Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hyderabad sends more students to US than Delhi, Mumbai

If the American educational system were to seek a mascot to advertise itself, a nerdy Indian grad student or geeky Chinese undergraduate would be ideal; a combination of the two would be perfect. It is no secret that tens of thousands of students from these two countries covet the American degree, as much as US institutions crave for the students (because of the money, brains, and prestige they bring), which is why American varsity officials often go on expeditions to these catchment areas. In a sense, it has long been thought to be a symbiotic relationship. Foreign students pour in billions of dollars into the U.S economy to get a prized American degree.

Whether their home countries benefit for it or whether the US does is something that is still up in the air. From all accounts, more than 50 per cent of the students return to their home country with a newly-minted American degree, but a large number stay back in the US. If corporate America has its way, every single science graduate should stay back, a Green Card or a work visa stapled to his degree. Increasingly, in a globalized world, they also go back and forth. To what extent and how well this business operates has long sought to be extracted and extrapolated from reports such as Open Doors, an annual study tracks the inflow of foreign students to the United States.

But the Washington DC think tank Brookings Institution has produced a report that builds significantly on Open Doors with a kind of granular data that provides arresting details --- and some correction to long held perceptions --- including which countries and cities the students come from, how much they spend for their degree etc. For instance, it has long been thought Indians student population in the US is approximately 100,000 (based on Open Doors study) but the Brookings report, based on data from 2008 to 2012, puts the number of Indian F-1 visa holders (for full-time students) at 168,034, ranking it next to China at first place (out of 74 countries) with 284,179 F-1 visa holders. South Korea came third at about 110,000 F-1 holders. Saudi Arabia is a surprise 4th with 53,000 and neighboring Canada 5th at 51,000.

From India's own neighborhood, Bangladesh (5,319) has almost as many students in the US as Pakistan (curiously low at 5,767). But the real surprise is Nepal, which got nearly 20,000 F-1 visas, compared to Sri Lanka's 4,113. Another surprise is Iran with 9611 F-1s compared to Israel's 4,588. Whether this speaks to great Israeli universities, poor institutions in Nepal, or the drive of its students, is hard to say. The Pakistani count seems surprisingly low but it is entirely possible they are being more tightly screened for visas. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia sent 53,528 students to the US in the same 2008-2012 time frame (fourth highest in the list of countries after China, India, and South Korea) and who can forget that among the perpetrators of 9/11 were Saudis?

Overall, the report says, a record 21 percent of the world's students who are going abroad for their education came to the United States. Over the five-year period of 2008 to 2012, foreign students contributed $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in living costs to 118 metro areas that are each home to at least 1,500 students. Just 45 percent of these students, however, extended their visas after graduation and got jobs, under the optional practical training (OPT) program, in the regions where they studied. OPT allows foreign students on F-1 visas to work between 12 and 29 months after they graduate from a US higher educational institution.

A closer scrutiny of Indian student traffic flow provides some remarkable insights. For instance, Hyderabad (26,220) was issued the most F-1 visas from India (nearly 30,000 when combined with Secunderabad). This is almost as much as Mumbai (17,294), Pune (5,551) and Delhi (8,728) combined. In fact, there are more students in the US from undivided Andhra Pradesh (by a long shot when you add the 2,000 each from Vijayawada and Visakapatnam) than any other state in India. Chennai (9,141) and Bangalore (8,835) are running neck and neck in F-1 recipients, with Ahmedabad and Vadodara together accounting for about 9,000 F-1s. Incidentally, Seoul and Beijing topped the list of cities issued the most F-1 student visas with around 50,000 each.

The outlier here is Kolkota, which was issued only 3,881 F-1s, but here is the twist in the tale. While a majority of students from other Indian cities came to the US for their master's degree, a large percentage (44%) of Kolkatans came to the US for their doctorate. For Hyderabad, the comparable percentage of doctoral students was only 5 per cent, for Chennai 14 per cent. This would suggest a sound master's program in West Bengal that keeps students at home before they emplane to the US for their Ph.D.

The study also shows that two-thirds of foreign students are studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) or business, management and marketing fields, compared to 48 percent of US students. STEM preference is particularly pronounced among Indians students. Of the 168,000 F-1 visa holders from India, an amazing 70 per cent came to the US to study STEM subjects, nearly 80 per cent of them in masters program and 11 per cent at the doctoral level. Only around 8,000 students came to study social sciences.

Here's the break up of what Indian students studied in the US between 2008 and 2012: Engineering (53,153); Computer and Information Sciences and support services (42,092); Business, Management, Marketing, and related support services (31,796); Biological and Biomedical Sciences (8,837); and Health Professions and related programs (8,672).

Overall, Indian students ponied up more than $ 5 billion in the 2008-2012 period to study in the US ($ 3.1 billion in tuition fees and $ 2 billion in living expenses) with students from Hyderabad and Mumbai coughing up $ 1.3 billion ($ 650 million from each city). How much --- or what --- India gets out of it (besides foreign exchange remittance from those who decide to stay on in the US) is an area that merits greater attention.

Lapping up this munificence from foreign students are 118 metro areas in the US that the Brookings report assessed as having the largest numbers of foreign students while measuring their monetary contributions to their economy. New York and Honolulu had the highest percentage (75 percent) of graduates working for a local employer. Seattle, Miami, and Las Vegas also ranked high for students who remained in their areas to work after graduating.

While large population centers, such as New York and Los Angeles, have high numbers of foreign students, small or mid-sized metro areas that are home to large universities have the most significant concentrations of these students within their broader student bodies. Ithaca, New York (home to Cornell University) tops the list with 71.2 F-1 students per 1,000, compared to 22.4 for the nation as a whole. Boston, Massachusetts and Santa Barbara, California also rank at the top of the list.

University of Southern California, Columbia University in NYC, and University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign (UIUC, which is jocularly referred to as University of Indians and University of Chinese) were the magnets for foreign students, each taking in around 13,000 F-1 visa holders. NYU, City University of New York (CUNY) and Purdue hosted around 11,000 each.

While this data suggests that foreign students typically flock to metropolises (New York region alone hosted more than 100,000 foreign students; LA and Boston more than 50,000 each), the foreign student inflow is also a boon to small university towns such as Lafayette and Bloomington in Indiana and Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

The Brookings report makes no secret of the fact that it sees the foreign student inflow as an economic bonanza for the US that Washington and local metropolises should capitalize on. The report offers a two-pronged approach to help metropolitan leaders realize the full benefit of foreign students' local presence. These include: Leveraging foreign student connections with their home communities abroad to facilitate and deepen economic exchange.

"Foreign students," it says, "offer valuable knowledge of the business, cultural and societal norms of their city and country of origin and so can serve as a bridge to help globalize local economies." It also advocates retaining foreign student skills by (1) developing programs to connect graduates to employers located in the school's metropolitan area, (2) helping local employers obtain the necessary visas for foreign graduates with in-demand skills and (3) advocating for immigration reform to make more visas available for graduates who want to stay in the US.

"Increasingly, US colleges and universities are educating the world's business, scientific and political leaders of the future. Metropolitan leaders should capitalize on this trend to strengthen their position in the global marketplace by giving local employers access to a larger pool of workers with valuable skills and knowledge already living in their areas," says Neil Ruiz, associate fellow for the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and author of the report.

Source: The Times of India, August 31, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Premji set to buy 10% in Manipal Education for Rs. 9 billion

India's richest tech billionaire and Wipro boss Azim Premji is set to invest Rs. 9 00 crore ($150 million) for over 10% stake in Manipal Global Education Services, people directly familiar with the matter said.

PremjiInvest, the proprietary investment fund of the Wipro chairman, is in the final lap of deal making, which could be announced soon. This will be the single largest investment by Premji, 69, with estimated net worth of $16 billion, and broader interests in the education sector.

