WENR, September 2010: Americas


Brazilian President Calls for Greater Regional Integration at Founding of New Regional University

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in September called for the acceleration of Latin American integration plans when giving the first lecture at the newly-founded Federal University for Latin American Integration (Unila), in Foz do Iguacu, Parana state, near the Paraguayan border.

The establishment of the university, which enrolled an initial cohort of 200 students from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, is an effort, in part, to boost continental integration. According to the Education Ministry, future enrollments are projected to reach 10,000 students when capacity is met, with half from Brazil and half from other Latin American countries.

UNESCO news release
August 17, 2010

Much Achieved in Education Reform, but Much Left to Do in Meeting Expectations of a Booming Economy

While Brazil’s economy has been booming in recent years, much work still remains to be done if the country wishes to improve its education system and capitalize on the prosperity of the present by building a future for the millions who currently remain in poverty.

“Unfortunately, in an era of global competition, the current state of education in Brazil means it is likely to fall behind other developing economies in the search for new investment and economic growth opportunities,” the World Bank concluded in a 2008 report.

The nation’s educational shortcomings are leaving many Brazilians on the sidelines. More than 22 percent of the roughly 25 million workers available to join Brazil’s work force this year were not considered qualified to meet the demands of the labor market, according to a government report in March. Earlier estimates showed that tens of thousands of jobs went unclaimed because there were not enough qualified professionals to fill them.

According to the World Bank, unless that gap is filled soon, Brazil may miss its “demographic window” over the next two decades in which “the economically active population is at its peak.”

The government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been working to reform the system, with some notable successes, including a program that has created about 700,000 scholarships for low-income students to attend private colleges. Under Mr. da Silva, the government has also opened more than 180 vocational schools — compared with 140 added during the previous 93 years — and has administered a new test to evaluate student performance. School enrollment has continued to climb, a trend that began in the 1990s under the previous president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and middle school graduation rates have risen under Mr. da Silva by 13 percentage points to 47 percent. But education experts in the country say that not nearly enough has been done to improve the quality of education and teaching methods, and the president has not used his bully pulpit to inspire the nation to demand more from its teachers and schools.

Finding workers with the adequate basic skills for even manual labor jobs is becoming a challenge, and many companies are not waiting for Brazil’s education system to catch up, but instead instituting training programs for new hires in basic reading and math.

New York Times
September 4, 2010


Student Visa Issuances Triple in Two Years

New data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) predict that the number of Indian students granted visas to study in Canada will have tripled over 2008 levels by year’s end. This is in part due to the Canada-in-India Student Partners Program launched earlier this year by CIC in cooperation with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.

”Thanks to the new Canadian Experience Class introduced by our government, many of these bright young Indians will have a convenient way to become permanent residents in Canada if they choose to do so at the end of their studies,” according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a recent news release.

September 9, 2010


Obama Administration Announces Plans to Loosen Restrictions on Academic Travel to Cuba

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is planning to relax travel restrictions for academics, students, religious groups, and cultural organizations wishing to visit Cuba. As it currently stands, these groups can go to Cuba, but they face tight restrictions. Students, for example, can study there, but must stay at least 10 weeks, and only accredited universities can receive academic visas. According to the newspaper, under the new policy, higher-education institutions could seek approval to stay as long as two years.

In addition, the administration is also planning to allow flights to Cuba from more cities than the three — Miami, New York and Los Angeles — currently permitted. And there are proposals, officials have said, to allow all Americans to send remittances or charitable donations to churches, schools and human rights groups in Cuba.

The New York Times
August 17, 2010


Mexico Offers Online Degree Programs to Citizens Abroad

The Mexican government began offering online degree programs in July to its citizens living abroad, at a time when many based in the United States are faced with stricter immigration controls. The initiative is being run by Mexico’s Public Education Secretariat, which opened the National Open and Distance University of Mexico in August 2009. Since then, according to officials from the ministry, approximately 33,000 students have enrolled in 15 different undergraduate majors at the virtual university.

The decision to expand the online-degree opportunity to Mexicans living abroad is reportedly partly a response to the raft of anti-immigration laws recently passed in the United States that have made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to attend college in the United States.

The Education Secretariat began receiving applications from expatriates in July. It will initially offer spots to 1,000 students, who can choose from among five undergraduate majors: tourism administration, community development, small and medium-size business administration, engineering and environmental technology, and international marketing. The government plans to expand the program after the initial pilot phase, and estimates that hundreds of thousands of Mexicans living abroad might be interested in earning college degrees online.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 8, 2010

US Enrollments at Mexican Universities Drops, but Remains Steady Among Europeans

The U.S. government warned Americans against traveling to the most violence-torn regions of Mexico in March after two embassy workers were gunned down in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, and the impact on study-abroad programs in the country was immediate and severe. Universities across the United States canceled research projects and warned their students against studying in northern Mexico.

