Monday, February 26, 2018

Japanese students and study abroad

Japan is encouraging more of its students to study abroad in order to counter the cultural isolation that can sometimes characterize Japanese citizens. Two recent surveys shed light on the motivations behind studying abroad and where young people in Japan prefer to study.

In addition to exposure to other cultures, recruitment officers indicated that 55% of Japanese students want to study in English, 53% want to improve their interpersonal communication, and 46% seek to challenge themselves. In a parallel study that surveyed Japanese students and their parents, 36% of students and 69% of guardians/parents said that the most favored country in which to study abroad was the U.S. while 20% of students and 37% of guardians/parents preferred Canada.

Japan's goal is for 120,000 of Japanese youth to study abroad by 2020. The latest figures and the expansion of English-based instruction in Canada, Australia, and the U.K. indicate that Japan will likely achieve its goal but competition with the U.S. is increasing.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Liberal education in China and beyond

During a lecture tour to promote his book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University, entertained questions after a lecture to students at Peking University. The questions they raised included;

  • Does liberal education really help students learn to think for themselves or just turn them into liberals?
  • Is liberal education only about creating a pathway to elitism?
  • Does liberal education create a bubble perspective that is ultimately disconnected from the reality of life?
President Roth's responses wove the educational perspectives of John Dewey and Jane Addams together into a pragmatic education philosophy. Emphasizing Addams' "emphasis upon humane responsiveness and social engagement" and Dewey's "practical idealism," he advocated that quality liberal learning must relate to society and strive to inform students in ways for them to be contributors to the well-being of society. These philosophical perspectives provide the foundation for the experience-based and engaged learning advocated by student affairs educators as well.

Reflecting back on the lecture, President Roth opined, "I left the lecture hall heartened that students in Beijing, like many across the United States, hope that that higher education will be pragmatic without being conformist, and that the college years will inspire them to think for themselves in ways that will be significant to others."

Friday, February 9, 2018

NASPA's internationalization awards

The International Education Knowledge Community of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) solicits nominations for programs that advance internationalization. The 2018 awards recognize student affairs educators' efforts to support both international and domestic students through in and out of class experiences.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Is Qatar's Education City real and sustainable?

Neha Vora of Lafayette College conducted a 12-month ethnographic study of Education City and offers comment about her forthcoming book in Academic Minute. It will be very interesting to see what her eventual published study says. This initial report, while brief, captures the essence of two important questions; 1) is Education City a legitimate effort to provide full-scale U.S. style education, and 2) is it sustainable?

Having worked for Qatar Foundation and helped in the early stages (2007-14) of establishing cross-branch student development and support services at Education City, I can attest to the authenticity of the initiative. Qatar Foundation has repeatedly demonstrated, and has invested deeply, in making sure that the academic programs there are legitimate and comparable to the U.S. counterparts. Whether students experience the full breadth of learning of a high quality U.S. institution both in and outside of class is subject to the organization model and the willingness for institutions to collaborate. Again referencing my own experience, we certainly tried to create the wholistic experience during the time I was in Qatar. It was not always easy due to the decentralized organization model established by Qatar Foundation but some real cross-branch student experiences were ultimately supported.

Professor Vora raises concern that some local Qatari citizens see the project as expensive and potentially contributing to the erosion of traditional Arab/Islamic values. Of course Education City is challenging local previously held beliefs, as do most great higher education institutions wherever they are found. Indeed, conservatives in the U.S. are at this moment criticizing U.S. higher education for the same thing.

I'm not sure where Professor Vora is headed but I hope she asks the question of how a significant educational venture that challenges students and other stakeholders threads the needle of opportunity, challenging enough to make a difference but not so challenging that it ultimately marginalizes the effort or makes the project unsustainable over the long haul.