Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Higher education innovation

With world-wide spending on higher education estimated at 5 Trillion USD annually, demographics shifting, and workplaces changing, Margaret Andrews suggests its time to pay more attention to innovation in the current higher education model. With the number of institutions and institutional partnership growing, she says that societal and demographic changes provide an opportunity for thoughtful institutions "to do good and do well by preparing students - throughout their lifecycle - for the challenges and opportunities that await them."

Innovation is breaking out of past patterns to pursue strategies that have not previously been considered. But where is innovation most needed? Andrews' suggests that "universities that adapt to address the whole person, multiple careers, and the entire educational lifecycle, will be the ones that survive and thrive."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Internationalization in the Trump era

The conference of the Association of International Education Administrators meeting is exploring how to adjust strategy in the Trump era. Anticipating the impact of Trump's campaign and how it politicized globalization, AIEA previously issued a formal statement indicating that international educators should, "stay abreast of developments that impact international education, to advocate for policies that support the education and preparation of students to live in our interdependent society, and to engage in positive, ethical, and respectful discussion and debate with those within and beyond our campus communities."

Political isolation, protection of borders, and "Brexit" or "America First" are reactions to globalization, which is the changing and dynamic flow of products and services across borders. The dynamism of globalized markets can dramatically effect a country's economy and politics and it is the loss of power and influence that isolationist polices and practices attempt to address. The problem with protectionism is that it may be effective in the short term but will likely not be in the future.

AIEA appears to be carefully differentiating its purpose away from the issue of globalization. Instead, it is focused on internationalization and the role higher education can/should play as it infuses a diverse and international perspective into research and teaching. Infusing international ideas throughout higher education's work is the goal - helping to prepare citizens and workers of the future for a world that is interconnected environmentally, economically, politically, and many other ways.

Monday, February 20, 2017

International partnerships - the "learning" model

The problem of imbalanced international partnerships among higher education institutions has been a common criticism. The idea of cross-institution and cross-border partnering can be pursued as knowledge transfer, experiential, or learning focused, says Hawawini, author of The Internationalization of Business Schools: A Critical Review. The learning focus isn't a completely new perspective but Hawawini's description may help educators think more carefully about the path they choose for their internationalization work. He says, "the international mission of a higher education institution is to learn from the world, not just to teach the world or experience it." While Hawawini indicates that few institutions have chosen this path, the world is "best served by a global institution that consists of an integrated and interconnected network of complementary campuses operating in a symbiotic fashion to the mutual benefit of the entire system."

If students are to be prepared for the workforce of the 21st century, Stremba urges the adoption of an internationalization imperative. The advocacy for such a view may seem to be at risk in countries such as the U.S.A. and U.K. where greater isolation appears inevitable as politicians close borders and abandon multi-national partnerships. But some higher education leaders are already pursuing new ways to fulfill their internationalization goals. The prospect of Oxford University breaking 700 years of tradition by establishing a program in France is certainly one of the most noteworthy innovations. Offered by France as a way for Oxford to continue to benefit from research funding through the EU, both Oxford University and France could benefit from the partnership. It's interesting how something as onerous as political isolation that separates countries from each other can still be overcome by creative educators driven by the belief that internationalization is here to stay and a commitment to making sure students grasp this reality.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Best places to study for international students

Attracting international students involves high competition among higher education institutions world-wide. The mobility of students across national borders is an educational resource, builds international workforce capacity, and it's good business. Where students want to go and what they seek is the question.

One resource focused on helping students make their decision about where to study is Study International. Their ranking of urban centers that host elite higher education institutions placed Los Angeles (USA) and London (UK) at the top of the list, each with 4 of the 100 top universities. However, combining the number in the top 100 with highest ranking, Los Angeles edges London out. Study International broadened its analysis to the top 200 and 500 institutions to compare the concentration of elite institutions to overall population. The analysis concluded that most high quality higher education opportunities are in the eastern U.S. and central Europe. The global south had the least opportunity.

Another analysis, the Best Student Cities Index, awarded the #1 student city designation to Montreal (CA). The criteria used in this index included; university rankings, affordability, student mix, desirability, employer activity, and student view. Student surveys praised Montreal for being a "multicultural, inclusive, creative and student-centered environment, while also commending its comparatively low living costs." Student quotes from the survey indicated "the city lives with/for students," and has "diverse opportunities," "tolerant culture" and a "vibrant clash of North American and European values."

With the largest potential student populations coming from Asia both now and in the foreseeable future, the question of quality higher education opportunity in the region is key. Using the Best Student Cities Index, but in a separate article, a number of affluent Asian cities were identified to be most attractive including; Seoul (4), Tokyo (7), Hong Kong (11), Singapore (14), and Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe (17). While attractive, the cost of attendance and living expenses in these cities was a detractor. With talent development emerging as a central concern throughout the world, cities such as Hong and Singapore strive to be educational hubs that attract students from the region and around the world.

In this environment of intensified economic competition and talent development, how can cities and nations protect their present position and become even more viable? Supporting higher education through governmental funding is certainly an important piece of maintaining a competitive edge. Increasing access and mobility is another key variable, one which Altbach and deWit warn is being challenged in the emerging nationalism that is gripping a number of western countries. If western countries withdraw from international partnerships and mutual benefit, giants like China and India may explore ways to exploit the west's isolationism.

The bottom line in talent and capacity building for cities and nations throughout the globe - this is not a time to retreat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ensuring student success

Institutions are often characterized along a continuum of prestige which then becomes a driver for student application and admission interest. However, the more important criteria are student/institution fit and the resulting outcome of student success and degree completion. The issue of student/institution fit is even more important for U.S. domestic cultural minority groups and international students.

For institutions concerned about more effectively serving international students, Steven Mintz' "Pathways to Student Success" offers advice on issues to address. While offered in relation to enhancing U.S. domestic students, the recommendations are equally applicable to international students. When international students consider their options in the U.S.A. or other host countries, these could very well be the conditions that will result in success or failure in completing their degrees.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Executive Order restricting access from Muslim-majority countries

On Thursday, February 16, President Trump promised that a revised Executive Order will be issued within the week to replace the earlier EO that resulted in outcries from higher education groups and leaders. He indicated that the new EO will "be very much tailored to the, what I consider to be a very bad (court) decision, but we can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything, in some ways more" than the original sought to accomplish. Background and responses to the original EO follow.

"The immediate implementation of the Executive Order by U.S.A. President Trump to bar "immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. has had immediate effects on scholars and students. More than 17,000 students in the U.S. come from the seven countries affected by the immediate 90-day entry ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen," wrote Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Education.

A group of 48 university presidents and chancellors, including all of the top-level Ivy League, sent a letter of protest to President Trump. The letter included reference to the U.S.A. as a country that "has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe," a reputation now stained by President Trump's actions. Many other leaders in U.S.A. higher education institutions and organizations issued statements and faculty at Clemson University staged a hunger strike to press their president into more pointed condemnation. Esther D. Brimmer, Executive Director and CEO of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA) said "The latest executive order, egregious enough in its aim to suspend the refugee program and to enact a blanket ban on visa approvals from these seven nations and Syrian refugees fleeing violence, has also caused enormous collateral damage in its implementation. Universities and colleges have already begun reporting cases of students and scholars stranded after traveling for reasons including study abroad, attending conferences and visiting sick or dying family members."

The Trump administration said that the Executive Order rolled out with few hitches but students, faculty and institution leaders expressed otherwise. Evidence gathered on graduate school applications collected before the 2016 Presidential elections indicated that international student interest had already leveled off; fears mounted that President Trump's election, his isolationist inclination, and Executive Order would send a message that international students were not welcome in the U.S.A., causing further decline. With international students' worries rising, Robert Quinn of Scholars at Risk encouraged higher education leaders to work harder to protect the campus environment by continuing to serve international students well, telling the truth about the vetting that is already in place, and by continuing campus dialogue about internationalization and inclusivity.

The irrelevance of official passport designation was one of the issues of concerning because government officials failed to clarify their stance. Homeland Security stated "that dual nationals who are citizens of a non banned country can enter, with the caveat that they will be treated according to the country whose passport they represent." Such a statement was anything but clear and those from banned countries (this is Homeland Security language) were probably best served not to travel. The "Iranian Next Door" FACEBOOK page was initiated for Iranians in the U.S.A. to share their stories; Ali Rostami, a Ph.D. student at Rutgers posted, "I spent last four years of my life to help developing driving safety systems for American people to get hurt less and American companies to make more profit. Frankly, I think if they ever say we don't want you (with continuing the ban), I'd simply say goodbye... I'm confident that I'll be fine finding a highly paid job in Europe."

The impact on those with passports from the targeted countries, or those who traveled through or associated with those from the seven Muslim-majority countries, wasn't higher education leaders' only concern. The Executive Order had the potential to exacerbate tensions associated with diversity initiatives on campuses and be a catalyst for hostile environment conditions that would negatively impact international students already in the U.S.A. or deter others who would otherwise consider studying in the U.S.A. In the face of potentially contentious conditions on campus, Yolanda T. Moses urged educators to; support undocumented students, protect protestors of all persuasions, enforce policies and act to prevent sexual assault, and reinforce global learning and engagement (i.e. student abroad, international student programs, curriculum projects). Others advocated the #WeAreInternational movement and official statements to send a clear message about supporting international students, scholars, and programs.

Some of those in U.S.A government positions took issue with the Executive Order. International shock and opposition were also voiced. As the controversy grew, educational associations began to look at pulling conferences from the U.S.A. that involve international audiences. Pulling conferences in the U.S.A. would result in loss of revenue to cities and venues as well as isolation of domestic scholars from the broader international academic world.

Challenges to the Executive Order were successful in postponing the bans on refugee and visitor visas, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's decision to sustain the restraining order. While the stay offered, and continues to offer, a window of opportunity for some, it has continued to create fear and confusion for many. The negative impact on higher education was noted in Judge Robart's initial stay and was reinforced by the appeal decision. The "damaging effects" of the Executive Order became a cornerstone of the amicus brief filed by the state attorney general of New York on behalf of 17 elite U.S. universities that asserted, "The uncertainty generated by the order and its implementation is already having negative impacts well beyond persons from the seven affected countries. People from all over the world are understandably anxious about having their visas prematurely canceled through no fault of their own."

Analysis by the Washington Post indicated that words matter, citing candidate Trump's own words to indicate that the Executive Order is part of a long series of his proclamations calling for a "Muslim-ban." The breadth and implications of previous statements renders any defense, or subsequent attempts to propose an alternative Executive Order, immediately suspect.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Make America Great by welcoming international students

The U.S.A. is envied world-wide because of the vast diversity and quality of its higher education system. It is currently the #1 country hosting international students but it is slipping. With one million international students representing only 5% of the total enrollment in its colleges and universities, its share of the world total has declined from 23% in 2000 to 16% in 2012. Ryan Craig says, "We (meaning the U.S.A.) are punching below our weight -- and way below our reputation."

Craig reflected that the "Make America Great" President made much of his fortune as a hotelier, or host, and that the importance of properly hosting international students would do much to secure the educational, economic, and repetitional benefit of one of America's most valued attributes - quality higher education. Part of hosting involves making student visa processing less, not more, challenging and the other part is recognizing the desire of many talented students to remain in the U.S.A. post graduation to undertake initial job training.

"Make America Great" has drawn the ire of many both within and outside of the U.S.A. By leveraging higher education in positive ways for all, perhaps some of the tarnish may be buffed off the infamous catch-phrase. With other countries positioning themselves (Canada and Australia in particular) to take advantage of the hostility some internationals perceive emerging in the U.S.A., a strategy is needed and asserting "You are welcome here" isn't enough.