WENR, September 2014: Americas
For-Profit Colleges Find Warm Welcome
The New York Times reports that for-profit colleges are finding a warm welcome in Brazil as the government tries to meet the demand for affordable higher education. From 2002 to 2012, the number of students attending college in Brazil doubled to seven million. Still, with only 17 percent of Brazilians aged 18 to 24 in college, there is a gap that needs to be served, according to the NYT, with the government pledging to raise that percentage to 33 percent by 2020.
To serve that lucrative and growing market, American and Brazilian private equity funds, corporations and investment banks are buying and merging educational institutions at a rapid pace. Education experts caution that the emphasis on the business aspect of education does not always put students first. Despite such concerns, the for-profit system has proved appealing for a government with limited resources.
Brazil’s public universities are still considered the country’s best for their prestige and quality of research. And tuition is free at public universities. But its students come disproportionally from the country’s upper class, and generous research budgets and unionized work forces make the cost per student three and a half times as much as at private colleges.
Over the last five years, mergers and acquisitions have made some of the biggest chains bigger, concentrating power in giant for-profit groups. The 10 largest chains of colleges in Brazil now educate nearly 35 percent of the country’s students. Brazil’s two largest chains of higher education institutions — Kroton Educacional and Anhanguera Educacional — received approval from antitrust authorities in May for a merger. Both companies trade on the São Paulo stock exchange, and the merger will create the world’s largest publicly traded for-profit higher education company, worth more than US$8 billion.
In 2004, then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began a program called Prouni, which offers scholarships for low-income students to attend private colleges. Since taking office in 2011, President Dilma Rousseff has expanded the program and more than quadrupled the budget for subsidized student loans under a program called Fies. About 5.3 million of Brazil’s seven million college students were in private institutions in 2013. Some 31 percent of them received aid from Prouni scholarships or Fies student loans or both.
— The New York Times
June 19, 2014
Another 100,000 International Scholarships Announced
The Brazilian government announced in July a second round of funding for the Ciência sem Fronteiras program that will offer a further 100,000 international scholarship opportunities. The new phase of funding was announced by President Dilma Rousseff, who reiterated the objective of the program: to focus on the training of students at all levels of undergraduate, graduate and research abroad on a scale compatible with the challenges of the country.
“This program was created to guarantee conditions to generate new innovation here, to generate interests in the sciences and through the application of technology in all areas. In industry, in agriculture and above all, to enable research in the basic sciences. With this we are opening new frontiers. We are opening horizons for our young people. Because of this, we are initiating a new phase of the Ciência sem Fronteiras scholarship program,” the president explained.
Dilma commented that Ciência sem Fronteiras has granted 83,200 scholarships abroad thus far, and highlighted that with the anticipated awards to students this coming September, the government will reach the goal of 101,000 scholarships. By comparison, the president said that before the creation of the program, there were only 5,000 scholars outside Brazil.
July 18, 2014
Language Sector Sees Big Drop in International Enrollments
Recent figures from Languages Canada show student numbers have dropped 9.3 percent in the language sector, representing its biggest decrease since the 2003 SARS outbreak. Last year’s Foreign Service Officer strike and new regulations to the country’s International Student Program are being blamed.
According to the second annual Languages Canada member survey, the fall represents a decrease of overall student numbers for Canada from 142,931 in 2012 to 129,704 in 2013. British Columbia, a province representing 40 percent of the country’s ELT sector was the second hardest hit with a 12.7 percent drop in students.
During last summer’s six-month PAFSO strike, educators were confident that the government’s swift action to prioritize education related visas would minimize the impact on the industry. However, because trade commissioners were also on strike, there has been a lag in the situation’s true damage.
The language industry has also been caught up in Canada’s tricky multi-jurisdictional political landscape. New legislation under the International Student Program came into effect June 1 requiring all provinces to submit lists of approved education providers allowed to issue International Student Permits to the federal government. Language providers were included on every province’s list except for Quebec– affecting around 16 institutions. And in British Columbia, Languages Canada is working to ensure that they are allowed to operate after 2015’s deadline for all providers to be EQA approved. The June 1 policy also made the language sector exempt from the popular work-study co-op programs.
— The PIE News
June 30, 2014
Foreign Credential Recognition Streamlined in 10 More High-Demand Professions
The Government of Canada announced in July that, in partnership with the provinces and territories, it will improve foreign credential recognition for 10 additional priority occupations including the skilled trades and healthcare.
The 10 new priority occupations are: geoscientists, carpenters, electricians, heavy duty equipment technicians, heavy equipment operators, welders, audiologists and speech language pathologists, midwives, psychologists, and lawyers.
These occupations are part of a national framework that aims to streamline foreign credential recognition for priority occupations. For priority occupations, service standards are established so that internationally trained professionals can have their qualifications assessed within one year, anywhere in Canada.
Under the Framework, high-skilled newcomers in 14 priority occupations, including some 2,000 pharmacists, 1,200 dentists and 5,600 engineers, are already benefitting from improvements to foreign credential recognition. The Government also launched the Federal Skilled Trades Program to facilitate the immigration of skilled tradespeople to Canada and to help address serious skills shortages in the construction industry. Applicants are selected according to criteria that put more emphasis on practical training and work experience. Altogether, there are 90 occupations currently eligible for processing under this program.
— Employment and Social Development Canada
July 18, 2014
Minister: Lack of Immigration Reforms in U.S. Benefits Canada
Stalled immigration reforms in the United States are an opportunity for Canada to recruit top talent from abroad, Canada’s federal employment minister said in August. Minister Jason Kenney endorsed his government’s efforts to entice educated immigrants to Canada as a direct counter to American policy obstacles to gaining employment or residency there after graduation.
“We’re seeking very deliberately to benefit from the dysfunctional American immigration system. I make no bones about it,” Kenney told reporters at a West Vancouver news conference, where he was announcing funding to help skilled newcomers get certified to work in Canada. He said Canada will promote “very aggressively” the opportunities it provides, including its budding Start-up Visa program and a new Express Entry visa system set to launch in early 2015.
The start-up program offers a fast track to permanent residency for entrepreneurs wanting to launch companies but finding themselves blocked from obtaining green cards in the U.S. Through Express Entry, foreign nationals who meet the criteria for one of the federal immigration programs (the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program) will be placed into a pool, from which employers will be able to consider candidates who meet their needs when they cannot find a Canadian or permanent resident for the job.
Kenney’s enthusiasm to continue the drive for global talent he initiated while immigration minister came as he made another in a series of announcements aimed at improving recognition of foreign credentials, including a C$3.3 million funding package for the British Columbia government, aimed at matching more skilled immigrants with work.
August 7, 2014
Canadian High Schools Ease Admissions Standards in Bid to Recruit More International Students
Canadian school boards and universities are relaxing admission criteria for international students, a measure aimed at bringing in much-needed new revenue. Unlike the U.S., where international students are allowed to study at a public school for only one year as an exchange student, Canada’s public schools welcome foreign students who are willing to pay their way. Recently, the country has seen a large influx from mainland China.
The Toronto District School Board says it is negotiating a partnership with the University of Toronto that would include waiving the required English proficiency exam for foreign students who have completed two years of high school at the Toronto board. Meanwhile, the Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ont., has partnered with Queens University, which pays a portion of the board’s recruiting costs, and the first year of the partnered program begins this fall. Students studying at one of the board’s schools receive conditional acceptance into Queens’ faculty of arts and science at the beginning of Grade 12. As part of the partnership, Queens reduced its required score for language proficiency.
Over the past decade, the number of foreign students in Canadian secondary schools has increased by 30 percent as boards seek revenue to make up for budget shortfalls caused by declining enrollment. In 2012 alone, 23,745 new foreign students attended high school in Canada, most from China, Korea, Mexico, Germany and Brazil. Over half, or 12,100, are estimated to be from China.
— The Globe and Mail
August 12, 2014
Higher Ed Relations With U.S. Continue to Grow
Last January, Miami-Dade College, one of the nation’s largest institutions of higher education with approximately 170,000 students spread across seven campuses, accepted 15 foreign exchange students from Cuba for a semester of study, marking the first time in more than 50 years that the Cuban government had permitted students to come to the United States to study.
International students from Cuba are already studying at American colleges in small but slowly rising numbers. According to Open Doors data supplied by the Institute of International Education, 76 students from Cuba were enrolled in U.S. universities during the 2012-13 school year, up from 57 the previous year.
However, there are barriers to making programs like this happen, both financial and political. Most Cubans can’t afford the thousands of dollars to study at an American college. Moreover, many U.S. politicians still have tough attitudes about a communist regime that’s been running the Caribbean nation for 55 years. The state of Florida, for example, has a law that forbids public colleges from using state funds for Cuban-related programs or exchanges.
Most foreign exchange students pay their own way or get scholarships to come to the U.S. to study. The students’ tuition, travel and boarding expenses were paid for by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, which received a grant from a U.S. agency.
The exchange program at Miami-Dade College has attracted the attention of other colleges. The Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, says it has been exploring the possibility of having a similar program at FIU, hoping to bring 15 to 20 students from Cuba.
Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies and a professor of history at the University of Miami, told Diverse Education that, for the program to have significant impact, it has to get bigger. But he says he’s not holding his breath.
