Thursday, September 29, 2016

Academic freedom in China

The U.S.A. Government Accountability Office reviewed the contracts and policies of 12 U.S. universities who have branch campuses in China. The review concluded that academic freedom is generally supported in the agreements but that internet restrictions and self-censorship presented problems. Those universities granted independent legal status by the Chinese Ministry of Education were found to "share characteristics - such as campuses located away from their Chinese university partner's campus and extensive student life programs - that may be correlated with greater academic freedom and other key freedoms." 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Concrete evidence of outcomes persuades international students

Although applicable to all students, international students may be more focused on looking for evidence of outcomes when they choose the universities they attend. Megan Brenn-White advocates moving beyond lofty aspirations related to "high-quality teaching" and general references to lucrative careers. Specific percentages of students who securing employment related to their majors with international students broken out in detail is one example of the kind of evidence that international students and their families will find useful.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Are international students' preferences for study in the U.S.A. declining?

The U.S. association, National Association of College Admissions Counselors, is meeting and one of the areas of concern the members are exploring is the prospect of maintaining what has been a growing number of international students studying in the U.S.A. Those assembled identified concerns raised by prospective international students such as the cost of U.S. institutions, decline of government subsidies, visa restrictions, violence on campus and adjoining towns, and competition from better options emerging in their home countries. While these decision criteria may not have easy solutions, one concern about studying in the U.S.A. is unique to the 2016 race for the U.S. Presidency. International students have seen the political discourse and don't like what they see - xenophobia, vilification, and marginalization by the Trump campaign.

In addition to exploring prospective international students' concerns, the admission counselors revisited the stance they took at their last meeting allowing private placement agents to assist candidates in their admission transactions. Two new clauses were added to NACAC's Statement of Principles of Best Practice. The first recommends that paid recruitment staff disclose to prospects any institution that is compensating them. The second recommendation is that institutions offer to verify the agents they employ to represent them. The combination of these measures will at least offer more transparency about who is involved and what their motivations might be.

Friday, September 23, 2016

UNESCO report reveals corruption recruiting international students

Mel Broitman of the Center for International Higher Education reports on corruption in recruiting practices around the world but focuses on the example of Canada. He asserts that "It is overwhelmingly evident that in the last two decades we have witnessed first-hand a remarkable and callous disregard for academic ethics and standards in a scramble by Canadian universities and colleges to sign up foreign students, who represent tens of millions of dollars to their bottom lines." The applicability of this very sad indictment to many institutions and countries isn't the worst part of this picture; the impact of dashed hopes and undeveloped capacity on individual students, their families, and the countries who often fund their attendance is the greater tragedy.

UK fights negativity with #WeAreInternational

The negative impact on higher education of the Brexit vote was predicted by many educators. Now a unified effort across the UK higher education sector, begun by University of Sheffield's Students Union and then embraced by the university, fights back with clear messages about the value of international diversity at its institutions. Visit #WeAreInternational to see what's being done to preserve a precious educational resource - student diversity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Students protest proposed fee increases in South Africa

Higher education opportunity is valued in most regional or country environments where talent development is a key priority. However, funding is an inevitable and difficult question when quality is sought for a broader base of students. South Africa is struggling with its efforts to increase funding through fees charged to students but students are protesting the move, complaining that increased fees inordinately impact black students with low family incomes.

One of the questions about funding relates to the variation in means of students attending the same institution. The perspective taken by Teferra is that if a society has low economic variation such as Scandinavian countries, striving for no tuition or the same tuition across institutions may make sense. On the other hand, where economic means varies widely, providing free education to those with high means may direct resources to support a privileged segment of students that would have been better used in providing critical aid to those with lower means.

Many South African universities have suspended or postponed classes until after scheduled breaks in order to avoid the continuing protests about rising fees.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Supporting international students in "speaking up"

Andy Molinsky of Brandeis University, whose research and theory is on cultural dexterity, offers helpful advice for faculty on how to help international students cope with the expectation of class participation. It will not take much effort to see that his four points could also be useful in out of class settings; in fact, perhaps preparing international students for active participation through student organizations and events may be even easier and more effective, thus helping faculty achieve their goals as well. The four suggestions include:

  • Take time to learn about the challenges international students face
  • Empathize with the challenges
  • Explain why participation is so important to you and them
  • If participation is expected, provide training and support