WENR, March/April 2004: Americas
San Diego State Launches Tri-Nation Degree Program
San Diego State University (SDSU) announced in February the launch of TransAmerica, the first transnational, triple-degree program partnering the United States with two Latin American countries, Chile and Mexico. TransAmerica is one of only two international, triple-degree programs in the country. The other, CaMexUs, debuted in 2002 and links SDSU with universities in Canada and Mexico. Both are undergraduate programs focusing on international business.
Students in the TransAmerica program will study at universities in Chile, Mexico and the United States for a minimum of one year in each country and graduate with three degrees: a bachelor of arts in international business from SDSU, the licenciatura en negocios internacionales from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Tijuana and the licenciatura en negociaciones internacionales from the Universidad de Valparaíso in Valparaíso, Chile.
San Diego State University news release
Feb. 18, 2004
Teacher Salaries No. 1 Priority
As part of a series of interviews with education ministers from around the world, conducted on behalf of UNESCO to assess the impact and progress of its Millennium Education for All (EFA) challenge, Brazilian Minister of Education Cristovam Buarque outlined the issues and challenges facing the education sector in his country.
The most pressing challenge, according to the minister, is teacher pay, which must be sufficient to encourage participation and self-improvement. Although many other problems face the system, such as a serious lack of basic facilities, the minister pointed out that of the 2 million teachers in the system, 300,000 have little or no training. Pragmatically, Buarque stressed that nothing can be done to improve this situation until teachers are paid a more competitive salary. The national average for primary and secondary teachers is currently US$100 a month. In terms of equality in education, the minister stated that gender parity is not an issue, but racial inequalities and access to higher education are serious problems that are being addressed by a number of reverse discrimination initiatives (see WENR September/October 2003).
Concerning liberalization, Brazil is not a signatory to, or in favor of, General Agreement on Trade in Services (Gats) initiatives. The minister stressed the positive nature of the growth of the private-university sector, because the national government does not have the means to meet the demand for university places at public institutions. However, he warned that the government needs to maintain control over quality and prevent education from becoming too mercantile, yet not hinder the development of universities and faculties.
The full interview can be viewed here
Few Remedies Address Problem of Bogus Schools
Immigrant students are being “fleeced by Canadian fly-by-night educational institutions” that thrive within a let-the-buyer-beware environment perpetuated by the federal government, according to an internal government memo.
A Citizenship and Immigration visa officer in China e-mailed colleagues in 2003 to complain that foreign students frequently emigrate to attend dodgy, or even bogus, schools — and yet Canada is doing little to remedy the problem. Beijing visa officer Allen Martin warned that the approach could cause lasting damage to Canada’s reputation. The memo was revealed just months after the arrest of a group of Pakistanis who attended a Toronto school known as Ottawa Business College. The private career school, accused of selling fake diplomas, had its registration revoked in 2001.
Martin asserts in the memo that the reason Canada fails to look after the interests of foreign students is that the provincial governments look after and license schools while the federal government issues the student visas, leaving visa officers with no choice but to issue visas to prospective students who wish to attend unregistered schools — or even schools that are known to be breaking provincial laws. Richard Kurland, a long-standing expert on Canada’s immigration policies, suggested that the government could take the simple step of coming up with a list of bona fide institutions, which visa officials could check against.
The Globe and Mail
Jan. 20, 2004
University College to Change Status as UBC Moves In
A satellite campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) will be established in the Okanagan Valley, meaning the current Okanagan University College will revert to college status, but with a larger education role. The announcement means British Columbia will have 5,500 new student spaces by 2010. UBC’s new campus will open in September 2005, with the first UBC degrees granted in May 2006.
The Globe and Mail
March 18, 2004
Scientific, Technological Cooperation Agreement Signed with Europe
Mexico and the European Community have signed an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation. The five-year agreement will go into effect as soon as both parties have completed their internal procedures.
The agreement covers research on the environment and climate; biomedical and health research; biotechnologies; agriculture, industrial and manufacturing technologies; transport; information society technologies, research on economic and social development and science and technology policy.
Under the agreement, networks and alliances between research centers and research and technology institutes may be established. It also provides for the implementation of projects of common interest, as well as research and technological development projects between research and business centers in Mexico and Europe.
Academic Cooperation Association
Feb. 19, 2004
Sylvan to Open Guadalajara Campus
Sylvan Learning Systems announced in early March plans to open a Guadalajara campus of Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM), part of Sylvan’s growing international network of campus-based and online universities. The newly acquired campus, previously a telecommunications facility, will require only minimal renovations and is expected to be fully operational by August. Sylvan’s success in Mexico is marked by more than three consecutive years of double-digit growth at UVM, which has become the second-largest private university in the country. With the opening of the new campus, UVM will operate 17 campuses. It currently serves more than 42,000 students.
