WENR, July/August 2015: Americas
University Graduation Rates on the Rise
Graduation rates across universities in Argentina increased over 40 percent between 2003 and 2012, according to a new report released by the Center for Educational Studies in Argentina (CEA). The report revealed that the number of students graduating from both public and private universities increased by an average of 42.1 percent. Over the decade examined in the report, the 42.1 percent increase of total graduates nationwide equated to a total of 110,360 students receiving diplomas in 2012, up from 77,690 in 2003.
The figures also showed the ongoing and noticeable differences between state and privately run universities. Both increased their output of successful graduates, up from 59,269 to 73,483 in the state sector (a 23.9 percent increase) and from 18,421 to 36,877 in the private sector (a 100.2 percent increase).
However, there was a divergence between entrance and graduation rates between the sectors. There was a 12.9 percent decrease in public enrollments over the decade examined by the study, but inversely an increase in the number of students graduating year on year, up 12.5 percent in total, indicating increased efficiency at state universities.
Meanwhile, universities in the private sector took on substantially more students over the period, up 62.2 percent, which was reflected in the marked increase in the number of graduates arriving from the private education system. However, the overall percentage of students graduating from the private sector declined. Where 54.3 percent graduated in the 2002-2008 period, that overall number decreased to 42.3 percent between 2006-2012.
Despite the absolute increases in completion rates, the national average between 2003 and 2012 remained at a comparatively low 26.9 percent.
– Buenos Aires Herald
June 1, 2015
Nova Scotia Province Promotes Skilled Fast Track to Residency Program
Nova Scotia has launched a new immigration channel designed to improve access to fast-track permanent residency for international students who have worked in the Canadian province for a year.
Through the pilot program, the government will be allowed to nominate 1,050 immigrants for the federal government’s new express entry system, which reduces processing times to around six months, up from 700 candidates last year.
The announcement follows the creation last year of a skilled worker immigration stream for international students. The program is designed to rectify a problem identified by universities where well-qualified candidates such as international students are not being selected by the federal government for express entry under other provincial streams.
In order to qualify for the express entry nomination, potential candidates must demonstrate their eligibility through a points-based system. They must score at least 67 out of 100 points, awarded for education, language ability, work experience, age, adaptability factors, and whether the candidate has an arranged job offer an employer based in the province.
– The PIE News
May 26, 2015
Student Visa Waiting Times Hurting International Student Strategy
Canadian immigration officials are finding it difficult to keep up with increasing demand from international students, leading to waiting times for visas that are weeks longer than those in Britain or the United States, and reducing the program’s competitiveness.
The new waiting-time findings are contained in a report from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), obtained by The Globe and Mail through freedom of information legislation. While the federal government wants to double the number of students from abroad by 2022, it has not provided sufficient resources to process the increased numbers, the report says. CIC blames this “lack of coordination” between federal departments for an increase of 30 percent in processing times for study permits and a doubling of the time for temporary resident visas.
Released at the end of April, the CIC report comes only months after the government introduced its new Express Entry immigration system. Express Entry ranks potential immigrants based on their age, education and skills, and has been promoted by the government as a way to expedite the entry of highly qualified immigrants. Before the introduction of Express Entry, students who had graduated from Canadian postsecondary institutions and had Canadian work experience were almost certain to be able to stay in Canada.
– The Globe and Mail
June 1, 2015
New School Law Enacted
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet enacted a School Inclusion law in May, which looks to put an end to profit making and copayment in schools that receive public funding, as well as banning selective admissions.
However, legislation for higher education has yet to be finalized and students are keeping up the pressure on the government. The law’s enactment was the first step in Bachelet’s educational reform drive that she promised before being elected president for a second time.
The new rules will take effect on January 1, 2016 and will affect state primary and secondary school as well as private schools that receive state funding. Bachelet said that from next year the financial burden on families will be reduced as the state will pay the amount that parents currently pay for subsidized private schools.
Nonetheless, Chilean students consider that Bachelet’s measure still falls short of their expectations and they continue to take to the streets in protest. In January, Bachelet signed the first reform bill, opening university education to all students and banning for-profit activities at state-funded schools. Earlier in May, she announced a bill to provide free university education to 60 percent of the poorest students starting next year, reaching 70 percent in 2018 and 100 percent in 2020 (see below).
– Buenos Aires Herald
May 30, 2015
Free University Tuition Provision Faces Student Protest for not Going Far Enough
Thousands of students staged a march in late May against the way Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s campaign promise of free higher education for all will start to take shape. The President announced that starting next year free higher education will be available for university and technical college students from the lowest three income quintiles.
