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.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

China's 1+X integrates vocational and higher education

In a move responding to population demographics in China and the surge in enrollments of higher education institutions, vocational preparation is being integrated into university degree programs. Chinese officials hope that the 1+X system will increase higher education graduates' success in gaining jobs by offering a credential that combines practical training within university degree programs.

Pookong Kee, chair of Australian studies at Peking University, observed that while university graduates struggle to obtain jobs, older worker numbers are shrinking, leaving gaps in critical work sectors. He said, "As china upgrades its manufacturing and other industries, they are looking for people with high skills." But the problem is that youth in China and their families hold "'strong social stigma...' against training for such jobs in China and nearby South Korea, where a Confucian approach militated against vocational education. This attitude 'places a premium on university.'"

The key to the 1+X system is that it offers "job-delivering vocational certificates as well as its face-saving degree" concluded Kee. The new approach is a cultural as well as practical solution that should serve China well and should be watched as a policy by other countries developing more robust higher education systems.