Friday, June 28, 2019

On-line student engagement

Eric Stoller has written before about the importance of student affairs educators working harder to meet on-line learner needs. In a short essay, he calls out those responsible for leadership and civic engagement programs to make sure that on-line students have the same opportunities as campus-based students. Based on the premise that higher education isn't only about classroom experiences, which is copiously reinforced by research, institutions need to dedicate commensurate energy to drawing on-line students into cocurricular experiences related to leadership. And, just incidentally, the enrichment of their experience will in all likelihood lead to greater satisfaction and retention as well.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

MIT warns - don't close door with Chinese scholars

In the continuing barrage of negative messages about other cultures and countries, those committed to advancing knowledge need to hold a steady course in partnering with scholars from all backgrounds. In a message reinforcing this point, MIT's President, Rafael Reif, said that "Harsh rhetoric against most immigrants and a range of other groups, because of religion, race, ethnicity or national origin... have turned the volume all the way up on the message that the U.S. is closing the door - that we no longer seek to be a magnet for the world's most driven and creative minds."

Friday, June 21, 2019

Expansion and reform in education for India

A new Indian national education policy paper describes ambitious and far-reaching plans for the future of higher education in India. Recognizing the huge number emerging in a younger generation requires a strategy that broadly builds knowledge, skill and capacity for India's future. The model includes enhancing Indian institutions as well as inviting partnerships with elite universities from through the world.

"The main thrust of this policy regarding higher education is the ending of the fragmentation of higher education by moving higher education into large multidisciplinary universities and colleges, each of which will aim to have upwards of 5,000 or more students." Three types of institutions are anticipated - research universities, teaching universities, and colleges. While the research universities are likely to have higher focus in advancing research, the intent is to integrate research more into all three types of institutions. The report says, "The separation in higher education between teaching institutions and research institutions post-independence has caused much harm, as most universities and colleges in the country today conduct very little research."

While the report has received positive response, some question if funding will be provided to make the plan fully implementable.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Increasing China/Russia higher education cooperation

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of renewed diplomatic relations between China and Russia, Presidents Xi and Putin signed a number of agreements, one to enhance higher education cooperation. Significant cooperation was already underway as evidenced by a 95% increase in the number of Sino/Russian co-authored academic papers from 2013-17. The new agreement establishes a Russian Research Institute at the Beijing Tsinghua University in partnership with Saint Petersburg State University "which will conduct research on Russia-China relations in areas such as industrial development, education, science and technology." Simon Marginson of the University of Oxford indicated that China and Russia were "dancing uneasily together at present, a natural by-product of the deepening rift between the U.S. and China."

Inside Higher Educ compilation - international graduate student recruitment

Inside Higher Education has compiled resources for recruitment officials, support offices, and broader policy makers to use in honing the best strategy to recruit international graduate students. When the competition increases, improving effectiveness in recruit and eventual success of international students is essential.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Diamond - Upheaval

It's always fascinating to me when ideas, theories, and models from one environment/sector are applied to another. Jared Diamond's Upheaval evidently (I haven't read it yet but have it on my reading list) applies dynamics that are relevant to personal upheaval to several countries. Last week's review by Joshua Kim provides the basics of Diamond's proposition. Kim followed up on the initial article by offering an essay about big ideas.

Diamond is an obvious big thinker and one who Kim indicates will likely be criticized in academic circles. However, he counters the criticism by saying "I found Upheaval hugely enlightening. Having recently traveled to Japan, the chapters on Japanese history and society both rang true to my experience - and helped me make sense of what I had witnessed." Through pulling broad ideas together, spanning intellectual boundaries, Kim says, "Diamond, for me, is a wonderful example of how to live a big academic life."

Education Dept inquiry on foreign funding

The U.S.A. Education Department has launched investigations into funding from foreign sources at several universities. Two of the institutions first noted to be under investigation are Qatar Foundation partners in Doha's Education City, Texas A&M and Georgetown. Cornell University was added in a later update. I'm fairly certain that the Education Department's original intent was to discern funding that could compromise institutional integrity; singling out Texas A&M, Georgetown, and Cornell in this context is interesting. These institutions have contracts with Qatar Foundation for provision of educational programs in Doha - in essence a fee for service. The Education Department investigation will surely come to this conclusion. However, if the institutions did not properly report their sources of revenue, other questions need to be asked.

