Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Language proficiency

Interest in mastering multiple languages often relates to economic or political changes. A report by the U.S.A. Academy of Arts and Sciences warned that university students' interest in languages other than English has declined. Current estimates are that while 300 to 400 million Chinese students study English and approximately two-thirds of Europeans are fluent in more than one language, only 200,000 of K-12 U.S.A. students are studying Chinese and only 20% of Americans know a language other than English. Language acquisition is important for a variety of reasons, including the fact that many workplaces seek staff who speak multiple languages.

Princeton University recently updated its general education requirements, adding the study of a new language, regardless of of students' proficiency in another language upon entry. In reviewing Princeton's commitment, Liz Reisberg indicated, "...language isn't something to cross off a list or requirements, much as other universities have allowed students to do by testing out, but rather a deep dive into culture and communication."

Acquiring multiple languages is easiest when students are young which reinforces the need for K-12 and post-secondary educators to work together. In addition, the complacency of many U.S.A. citizens is the result of the dominance of English as the travel language most often spoken throughout the world. Nevertheless, the likelihood of increased trade and governmental negotiations, even during isolationist political times, will require Americans to have proficiency in multiple languages.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Impact of Brexit may lead to Brits adopting 'borderless education'

As higher education in the U.K. continues to sort out the implications of plummeting international student numbers, innovative educators are looking for new approaches. While partially based on preventing catastrophic budgetary decline, new approaches to serving international students are also focused on retaining access to talent, innovation, and research capability. 'Borderless education' achieved through distance technology and new 'transnational education strategies' are what some suggest must become the new mantra for U.K. institutions.

Internationalization innovation may come from new regions

Summarizing the concluding chapter of their book, The Globalization of Internationalization, Emerging Voices and Perspectives, Jones, deWit and Gacel-Avila suggested that internationalization is growing into a global phenomenon. More consequential is that the innovations in internationalization may come more from emerging regions (Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East) than from the influences of Europe and the United States. The reason - politicization that is driving some of the western educational centers into isolation.

As lessons are learned in new education centers, established western higher education centers may learn important lessons that will improve higher education throughout the world. The authors suggested the following thematic trends - "the need to align internationalization in higher education with initiatives in K-12 education ; the increasing importance of social responsibility in internationalization policies such as the role of higher education in the refugee crisis, in post-conflict situations and initiatives for the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups in society; regional cooperation between higher education in emerging and developing countries; and the role of internationalization in national and institutional development."

Friday, February 24, 2017

What international students want from their U.S. professors

When international students enroll in U.S.A. institutions, they have all the great hopes that any student has - and maybe more. Acquiring a college degree is an investment for their families, represents an accomplishment among peers, and offers opportunities for prosperous and purposeful lives. Because the U.S.A. hosts the largest number of international students in the world, it is critical that faculty and staff take a careful look at what's working and perhaps not working.

Mark W. Harris, as reported by Elizabeth Redden, presented findings to an AIEA audience of a study of 662 undergraduate and graduate students attending 23 U.S.A. institutions that can help educators improve the classroom experience for international students. Some of the findings were very straight forward - provide more feedback, seek to understand international students' perspectives, make materials available after class, provide examples of completed assignments, and provide non-U.S. examples. The more difficult issues are helping international students gain comfort in challenging their teachers and fellow students and creating classrooms where domestic and international students interact comfortably and regularly.

How are institutions helping faculty learn how to work more effectively with international students? The answer - probably not very well. Robin Matross Helms reported that an ACE Center for International and Global Engagement survey indicated that only a quarter of U.S.A. institutions provide any systematic education and development for faculty to improve their teach of international students. Further, the number of institutions providing this faculty development has actually declined from 2011 to 2016, a period of skyrocketing numbers of international students in the U.S.A.

Student affairs/services staff have an important contribution to make in both formal and informal faculty development. Cultural identity, human development, and person/environment fit are only three research and theory bases which many student affairs educators can contribute to help faculty understand international students. Advocating for the core tenets of students affairs work, that "all students should be viewed holistically, all students have dignity and worth and should be encouraged to develop to the full limits of their potentiality, and that learning should be recognized as the result of a variety of rich experiences that take place both in and outside the classroom" (Roberts, D. C., 2012, The Student Personnel Point of View as a Catalyst for Dialogue: 75 Years and Beyond, Journal of College Student Development, Vol. 53, No. 1) might also be a good place to start.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Higher education innovation

With world-wide spending on higher education estimated at 5 Trillion USD annually, demographics shifting, and workplaces changing, Margaret Andrews suggests its time to pay more attention to innovation in the current higher education model. With the number of institutions and institutional partnership growing, she says that societal and demographic changes provide an opportunity for thoughtful institutions "to do good and do well by preparing students - throughout their lifecycle - for the challenges and opportunities that await them."

Innovation is breaking out of past patterns to pursue strategies that have not previously been considered. But where is innovation most needed? Andrews' suggests that "universities that adapt to address the whole person, multiple careers, and the entire educational lifecycle, will be the ones that survive and thrive."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Internationalization in the Trump era

The conference of the Association of International Education Administrators meeting is exploring how to adjust strategy in the Trump era. Anticipating the impact of Trump's campaign and how it politicized globalization, AIEA previously issued a formal statement indicating that international educators should, "stay abreast of developments that impact international education, to advocate for policies that support the education and preparation of students to live in our interdependent society, and to engage in positive, ethical, and respectful discussion and debate with those within and beyond our campus communities."

