Friday, November 22, 2013

Diplomacy through student exchange

Exciting to see concrete steps being taken to encourage more American students studying in China.  I've commented before about the importance of higher education exchange as a critical form of diplomacy.  Now all educators need to do is help American students learn to be good ambassadors and curious explorers of other cultures.  Time will tell...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Canadian report of international students

A new report indicates that Canadian international students are up and among the groups that are typical in the U.S.A. (China, S. Korea, India, and Saudi Arabia).  Findings that will likely require consideration are that a large number of the international students want to stay in Canadia to work after graduation and 78% of the respondents report that they would like more interaction with Canadian students.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Studying abroad between U.S. and other countries up - going both ways

The latest data on study abroad of international students coming to the U.S.A. and U.S.A. students going abroad rose this year, with the net annual impact on the American economy at 24 Billion USD.  The summary indicates that China and Saudi Arabia are the fastest growing student populations and that U.S.A. students are primarily studying in Europe, a little in Asia (China, Japan, S. Korea), and a little less in South America.

Cross-border education continues to grow - what about its impact in positive diplomatic relations and trustful cross-cultural cooperation?

Friday, November 8, 2013

New international higher education rankings

As U.S. and British universities continue to dominate university rankings, others may emerge.  The Times Higher Education indicated that there are some who are suspicious of two governments, Russia and Qatar, who are supporting the alternative rankings systems.  Robert J. Morse, who will oversee the rankings for U.S. News, indicated that Qatar Foundation will provide a grant but "they’re playing no part in creating the rankings.”  It's fascinating that those who may resist efforts to create new rankings neglect to recognize the bias that is already part of the existing rankings that are substantially based on peer reviews that keep the current hierarchy in place.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Reinvigorating Arab world science

The call to renew scientific discovery that was so much a part of the Arab/Islamic world 1,000 years ago, was expressed by the British scientist, Jim Al-Khalili.  Having grown up in Iraq, he was educated through rote learning but transcended that in his own scientific discoveries.  Now he advises that the Arab region, noting Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is renewing the commitment to exploratory learning and scientific advancement.  Perhaps the Arab diaspora that has restricted discovery and innovation will reverse in the coming years.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Students' cultural capital

An article on building cultural capital among U.S. students noted the importance of enticing all students to participate in activities or events that they've never experienced.  Examples given vary from fancy dinners to opera and most are portrayed as "high culture" that first-generation students might not have experienced.  A comment at the conclusion of the article by one former student indicated, "I found one of the most important functions of the university experience was to ensure that I became alienated from my working-class family culture."

Three questions that arise for me related to international higher education:
  • Why would increasing cultural exposure/capital mean students would have to become alienated from their own lived experience and would this be desirable?
  • How would an international student view experiences like those described in the article?  Perhaps as an opportunity to explore American culture?  What about the culture that international students bring to their American campuses?  Are international students encouraged to engage with American culture as well as share their own with others?
  • In the extremely diverse cultures of many international institutions, what does cultural capital look like?  In Qatar the typical experiences could include hosting a Majlis disucssion, breaking the fast during Ramadan, camping in the desert, or watching a camel race.
The idea of building cultural capital sounds like it had merit in the U.S. context but I wonder if it would work, or how it might be different, in an international university setting.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

George Mason adopts INTO to help international students

George Mason turned to Into in a private/public partnership amid significant discussion at the Falls Church, Virginia, campus.  A spokesperson said, "having built a successful transition program here we also realize that we face some clear limitations in expanding it to the scale we would like in meeting the university's goals for internationalization."