Friday, December 30, 2016

Racing to capture international student revenue

Hans DeWitt weighed in on the growing international student market, numbering 5 million at present and expected to reach 8 million within another decade. The numbers indicate an obvious motivation for many institutions -revenue. DeWitt's brief summary links to several other reports on international student trends and concludes with the admonition that "the priorities must be the best interests of the students, the quality of education, and a commitment to the public good. Any other approach is neither sustainable nor wise."

Inside Higher Education cited a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research indicating that public funding cuts in the U.S.A. are in direct proportion to increases in international student enrollment. The report said, "A very small number of universities have a capacity to draw in sizable numbers of domestic out-of-state students" which leads to the largest international student increases unfolding at institutions that primarily serve in-state students.

When public institutions admit privileged international students who have the ability to pay high fees, they may be creating another level of classism on campus. An expectation of special treatment may accompany the higher socio-economic status of some international students, a dynamic that may further divide students among themselves.

Increasing the number of international students should be considered not only for its economic impact in balancing budgets but also for the impact that these increasing numbers can have on campus culture and learning.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The future of work

One of the challenges higher education decision makers face is managing the balance of learning for the sake of learning and preparation for work. The tension is greatest in settings and countries where the very nature of work, and qualifications for it, are shifting. Art Bilger, a venture capitalist and founder of WorkingNation, predicts that 47% of the current jobs in the U.S.A. at all levels will disappear within 25 years. What will be required to deal with such a massive change?

Bryon Grisby, President of Moravian College, proposes that colleges and universities need to do a better job of helping students find their calling in life - their vocation. He does not dispute the value of learning for its own sake but says that "Liberal arts institutions can no longer stand pat with traditional models alone. They must start to embrace career exploration, technology and professional programs."

Both of these authors are based in the U.S.A. so their predictions should be understood in that context. However, as western higher education practices are adopted and as economies develop around the world, the nature of work and how citizens prepare themselves for it in the 21st century must be carefully analyzed.

Those who work in student affairs and services can offer great insight for decision makers by calling attention to the fact that student learning outside of class has significant merit when purposefully related to inside class learning. The out of class environment is where students often find their calling and where they are free to experiment in ways that will allow them to find the work worth doing. This experimentation may also open students' eyes to where work is moving, something that educators miss.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A new message - It's not the apocalypse

The Electoral College has now confirmed Donald Trump as President-Elect of the U.S.A. That leaves both those who supported his run and those who opposed him with the question of what to do now? The apocalyptic predictions of increased overt acts of hostility based on race, sex, sexual orientation, immigration status, and other identities in higher education were a concern for many faculty, staff, and students. And, there have been disturbing reports that hostility has increased which could make the U.S.A. in general and higher education in specific a place where internationalization of any type (i.e. study abroad, international students studying in the U.S.A., curriculum integration) is at risk.

In a period of history where social media is so pervasive and where "news" reports often make it difficult to figure out who to believe, one stance educators could take is to renormalize the way we think about and portray each other's actions. The #WeAreInternational movement begun by students in the post-Brexit aftermath is a great example of renormalization.

David Haney writes in "An Unhealthy Bubble" that apocalyptic predictions contributed to the negative environment and now educators need to move on. He says, "we need to provide a diverse and inclusive environment that challenges students both to get out of their filter bubbles and to recognize the violence implicit in living inside a bubble." He also suggests that the opportunity going forward is for citizens and educators to recognize that "...peace is achieved not through the voter's assertion of the priority of individual choice, but rather by acknowledging the infinity of the other person -- someone who has an existence we should respect beyond the categories we are tempted to impose."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

UK universities anticipate declines

As many higher education officials predicted, the number of faculty, staff, and students who see the UK as a good place to teach, research, and study is declining. The House of Commons Education Committee requested reports from higher education sector officials about the impact of the Brexit vote; they received 190 responses which were best captured by a paper submitted by three pro vice chancellors from Cambridge who said that universities are on a 'cliff edge' of "regulatory and visa changes" that are likely to "have a sudden and damaging impact."

Some institutions have already seen faculty and post-docs offers rejected. Others report lower EU student applications and acceptance rates. By contrast to what was predicted, data released by indicated that applications to universities in the U.K. remained steady. The impact of the falling value of the British Sterling currency could also help maintain enrollment of EU institutions, although the full impact of currency changes coupled with potential restrictions on study visas left an uncertain picture.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Internationalization in the curriculum

Dr. Ming Cheng asserts that internationalization of the curriculum is not working. She says, "It is high time that Western universities took concerted action to support students and academic staff to increase their intercultural awareness, for example, by increasing the quality of student learning through developing programs that are attractive to students from cultural backgrounds."

Cheng proposes that one of the key issues in failed internationalization is that Western models dominate what is taught in the classroom. This dominance goes unchallenged because many Western-trained academics do not realize how their views of the world are subjective, and privileged, in the process of learning. An issue that is not included in Cheng's analysis is that much of student learning is acquired outside of class, thus requiring concerted focus on learning that takes place throughout students' experiences.

In order to address student learning and development in substantive ways, students must be approached holistically and educational practice must be examined critically. Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education provides an introduction on how educators might begin this transformation process.

Saudi Arabia student numbers in U.S. fall by 19.9%

As predicted, the number of students studying in the U.S.A. from Saudia Arabia fell by 19.9% from November 2015 to 2016. Changes in policy in Saudi Arabia were credited with the drop. Perhaps there are other issues that should be considered as well - such as climate for Saudi Arabian students on college campuses, perceived return on investment, and the emerging overall political environment in the U.S.A.

Ideological focus reinforced by China's President Xi

The central importance of ideological education in Chinese higher education has been reiterated in recent years. President Xi Jimping recently asserted that "Ideological and political work is fundamentally work about individuals. The work must focus on students, caring for them, serving them, and helping them improve in ideological quality, political awareness, moral characteristics and humanistic quality to enable them to develop both ability and integrity."

Understanding what President Xi and Communist Part of China (CPC) leaders mean when they advocate for intensified ideological focus in higher education is important for institutions around the world who host Chinese international students as well as institutions/countries that now have, or are considering,  partnered programs in China. An important implication of the focus on ideology is that higher education is perceived to have a major responsibility in developing the leaders for the future in the socialist cause.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Duty to Protect higher education

As most educators would assert, higher education is a crucial resource to advance society and build capacity whether in the local community, a state, or region. Not only is higher education a resources to nurture but it is one to protect. The duty to protect higher education is outlined in a report calling for states to take the necessary steps to make sure that institutions are safe in times of political strife and potential persecution.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Do admission representatives cross the line?

