WENR, June 2006: Americas



Student Visa Process Simplified

Argentine government officials and university rectors from both public and private universities signed an accord last month that will make it easier for foreigners to obtain visas to study in the South American country. Since the economic collapse in 2002 and the subsequent recovery over the last four years, the demand from abroad for places at Argentine universities has risen considerably. Students have primarily been attracted by Argentina’s high quality and competitively priced tertiary system. In light of this demand, the Directorship of Migration has set a goal to speed up the process of evaluating student visa petitions and will consider student visas for internationals interested in university education as well as informal education such as language training or dance instruction.

Yahoo! News Argentina
May 9, 2006


New Work Regulations for Foreign Students Boon to University Recruitment Efforts

New regulations governing the employment rights of international students begin soon and universities could benefit with increased international enrollments. From this summer, foreign students will be allowed to work off-campus and on a full-time schedule during academic breaks. Under old regulations they were restricted to part-time work on campus, a situation that institutions argued prevented their overseas recruitment efforts.

Students who have been studying in Canada for at least six months can apply for a work permit that will allow them to work part time during term time and full time when class is out. Not only is this good for university recruitment efforts, but it also benefits a number of provinces that are experiencing serious labor shortages, and it may also encourage international students to remain in country after graduation.

According to a Citizenship and Immigration Canada news release, there are approximately 100,000 students who are eligible for the new work permits.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Apr. 27, 2006

U.S. Institution Plans Branch in Canada to Attract International Students

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in New Jersey recently gained approval from authorities in British Columbia to open a branch campus in Vancouver. The primary goal of this new campus, however, is not to grant degrees to Canadian or American students, but to international students mainly from Asia.

FDU is at the forefront of what may be considered a new international recruitment strategy among U.S. institutions a strategy of setting up in English-language destinations with the goal of enrolling a majority Asian student body. Fairleigh Dickinson is developing its new Vancouver campus in the belief that many students desire a U.S. university education but prefer, among other things, Canadian visa regulations and comparatively low tuition and living costs. As a study destination, Vancouver also offers relative proximity to the Asian continent and an international atmosphere celebrating Asian culture.

Following a similar strategy in Australia, Carnegie Mellon University will become the first foreign university to establish a campus in Australia when it opens a branch in Adelaide this spring. The campus aims to recruit master’s students from both Australia and the nearby Asian market to its John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.

The first class at FDU’s Vancouver campus will be admitted in the fall of 2007. Administrators are currently forecasting an inaugural enrollment of 125 students into two programs: business management and information technology.

Inside Higher Ed
June 8, 2006


Student Protests Pressure New President into Compromise

Three straight days of countrywide student protest that left at least 20 injured, 700 arrested, and caused millions of dollars in property damage forced Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to offer concessions to demonstrating secondary students earlier this month.

Chilean secondary students took to the streets in late May demanding several amendments to national education policy from President Bachelet’s administration. Reduced transportation fares, building refurbishment, and the elimination of a fee on secondary school exit exams required for college application are some of the issues that incited students to abstain from school and vandalize government property in protest. Foremost on the students’ list of demands from the government was the federal takeover of the nation’s schools; a provision they believe will lessen inequalities in educational resources between wealthy and impoverished municipalities.

Bachelet has agreed to send a bill to congress that will propose a reformed federal education policy that puts the administration of the nation’s schools in the hands of the state. She has also agreed to eliminate the fee on secondary-leaving exams and transportation fares for poor students, but she refused to abolish student transportation costs altogether. The government has also appropriated emergency funds to supply free lunch for the nation’s underprivileged students and to refurbish 1,700 schools.

The Washington Post
June 2, 2006

Costa Rica

Universities Create Joint Agricultural Master’s Program Aimed at Attracting Western Business Interests

Two Costa Rican institutions of higher education, The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center and the INCAE Business School, are cooperating to offer a joint master’s degree program in international agribusiness management. The degree offering will be the first of its kind in Latin America, focusing on management of the region’s international agricultural and forest product markets. The program will begin in August and is being taught in English with the hope of attracting students from the United States and Europe who seek to do more business with Latin America’s rural business community. Coursework for the program will take place at both university campuses for the duration of 18 months including a three-month internship working with a rural business.

May 26, 2006


Cuba Fosters Education in Ecuador

Ecuador’s higher education sector has benefited from numerous agreements signed with Cuba, procuring assistance for the small Andean nation’s universities. According to Vinicio Baquero, the President of Ecuador’s Higher Education Council, the employment of Cuban professors over recent years in many public and private universities has been a boon for the country’s education system. Under recent exchange agreements, 125 Cuban professors have taught in 40 Ecuadorian universities, while an estimated 650 Ecuadorian students and teachers have traveled to Havana to receive further education. A training program for Ecuadorian doctors is scheduled to begin in Cuba this year.

Cuban News Agency
Apr. 14, 2006


Immigrants to US Support Higher Education Back Home

An organization of Mexican immigrants from the small town of Indaparapeo, in the state of Michoacán, are utilizing remittances that they send from the United States back to their home country in a novel way; to help their former neighbors living in Mexico obtain a higher education.

