Monthly Archives: April 2014

International Students – Caught in the crossfire?

by Ian McDonald

Immigration is likely to be a key issue at the next General Election and, unsurprisingly, the number of news stories over the last few months linked to the subject has been even higher than normal – the lifting of restrictions of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants; calls from across the political spectrum to stop migrants moving to the UK simply to claim benefits; and divisions between the two coalition parties on immigration policy. This is not the place, nor am I sufficiently expert on immigration policy, to conduct a forensic examination of the immigration policy scene; though I agree some reform is needed. I would, however, like to briefly discuss one group affected by immigration policy – namely international Higher Education (HE) students.

BCU TEE faculty students come from across the world
BCU TEE faculty students come from across the world

Well over half of the full-time postgraduate research students in the Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment (TEE) at Birmingham City University (BCU) are international students, coming from countries ranging from Germany to Nigeria and Mexico to Palestine and I am very proud of this diversity! I have joked that it is my ambition to have one research student from each of 195 United Nations member states! BCU states proudly on its website that it has “international alliances” and “an expanding student community from more than 80 countries.” (BCU 2013)

However, despite the Government’s protestations to the contrary, the impression that is being given to many prospective international students (and their governments) is that the UK is no longer ‘open’ to international students. In a recent article on the Guardian’s website, a London-based student described his University’s obsessive monitoring of his attendance and similar initiatives as “racist and degrading”. He also stated “If I knew that was the situation, I wouldn’t have come in the first place, and would tell others back home to think twice” (Tapia 2013).

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Engineering and Research: which one comes first?

by Mohammad Mayouf

Engineers are one of the major facilitators of human needs through applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to achieve and solutions. The journeyof becoming an engineer is commonly understood to be taking a standard route with selected approaches and methodologies that have been tested and approved based on existing theories (e.g. Newton’s laws in physics). However, the undergoing research clarifies that current approaches to solve engineering problems can be enhanced or even new solutions can be invented, and yet contradictions take place on whether to follow the engineered approaches in solving problems or investigate new knowledge to enhance current approaches or develop new ones. The focus of this blog is about the potential routes to take when engineers decide to solve a problem – whether to choose an engineered approach (direct solution) or research approach (investigate solutions). The argument is reflected in the dialogue between two first year PhD students. It is important to mention that both of them are engineers where one is a mechanical engineer doing his research on engineering simulations (here referred to as ENG1) and the other is a civil engineer conducting his research on sustainability for buildings (ENG2).

ENG1: What are you doing?

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