Friday, December 20, 2019

Responding to ethnic violence in Ethiopia

Many universities experience tensions and discrimination related to ethnicity and cultural background. Ethiopia, with a history of ethnic tension and student activism, has had a greater challenge.

Recommendations by Abebaw Yirga Adamu for how the ethnic environment can be improved include: 1) first-year student orientation, 2) a variety of dialogue platforms, 3) social media training, 4) curricular and extracurricular activities, and 5) serious disciplinary response to students who violate university rules.

Caste added to nondiscrimination

Brandeis University recently added "caste" to its nondiscrimination policy. Report of the move indicated that caste has long been a hidden issue, unrecognized although pervasive in settings with students from southeast Asia where the history of caste has been so prevalent. A little more than two years later, California State University added "caste" to its non-discrimination statement. The move was, again, focused on Asian students who have previously been subjugated through caste discrimination.

As other institutions considered or took action to add "caste" to their statements, the backlash began. Observers characterized the attacks on those advocating for the inclusion of "caste" as "part of a sustained effort by the Hindu right to uphold caste supremacy under the guise of fighting an imagined "Hinduphobia" - an effort that will, in all likelihood, only grow in intensity as the anticaste movement in the United States continues to gain steam.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Fudan University (China) drops "freedom of thought"

Sudan University of China recently dropped a statement about "freedom of thought" in its university charter. The change is perceived to be a response to growing pressure for patriotism and adherence to Communist party dictates.

Study abroad and climate change

An implication of study abroad that has not received a lot of attention is the environmental impact of travel. Elizabeth Redden provides good background on the question by saying that, "programs run the risk of environmental and social harm not only when the distance traveled is far but also 'when the size of the student group is such that it is forced to set up a separate and self-sustaining foreign enclave within the host community'; when the backgrounds of participants allow for only limited intercultural contact, perspective taking, and foreign language learning': and 'when the primary motivation of participants has more to do with the promised thrill of travel and immediate goals gratification than the opportunity to learn from and with community residents,' among other factors."

International educators want to see travel increased but perhaps more consideration should be given to return on investment related to intensity and length of study abroad experiences as well as how far a destination is necessary in order for students to learn. Learning locally in a cross-cultural environment may help students learn more than a short-term study abroad experience that is simply a "bubble" of students traveling to a foreign location.

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Gift of Global Talent

The book review of "The Gift of Global Talent" reiterates an issue on which I've previously posted - that the hostility of the Trump administration and competition from Canada, UK, and Australia are contributing to a decline in talented international students attracted to U.S.A. higher education. While I haven't read the book as yet, the review lays out the urgency of the U.S.A. reversing the decline. If it does not, the U.S.A. could suffer for many years to come in research productivity and workforce talent.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Japanese study finds students' study abroad impact may be exaggerated

Study abroad impact for Japanese students may not be as great as students believe. Particularly related to advantages students gain in future employability, the study found that students believe study abroad has greater value than employers do. The number of Japanese students who engaged in short term (less than a month) study abroad increased from 16,873 in 2009 to 66,876 in 2017 but employers report finding little value in these short experiences. The number of short-term U.S. study abroad students has accelerated in recent years as well, with perception of outcomes questioned by study abroad officials.

One of the core issues related to study abroad impact is what is happening during these experiences, whether short or long. "Bubble" programs often allow students to retreat to the security of their group and not really engage with indigenous people and settings. It is up to faculty and study abroad experts to deepen the dive into local culture and issues so that students' exposure truly is "study" rather than just glorified tourism.

China gifts and intellectual theft under microscope

The U.S.A. Justice Department eventually dropped the "China Initiative" that began under the Trump administration. Officials said that the focus of the effort ceased to be useful, although the Department will still watch for an investigate cases of intellectual theft on the behalf of China. The chronology that follows recounts the period when the Trump-directed policy was actively pursued.

U.S. federal authorities began review of foreign gifts to universities in 2019. The primary focus of the review was on China, although the preliminary report identified six universities that were found to have received $1.3 billion in "gifts" from China and Russia for activities that the investigators found "disturbing."

Harvard and Yale underwent investigations for foreign gifts with the U.S. Department of Education claiming that Yale may not have reported as much as $375 million in foreign funding. The Harvard question is one of whether or not foreign funds have appropriate institutional controls in place. Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, said, "Unfortunately, the more we dig, the more we find that too many are underreporting or not reporting at all," in as institutions receiving foreign funding. House Republican lawmakers continued to examine documents to clarify gifts given to Harvard, Yale, University of Chicago, University of Delaware, NYU, and the University of Pennsylvania.

While U.S. federal authorities are scrutinizing gifts, there is another side to the question. The Council for the Advancement of Support of Education admonishes that gifts are essential to fund a breadth of higher education institutions and must be maintained.

Florida lawmakers initiated an inquiry into foreign funding of higher education after it was discovered that scientists from the Moffitt Cancer Center participated in a government-sponsored recruitment program sponsored by the Chinese government. At issue from Florida legislators' perspective is foreign meddling in state research university affairs. Reinforcing the position taken by other lawmakers in the state, Senator Marco Rubio sent a letter to 26 Florida institutions warning about the influence of Chinese Communists in academia.

Harvard professor, Charles Lieber, was charged for misrepresenting payments he received from the Chinese government and was found guilty in December 2021 of lying to federal theories and concealing his involvement in a Chinese talent program. He is one of three Boston-area academics who have been accused of having ties to Chinese entities that have attempted to steal research from U.S.A. universities. Additionally, a professor at Ohio State, and researchers at Stanford, the University of California, Davis, and Texas A&M were arrested for allegedly hiding their ties to China. A University of Florida professor has been indicted for exchanging information from a NIH grant with Chinese company. A Chinese researcher at UCLA has been charged with destroying evidence after throwing a damaged hard drive into a dumpster. A math professor at Southern Illinois University has been charged with wire fraud and making false statements regarding his ties with a Chinese university. A civilian professor at the Air War College in Alabama pleaded guilty to lying about contact with a Chinese government official. The flurry of cases against Chinese professors has caused some colleagues and students to question if investigations and charges might have turned into discriminatory targeting, as in the case of a Yale professor of cell biology.

A jury found an engineering professor at the University of Kansas guilty of fraud and making false statements, which stirred concern about other cases against Chinese academics. Charges against a University of Tennessee engineering professor ended up in mistrial amidst concerns raised about racial profiling associated with the targeting that took place during the Trump administration. Prosecutors in the Tennessee case sought retrial but the outcome was acquittal and University of Tennessee faculty called for reinstatement of the accused professor. Charges against MIT professor, Gang Chen, for nondisclosure of Chinese ties were dropped, which was celebrated by colleagues and MIT's President. The number of cases and the rhetoric around Chinese scholars' offenses may be causing legitimate scholars to be viewed negatively by their peers said Frank Wu, President of Queens College in New York.

After the U.S. Department of Education proposed a new form to collect information about foreign gifts to universities in excess of $250,000, it withdrew the plan. The American Council on Education and other associations challenged the collection of information as going beyond the scope of the law.

After President Biden's inauguration and the policy changes that followed, the Department of Justice announced that it was considering an amnesty offer to academics who have received foreign funding. The amnesty would offer the chance to disclose funding sources without fear of governmental reprisal. Additional Justice Department action proposed to reduce the risks of supporting China from a criminal to a civil offense. The Department of Justice also dismissed charges against five Chinese scientists who were accused of not disclosing ties to China.

Germany has now become embroiled in similar questions about international gifts and partnerships. The Fee University of Berlin signed a contract that bound it to abide by Chinese law, which included the potential to restrict subjects prohibited by the Chinese government. German officials assert that giving discretion in exchange for Chinese financial support is untenable. One parliamentarian tweeted, "The interference of China at FU Berlin clearly shows how China envisages 'cooperation' with our educational institutions. Independence of science is one of the most important freedoms and must be guaranteed."  The Australian government has also launched investigation of ties to China and abuses associated with gifts to its higher education sector.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Student Global Leadership Conference

There are a number of "global" leadership conferences available for students. One is the Student Global Leadership Conference in London in spring of 2020, sponsored by the Foundation for International Education. The conference description indicates European participants but it appears to be open to students of any national background. With a theme of "Leadership for change in an uncertain world," it taps into some of the questions that are likely relevant to many students. Unfortunately, the web site potentially spins the title into a heroic and singular model of leading rather than empowering all students to engage in leadership.

There is no doubt that conference organizers mean well but language and theoretical focus is often not carefully considered in conferences such as this one. The good thing is that most initiatives to convene university student leadership will have a positive impact because they bring people together, regardless of the fact that the conference could result in much deeper impact if theory, messaging, and inclusive leadership were more precisely communicated.

Friday, December 6, 2019

The challenges of building capacity in research

Most universities around the world seek to attract and retain scholars who are productive in research. Elite institutions are distinguished by the success of faculty who produce important and published research. Those areas of the world building capacity through higher education face an uphill fight in cultivating a stable faculty, a dynamic documented by a research study that found 91% of academics in Arab nations want to work someplace other than where they are, with Europe and the U.S. being the most desirable destinations. The assessment of researcher opinions indicated that advancing in their discipline and conducting more sophisticated research was the top reason for wanting to work outside the Arab world with better research facilities, academic freedom, better salary, and escaping bureaucracy also identified by significant percentages of those responding to the survey.

While the motivations of Arab nation researchers is understandable, leaving for European and U.S. universities undermines the fight to nurture more robust universities throughout the world. Might it not benefit Europe and the U.S. to find ways to keep Arab researchers in the MENA region? Branch campuses is one way to do this with Education City in Qatar being one of the most convincing examples.

Poland boosts funding for elite 10 universities

Poland, like other countries such as Germany and India, is launching preferential funding to their top research universities. Ten universities have been selected and will receive a boost in their budgets to allow them to be more competitive in the broader European higher education environment. While some view the move as necessary in order to positively differentiate different types of institutions, "some critics fear that concentrating resources on a select few, most of which are in big cities, will widen divisions within Polish society, echoing similar concerns about the impact of elite universities in countries include the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany."

Monday, December 2, 2019

Recovery in Hong Kong after protests

The prolonged protests in Hong Kong have attracted attention around the world. When the protests swelled to include millions, it appeared as if the entire city was coming apart. Media portrayed the worst and it appeared that the demonstrations impacted various sectors such as the economy and education, an impact that could linger for some time.

Gerard Postiglione indicates that higher education will bounce back. Because university students are often foster activism, one might expect that these institutions would suffer the most. Postiglione predicts that Hong Kong and its higher education institutions will recover quickly saying, "Hong Kong has always been a bounce-back city." There are three reasons why; 1) university leaders are committed to dialogue with students, 2) laws provide a base for autonomy and academic freedom, and 3) Hong Kong attracts many talented scholars from around the world. In addition to these, educators in Hong Kong have found subtle ways to criticize China that does not result in political targeting by the Communist Party and its officials. The combination of these factors and China's desire to continue to build the prestige of education will likely result in a quick return to normal operation.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Graduate students forming unions

Graduate school is often expensive and assistantships designed to support attendance are often far below levels that provide livable compensation. Graduate students are forming unions to make their case for improved conditions and compensation. Both domestic and international student stand to gain from joining together.

How international students in U.S.A. can obtain internships

With practical training being a high priority for many international students, staying after graduation from their U.S.A. institutions is important. Leah Collum offers advice on how to obtain these coveted placements.

Civic education of Chinese students

NYU now has a civics requirement for Chinese students at its campus in Shanghai. East China Normal University, the partner institutions for NYU, will develop and provide the course. The course requirement will allow graduates to qualify for both Chinese and NYU diplomas.

Student mobility

The latest "Open Doors" data reflect a continued decline in international student enrollment in the U.S.A., although the decline slowed from the previous couple of years. The number of U.S. students who study abroad showed increasing numbers with the destiny countries remaining primarily in Europe.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Academic isolation

The Association of American Universities recently considered building its own metaphoric wall to the north in retracting membership to the prestigious group for two Canadian universities - McGill University and the University of Toronto. Philip Altbach and Liz Reisberg ask the question if U.S.A. educators are withdrawing from cross-border partnerships, a move that would be one more step toward isolation. Higher education in the U.S.A. positions itself as the world leader in scholarship and innovation which is accepted by many educators and consumers. However, isolation and protectionism results in cutting off the opportunity to both model and learn from others.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Saving community in Finland

With the rise of self-interest first as a primary focus in business and governmental affairs, it's difficult to figure out where the idea of "community" is headed. Is it headed toward stark nationalism and regionalism or is there a way that citizens can fulfill their personal needs in ways that protect and even deepen a sense of community?

Finland's national library in Helsinki is bucking isolation by providing a facility "to bring people together and raise them up educationally and culturally." Helsinki's Executive Director for Culture and Leisure calls the library a "citizenship factory." Faced with the choices of slipping further into "racism, separatism and fear" Fins chose to "...buck it, doubling down on universalism and inclusion by building a monument to the idea that everybody is worth respect."

Friday, November 8, 2019

Turkey considering gender segregation in higher education

In a move interpreted as reflecting a return to conservative Islam, the Turkish government is looking at implementing more gender segregated higher education institutions. Educators in Turkey have expressed alarm that government officials have met with educators in Japan to look at segregated gender education that has been in place there since the 19th century. Comparing 19th century Japan, when gender segregated institutions were introduced to expand educational opportunity for women, and the environment of 21st century Turkey raises the question of the appropriateness of policy transfer in education across cultures and centuries.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Marginalization hurts

There is little surprise to a University of Washington research study on the impact of discrimination on students daily activity. The bottom line - experiencing discrimination based on national origin and ancestry, gender, disability, or sexual orientation was tied to "increased feelings of frustration, loneliness, anxiety, and depression." Although the research did not explicitly address the discrimination and marginalization international students experience, it's obvious that the negative impact would be the same.

Although the University of Washington study was limited to students in STEM areas, the implications might be generalizable. An issue that is particularly important is identifying conditions that support students when they face discrimination. This study found that students "who displayed high resilience and had strong social support were least likely to display indicators of anxiety and depression, no matter how many incidents of discrimination they reported."

Monday, November 4, 2019

Student ideological reporting in China

The creation of a deep commitment to academic freedom in China continues to be elusive. The New York Times reported how students' reports have resulted in discipline of faculty in Chinese institutions. This example demonstrates how students may lack an understanding of why academic freedom is important and how they can (or should), themselves, learn to dialogue with others with whom their political or ideological ideas differ.

Students have also become the target of Chinese government surveillance. A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota was sentenced to six months in jail for Tweets that were perceived to be critical of the Chinese government. Kris Olds, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, was reported in an Inside Higher Education article as asking, "What obligations do our universities have to provide our arrested students & their families, in cases like this, with resources for legal support & broader political support in relevant contexts here & around the world?... What is the role of formal and informal associations of universities in responding to this phenomenon, recognizing that many universities do not  have the scale of legal and area studies resources that the University of Minnesota does(?)"

Money matters to European internationalization

It comes as no surprise the money is a frequent focus of conversation in relation to internationalizing higher education in Europe, as it does elsewhere around the world. A recent EIAE study indicated that only 12% of respondents throughout Europe see funding as a major concern. However, it is more important in countries such as the U.K. And, the availability of funding was identified throughout Europe as among the "top three internal and external challenges affecting internationalization in their institutions."

Following budget concerns, other key challenges for European educators striving to advance an international perspective include: lack of commitment by colleagues, lack of recognition by HEIs of those working toward internationalization, competition, and national legal barriers.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

International educators in the U.S.A. - it's not the time to disengage

An interesting question has been raised about where international educators representing the U.S.A. are willing to go to engage with educators in the Americas. Hans de Wit reports having been one of a handful of U.S. educators who attended the 2019 Conference of the Americas. By contrast, almost 1,000 participants joined from Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, China, and New Zealand. AIEA responded that de Wit had misrepresented their engagement in Latin America. Nevertheless, it is important to consider de Wit's critique and what it means for U.S. educators

With a theme of "Hubs of Knowledge and Innovation: Synergies for Development," one would think that U.S. associations and international education leaders would be eager to participate. De Wit mused if it was arrogance that the Americas will come to the U.S. so why bother going south? Was it continued over-reliance on traditional European partners? Was it bad timing or a sense of hopelessness as internationalization takes a hit with the decline of international students' interest in the U.S.A.?

