Asia Top Stories
China ‘facemask diplomacy’ during the coronavirus pandemic – with boxes of masks sent around the world as gifts while Europe, America, Africa and Latin America are still in the throes of the crisis – won’t stem concerns about the risks in research collaboration with China.
PHOTO Education systems around the world have reacted to the COVID-19 crisis by closing down physical campuses and moving programmes online. Yet 706 million students do not have access to the internet at home – including three million in the United States. How will this deepen inequalities?
PHOTO As their plight has become more widely publicised, universities and states have started to act to help tens of thousands of international students who are stranded in Australia with little or no financial support in the middle of what has become a pandemic.
With a bleak employment outlook for the coronavirus cohort, Singapore’s universities are stepping up their efforts to boost employability and job prospects for their students with a generous government-backed plan of hundreds of jobs and paid traineeships for students at their own institutions.
Student anger at government inaction on their demands for university tuition fee refunds – due to many classes being held online during the coronavirus pandemic – has led to a petition to the country’s Constitutional Court. The government says the issue is for universities to decide.
The new academic year for India’s universities will commence on 1 September for first-year students and 1 August for already enrolled students, instead of July for all students, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic disruption which closed universities in the country from 16 March.
Coronavirus Crisis and HE in Asia
African students in India are the subject of racial profiling and are being blamed for spreading the coronavirus. It is so bad that most of them are unable to go out and shop for essential supplies.
PHOTO China is beginning to attract more students from India’s neighbouring countries than India itself, despite India’s advantages in proximity, culture and the English language in higher education, says a new Brookings report. This could reduce India’s regional soft power and higher education attractiveness.
PHOTO Hundreds of Indian students have been stranded in Italy, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, United States and the Philippines amid lockdowns and travel disruptions due to the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian government says it is trying to bring them back, but parents want faster action.
India has not taken a decision about whether to fast-track final-year medical students through their exams. Medical and nursing students could join the battle against the deadly virus, as the authorities are mulling different alternatives to provide strategic protection to senior doctors.
Japan’s response to its coronavirus pandemic has become increasingly dependent on health experts working under a special government-appointed COVID-19 taskforce and they are urging urgent action. But they are struggling to break down resistance from politicians wary of radical measures.
China’s high stakes college entrance examination known as the gaokao, normally held in June, is being postponed for one month until 7-8 July, with knock-on effects on the admissions process. South Korea’s national college entrance exam has been delayed by a fortnight.
Many foreign students on shuttered university campuses in Britain, the United States and elsewhere are being told to return home and are rushing to secure flights before travel shutdowns, contributing to a new spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong and perhaps Singapore.
PHOTO Iran, which has had a high incidence of the coronavirus COVID-19, has found it spread outwards from the city of Qom which has many religious seminaries, mostly run by the state, and many international students and pilgrims, to neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and even India.
PHOTO Countries across South and Southeast Asia have in quick succession announced the closure of their schools and universities for a minimum of two weeks in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. But authorities in many of the countries acknowledge that closures could last much longer.
After the Pakistan government this week closed universities for three weeks, the Punjab provincial government ordered the clearing of university hostel accommodation to redeploy them as quarantine centres for suspected coronavirus patients. But foreign students stranded on campus fear this puts them at risk.
A record 8.74 million students are about to graduate from universities and colleges across China, but as a result of economic slow-down, the China-United States trade war, and now severe disruption of higher education and the economy from the coronavirus shutdown, their employment prospects look bleak.
Since Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shut down all universities and schools from 2 March, academics have been implementing piecemeal measures to reduce risk such as cancelling graduation ceremonies and some foreign exchanges, and are now scrambling to plan for the new academic year in April.