Thursday, September 23, 2021

McKinsey commits to youth capacity building in MENA region

Projecting that by 2040 one out of every six youth will live in the Middle East, McKinsey & Co. has committed to a capacity building initiative. The McKinsey strategy, titled Giving back in 2020, proposes a multi-pronged approach including; empower leadership, upskill the workforce, serve communities, and aid the refugee crisis. The Forward declares "We are committed to doing all we can to help youth in this region get opportunities they deserve to pursue their dreams."

The McKinsey initiative isn't only about building capacity in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan but worldwide. If youth in these regions don't have hope and the accompanying support to fulfill their promise, the entire world will suffer.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Hrabowski leaves legacy of "you can be the best"

Freeman Hrabowski is stepping down as President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, after 30 years. There's not much question that he is one of the most popular presidents in contemporary U.S.A. higher education but that's not the most important part of his legacy. The message he sought to convey and the legacy he will leave is that you can be the best. This is an individual message to students, faculty, and staff and an organizational message. Individually or collectively, you don't have to be the richest or most prestigious in order to be accomplished.

In an interview with Inside Higher Education, Hrabowski commented, "What we are best known for is the fact that we lead the country in producing African Americans who go on to get science Ph.D.s and M.D. Ph.D.s - we are No. 1 in the nation. What's really great, though, is that we produce large numbers of students of all races who go on to grad school, in the humanities and sciences." The sad reality of elitism in higher education is that institutions such as UMBC have to "counter the notion that you see in the media: that anybody who is wealthy enough and privileged enough will tend to go to certain universities. And if you didn't -- particularly in certain parts of the country -- people are like, 'Oh, I'm sorry.'"

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Higher education's legacy of colonialism

As various academic disciplines continue to examine their histories and the bias that exists in what they advance in teaching and scholarship, the institution of higher education, itself, must be examined. That appears to be the premise of Professor Leigh Patel in No study without struggle. Simply reading the review by Scott Jaschik caused me to pause. As Patel is quoted in this interview, "Reckoning with unsavory histories that continue to rumble in the present isn't easy, but it's far more tenable than selling higher education as an experience, wallpapering publicly available histories of how wealth and property (were accumulated) since the start."

The topic of colonialism in the legacy of the U.S.A. is relevant to international educators for at least three reasons.

  • Much of the literature studied in higher education throughout the world originated from Western (i.e. U.S.A. and European) institutions.
  • Branch campuses/programs are particularly likely to carry Western ideas into other cultural/national settings.
  • Colonialism was perpetrated by Western countries but vestiges of colonialism are everywhere and often embedded in policy or narrative that sustains the perspective of the original colonizers.

A central part of the problem of undoing the legacy of colonialism in Western thought and literature is what gets published as science. A call to action for social justice to be more purposefully recognized and incorporated in academic publishing could help to rectify the imbalance. However, correcting generations of scientific inquiry and literature is a substantial challenge.

With debate raging about critical race theory and its role in the academy, it's obvious that someone's privileged assumptions have been challenged. Like any personally held psychological trick we play with ourselves, it's often the nagging thought in the back of our minds that is most troubling. The nagging question in my mind is how have I, and other well-meaning colleagues over time, perpetuated a colonialist view that has perpetuated the inequities with which we continue to struggle so deeply.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Yale-NUS in Singapore parting ways

The President of Yale University, Peter Salovey, issued a statement this week announcing that the Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) partnership will cease in 2025. The statement indicated that Yale was informed by the NUS President that the previous Yale-NUS program would be combined with NUS's University Scholars Program to form a larger liberal arts college that was not cobranded with Yale.

The full announcement by Yale's President expressed that "we would have liked nothing better than to continue" and, "that President Tan has said that he wishes to draw on the best features of Yale-NUS College in creating the new college. His rationale for this decision is that the formation of the new college will enable it to offer elements of the Yale-NUS curriculum and deliver interdisciplinary liberal arts education at a greater scale for the student population."

Yale-NUS College, begun 12 years ago, has been a high profile initiative of two very elite institutions. Therefore, parting ways will surely raise interesting questions moving forward. Two phrases from the official statement from Yale provide a window into understanding Singapore's motivation in dropping the Yale brand - "will enable it to offer elements" and "greater scale."

Coverage by the Yale Daily News recounted slightly different information from the Yale-NUS communications while adding reference to abridged academic freedom and censorship. Yale News provided more detail with an affirmative assessment of moving the Yale-NUS College to exclusive NUS oversight. The Octant, a Yale-NUS student run publication, offered personal expressions of disappointment and anger in some cases at the lack of transparency in the decision to dissolve the Yale-NUS College. A subsequent Yale News article included more about the unilateral decision by NUS and included numerous points to highlight the errors of the decision.

As more information is available, I will update this post but these two phrases are reminiscent of issues that I observed as complicating Qatar Foundation's relationship with its branch programs when I worked at Education City in Doha, Qatar.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Mapping internationalization - ACE

The American Council on Education is launching its periodic study (every 5 years) of how internationalization is reflected across U.S.A. higher education. ACE is accepting inquiries about participating in the study now. Past examples of "Mapping Internationalization" are also available on their web site.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Virtual learning - pluses and minuses

During the height of the COVID19 pandemic, rapid movement to virtual learning was the only choice most institutions could make to continue instruction. Some educators have lauded the quick move to online learning and the effectiveness of this pedagogy, considering the limitations. Few would argue with this point of view.

However, higher education institutions are now moving back to in-person learning, some retaining an online option or blended learning involving both. Even with the enthusiasm for in-person learning but as the Delta variant spreads, some institutions are again moving back to more online learning. One of the areas most impacted by the pandemic-induced online rush is internships, which some institutions sought to replace with other types of experiences. Evaluating what works and doesn't work is essential as institutions move to their preferred model for the 2021-22 academic year.

Faculty are striving to improve the virtual environment and straight-forward models can help move toward more effective learning. The model in Faculty Focus included; connection, consistency, content, community, and compassion.

The Brookings Institution looked at several research studies to determine the pluses and minuses of virtual approaches. The report asserts, "Virtually all of these studies found that online instruction resulted in lower student performance relative to in-person instruction." "Lower performance" includes different criteria such as grade achieved in the course, persistence in individual courses, and progress towards fulfilling degree requirements. Virtual instruction was also found to more negatively impact learners of diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Another study found that first-year students struggled with online learning as well.

The Brookings Institution summary is important because it comes from a non-vested interest perspective - only committed to determining the most effective practice but not supporting any specific institution or approach to higher education. The summary also includes multiple countries which is key if educators are to look at the broadest possible view.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Thailand and Malaysia slash tuition

As the impact of the COVID pandemic lingers, perhaps becoming a permanent part of the way we live, students are stressed financially, psychologically, and in many other ways. This stress among students can be found around the world, with many campuses providing financial literacy and increased counseling services.

Thailand and Malaysia chose another path to relieve students' financial stress - slash the cost of tuition. Thailand's Prime Minister ordered a 50% reduction across all institutions while Malaysia's higher education sector reductions will vary from 10% to 35 %. A lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia opined that the tuition reductions were "a drop in the ocean... My reading of both the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Education is that they have been too slow to react to pleas from civil society and the public for over a year now."