Whatever the cause, de Wit comments that it's not the time to isolate. International educators need to engage more fully now than ever before if they hope to sustain gains in numbers and visibility over the last decade.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wesleyan passes on China campus

Citing the potential of misalignment of the focus of a proposed China campus and its core liberal arts program goals and concerns about academic freedom, the President of Wesleyan University announced that it will pass on establishing a China campus.

Student protests in Taiwan

Following the example of Hong Kong, protests are now spreading to Taiwan. The protests involve mainland China visitors and students who have defaced "Lennon" walls where sympathy for Hong Kongs' protests have been expressed. Bi-yu Chang of the Centre of Taiwan Studies at SOAS, University of London commented, "These Chinese students seemed to form a different idea about what democracy is, how it operates and the rights and responsibilities it entails."

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Loans for International students in the U.S.A.

The stereotype of international students in the U.S.A. is that they are financial able to fund their education. However, new options are now emerging to help international students by providing loans to support their education. While likely addressing an unmet need (counter to stereotype), one can only hope that international students fully understand the higher interest rates that will be charged and then burden of debt this will create.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

India aspiration for higher education recognition

India's National Education Policy was formulated to position India's higher education sector for its distinctive high quality. NEP places "emphasis on developing a distinctly Indian approach to internationalization of higher education. Recommendations to build the soft power potential of Indian higher education by facilitating international research collaborations and international expansion of Indian universities and programs, et. could be viewed in this context."

Some of the provisions of the NEP have already been implemented but the more pervasive implementation lies ahead. Some Indian academics are concerned about establishing standards that will support a thriving higher education sector. Of particular concern is academic freedom, a core tenet that Joyce Lau says will likely keep India from achieving its aspiration to have its universities ranked among the best in the world.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Grad enrollment shifts

A new report from the Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service indicates that enrollment in U.S. graduate programs is shifting - declining for international students and increasing for domestic minority students. Representation by domestic cultural minority groups reached 24.1% for first-time enrollees. Continuing a three year decline, international first-time graduate school enrollment dropped by 1.3%. One area that has been popular with international students is business schools and the interest there has dropped by 13.7% in 2019.

These figures reflect a key educational resource - the mix of those who enroll in graduate education. Both domestic minority and international students are a critical talent resource as well as represent an opportunity for cultural exposure to each other and to other predominantly white domestic students. Managing the mix is increasingly recognized as an important institutional responsibility.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Higher education change

There are many who predict that higher education must change. One statement by Steve Mintz provides a cogent summary of why and how. The insights he offers are not ground-breaking but it's helpful to have this as a reminder of the urgency of the problem and it's reassuring that he offers what he refers to as "sustaining innovation" which he contrasts with "disruptive innovation."

These terms reflect the differentiation between what Bahcall refers to as "franchise" and "loonshot" innovation. Linking Mintz and Bahcall's ideas, it seems that successful change for higher education will require sustaining/franchise modifications that are more or less proven enhancements to current practice while at the same time taking big risks (disruptive or loonshot innovation) that fundamentally change the face of higher education practice. Bahcall advocates that organizations need to figure out ways to support both franchise and loonshot change, which is only possible if leaders undertake fundamental organization structure and culture change.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

U.S. Dept of Educ challenges Duke/UNC Middle East Studies

The U.S. Department of Education has criticized the Middle East Studies programs jointly convened by Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill as not serving the purposes of the Title VI funding that supports it. The letter to the program administrators from Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education Robert King indicated "a lack of balance" in the Middle East Studies program, favoring Islam over other religions, and "advancing ideological priorities" instead of language development and geographic/historic discourse on the Middle East.

Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research at UNC, responded that, "The consortium organizes public events presenting diverse perspectives and a wide range of views on many of the Middle East's most challenging subjects, including -- in recent years -- conferences on censorship in Turkey, Islam and religious identity, World War I and the transformation of the Middle East, the aftermath of the Arab Spring and lectures on human rights in Iran, civil war in Syria, repression in Egypt, and many other subjects."

U.S. House of Representatives Democrats challenged the Department of Education's review of the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies by saying, "The Title VI stature only requires curricular to offer 'diverse perspectives and a wide range of views and generate debate.'" The Department of Education responded that their inquiry related to a lack of diversity and absence of a language requirement in the Duke-UNC Consortium.

It's not terribly difficult to read between the lines in these exchanges. While the Department of Education is claiming that the Duke/UNC program is ideologically imbalanced, the topics being addressed are a natural part of academic discourse and just so happen to touch on issues that the US Department of Education might not want exposed and more broadly discussed. Who's guilty of ideological bias?

Mitchel Stevens of Stanford indicated that viewing the Duke/UNC program criticism as the result of the Trump administration's ideological leaning is a mistake. He poses that it is indicative of "steadily growing government skepticism about the value of academic knowledge of the rest of the world." Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Sigal Ben-Porath expressed concern that the U.S. Department of Education criticism of Duke/UNC criticism represents an unhelpful intrusion in regulating free speech on campus. Joining with 29 other higher education organizations, the American Council on Education sent a letter of concern about the U.S. Department of Education's collection of information on foreign gifts and contracts. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Mixed messages on academic and research collaboration

Regardless of the economic and political wrangling between the U.S.A. and China, academics and researchers reinforce that research collaboration is beneficial to both countries. Lee and Haupt's study indicated that Chinese scholars are driving much of the research in science and engineering and that Chinese scholars would have forged ahead without partners in the U.S.A. Some scholars are now leaving the U.S.A. in the face of investigations of their ties to China, which ironically contributes to fulfilling China's goal of attracting Chinese scholars to return.

While China seeks status for having leading research and scholarship universities, another report indicated that its actions are undermining that aspiration. Robert Quinn, executive director of Scholars at Risk, opined that failing to protect academic freedom "poses grave personal and professional risks for Chinese scholars and students and serious academic, reputational and financial risks for foreign academic institutions that have partnerships with Chinese counterparts, in China or abroad.

Making progress in establishing international academic partnerships often involves Chinese scholars serving as visiting researchers or faculty in other countries. But these partnerships can sometimes be suspect when these visitors take initiative at the behest of the Chinese government, which was apparently the cause of Prague's Charles University firing Chinese visiting faculty. Researchers and governmental officials in the U.S.A. have sounded alarms about cultivation of Chinese scholars to steal research innovation. Jodi Black, who directs the extramural research of NIH was quoted in a meeting of academic researchers as saying, "evidence is plentiful that foreign governments are engaged in organized efforts to co-opt discoveries and ideas from American universities -- in ways that divert proprietary information, undermine peer review and 'distort our (science) funding model,' by giving grants to scientists on the payrolls of other countries that could have gone to other deserving scientists."

Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education, indicated that "many higher education institutions, including those impacted by the current cases, already are taking proactive steps to confront these issues. But all of these incidents serve as a reminder of the need to redouble efforts to ensure that institutions and their faculty members are fully in compliance with the letter and spirit of all federal requirements."

Iranian graduate students denied visas in U.S.A.

Adding to the list of countries where international students have been denied visas (ie. Palestine and China), at least one dozen new Iranian graduate students were denied visas last week. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said there had been no change to their policies.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Who said internationalization would be easy?

Liz Reisberg's recent essay about internationalization is based on a pretty simple assumption - that it has become more complicated and difficult to navigate. She cited the optimism of those who pursued internationalization with the belief that the flow of ideas and talent around the world would be easy and would benefit everyone. The reality is a bit different. She said, "We certainly underestimated the enduring legacy of political, economic, and military competition and mistrust among nations. Nor had we calculated the resurgence and effect of extremist ideology."

While I would agree that the dynamics of internationalization are growing more complicated, I also believe that educators should have recognized the potential complexity of the flow of ideas and learners/scholars from the beginning. The problem was the assumed applicability across borders (national and cultural) of knowledge and processes of learning. It was the hegemony of western educators that allowed there to be an assumption that educational transfer was direct, seamless, and easy. I may be in the minority but I'm glad that the current international environment is awakening a realization that internationalization requires serious and deeper work.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Journal of Student Affairs in Africa

The latest Journal of Student Affairs in Africa is focused on student activism and its impact in higher education. Activism is an issue that ebbs and flows throughout higher education's history and takes different forms in different cultures but, rest assured, it is there. The question for student affairs educators is what role should we play when activism is on the rise? Should we stand away from it, engage it, or encourage it?

Some student affairs and other administrators would determine their stance based on politics. Student affairs educators will balance the politics with the educational outcome. Activism can be a very catalytic moment for learning and student affairs educators can help make it positive by carefully engaging in educationally purposeful ways.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Outcomes of dialogue for diversity

Eboo Patel, author and founder of an organization to foster inter-faith dialogue, offered perspective on what those who engage in dialogue across difference should be able to do as a result of their experience. One of the points that he makes relates to how "oppressed people" should be involved in dialogues across difference. He said that "there are students from challenging backgrounds and minority identities in every field and practice" and that they should be involved. In a follow up article, Elin Johnson indicated that the authors (including Patel) "remind college leaders that friendship can't be socially engineered, and that as they craft programs, they should think about what they're doing to nurture and create these relationships that go beyond just contact and conversations."

In a follow-up essay, Patel addressed why creating dialogue of all sorts matters. In relation to civic engagement he opined, "Here is how I define the civic: spaces where people from different backgrounds come together in shared activities that promote the general well-being and that guide cooperative relationships." He went on to say that the civic spaces that we need to benefit all citizens requires leadership that engages across difference.

While Patel's essay didn't develop the point of including diverse students in dialogues across difference, I'm struck by two primary issues: 1) learning to be more aware and welcoming of diversity shouldn't be the burden of students from diverse backgrounds, and 2) how can students that represent diverse voices be expected to speak up in the context of significant power and privilege differences that they will encounter? I agree with Patel that students from diverse backgrounds must be included in dialogues across difference but those who frame these conversations should make the two above points clear at the outset of any conversation.