However, demand from students of other nationalities has not been impacted. Six months later and universities in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, which has been one of the focal points of the drug war, are reporting record enrollments. At Monterrey Tech, one of Mexico’s largest and most prestigious private institutions of higher education, 4,000 of the 60,000 students are foreign. But after the U.S. State Department issued its travel warning, the number of Americans enrolled at the Monterrey campus plummeted, from 67 a year ago to 13 this fall. The total number of foreign undergraduates has dropped from 559 to 496 over the same period. But European enrollment actually went up slightly, from 366 students to 368 students.

Meanwhile, the private University of Monterrey has a record number of foreign undergraduates—169—this fall, but only hosted four Americans, according to an official interviewed by The Chronicle of Higher Education. That’s down from an average of 15 or 20 American undergraduates in recent semesters. However, demand from Europe has offset the drop in U.S. students.

Mexican university administrators credit the intense—and often sensationalist—coverage of the drug war by the American news media for the contrasting reactions of American and European universities. The Mexican Association for International Education is reporting mass cancellations of U.S. students among universities in northern Mexico, and it is currently conducting a survey of its members to gauge the fallout from the U.S. government’s travel warning.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 18, 2010


Indigenous Universities Open

Peru’s indigenous population, the Aymara, will soon have a dedicated university after the Peruvian national congress’ Education Commission in May approved a proposal to create a national Aymara university.

The goal for the university’s proponents is to improve access to and the quality of education for indigenous people and train them as professionals who will then be better able to improve the socio-economic situations of their communities. There are more than two million Aymara located in the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile. The university will be located in Puno province, close to the border of Bolivia. There is talk of possibly making the university bi-national through an accord with the Bolivian government, to better benefit more indigenous Aymara who inhabit both sides of the border of this Andean region.

In neighboring Bolivia, President Evo Morales said in August that he too intended to expand higher education for indigenous people. Two years ago the government approved the creation of three indigenous universities: an Aymara university, Tupac Katari University in the town of Warisata near La Paz; a Quechua university, Casimiro Huanca University, in the central province of Cochabamba; and a Guarani university, Apiaguaiki Tupa University, in the southern province of Chuquisaca.

At the Aymara university career tracks include high plains agronomy, food and textile industry studies, veterinary medicine and animal husbandry. The Quechua university concentrates on the food industry, forestry and fishery cultivation. The Guarani institution focuses on hydrocarbons, fishery cultivation, veterinary medicine and animal husbandry.

University World News
August 22, 2010

United States

Offers of Admission to International Graduate Applicants Bumps Higher

Offers of admission by American graduate schools to international applicants increased by 3 percent from 2009 to 2010, reversing a 1 percent decline the previous year, according to a report released in late August by the Council of Graduate Schools. The report also tallied final application numbers for the year, which have finally rebounded to their record in 2003, after which foreign-student applications plummeted because of tightening visa rules following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. According to the report, overseas applications rose by 9 percent from 2009 to 2010.

The data come from the second of the council’s annual three-part survey of graduate schools. The other two surveys look at initial applications and final enrollments.

Following the recent trend, China continues to drive growth in offers of graduate admission to applicants, with a 16 percent increase over last year, the fifth consecutive year of double-digit gains. Nathan Bell, director of research and policy analysis for the council, noted that the growth in applications and admissions from China reflects the continued capacity shortfall in China for those seeking advanced degrees. Another factor, he said, may be the increasing numbers of Chinese students who enroll as undergraduates in American colleges and universities. The 10 schools with the largest international graduate enrollments issued 30 percent more offers of admission to Chinese graduate students this year.

Offers of admission to students from India and South Korea (the second and third largest markets) were down 4 and 7 percent respectively (after drops of 14 percent each last year). Growth was again strong from the Middle East and Turkey.

By field, changes in admissions offers were minimal except in business and the physical sciences. China, India, and South Korea account for fully half of all non-U.S. citizens on temporary visas attending American graduate schools.

Shifts in International Applications and Admissions Offers to U.S. Graduate Programs, 2009 to 2010

Change in Applications Change in Admissions Offers
Total +9% +3%
Country / region
China +20% +16%
India +1% -4%
South Korea +0% -7%
Middle East / Turkey +20% +10%
Field of study
Arts and humanities +9% +1%
Business +11% +8%
Education +8% +0%
Engineering +8% +2%
Life sciences +2% -5%
Physical and earth sciences +10% +5%
Social sciences +11% +3%

Council of Graduate Schools
August 19, 2010


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