WENR, September 2011: Americas
Latin American Countries Send Their Students Overseas
The Brazilian government announced this year that it plans to award 75,000 scholarships by 2014 to students wishing to study abroad. The program, Science Without Borders, is the grandest so far of a series of scholarship initiatives that have recently been announced by governments across the region.
Most Latin American students on these new scholarship programs are heading to the United States to study (although their numbers still lag way behind students from Asia). In addition to Brazil, nations such as Chile and El Salvador have offered or are planning to offer new incentives to get their students into foreign programs. El Salvador, for example, created a vice ministry of science and technology in 2009, which is distributing 35 scholarships a year for students to study abroad, and it is planning to add another 150 to that number over the next three years. The additional places are for students pursuing subjects important to the country, such as environment and health.
Ecuador in August announced its most ambitious scholarship program yet, with the aim of sending more than 1,000 students abroad, while Colombia will send more people overseas in 2011 than in the 18 previous years combined. And Chile plans to offer 30,000 scholarships by 2018 through a program called Becas Chile.
Like in many other national scholarship programs, those who win Becas Chile scholarships sign a contract agreeing to return home after completing their studies and work for “the good of the country.”
The key factor making this all possible is that many Latin American governments currently have large reserves of foreign currency thanks to the worldwide demand for commodities like copper, iron ore, soy beans, and sugar.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 9, 2011
DeVry Expands Caribbean Medical School Portfolio with Purchase
DeVry Inc. in August announced its purchase of the American University of the Caribbean, which runs a medical school in St. Maarten. DeVry already owns the Ross University School of Medicine, in Dominica.
Medical schools in the Caribbean are somewhat controversial in that they cater largely to American students who have failed to earn places at campuses in the United States. Some question the standards at these medical schools, especially in light of the number of institutions that have proliferated in recent years. However, most schools do offer legitimate pathways to licensure through the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification process.
– DeVry News Release
August 4, 2011
Number of Brazilian Students Abroad Increases
The number of Brazilian students studying abroad rose by a substantial 14 percent between 2007 and 2008, according to data released by the OECD in August.
That number is expected to rise further as the Brazilian government recently announced that it will grant 75,000 scholarships to Brazilian students who wish to study abroad. The main destination countries of Brazilian students studying abroad are the United States, France, Portugal, Spain, and Germany. The Brazilian private sector is being encouraged to fund an additional 25,000 scholarships.
Ontario University Admissions Hit All-Time High
In 2003, Ontario universities welcomed a double cohort of high school graduates – from Grade 12 and the last year of Grade 13 – for a record of 88,118 new enrollments. This year, that record was broken with 90,029 enrollments from just a single cohort of graduating high school students, revealing how quickly demand for university studies has risen in Canada’s most populous province.
Enrollment in Ontario has gone up every year since 2004, according to data from the Council of Ontario Universities. The council suggests that an increase in the demand from the workforce has been the driving force behind the growth. Ottawa’s two universities say job-focused programs, such as science and engineering and business programs in particular, are growing in popularity.
– Ottawa Citizen
August 30, 2011
Concerns Over Foreign Students’ Cheating
An increasing number of Canadian universities are concerned that foreign students are violating standards of academic integrity more often than are their domestic peers, according to a recent article in The Globe and Mail.
Canada has increasingly become a destination of choice for international students, who occasionally struggle with studying in English, adapting to a new academic culture, and acknowledging plagiarism. Most universities do not track offenders by country of origin, but anecdotally the institutions say they are seeing a disproportionate number of foreign students with such problems.
For example, the University of Windsor, which began tracking offenders by country of origin in 2008, has found the percentage of foreign students running afoul of rules is three times higher than that of Canadian students. Overall, however, the number of foreign students at the university breaking the rules has decreased in the past three years.
– Globe and Mail
September 2, 2011
Despite Protests, Government to Stick to Reform Plan
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said in late August that he plans to retain a mix of state- and privately-owned educational institutions, arguing it gives students and their families more schooling options.
Responding to three months of student protests, Pinera said he wants to guarantee scholarships for poorer students and doesn’t believe in state-funded free education for all.
“We don’t believe in nationalizing or a state monopoly in education,” the Harvard University-trained economist and billionaire investor said in a speech in Santiago last night. Student leaders have been pushing for tuition-free schooling and banning profits in the industry.
September 1, 2011
Lecturers and Students Protest Higher Education Reform Plans
Thousands of lecturers and students protested on the streets of several of Colombia’s major cities in early September to reject a proposal by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos to reform higher education.
In the capital Bogota, some 7,000 protesters took to the streets, while in Medellin some 1,000 teachers and students were protesting. The government proposed reforms to Law 30, stating that they would increase financial resources for universities to open spaces for additional students, improve the salaries of professors and be more competitive in research.
But National University professor and member of the Association of the Union of University Professors, Juan Sanchez, told Colombia Reports that passing the reforms would hurt the quality of higher education.
“There are many consequences. For one, the drop-out rate will increase. Job security for professors will be more precarious. Private companies will have little incentive to promote research in universities. And lastly, students will have to pay for many services and the cost of education will be prohibitively high,” said the scholar.
Following previous resistance, the government recently announced the retraction of the for-profit component of the reforms, but students remain outraged at the “attack” on public education.
