WENR, November 2016: Americas

U.S.: Foreign College Chains Eye Opportunities to Buy U.S. Campuses

India-based college chain Amity Colleges announced plans to buy two colleges in the U.S., one in New York City, and the other in the Boston area, only to abandon the effort after the Massachusetts attorney general expressed concerns. Experts say that foreign ownership of U.S.-based branch campuses, although rare, may soon be on the rise – an unintended consequence of increased federal-level regulatory pressure on domestic for-profit operators. Amity, which operates colleges in eight countries, already owns one U.S. college campus, a 170-acre Long Island site previously operated by St. John’s of New York City. Santa Fe University of Art and Design announced earlier this year that it would be purchased by Raffles, a Singapore chain that already owns 30 colleges in more than a dozen countries.

ABC News
November 1

Canada: Base Number of Immigrants and Refugees Raised to 300,000

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum raised immigration levels over previous targets, in part due to the “special circumstances” of the Syrian refugee crisis. The goal from 2011 to 2015 was 260,000. McCallum made the statement during an annual address to Parliament. He said pending measures will seek to streamline the immigration process for economic applicants, and to improve the permanent residency application process for international students.

CBC News
October 31

U.S.: SEVP Guidance for Pathway Programs

The Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published final policy guidance on pathway programs in late October. Designed to help a subset of ambitious but underqualified international students earn admission to U.S. institutions, pathway programs provide a mix of remedial English language course work and credit-bearing classes. Under the new guidance, the programs must, in addition to other requirements, obtain SEVP certification before issuing I-20 forms – the certificates of eligibility for F1 visa applications – to prospective students. SEVP must also verify that the institution with which a pathway program is affiliated guarantees admission to one of its degree programs for participants who successfully complete the pathway program.

Inside Higher Ed
October 31

U.S.: NYU President Targets Cost of Attendance, Internationalization Challenges

NYU’s new president kicked off his tenure with a promise that has deep resonance for both international and domestic students: to rein in increases to the institution’s annual USD $66,000-plus price tag for tuition, fees, room, and board. Andrew Hamilton also said he plans to focus less on the expansion of NYU’s international academic network, and more on quality. In both 2013/14 and 2014/15, NYU enrolled more international students than any other institution in the U.S. The school has also been at the leading edge of a push by many U.S. institutions to establish a network of brand-name campuses, degree-granting and otherwise, around the world. Recent research by WES indicates that cost of tuition and housing is one of the most prominent causes of dissatisfaction for international students on U.S. Campuses.

Washington Post
October 27

U.S.: A Chinese-Owned College Prep Opens Shop in New Hampshire

In 2015, the Busche Academy, a Chinese private school, bought an empty college campus in Chester, N.H., 50 miles north of Boston. The Jiahui company, which owns and operates the school, says it has 4,000 students at six schools in mainland China. Students pay $6,000 annual tuition or $10,000 to be part of the international track, plus an extra $2,000 for a summer program in the United States. Busche plans to enroll some 300 elementary and middle-school aged students on its Chester campus as soon as 2017. The school lacks accreditation, but offers a “study abroad” option to fill the overwhelming Chinese demand for U.S. educational credentials. In 2014/15, China was the top origin country for international students in the United States, with some 304,000 students accounting for 31 percent of all international enrollments at U.S. institutions.

Boston Globe
October 25

U.S.: Student Visa Requirements Pose Stiff Barriers for Refugees

American immigration policies create a barrier for Syrian refugees seeking access. They may also pose problems for America’s long-term strategic interest in promoting stability in the Middle East, say experts. To get a student visa, university-age refugees need to prove that they can speak English, have been accepted to a U.S. university or college, and can cover all their costs. They also have to promise that, after receiving their degrees, they’ll go back to their home countries – something difficult for people from a place like Syria to credibly claim. The result is that, of the nearly 1 million international students taken in by U.S. universities and colleges during the 2014-2015 academic year, the most recent period for which figures are available, only 792 were Syrian, the IIE reports.

The Atlantic
October 25

Canada: Almost One in Three Enrollments in Doctoral Programs Is International

The international student population at Canadian universities almost doubled in the decade from 2004/2005 to 2013/2014, rising from 66,000 students to 124,000. In 2013/2014, international students represented 11 percent of all students on Canadian campuses, up from seven percent in 2004/2005. International enrollments accounted for 29 percent of all doctoral enrollments in Canada; nine percent at the bachelor’s level, and 17 percent at the master’s level. International students were fairly concentrated in two fields of study, with almost half in either business, management and public administration or architecture, engineering and related technologies.

