WENR, March 2015: Americas
For-Profit Universities Fight Financial Aid Rule Changes
Higher education companies in Brazil are lobbying the government to rescind new rules on financial aid that they fear will stop students enrolling in private programs. A federal decree that was quietly published during the Christmas period tightened the criteria for the Student Financing Fund (FIES), one of the federal government’s two key initiatives to support individuals studying at private institutions. Students may no longer benefit from both FIES funding, which involves low-interest loans, and the Ministry of Education’s University for All (ProUni) scheme, which provides scholarships. The ministry also set a minimum score on Enem, the national high school exam required for many university applications.
The sector was surprised by the changes, which are expected to reduce the number of individuals able to study at for-profit institutions, and they promptly caused a dive in the market value of Brazil’s biggest higher education companies. Among other private higher education companies challenging the rule changes are U.S.-owned providers Laureate and DeVry.
The Ministry of Education has defended the changes, arguing that they were in line with the government’s goal of improving quality. Last year, 2 percent of higher education programs – mainly private – lost their accreditation for failing to meet standards. The 2013 higher education census counted about 300 public universities and colleges, compared with 2,000 private institutions.
– Times Higher Education
February 12, 2015
University Leaders Create Internationalization Guide
University leaders from across Canada have developed a best practice guide to internationalization which they urge education providers at all levels to implement.
The standards were created by the Internationalization Leadership Network organized by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). The seven points call upon institutions to incorporate internationalization in all of their operations from teaching to community service, and to ensure partnerships are mutually beneficial and financial gains do not dictate outward looking agendas.
In addition to providing guidelines for best practices, the principles urge institutions to embed internationalization goals into their mission statements. However, it warns that education providers should have adequate resources before undertaking internationalization activities to ensure that financial benefits don’t drive internationalization objectives.
A year ago Canada released its International Education Strategy (IES) that put increasing international student numbers and their economic impact at the top of the national agenda. One year on, CBIE says the country is well on its way to meeting the IES goal of having 450,000 foreign students by 2022. The IES also changed policy for study permits, allowing full-time international students at most post-secondary institutions to work part-time without having to apply for a separate work permit.
– The PIE News
February 2, 2015
Despite Higher Fees, International Enrollments Continue to Climb
At the University of Toronto international student applications have nearly doubled to more than 18,000 since 2010, and continue to rise despite an increase in student fees for the current academic year of over 9 percent. The University of British Columbia followed suit in December 2014 when their Board of Governors approved a fee increase of 10 percent for incoming international students. The two universities are the only two Canadian universities to host more than 10,000 international students.
In a June 2014 report, the Canadian International Council ranked Canada eighth behind the UK in second and Australia in fourth in its ability to attract international students. The report, written by Bernard Simon from the Munk School of International Affairs, cites the “absence of a unified and coherent voice [in] promoting Canada abroad” and goes on to say that “Canada is the [world’s] only developed country without a national education ministry or a national education strategy.”
The Canadian government is pushing hard to attract more foreign students and has a 2022 goal of doubling the number of international students and researchers to 450,000. Part of the drive has included changes to make it easier for international students to work while studying in Canada. Rather than having to wait six months after enrollment, international students can immediately start working up to 20 hours during regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled holidays.
– The Varsity
February 2, 2015
New Immigration Rules Dent International Recruitment Efforts
Changes to immigration regulations have made it more difficult for international students who have recently graduated from Canadian universities to qualify for permanent residence. Beginning this year, new federal rules came into effect that no longer give international students with Canadian work experience an automatic leg-up when they apply to stay in Canada permanently. Now, Canada may find it difficult to continue successfully recruiting international students, reports The Globe and Mail.
Almost 300,000 international students were enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions last year, drawn partly by one of the most open systems of residence after graduation. Under the new rules, international students with a degree or diploma from a Canadian institution are placed with other groups of skilled workers in a “pool” from which Citizenship and Immigration draws invites for permanent residence. Before, international students did not have to compete with other skilled workers. The government has promised that the pool, known as Express Entry, will lead to shorter application times and better connections between employers and potential immigrant employees.
So far, only two cohorts of applicants have been “invited” by the ministry. Invitations are based on a scoring system: A positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), showing there is no Canadian worker available to do the job, is worth 600 points. Another 600 points are available for things like education and age. The cutoff for the first two invited cohorts was above 800. Without an LMIA, students would not be able to reach that number.
Students are still able to apply for permanent residence through other avenues, such as provincial nominee programs (PNP), which prioritize applications from international students with Canadian postsecondary credentials and professional work experience. The majority of Ontario’s 2,500 PNP spots are filled by international students, for example. But tens of thousands of students have stayed in Canada as a result of the federal program, and those spots cannot be transferred to the provinces without negotiations.
Recent graduates tried to beat the Jan. 1, 2015 deadline by getting their application in during the fall. As late as December, Citizenship and Immigration had said on its website that thousands of spots were still available under the old regulations.
– The Globe and Mail
February 10, 2015
President Set to Launch Second Round of Education Reforms
Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said in January her government was preparing the second phase of an ambitious education reform, hours after Congress approved the first set of changes. The first part of the multi-pronged reform includes an end to profits at state-subsidized schools and eliminates their selective entrance policies.
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. However, exact details on the next phase of the reform are currently scant.
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. She took office in March for her second non-consecutive term promising to upend some of the long-lasting legacies of Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship and to bridge Chile’s wide income inequality gap. Bachelet championed a recently approved tax overhaul that will boost the state’s coffers by $8.3 billion and help pay for the education changes.
January 29, 2015
No Evidence that International Students are Edging out Locals
International enrollments in U.S. universities have been on a strong upward trajectory in recent years, but despite public concern, there’s little to indicate that they are displacing local students, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
A Chronicle analysis of enrollment data reported to the U.S. Department of Education by 69 state flagship universities and top public research institutions found no evidence of widespread crowding out of in-state undergraduates by students from abroad. While the number of incoming international students at these institutions swelled 155 percent between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2012, the latest year data are available, they rarely appeared to take seats away from resident students. Enrollments of in-state freshmen rose, too, albeit by a more modest 0.7 percent.
Put another way, top publics, on average, enrolled 21 more state residents in 2012 than six years earlier. Foreign students, meanwhile, claimed an additional 140 seats in the average freshman class. Still, among this group are a handful of institutions that have reduced places for local students while sharply increasing international enrollments, sometimes by hundreds of students.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
February 2, 2015
World’s Biggest Private Higher Education Provider Faces Lawsuit
In 2001, when Walden University was purchased by what would soon become the world’s largest for-profit college company, the small Minnesota college had just over 2,000 students. By 2010, it had swelled to some 50,000 students across the globe. The company that took over Walden is Laureate Education, a private, internationally focused education company that is the biggest on the planet and whose honorary chancellor is Bill Clinton.
But a lawsuit, filed in February in a federal court in Maryland may open up the workings of a private education company that now has some 850,000 students to outside scrutiny. For its vast size, Laureate’s low profile is notable, given the level of attention devoted to the education industry at large in recent years. Laureate stayed out of the spotlight primarily because it is a private company that barely operates in the United States, drawing the majority of its revenue from Latin America, where it owns 30 schools, many of them in Brazil. It has six schools in the U.S. — the largest of which by far is Walden — 24 in Europe, and 14 in Asia.
The lawsuit, filed by two Walden doctoral and master’s degree students with the intention of creating a large class-action suit, alleges that the school’s rapid growth and focus on profit and marketing have created a dragged-out and misleading dissertation and thesis process, forcing students to spend more money on tuition.
Laureate was briefly embroiled in another controversy last year, when it tried to acquire a nonprofit American business school, the Thunderbird School of Global Management. The attempt resulted in uproar from Thunderbird alumni, who worried that a for-profit company would hurt the school’s reputation and the value of their degrees. Thunderbird was eventually bought by Arizona State University.
Even in the countries where it has a more significant presence, Laureate has attracted some controversy. Bloomberg reported last year that accreditation had been withdrawn from one of its universities in Chile, and that many students in Brazil saw the company as diluting the quality of the schools it took over. However, that hasn’t done much to stem Laureate’s almost-exponential growth internationally. The company has students in 150 countries. Laureate had just 243,000 students in 2007, when it was part of a public company called Sylvan Learning Systems. It was taken private that year by its investors. Since going private, the company has made a booming business of buying struggling schools abroad, investing heavily in facilities and marketing, and scaling them up quickly from local institutions into heavyweight universities.
While for-profit colleges have drawn plenty of criticism in the United States, the business are often welcomed with open arms in emerging markets, where educational infrastructure struggles to keep pace with population growth and urbanization. In Brazil, Laureate’s schools have benefited from growing demand for higher education from the country’s swelling middle classes, and limited space and funding in state universities, where quality also varies widely.
– Buzz Feed
February 2, 2015
UK’s University of Warwick to Open California Campus
The University of Warwick announced in February that it has entered into a partnership with the University Development Trust, a nonprofit organization that is providing land and funding for the development of a new campus. Warwick plans to begin by offering graduate degrees in a temporary location before building new teaching facilities and expanding into undergraduate education; the aim is to develop a campus on farmland in California’s Placer County with capacity for 6,000 students by 2031. If realized, it will be Warwick’s first overseas branch campus and one of only a handful of international branch campuses on American soil.
“We’re going for this,” said Peter Dunn, a spokesman for Warwick. “We really do think it’s ambitious. We don’t think there’s another British university that is coming to North America or is in North America to such an extent.”
The plan is that the trust will sell 559 acres of land for a mix of commercial and residential development and use the proceeds from those sales to fund the development of the campus on the remaining 600 acres. Warwick had previously contemplated building a campus in Singapore but opted against it because of concerns about its financial sustainability.
– Inside Higher Ed
February 13, 2015