Political isolation, protection of borders, and "Brexit" or "America First" are reactions to globalization, which is the changing and dynamic flow of products and services across borders. The dynamism of globalized markets can dramatically effect a country's economy and politics and it is the loss of power and influence that isolationist polices and practices attempt to address. The problem with protectionism is that it may be effective in the short term but will likely not be in the future.

AIEA appears to be carefully differentiating its purpose away from the issue of globalization. Instead, it is focused on internationalization and the role higher education can/should play as it infuses a diverse and international perspective into research and teaching. Infusing international ideas throughout higher education's work is the goal - helping to prepare citizens and workers of the future for a world that is interconnected environmentally, economically, politically, and many other ways.

Monday, February 20, 2017

International partnerships - the "learning" model

The problem of imbalanced international partnerships among higher education institutions has been a common criticism. The idea of cross-institution and cross-border partnering can be pursued as knowledge transfer, experiential, or learning focused, says Hawawini, author of The Internationalization of Business Schools: A Critical Review. The learning focus isn't a completely new perspective but Hawawini's description may help educators think more carefully about the path they choose for their internationalization work. He says, "the international mission of a higher education institution is to learn from the world, not just to teach the world or experience it." While Hawawini indicates that few institutions have chosen this path, the world is "best served by a global institution that consists of an integrated and interconnected network of complementary campuses operating in a symbiotic fashion to the mutual benefit of the entire system."

If students are to be prepared for the workforce of the 21st century, Stremba urges the adoption of an internationalization imperative. The advocacy for such a view may seem to be at risk in countries such as the U.S.A. and U.K. where greater isolation appears inevitable as politicians close borders and abandon multi-national partnerships. But some higher education leaders are already pursuing new ways to fulfill their internationalization goals. The prospect of Oxford University breaking 700 years of tradition by establishing a program in France is certainly one of the most noteworthy innovations. Offered by France as a way for Oxford to continue to benefit from research funding through the EU, both Oxford University and France could benefit from the partnership. It's interesting how something as onerous as political isolation that separates countries from each other can still be overcome by creative educators driven by the belief that internationalization is here to stay and a commitment to making sure students grasp this reality.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Best places to study for international students

Attracting international students involves high competition among higher education institutions world-wide. The mobility of students across national borders is an educational resource, builds international workforce capacity, and it's good business. Where students want to go and what they seek is the question.

One resource focused on helping students make their decision about where to study is Study International. Their ranking of urban centers that host elite higher education institutions placed Los Angeles (USA) and London (UK) at the top of the list, each with 4 of the 100 top universities. However, combining the number in the top 100 with highest ranking, Los Angeles edges London out. Study International broadened its analysis to the top 200 and 500 institutions to compare the concentration of elite institutions to overall population. The analysis concluded that most high quality higher education opportunities are in the eastern U.S. and central Europe. The global south had the least opportunity.

Another analysis, the Best Student Cities Index, awarded the #1 student city designation to Montreal (CA). The criteria used in this index included; university rankings, affordability, student mix, desirability, employer activity, and student view. Student surveys praised Montreal for being a "multicultural, inclusive, creative and student-centered environment, while also commending its comparatively low living costs." Student quotes from the survey indicated "the city lives with/for students," and has "diverse opportunities," "tolerant culture" and a "vibrant clash of North American and European values."

With the largest potential student populations coming from Asia both now and in the foreseeable future, the question of quality higher education opportunity in the region is key. Using the Best Student Cities Index, but in a separate article, a number of affluent Asian cities were identified to be most attractive including; Seoul (4), Tokyo (7), Hong Kong (11), Singapore (14), and Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe (17). While attractive, the cost of attendance and living expenses in these cities was a detractor. With talent development emerging as a central concern throughout the world, cities such as Hong and Singapore strive to be educational hubs that attract students from the region and around the world.

In this environment of intensified economic competition and talent development, how can cities and nations protect their present position and become even more viable? First of all, reaching a broad number of students has to be addressed and digital platforms are most effective in achieving this. Supporting higher education through governmental funding is certainly an important piece of maintaining a competitive edge. Increasing access and mobility is another key variable, one which Altbach and deWit warn is being challenged in the emerging nationalism that is gripping a number of western countries. If western countries withdraw from international partnerships and mutual benefit, giants like China and India may explore ways to exploit the west's isolationism.

The bottom line in talent and capacity building for cities and nations throughout the globe - this is not a time to retreat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ensuring student success

Institutions are often characterized along a continuum of prestige which then becomes a driver for student application and admission interest. However, the more important criteria are student/institution fit and the resulting outcome of student success and degree completion. The issue of student/institution fit is even more important for U.S. domestic cultural minority groups and international students.

For institutions concerned about more effectively serving international students, Steven Mintz' "Pathways to Student Success" offers advice on issues to address. While offered in relation to enhancing U.S. domestic students, the recommendations are equally applicable to international students. When international students consider their options in the U.S.A. or other host countries, these could very well be the conditions that will result in success or failure in completing their degrees.