is successful in reaching international students.  Heretofore, Canada has been the best-kept secret among international students and many are not fully aware of Canada’s advantages:

  • Lower Tuition – Average international student tuition in Canada is $13,985, which is significantly less than international student tuition at any 4-year U.S. university, e.g. $24,367 at the University of Washington (public),  $40,169 at the University of Southern California (private).
  • Lower Living Costs – The average living costs for students at a Canadian university is $9,569 USD whereas the average living costs for a student at an American university is $18,060.
  • Internationally Respected Institutions – Canadian universities are respected internationally, with Canada placing 23 universities in the ARWU Top 500 World University Rankings, with only four countries placing more: Japan (36), the U.K. (42), Germany (43), and the U.S. (170).  This showing is even more impressive considering Canada has only 34 million people compared to 61 million for the U.K., 82 million for Germany, and 127 million for Japan.   Australia, with a population of 21 million, placed 14 universities in the ARWU top 500.
  • Open Immigration Policy – Unlike the United States, which limits HB-1 worker visas for skilled immigrants at 65,000 per year, Canada has made it easier for skilled immigrants to obtain worker visas.  The process for getting a worker visa is even easier for students with a degree from a Canadian university.  This allows international students to stay in Canada after college to get work experience and polish their English skills.
  • Better Quality Control – Universities in Canada have to meet a higher minimum standard of quality than U.S. universities because universities in Canada are regulated by provincial governments.  In some provinces such as Ontario, universities can only be established through an act of the provincial legislature. Conversely, U.S. universities can form independently and are not regulated by government bodies.  The only form of quality control in the U.S. is accreditation, where a university is given formal approval by a private accrediting body.  These private accrediting bodies are independent of the government and can use any standards they wish in accrediting institutions.  As a result, there are many universities accredited in the U.S. that would not the meet standards of minimum quality enforced by governments in Canada, the U.K., or Australia.

The Guide to Student Visas and the U.S. Immigration System

Many students attend college in the United States precisely because they want to live in the United States.  Some want to live there for only as long as they are students, while others want to live in there beyond their college years. Some want to live only for a time, while others hope to live permanently.  No matter what the nature of the stay, all guests will have to deal with a dysfunctional immigration system.  Compared to that of similar countries like the U.K., Canada, and Australia, the United States’ immigration system is relatively restrictive towards skilled immigrants.  As of this writing, the annual limit on HB-1 worker visas, for skilled foreign workers, is 65,000 people.

Although international students are in the U.S. to acquire skills, the U.S. considers international students to be non-immigrant, temporary visitors instead of immigrants.  This distinction expresses their expectation that the students will return to their home countries after their period of study.  For this reason, the U.S. allows a significant amount of students into the United States for study, issuing 331,208 F-1 visas and 313,957 J-1 visas in 2009.

Australian University report criticises ‘cash cow’ policy

THE federal government failed to safeguard Indian students because of its fixation with income from the lucrative international education industry and its desperate need to tackle labour shortages, a new analysis has found.

“The policy linking education and migration was aimed at getting ‘designer migrants’ to satisfy Australia’s needs for a younger professional labour force at little cost,” says a paper published by Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research.

It says students were poorly served by government policy linking education, skilled labour and migration, and this contributed to Indian students becoming vulnerable to racism.

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// The analysis comes after criticism that international students have been exploited as “cash cows”.

The paper says the link between education and permanent residency attracted unprecedented numbers of fee-paying students with poor English from rural India, particularly into vocational education. There are now more than 400,000 Indians living in Australia, with Indian students comprising nearly one-third of that community.

The research says a lack of “student-centredness in the educational/migration/skilled labour policy” meant inadequate regulation of educational standards, growth of unscrupulous agents and poor safety and security left students vulnerable.

“Another reason for the policy failure was that policy was focused solely on educational income and labour outcomes rather than on the motivations of the students and potential migrants,” the paper says.

International education, a $17 billion industry, is Australia’s third-largest export earner. It is Victoria’s biggest export industry, bringing in more than $4 billion a year to the state.