In the highly lucrative international student market, the line between admission advice versus exploitation is pretty narrow. One of the specific questions raised in a Reuters article was the propriety of college admission staff accepting travel perks to go to China to advise Chinese students on the application processes for U.S. institutions. The article claims that the "advice" in some cases went as far as guidance on admission essay applications.

Dipont Education Management Group, whose focus is helping Chinese students gain access to higher education in the U.S., responded to criticism by joining a research initiative to assess the degree of fraud involved in Chinese student applications. Dipont later withdrew from participation in the fraud study and the future of the project was not clear.

There are a variety of ethical concerns that come to mind:

  1. When does providing privileged or inside information to a prospective student bias the selection process in favor of those who can afford to buy the assistance?
  2. If students gain admission to an institution where their true credentials don't really qualify them, is that really a help?
  3. Does a "pay to play" scheme in gaining admission to preferred institutions benefit the institution or students? Who is the commodity under these circumstances and should either the institution or student be placed in this position?
In order to maintain the integrity of higher education, these and many other questions should be considered carefully.

Monday, November 28, 2016

ERASMUS a positive influence for EU

It is not surprising that research on those who completed a university degree and especially those who studied in other European countries as part of the ERASMUS agreement have more favorable views of Europe than those who did not. In the ERASMUS Impact Study, 88% of U.K. citizens who studied in another country reported feeling very European and 84% had a positive attitude towards Europe in contrast to the 62% of non-mobile U.K. students.

The impact of university study, especially when coupled with international exposure, is consistent with the pattern among U.S.A. citizens who voted in the recent elections for President. The difference between university graduates' view of the world has become a defining factor in the struggle between those who advocate isolation versus connection and cooperation across international borders.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Australia benefits from Brexit and prospect of Trump Presidency

The political context of a country can and does heavily impacts its attractiveness when international students consider their options. Australia is coming out on top in the face of the implications of the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the U.S.A. The impact isn't small with an average of 20% international students across Australia's higher education sector. Australia's revenues are up 8% to $20 billion ($14.8 billion USD) per year.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Higher education challenged at the core

As the implications of the U.S.A. electing Donald Trump as its next President continue to be explored, some higher education leaders predict rough water ahead as widely accepted core values are challenged. In a speech delivered on campus Columbia's President Lee Bollinger said that, "The denial of climate change, the rejection of the fact of evolution, the attack on free speech, the dissemination of falsehoods deliberately and intentionally that would make George Orwell seem naive and unimaginative, the attack on groups that we celebrate at Columbia and embrace as part of our greatness - these are not political issues. This is where we stand. This is a challenge to what we stand for."

Harvard professor and former President Lawrence Summers who criticized previous diversity efforts on campus now sees the campaign labeling of certain issues as "politically correct" as a way to marginalize their importance. Citing the rise in hate incidents in schools and at universities after the November 8, 2016, election, Summers said "In the face of all this, the president-elect and his staff condemn those who march in protest over his election but as of yet have not forcefully condemned those overt acts of racism, sexism and bigotry the election has stimulated. They have allowed, without adequate response and rejection, the celebration of victory to metastasize into something dark and evil. It is surely wrong to hold the president-elect personally responsible for all the words and deeds of all who support him. Equally, the president-elect has a moral obligation to stand up for tolerance and against intolerance whatever its source."

Student activism appears to be on the rise in higher education around the world and may only be starting to unfold in the U.S.A. Student affairs educators in all countries must look carefully at the role they will play, examine what their institutions expect, and gaze into the future to see what is in the best interest of universities in the longer term. Lack of forethought, silence and complacency may be very costly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Should U.S. campuses become "safe sanctuaries?"

As U.S. citizens and institutions continue to sort out the implications of Donald Trump's election as President, campuses are considering ways they might become "safe sanctuaries" much like some of the urban centers of NYC, LA, and Chicago. More than two dozen campuses have movements underway to look "for concrete ways to help those individuals who fear the possibility of deportation or loss of opportunities under a Trump presidency."

Monday, November 14, 2016

International students in the U.S.A. increases but is this at risk?

The most recent Open Doors indicated that enrollment of international students in U.S.A. universities increased by 7% in the 2015-16 academic year, topping 1 million in total; the proportion of international students in all of U.S.A. universities stands at 5.2%. While China is the source of over 300,000 of these students (with an 8.1% increase), India, Vietnam, and Nigeria numbers increased at a faster pace.

When the U.S.A. was contemplating the impact of the election of Donald Trump as President, Philip Altbach and Hans de Wit predicted a decline in international student numbers. Their prediction was applicable to a number of countries world-wide that have begun to embrace more "nationalist, anti-globalist and xenophobic governments." Altbach and de Wit included the United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, and Turkey in this group.

Now that Donald Trump has begun the implementation of his first 100 days, limiting visas and building walls is becoming a reality. Watching the trends, anticipating the impact, and positioning educational opportunity in various national contexts such as the U.S.A. and U.K. will be an important focus of the attention of many in higher education. For some higher education institutions international student enrollment is a substantial part of their revenue. Particularly for the U.S.A., where 10% of total funding comes from international students.

Impact of study abroad positive for Japanese students

A study of the impact of study abroad for Japanese students documents the strong impact it has for developing global workplace skills, adopting a broader view across cultures, and a different way of viewing their career choices. The study included 2,640 participants who studied abroad as undergraduates/graduates compared to a control sample of 1,298 who had not.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Site of branch campuses shifting to Asia

The phenomenon of branches campuses continues to unfold (249) but the location of these is changing. China has been growing at a faster rate than other areas of the world, growing from 13 in 2010 to 32 in 2015. With the largest number of young people seeking advanced education in the world, it is no surprise that China is including branch campuses in its higher education expansion strategies.

An interesting twist on China's increasing number of branch campuses was raised by OBHE Director, Richard Garrett, who offered the opinion that "universities from developing countries that are engaged in setting up branch campuses tend to be 'unusually large institutions' or 'unusually entrepreneurial' and the goal of their foreign provision is to serve a 'specialized' expat group or minority group that wants some home provision that it cannot get locally."

