The 5 most-read Study International stories of 2018
A lookback at our most engaging pieces this year. Source: Simon Maage on Unsplash

From Vietnam to India, our readers made clear what they liked most from our coverage this year: information.

Specifically, thought-provoking, well-researched and timely articles, which dominated our top 50 most-read list, were the favourites among our more than 12 million readers this year.

International education is a niche topic that most major news organisations cover minimally, sometimes appearing just as a side note in their “Education” page.

But not here at Study International – we make it our business to be the go-to site when it comes to issues that matter most to international students the world over.

This is our core attribute and we spend many hours during the best part of our days diving into visa policies, debunking the gazillion rankings out there, tracking the popularity of STEM, dissecting arguments on whether the MBA is still relevant, etc – and presenting these narratives to you in the most informative, entertaining and thought-provoking way possible.

Call us biased but we think it’s the kind of writing worth coming back to repeatedly.

If you’re not already, we hope you become a loyal Study International reader in the new year. As a teaser of what could be in store (and in better versions!) for you, check out this year’s top five reads:

1. US govt fills annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas in just five days

No visa gets as much publicity as the H-1B work visa, according to US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

She’s not wrong – the Trump administration has introduced many changes to the popular temporary employment visa under the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order signed last year in a bid to “protect American workers”. It’s a visa fraught with political tension in an increasingly polarised America.

But what the popularity of H-1B stories among our readers and international students represent is the importance of post-study work opportunities in their host countries, be it to put those skills learned to use, gain international work experience or simply to work towards permanent residence in a country they believe is more suitable to their hopes and dreams.

And in 2018, the US’s reputation as a land of opportunity for many international students was significantly eroded, thanks to the closing of its borders to some of the most talented people in the world.

2. Why law firms don’t only want law students

With all the talk about unrealistic trainee expectations and the Bar Professional Training Course’s (BPTC) high failure rates, this story about the lesser-known ways towards legal practice in the UK and other Commonwealth countries which have adopted the English legal system, is unsurprisingly our second most-read story.

Pursuing an undergraduate law degree may impress your friends and families, but as our writer found, it’s not the only way to impress employers.

It is possible to get an undergraduate degree in another field, such as science or business, and then taking up a year-long graduate diploma in law.

In the changing face of business, law firms are changing too, requiring more and more expertise outside the field of law. Candidates with a science background, for example, are becoming more attractive to recruiters as areas like intellectual property and patent work grow.

3. The maths question primary students in China & everybody else can’t solve

“If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats onboard, how old is the ship’s captain?”

This was the question given to primary students at a school in the Chinese district of Shunqing, that went viral early this year.

The “unsolvable” question was defended by the district’s Department of Education as an attempt at making “challenge boundaries and think out of the box” and to “examine… critical awareness and an ability to think independently”.

Beyond the intrigue and mystery of this question, why such stories typically do well is due to, we think,  our need to see education systems move away from its emphasis on rote learning to more creative means.

Enough of us have been scarred by years in school spent memorising facts and figures we rarely use in our working lives today, that we can’t help but want to know what new and progressive ways we are teaching and assessing young ones today.

4. Australian uni sets up career hub for autistic, PTSD students

The Neurodiversity Hub aims to show that different cognitive forms can greatly benefit the productivity and competitiveness of organisations.

To this end, the partnership between the University of Queensland and DXC Technology will help students with autism, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other neurodiverse needs gain work experience with DXC and its partner organisations.

Job-hunting is a stressful process for many.

For this demographic, their mental health conditions provide a further hurdle, putting them at a disadvantage compared to the rest of us, especially in a labour market that, for the most part, do not practise inclusive recruitment or training.

Being able to boast some work experience can get the ball rolling for many, as it shows to future employers the candidate’s ability and experience to work, just like the rest of us (or sometimes even better), in a typical company or organisation. Everyone is employable, and that includes our most neurodiverse friends.

5. US college offers subsidised Uber rides for students

Ignore the headline about Uber rides for a moment.

This is, in essence, really a story about money. International students, for all their reputation as ultra-rich ballers driving luxury cars around campus, are a diverse bunch, and this includes their financial situations.

Many are studying abroad with just enough, and sometimes with just a pittance, scraped together from family and friends back home to earn that coveted foreign degree. Suggestions on how to save money are always welcome.

Uber’s partnership with Assumption College, which would let students take round-trip Uber rides to other varsities in the city where they are taking classes through an inter-institution partnership at a subsidised rate, is also a story about the changing infrastructure of US campuses.

Will the traditional campus continue to house all subjects and areas of study under one massive roof? Can it even afford to? Is such commuting good for students or would it be better to just choose a degree that is fully online instead? Would this be better for international students, who not only don’t have to leave their country, but can save the hassles of dealing with visa applications and all the other official paperwork?

Stay tuned to find out.

We wish all our readers happy holidays and great new year ahead.

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