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Five for Friday

We are pleased to present the latest instalment in our occasional column “Five for Friday.” The following is a quick hit-list of some of the more eye-catching and varied items that we’ve been reading lately, and we present them here for your end-of-week reading pleasure.

Australia on the up

The government recently announced that streamlined visa processing (SVP) arrangements will be extended to students enrolled in advanced diploma level courses at low immigration risk providers. Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, said, “This will enable eligible education providers in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and higher education sector to directly access SVP.”

Numbers are on the rebound in Australia, with its Ministry of Education reporting that international education contributed AUS$15 billion to the Australian economy in 2013, a 3.8% increase over the previous year. The results reflect the enrolment boost Australia recorded in 2013, reversing a three-year decline.

Germany up too

The number of international students in Germany is now 300,909, a 6.6% increase over last year, according to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The country is making solid progress towards its goal to attract 350,000 foreign students by 2020.

Branching out into Bangladesh and Pakistan

We’ve seen some slowing down of branch campuses over the last year or so, however, it appears that interest remains strong in certain areas of the world, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

University World News has reported that the Bangladesh government has finally pushed through a law allowing foreign universities to establish and operate branches or study centres in the country. The rule also applies to their local representatives, as well as joint venture initiatives with any local university or investors in Bangladesh. Student numbers in Bangladesh have risen sharply over the last six years, and the country’s 78 private and 34 public universities cannot meet the demands of its student population.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, last month three universities (Britain’s University of Lancaster, Noor International University of Bangladesh and Scotland’s University of Strathclyde) inked deals to open campuses in the country’s first “knowledge park” in Lahore, Punjab province. The government plans to break ground for the park next month, and the region is keen to attract more foreign universities (from the UK, Turkey, Malaysia, etc.) to set up campuses there.

The project is part of a ten-year development plan, with other ambitions throughout the country such as “new degree programmes at various universities, expansion or construction of new academic facilities, enhancement or provision of research facilities, building of new universities or new campuses at existing universities, new institutes or chairs in public universities, scholarships, and upgrading some big colleges into universities.” The higher education budget was just increased to Rs20 billion (US$200 million), and going forward, the government “will most likely put the responsibility of funding of universities on the provinces, but universities located in the federal capital territory will continue to receive funds from the central government.”

China get technical

China has announced that it will turn at least half (600) of its public universities into institutions of applied learning or polytechnics to produce more technically trained graduates. The change is expected to help the country fill future jobs in the medical and STEM sectors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Saudi Arabia prepares for the future

The Saudi kingdom has approved a five-year plan valued at SAR80 billion (US$21.33 billion) to develop its education sector. New schools and more teachers are needed to accommodate for its burgeoning youth population. In addition, 27 new technical colleges will be opened across the Kingdom in September to help the country meet future job requirements.

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