Hope for international students to UK?

Blogroll, UK Education Comment

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

education-is-the-most-powerful-weapon-we-can-use-to-change-the-world

Recent comments in the election campaign in the UK, as reported in The Observer, suggest growing support on the Right for the removal of students from immigration statistics. I have written extensively about Theresa May’s attacks on student visas since her days as Home Secretary and her continued targeting of them as Prime Minister as a way to reduce immigration numbers to headline figures of the “tens of thousands” per year that has featured in Conservative party policy for the last couple of years.

But now a range of figures on the right are lining up to support maintaining student visa numbers. For example, from the Observer article:

….. Paul Marshall, the hedge fund manager who gave £100,000 to Vote Leave, urged May to remove foreign students from official immigration figures. She has refused to back the idea, despite pleas from Conservative MPs and universities.

As so many of us in education have been saying for a while now, there is finally recognition among politicians and those close to Westminster that undergraduate and graduate students bring great talent into the country and not only contribute at the research and academia level but often look to move into UK-based careers and stimulate the knowledge-based economy. From the financial perspective, they not only bring in millions in tuition fees to university coffers and spending in the general economy while living here, but often also open up networks of overseas investors to UK business.

Yes there are issues with graduate unemployment or underemployment, but getting rid of graduates is not a very healthy approach. Stimulating economic growth to create more graduate jobs is a much better aim and overseas graduates can themselves be part of the solution. To satisfy those with concerns about job competition, it is not too much of an ask surely to require simple immigration assessments for work visas for students who wish to stay and employers who wish to employ them. As long as an employer can show the applicant is the best person for the job and that no suitable UK citizen applied, then why deny them?

For those who bring up the old trope about non-UK citizens being able to fund themselves, well ask for proof of funds. Simple. So few people travel all the way to the UK to become students with no funds that it is laughable. As with so many “issues” the actions of a tiny minority are eld up as “proof” of what the majority do or intend and become a stick to beat them with. Enough. Most overseas students are genuine. I’d help fund their studies but at the very least the UK should be welcoming them with open arms.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

Sewing as a therapy that leads to so much more

Blogroll, ITS Educational Services Comment

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

 

I enjoyed this article in The Guardian the other day not least because it confirms something we have known and been doing at ITS since 2009 – that sewing workshops provide a space and a meaningful activity in which people from any walk of life and at any age can come together and gain value in their lives.

I’m not able of course to say with any scientific certainty why this is the case but anecdotally it would seem to link to a number of factors. First is the pace of modern life. This is undoubtedly faster, especially in large cities (perhaps no coincidence that places like London in the article, or Hong Kong for ITS are centres of sewing popularity), and many people feel the need to slow down, or at least have spaces in their busy lives that run at a slower pace. Sewing workshops are certainly calm and friendly spaces with gentle chat as a background to participants’ concentration as they work on their skills and creative projects. Really it falls into the active meditation tradition.

As a corollary to that, many people are forced through an education system, often by those around them with good intentions or else through a self-imposed feeling of the need to “get on”, into careers they have no real interest in and which have long hours and high levels of stress. Very few people can work in high stress environments constantly and especially if they feel they have arrived there through no real choice of their own. Our workshops often have a lawyer or a banker quietly enjoying the chance to slowly allow their creativity out and work within an open and free space with a variety of pointedly different-minded people who happen to share one interest. It cannot be healthy to spend our entire lives surrounded by only like-minded people or only people who are determined for whatever reason to present only one conformist persona to those around them.

Thirdly we see people who may want the chance to gain a new skill and see where it leads them. I might note the fast pace of life but I do not judge it. It is what it is. One of the great characteristics of modern societies like Hong Kong that I have enjoyed is the culture that allows anyone to start a business if they choose. So while some people are in a mindset of trying to gain employment in “stable” careers, others are looking to follow their dreams more independently. Often the former, having given themselves a stable financial platform, gained valuable business experience, or simply realised employment is not for them, will jump off into the wild and exciting world of entrepreneurship. Sewing is a skill that underlies all fashion and we often see people coming along with an eye on a future business idea. Indeed, we have helped to launch a number of people into these dreams.

And some people come to get out of the house and because it’s their hobby. And that’s fine too. We don’t have to over-analyse it 🙂

See all our sewing and fashion classes here

Work in a relaxed and social environment.

Work in a relaxed and social environment.

 

Make your own dolls with couture outfits

Make your own dolls with couture outfits

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

HK Waste

Hong Kong Education Comment

by Gary Hadler, Director ITS Education Asia

After reading this disturbing article “Hong Kong has a monumental waste problem” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170427-hong-kong-has-a-monumental-waste-problem it made me think about the problems of negative externalities of consumption and production (spillover costs to third parties not involved in the economic transaction) associated with the creation of rubbish and methods that Hong Kong can use to deal with them.  The concept of negative externalities can be illustrated below.  The shaded triangle illustrates the loss to society that occurs when things are either produced or consumed in amounts greater than the socially optimal level.


screenshot_2
screenshot_5

 

The growing rubbish problem being illustrated in the article is a result of both producers and consumers creating too much waste.  So what are the possible solutions that Hong Kong should consider?  Firstly I would like to address the recycling point.  Back when I was doing my masters degree I was helping another student complete their dissertation on the recycling industry.  Their findings were that recycling is a very bad use of the environmental dollar.  What I mean by this is if the government has a fixed amount of money that can be spent improving the environment the opportunity cost of subsiding a recycling industry means that money cannot be spent on other things ie planting trees , cleaning up rivers etc.  Recycling in itself in many instances is not necessarily very environmentally  friendly either.  Many plastics cannot be recycled, bleaches used to recycle paper are harmful to the environment, energy used to remelt glass for recycling is often greater than energy needed to make new glass, toxic components from recycled electric goods are often dumped and pollute water ways etc.

