Thursday, April 24, 2014

Internationalization is best when conceived in "partnership"

Darbi Roberts and Dave Stanfield, two former staff of  CMU-Q, one of Qatar Foundation's Education City branch partners, capture the complexities of cross-border engagement as well as the necessity of seeking true partnership in their Inside Higher Education essay.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Survey of internationalization

A University World News report of a survey of 1,300 institutions around the world indicated that the highest ranked (at 32%) outcome of internationalization initiatives is increasing students' knowledge of international issues.  With this as the most favored outcome, it is unfortunate that the most significant obstacle to internationalization was the ability of students to pay for their experiences.  Which begs the question - if internationalization is central to higher education, then why would extra fees be required in order to partake of this essential experience?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Beware the export of fraternities

As a preface for this post, I need to claim my legacy...  I was in an undergraduate fraternity.  I fact, I was a founder and president of one.  I met my wife at a fraternity party.  Both of my daughters joined sororities while in college.  And yet, the export of fraternities and sororities as part of the Western university experience is not something I would suggest that anybody consider - not for a moment.

I am intentionally harsh on this issue and it is easy to be definitive.  The historical record indicates that fraternities emerged in the mid-19th century as essentially academic societies, attracting the best ot students and helping to shape the character of their members when colleges and universities in the U.S.A. had little else to offer.  What was good about fraternities was essentially adopted by early student personnel administrators, enhanced with other dimensions, and offered for all students.  When all students had the opporutunity to live together in self-determining communities, to engage in leadership, and to explore service to their campus and community, the gradual slide into irrelevance of fraternities began.  But it takes a long time for organizations with selective and elitist membership to recognize that they are no longer relevant.  The U.S.A. is in a very difficult spot.  Legal rights to free association provide cover for dysfunctional fraternities and campus leaders have a great deal of difficulty tackling the negative cultures that are prevelant on most campuses.

One of the most celebrated cases of attempting to eradicate fraternity problems is Dartmouth College in Vermont.  A new article admonishes that Dartmouth College tries again to address its problem with fraternities, alcohol abuse, sexual assault and other social problems.  While some readers of this post will say, "but there are good groups out there," with which I agree, the pattern and associated risks of fraternities are simply too great for anyone in international higher education to consider supporting them.

Fellow educators dedicated to advancing positive student learning and development around the world, think long and hard before entertaining the possibility of adopting/adapting fraternities as part of the student experience for your university.  There are too many other ways to enhance the student experience that don't incur the legacy and risk of fraternities.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Overall 7% increase among international applicants in U.S.A. graduate schools

The new Council of Graduate Schools report of 2014 applications indicates an overall 7% rise for international students.  However, the data reflects a continuing small decline in applicants from China (3% in 2013 and another 1% in 2014) while applications from India continued to soar (22% in 2013 and 32% in 2014).  Applications for graduate school among talented international candidates is a critical resource for faculty researchers and represents further potential when the best of these students, once they graduate, str given the opportunity to stay in the U.S.A. to contribute to the advancement of research.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chinese students' assets when studying in the U.S.A.

Many conversations among U.S.A. higher education staff focus on the challenges of working with Chinese students.  By contrast, research on Chinese undergraduate student assets reveals that, while they may experience some obstacles in their early studies, they seek ways to cope and ultimately access a variety of strengths in order to succeed.  The adjustment to, and ability to thrive in, the American higher education system is largely about cultural context, language, and a desire to do well.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Different perspectives on purpose of higher education

World News reports on the continuing gap between academics' and employers' perceptions of the impact of higher education.  Academics give themselves high marks on preparing students for the workplace but employers are less enthused.

What I'm left wondering is why this is portrayed as an either/or question.  The best educational experiences have for quite some time deliberately connected theory and pract, conceptual and experiential, detachment and engagement.  John Dewey was staunchly committed, and early student affairs educators advocated, that involvement with real questions and taking responsibility to discover and learn solutions to practical problems was key to education's service to society.