WENR, January 2012: Americas


Private Universities Proliferate in Central America

In the last 30 years, the number of private universities across Central America has grown from next to none to more than 150, and each year more institutions establish themselves, while foreign universities such as Ave Maria [1], Florida State University [2], Columbus University [3] and IPADE Business School [4] have opened branches in Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica.

In this rapidly growing space, regulation – or lack thereof – has become a major concern. Online degrees have multiplied, while institutions have been starting up programs at such a rapid rate that some complain a university degree has become meaningless.

“There is no comprehensive regulatory system,” said Jaime Chahin, dean of the College of Applied Arts at Texas State University [5] and an analyst of higher education systems in Latin America. “The number of private universities has grown very quickly and governments have not been able to keep pace to ensure there are appropriate controls.”

Some countries have established regulatory bodies such as SINAES [6] (National Accreditation System for Higher Education) in Costa Rica, the Higher Education Accreditation Commission [7] in El Salvador, the Council of Private Higher Education in Guatemala [8] and CNAE (National Assessment and Accreditation Council of the National Education System) in Nicaragua, among others.

Yet these entities lack the weight to protect students from sub-par teaching or degrees that become insignificant when the universities close down, Chahin said. The counter argument is that private universities have opened tertiary access to tens of thousands of students who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to pursue a university degree. Between 1994 and 2003, the number of students enrolled in higher education in Latin America grew from seven million to 13 million, according to the International Institute for UNESCO for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean [9] (IESALC).

University World News [10]
November 13, 2011

Student Migration Patterns Trend Regional as More Countries Vie for a Slice of the Recruiting Pie

An increasing number of students who go abroad to study will stay within their own region, according to a new study of international student recruitment and mobility. This regional trend to the international-student market is likely to strengthen if more of the top destination countries make it tougher for foreign graduates to stay after their studies, says the study by Dutch researchers Rosa Becker and Renze Kolster.

In their survey of 11 host countries, they note that Australia, the United Kingdom and France have tightened visa and immigration rules. They say competition for students has become both more international and more regional, with a growing number of countries competing for students from the same group of countries. The researchers noted that, “the division between recruiting and target recruitment countries is blurring since several countries are key recruitment countries for other nations, while they are also actively recruiting international students themselves.”

They attribute the trend to improved higher education in regions once short of opportunities as well as work towards Bologna-like higher education areas, including in Asia and Africa. They also note that if more countries restrict immigration opportunities for students, they may choose to study in another country within their own region where there are regional agreements facilitating mobility.

The study [11] is published by Nuffic — the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education.

Nuffic [11]
January 2012


650 Brazilian Undergraduate Scholarship Students Begin Studies at U.S. Colleges and Universities

Beginning in January, approximately 650 Brazilian undergraduates arrived in the United States to study at U.S. campuses with funding from the Brazilian Government’s Science Without Borders Program [12]. The students will study for two semesters at one of more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities across the United States, and will take part in a summer internship.

An additional 1,500 students are scheduled to arrive later this year for programs beginning in the summer or fall of 2012, including pre-academic training during the summer. The number of U.S. institutions hosting these students is expected to increase with the arrival of the next cohort of students.

The Science Without Borders Program, announced in August 2011, provides scholarships to undergraduate students from Brazil for one year of study at colleges and universities in the United States. Scholarships are being given primarily to students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Students in the program will return to Brazil to complete their degrees. The scholarship program, administered by the Institute of International Education [13], is part of the Brazilian government’s larger initiative to grant 100,000 scholarships for the best students from Brazil to study abroad at the world’s best universities.

Institute for International Education News Release [14]
January 13, 2012


University to Open 2 Offices in India

The University of British Columbia [15] is opening two offices in India as part of its efforts to gain a foothold in one of the world’s most rapidly growing higher education markets. The initiative was announced in November in Bangalore by Premier Christy Clark, who was leading a British Columbia government trade mission to India.

“The opening of the UBC India office will showcase educational opportunities available in British Columbia as well as support future partnerships and academic exchanges,” Clark said in a statement. “International education is an important part of B.C.’s job plan.”

During a Canadian visit in the summer of 2010, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agreement to broaden ties in higher education. To follow up on this, a delegation of 15 university presidents from Canada visited India last November, among them UBC president Stephen Toope. That visit crystallized the need for an on-the-ground presence, said Helen Penant, executive director, international at UBC.

The two offices in India – one in New Delhi, in partnership with the University of Toronto [16], and another in Bangalore led by the Sauder School of Business [17] – will work to link UBC with Indian higher-education and research institutions, industry, businesses, NGOs, and government.

Vancouver Sun [18]
November 15, 2011


Six-Month Occupation of Universidade de Chile Ends with Little to Show

Chile’s students spent eight months last year protesting against the underfunding of public education and the resulting proliferation of sometimes sub-standard private tertiary education. Symbolically, the movement appears to have been wound down with the ending of a six-month occupation of the Universidade de Chile [19] in late December, with many students returning to classes for fear of losing government loans.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that Chile’s universities receive the overwhelming majority of their funding from private sources, while only fifteen percent of investment comes from the government, a figure that has barely moved despite huge increase in enrollments over the last decade. Private universities, largely unregulated, have proliferated to meet demand. Middle-income students are now stretched beyond their means, taking on debt in order to finance their private education, while the high barriers to entry have provided limited choices for the lowest-income students.

Reacting to this, students have been pushing for increased funding of state higher education, subsidized through higher levels of taxation. Ahead of the ratification of the 2012 education budget, Chilean activists went on strike to try and influence the ruling administration’s proposal put before the national Congress. However, on November 28 the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed the 2012 education budget with a supplement bill of US$420 million, less than half of the $1 billion that protesters were looking for. Accompanying the 2012 budget has been a proposed increase in government scholarships for low-income students, mainly in the private sector. However, critics have viewed the expansion of scholarships as a diversion from direct government financing for public institutions and the backing of private options.

The government has threatened to rescind the loans of students attending private universities who have failed to attend their classes, a measure that appears to have tested the resolve of the movement and ended the six-month occupation of the Universidad de Chile in December, the once focal point of the demonstrations.

Achievements that students can point to include a 26 percent increase in higher education spending (even if way below what was being demanded), a drop in interest rates on student loans from six to two percent, and the beginning of discussions on debt refinancing for the loans of 110,000 students. Not the wholesale reform they were looking for, but something.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs [20]
January 12, 2012


26 Universities Face Possible Closure

Ecuador’s Board of Assessment, Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education [21] (Ceaaces) stated recently that it would be reassessing 26 universities that received the lowest possible rating from the oversight body in its December 2009 evaluation.

In its assessment two years ago, Ceaaces evaluated Ecuador’s 68 universities, 11 of which were graded A, nine B, 13 C, nine D and 26 E. Ceaaces president Guillaume Long said that teams of assessors will visit the 26 universities in category E in January to see if necessary improvements have been made. Institutions that fail again to pass the assessment visits will be suspended. Results will be issued in April.

Prensa Latina [22]
January 4, 2012


US Universities and Foundations Working to Help Rebuild Haitian Higher Education

The university sector was particularly hard hit by the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti two years ago. This was mainly due to a large concentration of institutions in the capital Port au Prince near the epicenter of the earthquake where it is estimated 85 percent of institutions were located.

University World News reports that the sector has benefited from international efforts that have revamped buildings and helped reconstruct curricula. However, there are some serious quality issues that need to be addressed. According to UNESCO figures, Haiti is home to 200 higher education institutions, with an estimated 200,000 enrolled students. Yet the country’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training only accredits 50 of these as reputable institutions. Other reports point to serious curricular, infrastructure and manpower problems.

