Friday, June 26, 2015

Is there academic freedom in China?

A recent U.S.A. legislative committee hearing included representatives from U.S.A. universities who have established programs in China (NYU, Fort Hayes State University, and the Kissinger Institute were quoted). The question being raised was whether or not the faculty teaching in these programs were able to exercise the same freedoms in selection of course content that they would in the U.S.A. The representatives reassured the legislators that faculty prerogatives in teaching had not been altered in order to accommodate Chinese government interests. Instances of covering political dissent in China were noted, with the caveat that sometimes faculty members may not cover topics like Tiananmen Square because of the sensitivity of the topic and the faculty's comfort with the subject.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Montana Tech confronts international student academic dishonesty

The report of Montana Tech's experience with Saudi Arabian students' cheating raises challenging questions. The first is the possibility that cultural background may in some cases cause students to see rules differently - whether it is the change of a grade, having someone write a paper for you, or passing on details about an exam to others who will subsequently take the test. The second challenge is that, as access to study abroad expanded in Saudi Arabia, the standards of admission widened which may have resulted in students who weren't really qualified being admitted to the institution.

While the report raised question about how the Saudi students' cases were handled at Montana Tech,, the broader issues are how cultural differences influence patterns of behavior and the possibility that U.S.A. institutions, motivated by revenue generation, may be offering admission to students who can't really succeed without added support, services, and time. These issues are not unique to Saudi students.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Helping students explore "vocational calling" supported

The rationale for pursuit of higher education, often contested among by various stakeholders, sometimes includes preparation for career and sometimes it does not. The Lilly Foundation's research looked at "vocational calling" and found that the idea of finding a worthy calling in life was very important to students. Student development staff have long seen career and calling as central to students' success - knowing why you're studying and where it leads often results in both retention and higher performance. Purpose and finding ways to be fulfilled through one's effort is also critical to leadership efficacy and integrity, a theme very much imbedded in the writing of a growing number of leadership scholars.

Institute for International Education meets with Iran educators

As an indication of warming relations between the U.S.A. and Iran, a delegation of the Institute for International Education recently visited Iran. The educational diplomacy may lead to growing numbers of Iranian students studying at U.S.A. universities.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Scholars at Risk report documents incidents across countries

Academic scholars can be at risk for both intellectual and personal harm, as documented in the Scholars at Risk summaries that have recently been made available. Championing ideas that counter prevailing cultural or political perspectives can draw attention to and place scholars at risk of having their ideas repressed or worse.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) a new model of international partnerships

With a 40 million dollar start-up grant from Microsoft, Washington University (USA) and Tsinghua University (China) will establish the Global Innovative Exchange Institute in Seattle. GIX will be a graduate program focused on technology innovation for up to as many as 3,000 students. The model may be a precursor to a departure from U.S.A. universities establishing branches in other countries; this time the international partner comes to the U.S.A. with faculty and student exchanges going both directions, all intended to develop talent, research, and innovation capacity. Other locations that have toyed with a hub model in the U.S.A. are the University of California at Berkeley and the Cornell University and Technion Israel Institute of Technology campus in NYC.

Europe, Asia and higher education regionalism

Que Ahn Dang's summary of the growing regionalism trend in higher education provides a picture of increased cooperative work within Europe and Asia and between the two. Using Europe's Bologna agreement as an example, other regions have begun to adopt statements across countries that offer frameworks for cooperation. The author concludes with a warning that lauds the regionalization movement but warns, "Let's hope they (i.e. the agreements) are about advancing scholarship, connecting cultures and individuals, and about building a different future instead of reshuffling old ideas, pandering to economic concerns, or play to the hegemon's tune."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Quality assurance statement for international higher education

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation now recommends seven principles that frame the commitment to quality. While brief, the seven principles at least provide a broad view of what quality would like like, including a commitment to students' learning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

U.S.A. considering extension of international student visas

Although some labor organizations oppose it, consideration is underway to allow international students to stay for longer periods for job-related training after they graduate. The move would help the U.S.A. stay competitive in attracting international students (Canada has more open policies) as well as retain highly motivated, competent and young workers who will contribute to the knowledge and innovation economy. Extension of the job-related training could also lead to permanent citizenship for immigrants who are highly trained and seek the opportunities that the U.S.A. provides.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Add the local community to the mix in welcoming international students

A research study conducted in Findlay, Ohio, determined that local businesses and citizens had mixed views of the international students who were attending college in the community. Jamienne McKee's research indicated that locals had a variety of views that could result in international students feeling less than welcome. Her co-presenter at the NAFSA conference, Patrick Lilja, indicated that colleges and universities could help by educating the local community on the economic benefit of international students' presence and by purposefully bringing community members together with them. Efforts directed at improving the climate both on and off campus are essential in order for international students to feel comfortable engaging with others outside of their cultural group, the kind of behavior that leads to everyone's enhanced educational outcomes as well as satisfaction in cultural exchange.

Chaos around higher education language

Inside Higher Education carried a story about a recent report delivered at the "Going Global" conference identifying language as one of international education's biggest problems. The report proposed using the term "transnational education" (TNE) as a catch-all that characterizes everything from branch campuses to stand-alone institutions. Beyond the broad category of what to call these universities, the report calls attention to variations in other definitions as fundamental as registration, accreditation and quality assurance which make it difficult to compare across institutions and to know if educators are even talking about the same thing.

English as dominant language of instruction?

There has been considerable debate in international higher education circles about what language should be used for instruction. A paper delivered by Russell Kaschula of Rhodes University in South Africa at the "Going Global" conference raised questions about whether English should be the primary or dominant language. The relationship between local/regional language preservation and pride in one's culture is very important. Perhaps bilingual and multilingual programs will allow for English to be the connector while many languages contribute to protecting the uniqueness and value of many cultures.

Colorado State University new academic home for Semester at Sea

The announcement that Colorado State University will become the academic and administrative home for Semester at Sea offers new opportunities to both programs in moving study abroad to another level. As a graduate of CSU, I know that the commitment to engaged and experience-based learning has been something that CSU does very well. Educational intentionality and reflection are the keys to study abroad having an impact and I assume these will be at the core of the new partnership.