Perhaps meeting both national's and expatriates' higher education needs is the best capacity building strategy. As the number of expatriates from around the world continues to expand (as Khanna predicts), helping countries blend and leverage diverse workforces will be key. Learning to live and learn together in a mix of indigenous and expatriate learners is one of the best ways to teach the value of all when it comes to capacity building.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Could Trump election result in international student numbers falling in the U.S.?

With all that Donald Trump has said about various racial/cultural groups, women, internationals and others, some fear that international student interest in the U.S. may drop. This would be an incredibly unfortunate outcome of Trump's victory at the polls - both in regard to international students being an important part of U.S. domestic students' learning as well as the loss of opportunity for U.S. higher education to help build human capacity around the world.

Having been on campus to consult at one Mid-Western university the day after the election, I observed on thing that gave me hope. The campus was full of cross-cultural interaction of various types - students walking, studying, playing sports, and a variety of things all together. Perhaps knowing that our shared diverse communities are being threatened by ideologic hostility will lead to students valuing that diversity and each other more than ever!

Implications for student affairs educators of Trump election

Student affairs educators in the US are trying to sort out the implications of Donald Trump's election. Kevin Kruger, President of NASPA, advises that maintaining focus and attention on campus climate for international and multicultural students is key. A challenge I would add to those Kruger suggests is seeking to differentiate the hate-motivated Trump supporters from those who seek change in governmental business as usual and economic policy. Trump advocates are diverse and attributing hateful motivations to too many may create more rather than fewer problems.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

India's complications in establishing branch campuses

Branch campuses are most often initiated by U.S.A., British, Canadian, or Australian universities in the Middle East or Asia. A model where branch campuses are established in the U.S.A. by a private university system in India have run into complications, as Elizabeth Redden indicated in her Inside Higher Education essay. The specific case cited involved the purchase of Amity University and resistance expressed by the Massachusetts attorney journal. The article describes concerns raised about foreign entities sponsoring institutions in the U.S.A. along with questions being raised about accrediting agencies sanctioning programs outside the U.S.A.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What does student affairs offer?

As professions emerge over time there are a variety of criteria that they seek to fulfill, among them a theory base, standards of practice, ethics statements, and preparation programs. One of the challenges that international educators face in trying to understand student affairs as practiced in North America is that the field has not been conscientious in documenting the founding and core philosophy of the field. This post is offered to at least partially respond to the question of what student affairs has to offer from a historical and philosophical perspective.

My 40+ year career has involved serving as a programmer, educator, and administrator in student affairs - in the U.S.A. and for 7 years in Qatar. Having been mentored by several individuals who were scholar-practitioners during my early career, I came into student affairs believing that it was the responsibility of all programmers/administrators to contribute research, writing, and theorizing to the field that I value so deeply.

If there is any area in which I hope I've made a difference, it is in attempting to be a generative scholar - giving credit to the early pioneers in student affairs and keeping their legacy alive. While serving as Past-President of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) in 1986-87, one of my responsibilities was to convene the Past-Presidents' breakfast at the 1987 annual meeting. I set out to appeal to as many of the Past-Presidents' I could find and with one particular Past-President a primary target - Dr. Esther Lloyd-Jones. I was able to convince her to attend the 1987 ACPA Convention which was the joint convention with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators commemorating the 50th anniversary of the "Student Personnel Point of View."

The 1987 encounter with Esther started a period of intense correspondence, conversation, and visits that lasted until her death in 1991. I was privileged to be invited to a wonderful celebration of her 90th birthday and the family subsequently requested that I provide the professional eulogy at the memorial service after her death in 1991. The memorial was small and intimate, odd for someone whose legacy has touched so many.

Several articles and my 2007 book, Deeper Learning in Leadership (Jossey-Bass) reference or honor Esther. In addition, I interviewed Esther and distributed a copy of excerpts from our conversation in 1987, "Esther Lloyd-Jones, Perspectives on the Student Personnel Point of View, 1937-1987." I can say without question that completing this videotape and documenting her views in her own words is the contribution to student affairs in which I take the greatest satisfaction.

The history, philosophy, and evolution of student affairs is not studied in detail in most graduate programs in the U.S.A. This troubles me a great deal. The result is that there are a considerable number of other published pieces on the presumed history of student affairs which are inconsistent with what Esther shared. This post provides the first-hand voice of one of, if not the most significant of, our founders.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

U.S.A. students' experience in Canada

A report conducted by Universities Canada (the full report can be downloaded from this link) looked at why students from the U.S.A. choose to study in Canada. Chief among the reasons is the cost of enrollment and beyond that is the opportunity to experience another culture. When it comes to cultural exposure, Canada is a more comfortable stretch for some U.S.A. students because Canadian and U.S.A. cultures are more alike than many other places where students could study. In general, U.S.A. students gave positive reports about their experience. The only exception is that they sometimes need assistance but have difficulty getting it because they are not perceived to be true international students.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Abu Dhabi leverages partnerships to advance research

In a move to achieve greater impact in research, Abu Dhabi is merging three higher education entities - Khalifa University, Masdar Institute, and the Petroleum Institute. There are great examples of these academic and research partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh being one of the most productive.

IIE seeks to expand U.S.A. study abroad

Generation "Study Abroad" and the "Passport Caravan" are two initiatives launched by the Council for International Educational Exchange. To expand study abroad beyond a core of more privileged students, IIE has now proposed to include more students from diverse cultural backgrounds in addition to those from lower socio-economic brackets. If higher education embraces internationalization as an institutional goal and value-added component of learning, then access must be addressed and IIE's efforts should help.

University of Cincinnati defers international student fee

Amid resistance on campus, the University of Cincinnati has determined that it will defer a proposed $150 extra international student fee - at least for this year. Criticism of the fee was based on tight budgets that international students already face as a result of higher overall fees. From this blogger's perspective, couple this critique with the fact that international students generally receive little or no financial assistance and they are, themselves, an educational resource to the institution, to conclude that an additional fee of any kind is probably unjustified.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cultivating civic engagement

Civic engagement is a primary goal for many countries around the world. And one of the places where the greatest impact can be made is during the university years. The question is how to achieve this goal with maximum impact.

With the erosion of civility in the political discourse of the U.S.A., encouraging students to look at their role in civil society has become increasingly important. Julie Woleman, writing for Inside Higher Education, provides five conditions that have the potential to deepen the impact of universities' civic engagement initiatives: 1) identify the fundamental issues, 2) understand the issue in its broader context, 3) support faculty wok across disciplines, 4) develop leaders, and 5) strive for lifetime impact.