The Indaparapeo Project, currently in its third year, is an effort by the industrial town’s former residents to provide the youth that live there with future opportunities beyond the possibility of immigration. In 2003, the group sponsored 25 students, and today it supports 40 university students with a monthly stipend of US$150. Students are selected for the scholarship opportunity based on grades, family income, and their willingness to serve their community. The Mexican Government supports the initiative through its Three for One program, a program that triples the amount donated by Mexican migrants and distributes it to the cause as grant money.  The Three for One grant program was developed to support infrastructure projects at its inception, but the government is so impressed by the Indaparapeo Project that they are now promoting this form of remittance investment across the country.

The Christian Science Monitor
May 15, 2006

Mexican University Cultivates Technological Ties with Russia

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is currently working with two separate Russian institutions to explore cutting-edge technology both underground and in the cosmos.

The space science department at UNAM and Russia’s Moscow Aviation Institute are collaborating on a project to develop a satellite that will detect seismic activity. According to Juan Ramon Fuente, head of the UNAM space science department, the 20-pound nano-satellite will be able to pinpoint earthquakes both underground and at sea. Fuente also announced that UNAM will send a student to Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to train as an astronaut. The head of the Russian training center, Sergey Tafrov, said that preparations had been made to accept Mexican doctoral students for further education in advanced aeronautics.

People’s Daily Online
Apr. 25, 2006

United States

SEVIS Foreign Students Stats Now Available Via Homeland Security Website

The most recent numbers from the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) are available on a new website created by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The new site, “SEVIS by the Numbers”, presents various tables on international student enrollment in the U.S. organized by country of citizenship, student count, geographic region of origin, students by state, level of education and course of study.

AACRAO Transcript
    May 31, 2006

Chinese Ministry Signs on to Promote AP Language Teaching

During the visit of China’s President Hu Jintao to the United States in April, the College Board signed an agreement with the Chinese government designed to increase the number of Chinese-language teachers working at US public schools through teaching exchanges, professional development programs, and new instructional materials. The new teachers will offer Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese classes.

The agreement was announced April 19 and is expected to help build Chinese-language programs in an estimated 2,000 schools, compared to the few hundred currently offering instruction. Under the agreement 150 guest teachers from China will teach in US schools over the next several years and approximately 300 American teachers will receive financial support and other resources to pursue certification, while several hundred others will have the chance to travel to China to learn more about the language and culture. The College Board, which is responsible for administering AP programs, previously worked with the Chinese government to design the AP curriculum and test in Chinese language and culture, which will be offered for the first time in the 2006/07 school year.

Education Week
    Apr. 26, 2006

Florida Universities Barred from Exchanges with “Terrorist Countries”

State Lawmakers in Florida unanimously passed a bill last month that effectively prohibits the state’ s public universities and community colleges from sending researchers and students to “terrorist countries.” Countries on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist threats include North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan and the “terrorist” country that most student and faculty exchanges from Florida visit, Cuba. Officially, the new provision states that, “none of the state or non-state funds made available to state universities,” are to be used in exchanges with these nations.

The Board of Governors that oversee Florida’s eleven public institutions opposed the bill on grounds that it limited freedom in academic research, prohibited students from learning about valuable cultures, and prevented the exposure of other countries to American ideals. Florida International University houses a Cuban Research Institute, but because FIU uses only private funds to support research in Cuba it is still uncertain the effect the new bill will levy on the institution. In response to the new law, Florida Atlantic professor Robert Watson said, “the hallmark of academia is scholarly freedom and free thought.”

Palm Beach Post
May 4, 2006

Mandatory Study Abroad Requirement Results in Record-Breaking Applications

Goucher College introduced a requirement last year that all undergraduates spend at least three weeks studying in a foreign country. Nerves over the new policy in the Goucher admissions department have been replaced by satisfaction, as a record-breaking admissions season was announced. After becoming the first liberal arts college to institute a mandatory study abroad policy, applications to the college have soared to record highs with enrollments and yields at record levels.

Other then Soka University of America, a small Californian institution founded by the Soka Gokkai lay Buddhist sect in 1991, Goucher is the first institution in the United States to institutionalize study abroad. The new requirement is effective as of the upcoming academic year, and the college is making available a grant of $1,200 to each student to help cover travel costs.

Inside Higher Ed
May 9, 2006

Distance Learning Institution Gains Regional Accreditation

The distance learning institution American Public University System has been granted regional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The institution operates American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), both of which provide distance education to roughly 15,000 students worldwide in subjects such as homeland security, criminal justice and business. American Public University System is one of the first distance learning operations to be accredited both regionally and nationally. The Distance Education and Training Council has accredited the institution nationally since 1995.

APUS news release
May 23, 2006

State Authorities to Close Mississippi Diploma Mills

A new law signed by Mississippi legislators and effective from July 1 will allow the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation to force colleges to halt the distribution of unapproved post-secondary academic degrees. A member of the “seven sorry sisters” (see April 2006 WENR) states with notoriously slack regulations regarding the operation of unaccredited academic institutions Mississippi officials say the new law will protect consumers from pursuing “diplomas that mean nothing.” The state accreditation commission cited Columbus University, Cambridge State University, Bienville University and American University of Hawaii as unlicensed institutions based in Mississippi.

The commission approves all public and private colleges and universities that grant diplomas of graduation or academic degrees. It maintains the list of approved junior and senior colleges and universities located in Mississippi and uses standard accreditation policies to ensure best educational practices. The new law will not affect accredited private institutions or vocational technical colleges accredited by the state Commission of Proprietary Schools and College Registration.

The Sun Herald
Apr. 22, 2006

Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries