Debt among 19 to 29-year-old Americans exceeded $1 trillion at the end of 2018, according to the New York Federal Reserve Consumer Credit Panel. That’s the highest debt exposure for the youngest adult group since late 2007. Debt levels play a role in how young adults view their spending conditions, according to a University of Michigan survey. Younger adults – those under age 35 – have reduced their spending compared with previous generations possibly because of weakened job prospects, delayed marriage and educational debt. Student loans make up the majority of the $1,005,000,000,000 owed by this cohort, followed by mortgage debt. Mortgage debt makes up the vast majority of overall consumer debt but it’s not growing nearly as fast as student loan debt. Since 2009, mortgage debt increased 3.2 per cent while student loan debt grew 102 per cent. Student loans are the second largest consumer debt segment and surpassed home equity revolving debt, auto loans and credit card debt balances shortly after the recession ended. – Alexandre Tanzi, Bloomberg. Read more

China will open around 400 majors related to big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in universities in 2019, China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) announced. Another 612 new engineering research projects will also be implemented in universities. “AI and big data are newly established majors and will be taught in some directions like computer application technology, information and communication, control science and engineering,” said Fan Hailin, a deputy director of MOE’s Department of Education. China has set the target of becoming a major centre for AI innovation and world leader in AI technology and applications by 2030, the Xinhua News Agency reported. “New courses of some less commonly taught languages of the countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative, including Belarusian, Kuridsh, Maori, Bislama and Dhivehi, will also be open in some universities, Fan said. Chen Xi, Global Times. Read more.

Oxford and Cambridge universities are teaching nearly 1,000 fewer British undergraduates than they were five years ago, despite spending millions of pounds on programs designed to widen participation and improve access for disadvantaged UK applicants. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency have shown that Oxford and Cambridge are almost alone among the competitive British universities in failing to expand their intake of domestic undergraduates while slowly increasing the proportion of sought-after places going to EU and international students. But the two ancient universities defended their record, saying British applicants were far more likely to win admission as undergraduates than those from overseas, despite sharp increases in the numbers of applicants of all nationalities with the necessary grades. – Richard Adams and Sally Weale, The Guardian. Read more

Israel is the latest country to declare its ambitions as an international study destination, announcing it will invest US$120 million to double its international student numbers. With only 1.4% of its current student population considered to be international, Israel has a long way to go to rival trailblazers like Australia, but its intentions could make some impact, given its promise of significant scholarship funding to attract talented scholars. The other challenge – that most of its higher ed programs are delivered in Hebrew – will also be addressed, according to the Council for Higher Education. “In order to increase the numbers, many of the institutions plan to make changes to their infrastructure and programs to better attract and accommodate outstanding students from around the world,” it announced. – Amy Baker, The PIE News. Read more

A Russian academic has been tasked with saving and reviving the Irish language in an isolated, rural part of Ireland. Dr Victor Bayda, a native of Moscow, has been named as an Irish language officer in the Kerry Gaeltacht (a primarily Irish-speaking region) by the Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh, a local community organisation in the area which is tasked with reviving the language. Bayda has been teaching Irish or Gaeilge at Moscow State University for the past 15 years. He began learning Irish after he first mastered Scots Gaelic (in addition to speaking Dutch, Welsh, Swedish, French, German and Icelandic… and Russian and English), and holds a PhD for a thesis relating to certain aspects of the Irish language. Bayda is tasked with stopping the rather precipitous decline of the native language in the Ireland’s rural south. According to a 2016 census, just seven percent of the local Gaeltacht population speak Irish on a daily basis, outside of the education system. – RT News. Read more


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