WENR, November 2010: Americas
A Bologna for the Americas
Representatives from 40 countries gathered at the first Conference of the Americas on International Education in October to discuss the possibility of a common higher-education space of the Americas, similar to the Bologna agreement in Europe.
Proponents argue that greater regional integration is both inevitable and necessary, while skeptics argue that the Bologna Process is an unrealistic model for the Americas, given the enormous cultural, economic, and educational disparities between Canada and the United States, and the rest of the region. Critics in Latin America also argue that there would be a lack of political will on the part of the Canadian and U.S. governments to subsidize greater academic exchange with their poorer neighbors. A number of Latin American delegates argued in favor of first integrating their own universities to put the region on a stronger footing vis-à-vis the United States and Canada.
Despite concerns regarding U.S. dominance of higher education, delegates from the United States were notably scarce. The Canadian Bureau for International Education, the main conference organizer, did not invite any of the international higher-education associations in the United States to co-host the event.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 22, 2010
Standardized University Admissions Tests suffers Through A Second Year
In early November more than 4.5 million Brazilian students took university entrance exams under the government’s new standardized system. The standardized system aims to reduce costs for universities and students and expand access to the country’s publicly financed, and best, universities. But the reputation of the National High School Examination (Enem) was tarnished last year by a scandal involving a stolen copy of the exam, and the incident made a few university administrators wary of adopting it.
Until last year, most of the country’s publicly financed universities held their own entrance exams, known as vestibulares, but now, almost all of them are using, either wholly or in part, the government’s exam. The standardized test was first held in 1998 and was designed to rate the performance of both students and high schools. It was revamped two years ago to make it more relevant to the high-school curriculum and to make it easier to compare school and student performance on a year-to-year basis.
The new Enem is also designed to help both students and universities. It has more questions than the vestibulares, and officials say this makes it a better measure of learning. It enables institutions and students to save money, and it helps universities fill places. It also gives students more options because they no longer have to choose where to go if two or more of their preferred colleges hold their entrance exams on the same day.
The new Enem comprises 180 multiple-choice questions grouped into four subjects: languages; human sciences; natural sciences; and mathematics. It is followed the next day by a written comprehension test. News reports said all 59 federal institutions would employ it either as the first part of the two-phase process, the second of which they will organize in-house, or as a stand-alone entrance exam.
Unfortunately, this year the reputation of the exam took another beating after misprints on the test initially led to a decision that 20,000 students would have to retake the exam. Then on November 9 a judge completely annulled the exam results, citing the misprints as well as security flaws. The Ministry of Education is appealing the decision.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 2, 2010
University Presidents Visit India en Masse
The largest delegation of Canadian university presidents ever to travel overseas, and the largest delegation of university presidents ever welcomed by India, undertook a seven-day mission in India in November, reports the Vancouver Sun.
The visit, organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, included 15 presidents from universities across Canada. The goal of the mission was to find new ways for Canadian and Indian universities to work together, while at the same time creating awareness of Canada’s ‘brand’ in India.
Over the next decade, the Indian government expects that 1,400 new post-secondary institutions will be created, to serve seven million more students. Recognizing that it can’t do this alone, the country is inviting more international partnerships. Last June, as part of the G20 Summit held in Toronto, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in higher education. The delegation of university presidents to India appears to be the next step in the process.
– Vancouver Sun
October 27, 2010
Ontario Launches Scholarship Program to Attract the World’s Best Research Students
The government in Ontario has announced a new program under which 75 top international doctoral students will receive full-ride university scholarships, with the government paying two-thirds of the costs and the universities covering the remainder. The initiative has an estimated taxpayer cost of C$20 million (supplemented by C$10 million more from universities) over the next four years, a figure that has been cause for some controversy
Ontario’s universities welcomed the C$40,000 (US$40,000)-a-year Trillium Scholarships as a step toward global competitiveness. Opposition politicians within the main rival party to the government, the Progressive Conservatives, criticized the plan, charging that the decision to spend on foreign students instead of those at home shows that the government is “out of touch” with recession-weary Ontario families.
The program is part of a broader federal initiative designed to attract more foreign researchers. A C$200 million federal program was launched last spring to lure star researchers with C$10 million Canada Excellence Research Chairs. Earlier this year, the Ontario government pledged to increase foreign tertiary enrollment in the province, currently at 38,000, by 50 percent in five years, and introduced measures to fast-track graduate students into permanent resident status. But these 75 new spots are more about luring elite minds who might otherwise land prestigious places elsewhere, such as the United States.
A recent report from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada shows foreign enrollment across the country has increased for 15 consecutive years, to 90,000. The report also notes Britain and Australia still attract two to three times as many students, and that foreign students make up just 7 percent of Canada’s university population.
– The Globe and Mail
November 3, 2010
First Community College Provides Career and Further-Education Pathways
The new Community College of Santiago, with a first-year enrollment of 160 students, is the first of its kind in Chile. Run by the Central University of Chile with support from the City University of New York’s LaGuardia Community College, the college offers affordable and flexible course structures designed to appeal to working adults looking to boost their skills, and to students looking for flexible pathways into a university education.
The college offers two-year degrees in construction management, network administration and security, programming, telecommunications, business management, and accounting. All course work completed at the college can be fully transferred to a full-degree program at the Central University of Chile. The two-year degrees are issued jointly by LaGuardia and Santiago.
While Chile is home to a number of technical centers and professional institutes, the community college is a new concept. Historically, technical education in Chile has not been well regarded. By creating a technical-education program that is part of Central University, those behind the project want to bridge the gap between those who can afford a university education and those who can’t—and in doing so, remake the image of technical education.
The community college’s developers envision it as a way to direct more students into the kind of two-year system that has proved so successful in the United States: a practical, inexpensive education with a clear pathway to a university degree, should students choose to continue studying.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 7, 2010
University Leaders Call for More International Aid and Scholarships
Haitian university officials made an emotional plea in October for more international aid in the aftermath of the devastating January earthquake, which leveled entire campuses and killed nearly 4,000 students and professors.
During the first Conference of the Americas on International Education, held in Calgary, the argument for the urgent need for scholarships for Haitian students to continue their studies at home was emphasized. Most international aid to higher-education institutions in Haiti has been in the form of technical assistance, equipment, distance-education programs, and scholarships for Haitian students to study abroad. However, delegates noted that many students are too poor to take advantage of foreign scholarships, most of which do not cover airfare and other expenses.
Somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of students in Haiti are enrolled at private institutions of higher education (The Haitian Ministry of Higher Education puts the private share at 50 percent, with just 40,000 students enrolled before the quake, while officials from private universities put the number at 80 percent of 80,000 students.) However, officials from private universities, said at the conference that most of the reconstruction efforts in higher education had thus far been directed toward rebuilding the State University of Haiti, which had more than 10,000 students. In the meantime, Haitian universities are struggling to survive.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 22, 2010
Combating Counterfeit Credentials
For as little as $600 customers can buy fake college diplomas and professional licenses from hawkers in the plaza that sits across the street from Mexico’s Public Education Secretariat in the nation’s capital. The agency issues approximately 60,000 professional licenses in 22 different fields each month. But with competition for places at public universities at an all-time high, many would-be students resort to buying their way to a college degree, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
To combat the proliferating problem, the Education Secretariat in 1999 began keeping a national database of professionals to help potential employers in conducting background checks on job applicants. In 2007, to make the process easier, the agency created a free online database, which has since received more than 14 million searches from all over the world. In addition, department officials process 5,000 requests each month for document checks, at a cost of $20 apiece.
While most of the petitions are from government employers and courts, an increasing number of U.S. universities and hospitals are using the database to ensure that applicants to graduate programs or nursing jobs are legitimate professionals. However, in professions that do not require professional degrees, the forging of college diplomas is rampant. In these fields the government does not and cannot keep a database. Instead, each university is responsible for keeping a list of its graduates, which is open to the public.
Of greater concern in Mexico are forged professional licenses. So in 2000, the government switched from a laminated paper booklet to a high-tech carbon-fiber card resembling a driver’s license, and officials are working with a German security company to introduce 24 different antifraud mechanisms. They include holograms and colored letters that change hue under an ultraviolet light.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 18, 2010
Offering an Alternative to University Rankings in Mexico
Researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico — the only Mexican university to appear in any ranking of the world’s top 200 universities — released the second version of their Comparative Study of Mexican Universities in November.
The interactive database compares the country’s 43 public universities and the top 15 private institutions across a spectrum of criteria such as patent production, published scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, and the number of full-time professors with Ph.D.’s.
The database is not, however, designed as a national university ranking system. Instead, the creators of the site say that their goal is to provide an alternative to the rankings model as it is commonly understood, which they view as arbitrary and skewed in favor of elite American research institution.
“The rankings are nothing more than Harvard-ometers, how much you look like Harvard,” says Imanol Ordorika Sacristán, director general of institutional evaluation at UNAM and co-director of the database project.
In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, he said he hoped the database would provide a useful source of information for scholars and university administrators, both in Mexico and abroad.
“We tried to do what the rankings don’t,” says Mr. Ordorika, who holds a Ph.D. in education policy from Stanford University. “We tried to create a comparative tool that allows us to know the state of the universities, not the position of the institutions.”
In addition to using almost exclusively English-language journals to count scholarly articles, Mr. Ordorika also argues that traditional international rankings fail to take into account the broader role of public universities in Latin American in guiding social policy, promoting democracy, and combating poverty in the region.
– The Chronicle of higher Education
November 11, 2010
United States of America
Final Regulations Governing Financial Aid for Students Studying Abroad Released
The Department of Education issued final regulations on the use of federal student aid programs by those studying outside the United States in early November. The new rules are expected to make it harder for students to qualify for U.S. financial aid at some foreign colleges and medical schools.
The rules include some significant changes from the preliminary rules governing foreign institutions that the department published in July. Most notably, in response to criticism from a wide range of foreign universities, the Education Department eased a requirement that would have required public and nonprofit independent institutions whose students received at least $5 million in American financial aid to submit audited financial statements each year.
After numerous complaints from high-profile foreign universities that such a requirement would be enormously expensive to the institutions, the Education Department changed its final regulation to raise the floor at which the annual requirement would kick in for nonprofit colleges to $10 million. Under the final rule, foreign institutions whose students receive between $3 million and $10 million a year will be required to submit such a statement only every three years, but will continue to have to submit audited financial statements annually that meet their own countries’ accounting standards.
The department also will require that at least 75 percent of foreign medical schools’ graduates pass each step of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination for the institution to continue to qualify for federal student aid for its graduates.
November 1, 2010
Business Schools Report Downward Trend in International Enrollments
A declining number of foreign students are applying to U.S. business schools, forcing many schools to recruit more aggressively overseas. This, according to a recent study, is being done in part to maintain a globally diverse student body, a major factor in an institution’s credibility and position in institutional rankings.
Foreign students made up 24.8 percent of enrollments at U.S. schools in 2009-10, down from 26.5 percent two years ago, according to AACSB International: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Much of the increased competition is coming from business schools in Asia, according to a recent study of the data on students taking the Graduate Management Admission Test. Tougher employment prospects in the U.S., and the expense of attending an American school have also been cited as reasons for the declining interest, officials at several business schools say.
Hardest hit are schools that don’t have the global demand of institutions such as Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where international enrollments have generally remained steady or increased.
– Wall Street Journal
November 4, 2010
UNH Joins Growing List of Universities Outsourcing Bridging Programs to Private Overseas Firms
In November, the University of New Hampshire became the fifth U.S. campus to sign an agreement with Navitas, a for-profit Australian firm that sets up and manages international pathway programs. Approximately 25 students are expected to arrive on the Durham campus in May for a year of English-language classes and modified academic courses. Those who succeed will be eligible to continue their studies at UNH.
The goal is to have 10-12 percent of the undergraduate student body come from other countries by the end of the 10-year agreement, university officials said. In the last academic year, just 76 of the school’s 12,200 undergraduate students were from other countries, and 245 of the 2,200 graduate students.
Under the new partnership, UNH will set admission criteria and will review applications from international students. Applicants will be required to meet the same academic requirements as U.S. applicants, except for English-language proficiency. For their first year, students will take mix of English-language courses taught by staff at the university’s existing language institute and “language-enriched” academic courses. Navitas will hire instructors for the latter from an applicant pool that could include retired and current UNH faculty and staff.
The agreement calls for Navitas to reimburse UNH for the use of the institute and the content of its first-year curriculum. Students pay tuition directly to Navitas during their first year on campus and to UNH after that. Western Kentucky University became the first U.S. college to partner with Navitas earlier this year, followed by the Boston, Lowell and Dartmouth campuses of the University of Massachusetts.
– Associated Press
November 4, 2010
International Graduate Enrollments Edge Up
According to data released by the Council of Graduate Schools in November, the number of first-time international graduate students enrolling at universities in the United States grew 3 percent in 2010 versus 2009, after a year of no growth between 2008 and 2009.
On par with recent trends, new enrollments from China are up 20 percent, but the numbers from India and South Korea (which, with China, are the top sources of international students for U.S. schools) are down. The positive takeaway from the Indian and South Korean enrollment numbers is that the decreases are much smaller this year than last year. Significant growth was also seen from the Middle East region.
|Country/region||2006 to 2007||2007 to 2008||2008 to 2009||2009 to 2010|
|Middle East & Turkey||+12%||+8%||+22%||+7%|
|From all countries||+4%||+3%||no change||+3%|
By field of study, the largest gains in first-year enrollments of foreign students are in physical and earth sciences, up 9 percent, followed by arts and humanities, up 5 percent. The only field showing a decline is education, down 7 percent.
– Council of Graduate School
November 9, 2010