Thursday, May 28, 2020

Internal and external impacts for Chinese higher education

The debate continued to escalate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic related to China's reported lack of transparency when the virus emerged in Wuhan. Some academic faculty in China who warned of the spread of COVID-19 in the late weeks of 2019 and early weeks of 2020 reported retaliation for their opinions. Chinese students who were to have studied at Franklin and Marshall in Pennsylvania are now potentially in jeopardy of maintaining academic freedom while studying on-line.

External to China, two Republican Senators and one Republican Congressperson took retaliatory action by introducing legislation to bar Chinese STEM graduate students from attending U.S.A. universities. The rationale offered by one of the Senators was, "We've fed China's innovation drought with American ingenuity and taxpayer dollars for too long; it's time to secure the U.S. research enterprise against the CCP's economic espionage." Barring Chinese students would likely be ineffectual in reducing the rapid rise in the number of Chinese doctoral recipients in STEM areas. A Trump Proclamation now bars Chinese graduate students with ties to the military from study in the U.S.A. and criminal cases have led to guilty pleas from academics tied to China.

In a public rebuke of the University of Washington and MIT, Secretary of State Pompeo continued the Trump administration's attacks on China. Both institutions denied Pompeo's claims and Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government relations of the American Council on Education, commented, "It's hard to fathom how a secretary of state could make these remarks in good conscience... I assume this is optical red meat for the Republican base." Now that the Trump administration is no longer in place, question is being raised if some of these efforts weren't simply profiling of Chinese scholars for political reasons.

The Confucius Institutes set up on many university campuses have been rescinded over the last year. In addition, the U.S.A. State Department designated the Washington, D.C., office that coordinated the Confucius Institutes as a "foreign mission," a move that required regular reporting about the work and curriculum of the remaining Confucius Institutes on campuses. Concerns about Confucius Institutes continued into the Biden administration with the 2021Senate passing a bill requiring universities that host Institutes to have independent managerial authority and protect academic freedom.

Spurred by Bejing's increasing encroachment in Hong Kong, President Trump issued a July 14, 2020, Executive Order that withdrew accommodations to Hong Kong as a semiautonomous region. Buried in the Order was discontinuation of Fullbright awards for academics that have historically been useful in cultivating more positive relationships with countries around the world. In a compensatory action the Institute of International Education launched a one-time China-USA exchange program to reopen academic cooperation between the two countries.

Students and faculty at Cornell University also weighed in to oppose a partnership with China's Peking University. The dual graduate degree in hotel administration was ultimately approved over faculty protest. The focus of the opposition was on making sure that any partnership is consistent with the University's core values and a commitment to ongoing monitoring of the relationship to make sure it is achieving the agreed educationally purposeful outcomes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Schools of Thought - Economist Intelligence Unit

A new report, Schools of Thought (on-line discussion also available), was published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Qatar Foundation in Doha, Qatar. The report provides background information about the influences on higher education over time and identifies the trends that are impacting the spread of higher education today. It concludes with five models it proposes should be considered by leaders in higher education; The Online University, The Cluster, The Experiential, The Liberal Arts College, and Partnership Models. While these are not new conceptualizations for higher education, the report is helpful in providing summative information as well as examples of the five alternatives.

One of the shortcomings of the report is the lack of attention to extracurricular and cocurricular learning. Even the example of "The Experiential Model" neglects to recognize the breadth and depth of learning available through what student affairs and development educators have offered for over 100 years. In response to the on-line discussion noted above, I replied, "Thank you to the panelists as well as the other contributors to 'New Schools of Thought' inquiry. One of the issues addressed by Dr. Dr. Campbell (President - Spelman College, Atlanta, GA, USA) was the power of the relationships among students and how critical it is to maintain the connections students make while enrolled. Reinforcing her point, much of the higher education outcomes research (primarily conducted in the U.S.A.) indicates that students' interaction with each other is as, if not more, important that what occurs through course-based instruction. Student voice in transforming education isn't only important because they have useful perspectives about what needs to change but also because student-to-student engagement is a source of learning itself. Educators should do all they can to enhance this readily available resource; controlling cost and improving quality in education can perhaps be achieved by looking more deeply into how to harness, enhance, and validate these various locations and processes of learning."