WENR, Oct. 2005: Americas


9 New Universities Planned

Brazil plans to establish nine new universities and expand dozens of other campuses as a way to improve access to higher education in poor, underserved regions of the country. Most of the new colleges will be former isolated colleges that have been transformed into full-fledged universities, while a few are being built from “scratch.” Developing a new university requires approval from both houses of the Legislature, and bills creating the new institutions are in various stages of approval.

One of the most ambitious of the new universities will be Federal University of ABC in Santo Andre, a densely populated and heavily industrialized region. The university will start out with 1,000 students, but eventually will enroll 20,000 undergraduate and 3,500 graduate students, with 600 professors. Several of the new institutions will focus on agricultural development.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [1]
Sept. 23, 2005


Canadian University Receives First U.S. Regional Accreditation

In August, Athabasca University [2] in Edmonton, Alberta, became the first university in Canada to be accredited by a U.S. regional accreditation agency. The distance education institution, which bills itself as “Canada’s Open University,” was granted accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education [3].

The Middle States Commission assessed the school for three years on quality, course offerings, student services, faculty, admission and registration services and learning support.

PRNewswire [4]
Aug. 16, 2005

Domestic Students Fare Better than International Counterparts in Tuition Increases

Canada’s undergraduate university students are facing the smallest increase in tuition fees in more than a decade this fall. After years of double-digit increases in the early 1990s, undergraduate students saw a 1.8 percent average increase in fees this year. This is about half the rate of growth recorded in the previous academic year, and the lowest since the 1.5 percent increase in the 1978-79 academic year.

The same cannot be said for international students, however. International students faced increases in tuition of approximately 8.5 percent this fall, compared to 2004-05. At the undergraduate level, average tuition fees for international students increased 6.7 percent, while at the graduate level, they paid on average just over three times the fees Canadian students paid. Increases in tuition fees for international students are rising in all provinces, from a high of 38.4 percent in Saskatchewan to a low of 3 percent in Quebec.

Statistics Canada [5]
Sept. 1, 2005

Record Enrollments of International and Domestic Students

University enrollments hit record levels in 2003-04 for the sixth year in a row, according to a report issued in October by Statistics Canada [6]. The biggest year-on-year increases in over 25 years include a sharp increase in foreign students, and the absorption of Ontario’s so-called double cohort freshman class, which resulted from the shortening of high school from five to four years (see March/April 2003 issue of WENR [7]).

Foreign students accounted for 7 percent of total enrollments in 2003-4, nearly double the proportion of a decade earlier. Factors cited for the increase include Canada Immigration and Citizenship opening offices in several countries to speed the visa process, aggressive marketing by Canadian universities, strong economies in several Asian countries, and changes in Canadian immigration policies. Asian students accounted for 70 percent of the increase. The number of students from China jumped 45 percent to 14,500. Students from Hong Kong, India, Japan, and South Korea also enrolled in large numbers.

About one-fifth of the foreign students in Canada came from Europe and 16 percent from the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States. Almost half of the European students were from France.

Statistics Canada [6]
Oct. 11, 2005


U.S. Schools Establish Joint MBA Initiatives

U.S. business schools are working with Mexican institutions to offer joint MBAs to Mexican executives. The Garvin School of International Management [8], the University of Texas [9], the University of North Carolina [10] (UNC), Arizona State University [11], Texas Christian University [12] (TCU) and the University of South Carolina [13] all have recently launched joint degree programs with Mexican schools. Graduates from the programs are awarded degrees from both institutions.

There reportedly is strong demand for the programs, which allow Mexican students to take courses designed by top-tier U.S. universities at their local college or university. Many of the programs are offered at reduced prices and are taught by professors who fly in from the United States, or by lectures broadcast via satellite. UNC launched its first master’s in business administration (MBA) class in January at Tec de Monterrey [14]’s main campus in northern Mexico, while TCU has started a master’s of international management program with the University of the Americas in Puebla [15], 60 miles east of Mexico City. In addition, Arizona State University is offering its executive MBA through Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, one of Latin America’s top business schools, at two-thirds the cost for U.S. executives.

The Arizona Republic [16]
Aug. 19, 2005


Diploma Scandal Hits University of Panama

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs [17] (COHA) reported in August that the University of Panama [18]’s (UP) administration was accused of wrongfully distributing more than 1,000 diplomas. The offenses included handing out multiple diplomas, as well as giving diplomas to students who had not completed their full course work.

This news came in the middle of the country’s heated debate over social security reform, thus somewhat overshadowing the diploma scandal. UP Regent Gustavo Garcia de Paredes closed the university’s Hall of Records, hindering any investigation into the scandal, saying student protests over social security forced the lockdown of the files. Garcia de Paredes also justified the closure by saying a Public Ministry inquiry would have violated the UP’s status as an “autonomous” entity. He proposed instead to conduct an “independent” investigation, which then was postponed due to student protests. Panamanian President Martin Torrijos has refused to seriously investigate the problem, COHA reported.

Garcia de Paredes has admitted there were “errors in the text of some diplomas,” which would have to be reprinted, and there “might have been an irregularity in the distribution of diplomas.” Attorneys for the university administration have taken the case to the Supreme Court to argue that the investigation was an unlawful violation of constitutionally protected university autonomy.