The above conditions are very important as higher education seeks to move from one-off exotic experiences to systemic change. Driving for deeper outcomes is important both in the U.S.A. as well as in international settings. One tool to help is the "Social Change Model of Leadership Development" which is being celebrated in numerous conferences this fall. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the "Social Change Model..." is recognized as one of the most widely used and best documented models among U.S.A. institutions and it is increasingly used around the world as well.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Aurora - new cross-border European cooperation

As institutions around the world continue to strive for excellence and prominence, partnerships are becoming ever more important. The Aurora Network is a new multinational network of eight European universities designed with "the conviction that there is no trade-off between research excellence by global standards, broad access for students and an inclusive academic environment and societal impact in research, teaching and outreach." This vision avoids the either/or dichotomies that can sometimes be part of academic conversations, a welcome support for mutual and synergistic work.

Academic support for cocurricular student experiences

Student affairs and services staff always need friends. A recent essay by Steven Mintz and Partick Rutter advocates that faculty and student affairs should work cooperatively to align curriculum efforts with those in the cocurriculum - deliberately designed non-class experiences that relate to goals set out in the curriculum.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Challenging students to become "Reasonable Adventurers"

I read an article by Michael J. Stebleton titled, "Challenging Students to Become Reasonable Adventurers" in the September 2016 ABOUT CAMPUS magazine. The article dredged up one of early student development's most delightful theorizers - Roy Heath. I was first exposed to Heath's ideas when he spoke at a conference in 1976 at the University of Minnesota, a conference that pulled together some of the most promising theorists and educators of the day. Heath's model was validated on only a small sample of privileged white men attending Princeton, yet the ideas that came from the model were very useful in conceptualizing the goal of developmental programs both in 1976 and, as Stebleton demonstrates, today.

Stebleton described a 3-week trip to Sweden and Norway that served as a catalyst for his students to see the world in a different way. What he hoped would occur, and was documented by some of his students' reflections, was that they would exhibit six core traits: intellectuality, close friendships, independence in value judgements, tolerance of ambiguity, breadth of interests, and a sense of humor. These traits defined "reasonable adventurers" who Heath believed would be more effective in the world of the late 20th century.

This article advocates a variety of methods through which "reasonable adventurers" can be nurtured. One of the most important methods found in most rich learning/developmental experiences is introducing students to a challenging environment, one that causes them to fundamentally question truths they have held dear. Stebleton also encourages faculty and student affairs educators to work together to achieve the right balance between support and challenge through a variety of collegiate experiences.

Stebleton's article was a good reminder of a simple yet cogent student development theory that many have found useful in the past. He advocates for updated research with broader numbers of diverse students to modify the model for contemporary use. I would also add that, although Stebleton does not reference anything related to international students, the "reasonable adventurer" idea may actually be a description that most captures who the international students of today are. These gems in our midst would likely be able to stimulate deeper learning among their domestic peers if they were invited to do so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Branch campuses continue to grow in number

With a more detailed report to come from the Observatory on Borderless Education, early release confirms a continued rise in the number of branch campuses to approximately 250. China hosts the largest number and U.S.A. universities are the primary providers.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Australian universities seek to reduce proportion of international students from China

In an effort to protect themselves from over-dependence on students from any particularly country as well as a desire to diversify the campus, some of Australia's top-rankied universities have been strategically reducing the number of Chinese students they admit. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Two new higher education internationalization publications support student affairs/services

Interest in student affairs and services has been expanding throughout the world and this has been complemented by a growing commitment to providing students a more informed entry into the global world in which we live.  The challenges and opportunities that higher education staff and advocates are expected to address are more effectively addressed when ideas are shared, models are developed and modified, and when educators cooperate across borders to support the improvement of each other’s practice.

Two new publications are now available to help shape the future of international higher education. These two books are unique in their complementarity; they share several key authors and their content reinforces a shared message about enhancing student learning and development. These books are also distinct from each other, making them useful for different audiences and for different purposes.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development inCross-Border Higher Education (Roberts & Komives, Eds., 2016) is available through the New Directions for Higher Education series.

This book is relatively short (115 pages) and offers an overview of why and how institutions might look more deeply into the prospect of enhancing students’ learning and development both in and out of class. Comparative analysis of educational practices and modifying approaches across environments is advocated including examples from authors in four international settings. The book concludes with the two research and theory bases that are important to enhancing students’ experiences – student development and campus culture – as well as provides guidance on research, evaluation, and assessment, building staff capacity, and mutual partnerships. This book will be of interest to all those who value quality higher education no matter what their role. The intent is to convince broader constituencies of the merit of enhancing the student experience so that students worldwide will benefit from intentional learning and development opportunities.

Supporting Students Globally in HigherEducation (Osfield, Perozzi, Bardill Moscaritolo, & Shea, 2016) is available through the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) website.

Written for both new and seasoned student affairs professionals around the world, Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education, co-led by leaders from IASAS (International Association of Student Affairs and Services) and NASPA lays the groundwork for improving the lives of students. As globalization continues to flatten our world and internationalization efforts press forward, student affairs and services practitioners are uniquely positioned to assist students with attaining high-quality, holistic higher education, which in turn leads to the improvement of global society overall.

In Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education leaders from all parts of the globe contribute their expertise, presenting a variety of concepts in detail and with specificity, capturing nuance and country-specific flair, while also providing paradigm-changing examples. Overarching issues include:
  • Rapidly growing numbers of international students
  • An increasingly diverse and mobile student population
  •  Expanding diversity of the campus at home
  • Intensified cross-border cooperation in research and teaching
  • More and different staff exchange programs
  • Closer and more intensified cooperation of state actors

Funding challenges for European universities

Elizabeth Redden referenced the European University Association's (EUA) Public Funding Observatory report documenting decline in higher education funding in most EU countries. The only countries where funding increased at a rate beyond that required to serve growing numbers of students are Norway and Sweden. Potential areas of impact include funding cuts for staff and capital/infrastructure investment, higher fees for non-EU students, pursuit of alternative funding, and increased efficiency.

Student affairs/services programs can be vulnerable when institutions are pushed to reduce costs or increase efficiency. The claim is often that, in difficult budget times, funding should be preserved for the core function of teaching. What is not recognized when student affairs/services are targeted is that retention and persistence to graduation is often influenced as much by what happens outside of class as what occurs in class. Reduction in student affairs/services my erode student success and thereby further reduce revenues coming from student fees.

