Friday, May 19, 2017

Optional Practical Training visas up

The numbers are up for international students staying in the U.S. on "Optional Practical Training" visas according to the Pew Charitable Trust. The largest number of visa approvals go to STEM graduates and those of Chinese or Indian nationality. The U.S. institutions heading the list with the most graduates granted OPT visas include: 1) University of Southern California, 2) Columbia University, 3) New York University, 4) Carnegie Mellon University, and 5) City University of New York.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Study abroad for those studying abroad

A U.S. News and World Report article addresses one of the great opportunities that international students in the U.S. might pursue - studying abroad at another institution while studying at the U.S. university. While some might think studying abroad at another site might not be warranted, if it's an advantage to U.S. students, why wouldn't it be for international students as well? The article provides advice on how and when to choose a temporary study abroad location, including issues of fees and visas.

Higher education massification in Africa

Like China, India, and other countries where the demand for higher education is growing due to massive youth demographics, many countries in Africa are facing similar problems. Due to the lack of government funding for increased numbers of institutions, the growth has been in the size of institutions, resulting in the massification of universities, increasing faculty/student ratios, and declining quality. Two solutions might be to encourage more private education and to welcome greater diversity of types of institutions (including polytechnics and technical institutions). The issue in both cases is cost and quality.

Language and intercultural understanding

The study of foreign languages among U.S. students has declined over the years, likely the result of the preponderance of English throughout most regions of the U.S., although larger urban centers have greater language diversity. This decline places U.S. citizens at a disadvantage in a world where travel, work, and living across borders is becoming so prevalent. Reisinger poses a rationale for why a renewed commitment to language learning should complement educators' commitment to intercultural understanding.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Universities scramble to attract international students

The market for international students is becoming increasingly competitive within the U.S.A. and between the U.S.A. and many other countries. In an effort to eventually attract international applications for university enrollment, some universities are now moving into offering high school programs.

British universities are pushing hard on their #WeAreInternational emphasis. Begun at Sheffield University, the message is one of welcome to the international students who study throughout the U.K.

Megan Brenn-White offered advice on what recruiters should do during the summer months of 'wait and see' to improve their success in recruiting international students for the next year. One of the major recommendations was to seek input from students, recruitment agents, and partners.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Where do Presidents place their priorities

Higher education, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere around the world, is influenced by the coming and going of presidents. According to an article in Education Dive, the priority of most college and university presidents isn't on the student experience. This is one of those U.S. trends that those who value high quality and transforming learning hope will not transfer to higher education around the world.

France positioning well for EU and its future

As various countries have experienced the dynamics of divisive elections, a pattern of populist and isolationist appeals versus internationalist views that open trade and education to the world has been evident. France's election of Emmanuel Macron has been well received by the substantial majority of French citizens but also by its scientists. Macron has pledged to retain support for environmental and clean-air initiatives as well as broader research and higher education initiatives, all in the commitment to boost innovation and cut unemployment.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Why "best practices" don't translate

Higher education across the world is experiencing unprecedented policy and program borrowing. The reason - emerging higher education institutions and systems attempt to copy U.S. or European practice believing this is the best way to leap frog into the ranks of quality institutions. The only problem is that, as the recently released Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education (Roberts & Komives, 2016) indicates, western higher education practices don't always transfer well.

Although coming from a for profit business perspective, a recent Harvard Business Review article, "Why Best Practices Don't Translate Across Cultures," makes the same point - don't count on transferability of even the greatest ideas. The author advises:

  • Focus on the intent of the practice, not specific behaviors.
  • Have a cultural liaison help translate the practice.
  • Stive for compatibility, not replication.
  • Support experimentation.
Higher education scholars/administrators around the world can learn much from each other. Starting with Roberts & Komives and observing these straight-forward four principles will help in the transfer, adaptation, hedging, or avoidance of practices across cultures/borders.

Asian Universities Alliance

The move toward cooperation across national borders just moved to a completely new level. Fifteen universities from the Middle East to East Asia have agreed to form a consortium to "promote mobility.., strengthen research collaboration.., establish high-level dialogues.., and compile and publish annual reports on Asian higher education."

Working toward common goals across this region will offer significant competition for the U.S.A., Canada, Europe, and Australia who have benefitted from serving as the host countries for many students and scholars. Establishing partnerships among institutions that are likely to have more in common related to practice and culture will likely serve all these institutions well. And, the likelihood is that there will soon be more institutions joining this consortium and others like it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

International mobility impacts family

The implications of the Brexit vote for UK universities is still unclear. EU international student numbers could drop but one of the most frightening prospects is that the UK could cease to be a destination for researchers from outside the UK. A recent survey indicated that EU and other internationals experience significant benefits from working outside their home countries. However, the choice to do so may include complications including finding employment for a trailing long-term partner and the challenges to families of relocation. While not insurmountable, these personal/career concerns may need to be better understand and addressed for any country that wants to attract high quality academic and research talent from abroad.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Student free speech reaffirmation

The free speech movement came to front and center in U.S. higher education during the 1960s and 1970s when protests over the Viet Nam war, civil rights, and other issues were gaining greater visibility among youth. With the current political climate of the U.S. more openly contentious than it has been in recent memory, students have come back to the idea of free speech and drafted a reaffirmation statement that they plan to share broadly among campuses in the U.S.

Free speech is a value in many other areas around the world but it is bound in specific political contexts. Since U.S. educational practices often cause a ripple in other countries, international educators are likely to need to be aware of the ideas emerging in the U.S. and then determine what boundaries and conditions would be useful in their own cultural setting.

A very important rationale to keep in mind when exploring free speech is the impact on critical thinking and the exploration of topics/perspectives different from one's own. As the student authors of the statement indicate, "A central purpose of education is to teach students to challenge themselves and engage with opposing perspectives. Our ability to listen to, wrestle with and ultimately decide between contending viewpoints fosters mutual understanding as well as personal and societal growth. The active defense of free and open discourse is crucial for our society to continue to thrive as a democracy premised on the open debate of ideas."