The federal government last year moved to tighten skilled migration rules and crack down on unscrupulous colleges. The reforms are aimed at weakening the link between education and migration by shifting to a demand-driven skilled migration program.

Sally Tindall, a spokeswoman for Education Minister Julia Gillard, blames the previous Coalition government for the problems in the industry. She says: “The Howard government opened up the gates for student visas without any due thought for proper regulation of the industry or its long-term viability. Since coming into government we’ve been working hard to get the appropriate regulations in place.”

The Rudd government, which took office in 2007, started introducing reforms last year after media revelations of “dodgy” colleges and violent attacks on Indian students made international headlines.

The analysis by RMIT academics Supriya Singh and Anuja Cabraal is based on 41 interviews with first and second-generation Indian migrants, and religious and community leaders.

They say that, unlike previous professional Indians who came from large cities and migrated with their families from the 1970s onwards, recent Indian migrants are largely students who are often financially stressed. The family investment in education as a pathway to migration is based on expectations of future prosperity for the student migrant and for his or her family, they say.

“In the small towns and villages of Punjab [from where many students migrate], the excitement was not about the excellence of Australia’s education, but the brick houses that have been built with the money sent home by migrants,” they say.

In 2008, India received $US52 billion ($A62 billion) in remittances from around the world.

Interestingly, the researchers directly connect poor government policy with racial attacks on Indian students. “They have also been poorly served by the government’s policy linking education, skilled labour and migration. These factors are contributing to Indian students becoming vulnerable to racism, particularly in the streets of Melbourne,” they say.

Police say Indian students are vulnerable to attacks, some of which are racially motivated, because they travel to and from part-time jobs on public transport late at night and often live in poor, high-crime, outer suburbs where housing is cheaper.

The researchers are critical of Indian religious groups, who they say have failed to come together to engage in joint advocacy against racism. They are also critical of Indian organisations generally, because of their failure to connect with other ethnic groups facing similar discrimination.

The Council of Australian Governments has agreed to introduce measures to improve the safety and well-being of international students, including an independent statutory complaints body for colleges and co-ordinated information on student safety and their workplace rights.

Melbourne’s business community is set to make international student safety a priority, with the Committee for Melbourne and the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry promising to develop a voluntary program to provide cultural and safety information to shift workers new to Melbourne.

Are the SATs Required for International Students?

Today, millions of students around the world sat down for the most important 4 hours of their teenage lives: the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  A handful of well-prepared students went home elated, most went home dejected.  None will know exactly how dejected to feel until the scores are available.

The SATs are a rite of passage for high school students in the U.S.  In no other situation is so much determined by so little.   The test is almost compulsory for American students, with high schools administering PSATs early to get students in gear for the big day.

For international students, the SAT process is not so simple.  There are a number of misconceptions about the SAT that deter students from studying for it.  Many students are under the impression that they are not required to take the SAT because they are not U.S. citizens.  This is patently wrong.  The decision of whether to accept SAT scores is not a national U.S. policy, it is an individual school policy, meaning it is determined on a school-by-school basis.

Most universities, especially the top universities, require applicants to submit SAT scores along with the application, even if the applicant is an international student.

It is true that there are some schools that do not require SAT scores from international students, but these are mainly 2 year community colleges and other nontraditional colleges.

Also, a student hurts her chances of getting financial aid if the student does not submit an SAT score.   Some universities out there are more concerned with the Math score than the Verbal/Writing score.  Thus, less than perfect English should not deter you from attempting the SAT.

Japanese Students Pass on American Universities

Waseda University

Japanese students value the safety of Japanese universities

For the international students competing to get into top American Universities, you will have one less country to worry about.  Japanese students are taking a decidedly cautious attitude towards American  Universities.

The Japanese have always been frugal, but also the most willing to invest in any skills or technology necessary to increase their competitiveness.   What has changed?  Young Japanese people now think that an American college degree is a “questionable” investment.  Perhaps two decades of recession has spoiled this generation’s appetite for risk.