— The Council on Hemispheric Affairs [17]
Aug. 19, 2005

United States of America

UK Business Program Launched in Miami

The Edinburgh Business School [19] of Heriot-Watt University [20], a Royal Charter university in Scotland, has launched a Spanish-language version of its online master’s in business administration (MBA) program in Miami.

The school received such a good response from U.S.-based Hispanic and Latin American communities for its English-language MBA that it decided to establish an Americas office in Miami. The school currently is reviewing applications and sending out materials to students in the United States, Peru and Colombia, among others. This is the second major expansion for Heriot-Watt University this year after the recent introduction of its MBA program in the United Arab Emirates (See July/August 2005 issue of WENR [21]). According to its recent news release, the business school currently enrolls students from 150 nations.

Edinburgh Business School [19] news release
Aug. 22, 2005

Report: University Student Population in Flux

According to the findings of a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [22] (OECD) report, the complexion of students, specifically international students at U.S. campuses, has changed a great deal since Sept. 11, 2001.

The 2005 version of the annual survey, “Education at a Glance [23],” found that the country’s universities have witnessed a 10 percent to 37 percent drop in the number of students from the Persian Gulf, North Africa and some Southeast Asian countries. The decline has been compensated somewhat, however, by an increase of 47 percent in Chinese students and a 12 percent increase in students from India over the last four years.

Other findings from the survey, which compares education indicators among OECD member states, reveal that among adults age 25 to 34, the United States is ninth in the share of its population that has at least a high school degree. In the same age group, the United States is tied with Belgium at seventh in the share of people who hold a college degree. By both measures, the United States was ranked first in the world by the report as recently as 20 years ago.

Tests show that compared with their peers in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, 15-year-olds in the United States are below average in applying math skills to real-life tasks. Top-performing countries in this aspect are Finland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and Belgium. The OECD report also underscores that U.S. women who are 30 to 44 and who hold a university degree of any kind are paid only 62 percent of what similarly qualified men are paid. That rate is lower than all but three of the 19 countries covered by the study.

Inside Higher Ed [24]
Sept. 14, 2005

Princeton Continues to Counter Grade Inflation

Princeton University [25] significantly reduced the number of A’s it gave out last year, according to a report released by the university, and is planning to do more. Approximately 41 percent of the grades given in undergraduate courses last year (2004-05) were A-pluses, A’s, or A-minuses, down from 46 percent the previous year and 48 percent the year before that. In April 2004, the Princeton faculty set a goal of 35 percent. If the university continues at its current rate, that goal will be met by the end of this academic year.

Princeton is not alone in its generous grading. A Princeton survey of the eight Ivy League colleges, plus Stanford [26], Massachusetts Institute of Technology [27] and the University of Chicago [28] found that A’s accounted for 44 percent to 55 percent of their undergraduate grades.

Some Princeton students and faculty members protested when the new grading policy was adopted. One-third of the faculty voted against the changes, and students argued that the decrease in grades will keep them out of the best graduate programs.

The New York Times [29]
Sept. 20, 2005

College Enrollments Expected to Rise

Enrollments at degree-granting colleges and universities will continue to rise until at least 2014, according to projections [30] released by the National Center for Education Statistics [31]. In addition, total college enrollment is expected to increase 15 percent to 20 percent from 2002 to 2014, with a 16 percent increase in undergraduate enrollments, a 22 percent increase in graduate enrollments and a 32 percent increase in first professional degrees. The growth is expected in every demographic segment.

National Center for Education Statistics [30]
Sept. 12, 2005

TOEFL Gets a Makeover

Last year 750,000 students took the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as part of the application process for admissions to US institutions of higher education. In September, after a decade of research, Educational Testing Services [32] rolled out its new TOEFL ”iBT” (Internet-based test) version at testing centers around the country.

The new test has been introduced as a reaction to increasing concerns from faculty and students that the test fails to distinguish between students who can pass the test and those that can use English in an academic setting. The new exam will be phased in worldwide over the next year. Perhaps the biggest change is the new speaking component which has been introduced in an effort to better replicate the classroom setting. Students will now be required to read, write and speak in combination during the test. Many Asian students are reportedly concerned by the changes as language classes there generally emphasize vocabulary and grammar over speaking.

By administering the test via the Internet, ETS hopes access to the test will be improved. The change will allow ETS to expand the number of its test sites from 500 to 3,000 by 2007.

Associated Press [33]
Sept. 23, 2005

India’s Tech Sector Pulling Natives Back Home

Thousands of Indian engineers and managers — many of whom were educated in the United States and worked in California’s Silicon Valley — are choosing to go home to India, a now booming area for technology and research.

Neither the United States nor the Indian government keeps count of how many Indian employees have left the U.S. work force to return to India. But The Economic Times, a business publication in India, estimated this summer that 35,000 Indians returned home to take up jobs in the largest Indian high-tech hub, Bangalore. The number is still a small fraction compared to the 2.4 million Indian residents in the United States, but there is speculation that it is the beginning of a new trend.

The Boston Globe [34]
Aug. 8, 2005