WENR, June 2010: Americas
International Education: One Way Traffic
While Canadian politicians and education officials dream up new ways to lure ever more international students to the nation’s institutions of higher education, very few Canadians are heading the other way. In fact just 3 percent of Canada’s undergraduate population spent time in a foreign country studying last year, even though most say they are interested in global issues and are attracted to the idea of studying abroad.
Cost, difficulty in meeting degree requirements, and lack of awareness of opportunities are all contributing factors, a recent study by the Canadian Bureau of International Education found.
The findings come at a time when many countries – particularly members of the European Union and Japan – are making it easier to study abroad. In the United States, where foreign study is on par with Canada, a bill before Congress proposes funding for one million Americans to study abroad each year.
– The Globe and Mail
May 26, 2010
Continent’s First ‘American-Style’ Community College Opens in Chile
The Santiago Times reports that Chile has opened Latin America’s first community college. The Community College de Santiago is currently in its first semester, and those involved are reportedly hoping that the model will expand to other Latin American countries. The US’s Agency for International Development is providing grants and offering exchange programs to help encourage new schools in the region looking to provide technical education and lower-level university programs.
The Chilean community college requires two years of coursework to earn a certificate, diploma or associate degree. The college’s website explains that, “the Community College allows social mobility and contributes to national development training of technicians so they are capable of adapting to technological changes. In addition, the Community College, through remedial courses, allows students to attain the skills necessary to directly enter a professional career.”
The Chilean college was developed in partnership with the New York-based Community College of LaGuardia, and like American community colleges, the school has a transfer option for students wishing to continue their studies at a university-level institution.
– The Santiago Times
May 27, 2010
Students Demand Reform
In early June more than 4,000 university students hit the streets of Santiago demanding changes to current education policy. The protest march led to clashes with police just a few blocks from the Chilean presidential palace. A number of people were reportedly injured in the confrontation.
It was the students’ second protest in less than a month against the government of right-wing billionaire Sebastian Piñera, who took office in March. Students were protesting what they view as the increasing privatization of education, while also demanding more government help for university students affected by the Feb. 27 earthquake that devastated south-central Chile and left some 500 people dead.
– Latin American Herald Tribune
June 7, 2010
A Plan to Rebuild Haiti’s Decimated Universities
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) recently launched an action plan to rebuild Haiti’s universities that would require a fundraising effort of millions of dollars, and the cooperation of the global university sector.
The plan was discussed at a two-day meeting of 115 delegates in Montreal in May. According to AUF estimates, universities in Haiti lost 80 percent of their infrastructure in the devastating January earthquake, which also killed 391 students, 40 professors and 20 non-academic staff.
One of the plan’s most concrete and short-term actions will involve a US$1.2 million digital campus project that is hoped to be in place by the beginning of the fall semester. Ten offices, equipped with internet service and banks of computers, where teaching staff can record and disseminate courses, will be set up throughout Haiti, to offer distance education. The Association of French-speaking Universities has had success establishing such digital campuses in other developing countries in the past.
Among other initiatives, AUF hopes to set up scholarships for students to finish their current studies and for more professors to be trained, in addition to a $305,000 initiative to bring in volunteer teaching staff, mostly retired professors.
– Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie
May 25-26, 2010
Universities Forced to Increase Security as Drug War Escalates
Over the past two years, student and professor deaths related to the ongoing drug war in Mexico have reached double digits, while others have become victims of kidnappings and armed robberies, according to university presidents at a conference in May. As a result, universities have had to double or even triple spending on private security and to suspend travel and other activities for students and professors, according to participants at a meeting in the central city of Morelia, which drew presidents from the country’s 150 main public and private universities.
At the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, 11 students and professors have been killed as a direct result of the drug war in the past two years, the university’s president, Jorge Quintana Silveyra, was quoted as saying in El Universal in May. In addition, two students have disappeared and one has been kidnapped at the university, he said.
After the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Mexico in March several American universities have suspended their exchange programs in Monterrey and Ciudad Juárez, among other cities.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 19, 2010
University Shuttered by Lengthy Strikes, Research Halted
Students at the University of Puerto Rico who had been on an indefinite strike since April finally reached a tentative agreement in mid June that could allow normal operations to resume. The strike had caused the closure of 10 of the university system’s 11 campuses, impacting severely the ability of faculty and students to conduct research, as well as postponing this year’s graduation.
As part of a deal brokered by a court-appointed mediator, students would end their strike — one of the largest and longest such walkouts in Puerto Rican history — in exchange for a number of concessions. Most notably, the university’s Board of Regents has agreed to cancel a special fee that would have effectively doubled the cost to attend the university’s 11 public campuses.
The strike began on April 21 in opposition to several issues, including proposed tuition hikes and the elimination of tuition waivers for honors students and athletes. As the weeks wore on, the situation grew increasingly tense, with reports of the police preventing students, who barricaded campus gates, from receiving supplies, food and water. As of mid-June protest leaders had rejected a deadline from university officials and Gov. Luis Fortuño to cease their campus occupations, prompting warnings that they would seek court orders to have them arrested and removed.