I am impressed that there are young people who think critically about life after college when making their decision about where to attend college.  Planning for life after college is a practice we constantly emphasize on this blog.

That being said, let us reexamine American education as an investment for Japanese students:

1) Cost

Japanese universities are less crowded now and easier to get in to.  Conversely, American Universities are even more crowded and more expensive than they were 20 years ago.  Thus, a Japanese student would be giving up a cheaper, safer option for a more expensive option with higher upside but of very uncertain utility back in Japan.

2) Benefit

The number one concern for most students is whether they will be able to find a good job, in their field of study, after college.   In Japan, people are not as impressed with an American college degree as in other countries, though they are impressed with the ability to speak English, which an American degree does not guarantee.

Also, under the traditional Japanese corporate model, Japanese companies hire students fresh out of college, train them to their particular company’s standards, and employ them for life.  Thus, the company is usually relied on for education and training.  Because firms like to hire from the alma maters of the hiring managers, Japanese universities serve more as an instrument for accreditation than centers of human development and learning.  Students worked hard to get admitted into universities and, after gaining admission, are not expected to do much while waiting for employment.

The difference now is that lifetime employment is no longer guaranteed to corporate employees in Japan.  Employment is no longer guaranteed to students coming out of university nor to current employees at Japanese companies.   There is much more job-hopping and reapplying, which makes the job market more dynamic and challenging for everyone.

Thus, while Japanese universities are easier to get into, the payoff is not as certain as it used to be.   Are Japanese universities also a “questionable” investment?   We will look peer a little deeper into this question later this week.

U.K. Universities and Recruiters Scolded for Treating Foreign Students as Cash Cows.

In a scathing rebuke of university administrators in the U.K., British Council Chief Executive, Martin Davidson, accuses certain U.K. universities of treating foreign students as “cash cows”, admitted for their tuition dollars instead of their minds.  He characterizes their newfound appreciation of international students as an gimmick meant to patch up their budgets at a time of financial hardship.  Davidson’s criticism gets to the crux of an increasingly prevalent phenomenon among english-speaking universities the world over.

British Council CEO Martin Davidson is not at all pleased with the way U.K. universities are pursuing foreign students.

Can one really blame universities for adjusting their admissions policies to bring in more tuition revenue?  The British Council seems to think so.  Perhaps the element missing in the approach of these universities is a true commitment to diversity and international engagement.  That commitment would make a university’s efforts to attract international students more sincere and constructive.

For now, the number one priority for U.K. universities should be to mitigate the damage of this attack from the British Council.  The reverberations of this criticism might even extend into the admissions cycle.

Need-Blind and Need-Aware: Admissions Policies that Guarantee Full Financial Aid and How Those Policies Can Hurt Your Chances for Admission

Lady Justice

Justice, said to be blind as well, is sometimes able to smell money.

Adding yet another layer of complexity to the process of selecting colleges, U.S. colleges are now redefining their policies on need-blind and need-aware admissions.  Typically, certain schools maintain a policy where every student they admit will be able to attend the school without taking on too much debt (less than $5,000/4 years).  This policy requires to offer grants to admitted students who cannot pay for the cost of attendance on their own.

However, this policy can get expensive if the school admits too many financially “needy” students.  This is because the school is forced to pay for the students irrespective of whether the school can afford it that year.  To prevent budget deficits, some schools will refuse to admit too many financially “needy” students, even if those students are perfectly qualified applicants.  These schools are considered “need-aware” in admissions because financial need plays a factor in their admissions decision.

Conversely, schools that are “need-blind” do not factor financial need into the admissions decision.  “Need-blind” schools will admit students based solely on merit and only later figure out the financial aid package for each admitted student.  Sometimes, these “need-blind” schools will not be able to ensure that every admitted student can attend without taking on student debt.  Even worse, some students who claim to be “need-blind” actually end up admitting much less financial “needy” students than “need-aware” schools.

Continue reading ‘Need-Blind and Need-Aware: Admissions Policies that Guarantee Full Financial Aid and How Those Policies Can Hurt Your Chances for Admission’