WENR, April 2008: Americas


Government Creates Centers of Excellence

The Chilean government has announced the creation of eight centers of scientific and technological excellence. These centers will conduct research and train human capital in areas such as astrophysics, environmental science, biological science, biotechnology and climate change.

AEI Newsletter
March 19, 2008


Census: More than Half of Recent Immigrants Have University Degree

More than 50 percent of immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 have a university degree, according to data recently derived from the 2006 Canadian census. This was more than twice the proportion of degree holders among the Canadian-born population (20%) and also much higher than the proportion of 28% among immigrants who arrived before 2001.

Information contained in a new report, Educational Portrait of Canada, 2006 Census , shows that overall, 6 out of every 10 Canadians aged between 25 and 64 had completed some form of postsecondary education, and 1 out of every five postsecondary graduates had studied business, management and marketing. One-third (33%) of women aged 25 to 34 had a university degree in 2006, compared with 25 percent of their male counterparts. Educated Canadians were more mobile than their less-educated counterparts.

– Statistics Canada
March 4, 2008

United States

Chinese Scientists Return Home from US in Search of Looser Regulations

With the opportunity to conduct work in politically and morally sensitive areas such as stem cell research, Chinese scientists are reportedly returning home from the United States in droves. And it is not only looser regulations and a more open scientific environment that is attracting scientists home, but also attractive grants and tax breaks.

As the National Institute of Health and other US research institutes complain about the tightening of the nation’s scientific budget, China has announced that it will double its research-and-development spending by 2010, to about $69 billion.

The returning scientists are reversing a trend that began in 1978, when China first allowed students to go abroad, the vast majority of whom left permanently. In recent years, however, more than 275,000 have come back. Many of the returning Chinese with doctorates in science or engineering are going to the Chinese Academy of Sciences , where 81 percent of the members have returned from overseas study.

Perhaps the most ambitious and most controversial work being done by returned scientists has been with embryonic stem cells, about which there is little controversy in China.

Washington Post
February 20, 2008

Study Abroad Code of Ethics Released

The Forum on Education Abroad released a code of ethics for the field in March that it describes as “aspirational” but not prescriptive guidelines covering six main areas: truthfulness and transparency; responsibility to students; relationships with host societies; observance of law and good practice; conflicts of interest; and gifts, gratuities, discounts, rebates and compensation.

Forum members developed the code after the field came under the microscope following an influential August New York Times article on conflicts of interest in study abroad and subsequent government investigations cast scrutiny on a variety of practices, including exclusive agreements between colleges and program providers, commission and rebate systems, and so-called “familiarization” trips in which college study abroad staff and advisers assess overseas program sites, their expenses paid for, at least in part, by program providers.

– Forum on Education Abroad
March 2008

Arizona to Consult on New Chinese University

The University of Arizona has announced a deal in which it will provide the intellectual content for certain degree programs — and in some cases the degrees — at Nanjing International University (NIU), which has yet to be built, but which aims to reach an enrollment of 10,000 within 10 years of opening.

Reportedly, this agreement eventually will provide students the opportunity to obtain a degree from UA – in select majors – while attending NIU in China.

UA News Release
February 29, 2008

Student Group Strives to Attract Arabs to US University Campuses

Arab enrollments at US universities are still in the doldrums of the post-9/11 era, but now a group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is attempting to help reverse that. The College Admissions Arab Mentorship Program (CAAMP), whose members travel to Middle Eastern schools every year, seeks to dispel myths about American colleges and life in the US, thereby encouraging greater enrollments from the region. The group encourages Middle Eastern students to take advantage of US universities so they can become more effective leaders in their homeland, as well as agents of cross-cultural exchange.

However, getting this message across in today’s political climate is challenging, especially as tighter US visa restrictions have discouraged many from applying. Currently, the number of students from the Middle East (excluding Israel) and North Africa continues to constitute less than 4 percent of international students in the US. That’s a drop of nearly half compared with the 2000-01 academic year just before the 9/11 attacks, when students from the region constituted 7 percent of international students. Meanwhile, students from India, China, South Korea, and Japan alone totaled 43 percent of international students last year.

Not only do Middle Eastern students worry about visa issues, but many are also concerned that their academic credentials are insufficient for entry to US universities, according to members of CAAMP interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor. Others worry that as Arabs and/or Muslims, they will meet discrimination in the US. CAAMP was created in 2006 as an MIT recruitment program, but it has morphed into a general drive to encourage Arabs to apply to American colleges. Group members visited 700 teens last year and more than 3,500 high school students this winter in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.

The Christian Science Monitor
March 6, 2008


New University Admissions System Aims to Improve Access for Poor

Socio-economic status and residency will be taken into account under a new admissions system designed to increase access for lower-income Venezuelans. According to a Bloomberg news report, Venezuela’s Higher Education Minister Luis Acuna wants to “universalize higher education.” There is significant suspicion in academia that the move is a political one designed to impart greater governmental control over universities by ensuring admissions for supporters of President Hugo Chavez.

February 26, 2008

Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries