Why Education is the new global currency

Bitcoin may have been getting all the hype, but there is growing evidence that in a world without borders it is not virtual money that is the global currency, but a university education.

As national borders become increasingly permeable, it is becoming clear that more and more graduates will be competing in an international jobs market. And many consider that the best asset they can have is a degree from the ‘right’ university.

Figures released this month show that record numbers of children are studying at international schools. Data published by the UK-based International School Consultancy (ISC) group shows that 3.6 million children aged 3-18 attended international schools in the 2013/14 academic year, up from 3.3 million the previous year.

These schools usually provide internationally-recognized qualifications, as well as a degree of elitism, but most of all they offer an English-speaking education.

And according to ISC chairman Nicholas Brummitt, a key reason why parents forked out $36 billion dollars in fees for international schools last year is that they want their children to get into an English-speaking university.

The biggest growth for international schools has been in Asia, where enrolments have risen by 65% over the last five years. The UAE leads the way in the numbers of students at international schools (389,000), followed by Saudi Arabia (209,000), China (150,000), India (142,000), Pakistan (137,000) and Qatar (107,000).

International schools provide a route to the world's top universities

But it is not just international schools. In a previous post, I wrote about the number of students coming to U.K. schools from outside the E.U., with access to universities both in the U.K. and the U.S. a core motivation. I also recently spoke with a U.K. school principal who told me that one of the biggest trends among his students over recent years is the increase in the number applying to study in the U.S.

The result is that around one in 10 undergraduates at U.K. universities come from outside the E.U., according to figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, with another 5% from E.U. countries.

In the U.S. the number of international students reached a record high last year, with an increase of 7%, although they still make up less than 4% of all students.

The allure of these universities of course is their international reputation. Whatever the standard of education, the reality is that certain universities are seen as more desirable than others. At Cambridge University, 17.5% of first degree students are international students, while at Oxford the equivalent figure is 13.8%.

According to university rankings specialist QS, the growth in international enrolments is particularly marked at leading universities, rising by 9% last year at its top 100 ranked institutions, compared with 6.5% among the top 400.

International rankings underline the dominance of English-speaking universities. Out of the top 20 in the Times Higher Education rankings, only one is outside the English-speaking world, while in QS’s rival list there are just two.

But while English-speaking universities are having it their own way now, it may not last long. Universities outside the English-speaking world are fast catching up, and themselves becoming international hubs.

QS reports that international student numbers at the 10 Chinese universities ranked in its global top 400 rose by 38% last year, the majority from Russia, Japan and South Korea but significant numbers coming from the U.S. and Europe.

Academics may dispute the validity of international comparisons – or even of ranking universities at all – but there is no doubt that they matter to the people who matter: students and their parents.

And the reason they matter is that a growing number of people realise they will be competing for jobs around the world with people from around the world. And if an education from a particular university can give them an advantage, then that really is a currency worth having.


EfA Day 2014!

Today is EfA Day 2014 and pupils all around the United Kingdom are doing all sorts of different activities to raise awareness about the serious issue of global education.

Whitehall Infant School in Uxbridge did a non-uniform day and raised money for their partner school in Nepal:


Cherbourg school in Eastleigh had a great morning and mate an animated video about Education for All (which we’ll be putting up next week). Here’s a picture of Cherbourg’s schools council:


Director Mary Sinnott and Fundraising Coordinator Nick Evans visited Orchard Primary School. Their year 3 pupils wrote letters to David Cameron explaining why global education is such an important issue and used no technology like PC’s or whiteboards (or even lights!). Year 6 and reception pupils took a mile-long walk during school hours to know what it would be like to take a long walk to school.

MP Richard Harrington hosts afternoon tea for Steve Sinnott Foundation 31/11/13

On Thursday 7th November Richard Harrington MP hosted an afternoon tea in honour of the Steve Sinnott Foundation, celebrating the success of foundation’s first Education for All Day and continued work towards to Universal Primary Education. Baroness Walmsley joined us for a cup of tea and a cake before dashing off to debate the progress that has been made on the Millennium Development Goals covering the improvement of education for girls in developing countries.

The event was also attended by Robert Lindsay, star of shows such as Spy, My Family and Citizen Smith (in which he, ironically, drove a tank directly at Parliament). We are delighted that Robert was able to attend and look forward to his ongoing support for the important work of the foundation.

Richard Harrington MP introduced Steve Sinnott Award Global Campaigners Ramani Chandramohan and Raina Bardhan who presented their research on the current state of global primary education to all who attended the afternoon tea. Raina and Ramani outlined that since MDG 2’s inception, universal primary-level education has risen to 90% from 82% in 1999 which is a fantastic achievement, and everyone who has supported Education for All deserves a pat on the back. But not for long, there is still a great deal of work left to be done as there are still 57 million children deprived of a basic education around the world, a fact that lead to many an agape mouth and dropped french fancy.

The Steve Sinnott Foundation believes that hard working and inspiring young people like Raina, Ramani and the hundreds of other students who took part in Education for All day are the fuel that will really drive global change and reform.

MP Richard Harrington, Raina, Ramani and Robert Lindsay.

MP Richard Harrington, Raina, Ramani and Robert Lindsay.

A number of supporters and project partners joined us including representatives of Macmillan Publishing, Children in Crisis and Usborne Books. We would like to thank them for their continued support and contributing to the success of the afternoon.

Cherry Hill Primary School, Derby

English: Public primary school (EPP) outside D...

English: Public primary school (EPP) outside Diego-Suarez (Antsiranana), Madagascar Français : Ecole primaire publique (EPP) pres de Diego-Suarez (Antsiranana), Madagascar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


E– Is for Everybody. Everybody has the right to go to school.

D– Is for Doctors. People need to learn to read to be able to take medicines correctly.

U– Is for Universal. We need to help children all over the world.

C– Is for Children. They should be at school, learning and playing- not having to go to work!

A-Is for Action! Let’s do something to help!

T– Is for Teachers. Teachers are needed all over the world.

I-Is for Investigating. Children need to learn how to find things out.

O– Is for One World. We’re in it together.

N– Is for Numbers. People need to learn about them at school to understand the world around them.

by Miss Leadlay and the Cherry Hill Primary School Council