Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Threats to academic freedom = threat to democracy

The Scholars at Risk issued a report covering incidents over the last year from travel restrictions to firings that undermine academic freedom. Adding concern to the annual report, the Executive Director noted, "What you're seeing I think is an erosion of respect for the idea that society tolerates questions. And when the state starts to punish people simply for asking questions, that's not just a threat to academic freedom, that's a threat to democracy. Obviously, if the generally rights-respecting states are having their own democracy erode, they're less viable partners in trying to help states that have bigger security problems."A directive from the Chinese Ministry of Education is only one example where the threat of controlled speech may impact academic freedom for all types of higher education institutions.

Educators and political figures in the U.S. are embroiled in debate over the boundaries that should be observed in order to protect dissent and free speech. When Attorney General Sessions was scheduled to speak at Georgetown University's School of Law, reflecting a commitment to freedom of thought in speech in itself, faculty and students protested his appearance. The faculty were particularly careful to indicate that they did not object to Sessions' appearance but were protesting a wide variety of positions Sessions has taken during his political career. While protestors demonstrated outside the venue where Sessions was scheduled to speak, Sessions himself decried the restrictions he claimed are being imposed regarding free speech on many college campuses.

The link between academic freedom and democracy is long and deep. John Dewey's advocacy for democratic classrooms in the early 20th century served as one of the pillars of student affairs work and Dewey's influence in China was so profound that the Communist party banned reference/use of  his philosophy when it came to power. Protecting academic freedom is key to unfettered research, learning, and the advancement of knowledge; maybe that's why it was such a threat to China and is so widely disputed on many campuses.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Civic learning in a divisive era

Creating campus environments that are welcoming to students from broad domestic and international backgrounds is essential to attracting and retaining diverse students and it is also central to preparing all students for the interconnected world in which we live. Carol Geary Schneider wrote an essay on The Equity-minded civic learning all Americans need advocating that "Overcoming long histories of exclusion, estrangement and simmering distrust will further require the creation of curricular pathways - from school through college - that are well designed to build all graduates' capacity and commitment to engage difficult differences, work collaboratively on tough problems and create over time a more just and equitable future."

While Schneider's essay is directed at U.S. educators and confined to the curriculum, those who work outside of classroom settings have much to offer to the conversation. Creating inclusive environments for students who study in other countries, no matter whether the U.S. or elsewhere, is a common challenge throughout the world.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

U.S.A. Title IX not applicable to on-line

A recent court decision has determined that the U.S.A. Title IX, a measure designed to protect students from sexual harassment, is not applicable to international students who study on-line. The ruling may open the way to questions about the appropriateness of other U.S.A. laws imposed in different course contexts. As one example, branch campuses at Education City in Doha, Qatar, assert that all U.S.A. laws are applicable, including the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA) and Clery Act, for all students regardless of nationality. While the Title IX case related to on-line courses may be a narrow decision, it highlights both jurisdictional as well as cultural standards across national borders.

Controversy over colonialism

The Third World Quarterly recently published an article by Bruce Gilley, an associate professor at Portland State University, advocating a return to colonialism in some circumstances. The publication of the article has now resulted in resignation of several of its editorial board members who claim the article was not properly reviewed and that it did not meet the standards required for publication.

Although the article may well have not met standards, it is also interesting to ponder the possibility that the idea of colonialism is so repugnant to academics that it was too hot to handle in the Third World Quarterly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Policy determination in international higher education

Who is involved and the drivers associated with policy determination in the international higher education sector impacts many stakeholders in very real ways. A helpful reflection on European officials and how they engage in policy formation provides a broad picture of how the Bologna Process has shaped the present and future of European universities.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Chinese students - some happy and some stressed

As any population group, students from China are diverse and come to university study with a broad number of strengths and challenges. Two separate articles paint that picture in graphic ways. The first article references a lifestyle study conducted by Sodexo that identified U.S.A. domestic students having great anxiety about paying for college. By contrast, the Chinese students in the sample (who studied either in the U.S.A. or U.K.) reported the least concern about paying for college. The second article reflected the disillusionment over job opportunities among Chinese students who returned to China after studying abroad. The salary advantage that study abroad previously ensured to Chinese students has been eroding, a particularly troubling change in the face of the significant sacrifices made by many Chinese parents who have funded their study.

The lesson for higher education faculty, staff, and domestic students is not to assume that Chinese students are all privileged. As with any cultural group, there is great diversity and assuming unanimity is not only inappropriate but may add to the pressure any group that is stereotyped experiences.

DACA and its impact

The latest media saturation includes a number of issues (hurricanes, debt ceiling deal, Ivanka's stop by Daddy's office, and a declining portion dedicated to Russian meddling) but a portion of it remains to focus on President Trump's repeal of DACA. As we now know, the direction is anything but clear. It looks as if President Trump is kicking the issue to legislators with the potential for them to actually take action to confirm President Obama's original action in protecting the young people who came to the U.S. as children, many of whom are now in colleges and universities throughout the nation.

The many declarations of support for those protected by DACA indicate that the 800,000 or so young people in this category are law-abiding, striving for a better life, may comprise a significant proportion of health professionals, and any number of other positive attributes. Higher education is making it clear - we want DACA students and it makes no sense to put them under stress or particularly at risk of deportation.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

International enrollment in the U.S.A. - and the figures are coming in

Much ambivalence has been expressed over the last several months about international student enrollment in U.S.A. institutions. The figures are now coming in and they indicate a mixed bag. Some institutions are down precipitously but others are holding their own. The predictions are that higher prestige universities will see less decline. In addition, those institutions that have carefully planned their enrollment and made sure that international students' needs are being met will not suffer but those who have simply ridden the international enrollment wave for financial gain will struggle.

In the face of the hostility expressed by the Trump administration and rising costs of attendance, those institutions fighting back appear to focus on the safety of their campuses and creating a broad commitment to hospitality for international students.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Global workers needed!

A growing number of people now work globally, moving around the world from job to job and country to country. This trend is only accelerating and will be a norm for many types of workers moving more deeply into the 21st century.

So, what does a global worker look like?  A Harvard Business School article indicates that there are five key skills that are characteristic of those who now work abroad, a good indicator of what will be required of future global workers

These are perspectives and skills that higher education, and leadership educators more specifically, need to cultivate in their students. And they aren't that difficult!

Prime Minister of U.K., Theresa May, reported erroneous figures

In the battle for internationalization in the U.K., reports are now that Prime Minister, Theresa May, was party to misreporting figures to make it look as if students studying at U.K. universities overstayed their visas. New indications are that very few did as claimed and now U.K. higher education officials and students are pushing back.