WENR, May 2009: Americas
South America to Engage with the Arab World with Development of Technology University
Twelve South American nations and 22 Arab countries have agreed to increase the level of higher-education and technology cooperation between the two regions by creating an Arab-South American technology university. Joint research and education programs between the regions’ leading research universities would also be established under the agreement.
The plans were announced at the second South American-Arab Summit, held at the end of March in Doha, Qatar. The university would be known at the Simón Bolívar Technological University, and would aim to promote capacity-building programs, postgraduate courses, researcher networks, technology transfer and exchange of experiences. There are 12 million people of Arab origin living in the South American region, and it is thought that education cooperation between the two regions could benefit from this large Diaspora.
The Arab-South America University would focus on programs that include land degradation monitoring and assessment, satellite environmental monitoring and global and regional climate system modeling. The plan also includes agriculture and sustainable planning and management for water resources and managing information systems. Palestinians will be provided with student fellowships to encourage bilateral cooperation between Palestine and South American countries.
– University World News
April 19, 2009
Internationalization of Higher Education in Latin America Makes Slow Progress
The delegates at a recent meeting to promote inter-American collaboration among universities concluded that the internationalization of higher education in the Americas amounts to little more than talk.
Discussion at the April meeting in Guadalajara of more than 300 university administrators, professors and specialists from throughout the region and Europe centered on the obstacles to integration in a region with huge disparities, both within and among countries’ higher-education systems. Disparities of quality exist between Canada and the United States and the rest of the area, with major differences also existing in funding models. In countries like Argentina and Mexico, most students attend public universities, whereas in the rest of Latin America private institutions account for a majority of tertiary enrollments.
Latin America has the lowest rate of student mobility in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Despite the proximity, Latin Americans account for just 10 percent of international enrollments in the United States. The amount of scholarly exchange and research collaboration within the Americas is also extremely low.
However, there are some signs of progress. Some 80 universities and international agencies met in Panama last year to discuss creating a Latin American academic coalition, with unified accreditation and credit-exchange systems. The Inter-American Organization for Higher Education, which is leading the effort, is now concentrating on engaging the region’s education ministers.
Obstacles to greater mobility include a shortage of government spending on academic collaboration in the region – expected to worsen under current economic conditions; a low level of foreign-language proficiency throughout the region; and the absence of a government-led mechanism, such as that of the European Commission’s Bologna Process.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 27, 2009
Leading University Signs Agreement with British University
The University of Surrey has signed a partnership agreement with the Universidad de Sao Paulo as part of its global internationalization and networking strategy, known as the Global Partnership Network (GPN). The aim of the GPN is to build in-depth, research-led collaborations and heightened flexibility and responsiveness to entrepreneurial opportunities as they arise between universities across the world.
Following North Carolina State University, the Brazilian university is the third institution to join the GPN. The agreement centers on five research clusters: tourism, bioscience, chemistry, mathematics and energy. The University of Surrey will support student and faculty travel to Brazil for postgraduate students at its Guildford campus. It will also offer Portuguese language tuition for students and faculty to prepare them for short programs.
The aim of the GPN is to add a small number of partners that are world renowned in research and education. Surrey has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Seoul National University and is in advanced negotiations with a university in China.
– Surrey News Release
March 27, 2009
Vermonters Look to Save on tuition Fees by Crossing Northern Border
An increasing number of Vermont high school students are checking out Canadian universities as they seek a quality education with a lower price tag – with the bonus of an international experience.
In response to increased demand from students for information on Canadian schools, in March, South Burlington High School held its first Canadian college fair with recruiters from more than six schools.
Generous government funding means the cost of Canadian schools is often significantly lower than at equivalent U.S. institutions — sometimes as much as 60 percent — even with the inflated fees for international students. The strengthening U.S. dollar is also a factor, as is the fact that U.S. federal college loans (and some grants) provide students more opportunities to travel north to Canada.
– Burlington Post
March 26, 2009
U of Alberta Renews Drive for International Enrollments
The University of Alberta appointed a new president in 2005, and now she is leading the charge for increased international enrollments at her institution and across Canada more broadly.
After watching competitor nations such as Australia and the United Kingdom develop market share of international students over the last decade, Dr. Indira Samarasekera believes that Canada is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a global thirst for higher education services.
Alberta’s flagship university is Canada’s third largest, and Samarasekera has focused on helping the university capitalize on its oil and natural resources revenue to attract international faculty and students. Now that the oil boom is waning, Samarasekera argues that it is becoming increasingly important for Canadian universities to compete for international students for both academic and economic reasons. Claiming that Canada has been “asleep at the switch” for a long time on internationalizing campuses, she is now leading U of A on an aggressive marketing campaign, especially in the Chinese and Indian markets.
Samarasekera intends to increase the proportion of international undergraduates from 6 percent to 15 percent of the total student population over the next five to six years, and graduates from 21 percent to 30 – 35 percent.
– University World News
March 27, 2009
OECD, World Bank Recommends Greater Reform, More Spending on Higher Education
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank have recommended in a recent review that Chile should double its public spending on higher education and research, while also implementing reform to open access to a greater range of students across a broader and more applicable range of programs. The review also recommends that students should graduate in less time.
Despite recent reforms to Chile’s tertiary education system and massive enrollment growth, the review said that without sacrificing quality, it is time for a second round of reform. These reforms should focus on university management and governance, in order to graduate to a world-class system.
The problems identified by the report extend to: “unequal access for aspirants from different backgrounds and income groups; marked segmentation between university and non-university institutions; inflexible curricula and outdated classroom practices; overly long degree programs; backward-looking institutional financing practices; a research system lacking focus and funding; and persistent deficiencies in information and accountability for results.”
The review called for greater financial aid for low-income students as a means of decreasing “severe segmentation” in Chilean society. These problems are exacerbated by the length of university degree programs, which on average take seven years to complete at the first cycle. The report also called for Chile to adopt a national qualifications framework to update curricula and increase mobility between institutions and streams across Chile.
February 23, 2009
University of Miami Seeks Presence in Puerto Rico
The University of Miami School of Business Administration has announced plans to further expand into Latin America by offering its Executive MBA program in Puerto Rico. The proposed program, which is awaiting approval from the Puerto Rican government, would be taught at the headquarters of El Nuevo Día, a local newspaper and partner of the school.
The Miami institution already has strong links to the region, offering its Master of Science in Professional Management and Executive MBA program, which run on its Florida campus, and taught entirely in Spanish. It targets executives working in Latin America. It has also established several partnerships with Latin American business schools, including Universidad de San Andres in Argentina, the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and CENTRUM Católica in Peru.
– The Economist
April 24, 2009
Mixed Signals on US Study Abroad Numbers for the Current Year
According to the findings of a March survey of study-abroad directors, the economy is likely to blame for a drop in applications to many overseas-study programs this summer and fall.
Over half of colleges and study-abroad agencies that responded to the “Economic Impact Survey” said applications to summer programs had declined from the year prior. More than a third reported a decrease in fall applications. Of those that have seen a decline in applications, 34 percent said they were down by 10 percent or more. However, 48 percent of those who completed the survey say applications for summer programs are either equal to (27.4%) or exceeding (20.7%) those of last year.
The survey was conducted by Chris Musick, director of international academic services at the University of Mary Washington and leader of the network for developing and managing programs abroad at Nafsa: Association of International Educators. One hundred and sixty-two international educators responded to the survey, which is the first to attempt to quantify the impact of the economic downturn on overseas study.
– Institute for International Education
March 22, 2009
GMAT Set for a Facelift
The Graduate Management Admissions Test – required by most U.S. business schools – is set for an upgrade. Dubbed the “Next Generation GMAT,” the test’s administrator, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), says it is responding to changes in the business school market, such as an increase in specialized masters programs and more variations on the traditional MBA. The new test will not be seen for a while, as GMAC is set to go through a lengthy consultation process with schools. It is currently scheduled for a 2013 launch.
Although details about the new test are sparse, it will likely respond to criticism that has been leveled against it in recent years, including a cultural bias towards Western students, and inadequate security precautions which led to a cheating scandal last year with professional ‘test-takers’ sitting the exam for prospective students.
Meanwhile, GMAC has announced that it has brokered a deal with “a leading international bank” to provide at least $500m in loans to international students. The organization says that international students have been especially hard-hit by the financial crisis as they are not eligible for federal loans and some big lenders have become reluctant to advance credit. The loans will initially be open to students in about 40 business schools in America and Europe, beginning with the 2009-10 academic year.
– The Economist
March 31, 2009
Wharton Backs Student Loans for International Students
The University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Trustees has voted in favor of sharing default risk with an undisclosed US bank to secure loans for international students. Formerly, students attending Penn’s Wharton School of Business and other professional schools could access loans through Citibank, but Citibank discontinued its loan program in December because of liquidity problems.