“The Cuban government is not going to allow it on a large scale,” says Suchlicki, who left Cuba as a 19-year-old college student in 1960 and has not been back. “They are very concerned about penetrating influence. They are not going to allow it to happen on a large scale. There’s a reason why they’ve been in power for (55) years.”
— Diverse Education
July 2, 2014
A Commitment to Research and Development
President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office in December 2012, has vowed to raise spending on research and development to 1 percent of gross domestic product by 2018, up from the current 0.48 percent. That level would bring Mexico’s economy in line with those of similar size, like Brazil’s.
What’s more, over the past two years, the annual budget for Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology has increased 32 percent, to $2.4 billion, according to government figures. The council, known as Conacyt, oversees most government research grants, undergraduate and graduate scholarships, and other science-and-technology programs.
The increased funding is part of a broader government strategy to strengthen graduate programs and promote student exchange. Conacyt has budgeted for an additional 27,000 scholarships for students to study in Mexico and abroad. This number is in addition to the existing 58,000 scholarships, according to the agency.
It’s against that backdrop that Mexico is working to increase higher-education collaboration with the United States, building on the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which aims to send 100,000 U.S. students to study in Latin American and Caribbean countries by 2020, and to attract an equal number of students from there to study in the United States. Mexico has responded with its own initiative, Proyecta 100,000, which aspires to send 100,000 Mexican students to the United States and to attract 50,000 U.S. students to Mexico by 2018.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 13, 2014
New Higher Education Law to Enforce Quality Standards
Peru’s new, and controversial, university law of July 8, seeks to significantly improve quality standards within the sector. Promoters of the law agree that a major reform is required – one that improves the quality of university education, regulates and supervises the sector, and stops the proliferation of private universities that seek profit to the detriment of quality. Those that oppose say it ‘nationalizes’ public and private universities, violates the autonomy of higher education, discourages private investment in the sector and threatens job security.
The creation of a Superintendency of Higher Education under the new law has caused the greatest commotion. The superintendency will, among other things, authorize the creation of new universities, promote the quality of education, impose sanctions and control the use of public resources. It will replace the National Association of Rectors (ANR), an autonomous public body made up of the rectors of public and private universities. Unsurprisingly, the ANR called the new law an “aberration.”
Peru has 139 universities – some 50 are public and 80 private. Of those, 63 are in the process of being accredited. Many of the for-profit universities are considered sham institutions, and colloquially named ‘universidades chicha’ – worthless universities. ‘Chicha’ universities proliferated after a 1996 law aimed at promoting investment in educational services offered tax incentives to for-profit higher education institutions. The new law aims to amend this situation. The 63 universities operating with provisional accreditation will be investigated by the new superintendency of universities as soon as it gets off the ground in the fall. If institutions are found wanting, they will first be fined. The next step is suspension and, if everything else fails, their provisional licenses will be cancelled. Universities that earn accreditation will be licensed for six years, compared to seven at present, renewable for an equal period.
There will also be changes for students. At present, undergraduates who finish their studies are automatically awarded a bachelor’s degree. Now they will need to do a thesis and speak a second language. They will also need to obtain their professional degree from the same university where they did their undergraduate studies.
— University World News
August 7, 2014
Italian University Loses Right to Award Degrees in U.S.
The New Hampshire Higher Education Commission voted unanimously at the end of June to halt the degree-granting authority of a troubled for-profit Italian institution. St. John International University had long been plagued by low enrollments and legal claims of unpaid wages filed by former employees, raising questions about the oversight role of the New Hampshire commission, and, more broadly, the practice of cross-border accreditation or authorization. The New Hampshire commission had issued a May 14 letter to the university asking it to address seven specific points.
“They provided a status report which nominally responded to those seven requests, and today at the commission meeting, we went over each of the seven and the consensus was that they were not responsive and therefore there was not a compelling case to extend their authority to offer degree programs,” said Edward R. MacKay, the director of the New Hampshire Division of Higher Education.
— Inside Higher Ed
July 1, 2014
U.S. High Schools Enrolling Growing Numbers of International Students
A new report from the Center for Academic Mobility Research at the Institute of International Education takes a comprehensive look at global mobility among secondary-school students, finding that more than 73,000 international students were enrolled in American high schools in 2013. Among those, two-thirds were seeking an American diploma on F-1 visas, rather than participating in exchange programs on J-1 visas.
The report, “Charting New Pathways to Higher Education: International Secondary Students in the United States” found that the number of foreign students pursuing an American high-school diploma has more than tripled in the last decade. Because of U.S. visa restrictions on foreign students attending public schools for more than one year, almost all diploma-seeking international students are enrolled in private schools (95 percent), including those with religious affiliations.
