ITS and Schoolsmart sign collaboration deal

Blogroll, ITS Educational Services Comment

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

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Schoolsmart founder Haroon Hasan (left) with colleagues Calvin Yu and Dilip Parmanand meet with ITS founder Danny Harrington (2nd from right)

 

We are delighted to announce that after a few weeks of discussions, ITS and Scoolsmart have formalised an agreement to collaborate on the new Scoolsmart app for schools.

The app is an up-to-date School Information System which allows schools and parents to check when students have arrived at school and when they have left, increasing personal security for children. Besides this, it allows for a large range of functions such as accessing homework, tracking academic performance, combining all school communications in one place, school shop and access to other services linked to school and education.

The app is fully flexible as each service within it is a separate app, so each individual can choose which services they would like displayed and in what order on their screen. As with all apps, the services come with notifications such as badges and alerts. It is available for both iOS and Android.

Pilot schemes are due to start with selected schools in a number of Asian countries at the end of May through June 2017 and we hope the app will fully launch in the summer. Agreements are being signed each week with schools, government and cell phone networks to allow for a smooth regional roll-out. ITS will work closely with Scoolsmart as their educational consultant, particularly for the international education sector.

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When the cost of an education is definitely worth it

Hong Kong Education Comment

By Sue Smith

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Education, particularly tertiary education, seems to come at a very high cost nowadays. Even though most countries provide state funded primary and secondary education, going to university can really be a high cost proposition.

Some countries operate a system of student loans or have government grants that eligible students can access. But there are some places where tertiary education is more reasonably priced.

The United States is notorious for high cost college education. But for those students who attend a state funded university the cost is much lower than that of their peers at privately funded universities.  Now, the state of New York has introduced a means tested programme to provide tuition free places if a student’s family income is less than $100,000 USD per annum. Of course, even though tuition costs are waived, if a student lives on campus, he or she will still need to meet the cost of board and lodgings.  And the scheme comes at a price.  Students who receive their education through the free tuition scheme are obliged to reside and work in the state for the same number of years that they received the benefit for. But it is still an attractive offer for those who felt that higher education was out of their price range.

There are other places in the world, mostly notably in Europe, where the cost of tertiary education can be very low indeed.

Countries from Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries all have very low cost tertiary education. Sometimes it is just open to citizens or local nationals, sometimes to EU members.  So is it possible to go to a European country in order to receive a virtually cost-free tertiary education?

Well, the first thing to consider is language of instruction.  Germany and also possibly Holland offer a range of low cost tertiary options which are taught in English. This is useful in a practical sense because you won’t have to learn the local language before commencing your studies.  But it might also make your qualification more portable once you graduate.  A degree taken in a language other than English, depending on the field of study, can mean that local industry boards won’t recognize the qualification  if you try and use it in a majority English speaking country.

In some countries, the low cost price tag is for study only in the local language, making it virtually impossible for anyone who is not a local person from accessing this educational option.

But look around to see if it is possible for you to gain admission to a low cost university option by going abroad. Remember that many students pay handsomely to go on an exchange year to Europe so by doing your research first you might be able to have a similar experience at a fraction of the cost.

It is also possible that universities give out funding in the form of scholarships to international students to encourage them to do a semester or two at their institution, and possibly learn the local language as well.  An acquaintance of mine allowed her daughter to do a semester of Spanish at a Spanish university and she was entitled to a scholarship which covered virtually all of her living costs as well as fees while she was there. This was a great and low-cost way of benefiting from a truly international learning experience.

There are some individuals who believe that as the end user of an education is the society, the society has a responsibility to educate their population. But tertiary studies are now producing a generation of graduates with high student related debt. Look carefully at the available options and do your research but there might be a degree programme out there for you which is richly rewarding in experience but cheap to pay for.

 

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Don’t forget June SAT cancelled!!

Hong Kong Education, ITS Educational Services Comment

by Mike Li, Director of US Admissions, ITS Education Asia

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We have had a few queries that indicate not everyone knows that the SAT schedules for June 2017 was cancelled in Hong Kong. Please make note of it if you were planning on that session.

Thankfully, this does not have a huge impact on most US-bound students. In any case, students find very little score improvement when they take the SAT consecutively in May and June – and we usually discourage it. Without the June option, students who do not take the SAT at their own school should register for the May and Oct SAT exams 3-4 months in advance, since thousands of students from China take their SAT at the AsiaWorld Expo as well.

Students should take not take the SAT more than twice (ideally students to take the SAT in May and Oct in their application year). We also, however, recommend that students take the ACT twice in addition to the SAT twice. The schedules stagger so students can take their first ACT in Apr or June and their second ACT in September. With the revamp of the SAT, preparation for the ACT and SAT is virtually the same. This also gives students an added bonus of having four chances at a top score, while only having to report two of them to the universities.

In short, the cancellation of the June SAT will not affect students in 2018 and beyond, as there are plenty of test dates to rally around.

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British universities fight to keep the door open for international students

Blogroll, UK Education 1 Comment

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

 

I have written numerous times in support of the UK maintaining an open-door policy for international students at all levels of formal education. International students bring a great wealth of additional knowledge to their destination country, allowing a cultural diversity that stimulates thought, discussion and debate. These enrich the educational experiences of all involved, students and staff alike. More importantly, they can lead to a more efficient innovation environment allowing us to solve or at least mitigate the problems we face as communities from the local to global scale. The world’s top universities may be regarded as primarily research institutions rather than teaching ones and all universities must follow research programmes. The importance of international student migration can be understated.

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Of course, much of the news concerning student access to the UK at university level in recent years has been bleak (schools remain relatively unaffected), from the removal of right-to-work post-graduation in 2012 to the current review of how many student visas may be issued and by whom. Both student numbers and student rights have been reduced and are under further threat. It is a pleasure then to see two university Vice-Chancellors making a very public call on the government not to attack international students in this way nor to allow them to be dragged into the toxic public politics currently surrounding immigration in Britain. It is heartening also to read of their efforts to go out into the world and speak about the benefits of a UK university education and to carry the message that UK universities are still very much open to international students. Britains academics are not renowned for coming down off their pedestals like this.

In fact, many universities have been making increasingly high-profile visits overseas in recent years in a belated recognition that the UK has to compete for talent with the US, a number of other established university locations and increasingly excellent universities in Asia. These trips are also a chance to build collaborative research ties across international borders. It all ties into the fact, as understood by those of us who work in education, that learning is a collaborative process, and a global project, which has no need of politics and artificial barriers. That is why we must make every effort to overcome the barriers that politicians put in place.

Whether that be by lobbying for student movement or finding ways to allow access such as providing schooling online, we should all do our bit to encourage the continued mix of people and knowledge across the world.

ITS Education Asia runs UK and US curricula for high school and university both at its schools in Hong Kong and online using live-teaching. Contact us for more.

 

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Beware school league tables

Blogroll, UK Education 1 Comment

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

 

We are often faced by parents based in Asia looking to choose UK schools for their children who base almost all of the decision on school ‘league table’ position. It is very difficult to change, or at least balance out, this mindset. People have used it as the starting basis from which to begin considering schools and have heard it referenced by others. It seems, at face value, to offer a solid factual basis from which to begin making choices. So parents often find they are unwilling to let go of this information as a solid basis on which to make decisions. And yet, to many educators, it is so fundamentally flawed as to be worse than useless.

This has been highlighted once more in today’s Guardian which addresses one of the key problems with the tables – the issue of ‘off-rolling’. Under this process, pupils who look like they are not going to gain grades necessary to uphold a school’s place in the league tables are not entered for examinations thus reducing the total population of a school’s exam taking cohort and increasing its success percentage.

There are other corruptions that the current system has led to since its introduction in 1992. Some relate to the quality of teaching such as teaching ‘to tests’ rather than a broad and rich curriculum of learning, and a concentration of effort into pupils predicted marginally ‘failing grades’ in an effort to get them above the line. Some, like ‘off-rolling’, are a more direct and cynical attempt to game the system, such as entering pupils for ‘easier’ subjects. In addition, the stress on both staff and pupils of making such an effort to address the collective position of the schools exam outcomes takes away from everyone quality of school life. These issues are dealt with in extreme depth by an excellent study from the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education published in late 2016.

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So what should parents do? Well we cannot discount exam results entirely and it is important to see significant quality in exam outcomes. The simplest questions that can be asked is how many pupils took exams and how many subjects they took on average. One might also ask about results in key academic subjects such as Maths, English and Sciences. But at the end of the day, even these figures are only a small element of the decision making process. We must never lose sight of the fact that our child is not someone else’s child. Other people’s exam results are not a very accurate measure of how our own children will perform down the track. We need to pull together all the information we have, both qualitative and quantitative, to make decisions on the best learning environment for our children. Giving them a broad set of both academic and non-academic learning experiences for as long as possible provide the best possible basis for a healthy, well-balanced and successful individual to emerge. That is what we should be looking for when choosing a school or a non-traditional educational pathway into adulthood.

ITS Education Asia provides alternative pathways and experiences leading to global qualifications from secondary school to degree level. Visit our website for more.

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