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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Understanding U.S. higher education

For those involved as faculty and staff in U.S. and international higher education, it is critical to understand the purposes and the historical conditions that have shaped our current understanding of this work. Roger Geiger's The History of American Higher Education is a good resource for all college and university personnel.

While there are a number of commendable attributes of Geiger’s The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II (2015). The two things that are most helpful are 1) that the essence and sequence of the entire book is nicely summarized in the last chapter which is only 13 pages of the total 552 and 2) the book recounts the origins and roots of higher education in ways that reinforce the capacity building role colleges and universities played in building the embryonic democracy and fledgling economy of America. On the second point, this book could be helpful to those presently serving at international higher education sites because it both admonishes and warns through its historic narrative.

A more completely summary and review of Geiger's book is available on Pursuing Leadership.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

More female international students pursue STEM degrees

Female international students are increasingly pursuing STEM degrees in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Two reasons are 1) the status of U.S. degrees, and 2) the flexibility in STEM programs to change majors and study other subjects. Jennifer Sinclair Curtis, dean of the UC Davis College of Engineering, also says that female international students who study in the U.S. are more competitive in job applications because they have been exposed to American innovation and entrepreneurship.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Saudi Arabia student numbers drop

Many U.S. colleges and universities have grown accustomed to seeing a steady and large number of students from Saudi Arabia apply for admission. That trend has reversed as Saudi Arabia's fortunes have declined because of reduced oil revenue. The sponsorship program that fully funded most Saudi students has been modified and now requires higher academic performance and more selectivity of students and institutions.

The change in Saudi student enrollment varies across institutions but is reflected in an overall 11.5% decline in F and M visas that allow international students to study in the U.S.  Institutions and admission officials from a variety of campuses report that the drop in Saudi enrollment should be balanced by greater diversification of students from other countries in the future.

Examination of why international students study at U.S. institutions stands as the biggest and most important question going forward. There are a variety of motivations students seek to study in the U.S. - quality, access, cultural exposure, credibility, pride. Some would propose that sorting through these motivations and appealing to better students' highest motivations will result in a longer-term and more sustainable outcome.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Educating migrant workers in the Arabian Gulf

Miguel Syjuco of New York University Abu Dhabi's experience in helping NYU students connect with migrant workers in Abu Dhabi is a compelling example of how Western institutions can make a difference not only for their own students but also for those who would otherwise never have an opportunity to be touched by elite Western institutions. NYUAD is an interesting example because other incidents have indicated tension related to the local culture. Miguel's enthusiasm for this project is exemplary, however, his report that this is the first time such an initiative has been undertaken is incorrect; students and professors of Education City in Qatar have been reaching out in various ways to migrant workers for a number of years.

Monday, July 11, 2016

First-year reading

Selection of a book that all (or most) first-year students will read and then discuss during their first days of attendance at university has been used by multiple institutions to offer a serious message about learning. One of the longest standing efforts in first-year reading is Miami University of Ohio where I previously worked. From first-hand experience, I can testify that reading programs such as this have great potential to connect students with one another, introduce faculty in an important equal learner role, and establish the expectation that attending university is a serious matter. Carefully managing the program, involving faculty, encouraging follow-up in other classes, and relevance to students' lives are keys to success.

Maxine Joselow captures what is happening in first-year reading in 2016 in her article, What Freshmen will Read. This year's trend among some institutions is focus on immigration and racial injustice. With the swing toward nationalist isolation seen in the U.K. and U.S.A., focusing on such topics is important. The question is if the discussions that will unfold will recognize that immigration and social justice are not simply U.S.A. challenges. Mobility across national borders impacts us all in political, economic, social and other ways. One can only hope that the first-year reading programs will seek to position concerns about immigration and racial injustice in an international context. If they are not, imagine being a new international student sitting in a discussion during your first week at school and listening to debate about your motivations for attending and your very presence at the university.

NYU Shanghai social media outreach

With the growing number of Chinese youth from the middle class, NYU has begun to establish a presence for its global reach by appealing through social media. Its initial effort drew 100,000 views in a matter of days. Reports are that NYU has tackled the struggles of language and technology but that adapting content and approach across culture is the more daunting task. One of the issues with Chinese youth is that they resonate to sites like WeChat and others that allow them to create their own media. Some of the answers to cultural adaptation might be looking at how youth have fun on social media and then utilizing that knowledge to propose more serious educational opportunities.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Competition for Scottish students

The number of seats available for Scottish students to study in Scotland doesn't match the growing number of applicants (23% increase from 2010-15). The example of Scotland raises questions about public funding of higher education, targeting enrollment to different student sectors, and the outcome of who has access to pursue university study in the country. Fifty percent of Scottish students and 63% of international students were admitted in the last round resulting in 19% of Scottish students being shut out of attending university in Scotland through funded seats set aside for them.