Manipal Global, the for-profit education arm of the Bangalore headquartered Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), operates a string of overseas campuses stretching from the Caribbean to Malaysia. India's largest education services company also operates test and assessment centers, skills development platforms and employment exchanges.

Ranjan Pai led MEMG consists of Manipal Global Education Services, Manipal Hospitals, stem cell company Stempeutics Research Private Limited and Manipal Servicecorp Facility Management.

PremjiInvest with a corpus of nearly $1.6 invests in both public and private equity, structured instruments and in real estate, which is typical of the large family offices globally. Three years ago, Premji pledged to donate $2 billion to improve universal education in India. He transferred a part of his Wipro shares to Azim Premji Trust, which runs a foundation and a university.

Interestingly, this will be Premji's return to Manipal Global after the promoter bought back shares of him and three other investors — IDFC, Capital International and Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy's Catamaran Ventures — for Rs. 14.5 billion some 18 months ago. Sources cited earlier said Premji was not a seller but exited along with other investors who wanted to cash out with an 18% annualized return.

Senior officials at Manipal Global and Premji Invest declined comment on the story citing a policy of not confirming or denying market speculations. An emailed query to PremjiInvest Chief Investment Officer Prakash Parthasarathy remained unanswered.

Manipal Global had a consolidated revenue of Rs. 11.7 billion and operating profit of Rs. 3.51 billion in FY13. The financial numbers for the last fiscal could not be obtained immediately. The company operates a string of foreign university campuses in Antigua, Dubai, Malaysia and Nepal. Antigua is among the biggest campuses in the Caribbean, admitting more than 600 medical students every year, with $140,000 in fees for a five-year course.

Source: The Times of India, August 26, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ranking of educational institutions to include social responsibilities

The ranking system of higher educational institutions being evolved by IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) will also factor in their social responsibilities. Since all institutions — from elite IITs to general state universities — give reservation to students, it should not become a negative point while assessing the quality of an institution, sources said.

A workshop on the ranking system decided to set up a committee to oversee the process. It was attended by vice-chancellors of central universities, directors of IITs/NITs and senior officials from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT-Madras and Partha P. Chakrabarti, Director, IIT-Kharagpur, who are resource persons for the scheme, apprised the workshop about the merits of having a scientific ranking system. They also dwelt on the international ranking system like the one done by Time, UK.

Many VCs pointed out that unlike in the West, education in India is not a business and falls more in the realm of social responsibility. "We have to teach subjects that might not be found attractive for ranking purposes and might bring down the rank of a university by a few notches. Indian ranking should keep that into account rather than blindly following the western model," said VC of a central university. Another VC said, "It is a good move and will help in separating reality from perception. Many universities are still living off their legacy. A broad common parameter should be evolved so that technical and non-technical institutions are on the same plane."

The seeds of Indian ranking system grew out of a conference of VCs of central universities organized by Rashtrapati Bhavan in February. President Pranab Mukherjee had asked central universities to benefit from the expertise of IITs in ranking process. He had also asked them to create a designated cell and appoint a nodal officer to work on the ranking system.

Source: The Times of India, August 22, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tatas give IIT Bombay Rs. 950 million for Design Centre

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) has received Rs. 950 million, the largest donation in its history, to set up a centre to develop hi-tech products and solutions for consumers and industry that lie at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

On the lines of the Tata Center for Technology and Design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, the Tata group has granted Rs. 950 million to IIT-B for a period of five years to develop design and engineering principles suited to the needs of people and communities with limited resources. An MoU has been signed by both the parties, and the Centre at IIT-B, also called Tata Center for Technology and Design (TCTD), has started functioning from July. On August 20 and 21, fellows from MIT and IIT-Bombay will come together for a brainstorming session under the aegis of the centre.

The focus of the Centre would be to develop technology-driven solutions appropriate for the bottom sections of the consumer and business base, with a special focus on India, and development of human resources trained in identification of unmet technological needs, their solutions, and their placement in the market.