The new program will allocate risk of losses up to 10 percent to the undisclosed bank; Penn will absorb the remaining. Penn is seeking out other lenders in a bid to extend the loan program to some of its other professional schools.
– Daily Pennsylvanian
March 19, 2009
International Graduate Applications Up 4%
According to the findings of the latest report from the Council of Graduate Schools, graduate school applications from foreign students grew four percent between 2008 and 2009, with the increase “driven almost entirely” by growth at institutions with the largest numbers of international students already enrolled.
Applications rose six percent at the top 100 destination institutions for international students, but dropped four percent at institutions outside the top 100. Applications from China were up 16 percent this year but applications from India and South Korea fell 9 and 7 percent, respectively. These three nations send the most graduate students to the United States, so declining applications from India and South Korea is cause for concern.
In the last three years, applications from India rose by 26, 12 and 2 percent, while those from South Korea were flatter, rising 4, 0 and 2 percent each year. On the other hand, this year represents the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases in applications from China, as well as the Middle East and Turkey, from where applications increased 20 percent this year.
– Council of Graduate Schools
April 7, 2009
Online Enrollments Continue to Increase
According to a recent report from the Instructional Technology Council, an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, colleges continue to see increases in distance-education enrollments. The group’s survey found that distance enrollments grew 11.3 percent from fall 2006 to fall 2007, the most recent period for which full data are available. Last year, the same survey found an increase of 18 percent over the previous year.
The report noted that the administrators who provided answers for the survey said that they faced resource constraints on expanding distance programs, suggesting enrollment growth may slow in coming years, compared to such strong growth in recent years. As enrollments have increased, there has also been a drop in completion rates, with officials indicating an average completion rate of 65 percent, down from 72 percent a year before, but up from 50 percent six years ago.
The biggest challenges faced by institutions, according to the report, were in finding support staff for training and technical assistance, student services for distance students, and operating and equipment budgets.
– Instructional Technology Council
An Increasing Number of States are Withdrawing In-state Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants
According to the The Christian Science Monitor, states have begun barring undocumented students from paying lower in-state tuition rates in recent years, reversing a previous trend.
Since 2006, four states – Georgia, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona – have made undocumented students ineligible for in-state tuition rates. Last year, South Carolina banned undocumented students from enrolling at all in its public colleges, and North Carolina barred them from community colleges in 2007.
By contrast, between 2001 and 2006, 10 states – among them California, Kansas, and New York – passed legislation explicitly allowing in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. The issue is on the table again in California, where a new bill would let undocumented students qualify for financial aid.
According to assistant Senate majority leader Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois, about 65,000 of the 2.8 million American teens who graduate from high school each year are undocumented. In April, Senator Durbin and Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana introduced the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan measure to make it easier for undocumented students to become permanent residents if they came here as children, are long-term US residents, have good character, and attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years.
Some states – Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island – recently have proposed laws to give in-state tuition to undocumented students. Colorado also is discussing a reversal of its ban.
– Christian Science Monitor
April 3, 2009
Bologna’s Lessons for American Universities and States
The decade-long European educational reform and harmonization movement known as the Bologna Process has been on the radars of U.S. institutions of higher education for a while now, and they are beginning to take notice, according to a report by Clifford Adelman from the Institute for Higher Education Policy.
In the report, “The Bologna Process for U.S. Eyes: Re-Learning Higher Education in the Age of Convergence,” Mr. Adelman states that the United States is “no longer at the cutting edge. U.S. higher education can no longer sail on the assumption of world dominance, oblivious to the creative energies, natural intelligence, and hard work of other nations.”
Timed to coincide with the release of the report, the Lumina Foundation for Education, which financed Mr. Adelman’s research, unveiled a pilot project in April that seeks to apply certain aspects of the Bologna Process to six disciplines in the higher-education systems of three states—Indiana, Minnesota, and Utah. The disciplines are biology, chemistry, education, history, physics, and graphic design.
For the project, groups of faculty members and students from universities in each participating state will survey current students, recent graduates and employers to get a better idea of the knowledge and skills that a degree in a given discipline represents in terms of students’ learning and competencies. Ultimately, the information would be used to align common goals for student achievement at a particular level and discipline. These learning outcomes allow flexibility in the manner that colleges teach skills, while also defining required and shared outcomes by level and discipline, affording graduate programs and employers a more reliable idea of what a given degree represents in graduate competencies. This bottom up process of curricula harmonization is known in Europe as ‘Tuning,’ and it has made considerable progress, with agreements reached on nine subject areas at 137 universities in 16 countries.
