Time to attract more non-EU students to the UK

After the Brexit vote, will non-EU students be the solution to keep the reputation of British higher education? 

For many years, international students have been making significant academic and economic contribution to the UK, the second largest destination for students from overseas. But growth of international students have been slowing down in the most recent years, mostly due to the government’s migration reduction plan. Now, Brexit could be another critical moment for the situation.

After the referendum, UK universities are especially concerned to witness a sharp decrease of students within the European Union. In February, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) released figures showing the number of EU students’ applications have declined for the first time since 2012 – dropping 7%.

Meanwhile, the biggest group of international students, students from outside the EU, appeared to be barely affected by the result. It is unlikely to see a dramatic change from the number of non-EU students.

The importance of non-EU students

International students are making great contribution to the country. Figures from Universities UK, an advocacy organisation for universities in the UK, shows spending international students and their visitors generated £25.8 billion in gross output in the UK in 2014-2015, which equals to a £13.8 billion contribution to the UK’s GDP.

And students outside the EU are essential when talking about international students. According to study by the Migration Observatory from the University of Oxford last year, this group has increased from 10% to 14% from 2010 to 2015. And seven out of ten international students came from non-EU countries in 2015.

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Talking about the importance of non-EU students, University UK’s immigration program manager Jo Attwooll thinks it has brought both economic and academic contribution to British universities. “We have recently published some economic impact data which basically shows that non-EU students are worth £10.8 billion in terms of education export,” she said, “and it’s kind of widely acknowledged in the world that to be a world-leading university, you need to have international staff and student base.”

Brexit barely has any negative impact on students from outside the EU

Unlike EU students, Brexit barely has any negative influence on non-EU students. At the University of Westminster, the most diverse university in the UK which represents 169 nationalities with 8,429 international students, its senior admission officer Dave Haddock says they are up for non-EU applicants and non-EU students are performing “pretty well” this year.

This could be a solution to keep the number of UK’s international students as the number of EU students are falling after the referendum.

As the largest student sending country, 29% of the non-EU students are from China. The studying abroad market in China is so big that according to EY China, there are already more than 400 agents providing service for Chinese applicants in Beijing, and that’s just one city. Cong Han is working at one of China’s top education agents Bailitop. She has been working as a consultant at British Universities Department for five years. She says there is no sign of Chinese applicants being affected by Brexit so far, the Chinese market is still boosting.

“There are some students talking about Brexit, but overall our clients are growing rapidly,” Ms Han said. “Especially from 2015 there has been a significant increase of UK applicants as a result of China’s growing unemployment rate,” she added.

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Students consult with education agents at an international education fair in Beijing./Getty Image

Yanghao Wu is a Chinese student who is going to study in the UK from september. He thinks Brexit means a better environment for non-EU students. “I was very concerned about the terrorism risk in Europe. After leaving EU, UK could be a safer country to live,”  Mr Wu said, “and all the privileges used to be shared by EU citizens will be gone, which means us non-EU students could compete with them from the same level, this is a very good news to us.”

Some other students are also positive about Brexit. Guirong Cao is also a student who is planning to study in London this year. She said the currency exchange rate between pound and China’s RMB has dropped greatly since last June and studying in UK this year is like having a 20% discount comparing to two years ago.

How to attract more non-EU students?

Not all non-EU markets are growing rapidly like China. The number of Indian students, the second largest non-EU student nationality group in UK has been declining over the past 6 years, while numbers of other top 5 countries remain stagnated.

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Many experts blame the causes of this phenomenon to two factors: the closure of Post-Study Work Visa and the Conservative party’s net migration target. The Post-Study Work Visa used to allow international graduates from UK universities to remain in the UK for a year after graduation. The government closed it in 2012 which caused graduates now could only remain in the country by meeting several very strict rules such as having a graduate job with a graduate salary of no less than £20,800 and a Home Office licensed employer.

The government’s net migration target released in 2010 was also a driving force of restricting non-EU students. The goal set up by the Conservative party was to decrease the net migration from “hundreds of thousands” to “tens of thousands”, and non-EU students are counted into this number.

Ms Attwooll from Universities UK argued that  to attract more non-EU students, the first thing should be take them out of the net migration target.

Besides that, she also gave two other suggestions to boost non-EU students, to set up a formal target to international students and have a financial backing plan to the group, and improve post-study work policies.

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The Biggest Political Crisis of S Korean President

(Original video by 장cTV@Youtube, editing and subtitle by Fan Wang)

In the week when US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was embarrassed a leak of files when further private emails were exposed, another female politician suffered a similar fate. At the end of October,  the South Korean President Park Geun-hye was forced to re-shuffle her cabinet after a protest rally which is its biggest ever held in Seoul in recent months. 

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President Park (left) and Choi (right) Photo: Vancouver Toda@Flickr

Thousands of South Korean people came to the street calling for their president Park Geun-hye to step down over a leaked document scandal. This followed an investigation conducted by South Korean media which showed President Park has allowed her close friend Choi Soon-sil, a daughter of a religious cult leader with zero political experience, to interfere in significant state affairs.

Evidence from Ms. Choi’s office suggested that she had access to a large amount of President Park’s confidential documents. She had not only drafted the president’s speeches, but also meddled in state affairs, including some related to sensitive policy issues.

“It is not unusual for South Korean presidents become unpopular towards end of their term”, says Dr Owen Miller, lecturer in Korean Studies in School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). But he believes this is different compared to previous anti-presidential feelings in this country.

This is definitely the biggest crisis in President Park’s political life. Just a week before the protest, the president made a public apology on television. But her people didn’t seem satisfied with that — her approval rating has fallen to around 10% while the protest happened, which is a record low since she took office.

Continue reading “The Biggest Political Crisis of S Korean President”

North Korean first lady reappear after nine months of absence from media

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(Photo from Dong Fang Zao Bao)

The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been spotted alongside her husband after disappearing from public view since March. This raised wild speculations about the couple’s relationship and the purpose of her public appearance at this time.

Ri Sol-ju attended an air combat training competition with Kim Jong-un conducted by the Korean People’s Air Force and Defense, according to North Korea’s state-run media. Yet the specific date and location about this event were not revealed.

Ever since Ri, a former singer, made her first appearance as Kim’s wife on the scene in 2012, she has been absent in media for pregnancy and other reasons for a few times. But this is the first time that she has not been seen for nine months long.

North Korea’s propaganda machine has usually used Ri to cover Kim’s cruel character and immature leadership.

An expert from South Korea’s think tank has linked the reason of Ri’s reappearance to the US’s president-elect Donald Trump. Chief of the Institute for National Security Strategy of South Korea Ri Shoo-suk said ‘It seems like Kim wanted to convey a message that he is just like Trump, a normal leader who married a celebrity.’

Some analysts also consider Kim wants to use this to attract Mr Trump’s attention, and look for a break-through in the relationship between two countries.

According to South Korean media Chosun Ilbo, the times for Ri accompanying Kim in public has declined sharply since last year. The couple had showed up together for 18 times in 2012, 22 times in 2013, 15 times in 2014, but only 7 times in 2015 and 4 times this year.

This change has sparked some speculation that the mysterious first lady had fallen out of favour with Kim and and his family including his younger sister Yeo-jong, who is in charge of managing Kim’s public image.

Use my personal experience to tell you: how does work in China’s state-run media look like?

Before I came to London, I was an international news editor in China’s state-run news organization Xinhua News Agency. I spent two years working for the Korean edition website, and got a deep understanding about how does the country’s media operate. Now let me save my words and give you more details that you want.

Usually my day started at 8:30am. From 8:30 to 9:00 my colleagues needed to collect the topics to cover for the whole day and report our top stories to the chief editor in our department. Then chief editors from all departments gathered for an editorial meeting and came back to assign missions and convey orders from our supervisors at 10:30. In this way they could make sure staff at every level would understand the news agenda.

The Korean edition website of Xinhua is more like a propaganda tool to Korean speakers than a news site. There are several topics we definitely need to cover: our leaders’ latest speeches and activities; analytical articles that advocate the government’s policies; positive reactions to China from western world; and the government’s new attitude towards Korean Peninsula.

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(President Xi paid a visit to Xinhua News Agency last year and had a video call with a journalist during his visit. Picture/Getty Images)

It seems pretty easy, but not really in fact. You can always find traps during working which could make you make mistakes. For instance, at the beginning of this year, one editor from another department picked an article about North Korea to display and got North Korean’s attention. The article was about something really not important that I could barely remember now, but it was negative towards North Korea. The embassy to China made a complaint about the article and the editor was sacked at the end.

This perfectly explained our job. You can report what the supervisors have ordered you to do and you have the proper range of freedom to decide what you want to do. But if your work offended authorities or policies, you need to pay for it.

Next time I will share you with some experience about how the authorities trained journalists and editors in the country and how this influenced the propaganda system.

After 74 killed in the construction collapse in China: the reason and the solution

(China’s state-run media People’s Daily reported the accident on twitter)

The collapse of a platform in an unfinished tower of a power plant in East China on Thursday has caused 74 dead, 2 wounded.

The platform was built for a cooling tower of a coal power plant under construction in Jiangxi Province.