Speaking to the TOI, Prof. Devang V Khakhar, Director, IIT-Bombay, said the Centre would focus on "frugal engineering". What we are going to do here is to come up with products which are high in technology but affordable. Students and faculties from all departments can participate as this is a virtual Centre," he said. "The Centre will support research work for postgraduate and PhD scholars, although there is no bar for undergraduate students," added Khakhar.

Tata Fellows for the Centre have already been appointed. The Centre envisages designing items not only for consumers belonging to the low income group, but products like medical devices too. The institute has also singed an MoU with MIT to work on some projects under this Centre, informed Khakhar.

The Centre will have a three-pronged activity structure comprising research, academic and administrative activities. The areas identified for research would broadly include — water, healthcare, affordable housing, energy and environment, food and agriculture, human-powered mobility devices, education and crafts development. The Centre will also give students exposure to design, innovation and entrepreneurship by way of course work, laboratory work and projects. A year-long master's dissertation will focus on development of a high-value product/process for targeted consumers. Doctoral students enrolled with other disciplines will be able to pursue research in projects undertaken at the Centre.

Source: The Times of India, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

IIM-Calcutta first to enter elite B-schools club

The Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) is now in the elite list of 716 B-schools globally as Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) announced the new members of this exclusive club. With this IIM-Calcutta becomes the first IIM to receive this accreditation, which is considered to be the gold standard of by B-schools and less than 5% of the global business programme being accredited by it. IIM-C is only the third Indian B-school to be accredited by AACSB -- two other are Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and T A Pai Management Institute, Karnataka.

In all there are 716 B-schools across 48 countries which have received AACSB accreditation. Apart from AACSB, the other global accreditation bodies are Association of MBA (AMBA), European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). IIM-Calcutta is already accredited by UK's AMBA.

Terming this as a big opportunity for the B-school, Saibal Chattopadhyay, Director, IIM-Calcutta said: "We have been waiting for this for a long time. To be assessed globally and then be a part of the exclusive club of 716 B-schools is a great opportunity. Therefore this is a major breakthrough for us."

IIM-Calcutta underwent five years of assessment by AACSB, and based on 21 standard assessments of which 19 are applicable to the B-school, as it don't offer any undergraduate programme, has been given accreditation for a period of five years.

"We all like to be a global player, to have international faculty and students and with this accreditation we will be a part of the top international network of B-schools. What helped us is that we think differently in our continuous improvement. We were assessed on our international research and their relevance, faculty and student quality, infrastructure, financial stability, among other. With this accreditation our responsibility has become many manifold. And indeed this is a huge opportunity for us to go global," added Chattopadhyay.

All accredited schools must go through a peer review process every five years in order to retain their accreditation. AACSB International also announced that ESPAE-Graduate School of Management (Ecuador), National Central University (Chinese Taipei), Newcastle University (United Kingdom) and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) have earned accreditation in business, and Northumbria University (United Kingdom) has earned accreditation in accounting.

Source: The Times of India, August 19, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Indian Institute of Science among top 500 in Chinese world ranking

Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is the lone Indian institution to bag a spot in the top 500 in an annual ranking of global educational institutions dominated by American universities, according to a list released by a Chinese organisation on Friday.

Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science, conceived as a 'Research Institute' by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, in the final years of the 19th century, has been placed in the world rank category of 301-400 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

IISc, ranked as the top Indian university, was placed in the category of 151-200 in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics category, similar to the previous year's rankings. In the academic ranking of world universities for Chemistry, the premier institute has been placed in the category of 51-75 global ranking, similar to the US-based Johns Hopkins university and Carnegie Mellon university.

In the subject-wise academic ranking of Computer Science, Indian Statistical Institute features along with IISc in 101-150 category, similar to King's College, London.

In the ARWU rankings, Harvard University followed by Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are ranked at first, second and third positions respectively.