Since the strike began, faculty and students had only intermittent access to labs. Even when they were allowed to enter, they were working with dwindling supplies and research materials, because the closed campuses meant new shipments could not be delivered. The university enrolls more than 65,000 students.
– New York Times
June 17, 2010
16 Additional International Recruiting Agencies Certified by New Body
The American International Recruitment Council, which aims to regulate agents that recruit students overseas for U.S. institutions of higher education, and certifies agencies that meet its standards, announced in May that it had certified an additional 16 recruitment agencies, bringing the total number of certified agencies to 24.
Two of the approved agencies received conditional certification and one agency was denied certification. American universities are increasingly embracing the use of agents in recruiting internationally, despite serious concerns among a number of stakeholders that the practice of paying per-student commissions is unethical.
Meanwhile, the AIRC in May reached the milestone of 100 institutional members, two years after it was established.
– AIRC news release
May 25, 2010
The Case Against 3-Year Degrees
The president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, an organization representing member universities focused on undergraduate liberal education, issued a statement recently denouncing a recent trend toward three-year degrees, or reducing the number of credits required to earn a bachelor’s degree, at a growing number of universities.
“While the pressure to graduate more students at a time of ever-decreasing resources is acute, we do a disservice to individual students and our society if we confer degrees that do not assure that students have learned all they need to know in this very demanding global century,” says a statement issued in June by Carol Geary Schneider, who, as the association’s top official, took the position on her own.
In a news release accompanying the statement, Ms. Schneider said, “The amount of wishful thinking driving this three-year degree discussion is stunning to me,” adding, “It’s time to take a hard look at the actual evidence on students’ achievement shortfalls.”
“We would do better,” she said, “to focus on helping students actually finish in four years.”
In her statement, Ms. Schneider makes clear that she does not object to accelerated programs that allow “a small number of highly motivated, high-achieving students” to graduate in as little as three years by earning college credits in high school and attending college throughout the full calendar year. But she argues that the three-year option “will be helpful only to a small number of students” and that “we should not, as some have suggested, just shave off an entire year’s worth of expected learning, either at the college level or at the high school level.”
– AACU news release
June 3, 2010
Arizona Immigration Law Roundly Criticized at International Educators Conference
The new Arizona law, which makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime, was denounced in June at the annual NAFSA conference of international education professionals, hosted in Kansas City.
More than 7,100 delegates from over 95 countries participated in the conference, and a resolution approved by the membership and board of directors details some of the effects of Arizona’s controversial immigration law on higher education.
The president of the University of Arizona and leaders of other schools have said they are losing talented applicants to other states. Two Mexican universities have canceled exchange agreements with Arizona universities, while the $228 million that international students and their families are estimated to contribute to the Arizona economy annually is thought to be at risk.
The resolution urges Arizona to repeal Senate Bill 1070, and requests that other states not model the legislation.
June 2, 2010
University Regains Accreditation for English-Language Instruction After Losing it Over Private-Provider Deal
The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation has restored the accreditation of the English Language Institute at the University of South Florida, after having it pulled because the accreditor said that the institution’s relationship with INTO University Partnerships, a British company that helps colleges recruit international students and manage language programs for them, constituted a change in institutional control that required a full review and approval by the accreditor.
The university appealed the revocation of accreditation, saying that its relationship with INTO did not involve any change in control, noting that the university continued to control admissions and instruction. Under the terms of the restored recognition, the university must now show that there was no meaningful change in control of the program, and that it still meets all standards.
June 4, 2010
Lumina Continues Work in Defining Subject and Degree-Level Learning Outcomes
After assessing the findings of its initial project looking into whether Eureopan reforms under the Bologna Process offered lessons for US education reform, the Lumina Foundation for Education has announced that it will move ahead with a project to determine learning outcomes for particular degrees in specific subjects. Or, put more succinctly, to defined what knowledge and skills students should be graduating with after studying a discipline to a certain level (bachelor, master, etc).
While Lumina is still evaluating the results of its initial project, the Indianapolis-based group is satisfied enough with its findings that officials said during a presentation at the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in June that they would be moving forward to the next stage.
In its initial study, which ran from June to November 2009, the foundation surveyed faculty members, recent graduates, employers and students at universities in three states (Indiana, Minnesota, and Utah) and six disciplines (biology, chemistry, education, graphic design, history, and physics) to understand what learning outcomes are expected of graduates in each discipline.
Lumina reportedly still needs to go through all the findings, but Holiday Hart McKiernan, the foundation’s senior vice president, said those participating called the process useful—even the skeptics. Texas has since started a project of its own, measuring learning outcomes in engineering. And Ms. McKiernan says Lumina wants to go forward and examine what knowledge and skills different levels of degrees represent.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 4, 2010