A document from Lumina outlining the advantages of tuning states that the “process makes the value of any degree more clearly visible and more directly comparable by and among students, academics and employers. It also highlights — in real-world terms — the institution’s contribution to the value of that degree. It serves as a starting point for shared definitions of quality and excellence. And it does this without limiting the flexibility and diversity of the individual institutions.”
Other countries are also paying attention. Both the Australian and New Zealand governments have issued reports on Bologna’s lessons and implications for their respective education systems. Australia is currently piloting a Diploma Supplement based on the Bologna model. A Tuning project involving 18 Latin American countries is already under way.
For the first time in April, the United States sent an official observer to the biannual ministerial conference on the Bologna Process, which was held in Belgium.
Surveys Suggest High School Seniors will Consider Economy in Choosing Tertiary Options
According to the findings of three new surveys, it appears that the recession will have an impact on the upcoming admissions season.
A January poll, which drew responses from 1,030 households representing a wide range of incomes in all 50 states, by Longmire & Co. an educational consulting firm, found that more than 70 percent of prospective college students might change their plans for the coming school year. The survey asked students how their college plans might change, and 53 percent of students said they are considering attending a less expensive college, while 47 percent said they are planning to work as freshmen. Only 28 percent of the respondents said the recession has no influence on their college enrollment plans.
An April survey conducted by the College Board and the Art & Science Group, a higher-education consulting firm, based on the responses of a random national sample of high-school seniors who registered for the SAT found that from a total of 971 students who responded to the survey between February 11 and March 3 the recession has caused one in six to change their college plans. The effects were most pronounced among lower-income students, with 29 percent of students from families with household incomes of $40,000 or less saying their college plans had changed, compared with 16 percent of those from middle-income families (between $40,000 and $100,000) and 10 percent of high-income families (more than $100,000). As a result of the tough economy, 41 percent of the respondents said they were more seriously considering a public university or college close to home, while 15 percent of survey respondents said they had given much more thought to attending a community college or other two-year institution.
A survey conducted by Maguire Associates, another education-consulting firm, in February and March similarly showed that economic factors are affecting the college-search process. The Maguire report, “The 2009 College Decision Impact Survey,” is based on responses from 30,866 high-school juniors and seniors and 5,705 parents of juniors and seniors who were members of FastWeb, a scholarship-search Web site. Most of the students in the sample were seniors.
The survey found that about 72 percent of high-school seniors agreed somewhat or strongly with the statement “I am more likely to consider attending a public college or university due to the recent economic downturn.” About 61 percent of seniors and 64 percent of seniors’ parents said concerns about the economy “somewhat” or “greatly” affected the colleges to which students applied.
Graduate Schools Leave Europe’s New 3-Year Degree Open to Interpretation
According to the findings of a new survey from the Institute for International Education, admissions departments at American graduate schools have yet to reach consensus on how to evaluate Europe’s new three-year undergraduate degrees, and are unlikely to any time soon.
While the survey found that American graduate schools are increasingly aware of the ambitious Bologna Process, it also shows that many graduate-school admissions offices in the United States have not decided whether to treat the three-year degrees as equivalent to the four-year degrees earned at American colleges. The survey was released as education ministers from the 46 signatory countries of the European Higher Education Area gathered at the Catholic University of Louvain, in Belgium, in late April to assess progress of the reform and harmonization process.
The survey results appear in a new briefing paper, “Three-Year Bologna-Compliant Degrees: Responses From U.S. Graduate Schools.” The survey includes responses representing 167 programs at 120 institutions. The paper says that the more than 84,000 students from the countries taking part in the Bologna Process “represent 13 percent of the total international student population in the U.S., including degree, non-degree, and intensive English students, as well as those on academic training.”
More than half of the survey respondents said their institutions “had an official policy in place to guide the admissions response to three-year Bologna-compliant degrees; within this group, a third tended to view three-year Bologna-compliant degrees as equivalent to U.S. four-year degrees, and another third decided equivalency on a case-by-case basis.” It added that respondents “felt that the applicant’s preparation for study in the specific field remained a much more important factor in academic faculty decisions than degree length.”
– Institute for International Education
April 27, 2009