NYU Singapore sued by former students

Whether or not branch university programs are comparable to the home campus is often raised by critics. Students are the greatest stakeholders in this question and, if they are not satisfied, they can discredit the institutions that offer them. Three students who graduated from NYU Singapore's arts master's degree (begun in 2007 and subsequently determined to be closed in 2012) asserted that the "Tisch Asia was a subpar program in practically every aspect, from the quality of faculty, facilities and equipment to exclusion of Tisch Asia students from grants, competitions and networking opportunities available to student at Tisch New York." NYU spokesperson, John Beckman, said that "This suit is wholly without merit, and we expect to prevail in court."

Regardless of the outcome of the suit, the idea of comparability in branch degree programs needs to be carefully dissected. In reality, how could any U.S.A., European, or other university fully replicate the experience of its home campus? Especially when one considers that much of a student's experience occurs outside of class and that peers heavily influence each other's learning, pretending that a program transported from NYC to Singapore would be the same is a stretch. Perhaps institutions would be better off focusing on what can be the same (i.e. curriculum structure) and then what will be different and potentially superior (i.e. fellow students, student to faculty ratio, and opportunities for student engagement) to the home campus.

Higher education in English

One of the more difficult issues to negotiate as higher education internationalization unfolds is the language of instruction. English has been the most typical language adopted in programs, especially where branch campuses of primarily English speaking countries are involved. A new program offered in partnership between Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Ghent University in Belgium is offering an interdisciplinary bachelor's degree in English to appeal to the international market. Initially expected to attract about 60 students, 117 had signed up within the first three days of opening applications. Dieter Vandebroeck, professor of sociology and director of the program, indicated that the mix of students from 30 different countries will "enrich the learning experience of students from across the globe bring a variety of perspectives to contentious international issues."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"Purposeful connectedness" a critical goal in higher education leadership

Mirroring what has been found as the emerging model for 21st century leadership in business and governmental sectors, Richard Sharpe advocates that higher education leaders need to help their institutions abandon the individualistic academic model and move toward a more connected model that embraces a shared vision that brings disparate sub-groups together. While not referencing Ron Heifetz "adaptive leadership" perspective, Sharpe's view reflects similar ideas - that leadership is about identifying questions that are important to the academic community and then engaging all stakeholders in the challenging work of identifying plausible strategies to deal with their changing circumstances. The "divided university" that privileges autonomy to the detriment of the institution could undermine viability in the future, a dilemma that calls for moving away from bureaucratic to connective and adaptive leadership.

Employment advantage of study abroad unrecognized

With globalization and internationalization gaining momentum, study abroad is increasingly seen as a critical element of preparing graduates for the world of work. Unfortunately, many current students do not understand that international study is an investment that will give them an advantage when they seek employment post graduation.

Branch campuses offer added value

One of the greatest advantages of branch campuses is that those programs linked to internationally recognized high quality institutions can be made available closer to home. The diversity of students and faculty at branch campuses, the support of local/regional cultural standards, and potential to reduce costs of attendance are other benefits. When the curriculum and standards are the same between home and branch sites, students can more easily spend a portion of their study time at the home campus, allowing for the international exposure so many students seek.

UK higher education makes headlines again

In an announcement reflective of the protective mood among some UK politicians, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced a crackdown on international students and immigrant workers. Rudd's remarks focused on preventing foreign workers from taking jobs that should be held by Brits and discouraging international students from enrolling in low quality programs. Paul Blomfield, co-chair of an all-party parliamentary group on international students, labeled Rudd's remarks about universities as "spectacularly uninformed." Brexit secretary, David Davis, said that British companies may be required to seek British nationals to fill positions before they turn to internationals. Davis added, "But the other side of this is we have to make sure that our own population are ready and equipped to work, whether it is low-skilled work - and that is about motivation and about commitment to work."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

China - Academic freedom and creativity

The U.S.A. Government Accountability Office reviewed the contracts and policies of 12 U.S. universities who have branch campuses in China. The review concluded that academic freedom is generally supported in the agreements but that internet restrictions and self-censorship presented problems. Those universities granted independent legal status by the Chinese Ministry of Education were found to "share characteristics - such as campuses located away from their Chinese university partner's campus and extensive student life programs - that may be correlated with greater academic freedom and other key freedoms."

Writing for Times Higher Education, David Mathews indicated that studies and stereotypes about Chinese students characterize them as lacking creativity. One of the possible reasons noted for the lack of creativity is the intense focus on performance on entry examinations for the top universities in China, a phenomenon that reinforces rote learning rather than critical thinking and risk taking behavior.

Perhaps there is a link between the two articles referenced here - restricted academic freedom, whether imposed through policy/law or self-censorship, might contribute to students and faculty not seeing innovation and creativity as supported by their institutions or the government. Couple intellectual reticence as a result of censorship with hyper-focus on rote learning could easily establish habits of conformist thinking that reduces creative output.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Concrete evidence of outcomes persuades international students

Although applicable to all students, international students may be more focused on looking for evidence of outcomes when they choose the universities they attend. Megan Brenn-White advocates moving beyond lofty aspirations related to "high-quality teaching" and general references to lucrative careers. Specific percentages of students who securing employment related to their majors with international students broken out in detail is one example of the kind of evidence that international students and their families will find useful.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Are international students' preferences for study in the U.S.A. declining?

The U.S. association, National Association of College Admissions Counselors, is meeting and one of the areas of concern the members are exploring is the prospect of maintaining what has been a growing number of international students studying in the U.S.A. Those assembled identified concerns raised by prospective international students such as the cost of U.S. institutions, decline of government subsidies, visa restrictions, violence on campus and adjoining towns, and competition from better options emerging in their home countries. While these decision criteria may not have easy solutions, one concern about studying in the U.S.A. is unique to the 2016 race for the U.S. Presidency. International students have seen the political discourse and don't like what they see - xenophobia, vilification, and marginalization by the Trump campaign.

In addition to exploring prospective international students' concerns, the admission counselors revisited the stance they took at their last meeting allowing private placement agents to assist candidates in their admission transactions. Two new clauses were added to NACAC's Statement of Principles of Best Practice. The first recommends that paid recruitment staff disclose to prospects any institution that is compensating them. The second recommendation is that institutions offer to verify the agents they employ to represent them. The combination of these measures will at least offer more transparency about who is involved and what their motivations might be.