A follow-up article provided more detail about the amounts reported as gifts from Qatar Foundation, an issue that is sure to raise eyebrows in Qatar. The six U.S. universities hosted at Education City have different contracts and it is a bone of contention that more prestigious universities have more lucrative deals. Reporting of the figures will also allow those who review the information to determine the per-student cost of hosting the U.S. universities in Qatar, a figure that some may view is exorbitant.

The University of Maryland was subsequently added to the list of institutions being investigated for foreign contributions.

Delays in work authorization for international students

International students are experiencing delays in approval of optional practical training (OPT) applications as they attempt to work in the summer of 2019. While officials indicate there has been an increase in applications, they say that the backlog is minor. Unfortunately, any "minor" delay can impact an international candidate's option of acting on a job offer, may strand them, and may even result in their return to their home country.

Continuing and broad reports indicated that OPT approvals could take longer than 100 days. Some faculty have intervened by providing Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) which has stipulations requiring internships to be tied to coursework. However, with delays in OPT, CPT may be a good strategy to support international students in obtaining the practical training they seek.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Australian higher education practices

Australia is a desirable destination for higher education for many students, especially those from other countries in Asia where competition has pushed them to study abroad. With many of the international students struggling with the cost of their attendance, Andrew Kelly recommends that Australian institutions look carefully at students' funding challenges, on language proficiency, and academic integrity. Only by looking at the comprehensive picture can student success be enhanced.

In addition to providing educational opportunity for international students, Australia moved to a demand-driven model for domestic students in 2011. This model lifted caps on support for domestic students which resulted in an increase in total enrollment of students up to the age of 22 from 53% to 60%. The new students tended to have lower literacy skills in comparison to their peers, but this achieved the access objective. A less positive outcome was that the new students were less successful in continuing their study and graduating. Another impact of the demand-driven strategy was an increase in students who were first-generation or lower income. No impact was found in the participation rates of indigenous students or those from remote areas of Australia.

Lost international students in Japan

After Tokyo University of Social Welfare lost contact with 1,610 students, the Japanese ministry of education has tightened rules around hosting international students at private universities. The lack of contact with students was described as related to language proficiency and/or ability to pay their fees for instruction.

Supporting Chinese students

The political and economic dynamics between the U.S.A. and China have had very real consequences for Chinese students in the U.S.A. From an institutional leadership and educational integrity point of view, no students should be made to feel marginal nor should they be limited in engagement due to their identity. Xiaojie Li of Arizona State University offers a plea to support Chinese students in these difficult times.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

High impact learning in and beyond coursework

Richard Vaz asserted the importance of project-based learning as a high-impact practice that more faculty should consider integrating into their courses. Advocating that "The abilities gained from project-based learning and other high-impact practices - especially transferrable skills related to collaboration, communication and creative problem solving - can position students for a solid, certain future and provide a blueprint for higher education institutions to make their value to society more evident" Vaz made no mention of how students learning beyond course experiences. The high-impact of project-centered work and the associated learning outcomes are routine for student affairs educators, and leadership educators in particular. It is unfortunate that Vaz did not address this important potential partnership in learning.

Access to higher education in Mexico

In response to legislation that proposed compulsory higher education in Mexico, Santiago Castiello-Gutierrez critiqued the move by saying that much more analysis and detail is required if Mexico seeks to be successful. The broad issues include social inequity, cost of education, quality of higher education, and employment. Cstiello-Gutierrez said, "The proposed policies lack a comprehensive vision - there is no mention of improving secondary education as an essential pipeline to higher education. There is serious lack of policies to focus on success indicators such as development of competencies, learning outcomes, and increased graduation rates that would reflect the quality of what tertiary institutions are accomplishing."

Chinese Ministry of Education issues warning

The Ministry of Education in China has issued a warning to students who wish to study in the U.S.A. that visa processes have become more difficult and that they should be wary of the prospect of approval. Hand de Wit, Director of Boston College's Center for International Higher Education said that both China and the U.S.A. are throwing education into the mix of their trade war.

The Chinese Ministry said, "These actions have harmed the dignity of Chinese students studying in the United States and have also seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. We can say that such American behavior is a cold snap for Chinese-American educational exchange and cooperation."