March 4, 2004
UNITED STATES of AMERICA
More Institutions Consider A-Plus, Grade Inflation
At Stanford University, the A-plus is weighted differently from a regular A. It is worth 4.33 points, while the A is worth 4.0. Stanford has been awarding A-pluses that carry extra points for more than 25 years. Now, at several other schools around the country, according to the LA Times, students are seeking the same opportunity. The University of Vermont and Indiana University’s eight campuses are reviewing student requests for A-pluses that carry extra weight.
Few colleges award the A-plus. Of those that do, most — such as the University of California-Davis — do not give the grade extra credit-point weighting. Students on some campuses are beginning to protest, because they believe grade inflation has lessened the value of an A.
Last spring at Arizona State, 3,000 signatures were collected on a petition that asked faculty to award the weighted grade, and their petition seems to have been successful: Next fall, the weighted A-plus will be rolled out in a program that will be reviewed after three years. One caveat: Though the students’ GPAs can be boosted by the A-plus, their overall GPAs cannot exceed 4.0, which is not the case at Stanford.
The LA Times
Feb. 4, 2004
2-Year Colleges Attracting More High School Graduates
Whether shut out of universities in a competitive admissions climate or turned off by their soaring costs and oversize classes, unprecedented numbers of ambitious, high-achieving students are shrugging off the “13th grade” stigma and going to community colleges. And the trend is set to accelerate, educators say, as a record number of graduates emerge from high schools by the end of the decade and find four-year schools already bursting at the seams.
The projections, however, worry some educators, who say these students may not find enough challenges at community colleges — or enough open seats at four-year schools when they want to transfer. Others worry the trend could marginalize the older and lower-income students whose education was the founding mission for community colleges. The crunch is already being felt in some parts of the country — in California, officials said approximately 90,000 students were shut out of community colleges in 2003.
Educators differ on whether two-year colleges are the best first step for recent high school graduates. A new study for the U.S. Department of Education presents a surprisingly positive view: Roughly two-thirds of students who complete at least a semester at community college go on to receive a four-year degree, about the same proportion as students who start at a four-year institution.
The Washington Post
March 16, 2004
Number of Overseas Graduate Students Declining
Reversing a 50-year-old trend, the number of foreign students applying to graduate and doctoral programs in science at U.S. universities is declining broadly, according to a survey of 130 such programs released in February. The findings came as the General Accounting Office reported that foreign students and scholars hoping to study science or certain technologies at universities in the United States must wait an average of 67 days to receive a visa. For some of them, these delays extend up to a year, the report said.
The survey of universities, conducted by the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) and other organizations representing institutions of higher education, found that 59 percent of approximately 130 research universities and doctoral programs were seeing declines in applications from overseas students, while 28 percent said the number of foreign applications showed no significant changes. About 11 percent said they saw an increase.
The survey also polled the 25 research and doctoral institutions that enroll the most foreign students. Nineteen responded, all saying their foreign applications were down, most by more than 10 percent. According to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools, released in early March, applications from international students for the fall 2004 term at 90 percent of U.S. colleges and universities are down, and applications to research universities from prospective students are down at least 25 percent overall.
New York Times
Feb. 26, 2004
‘Bolivarian’ Education Reforms to Continue
Since sweeping to power as president in 1999, Hugo Chavez has launched a comprehensive education reform process. After being voted in, a new constitution was drafted and the country was renamed the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It is the revolutionary, independence-minded Bolivarian principles that have shaped education reforms in the country, the most recent development in which is the planned adoption of a “Bolivarian 7th grade” combined with curricular and pedagogical modifications.
The education reforms announced in 1999 were grounded in eliminating corrupt practices, growing inequalities in access to education and the introduction of Bolivarian principles, which are strongly patriotic and opposed to the ‘colonialist threats’ of globalization. Against this backdrop, Chavez abolished registration fees in public schools, sent the armed forces into local communities to repair and build some 588 primary schools involved in the pilot project, and launched another pilot program aimed at underprivileged children.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports intends to lengthen elementary-level education from six years to seven with the introduction of the new grade, which will be applied at rural and urban schools involved in the project. A large part of the new 7th grade curriculum will concentrate on compulsory courses in Bolivarian ideology, economic and social solidarity and the value of work, multiculturalism, Latin American integration, indigenous education and national history and geography. The new project is scheduled for implementation in the 2004/05 school year.
— El Universal
Feb. 10, 2004