Credit to Alamy

Credit to Alamy

However the single biggest problem with recycling can be highlighted in this article from Forbes magazine “ At a certain point, though, recycling developed something of a dark side from an environmental perspective. On the surface, it’s still a good idea both to recycle waste and to design products and packaging with the idea of recycling them in a closed loop. Unfortunately, in its modern-day incarnation, recycling has also given the manufacturers of disposable items a way to essentially market overconsumption as environmentalism. Every year, reports come out touting rising recycling rates and neglecting to mention the soaring consumption that goes along with them. American consumers assuage any guilt they might feel about consuming mass quantities of unnecessary, disposable goods by dutifully tossing those items.  into their recycling bins and hauling them out to the curb each week.”  (https://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/04/25/can-recycling-be-bad-for-the-environment/#9db178a3bec5)

A very good example of this is the Pacific Coffee initiative raised in the article.  There would be so much less waste if coffee shops always asked people would they like a cup rather than just assume a disposable one unless specifically asked.  Coffee shops install the additional cardboard to keep the drinks ‘hot or cold’ from touching a customer’s fingers whether they desire this protection, or not.  At the same time telling customers it’s ok because that cardboard is made from recycled paper.  I do not mean to seem like I am singling out coffee shops but this is an example of marketing being a bigger priority to the businesses than any real and serious attempt to reduce rubbish in Hong Kong.

The real issue for the environment and the amount of rubbish that is generated in Hong Kong is how to reduce the creation of the rubbish in the first place not just recycling the unnecessarily produced rubbish.  For example in many countries ie Thailand it is often possible to bring your empty water bottle to a reverse osmosis machine and only pay to have your bottle refilled with clean, cold water.  This is so much better than selling a new plastic bottle every time someone needs some more water.   The reason that a business does not do this is because it is more profitable and easier simply to sell the bottled water.

If Hong Kong and its government really wish to deal with the amount of waste produced they need to seriously address how to produce less waste and not simply how to clean up the excess waste products that are produced.  Thought needs to be given to education and legislation that actually make consumers and producers minimize their waste creation.  Recycling, incinerating and landfill are not on their own the best solutions available for the country.  These things need to be combined with attitude and behavior changes of the population in order to minimize the problem.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

How Western Civilization Could Collapse

Blogroll Comment

by Gary Hadler, Director and Co-founder, ITS Education Asia

globalisation

I recently read this article “How Western Civilization could collapse” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse and was not only quite frightened by the possibilities put forward but also saw how this is an extension of many of the points I raised years earlier in this article  “Globalisation – Wealth, poverty and sustainability” (2007) http://www.itseducation.asia/globalisation.htm . The main point I wish to discuss is the ‘blowback’ against globalisation that is being raised in both and what is really needed to solve the problems facing the world’s economic and political systems.

As human beings we all tend to think that tomorrow will be more or less the same as today.  That we will get up in the morning, go to school or work, come home in the evening, watch telly, go to bed…..  This is why people are caught so much by surprise when major changes happen. As highlighted in the BBC article we are now living in a time of change that most people in the developed world alive today have never experienced.  Globalisation has been the driving force behind the changes in the world since the end of the Second World War.  These changes were accelerated in the late 20th Century with major advancements in transportation and communication technology.  The end result has seen the steady increase in living standards that those of us who live in developed countries have come to take for granted and have expected to see continue.

However… We have now reached a point in history where this steady increase in living standards is becoming unviable.  Without constant economic growth the market capitalist system that we have been living in starts to come unraveled.  Market capitalism may be well illustrated by this 1954 Looney Tunes cartoon  “By Word of Mouse” https://fee.org/articles/by-word-of-mouse-1954/.  The whole system is based on increasing consumption leading to increased production which leads to increased consumption and so on  (I highly recommend people watch this cartoon).  The problem becomes what happens when the model starts to fail?  The answer is growth stops and therefore contraction tends to start. It is not possible to continue to increase living standards for everyone indefinitely.  Resources are finite and begin to run out.  This is to some extent the problem that the world is now facing.

Governments have not yet adapted to the problem of how to govern a society that wishes continued increases in living standards when it becomes increasingly difficult to deliver those continued increases.  The result being that people start to fight over what is still available.  Rather than globailsation we are seeing an increased emphasis on nationalism.  This is well illustrated with populist candidates doing well in elections. D Trump’s “America first” and the success of the Brexit referendum are just some of the indications of this trend.  People are less and less convinced that reducing country borders and allowing freer migration is a good idea.

The challenge really is to come up with a viable alternative or modification of capitalism.  My own view is that it is theorists that change the world not politicians, Smith, Marx, Rousseau, Machiavelli, Keynes etc are the real people behind fundamental changes to our economic and political system changes, not politicians.  What the world needs is new theoretical underpinnings that answer the challenges that we face.

My own view is that our system needs to change to teaching that greed is not good and conservation is desirable.  The mass production/consumption model is no longer viable in the longer term.  The only other solution that I can foresee in the short term is technological breakthrough that allows for the free/cheap generation of energy not based on burning fossil fuels.  It is my hope that the crisis facing the world will bring forward some great minds that can give the world a new theoretical underpinning of a different economic and political system.  I believe the breakthroughs in technology could be achieved much quicker with a change in patent laws that force companies/governments to share technology.  The world must come together to solve the renewable energy problem to give us sufficient time to develop a modified economic and political system.  If not, the world will become a very fragmented and violent place over the next century.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

ITS and Scoolsmart sign collaboration deal

Blogroll, ITS Educational Services Comment

by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia

img_1998

Scoolsmart 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.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

« Previous Entries