Monday, April 30, 2018

Archeology and its purpose

Before beginning to travel more, I always thought of archeology as digging up stuff to figure out how people lived in the past. Then I discovered that archeology is at least as much about what living generations value most - in what things do they have most pride?

Robert Carter, an archeologist for University College of London's program in Qatar, is pursuing research that he claims will be the most exhaustive and detailed of any Arabian Gulf city. He lauds Qatar's support of his work and the responsiveness of Qatari nationals as they embrace research that confirms that Doha has always been a place of rapid change. The biggest issue Carter faced was that the history of Qatar has been shared primarily through oral tradition. And, from my experience living in Qatar, many Qatari and other regional residents don't really believe that Qatar and the Gulf have much, if any, history.

The discovery of artifacts is not only about documenting history. It's also about providing ways for Qatar to recognize its past contributions to civilization and take pride in its culture. UCL's research is being done in coordination with the Museum Authority which guarantees that what is discovered is displayed and adds to a growing body of information about Qatar's role in the Gulf and world. As more is discovered, the colonial influence that extinguished history in so many places around the world will be restored in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf - a growing source of pride that is important to the identities of its people.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Germany's excellence initiative

Germany universities are now ranked with some now being labeled "excellent" rather than the roughly equal quality higher education system of previous years. Some believe the move is "a testing ground for what happens to student choice and perception when British- or American-style inequality of prestige emerges." The point is, nothing really happened at the institutions that were ranked higher, students simply perceived what they experienced as better because of the external validation of the rankings.

Follow up research raised question about using student satisfaction as a measure of quality because the government ranking strategy encourages "universities to compete to be designated 'excellent' on the basis of research clusters, graduate schools and their institutional plans" rather than anything related to teaching.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Private/public partnerships to attract international students in Canada

Canada has been noted for significant increases in international student enrollment in recent years. A policy that has contributed to the increase has been a partnership that allowed private institutions to join with public universities in granting degrees. As a result of the private/public partnership, 5,000 more international students attended classes at private institutions and received their degrees from the public partner in 2015-16.

The carrot? Private universities do not have the same ability to offer work permits for international students to stay in Canada after graduation - the public partner can. The government has now placed a moratorium on the strategy citing a lack of "tools to monitor the quality of the student experience at private-branch campuses, including whether they are meeting academic standards, providing support services and whether students are satisfied with the program."

The scheme appears to have been initiated to fill the gap created by the disproportionate decline of young adults in the coming years in Ontario, which is likely to impact private institutions more than publics. From a governmental point of view, creating incentives for international students to study in Canada is another benefit, especially when coupled with the opportunity to retain them in the Canadian workforce after graduation.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Qatar's Education City and the prospect of academic cooperation

Qatar's Education City wasn't necessarily conceived as an "education/talent hub" when it began over 20 years ago. The unique placement of eight branch campuses and one local institution on one site created the unique opportunity for cross-institution, inter-disciplinary, and innovative academic work that is now coming to fruition.

Universities, especially those with high brand and name recognition, are often reluctant to join hands for fear of tainting or diluting their brand. However, when Qatar made it so easy, it's only natural that the branches they host would begin to see the advantage and innovation that is possible when you work across programs. Northwestern and Georgetown Universities found a natural linkage between courses in journalism and politics (respectively) which resulted in a minor in Media & Politics that can be completed by taking courses at both institutions. In addition to the unique opportunity offered for students to take a course of study from two major universities, Mohamed Zayani, Associatie Professor at GU-Q, also lauded the impact on faculty research opportunities - "Since its launch, the Media and Politics program has also helped create promising research synergies between Georgetown and Northwestern faculty and researchers, and has opened up exciting opportunities for high impact collaborative research."

The availability of extraordinary academic programs is matched with an engine of innovation, the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). International companies are offered a "free zone" where new products are created and disseminated by their innovators. Stellic and Meddy, created by Carnegie Mellon University students in Qatar, and supported by CMU-Q faculty, received support from QSTP and now benefit Qatar as well as have been disseminated in the U.S. and Mexico.

Qatar's Education City was made possible by a host of other changes and initiatives over the last 20+ years. Even in the face of the Saudi Arabia blockade which began almost a year ago, the country remains strong and it continues to find ways to innovate and serve as a model for the Arab world.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Intercultural openness

Intercultural competence is surely one of the most widely touted outcomes sought through internationalization efforts of all types. One good example from Purdue University positions its intercultural openness initiative to prepare students for more diverse work environments. The concern addressed through the program is that work environments have already changed but educational systems have not made the shift. "An attitude of openness can help us become more willing to meet these issues. Leaders lacking this outlook of openness present real challenges to organizational performance as ineffective leadership may result in conflicts among employees as well as a disconnect with customers. Discovering new ways to develop openness is vital for the workforce."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What it takes to be international

Having lived abroad gave me great empathy for internationals who try to participate in U.S.A.-based organizations or processes. Specifically, technology often precludes international participation because membership forms, registrations, etc. don't allow for the uniqueness of international addresses such as differently configured telephone numbers, zip codes, or types of addresses. Additionally, those in the U.S.A. typically do not schedule the timing of their events or "open" hours beyond the timezones of the U.S.A.