Exchange Magazine
October 20

U.S.: 240 International Students at Herguan University Scramble to Find Placement

The U.S. government has prohibited a for-profit university in Silicon Valley from issuing the certificates of eligibility that enable students to obtain visas. Some 240 international students at Herguan University, including 180 from India, are affected. Current students have until January 11 to return home, change visa status, or switch to another institution. Last year, Herguan’s former CEO was indicted on 15 charges related to providing 100 false documents to the Department of Homeland Security. He agreed to pay $700,000. He also faces up to 24 months’ prison time. Herguan is one of many institutions affected by the U.S. Department of Education’s recent decision to strip recognition from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a national college accreditor charged with oversight of 245 for-profit colleges and college chains.

The PIE News
October 19

Brazil: Brazilian Research Capacity at Risk Under New Administration

Observers say that Brazil’s scientific research ability may be crippled by a bill that severely curtails government spending for the next 20 years. Gaining passage of the bill , which would cap spending across all branches of government for two decades, is a top priority for Brazilian President Michel Temer, say observers. Temer, who took office after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, is now struggling to shore up a deeply unstable economy. The federal budget for science, technology, and innovation is already the lowest it’s been in a decade. Earlier this year, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and the Brazilian Innovation Agency slashed funding for national programs and began to delay payments on research grants. Science Minister Gilberto Kassab blames Rousseff’s Science without Borders program, which, from 2011-2015, funded roughly 92,000 scholarships for outbound Brazilian students, most of them undergraduates, for today’s anemic research budgets.

Science
October 18

U.S.: Could Audits Replace Accreditation as a Form of Effective Oversight in the Higher Ed Sector?

Can an audit-style approach by independent assurance bodies do a better job of validating the quality of higher education institutions and programs than accrediting agencies do?  With accrediting agencies under fire, the idea has begun to generate interest based on several recent examples and initiatives. One well-known coding bootcamp, General Assembly, has released a set of auditor-developed standards — largely focused on job-placement and graduation rates — by which it measures its educational results. Before the idea takes off, however, one major question has to be answered: Which criteria should be evaluated, and how?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 18

U.S.: Oberlin Seeks to Expand International Reach With an Online Mentorship Program

In an effort to identify new applicant pools – including those overseas –  Oberlin College has partnered with a start-up that provides college-level online education to high school students. Under the agreement, Oberlin will open its library resources and grant credit to high school students in the Pioneer Academics Research Program. The students in turn, will be mentored by college professors as they work on research projects. Pioneer Academic partner institutions also include the California Institute of Technology, Emory University, Vassar College and others. Under the Oberlin agreement, a high school student in China working with an instructor at Pomona College could earn credit from Oberlin. Pioneer seeks to create an alternative to existing college preparatory work – much of which revolves around testing – for students across national and socioeconomic boundaries, as well as give them a credential testifying to their ability to complete college-level work. The program helps international students in particular to show admissions offices that they are prepared to study in the U.S. Students come from China, the U.S., Brazil, South Korea and Turkey, as well as countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Insider Higher Ed
October 14

U.S.: NACAC Reinforces Transparency Requirements for Use of Education Agents

In September, NACAC strengthened the transparency provisions of its Statement of Principles of Good Practice, which provide guidelines to govern responsible use of education agents by U.S. institutions of higher education. The new provisions stipulate that members should require third party representatives to disclose financial relationships with institutions to their student clients. NACAC also stipulated that institutions should offer to verify whether they have authorized any third party agents to represent them – and that they should do so in the promotional materials provided to international students. The move came in response to concerns about the practice known as “double dipping,” in which an education agent receives a commission from an institution as well as fees from the student-client. This revised guidance has also been adopted against the backdrop of increasing agent usage on the part of U.S. educators. A study presented at NAFSA earlier this year found that nearly half of U.S. institutions directly or indirectly use international agents today. The new NACAC provisions will come into effect for the 2018 admissions cycle.

ICEF Monitor
October 10

U.S.: After ACICIS – The Scramble for a New Accreditor

Hundreds of colleges have begun seeking a new accreditor after the U.S. Department of Education last month backed a federal panel’s decision to terminate the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). ACICS oversees 245 institutions and 674 campus locations, which enroll roughly 600,000 students (361,054 degree-seeking undergraduates, according to federal data). Last year ACICS it oversaw the allocation of $4.76 billion in federal financial aid, most of it going to the for-profit institutions that make up the bulk of its members. Up to 300 of the locations it oversees have inquired about being approved by the second-largest national accreditor, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Like ACICS, most of the colleges it oversees – 343 of 390 institutions – are for-profit. The federal panel that oversees accreditors last year recommended renewing ACCSC’s recognition for the maximum allowed time frame of five years.

Inside Higher Ed
October 6

Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries