WENR, January/February 2015: Americas


Universities Focus on Internationalization

According to a survey carried out by The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, compared to eight years ago internationalization is considered a “top priority” at 82 percent of Canadian universities, up from 70 percent. Preparing internationally knowledgeable graduates and promoting strategic alliances abroad remain the top motivators for internationalization but reputation and revenue have also become key factors driving development, according to the report, Canada’s Universities in the World.

Nine out of 10 institutions said that the pace of internationalization on their campuses has accelerated during the past three years, while 96 percent said they ensure internationalization is integrated into strategic plans. Universities remain heavily focused on international undergraduate recruitment, named as a priority by 70 percent of institutions, but recruitment plans are becoming more strategic. Fewer universities have a target number of international undergraduate students for recruitment than eight years ago (42 percent from 60 percent), but just over three-quarters of institutions identified geographical priorities for recruiting degree-seeking international students.

Four out of five universities surveyed offer some kind of international program with international partners. Dual or double degree programs in particular have boomed and are now offered by 78 percent of institutions, up from 48 percent in 2006. However, there remains a huge discrepancy between inbound and outbound movement. Just 3 percent of full time undergraduates (about 25,000 students) studied abroad in 2012-13. This is despite 97 percent of Canadian universities offering some variety of international experience.

The PIE News [1]
December 11, 2014

Province of Saskatchewan Markets Abroad for Students

Saskatchewan has launched a new international education strategy that aims to increase the number of tertiary-level international students in the province by 75 percent over the next five years, in a bid to bring in qualified labor and build international trade relationships.

The Post-Secondary International Education Strategy [2] also includes plans to increase outgoing student numbers by 50 percent and foster more global research collaborations.

In order to attract an annual 6,200 foreign students, the provincial government is developing a marketing strategy to promote Saskatchewan as a study destination. It will also clarify the provincial and federal immigration pathways for international students to live and work in Saskatchewan. A new International Future Scholarship will help to boost outgoing numbers. In its first year, the annual scholarship will send up to 20 students abroad for business-focused studies in priority markets.

The PIE News [3]
January 8, 2015


Education Reforms Approved, a New Round Announced

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said in late January that her government was preparing the second phase of an ambitious education reform, hours after Congress approved the first set of changes.

After eight months of intense debate, the Lower House late on Monday approved the first part of the multi-pronged reform, which includes an end to profits at state-subsidized schools and eliminates their selective entrance policies. Bachelet also championed a recently approved tax overhaul that will increase state revenue by US$8.3 billion and help pay for the education changes.

The government will now look to bolster teacher pay and conditions, bring public schools, now managed and financed by townships, under national jurisdiction, and make university education free, Bachelet said. Beyond that, details on the next phase of the reform are scarce.

Months of massive student protests, demanding major changes to an education system that was privatized under then-dictator General Augusto Pinochet, helped shape the 2013 electoral campaign and propel Bachelet into power.

Reuters [4]
January 27, 2015


Restoration of U.S-Cuba Ties Good for International Education

President Barack Obama’s surprise December announcement [5] that he wants to restore economic and diplomatic ties with Cuba is a boon to international education, reports University World News.

Following a live televised speech from the White House, it now appears that the administration will issue new regulations to end all restrictions on educational programs to Cuba from the U.S. that do not bear academic credit. The move expands upon a 2011 policy that allowed study abroad organizations to apply for specific licenses to sponsor programs in Cuba as well as granting accredited American universities authority to sponsor credit-bearing study abroad programs in the country on a General License, without having to apply for a Specific License.

Academic exchanges with Cuba were never banned outright by the U.S., but the federal government can regulate the transfer of assets – including money spent on travel – to countries it designates as hostile. General tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited, but travel for academic purposes is one of 12 categories authorized by the government.

In 2004 then-president George W Bush tightened rules by allowing only longer-term programs in Cuba. The number of participants plummeted to 169, from 2,148 the previous year, according to IIE data. Enrollments in credit-bearing programs climbed slowly over the next several years, then soared nearly 300 percent, to 1,454 in one year after Obama lifted the Bush administration restrictions. In 2012-13, the latest year for which IIE data are available, 1,633 U.S. students earned college credits in Cuba.

Victor C. Johnson, Senior Adviser for Public Policy at NAFSA [6]: Association of International Educators said the president’s first announcement made it possible for Americans to study in Cuba again but the second one was “by far the most profound.”

University World News [7]
January 21, 2015

United States

University of Illinois Top Among Chinese Students

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) enrolls the highest number of Chinese students of any campus in the United States, with close to 5,000 on campus in the current academic year. Nationally, the number of Chinese students in the U.S. has risen fivefold since 2000 [8], driven largely by growth at the undergraduate level. At UIUC the number of undergraduates has risen from 37 to 2,898 over the same timeframe. The 4,898 Chinese students make up the largest group of international students on Illinois’s campus, followed distantly by students from South Korea (1,268 this fall) and India (1,167).

Illinois hasn’t had to take some of the shortcuts to increasing its international student enrollment that many other, less well-known universities have. Officials at UIUC say they do not work with commissioned recruiting agents. They do not offer conditional admission or pathway programs for students whose English skills don’t qualify them for direct admission. Simply, more Chinese students are applying with very little direct recruiting efforts, according to university officials interviewed for a lengthy article in Inside Higher Ed. Another big draw is UIUC’s high placement in the Shanghai Jiao Tong global university ranking (28th), especially its engineering program which is rated fourth best in the world.

The article discusses the academic and social implications of this huge student-body shift, noting the resources and programs that the university has had to put in place to accommodate Chinese students to give them the best opportunity possible to succeed and integrate into the campus community. The article also delves into implications for domestic students, noting:

“As the proportion of international students at Illinois has increased, the proportion of state residents has decreased: in this year’s freshman class, 71.7 percent of students are from Illinois, compared to 89 percent in 2006. In absolute numbers, there are 1,411 fewer Illinois freshmen on campus now than then.”

Inside Higher Ed [9]
January 7, 2015

Obama’s College Rating Plan Unveiled

The U.S. Department of Education released a much-anticipated outline of its college ratings system [10] in December. One fairly firm conclusion, said Ted Mitchell, undersecretary of education, is that the department will assign each college one of three ratings, with the great majority of schools falling into the middle category, between high-performing and low-performing.

“We want to avoid the false precision that we believe plagues lots of ratings,” he said. “We think the top and the bottom will be relatively small categories.”

Colleges have voiced concerns about comparing schools with radically different profiles – a college that draws top-notch students and specializes in computer programming will fare much better on income measures than an open-admissions school that turns out mostly social workers. The department said it is trying to develop a way to adjust ratings for such differences, but does not yet know what that adjustment will look like.

One key measure of performance, the graduation rate, has been among the most problematic, because the federal system that tracks it excludes part-time and transfer students. A new measure that includes those groups is scheduled to go into effect in 2017.

The department will solicit public input on the framework during the next couple of months with a comment deadline of mid-February, several sources said.

The New York Times [11]
December 19, 2014

College Enrollments Drop More than 1 Percent for 3rd Year in a Row

College enrollments in the U.S. dropped by 1.3 percent this fall after slipping 1.5 percent last fall and 1.8 percent in the fall of 2012.

The findings of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s report, “Postsecondary Student Enrollments Continue Decline,” [12] found that for the public sector overall, the decline was 1.5 percent, with two-year colleges down 3.4 percent and four-year colleges up 0.4 percent. The for-profit sector fared much better than in previous years, with enrollments down by just 0.4 percent in the fall of 2014. That compares with the previous year’s decline of 9.7 percent.

The biggest drops were among students older than 24. Their numbers were down by 2.8 percent this fall. Colleges are still struggling to maintain enrollments as the number of 18- to 24-year-olds continues to decline in many parts of the country and a slowly recovering economy provides jobs for more people.

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center [12]
December 2014

Poor Performance and Violations of Academic Integrity Main Reasons for Dismissals among Chinese Students

Pressure to enter top-ranked universities often sets Chinese students up for failure and eventual dismissal as they struggle with social integration, cultural differences and new academic standards, a white paper released by education services provider WholeRen Education [13] argues.

The paper reveals that most students are dismissed from programs because of low GPAs and violating academic integrity. It has called for more guidance for Chinese students enrolled at all levels of education in the U.S.

Among a sample of some 500 dismissed students (62 percent male), WholeRen found that 71 percent were attending a top 100 ranked U.S. university and more than half were studying science or economics related degrees. When a student is dismissed they can transfer to another institution giving them another opportunity to obtain a U.S. degree. However, many return to China and face social discrimination and complications to enter the domestic system based on gaokao entrance exam scores which they may not have.

Among undergraduates, 39 percent were dismissed due to low GPAs. Academic dishonesty (12 percent) and low attendance (5 percent) were the other top reasons for dismissals among undergraduates while GPA accounted for 15 percent of dismissals among graduate students and academic dishonesty 6 percent.

The PIE News [14]
January 12, 2015

15 California Community Colleges to Offer 4-Year Degrees

The chancellor of California’s community-college system has identified 15 colleges that he wants to pilot a program introducing four-year degrees to the community college sector for the first time in California. Legislation enacted last year established a seven-year pilot program that will include specialized, four-year degree programs at the following institutions, if Brice W. Harris’s proposal receives final approval from the system’s Board of Governors in March:

Antelope Valley College
Bakersfield College
Crafton Hills College
Cypress College
Feather River College
Foothill College
Mesa College
Mira Costa College
Modesto Junior College
Rio Hondo College
Santa Ana College
Santa Monica College
Shasta College
Skyline College
West Los Angeles College

Advocates of creating a handful of four-year degree programs said it would help meet work-force demands, while opponents worried that community colleges’ distinct missions could be lost in the process.

Associated Press [15]
January 20, 2015

A Global Multi-University Campus in Berkeley, California

The University of California at Berkeley plans to open a global campus with partner universities from around the world. The Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay, [16] just 10 miles from Berkeley’s main campus, will offer a “global citizenship” curriculum—with a focus on topics like governance, ethics, health, and sustainability—for graduate students from the United States and abroad, according to campus officials.

Nils Gilman, an associate chancellor at Berkeley, said officials were “quite far down the road” in talks with several potential partner universities in Europe and Asia. Those universities had been chosen, by and large, because of previous collaborations with Berkeley and its faculty, he said. The university would not name any of those institutions, but said initially that it was looking to work with a group of fewer than half a dozen foreign universities that will be “anchor partners.” Nicholas B. Dirks, Berkeley’s chancellor, said he hoped to announce the initial partner universities this year. After that, and once enough money is raised, the university will break ground on the global campus, where Berkeley already maintains some research facilities.

The campus’s main goal, according to officials, is to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to global problems like climate change, income inequality, epidemic diseases, and the need for new forms of sustainable energy. It’s not yet certain how degrees would be administered. At first, Mr. Gilman said, students will probably earn dual degrees from Berkeley and a partner university. Eventually, they might receive stand-alone degrees from the Berkeley Global Campus.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [17]
January 22, 2015