Monday, May 21, 2018

Access for women through STEM

One of the things that shocks educators is Qatar's success in attracting women to study at Texas A&M's branch engineering programs. Reaching female students and offering them greater educational opportunity was one of the primary motives in establishing Education City in Qatar. The effort appears to not only be introducing women to engineering but to other STEM areas.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Georgetown in Qatar awarded for innovative practice

Georgetown University in Qatar recently received the NASPA Best Practice in International Education for International Exchange award for its program, "Zones of Conflct, Zones of Peace." The program, somewhat based on a service learning model, is reported to go further by using Georgetown's coursework and applying it to the very real problems of forging peace across national borders.

Unlawful presence redefined

 A new policy of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will change the timing for international students to be declared in violation of their visa conditions. "Unlawful presence" will now begin the day the visa for study expires rather than the day that immigration services identifies the student to be in violation of their status.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Attacks on education around the globe

If, as many educators believe, enhancing educational opportunity creates more opportunity, stability, and positive civic engagement, then education would be a threat to those who benefit from a country staying uneducated. A report on violence against educational institutions around the world indicated that incidents are on the rise, although the report recognized that irregularity in reporting makes comparisons difficult.

Fifty-two violent events were documented in higher education with the highest reported type being "violent repression of students and professors and educational personnel who are engaged in protest." The apparent motivations for attacks include efforts to delegitimize the government (since educational institutions are highly visible demonstrations of state authority) and objections to the content of the curriculum, including who is allowed to attend (i.e. women and girls).

A sad realization is that the motivations for and the way institutions are targeted for violence confirm that those who seek to maintain despotic cultural and government conditions are the ones served by the violence.

International student post-graduate employment

Besides the learning and cultural resources international students contribute to higher education, they also represent a talent resource that is important to any country able to host them for work training after their graduation. A recent Pew Research study indicates that the number of international students employed in STEM areas in the U.S.A. grew by 400% from 2008-16. The increase is presumed to be a response to George W. Bush extending F-1 visa approvals from 12 to 29 months and Barack Obama increasing the period to 36 months to work in STEM-related positions during the study period.

Analysis of the pattern of increases reveal that the majority of international students staying on extended F-1 status were masters degree recipients in STEM areas. The largest proportion of them were from India (30%), China (21%), South Korea (6%), Taiwan (4%), and lower for others. While the universities involved in extending the F-1 study visas were for the most part reputable, a small number of non-classified institutions (Silicon Valley University, the University of Northern Virginia, and Herguan University) have now closed after questions were raised about their visa granting practices for international students.

The Trump administration is looking at modification of the extended visa policy; those institutions that exploit international students with F-1 extensions will hopefully be the target of changes.

Monday, May 7, 2018

International graduate students - job advice

Many international students in the U.S.A. seek to stay after completion of their degrees in order to gain work experience. The process of seeking employment for internationals can be challenging due to everything from lack of experience in writing a resume, lack of previous experience, English language skills, to the difficulty of gaining visa approval. Gaeun Seo, a graduate and international student advisor at Cornell University, provides tips on how to approach the job search process with companies in the U.S.A. The pointers start with discerning what prospects are passionate about and ends with finding international-friendly employers.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

United Planet offers international internships

United Planet, which assists institutions in arranging international service learning trips, now offers internships abroad as well. Arrangements are made to provide academic credit that can be transferred back to a students' home institution and internships are available in several countries, each with a different placement focus that complements a variety of academic majors.

Controversy in German universities

It's clear that a number of countries around the world are struggling with populist movements that are pushing back on diversity issues and the enrollment of international students. Jens Strackeljan, rector of the Otto von Guericke University Magdburg, has spoken out against disruption of speakers and advocated for increases in international students, positions that resulted in threats and tampering with his personal auto. The auto tampering could have resulted in serious injury, let alone the damage sustained.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Culture shock - not the best mindset

Many educators, and other employment industry sectors, have long used the term "culture shock" to describe the experience of living/working in another culture. Reverse culture shock has even been used to describe the return to one's home culture after a period of time in another culture.

New research and models advocate that educators stop using "culture shock" and, instead, use terms such as "culture transition" to describe the experience of moving across culture. Using transition as the language acknowledges the resilience and dexterity that many who work or study abroad gain from the experience. The transition process as described in the ACPA Global Dimensions webinar was "culture surprise, culture exploration, culture stress, culture adjustment, culture fatigue, and culture conflict." These terms portray the reality of reactions one can have in another culture but they describe rather than exaggerate the experience, allowing more positive ways of responding to what one encounters.

While the webinar focused more on U.S. students studying abroad, presenters indicate that the culture transition idea is also applicable to international students studying at U.S. institutions.

Chinese researchers in U.S.A. - under threat from Trump

The Trump administration is considering restrictions on researchers coming to the U.S.A. from China due to fears that scientific discoveries are being taken back to China. The Defense Department estimates that approximately 25% of all efforts to obtain secret or sensitive information comes through academic institutions and a former counterintelligence executive indicates that Chinese and Russian agents come with targeted intelligence to gather.

Although details were initially not available, subsequent notices from the State Department indicate that one of the provisions of the Trump policy goes into effect on June 11, a measure that limits Chinese graduate student visas to one year for certain sensitive research areas.

A follow-up article noted that China's "Made in 2025" vision to achieve domination in the microchips, artificial intelligence, and electric cars could be compromised by restricting the flow of scholars and researchers. One also must ask, what advances in U.S.A. science and technology could also be compromised? This is an example of how trade wars between the U.S.A. and China (or any other country) have the potential to very negatively impact the quality of life around the globe. Why can't we find another model other than lose-lose competition?

Trump's move to restrict Chinese graduate students was explored in a conference of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Speaking to the conference, Jill Welch of NAFSA offered the opinion, "University and college officials take threats to national security, academic freedom and economic security very seriously." But she went on to caution against "the potential unintended consequences associated with overly broad action. Let us remember that we are in fact in a global competition for talent and it is through open collaboration, the influx of international perspectives and the free exchange of ideas that the United States will prosper in the global economy."

Early indications of international enrollment in U.S.A. for 2018-19

The figures for 2018-19 international enrollment are beginning to come in. The figures reported by Homeland Security include international students staying after graduation on training visas so the .5% decline overall may actually be greater. Good news includes that the number of international students from China and India (the largest feeder countries) rose by 1% and 2% respectively but students from Saudi Arabia and Europe have declined. Other positive signs include 4.3% increase from South America and increases overall in short-term study visas.