Monday, April 24, 2017

Public vs. private universities in India

A preference repeated in some other countries (i.e. Taiwan and China), Indians prefer public universities rather than private. The reason is simple - quality. The number of youth (41% of Indians are under the age of 18) who will potentially flow into higher is mind-boggling yet progress toward providing the institutions and space to accommodate them is falling behind. Lack of quality in private universities is reflected in a focus on infrastructure over the quality of the learning experience, faculty appointments due to family connections rather than credentials, and weak governance and accountability.

India is one of the oldest and most complicated countries in the world, its former prominence undermined after colonial occupation by Great Britain. In order to redevelop human capacity within the country, thus stemming the tide of highly talented people leaving for education and work abroad, India's public sector education must be maintained and enlarged while a complementary private sector becomes more credible. And then the government has to figure out how to battle corruption so that the economic picture is enhanced and becomes sustainable.

Friday, April 21, 2017

March for Science - Worldwide

Saturday, April 22, 2017, marks a day of international unification on an issue that profoundly impacts the entire planet - support for scientific investigation and acknowledgement of the importance of decisions based on evidence. There are few more profound commitments for the academic community and it is gratifying that so many people around the world will be joining in the "March for Science."

Organizers of the main March in Washington, D.C., are downplaying the political implications but many of the mission statements make it clear why the March is necessary throughout the world. Funding is being cut for science education, research support is being withdrawn, and government scientists are being muzzled.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Making meaning in different ways - student affairs educators today

In an essay citing one of the student development era's most significant early researchers, William Perry, Sheila Murphy asserts that the old ways of making meaning in students' lives have changed. She quotes Perry as saying, "Students are lively makers of meaning" as a presumed rationale for staying out of their way.

While Murphy's essay is important in recounting the ways that student affairs administrators' roles have changed in the last ten years (rising mental health concerns, campus safety, sexual assault, and many others), I wonder if she hasn't taken Perry too literally in a limiting way. Perry's research in the 1950s and 1960s included only the all male, privileged, students of Harvard. This type of student was different then and now; highly resourced students have always been given greater opportunity to learn early and deeply those things that perpetuate their privilege. On the other hand, Perry, as well as interpreters of his model, sought to broaden the implications of his Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development (1968) that would benefit a broader cross-section of students. Having stood on the stage with Perry as a graduate student at the University of Maryland in the 1970s, I can say without question that he was concerned about all students' development and that he would not have advocated to simply stay out of their way.

Murphy says that student affairs administrators and educators face a more complicated set of expectations today than they previously have. I'm actually not sure if today's Vice Presidents are any more challenged than my Dean of Students at Colorado State University, Burns Crookston, who worked to quell student protests by going into student crowds to talk with them about their concerns and ways to address them. Or who advocated for the diversification of CSU's student body in terms of race, gender, and class. Or who strove to accommodate the largest growth in student numbers ever witnessed in U.S.A. history.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that each generation of educators, whether in student affairs or other roles, face unique challenges and that the core of our work is to both ease the obstacles to participation (the administrative work) as well as enhance the experience (adding to learning and development) of our students. These dual purposes have been present in U.S. student affairs work for many years. They are increasingly being embraced by international higher education colleagues as well, although the dynamics of administrative work and enhancing student learning and development (see Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education, Roberts & Komives, 2016) are quite different in many other cultures. Murphy credit's NASPA current President, Kevin Kruger, with saying "This is our time. Student affairs has never been more important on campus than it is today." Kevin is right and Murphy is correct in referencing him but it's not because of only the administrative and managerial functions of this work. It's because of the "whole" package.

Gaps in access and completion in higher education

A new UNESCO paper documents the disappointing disparity around the world in access as well as completion of higher education. The sum of access/completion in the 76 countries included in the paper's sample is that 20% of the richest versus 1% of the poorest 25 to 29 year olds have completed four years of university work. The gap is even greater in countries such as the Philippines and Mongolia and in countries with overall higher completion rates, the poor are left behind.

If higher education's primary benefits are individual and national capacity building, what can educators do and what must policy makers consider in order to open the door to those who need advanced education the most? Wouldn't the first priority be to serve the least served?


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Staying current on internationalization trends

This blog selects articles from a variety of sources that are relevant to internationalization in higher education with a particular focus on enhancing students' learning and development. Those who would like to directly access two of the main sources I use may sign up using these links:

The latest issue of International Higher Education (No. 89, 2017) offers a number of useful articles, including one on the implications for internationalization in the era of Trump's Executive Order and the U.K.'s resolution to exit the European Union.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Protecting intellectual property

As transnational higher education expands, so do the complexities of protecting intellectual property, preventing plagiarism, and offering due credit to those whose knowledge we borrow. Christopher Hill's article on plagiarism primarily deals with student plagiarism but it does elude to some of the other issues of knowledge sharing. What's important in the conversation about protecting intellectual property is working toward a mutual understanding about giving proper credit, especially when many academics are intentionally engaged in knowledge distribution. The point here is that those who work in transnational higher education want to share best practices, approaches, and ideas but generally there is a desire to not have what is shared 'stolen.'

The difference between generous academic sharing and theft is making sure to credit the origin of ideas. Oddly enough, some young, experienced, or poorly coached academics adopt ideas and then talk/write about then as if they were original. Intellectuals with integrity seek to give as much credit as possible because referencing the origin can strengthen the power of what is proposed. Load up those citations so it is clear that you have done your homework!

By the way, theft of intellectual property is often violated in Western higher education circles where one would think crediting sources would be natural and required. It is disheartening how often original contributions are passed over as if they were common and shared knowledge.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Vulnerability of free universities in autocratic states

At their best, great universities have provided oases around the world for free thinking, research, and unfettered innovation. The question is, what happens when a free university is subject to the dictates of autocratic governments? The dynamics include both legal and political elements.

The European University at St. Petersburg (founded 1994) and the Central European University of Hungary (founded 1991) have both run into challenges by agents of the state. Writing for Inside Higher EducationArarat Osipian at Pontica Magna Fellow at New Europe Foundation says that private universities operating in "former communist regimes rarely appear in international rankings, and even less so at the top of the leagues tables. Russia has yet to achieve its ambitious goals of placing five of its national universities in the top one hundred spots. World class universities require autonomy" and Osipian asserts that such autonomy is a threat to autocratic states.

Higher education leaders worldwide may or may not fully understand, much less embrace, the reality that freedom of expression is essential to freedom to learn. Engaged learning may unleash forces that are difficult to control in both autocratic and democratic settings. As Osipian indicates, "The strengthening of autocratic regimes in the former communist states is in line with the rise of nationalistic and ethnocentric movements in much of Europe." Both control by autocratic governments and intervention by nationalistic and isolationist forces are anathema to learning.

The controversy escalated into a proposed new law that would prohibit the Central European University of Hungary from continuing to operate. Financier and patron of CEU George Soros was quoted as saying he, "will immediately seek all available legal remedies" because the proposed law "targeted an American institution in a flagrantly discriminatory manner." The European Commission launched an investigation to determine if the proposed laws violate European Union rules.

Central European University has become an international example of the importance of academic freedom in higher education. Detailed plans are in place to defend Central European University through legal and political means. The defense is critical and "matter enormously as an example and precedent for others, above all academic institutions under the specter of intimidation and closure around the world."