The inconveniences of attempting to engage with U.S.A.-centric organizations was a source of deep frustration for me in a number of instances. However, it was the claim to be international and then obvious ignorance of what this means if you are not in the U.S.A. that was maddening and marginalizing.

An interesting piece about engaging international alumni of U.S.A. colleges and universities mirrored the same thing. An appeal was made for alumni giving yet statements were made that were U.S.A. or state-centric and the web site to take donations disallowed international addresses.

The point here is that, if universities portray themselves as international, everyone in the institution has to commit to making all communications and processes reflect that commitment. This is why comprehensive strategy for higher education is so important. Only through comprehensive planning and execution can institutions prevent mixed messages that ultimately undermine their own goals.

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Strategies to Navigate International Enrollments

A compilation of Inside Higher Education's articles related to trends and strategies in international student enrollment is available from this link. If you take the link, you will be asked to provide professional contact information in order to proceed with the download.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Chinese university model - independent and top rank in 15 years

Countering what some criticize as over-control of the higher education section in China, Westlake University of Hangzhou, was recently approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The new institution will be independent and outside governmental control. Shi Yigong, a former Princeton professor, will serve as the president and promised that Westlake will be a top-ranked international university within 15 years. The university will prioritize natural science, medical science, and advanced technology presumable on a level with the California Institute of Technology.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gilman Scholars increases access to study abroad

Study abroad has long been perceived as something only privileged students are able to do. The 19th century idea of the "Grand Tour" for young elites as they came of age is the predecessor of this problem. Fortunately, many institutions are attempting to broaden access by packaging study abroad in ways that are more affordable for all students. The Gilman Scholars program has helped and the institutions that had the largest number of students receive these awards is a good place to look for examples of breaking the economic/cultural barrier in student abroad.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Texas A&M closes Confucius Institutes

At the request of Texas legislators, Texas A&M's main campus at College Station and its branch at Prairie View will close their Confucius Institutes. Representatives Cuellar and McCaul criticized the Confucius Institutes as "a threat to our nation's security by serving as a platform for China's intelligence collection and political agenda." Going further, they say, "We have a responsibility to uphold our American values of free expression, and to do whatever is necessary to counter any behavior that poses a threat to our democracy."

The decision to close the Confucius Institutes is likely the first time a university has responded to legislative urging, even though other legislators (Rubio & Cruz) have previous expressed concerns. Some faculty/staff who have been involved in Confucius Institutes claim that the legislative pressures are inappropriate interventions and unfair characterizations of the purpose of the Institutes. However, the closing of the University of Chicago and Pennsylvania State University Institutes in 2014 and the statement of the American Association of University Professors in the same year reflect the sentiment that the Confucius Institutes permit Chinese state control through the choice of curriculum, selection of academic staff, and restriction of debate.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

NYU Abu Dhabi claims role in shaping world leadership

New York University in Abu Dhabi started a decade ago and hit a few rough spots along the way. Nevertheless, Alfred Bloom, the Abu Dhabi campus Vice Chancellor, is enthusiastic about the impact of the campus and about NYU's commitment to being a global university.

A former President of Swarthmore, Bloom advocates for the importance of a liberal arts approach because it cultivates a deeper understanding of cultural difference and builds on that difference to achieve common good. Bloom described NYU Abu Dhabi as, "... truly a model for the world that draws on constituencies from across the world and projects its model of how to educate for leadership in a global world."

The ambition of NYU in establishing the Abu Dhabi branch is laudable and Bloom points to eight graduates from the three classes thus far who were distinguished as Rhodes Scholar recipients. There was no mention of the national origin of these distinguished scholars or how long they studied at the Abu Dhabi campus. The NYU model allows, even encourages, students to move around the globe to their branches as they complete their degree requirements. In addition, enrollment of Emirate students was not a focus Bloom addressed.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Latest International Higher Education Journal (Boston College) available

The latest quarterly from Boston College's Center for International Higher Education is now available for free download. Articles on erosion of internationalization efforts and changes in enrollment figures may be useful. I found the articles on branch campuses, one on how to define them and another on what helps make the successful, of particular interest.

National policy's impact on higher education and scientific research

Make no mistake - a nation's higher education policy, or lack thereof, can quickly change the attractiveness of a country for scholars. Canada's recent efforts to attract scientists paid off in powerful ways and these follow targeted efforts by France to do the same. Boston College's Center for International Higher Education, Phillip Altbach, says that, while morale in U.S.A. higher education may suffer from such losses, it doesn't change the proportion of U.S.A. faculty who dominate research and scholarship around the world.

By contrast to Altbach's confidence that U.S.A. faculty will continue to dominate in research, others predict that their current dominance could erode as a result of restricting knowledge and innovation flows around the world. Brendan Cantwell advises, "As other domains, the stability of the global science system noticeably rests on the culture, politics, and policies of the United States" with the U.S.A. and other countries suffering as a consequence of isolationist and protectionist governmental policies.