Specific to international students who study in the U.S.A. or other western countries, any dialogue across difference should explicitly state that international students experience stereotyping, discrimination, and marginalization on a regular basis; they should be recognized, shown appreciation for participation, and not be expected to take the burden of informing others who are naive or worse when it comes to international dynamics. Secondly, any facilitator of dialogues across difference that include international students should strive to make space in these dialogues for the cultural differences that they bring to these groups, cultural differences that are often shaped by the vestiges of colonialism and western hegemony that discourages their candor in a variety of interactions.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sensitive course/topics for IBCs

Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) cancelled a course on dissent and resistance only 2 weeks before the course was to be offered. The cancellation called into question the degree to which an IBC (International Branch Campus) can offer courses that may be controversial in the local international context. Yale's President, Peter Salovey, raised concern about the cancellation and indicated that the dissent experience was a one-week out-of-class experience to allow students to actually meet with those who have been involved in democratic dissent in Asia.

The president of Yale later issued a statement that the decision to cancel the controversial course was internal to Yale-NUS and reflected critical judgment about the course design. He also asserted that there is a strong commitment to academic freedom at Yale-NUS and that it is "a model of innovation in liberal arts education in Asia."

Mira Seo, an associate professor of humanities and head of literature studies at Yale-NUS, indicated that the investigation into why the course was cancelled confirmed that no Singaporean governmental control was exercised. Seo asserted a essential point for international educators by saying that academic freedom, "works within an ecology of the larger political society, but does that mean if you do not have an identical political society with the same rights and protections as in the U.S., you can't have academic freedom? I think there are so many points along the spectrum. There's not one answer for that."

The instructor for the proposed Yale-NUS course, Alfian Sa'at, subsequently indicated that he made multiple revisions of the course and believed that cancellation based on risk concerns (among others) was the easiest way out of the difficult academic freedom question involved with the course content. Unfortunately, keeping the topic alive, Singapore's Minster of Education, Ong Ye Kung, delivered a speech during which he indicated that the government had concerns about the Yale-NUS course. He was reported as saying, "academic freedom cannot be carte blanche for anyone to misuse an academic institution for political advocacy."

Stay tuned, the comments by Singapore's Minister of Education is bound to elicit more reactions from Yale.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

U.K. reinstates 2-year work opportunities

One of the things that international students often value is pursuing work experience after graduation. The U.K. recently reinstated a policy allowing internationals to remain in the country for two years after graduation, a move that will surely be attractive and is likely to improve recruitment of international students to study in the U.K.

When students exclude each other

Student government at Monash University's Caulfield campus (Australia) recently passed a rule disallowing international students to run for office. With international students representing 62% of the total student population, the purpose of the rule is obvious - denial of representation and a message that international students don't matter. The election was quickly cancelled and the student government claimed to have introduced the rule to clarify how much time it takes to be involved in student government.

Helping students understand their role in creating a welcoming campus environment, especially for international students, is essential if situations like the Monash University example are to be avoided. The exclusion rule raises questions about how much time/effort student government participation should require as well as what role student governments have in representing and embracing all their constituents.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Images of respectful cultures

Different images have been offered for cultures that include and embrace multiple cultures - melting pot and salad bowl are two of the more popular. Eboo Patel, prominent advocate for inter-faith dialogue recently offered the potluck as another model. He says, "Potlucks respect diverse identities by enthusiastically welcoming the gifts of the people who gather. They facilitate relationships between people by creating a space for eating and socializing and surprise connections. And they cultivate in people the importance of not just the individual parts and the connections between them, but the health of the whole. Everybody benefits from a clean kitchen, enough dishes and cutlery, and a safe and open place to eat and socialize. When it comes to a potluck, these are the structures of the common good. Everybody plays a role in the upkeep."

The potluck image captures the essence of the holding place, the mutual contributions, and the actions that create and sustain respect and affirmation. Wouldn't it be incredible if our institutions could cultivate this kind of active commitment among our students, staff, and faculty?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Returning ASU students from China detained

Nine Chinese students who were returning for study at Arizona State University were detailed when they tried to enter the U.S.A. ASU officials have not been able to determine the cause for Custom and Border Protection officials' action. The students returned to China and are continuing their ASU studies on line.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Brazil's higher education proposal - internationalization driven by economics

Concerns have been raised about Brazil's evolving national policy for federal universities. The Rectors of these universities, one of whom I spoke to at some depth on a visit to Chile in 2018 (Marcello Knobel), writes in this critique that leaders of the federal universities have not been consulted and that the "Future-seas" policy will amount to a massive divestment in public universities, ultimately leading to greater privatization and the decline of the public good that Brazilian universities currently attempt to fulfill for Brazilian society.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

ASU's "public benefit" corporation

Arizona State University has launched a "public benefit" corporation to continue its push into international higher education. The public benefit designation is different from not-for-profit or for-profit in that it allows the corporation to "focus less on generating profits for shareholders and to instead emphasize strategies aimed at benefiting the public - such as pursuing social justice or environmental goals." It still permits the corporation to make profits and how the public benefit and revenue goals are balanced will be interesting to watch.

The new entity, Cintana Education, will focus on private non-profit international higher education institutions, helping them to expand their on-line and campus enrollment. ASU's experience in growing its enrollment will be leveraged by Cintana Education to help its clients outside of the U.S.A. reach their growth and quality goals.

Trump is only part of international enrollment decline

EducationNext conducted a study of contributing factors to the leveling in 2016 and now decline of international students in the U.S.A. Trump's nationalist focus is partly to blame but other factors include more availability of higher education opportunity in Asia, declining youth population in China, and the cost of attending a U.S. university.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Don't rely too much on Chinese student numbers

Many institutions have relied on international students from China to balance budgets over the last decade. A report from the Center for Independent Studies of Australia analyzed patterns of attendance for Chinese students and found that some institutions' international enrollments represent more than 50% of international students and that total enrollment in some cases generated from 13% to 23% of total revenues. The report warns that the  institutional risk is too great when revenue is so dependent on any specific sub-group.