China Tower Collapse

(Photo by Li Jinjun)

A team led by Yang Huanning, head of China’s State Administration of Work Safety has been formatted to investigate the accident in Jiangxi.

Gao Shichao, a project department staff from the contractor of the power plant told the media that the accident “may be caused by the strength of concrete which is not standard”.  He explained that to complete the construction before rush deadline, the workers might have removed the scaffold around the tower too early before the concrete was totally drought. As the concrete started to fall off, the platform finally collapsed. Yet his remarks have not been verified.

Such accidents is not unusual in China. According to China Labour Bulletin (CLB), a non-government organization that aims at promoting and defending workers’ right in China, there were 265 accidents happened in China from June to December this year. Yet the government has never come up with a radical measure to improve this situation.

[Infographic] See more details about the 265 work accidents in China from June to December on CLB: http://maps.clb.org.hk/accidents/en

Defining this as ‘extreme major accident’, the Chinese government has gathered a national teleconference and urged safety watchdogs in the country to launch through work safety checking to plug the holes in safety standards on Sunday.

Attendees to the meeting agreed that lessons should be learned from recent accidents, and cited other areas in need of more attention for work safety such as construction sites, coal mines, traffic, dangerous chemicals, fireworks, power and heating supply sectors.

The call was made at a meeting of the State Council, China’s Cabinet. Attendees to the meeting include Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai, State Councilor Guo Shengkun, State Councilor Wang Yong, and local authorities of Jiangxi Province.

The contractor, Hebei Yineng Tower Engineering Co. Ltd. has offered 1.2 million yuan (140 thousand pounds) to each victim’s family. Some have signed the compensation contracts.

BBC to enter North Korea, who are they competing with?

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(Photo by Tim Carpenter/Flickr)

The BBC World Service is to broadcast news programs in North Korea as part of the biggest expansion of its journalism since 1940s.

The corporation has confirmed Korean as one of 11 new languages serviced that will be launched in 2017.

It is wildly believed that the BBC is trying to break the constriction on free speech and deliver independent news to North Korea.

North Korean people are blocked from all access to foreign news in the country. The government controls everything on TV, radio, newspaper and books.

But it doesn’t mean there is no space for foreign media in the country. There are still radio services like South Korea’s KBS, the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and some private radio stations targeting it, but very few succeeded.

Basically people in North Korea can only receive information from state-run and local media. There are four national radio broadcast services and ten local radio stations aiming at propaganda to its people and South Korea. In terms of TV, there are three channels, the most authoritative Korean Central TV, Mansoodae TV and Kaesung TV which is targeting South Korea.

(Video by WrathofKhan/Youtube)

Some foreign news organizations also can assign their stuff to work in North Korea. China’s Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television and People’s Daily, Russia’s Tass, Japan’s Kyoto News are on the list. In 2010, the United States’ the Association Press became the first western media to set up office in the blocked country.

According to Xinhua News Agency’s former North Korea correspondent Zhang Li, each foreign news organization normally has one or two stuff in their North Korean office, and all of them need to work under supervision from the regime. If a journalist wants to cover an event or do an interview, they need to get permission from the authorities first. Thus it is almost impossible for them to cover stories independently and objectively.

Will a Trump presidency mean tragedy to China?

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(Image by Liu Xiaotian)

As United States’ president-elect Donald Trump’s transition team shaping, the world has become more and more curious about his foreign policy.

No country has been hit more than China during his campaign. From climate change hoax to threatening a higher import tax from China, Trump made it clear he will not treat China as nice as Russia.

But it seems like China is not so negative about a Trump presidency. President Xi was among the first leaders to send Mr Trump congratulations for his victory. In his message, Mr Xi referred China and the United States as the world’s top economies, said he hoped they could work together to expand China-U.S. cooperation in every field.

Some experts consider Mr Trump’s ‘America first’ policy will give China a great opportunity to gain its place on international stage. Dr. Wu Xinbo, chief executive of America Studies Center at Fudan University in China, pointed out that as a business man, Mr Trump would mostly think for economic side.

‘He should have realized that being a leader of the world would cost America a lot, thus I think he will restrain America’s interference in Europe and East Asia, he will let allies pay more and take more responsibilities. This could give China more opportunities to develop its own relations in these areas’, he said.

Although Mr Trump has threatened to target China for several times, many Chinese people still caught a different vibe. This week a video of Mr Trump’s granddaughter, Ivanka Trump’s daughter Arabella Kushner reciting Chinese poetry went viral on China’s social network.

(Video from Cai Wenjing/Weibo)

A lot of Chinese online users thought if he has let his granddaughter learn Chinese, it meant he had already taken China seriously. They believe with such attention, the president-elect will not make any reckless decision on China.