Despite these difficulties, in the last year American universities have been leading efforts to help rebuild and reform tertiary education. Through funding provided by the donor agency USAID, Virginia Tech [23] is working with L’Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti [24] (ESIH) in Port-au-Prince to develop a computer science education program, with funding for five ESIH students to travel to Virginia for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Other USAID-funded initiatives include a partnership between the University of Florida [25] and the State University of Haiti’s agriculture and veterinary faculty, where the American university is helping its Haitian partner develop its agribusiness program. Meanwhile, City University of New York [26] (CUNY) is assisting in creating a network consolidating three of the country’s public universities: the Public University of South Cayes, Public University of North Cap-Haitien and Public University of Gonaïves in Artibonite. Critically, all three are outside the capital. In addition, CUNY has established a 2011-12 academic year fellowship program, giving six Haitian students from each of these regional universities a $500 stipend.

Meanwhile, the University of the People [27], which is supported by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), has launched a campaign to provide Haitian students with free online tertiary programs. In September 2010, the University of the People and CGI launched a three-year initiative to provide 250 Haitian undergraduate students with resources to complete their degrees in either business administration or computer science.

University World News [28]
January 15, 2012

United States of America

State Department to Expedite Student Visas

In an effort to attract foreign students to study in the United States, the U.S. Department of State recently highlighted efforts to draw future leaders from abroad to attend American colleges, explaining that it will begin to expedite student visas and that the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs will give student visa appointments special priority.

Despite some concerns, all U.S. embassies and consulates will process foreign student visa applications within 15 days “to ensure qualified students are able to begin their academic program on time. Worldwide, the maximum wait for a student visa appointment is fewer than 15 days. Foreign students can apply for their visas up to 120 days before their academic programs begin. We always encourage all visa applicants to apply early,” DoS explained.

Department of State [29]
November 14, 2011

Certification Body for Student-Recruiting Agents Tightens Standards

The Board of Directors of the American International Recruitment Council [30] (AIRC) has approved what it describes as stricter compliance standards for the overseas recruitment agencies that it certifies.

According to AIRC officials, the changes include requiring agents to be more transparent about subcontractors who work for them and forbidding them to take commissions from scholarships or financial aid awarded to their clients. The revised standards are effective immediately for any new applicants for certification. However, they will not be applied to currently certified agents who may continue to operate under the old standards. AIRC says they will be encouraged to be in compliance with the new rules.

The three-year-old AIRC has implemented these certification changes as part of its first-ever standards review. The organization sets ethical guidelines for paid recruiting agents and certifies those that meet their auditing standards (42 currently). The group is also asking its members—which include overseas recruiters and the U.S. colleges that use their services—to comment on a new, formal process for filing complaints about certified agencies that violate its standards.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [31]
January 5, 2012

Number of Research Doctorates Awarded by U.S. Institutions Declines in 2010

U.S. academic institutions awarded 48,069 research doctorates in 2010, down almost 1,500 from the 49,554 awarded in 2009 and the first decline in doctorates awarded since 2002. However, much of the decline is attributable to the recent reclassification of many Doctor of Education (EdD) degree programs from the research doctorate to the professional doctorate category, and consequently the discontinuation of data collection from the reclassified degree programs by the Survey of Earned Doctorates [32] (SED). The total number of doctorates awarded in fields other than education also declined from 2009 to 2010, but by a much smaller amount than the decline in number of education doctorates.

The number of doctorates awarded in science and engineering fields of study dipped slightly from 2009 after seven consecutive years of growth. In total, 33,141 S&E doctorates were awarded in 2010 (68.9 percent of all doctorates), 1 percent fewer than in 2009 but an increase of 27.6 percent since 2000. Computer sciences posted the largest gain (3.5 percent) of all the S&E fields over 2009. Doctorates awarded in engineering fields fell to 7,552 in 2010, a 1.2 percent decrease from 2009 and the second straight year of decline following six consecutive years of growth.