ARWU ranks universities on the basis of several indicators of academic and research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals. Highly cited researchers, papers published in Nature and Science, papers indexed in major citation indices, and the per capita academic performance of an institution are also factors which play a vital role.

Source: The Times of India, August 16, 2014

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

70% of international engineering students in US from India, China

Seventy per cent of international students studying engineering in the US are from China and India, according to a new report. "SEVIS by the Numbers," a quarterly report of international students studying in the US, was released yesterday by the student and exchange visitor program (SEVP), part of the US immigration and customs enforcement's (ICE) homeland security investigations (HSI).

As of July 8, there were 966,333 international students enrolled in nearly 9,000 US schools using an F (academic) or M (vocational) visa. This marks a nearly five per cent decrease from April, primarily due to graduation rates, but an eight percent increase when compared to July 2013.

The July report included a special section that focuses on China. According to it, seventy-five percent of all international students were from Asia, with 28 per cent from China. As of July 8, there were 270,596 international students from China studying in the US. The majority of these students studied in California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

The report further said that nearly 350,000 international students pursued STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) coursework in July. Sixty-nine per cent of international students studying STEM fields were male. Eighty-five per cent of international students studying STEM coursework are from Asia.

Seventy per cent of international students studying engineering are from China and India. More international students study engineering than any other STEM field of study, it said. South Korea and Vietnam had the greatest percentage decrease in students studying in the US at eight per cent and seven per cent, respectively, when compared to April figures.

The top 10 countries of citizenship for international students included: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Mexico and Brazil. The University of Southern California, Purdue University, the University of Illinois, New York University and Columbia University rank one through five among US schools with the most international students.

The report is based on data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a web-based system that includes information on international students, exchange visitors and their dependents while they are in the US.

A school must be SEVP-certified before it can enroll international students. SEVP monitors approximately one million international students pursuing academic or vocational studies (F and M visa holders) in the US and their dependents. It also certifies schools and programmes that enroll these students.

Source: The Times of India, August 6, 2014

Government to engage students in policy making in education sector

Serious about engaging with the youth in government, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has announced an internship programme, MHRD Internship Scheme 2014, for undergraduates, post graduates and research students. The programme will give interns an opportunity for active engagement with policymaking in the field of education.

The idea is to involve young talent in government, especially in the education sector where they are the most important stakeholders. For the government, it provides an opportunity to bring in a fresh perspective into policymaking and implementation of initiatives of the sector. For the young interns, this programme will give them a close view to the functioning of the government. The programme could lead to generating of useful empirical analysis, briefing reports and policy papers by the interns.

The programme is open to all Indian citizens, enrolled in a recognised university or institution in India or abroad. Undergraduate students should have completed at least two years of a three or four year programme, or three years of a five year integrated programme to be eligible to apply.

There will six batches of interns in a year. As of now, the ministry is offering six internship positions in each batch, each of two months duration, which could be extended up to six months, but only if required. A selection committee will constituted to review all the applications and make make the final list of students who make the cut. While students will be able to indicate their work area preference, the selection committee will have the final say. The interns will be attached to the bureaus dealing with their work area. The scheme will be rolled out from October 1.

Source: The Economic Times, August 6, 2014

Monday, August 04, 2014

Panel set up to prepare UGC recast plan

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has set up a committee headed by former University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Hari Gautam to provide a blueprint for restructuring the higher education regulator as it addresses challenges of a growing sector. ET had reported on June 3 that HRD Minister Smriti Irani had made restructuring and revamping of the UGC one of her top priorities and that the ministry was doing the required spadework for it. Irani's focus is in keeping with the BJP's poll promise of restructuring the body to transform it into a Higher Education Commission.

The transformation will be effected by amending the UGC Act. The higher education sector in India has emerged as one of the largest in the world in terms of number of institutions and the second largest by number of students with nearly 28 million students in 726 universities and about 38,000 colleges.