Asian countries, including China and South Korea, are the top sources of international high-school students in the United States, making up 57 percent of the total. Students from China and South Korea combined make up 44 percent of all international high school students in the U.S. Students from Asia typically seek to earn a high-school diploma, while those from Europe and South America come for shorter-term exchange programs. Those on full diploma programs are typically doing so in hopes of increasing their chances for admission to U.S. colleges, according to the report.
Top 10 Countries of Origin for International High School Students in the U.S. in 2013
|Country of Origin||Number
|2. South Korea||8,777||12|
The report also includes comparative data on international high school students in Australia, Canada and the UK with the caveat that because of differences in data definitions and methodology the figures may not be directly comparable. In 2013 there were 16,693 international students in Australian high schools, 23,757 in Canadian high schools, and 25,912 in private schools in the U.K.
— Institute of International Education
STEM Graduates Fair Best in Job Market, But Don’t Usually Work in STEM Fields
College graduates with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are more likely to have jobs than graduates with other degrees. But nearly three-quarters of STEM degree holders’ jobs are not science and technology-related, according to a 2012 report from the US Census Bureau.
Nearly half of those who earn engineering, computer science and statistics degrees continue on to jobs in the same fields. But less than 10 percent of physical sciences graduates work in the physical sciences; many are employed as engineers, IT professionals, and life scientists. Approximately 75 percent also work outside of STEM disciplines, in areas such as education, non-STEM management, and healthcare.
“In the broad category of biological, agricultural, and environmental scientists, perhaps one in eight graduates with those majors end up working in any STEM field at all,” noted Science Careers. “Although health care, which isn’t considered a STEM field by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employs a very large chunk of those graduates.”
These data and an interactive visualization of the numbers, drawn from an annual sample size of 3.5 million addresses, can be viewed at the U.S. Census Bureau website.
— The Scientist
July 15, 2014
Clarification on Conditional Admissions from SEVP
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has released draft policy guidance on conditional admissions policies clarifying that international students must meet all admissions standards for a given program – including English language proficiency requirements – in order for the university to issue an I-20, the legal document that students need to apply for visas.
The draft guidance would mean that universities can’t issue I-20s for a degree program in cases in which admission is conditional on successful completion of an English language program, but they can issue two separate I-20s, one for the English language program and one — once a student meets the English language requirements – for the degree program.
— Study in the States
July 11, 2014
Boston, a Magnet for Chinese Students
So many Chinese students and their families are visiting Boston-area schools that Hainan Airlines started direct flights from Beijing to Boston in June and increased the number from four to seven a week in July and August, reports Bloomberg News.
The surge in interest underscores both the prestige of obtaining a degree from Boston-area colleges and the burgeoning affluence of China’s middle class. The number of Chinese students in the metropolitan area almost tripled to 10,913 last year from 3,800 in 2009. That’s faster than growth nationally, which more than doubled, according to the Institute of International Education in New York.
Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Northeastern University and Boston University in Boston, each ranked in the top 25 schools hosting international students in the 2012-2013 academic year, according to the institute.
July 29, 2014
Graduate Offers of Admission to International Students Continue to Rise
Initial admission offers to international students from U.S. graduate schools continue to increase, driven by a surge of interest from India and despite a slight drop in applications from China, according to a new survey on international graduate admissions from the Council of Graduate Schools.
Overall initial admission offers rose by 9 percent, marking the fourth straight year of 9 percent increases, and just 1 percent lower than the growth in international applications. From China, final application numbers declined 1 percent this year while initial offers of admission stayed flat. This marks the first year since 2006 that graduate admission offers to students from China did not increase.
For India, applications and admission offers are up by 33 and 25 percent, respectively. This marks the second straight year of double-digit increases for India. Applications and initial admission offers for students from Brazil also increased dramatically, by 61 and 98 percent, respectively, but from a much smaller base (students from Brazil account for only 1 percent of the total offers of admission to U.S. graduate schools).
In terms of field of study, there were increases in admissions offers in all fields (arts and humanities, up 5 percent; business, up 6 percent; education, up 1 percent; engineering, up 11 percent; life sciences, up 6 percent; physical and earth sciences, up 13 percent; social sciences and psychology, up 6 percent; and “other,” up 7 percent).
— Council of Graduate Schools
California Community Colleges Cleared to Award Bachelor’s Degrees
California’s Legislature approved legislation in August that would allow 15 of the state’s community college districts to issue four-year degrees. Governor Jerry Brown now will consider the bill, which would make California one of more than 20 states that have enacted similar legislation. It would allow the group of two-year colleges to begin offering bachelor’s degrees next year in a limited number of programs that have a high demand in the workforce, including dental hygiene, radiologic technology, health information science and automotive technology.
— Inside Higher Ed
August 22, 2014