Friday, September 23, 2016

UNESCO report reveals corruption recruiting international students

Mel Broitman of the Center for International Higher Education reports on corruption in recruiting practices around the world but focuses on the example of Canada. He asserts that "It is overwhelmingly evident that in the last two decades we have witnessed first-hand a remarkable and callous disregard for academic ethics and standards in a scramble by Canadian universities and colleges to sign up foreign students, who represent tens of millions of dollars to their bottom lines." The applicability of this very sad indictment to many institutions and countries isn't the worst part of this picture; the impact of dashed hopes and undeveloped capacity on individual students, their families, and the countries who often fund their attendance is the greater tragedy.

UK fights negativity with #WeAreInternational

The negative impact on higher education of the Brexit vote was predicted by many educators. Now a unified effort across the UK higher education sector, begun by University of Sheffield's Students Union and then embraced by the university, fights back with clear messages about the value of international diversity at its institutions. Visit #WeAreInternational to see what's being done to preserve a precious educational resource - student diversity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Students protest proposed fee increases in South Africa

Higher education opportunity is valued in most regional or country environments where talent development is a key priority. However, funding is an inevitable and difficult question when quality is sought for a broader base of students. South Africa is struggling with its efforts to increase funding through fees charged to students but students are protesting the move, complaining that increased fees inordinately impact black students with low family incomes.

One of the questions about funding relates to the variation in means of students attending the same institution. The perspective taken by Teferra is that if a society has low economic variation such as Scandinavian countries, striving for no tuition or the same tuition across institutions may make sense. On the other hand, where economic means varies widely, providing free education to those with high means may direct resources to support a privileged segment of students that would have been better used in providing critical aid to those with lower means.

Many South African universities have suspended or postponed classes until after scheduled breaks in order to avoid the continuing protests about rising fees. The vice chancellor and principal of University of the Witwatersrand made a last-ditch effort to save the academic year by urging students and faculty to attend class amid enhanced security forces.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Supporting international students in "speaking up"

Andy Molinsky of Brandeis University, whose research and theory is on cultural dexterity, offers helpful advice for faculty on how to help international students cope with the expectation of class participation. It will not take much effort to see that his four points could also be useful in out of class settings; in fact, perhaps preparing international students for active participation through student organizations and events may be even easier and more effective, thus helping faculty achieve their goals as well. The four suggestions include:

  • Take time to learn about the challenges international students face
  • Empathize with the challenges
  • Explain why participation is so important to you and them
  • If participation is expected, provide training and support

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rankings - does teaching matter?

The quality of teaching in international higher education is included in two of the most prominent ranking systems but the question is the relative priority accorded to teaching in contrast to other issues such as research productivity and reputation. Inside Higher Education's blog post from the Center for International Higher Education indicates that the two major rankings (SJT and THE) place 20% and 30% weight respectively on teaching effectiveness. This post recognizes that assessment of teaching is difficult which may lead to even less impact of the teaching effectiveness measures but it notes that the new UK Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) offers a way to enhance the importance placed on teaching throughout UK institutions. The only problem with the TEF is that some believe that the TEF measurement will actually show that institutions with lesser reputations do a better job in teaching, a finding which the blog post indicates should not be a surprise.

The challenge of assessing outcome and impact is difficult but it is essential if quality in higher education is to be broadly achieved. Understanding what is ultimately valued in students' learning and then finding effective ways measure it is addressed in general in Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education in the chapter on Assessment, Evaluation and Research.

International students sue Alabama State University

Report that 37 Nigerian students sued Alabama State University for not releasing funds paid to the university for the students' expenses reflects deeper concerns than the relationships with the Nigerian government and the students bringing the lawsuit. The Nigerian government paid the university for tuition, fees, and other expenses, including on-campus residence. The students allege that the fees were inflated in comparison to domestic students and that the services were inferior. The professor who was instrumental in bringing the students to Alabama State reports that he now regrets having encouraged them.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Access to education - essential and progressive

Most educators and governmental policy makers realize that increasing access to education not only results in individual personal development and prosperity but also contributes to the public good by improving the quantity and quality of talent required to grow economies. The latest OECD Education at a Glance 2016 report provides comparative information that helps participating countries measure their investment in education. The Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 are ambitious and are matched by the OECD strategy to measure progress - a clear indicator of the seriousness of this cross-border commitment.

A study from Cambridge University of 35 countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa provides another source  of data on progress in education. This study indicated that being poor and/or female results in lower access in many of these developing countries, a condition that some believe must first be addressed by improving primary and secondary education access.

Monday, September 12, 2016

School and university partnerships in the UK

Strings are being attached to the rising cost of higher education in the UK. In addition to the new outcomes assessment focus advocated by government leaders, universities are now encouraged to establish more direct school and university partnerships. The article mentions that approximately 50% already have these relationships but linking funding increases to school-university collaboration may result in both more and deeper work.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Branch campuses - how they go wrong

An article in the New Republic on Crazy College of Qatar is a great example of how branch campus efforts go wrong. Whether the article is fair or not isn't the point; the point is that the way the "Crazy College of Qatar" (the nickname given to the Community College of Qatar by those in Qatar) so graphically demonstrates how not to pursue internationalization:
  • Start with the sponsoring/donor institution (Houston Community College) primarily being motivated by economic gain and enhancing its own reputation.
  • Couple it with a weak and quickly endorsed agreement.
  • Add to that unrealistic expectations on the part of both the host and donor, and
  • Extravagant spending that added little value to the initiative, and
  • Top it all off with assigning academics with little awareness of their privilege and even lower motivation to learn and pursue a mutual journey.
These factors are a recipe for failure and Houston Community College called it quits earlier this year, walking away with only a consulting relationship with Community College of Qatar, little in revenue, and even less in relation to reputational benefit.

Innovation Partnerships in the new Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education (Roberts/Komives, 2016) offers recommendations on how to build positive and mutually beneficial partnerships for internationalization.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Assessing higher education outcomes in the UK

Increasing the focus on outcomes assessment in UK higher education has been controversial. Nevertheless, a variety of new strategies are rolling out through a number of institutions now and in the coming year. Elizabeth Redden summarizes these initiatives, one of which will be (2017) the first full implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework. TEF "will be benchmarked to take into account different institutions' student characteristics and subject mixtures: 1) data on satisfaction in teaching drawn from the National Student Survey, 2) retention rates and 3) rates of employment or continuing study six months after graduation drawn from the national Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey." The increased focus on documenting outcomes has emerged as UK institutions have shifted from government support to private pay; the implication of achieving high performance outcomes is that the government may tie an institution's ability to raise tuition to its performance.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Tents of love" provided for China's "One-child" generation students

It's hard to comprehend the angst of parents who would sleep in a tent in order to make sure their only child successfully makes the transition to university study. However, sending your only child off has much deeper ramifications than most educators in the west would understand. The phenomenon of the "one child" generation is addressed by Johnston Wong of Bejing Normal University Hong Kong Baptist University United International College in Zhuhai, China, in chapter 4 of Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education titled "Adversity training for Chinese university students."