– Colombia Reports
September 7, 2011
US Costliest Destination for International Students
A study on fees charged to overseas students has found that the United States is the most expensive of 10 nations surveyed, followed by Australia and the United Kingdom.
The study was conducted by consultancy firm i-graduate for the UK HE International and Europe Unit (IEU). It examined fees for undergraduate, graduate taught and graduate research programs at universities in 10 key international student destinations, taking a sampling of four subject areas at four to six institutions in each country.
The United States had the highest fees, with programs costing more at New York University (£24,758 (US$39,612) a year for undergraduate history) and at the University of Southern California (£24,945 – US$ 39,912) than at Harvard University (£21,604 – $34,560).
Fees at Australian universities were higher than those in the United Kingdom, even at institutions ranked lower than their UK counterparts, says the report, International Pricing Study: A Snapshot of UK and Key Competitor Country International Student Fees. Overseas fees for an undergraduate history degree at the University of Sydney were £16,474 (US$26,358) a year, while at the University of Oxford, an equivalent program cost £12,700 (US$20,320).
Fees were lowest in Germany, starting at £509 ($814) a year for undergraduate study at the University of Frankfurt. Germany and the Netherlands were the only nations surveyed that offer public subsidies for overseas students’ tuition fees.
– Times Higher Education
August 4, 2011
Business Schools Increasingly Accepting GRE for Admissions
An increasing number of business schools are accepting the GRE test, traditionally used by graduate-school applicants in the social sciences and humanities, as those schools aim to attract less traditional applicants.
Since April, more than 100 business schools have said they will accept applications with GRE—Graduate Record Examination—scores. In the past, business schools have only accepted the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, which looks more at reading comprehension and reasoning. The GRE has a stronger focus on vocabulary and straightforward quantitative skills.
Top business schools started accepting GRE scores in 2006, led by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Today more than 600 business schools worldwide accept GRE scores in addition to the GMAT. It is a small but growing share of the approximately 13,000 business degree-granting institutions worldwide.
– Wall Street Journal
August 4, 2011
College Pathways Programs Build a Bridge for Foreign Students
Pathway programs are a relatively new educational concept, combining intensive language instruction and extensive support services with a typical first-year curriculum for international students who meet the university’s academic standards but struggle with English proficiency. These new preparatory programs attracted controversy when North American universities began offering them several years ago, largely because of the involvement of for-profit companies in developing and running many of the courses.
But now the programs, which number at least 15 in the United States and Canada, are beginning to earn some respect because of their academic outcomes: Although results are preliminary, initial pathways graduates—who typically move into the second year of university study after completing a year of coursework—have performed on par with, or better than, domestic and foreign students who earned direct admission.
Officials at Oregon State University, which runs its program with a British company, Into University Partnerships, say they are more than pleased with the outcomes of their pathways students. The first group to matriculate into the university last fall earned higher grades that semester, with an average of 2.78, than American or other international sophomores did.
Detractors of such programs tend to be troubled by the involvement of for-profit companies in what they see as core educational functions, pointing to a tendency to perhaps dumb down the curricula. Those in favor concede that they are difficult to get right: They work only for students with moderate English deficiencies, not severe deficits. They are complex to set up and run. And they require collaboration between academic departments and English-language specialists and, often, between universities and the private sector.
Done well, however, the programs can attract a whole new crop of fee-paying international students without diluting academic quality, advocates say.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 7, 2011
Offers of Graduate Admissions to International Students Increase Sharply
According to the findings of a recently released survey by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), offers of admission from U.S. graduate schools to prospective international students increased 11 percent from 2010 to 2011. The gain is the largest increase in offers of admission since 2006.
The growth was fueled largely by a 23 percent increase in offers of admission to prospective students from China. The 23 percent increase is the sixth consecutive year of double digit gains in offers of admission. There was also a 16 percent increase in offers of admission to students from the Middle East and Turkey, and an 8 percent increase in offers of admission to students from India, the first gain since 2007. Offers of admission to Indian students fell 5 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2009. The admissions report follows on the heels of news that student-visa applications from India were up 20 percent in the 2011 fiscal year compared to 2010, according to figures from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
The report, which is based on responses to a survey sent to 494 universities, also revised upward the growth in overseas applications from initial figures released earlier this year, from 9 percent to 11 percent.
– Council of Graduate Schools
August 16, 2011
State University New York Gets Ready to Recruit
The State University of New York (SUNY) system is launching an initiative this fall to recruit and enroll 14,000 additional international students over the next five years through the use of more than 50 private recruiting companies.
School administrators say the plan will not only generate much-needed revenue, but also boost registration in science, math and engineering programs, which enroll relatively few American students.
During New York State’s ongoing budget crisis, SUNY has undergone several rounds of cutbacks, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. To replace that once-reliable source of money, administrations see overseas students as an integral part of a financial solution, although they have been quick to point out that they recruit largely into programs that have capacity to absorb additional students.
“The unfortunate reality is that Americans are not enrolling in anywhere near large enough numbers in our STEM fields, [which are] science, technology, engineering and math fields. We need those international students to keep those programs running and healthy,” says Mitch Leventhall, SUNY vice chancellor for global affairs. “What we don’t want to do is recruit international students in areas where we’re going to displace American kids and New York kids. So we’ll recruit where we have capacity to absorb additional students.”
– NPR (WNED)
September 2, 2011