Friday, May 31, 2019

International students' mental health needs

Many counseling and mental health advocates have advocated that greater attention needs to be placed on international students. The NAFSA 2019 conference included a program reporting lower awareness of mental health services and lower levels of use that are attributable to a variety of causes including cultural barriers, fear of being reported to immigration authorities, and belief that struggling with mental health is a sign of weakness.

During the NAFSA session, Xuhua Qin of Tufts University commented that international students may prefer counselors who share their culture or speak their language but she also said that this should not be assumed. Qin encouraged faculty and staff who work with international students to ask what the student needs and make the call or go with them to the counseling center. The bottom line is that international students wish that someone would simply ask how they are doing and care enough to help the student get to services that can assist them.

The reports of international student mental health needs should be considered in the broader context of the campus environment. Research on international students indicate that they have few friends and often feel isolated on campus. Qin's comments above indicate the critical importance of belonging and affirmation to a sense of well being. Mental health isn't just about clinical analysis and intervention. The medical model often proscribes treatment when, as Gary Glass indicates, a shift to a community model may reach more students and respond more appropriately to all students' needs. He indicated that "Through increased training across departments at our colleges and universities, or simply through a little moral courage, people on our campuses can have intricate conversations to improve students' lives - emotionally, interpersonally and spiritually."

Thursday, May 30, 2019

NAFSA reports address competition for international students

NAFSA's annual conference attracts approximately 10,000 people from around the world and includes presentations related to many countries, although its name starts with "National" and this is presumed to be the U.S.A. Two reports unveiled at the 2019 conference 1) compare policies of 20 different countries in terms of attractiveness to international students and 2) confirm the decline of interest in U.S.A. universities as a threat to attracting and retaining highly qualified talent from throughout the world. The two reports combine to portray the policy positions and resulting impact in terms of institutional competition for talented and well-trained young people. The bottom line is that "institutions continue to report that prospective international students and their families are concerned about U.S. federal policies and rhetoric on immigration, along with apprehensions of personal safety and tense race relations."

Monday, May 13, 2019

Ukraine's entry into international student competition

Although including small numbers in comparison to the big international student players (i.e. U.S.A., U.K., Canada, & Australia), Ukraine had a 13% increase in the number of international students last year. The linked article indicated that entry into the Bologna agreement and low cost of attendance were helping to attract students from countries where cost is a prohibitive factor.

One of the dilemmas is that Ukraine charges higher fees to international students and accordingly provides separate and better services, an approach that results in internationals having less contact with domestic Ukranian students. Although the article does not mention it, the impact of separate and unequal also means that the value-added aspect of international students is much harder to realize.

Friday, May 10, 2019

International Association of Universities (IAU) 5th Global Survey

The International Association of Universities has completed their 5th Global Survey. The results are the first assessment of changes in international higher education in the changing political climate of the Trump administration. In the words of Georgio Morinoni and Hans deWitt, "Regionalization has emerged from the survey results as a priority in all regions except North America. This is not surprising when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been dismissed by the current government and regional cooperation is diminishing with each passing month and insult from the US. president."

Although respondents to the Global Survey indicate a high priority on "enhanced international cooperation and capacity building," higher education institutions continue to focus narrowly on mobility as a response. This appears to be a short-sighted and limiting strategy in the face of the small number of students from U.S. institutions who study abroad and the relatively weak pattern of interaction among U.S. domestic students and international students when they are in their midst.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Higher education's Africa strategy?

Much to the discussion today is about expanding higher education opportunity in Asia, with China and India the primary countries of interest. Africa is growing both in number of people and economic vitality and Grant Harris says that every institution serious about internationalization should be working on a strategy to partner throughout the continent. One of the critical variables related to Africa strategy is that China is already deeply involved in building infrastructure in Africa and more African students already study in China than in the U.S.A., U.K., or elsewhere. Harris writes, "Academic institutions aiming to maintain their global brand will need to more purposefully engage with the continent. At the same time, savvy and scrappy universities that aspire to have greater global impact have an opportunity to leverage their own comparative advantages when adapting to the major demographic, cultural, economic and political shifts that are already underway in Africa -- and that will be felt around the world."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Community colleges join race for international students

Not only are four years colleges and universities counting on international students. Community colleges have and will likely continue to compete for international students as well.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Higher education in India

Major national elections are on the horizon for India. With so much at stake in educational capacity building, Indian educators will be watching carefully. If Modi is reelected, prospects include "regulatory changes in the sector, setting up of subject-specific universities such as Culture and Music University, Hospitality and Tourism University, Police University, Foreign Policy University, creating fifty world-class institutions by 2024 and the promotion of 'Study in India' to make India a major destination for foreign students."

For countries such as Australia, the UK, and the USA, policy changes and new educational resources within India may cut off the steady stream of international students coming to their shores. The education for employment focus advocated by the Indian government may also be a signal educators will want to consider when tailoring academic programs that will appeal to Indian students.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Innovation readiness is a myth

It is common that various individuals or groups are characterized as resistant to change in settings seeking to innovate. Edward Maloney and Joshua Kim say this is a myth, at least in regard to higher education. They say that faculty and staff exhibit, "attitudes and ideas that are shaped by a mix of complex structural forces, cultural norms and incentives. These external forces interact with internal beliefs and motivations to guide behaviors."

Maloney and Kim make a very important point that resistance to change/innovation is neither a stable and predictable dynamic nor is it helpful to react to people as if they are resistant during the complex process of change. Viewing stakeholders and collaborators for their complex understandings, not prejudging, and listening a lot will help those who seek to innovate rather than putting people into boxes that marginalize them as resistors.