Thursday, August 30, 2018

The face of rejection

Knowing that competition for international students is getting tougher and that those who do apply are sometimes rejected in the study visa process certainly worries higher education officials. When the declines materialize, budget cuts are sure to follow.

The face of those international students who want to study in the U.S.A. is perhaps even more compelling. The story of Penda Jallow, a female Gambian, reflects the heart rather than just the numbers of the visa rejection process. "I'm just sitting at home, helping my family," she said. "My aim is to study in the U.S. because having an American degree will give me more opportunity to have a good job and a good salary because right now my father is earning $35 a month. My mother and I have not been able to find employment, so we must carefully use his income to support the three of us."

Granted full financial support from the Gambian government for her college expenses, she would bring tuition dollars to her U.S. institution and she is committed to returning to Gambia immediately after graduation so that she can support her family and help build Gambia's economy. Am I missing something here in terms of the desirability of granting a study visa to someone like Penda?

Pew predicts decline in International Enrollment

As the fall semester begins, reports of declining enrollments in the U.S.A are starting to roll in. A Pew Report indicates that international and domestic student numbers will be down for many campuses. The pattern varies across the U.S. with the Midwest and Texas likely to drop the most. The reasons for predicted declines are the typical items - scaling back of scholarship programs in some countries (Saudi Arabia and Brazil in particular), competition from other countries (Canada, Australia, and Germany), visa restrictions being toughened, and perceptions of a hostile climate for internationals. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What employers want in university graduates

For both domestic and international students who wish to work in the U.S.A. after completing their degrees, knowing what employers want in their new hires is essential. A recent study sponsored by the Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) indicated that business executives and managers support an emphasis on general attributes of character and competence in their hiring decisions, a view that supports the liberal education focus and student engagement strategies offered by many U.S. institutions.

Eight specific areas are most important to executives and managers:
  • able to effectively communicate orally
  • critical thinking/analytical reasoning
  • ethical judgment and decision making
  • able to work effectively in teams
  • able to work independently
  • self motivated, initiative, proactive
  • able to communicate effectively in writing
  • can apply knowledge/skills to real-world settings
The good news is that there is consensus around what's important for graduates to be able to do and the hype that tomorrow's jobs haven't even been created yet (requiring completely different knowledge and training) are suspect. The bad news is that executives and hiring managers believe graduates could be better prepared in all these areas. Internships in the workplace offer one opportunity to hone these capabilities but all students should be aware that their seriousness and focus in their own development is also key.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Risk management and higher education

Risk management, a concept that has been front and center for many institutions around the world, is just emerging as a concept in some countries. A study of educators in Ethiopia, with only 130 mostly private post-secondary higher education institutions (PHEIs), found that the most important risks fall in the five categories of "teaching and learning; financing; infrastructure and resources; research and outreach, and policy and regulation." With a significant purpose of capacity building, it's critical that all countries look at the unique attributes of their higher education sector in order to make sure that this precious resource is protected and sustainable under difficult circumstances.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Comprehensive mapping of international student flows

Elizabeth Redden's summary of international student flows throughout the world paints a picture of gradual shifts from the two previous preferred destinations, the U.K. and the U.S.A., to other countries such as Canada and Australia. The trends also include declining full degree program study to short term, or study abroad, experiences.

The reasons for shifts are complicated and often relate to the conditions/climate in a specific country. One change to the higher education landscape is the presence of new regional providers that require less travel, expense, and may be a more comfortable fit from a cultural perspective. The U.K. and U.S.A. will need to be creative in addressing the reasons for enrollment shifts if they want to remain competitive and retain their preferred status.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Higher education as a talent magnet

With 94% of international students reporting that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their higher education experience in Canada, the next question would have to be, "to what end?" The end for international students is their increasing desire to stay in Canada after graduation. The proportion of international students who report wanting to stay has moved from 51% in 2015 to 60% in 2018.

Although hosting international students is not typically seen as a way to lure talented new citizens, Canada's experience demonstrates that a good experience as a student can result in the desire to immigrate. The benefit to Canada is that it retains striving international graduates as great contributors to its workforce.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

China's World-Class Universities

China has invested a great deal of resources in higher education by providing more domestic opportunity as well as sending Chinese students abroad for study. China intends to create World-Class Universities (WCU) that will compete with other universities around the world, however, efforts are focused more on science and technology than on humanities.