World higher education rankings - US tops, Asia growing, and UK declines

The world higher education rankings are out and interpretation has begun. For the UK, the news is not good. Thirty-eight of the forty-eight higher education institutions in the UK which have been in the top 400 declined in ranking. The US holds the top 3 positions as well as being complemented with a 47%  increase in the rankings among its 78 institutions in the top 400. Asian countries, with growing focus on capacity building, are gaining in their rank with 68% of their 74 institutions improving their relative position. Post-Brexit uncertainty and questions about long-term funding are blamed for the decline in UK rankings.

Singapore's push to learn from others

Singapore has advanced on the world scene by looking beyond its borders for best practices, a habit that will keep them on the innovation edge of higher education. Phil Altbach reflects on his interaction with Singapore's Ministry of Education which seeks to balance workforce preparation with other intellectual habits that have been found to be important in broader educational efforts. He said, "While the ambitious SkillsFuture push in Singapore includes a focus on equipping workers with the right skills for jobs, it also contains a philosophical dimension of getting Singaporeans to think of learning as a personal endeavor."

Monday, September 5, 2016

Enhancing student learning and development - new resource

Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education, Vol. 175 of the New Directions for Higher Education series is now available in print and digital versions. The book provides essential background to inform international higher education faculty, administrators, policy makers, and funders about the research and theorizing around enhancing student learning and development as well as the contribution student affairs educators make on campuses throughout the world.

Susan Komives and I served as the editors for this book and the contributing authors are experienced educators from around the world. Each chapter advocates carefully adapting practices so that they make sense for many different cultures and environments. The link above provides a preview and print/digital copies can be ordered from the site.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development... will be helpful for a variety of readers. It can be of help as institutions reflect on their comprehensive internationalization strategy. It will help those in emerging higher education centers construct ways to make sure students fully benefit from their experience. It should also be useful to graduate program faculty seeking to introduce new professionals and graduate students to critical issues in internationalization.

Susan, our contributing authors, and my most sincere desire is that this book will help those who know how powerful the student experience can be but lack the understanding of what can be done to make it better. With the tools provided in the text, student learning and development around the globe can be enhanced in ways that will transform education and the societies that see education as the gateway to peace and prosperity.

Friday, August 26, 2016

University of Chicago as a model for discourse

International higher education faculty and administration are often influenced by the actions of elite U.S. universities. There is growing awareness that U.S. practices, even when they are borrowed from elites, should be carefully considered and perhaps adapted or avoided; the University of Chicago has provided a perfect example where caution may be warranted.

The University of Chicago recently announced that it advocates an open marketplace of ideas that students need to understand and learn to accommodate. Practices such as "safe zones" for those who believe they are marginalized or threatened by other's views, "trigger warnings" for potentially unsettling topics, or restricting speakers of any perspectives will not be part of the University of Chicago campus scene.

This news has been posted in a variety of social media and appears to be embraced by many. When I first saw the announcement my reaction was positive as well - advocate open exchange which then takes away any need to prepare for, monitor, or take action that can be construed as a violation of free speech rights so highly valued on university campuses and more broadly in the U.S.A.  On further reflection, it may be important for educators, students, and families to all consider the context and then determine if the University of Chicago's approach is one that could/should be transferred elsewhere.

The University of Chicago has a venerable history based on the Germanic institutions of higher learning that dominated research exploration and productivity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. William Rainey Harper, early President of the University of Chicago and a driving force for higher education reform, advocated for education based on the "great books" of standard authors thought to be worthy of study and he didn't want first and second year students at all, believing that such low level education should be handled by "junior colleges." As one of the most elite intellectual institutions in the U.S.A. it has drawn students, many of whom were from privileged economic or social backgrounds, who by virtue of their class had a voice that they believed was valid, therefore allowing them to be comfortable in contributing their ideas to the marketplace of ideas that the University of Chicago has been so successful in creating.

So, to the question of transferability... While the idea of establishing a climate where all voices can be expressed is laudable, not all institutions have students (or faculty/staff for that matter) who have the intellectual privilege and assertiveness to compete when differing voices become strident. In addition, where do all students, regardless of their privilege and backgrounds, learn how to express dissent, to discern the worth of an argument, and to gain comfort in abandoning their own perspective long enough to learn from someone with a different view?

The University of Chicago has established a very interesting and provocative position regarding free speech on campus. It may work for some institutions but others may not have the climate to make it work. Most importantly, in an era where political discourse has sunk to new lows in relation to evidence and rationality, what should higher education do to establish practices and approaches that free intellectual discourse rather than push divisive discourse to the level that few can tolerate listening to each other?

Not surprisingly, there have been numerous responses to the University of Chicago's announcement to its new students that the campus does not provide safe space or refuge from uncomfortable issues. One of the responses that raises the core and complicated questions that higher education leaders might need to explore was offered by Brown University's Chair of American Studies, Professor Mathew Pratt Guterl. Guterl concluded his essay with, "Faculty members and administrators thus have a calling to act. Without delay. To remove that racist mural and relocate it to a museum. To rename that building and historicize the old name. To practice discernment in scheduling talks or speakers, so that we don't bring that bigot, thug or provocateur to the campus just to win a news cycle or to get your think tank in the paper. To prioritize ideas and visitors who are actively, constructively engaged in solving (and not making) social problems." This has a much higher likelihood of creating both a more open dialogue as well as a culture of respect and learning on the campus than simply saying, "It's not the university's business to make the hard decisions related to cultivating a campus culture that empowers all to speak their truth."

A letter from more than 150 faculty at the University of Chicago was published in the university's student newspaper on September 13 expressing concern about the Dean of Students' letter to entering students. The letter linked to mid-20th century efforts "to create places protected from quite real forces of violence and intimidation." One faculty member in Middle Eastern History, Holly Shissler, indicated that the faculty were not consulted in drafting the Dean's letter, saying that the "statement touches fundamentally on our role as teachers and mentors. We were -- or at least I was -- taken aback to have such a public statement made about teaching and intellectual life generally at the university without any consideration of the actual views and experience of the faculty."

The discussion became increasingly complicated when Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, criticized the idea of "safe spaces" as closing down necessary debate in the academic community.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Preparing for life by studying religion

One of the topics not often discussed in U.S. universities is the importance of religious understanding and tolerance. William "Chip" Gruen makes the case that study of world religions has become more important asserting that the "Study of the variety of religious traditions around the world makes it abundantly clear that different people operate under different assumptions about the way the world works. To understand their actions, we must also understand their motivations." Perhaps the place to learn about other religions is in the classroom but many students learn more from late night "bull sessions" where different perspectives are explored among friends.

UK universities final push to recruit students

United Kingdom universities are turning to social media to close the deal on admissions to their programs. "Getting Creative with Clearing" provides links to several videos that reflect interesting variations in the approach each takes to distinguish itself from others. It might be of particular interest to international educators to see how the holistic experience of students is portrayed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Canadian university withdrawing from campus in Saudi Arabia

Algonquin College of Ontario began three academic programs at an all-male campus in Saudi Arabia three years ago but has now determined that they will turn the initiative back to its Saudi operator. While details on the withdrawal are not available due to negotiations with Saudi Arabia on the withdrawal, the reports focus on financial viability as well as human rights concerns. An earlier report also reflected concerns that "it has become clear that the students applying to AC-Jazan do not have the academic and social preparedness for which our academic programs were contractually designed."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Investment in higher education pays

In justifying the expansion and improved quality of higher education, return on investment is a frequent question. A new study referenced in Inside Higher Education indicates that, indeed, it pays. The investment has to be seen in the long-term but the study indicates that enhancing human capital and innovation will be the result.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Stress and student success

An article by Karen Costa, an adjunct professor working out of Massachusetts, addresses the issue of stress in students' lives with the apparent primary target of U.S. domestic students. Costa's views were partially informed by Medina's (2014) warning that our brains don't function as well when we are subjected to debilitating stress. If we want students to succeed, Costa recommends that educators take a more careful look at how to help students become more comfortable with their learning community and resilient in the face of intellectual and personal challenge.

Costa does not address the stress that may be different for international students studying in the U.S. or U.S. students studying abroad. However, it doesn't take much to sort out the variables that might cause more stress or make it more difficult to handle - cultural difference, language, family expectation, learning style, support system, and the presence of advocates for their learning. This article raises many important points that should be considered by international educators seeking to enrich student learning and achieve broader success for all.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Changes in faculty hiring procedure at University of Hong Kong

Controversy is emerging from changes proposed at the University of Hong Kong related to faculty hiring. Critics view the move to centralize decisions on faculty hiring to two administrators as autocratic and undermining faculty authority.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Student affairs in the U.K.

A short essay by Eric Stoller for Inside Higher Education supports the increasing professionalization of student affairs work in the U.K. Beyond Stoller's advocacy, there is a lot of evidence of the good work being done by student services/affairs staff in U.K. institutions. One specific example is the work of Andrew West and his colleagues at the University of Sheffield. The work at Sheffield is one example of finely focused and effective work supporting "care leavers" (students who have been in the U.K. state/foster care system) as they seek college degrees. This work is one of the chapters included in the upcoming release, Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education (Robers & Komives, Eds., 2016). Watch for the release of this book in October 2016; it includes practice examples from around the world.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mass higher education may lead to increasing inequality

One of the assumptions of higher education expansion across time and place has been that providing broader access will offer greater opportunity to all. Looking at U.S. higher education, one would have to conclude (see Geiger, 2015, review) that massification in higher education in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century provided access but not necessarily equality of educational and work opportunity. Indeed, the disturbing evidence is that privileged access to elite higher education has been a very carefully protected opportunity based on family, associational networks, and ability to pay.

A recent study of expanding higher education opportunity in China has now documented the same inequality of impact. The responsibility doesn't necessarily fall to institutions; in the case of China (and this blogger would propose in the U.S. as well), the inequality emerges from the role families play. It appears that more highly educated and privileged Chinese parents play a more prominent role in their graduates' post-college employment. "The expansion of higher education may not promote fairness but may instead intensify educational inequality" is the unfortunate implication for China and likely other countries as well.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Chinese students lose intellectual edge once in university

The preliminary findings of a study at Stanford University indicate that Chinese students enter universities ahead of students from other countries in critical thinking but lag behind after just two years of study. While definitive conclusions have not been reached, a combination of factors may be the cause. First, the "poor quality of teaching at many Chinese universities,"with a focus on rote memory and lecture could be a major contributor. Second, once admitted to Chinese universities, students are all but assured that they will graduate which contrasts with the fierce competition required to gain admission.

In the face of China's declining economy, creating opportunity through a creative and innovative workforce of critical thinkers will be important to China's future. Focus on fostering deeper learning and development is at the core of China's challenge, a challenge which is likely not to be met if Chinese policy makers and educators do not understand that one of the greatest advantages of Western education practice is experience and inquiry based learning coupled with a commitment to holistic learning inside and outside the classroom.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Opportunities to serve international students

The Journal of College Student Development, Vol. 47, No. 5, includes two articles that will be useful to faculty and administrators who seek to better serve international students studying in the U.S.A. The first article (Cultural community connections and college success: an examination of Southeast Asian American College Students, Museus, Shiroma, & Dizon) explores the dynamics that Southeast Asian American students face on campus. Although the sample is U.S. domestic students, the dynamics encountered by them is quite similar to what many international students confront when they study in the U.S. The researchers found that success in college was enhanced by physical, epistemological, and transformational cultural connections.

The second article (International students' proactive behaviors in the United States: effects of information-seeking behaviors on school life, Cho & Lee) analyzed the communication patterns of international students when they interact with faculty. International students from cultures where there is high status differentiation with customs in place that convey high respect to elders and authorities are often reluctant to initiate personal communication with faculty. However, the findings of the study indicated that, if international students are encouraged to form proactive communication with faculty, they are more satisfied with their interaction as well as satisfied with the overall university experience. The idea that faculty can purposefully violate expectations of communication and thereby establish strong relationships with international students particularly caught my attention. This was one of the things I enjoyed most during my years in Qatar - if I purposefully bridged the reluctance, I almost always ended up establishing a lasting and positive relationship.