However, this will apply to only around 264,000 of the poorest students, out of a total of 390,000 in that income bracket. In all, there are 1.12 million higher education students in Chile. Free tuition will apply only to the poorest students from the so-called traditional universities – 16 public and 9 private universities that are members of the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities (CRUCH). Thus, 158,000 students belonging to the lowest three income quintiles enrolled at 35 private universities created after 1981 are excluded.
Those studying at professional institutes and technical colleges won’t have to pay if they attend non-profit and accredited schools. Currently, only 101 of the professional institutes and technical colleges are non-profit and only half are accredited, meaning that the benefit will apply to only 60,000 of roughly 500,000 students. Around 60 percent of Chilean higher education students get grants or government-backed loans but these cover, on average, 85 percent of the ‘reference fees’ set by the Ministry of Education.
By 2018, the Bachelet government has said that students at all institutions that meet criteria set by the government will be covered.
– University World News
May 29, 2015
Over 1,600 Chinese Students Expelled from U.S. Universities in Last 3 Years
Universities in the U.S. have expelled thousands of Chinese students in the past three years, according to WholeRen Education, which provides academic services to Chinese students.
A 54-page report released in May says that schools in the United States have expelled 1,657 Chinese since the 2012-2013 school year, mainly for “academic dishonesty or low academic performances,” but a company representative now says the number might be as high as 8,000 students. “A lot of students tend to keep silent or go back to their country,” says Andrew Chen, chief development officer at WholeRen.
The report states that nearly half a million Chinese students study overseas, citing figures from China’s Ministry of Education. In the 2013-2014 school year, the U.S. hosted 886,052 foreign students, 31 percent of whom were from China, according to the Institute of International Education.
WholeRen published its report two days before the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a grand jury had indicted 15 individuals from China who allegedly attempted to gain admission to U.S. schools for the purpose of obtaining visas.
May 29, 2015
Free Online Test Prep for New SAT
The College Board and Khan Academy announced in June a new partnership offering free online test preparation resources for students looking to take a new version of the SAT next spring.
The free test preparation is being offered in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to give access to the resources to students who might need more support or access to the Internet or computers. The announcements are designed to help the College Board try to rebrand a test that some have criticized for not providing an accurate prediction of success in higher education.
The website features a series of diagnostic tests created by Khan that students take to determine their skill level in each section of the SAT, which can then direct them to different videos on the Khan site to go over certain topics or review fundamentals a student might have previously missed in school.
The SAT redesign is planned to better align with what is being taught in middle and high schools across the country, especially in light of the new Common Core standards being incorporated into high school curricula.
– Inside Higher Ed
June 2, 2015
Universities Doing a Poor Job of Recruiting International Students
One out of five colleges and universities in the United States and Canada never respond to students from other countries who inquire about admission. Of those that do, four out of five times, they don’t bother following up after that first contact. A third of institutional Web sites fail to pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, which makes it difficult for prospective international students to find the information they’re looking for on their mobile devices as they shop for a North American school.
In 2014, 4.5 million students were “globally mobile.” A new research project by StudyPortals and the British Council took a “mystery shopper” approach to understand just how well 974 institutions around the world helped those students find the information they need to make a decision about where to study. Fifty-two percent of the schools are in North America; 30 percent are in Europe; and the remainder is in other regions. All of the institutions referenced in the top 100 of the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings were included.
A team of international students explored Web sites to evaluate home pages and selected program pages and also contacted the institutions with a specific set of questions.
– Campus Technology
June 5, 2015
International Applications to Grad Schools Increase Slightly
Foreign students’ applications to American graduate schools climbed by 2 percent this year, driven in part by continued growth in applications from India, according to survey results released by the Council of Graduate Schools. Applications from India increased by 12 percent over the previous year, the third straight year of such double-digit increases.
Meanwhile, the number of applications from China continued its modest decline — another trend that’s three years running — dropping by 2 percent. These two country-specific trends — China down, India up — should be understood against the fact these two countries are the two largest sources of international students at U.S. graduate schools by far, together accounting for about 67 percent of all international applications received.
International applications in engineering — the most popular field of study for non-American students — increased by 4 percent. The number of international applications also increased by 14 percent for education and the physical and earth sciences, a category that includes mathematics and computer science programs. Fully half of all international applications to U.S. graduate programs are for engineering and mathematics and computer science programs. The number of international applications for the next most popular field of study for international students, business, dropped by 2 percent — the first decline for the field since the council began collecting data on this topic in 2004.
This year marks the tenth consecutive year the council has documented increases in the number of international applications to U.S. graduate schools.
– Inside Higher Ed
June 30, 2015