The gross enrolment ratio in 2011-12 was 20.4 per cent, which included students studying through the distance mode. Besides Hari Gautam, the members of the committee are CM Jariwala, former head and dean of law at Banaras Hindu University; Kapil Kapoor, former pro-vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the joint secretary of higher education in the ministry who is the member secretary of the committee.

The committee will evaluate the performance of the UGC in coordinating and determining standards of education in universities, conducting an audit of its regulatory reach and identifying its strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation will also be conducted at the level of the UGC's regional offices and the inter university centres. The relationship and the functioning of the UGC vis-a-vis other regulatory authorities like the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in the higher education sector will also be looked at. A similar assessment will be made of the regulatory space that the UGC has. There is a sense that the regulatory functions of the UGC have taken a back seat when compared with its grant-giving exercise.

The committee will recommend changes to ensure that there is a balance between the two. Transparency in functioning, revamping the grant-disbursing function to introduce effectiveness and efficiency for timely utilisation of grants and the introduction of performance-based system of release of funds in line with the Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (National Higher Education Campaign) are other aspects the committee will look at.

The commission's grants-disbursal functions have been rather limited, as not all universities and colleges, particularly those set up by states, are eligible for UGC grants. "The government's scheme to augment universities and colleges in the state sector, Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, has dented the importance of the UGC's grant disbursal function," an official said.

The growth of the sector with private players and the possible entry of foreign education institutions have meant that the UGC would need to expand its regulatory functions. The commission was formally set up by an Act of Parliament in 1956, and is the statutory body for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of university education in the country.

However, it had already been in existence since 1952 at which time the function of allocating public funds to central universities and other universities was entrusted to the UGC. Over the years, despite the changes in the higher education sector, the Commission's emphasis has continued to be on its grant-disbursal functions.

Source: The Economic Times, August 4, 2014

Sunday, August 03, 2014

No takers for women-only engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu

As society becomes less rigid, gender-specific institutions are seeing a setback, particularly in higher education. Take, for instance, the enrolment rate in women's engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu. Of the nearly 38,000 women who have sought admission to engineering colleges through the single window counseling this year, very few have sought enrolment in women-only colleges.

Fifteen of the 18 women's engineering colleges in the state have more than 100 seats vacant each, with just two days to go for the end of the general academic counseling process. One college, with a seat intake that can only be termed ambitious at a time when even co-educational engineering institutions with good brand value are not seeing good enrolments, has more than 450 seats vacant. Those in the know said the institutions have been able to secure very few seats, usually in the single digit.

"Even in rural areas, it is only the parents who want their daughters to study in women-only institutions. It does not matter whether the institution is co-educational or exclusive to women. What matters is the quality of the institution and how it has adapted to the times," said educational consultant Moorthy Selvakumaran.

The trend has held steady for the last couple of years. Poor patronage of the colleges, once thought novel, has resulted in some being closed down or converted to co-educational institutions. Over the last five years, the number of women's engineering colleges has decreased by 25%, while the number of women's engineering colleges that have taken part in the single window counseling has dropped from 24 in 2009 to 18 this year.

This, despite the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) giving concessions to start women-only technical institutions. AICTE approval process handbook said that while the processing fee of a non-minority co-educational institution is Rs. 500,000, the fee for a women's engineering college is only Rs. 300,000. Conversion of a women-only technical institution to a co-educational college or closure of the college will cost another Rs. 300,000. Still, managements are willing to pay the amount and take up one of the options because they have to fill seats.

Academics say women prefer co-educational institutions because they feel the need to accustom themselves to working alongside the opposite gender. "We don't want to feel awkward and nervous and waste time getting used to male co-workers when we should be focusing on our career," said Nandini Sivaraman, who lists this among the other reasons she chose a co-educational college to pursue a computer science and engineering degree. She said that if not in the next four years she would never learn to be comfortable around men, because she was an only child with no male cousins and she studied in a girls' school for 12 years.

Source: The Times of India, August 3, 2014

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