Thursday, April 30, 2015

US Department of Homeland Security opens up

The U.S.A. Department of Homeland Security has announced greater flexibility for international students to enroll in academic programs. In addition, guidelines of who can authorize study visas has been broadened. These steps recognize the growing number and the increasing importance of supporting prospects who wish to study in the U.S.A. from other countries.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Turkish educator seeks to open university for Syrian refugees

A Turkish educator has promised $10 million of his own wealth to support the creation of universities to serve Syrian students who are likely to spend the formative years of their youths as refugees in Turkey. The article indicates some caution among Turkish citizens who fear that Syrian citizens will take employment opportunities away from Turkish nationals. However, Enver Yucel, the donor who made his fortune creating private K-12 education institutions in Turkey, says that "refugees left to languish without education or mobility will be a problem for Turkey and the region," noting examples of marginalized groups in Europe who have become prospective recruits for extremist groups.

Hong Kong University students to study in mainland China

A plan to require all Hong Kong University students to study abroad in mainland China by 2022 was announced with mixed response. Concerns raised included how students who have been involved in political protests would be treated and other logistics required in order for all to participate. The core purpose of encouraging all students to broaden their experience appeared not to be in question.

Administrators quickly retracted what it described as "clumsy" remarks regarding mandatory study abroad in mainland China. Seventy-eight percent of Hong Kong University students were found to not want to study in China in a poll, a strong indicator of hesitation about strengthening ties between the former British colony and its larger mainland territory. The ambivalence of Hong Kong students is largely related to perceptions that mainland China is shifting toward more conservative political and social policies.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Georgetown study proves higher education investment pays off

The investment that the U.S.A. made in mid-20th century paid off in preparing a new generation of workers that would be ready for the knowledge-based economies of the 21st century. While this study (conducted by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce) is of the impact within the U.S.A., the implications for higher education around the world are undeniable. In fact, the impact in developing economies may be even more dramatic as capacity is built for the jobs of the future.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

More investment in higher education in Africa is urged

The investment in higher education in Africa is showing a strong return but those who attended a recent World Bank meeting called for more. Some students are studying abroad, which can be a way for some to acquire the education they need. Developing full capacity of citizens requires much broader education opportunity at the local level.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Webster University's troubles in Thailand

Webster University claims to have a global reach through a variety of programs around the world but the one in Thailand is faltering. This extensive article covers numerous examples of how Webster's Thailand campus is falling short of the promise to deliver comparable educational experiences to those of its home campus in Missouri. One of the areas that has suffered during budget reductions is support to student services, risking not only the quality of the educational experience but safety as well. One of the concerns raised in the article is that those making decisions about the branch campus may not even understand what is involved in a serious academic institution, perhaps due to not having experienced it themselves in their higher education background.

A follow-up article published by Inside Higher Education and referencing an internal review of the Webster campus in Thailand identified a number of short-comings. Most notable was the deficit in student services/affairs.

While Webster University's case brings the question of offering student services/affairs into the spotlight, many of those who advocate student services/affairs in international settings struggle to articulate their value. The reason the case is hard to make is that most of the research on student learning and development, even simple retention, comes out of North America; this results in potential questions of the applicability of the research findings. In addition, student affairs has long been perceived as secondary to the core functions of higher education institutions in North America and elsewhere. Those in North America and around the world who are committed to improving conditions for student learning and development have a shared credibility challenge, although the dynamics may be very different in various national/cultural contexts.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Shift in Chinese higher education policy

Analysts continue to pose questions about shifting policy related to higher education institutions in China. The Times Higher Education indicated that experts are trying to determine what recent statements about not using texts advocating "Western" values and other statements about the need for academic programs to reflect Marxist and socialist values will mean in practice. A couple of interesting replies to the article are posted at the end of the article that also reflect ambivalence in Western circles about the tension between espoused and enacted values as well as the West/East question.