Enrollment of Chinese students in U.S. institutions bolstered budgets for many universities over the last decade, with large state-supported institutions such as the University of Illinois, University of Iowa, and Michigan State University being examples of the biggest beneficiaries. The numbers are now declining across the board and the combination of demographic decline in college-age Chinese students, the cost of U.S. education, and the perceived hostility toward China in the U.S. are almost sure to mean that the downward trend is the new reality to which the U.S. must adjust.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Popular reading for Chinese students

In order to relate to Chinese students, knowing what they are reading and the views they have can be immensely helpful. 1.6 million WeChat subscribers are reading College Daily. What messages are they getting - after the 2016 Presidential election, the U.S.A. is very divided and appears to be in chaos. By contrast, they via China as controlled, balanced, and predictable.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Call to action in diversity and internationalization

The idea of diversity and inclusion being important to higher education is not a new idea. Nor is the advocacy that international or global awareness is an essential capacity for university graduates in the 21st century. However, any statement that provides weight to diversity and internationalization will help in a era where the core beliefs of their merit are being questioned.

The University Council on Diversity and Inclusion in International Affairs, a group composed of academics from 17 prominent universities, drafted the Call to Action: Enhance Diversity & Inclusion in International Affairs Education as a way to foster more serious commitment in preparing students for the global world we now inhabit. Thus far, 25 deans and over 200 scholars have signed on to the agreement. Writing about the initiative, Carla Koppell of Georgetown advocates that diversity and internationalization is a core competency that must be taken more seriously.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sham university entrapment

A sham university was established to attract prospective international students who the U.S.A. government believed knew their applications and proposed education was fake. However, court rulings indicate that at least some of the students who applied to the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ) thought it was real and shouldn't have been subject to the blanket assumption of fraud. The attorney for the international students indicated, "The thrust of the lawsuit was simply to say that you can't set up a phony university and then turn around and claim that everyone who attended committed fraud."

ICE officials arrested 250 international students who gained admission to another fake in Detroit, Michigan, the University of Farmington. The students were primarily from India and were attracted to the reported academic focus of technology and computer science. The international students at Farmington asserted that they were lured into applying after institutions to which they had already been admitted lost their accreditation. Recruiters who referred international students to Farmington and other fake universities have been criminally charged for their role. Some students innocently applied out of desperation but others appeared to know that they hadn't been offered any classes in which to "enroll," substantiating the legal case for their participation in the fraud.

Legislation put forth by multiple elected U.S. officials challenged the actions of the accrediting agency that offered assistance by extending fake accreditation in the entrapment scheme. Elizabeth Warren, and other legislators involved in the challenge said, "It is deeply misleading, unfair and irresponsible to falsify accreditation information that students can and should use to evaluate their educational options before uprooting their lives and making significant financial investments in their education."

The entrapment scheme ultimately resulted in a class action suit, with the U.S. government offering a settlement agreement in 2022.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Internationalization within ACPA's social justice and decolonization imperative

ACPA's social justice and decolonization imperative calls for critical examination of privilege and power in all relationships - including students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. While some may see this work as primarily related to the dynamics within the U.S.A., Craig Elliott, Darbi Roberts, and Gudrun Nyunt will address the international question in a Facebook Live conference. How those who embrace internationalization can avoid the debilitating presumptions of superiority and inappropriate application of western educational ideas, policies, and practices is critical. Elliott, Roberts, and Nyunt are courageous in exploring this topic and will hopefully stir others to critically examine their approaches in the future.

Expanding number and diversity in study abroad

Eleven percent of students at U.S.A. institutions study abroad but within this only 1 percent of community colleges students and 5 percent of students at minority-serving institutions access this educational enrichment opportunity. A number of strategies are now being pursued to expand the total number of U.S.A. students who study abroad and specific initiatives are focused on serving underserved populations. One of the strategies being used is short-term trips that end up being gateway experiences that will encourage students to go deeper and longer when they have a good experience.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Australia's incremental improvement policy

When institutions or entire countries seek change in any sector, the question becomes one of should the strategy be revolutionary or evolutionary? In higher education, where vested and independent interests often undermine change, choosing a strategy is perhaps even more important than other sectors.

Australia is working toward a new accountability system for its higher education sector that rewards campuses based on achieving retention, graduation, and satisfaction measures. Those involved with the new system indicate, "We're pretty certain... the model is fair and feasible and can be operated safely by all universities, irrespective of the catchment of students or the subject mix," with the hope of avoiding "perverse outcomes such as making the sector more uniform."

Statements such as the above portray an incremental and contextualized approach to policy transfer and implementation. Change in complex systems where avoiding sabotage and unknowable side-effects is key, Australia may have an approach that will work.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Student recruitment from China increasingly uncertain = diversify now

While speaking to the EducationUSA Forum, senior U.S. State department official Marie Royce said that the U.S. welcomes Chinese international students. She also claimed that visa refusals have not increased during the Trump administration. She went on to admonish educators that higher education was not doing a good enough job integrating them into their institutions because Chinese students were cocooning in social medial

Contrasting with Royce's claims, Jenny Lee of the University of Arizona said, "Marie Royce's speech only reinforces the current administration's racial profiling of Chinese students as potential spies, engaging in espionage and intellectual theft. Her underlying message is: 'Chinese students are valuable but vulnerable to becoming arms of the Chinese government. So watch out and keep them close.'"

