Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Policy matters in attracting international students

A recent study by economist and education research, Janet Ilieva, demonstrates that national policy decisions directly impact the rise and fall of international students. The analysis demonstrates that countries like New Zealand, Canada, and Australia are gaining ground over the U.K. and U.S.A. because strategic policies are in place to attract international students to study in these countries.

By contrast, not only does the U.S.A. not have a national policy, the Trump administration is considering restrictions that will deter some international students from studying in U.S. universities. The number of students in the U.S.A. may presently be the highest in the world but policy statements and the rising competition around the world could put an end to $39billion in national revenues as well as undermine the role of higher education as a diplomatic measure.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Collaborating for Student Success

One of the most persistent and troubling aspects of U.S. higher education is the division commonly found between faculty and staff. The causes for this are numerous but one that I've addressed in my previous writing (most notably in Deeper Learning in Leadership, Roberts, 2007) is the bureaucratization that emerged when higher education opportunity expanded in the U.S. in the middle of the 20th century. The practical issue was that, as student numbers expanded, roles were segmented according to the management theories of the time; these management theories advocated specialization and hierarchical bureaucracies as being best for the efficient handling of students.

U.S. universities struggle with the impact of a 'divided house' and this is something that international higher education faculty and staff should seek to avoid at all costs. There are institutions that have found ways to bring faculty and staff together and these universities' practices should be replicated or adapted wherever possible. Georgetown University started a collaboration effort over a decade ago and it may be an approach worth considering. Essential to the Georgetown example and any effort undertaken to link faculty and student affairs staff is letting go of a sense of privilege or superiority that often undermines building respectful relationships focused on shared work - helping students be successful.

Monday, December 11, 2017

U.S. admissions staff need to talk with Chinese recruits

Which Chinese students study in U.S. universities and which institutions they attend is a potentially life-changing decision for them. However, many lack a substantive understanding of the process.  Xiaofeng Wan indicates that many Chinese students and their families have misconceptions that need to be corrected about how admissions works and where to place their priorities, a result of reliance on admission agents who have previously served large numbers of Chinese applicants.

The role of high school counselor is new to many Chinese schools and countering the bias toward private agents is difficult to challenge. These counselors urge U.S. college admissions staff to "visit China and meet with students and parents in person" (73%) as well as establish more effective Chinese social media for parents who do not understand English (62%). These are simple steps are probably only the beginning if U.S. institutions want to help Chinese students/families make decisions that are in their best interest.

Friday, December 8, 2017

New strategy for internationalization in Brazil

Brazil is trading its previous efforts to advance internationalization by sending STEM students to study abroad for a new, and less expensive approach. The Capes-Print program redirects a portion of almost US$2 billion spent on "Science Without Borders" to an application process that will allow institutions to identify their own internationalization strategy and pursue it with governmental funding.

The Capes-Print program comes with a more modest pricetag - US$90 million. The goal is to "transform colleges and universities into internationally-oriented institutions. By developing research networks, international cooperation, and the mobility of faculty and graduate students, it will promote change that should benefit more cohorts of students." The move by Brazil represents the challenge faced in other Latin American countries - "to invest in internationalization in order to stay relevant." There is growing realization that higher education institutions should internationalize in order to engage in research and prepare graduates for the dynamics they will face in work and private life.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How Chinese students engage U.S. higher education

With Chinese student numbers increasing so dramatically in the U.S. over the last decade, many educators have struggled to understand how to address their needs. Elizabeth Reddens' review of Inventing the World Grant University: Chinese International Students' Mobilities, Literacies and Indentities (Fraiburg & Wang) suggests that this new book may be a helpful resource.

Redden indicates that Fraiburg & Wang's theoretical grounding is particularly useful. The research for the book was undertaken at Michigan State University, which increased from 600 in 2006 to 4,527 Chinese students in 2016. The influx of Chinese students during this time resulted in some professors teaching courses where domestic U.S. students were in the minority, a dynamic unusual for both professors and students. As a personal anecdote, I frequently travel by train from Chicago to East Lansing (location of MSU) and have enjoyed seeing the dynamic of Chinese students traveling to Chicago for the weekend. The dynamic I've observed that is most disconcerting is that other passengers on the train seem either disinterested or disoriented by Chinese students' presence.

One of the apparent strengths of Fraiburg & Wang's book is that it identifies how Chinese students find supports that allow them to be successful. This is something that is so important for educators to understand; Chinese students have strengths that they bring to their learning. Focusing on these, rather than their deficits, has a much higher likelihood of resulting in both individual student and institutional success.