One of the significant positive influences as China seeks to establish world-class universities is the Belt and Road Initiative (RBI), which will connect Chinese citizens across cities and territories and enhance economic opportunity. While RBI connects, enhancing educational opportunity will build human capacity to meet the demands of this growing and connected economy.

One challenge for the WCU initiative is the ideological conformity to governmental dogma in Chinese universities. The second challenge is quality related to domestic versus international study. The author of the referenced essay noted that, "Chinese universities can only enter the 'first world' if there is significant development of domestic graduate education and corresponding stature for it as a result of policy actions. Currently, the fact that elite universities are exporting their best trained undergraduates to American and UK graduate schools and pushing those with domestic PhDs to less prestigious national universities is relaying the message that 'Chinese universities are not your first, or best choice.'"

Friday, August 17, 2018

Flow of international students across the world

Recruitment and admission staff ring their hands. Budget managers project the numbers and balance institution budgets. Faculty wonder what to do in their courses. Domestic students either don't care or resent the presence of international students in their classrooms and on their campuses. The stakeholders related to attracting and serving international students are diverse and their stakes are sometimes in conflict with each other.

Higher education leaders in many places let the issue of hosting international students get ahead of them, thus placing institutions in a defensive and catch-up posture. It's time that institutions around the world think more carefully about why they want international students and then dedicate the energy and resources to serve them. Two recent pieces, one espousing the benefit of international students and the practices required to attract them, and the other advocating that institutions do more for international students, are important to the conversation. The second piece notes encountering prospective students in Africa who are eager to study in the U.S. Seeing their need and eagerness and understanding how her institution benefits from their presence drew this college president to call other education leaders to join her in articulating the purposes and improving the responsiveness to international students.

Three universities in Latin America share on-line courses

Three universities in three countries in Latin America announced cooperation in sharing on-line course content - a move that expands beyond what each could have done by itself. Could this be a precedent for expanded course sharing throughout Latin America?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Human rights concerns in higher education

Even when many colleges and universities have not lived up to their lofty aspirations, U.S. higher education as a system has often championed human rights of various sorts. In an era of growing nationalism and withdrawal from the protections of international organizations, the importance of a recommitment to human rights is required, so indicate Barbara Frey and Laura Bloomberg.

Monday, August 13, 2018

DeWit and Altbach declare unstable times for international higher education

Hans DeWit and Philip Altback are frequently cited for their opinions about international higher education. Their recent opinion piece indicates that internationalization is in for dramatic instability. The case of Saudi Arabia threatening withdrawal of its students from Canada is a case where diplomacy and political issues can either undermine or support higher education institutions in a given country.

"Unlawful presence" in US for international students

New policies were recently published regarding international students in U.S. universities and the condition of "unlawful presence." With many international students wanting to stay in the U.S. after graduation for further training and work experience, these new policies are critical.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Domestic students' ambivalence about their international peers

One of the most difficult issues to address related to hosting international students in any country is the ambivalence of the domestic students toward their international peers. A recent study in the UK found that domestic Brits believed that international students required more attention, slowed down learning, and lowered the quality of learning available for all students. In order to welcome international students, institutions need to do a better job of preparing their domestics to know what to expect and how to be good learning partners themselves. If domestic students were more responsive, there'e little doubt that international students would have a better experience and that domestic students would begin to value their presence.

Saudi Arabia threatens to withdraw its students from Canada

In a diplomatic conflict associated with activists for women's rights, Saudi Arabia retaliated with multiple sanctions, one of which was to withdraw 7,000 Saudi students who are attending Canadian universities. It's sad to see students pursuing education opportunity caught in the cross-hairs of political action. There have been calls in Europe for support of Canada against Saudi Arabia but any country who has hosted Saudi students will be looking carefully at the potential of other punitive responses if Saudi is criticized.

Some U.S. institutions are reaching out to Saudi students who were studying in Canada with invitations to apply and waiver of application fees.

Balancing access and quality in Taiwan

I became acquainted with a doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University from Taiwan while he was conducting his research. Our conversations were fascinating and revolved around Taiwan's need to rebalance its higher education offerings. The main issue as I understood it was that the governmentally-supported universities were quite strong but had limited seats while private-sector universities filled the gap with programs of lesser quality.

The perspective offered by a faculty member at National Cheng Kung University reinforced the problem as a originally heard it and provides an update on the challenges faced by countries attempting to broaden access while at the same time retaining institutions of high quality - not an easy problem to manage and one that could potential take years to rebalance.