With mixed messages from the Trump administration and perceptions of the U.S.A. as a desirable place to study, Ranjan Danials of the University of Chicago indicates that institutions should diversify their recruitment efforts to other countries, especially those in Asia where youth populations are often underserved by their national higher education system. He also says that it is "vital to project a welcoming environment to students and to tap into popular cultural trends. Students are looking for more than degrees and information about academics: they want to learn about ways they can engage with the community and culture."

Monday, July 29, 2019

Soft power of education diplomacy requires two-way policy

There's not much question that student mobility across national borders is a significant demonstration of soft power. While studying abroad, students absorb the culture of their host country and acquire the skills to live and work in a global society. In addition, countries that host international students build relationships that are likely to pay off in future good will and mutually beneficial governmental and private affairs.

China has been using higher education as a soft power tool to great success, write Ainur Yerezhepekova and Zulfiya Torebekova. In their words, the "Chinese government has enacted a policy in two directions with apparently equal success: on the one hand using soft power to attract international students and promote Chinese culture abroad through Confucius Institutes and on the other hand boosting economic opportunities to increase the flow of Chinese talent back home. In this way, they have simultaneously increased their visibility abroad, enticed talented foreign students to come to China and stemmed the loss of domestic talent."

Job seeking advice for international students in the U.S.A.

A priority for many international students is snagging a job after they graduate from their U.S.A. host institutions. How to do this for those unfamiliar with the cultural and logistical expectations, may be daunting. Leah Collum offers great advice to help international graduates.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Test optional for international students?

Numerous colleges and universities in the U.S.A. have made the ACT and SAT optional as an admission requirement for domestic students and some are extending this to international students as well. The ACT and SAT have been required for screening students for admission; underlying the requirement is the presumption that the test indicates readiness and, therefore, likelihood of success. Indeed, if tests are used to identify those students prepared to succeed, then they could be key in helping all students. Unfortunately, the tests have often been perceived or used as a hurdle rather than a predictor of success. Using tests as a hurdle has been found to be particularly consequential for U.S.A. domestic students and it is also significant for international students.

International students are looking for institutions that do not require submission of ACT or SAT scores, as evidenced by the work of consultants such as Sarah Loring de Garcia who helps Mexican students find U.S.A., Canadian, and other universities that are test optional. de Garcia offers an important perspective when she commented that if institutions want "to bring international students in, particularly if they are not looking at international students as strictly a tuition revenue benefit, but rather as a community benefit, in terms of what international students bring to that college campus, then they need to think carefully about what this test is really offering them in terms of information about students."

Is globalization declining?

In a short review of Leveling, Joshua Kim asserts that he is unconvinced by the book's argument that globalization is declining, reflected in fewer international students studying in the U.S.A. Kim says, "I think that the story of global demand for US higher education is yet to be written. I'd argue that we have opportunities to expand the number of international students, but only if we accelerate investments in alternative and lower-cost educational models. If I'm right, in 20 years our schools will be more global in outlook and practices. And that we will educate an even higher proportion of international students relative to native-born."

In another article related to cuts in funding for internationalization support, Hans de Wit wrote, "When a liberal country such as the Netherlands cuts back on funding that is essential to support education in the global knowledge economy, other countries may follow with cuts producing a negative impact not only to Dutch international education, but also elsewhere."

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Academic freedom and authoritarian states

Academic freedom is a sacred part of most, if not all, university faculty members' belief system. The reason - only in a setting where any and all topics can be addressed without fear of retribution, can intellectual inquiry thrive. Writing for Times Higher Education, Ellie Bothwell calls for academics in free societies to stand up to the growing threat of authoritarian politicians who are attempting to control higher education institutions. Bothwell quotes Michael Ignatieff, the president of Central European University, who said, "The British government, the American government, the French government, the Dutch government -- all of whom have free institutions inside [their nations] -- are not saying loudly and clearly enough to these authoritarian regimes: 'If you want to stay in Europe, Europe means free institutions. If you don't defend and support and sustain free institutions, you don't belong to the club.'"

The reality of academic freedom is perhaps under threat beyond emerging eastern European demagogues. There certainly are questions about academic freedom in China and in Middle Eastern authoritarian settings such as Saudi Arabia. Even U.S.A. citizens have to ask themselves if they are under threat when politicians choose language of elitism, liberal bias, and unresponsiveness to public needs to describe higher education.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Study abroad crime experience

While students who plan to study abroad are likely not selecting their destination based on the likelihood of being a victim of crime, victimization could turn a wonderful experience into a nightmare. Research on study abroad students' experience indicates that, while crime experiences are low in general, sexual harassment is more widely encountered, especially for women. In addition, being victimized was more common for those studying in Africa, North and South America. Specific to the U.S.A., 37% if international students report fear of potential gun violence victimization.

Friday, July 12, 2019

U.K. sees increase of 30% in Chinese student applications

The U.K. appears to be the beneficiary of the trade war and negative press between the U.S.A. and China. Reports indicate that Chinese undergraduate student applicants increased by 30% in the last year. Rahul Choudaha, executive vice president for research and global engagement at StudyPortals, said, 'If the U.S. is making things more difficult for international students, they are going to find alternative destinations." Others suggested that disagreements between Australia and China as well as the decline of the British Pound have made the U.K. a more attractive study destination.