WENR, July/August 2005: Americas
Online Initiative Widens Access to Quality Mathematics Courses
Shared goals for improving student performance in mathematics have led to a groundbreaking agreement announced in July between Corporacion Universitaria para el Desarrollo de Internet (CUDI), a Mexico City-based educational nonprofit representing more than 70 Mexican colleges and universities, and the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, a U.S. nonprofit that distributes Internet-based education courses.
The agreement will offer Mexican secondary and college-age students free access to high-quality online mathematics courses developed in the United States. In return, Spanish translations will be developed and distributed free of charge to Spanish-speaking students in the United States and the wider region. The courses were developed by the University of California College Prep Initiative. CUDI has invested heavily in the technical infrastructure to offer students greater access to high-bandwidth content. It will also manage the translation of the courses into Spanish, which will be funded by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologica, Mexico’s science and technology agency. Students in Mexico will have access to the course materials through the Colegio de Bachilleres, a Mexican university that serves approximately 10,000 online students.
— Ascribe newswire
New University Focuses on Sustainable Agriculture
After decades of deforestation and an over-reliance on chemical fertilizers, Haiti’s once-fertile soils increasingly are failing to supply the country’s nutritional demands. In response, a private university is running programs designed to encourage new methods in sustainable agriculture in the mountainous region surrounding the town of Fondwa, 40 miles southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The University of Fondwa began classes for its first 20 students in early 2004 with a focus on rural development. Although private, the university offers its students free tuition, room and board. Students are working toward bachelor’s degrees in agriculture and agribusiness, as well as the country’s first degree in veterinary science – only 10 veterinarians are believed to be working in the entire country.
Original plans for the university foresaw annual enrollments of 120 students; however, because administrators failed to meet fund-raising goals, enrollment currently is capped at 20. The institution employs approximately 15 staff members, including professors from Cuba, France and the United States. Most students speak French and Creole, but they are required to take classes in English and Spanish while enrolled.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 22, 2005
United States of America
Oregon Revises Law on Nonaccredited Degrees
Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill requiring those seeking employment in the state to add a disclaimer on their résumé to any qualifications not issued by an institution of higher education accredited by a state recognized accrediting agency. The bill is part of an ongoing struggle by state legislators against institutions of education where academic standards are insufficient, inadequate or simply nonexistent.
The new legislation is the result of a lawsuit filed against the state of Oregon by a state-licensed, but unaccredited, institution. It replaces a law that made it illegal in Oregon to claim on one’s résumé to have a degree that came from an unaccredited institution not licensed in the state. Enforcement of the earlier law came from the Office of Degree Authorization, which lists on its Web site more than 300 institutions whose credentials it does not recognize. A First Amendment case filed against Oregon by Kennedy-Western University argued, however, that students have the right to express their claim to a diploma if they own one regardless of the standing of the institution that issued it.
Under the new legislation it is no longer illegal to advertise a nonapproved degree as a credential as long as it is accompanied by a disclaimer stating that it “does not have accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education and has not been approved by the [Oregon] Office of Degree Authorization.”
— The Associated Press
July 5, 2005
Middlebury Expands West
Vermont’s Middlebury College and California’s Monterey Institute of International Studies announced in June a tentative deal in which the well-endowed Middlebury will take over the management of the financially strapped Monterey Institute.
The deal is expected to result in a stronger infrastructure for Monterey. The two institutions plan to cooperate on graduate programs and the development of foreign campuses – Monterey has a strong emphasis on Asia, which matches Middlebury’s desire to expand its Asian language and cultural programs. Monterey likely will keep its name, but it is expected to have “of Middlebury College” or “an affiliate of Middlebury College” added to its signage.
— Inside Higher Ed
June 27, 2005
For-Profit Schools Enrolling Record Numbers
For-profit colleges are growing faster than other private or public universities, and enrollments among female, black and Hispanic students are increasing at greater rates than is the case for other students.
According to a report sponsored by the Department of Education and conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, overall student numbers in higher education grew to 17.3 million students in the fall of 2003, an increase of almost 300,000 students from the year before. Although enrollments grew across the board, except at community colleges were numbers declined slightly, it was the for-profit sector that grew the fastest increasing market share from 5 percent to 5.7 percent (although it remains by far the smallest). Both male and female enrollments rose, but the rate of increase in new female students outpaced male 240,000 to 45,000, while the total proportion of male students declined to 42.6 percent from 43.1.
The results from a related study reveal that online distance education is also booming, with enrollment expected to exceed 1 million students in 2005, representing a market worth more than $6 billion. The study, “Online Distance Education Market Update: A Nascent Market Matures,” was conducted by Eduventures, an independent research firm that analyzes the development and maturation of the market, identifying key causes of growth. Sean Gallagher, senior analyst for Eduventures and lead author of the report, said the focus in online distance learning will turn to quality over the next few years, and new brands, institutions and types of programs will emerge.
— Inside Higher Ed
August 1, 2005
School Loses Accreditation
Compton community college, which enrolls approximately 6,000 mostly low income and minority students, lost its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in June. The regional accrediting body cited poor governance, lack of education plans, lack of student support services, and an inadequate administrative staff as reasons for revoking the schools accreditation.
The school is now being taken over by the state, despite California’s highly decentralized system. The Western Association doubts that the college could function properly without state oversight. College officials are appealing the decision and they are reviewing all possible options.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 21, 2005
Chinese Students Choosing U.S.
Although China remains the largest source of overseas students for major study destinations around the world, the overall number of Chinese students studying abroad continues to drop from a peak in 2003, according to state-owned newspaper China Daily.
Quoting officials from Beijing JJL, an overseas education consultancy, the newspaper reports that in 2003 approximately 123,000 Chinese students pursued educational opportunities abroad, whereas in 2004 that figure dropped to 115,000. The most recent figures for 2005 indicate that the overall numbers continue to decline, except in the United States where more favorable visa policies introduced this year have contributed to an increase in student visa applications in the first six months of 2005. In May and June of this year, the Embassy in Beijing issued 4,487 students visas versus 3,904 during the same period last year. The other four United States Consulates in China have reported a similar increase.
According to officials at the British Embassy in Beijing, student visa applications are slightly down compared to the same time last year.
— The People’s Daily Online
July 16, 2005