The number of 2010 doctorates awarded in non-S&E fields other than education grew 0.8 percent over the 2009 total, led by a 2.1 percent increase in the number of doctorates in humanities. Even after the EdD reclassification, education remained the largest non-S&E field, reporting 5,294 doctorates awarded in 2010. Over the past decade, doctoral awards in non-S&E fields (other than education) increased 7.5 percent, with health showing the most substantial growth (32.7 percent).

The number of S&E doctorate recipients with temporary visas decreased 7.4 percent from 2009 to 2010, the second consecutive year of decline after several years of growth. Despite the recent downturn, the number of S&E doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders grew 8.4 percent from 2005 to 2010. The proportion of S&E doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders declined from 37.3 percent in 2005 to 34.1 percent in 2010. Temporary visa holders constitute a much smaller share of the doctorate recipients in non-S&E fields, earning 15.6 percent of the non-S&E doctorates awarded in 2010.

National Science Foundation [33]
November 2011

Harvard Business School Sends 900 Students Overseas on Weeklong Projects

Harvard Business School [34] in January sent its entire freshman business class of 900 MBA students to locations around the world in an ambitious weeklong immersion program. Accompanying them were roughly 20 professors and 40 staff members.

A total of 152 six-student teams went to destinations in a dozen cities in 10 countries that range from Argentina and Brazil, to China and India. Once there, they engaged with one of 140 organizations to create a new product or service for a developing market.

The global excursions are part of a new yearlong course for first-year students layered on top of Harvard’s core curriculum of 10 courses. Known as FIELD, the three-part course is designed to cultivate intelligence in leadership, global business, and the integration of business disciplines. Once the student teams returned in mid-January, they met to consolidate and share the learning across the entire class. Then, in February, all the global partners will come to Harvard for a debriefing.

Fortune [35]
December 15, 2011

International Enrollment Growth Strong at U.S. Business Schools

At the top 20 full-time MBA programs in the United States this fall, international enrollments are starting to rebound to levels not seen since the economic downturn hit, according to data collected by Bloomberg Businessweek. Average international enrollment at those schools is now 33.4 percent, up from 30.2 percent at the height of the economic crisis, when visa and financing issues prevented many international applicants from enrolling.

China, one of the top three countries sending graduate students to the United States, is responsible for much of the growth. Total first-time enrollment from China in all graduate programs was up 21 percent this year, its sixth consecutive year of double-digit increases, according to a Council of Graduate Schools report [36].

Nearly 40 percent of two-year, full-time MBA programs in 2011 reported that China was their largest increasing source of foreign applicants, according to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council. [37]

Business Week [38]
December 19, 2011

Cornell, Technion to Build Science Research Campus in New York City

After a lively contest and multiple bids to build an applied-science campus in New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg named Cornell University [39] and its partner, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology [40], as the winning institutions in December.

Mr. Bloomberg said Cornell and Technion had prevailed for three reasons: They had “far and away the boldest and most ambitious” plan for the campus; they had “a tantalizing groundbreaking partnership” that brought “international star power” to the project; and they proposed the most aggressive schedule for opening the campus of any of the candidates.

But, Mr. Bloomberg said, the “competition is not over.” Active discussions between the city and three other finalists—Carnegie Mellon [41], Columbia [42], and New York [43] Universities—continue, and there may be future announcements, he said, toward his goal of furthering New York’s emergence as a “beehive of innovation and discovery.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education [44]
December 19, 2011

California Hottest State in the Nation for Unaccredited Colleges

California has the most unaccredited colleges in the United States, The New York Times has reported, citing experts in the field. Nearly 1,000 unaccredited or “questionably accredited” institutions operate in the state, frequently ignoring state regulations.

“There are a lot of schools that beg the question ‘What exactly is going on in California?’ Eyal Ben Cohen, managing director of Accredibase Limited [45], a company based in London that monitors diploma mills, told the Times.

“California has very weak oversight procedures as far as allowing an institution to operate within its borders. An institution within California can obtain a license very easily.”

New York Times [46]
January 15, 2012