WENR, March 2016: Americas

Chicago State University issues campuswide pink slips 

Chicago State, one of nine public Illinois universities that have not received state funding for eight months, issued blanket layoff notices to all its employees. To save funds, the school also cancelled spring break and adjusted the end of the school year from May 15 to April 30. Students who complete the semester will receive academic credit and degrees if they’re eligible to do so. Roughly 4,000 students are currently enrolled at the school.

CBS Chicago
February 26

Budget woes threaten Berkeley’s top ranked College of Chemistry 

The University of California at Berkeley may disband its 144-year-old College of Chemistry. Berkeley, one of the most prominent public universities in the U.S., and the University of California’s flagship campus, is considering the move in response to a $150 million debt. In 2014, the school earned the number one and two spots in the Academic Ranking of World Universities for its chemistry and chemical engineering. As of February 26, a petition against the measure had garnered more than 2250 signatures.

Chemistry World
February 26

As oil prices crash, U.S. institutions fear drop in Saudi student numbers

Can U.S. institutions continue to count on Saudi Arabia as a leading supplier of fully funded international students? The collapse in crude oil prices from over $100 per barrel to $30 has caused a huge shortfall in the Saudi budget. As a result, the massive the King Abdullah scholarship program — and, along with it, Saudi Arabia’s ongoing role as the fourth-largest contributor of international students to the U.S. — are now in question. Observers say a recent drop in Saudi enrollments in intensive English language programs are an early indicator that may signal broader declines ahead.

Inside Higher Ed
February 25

Moody’s downgrades multiple higher ed credit ratings; eyes more

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the credit ratings of three Illinois public universities. The universities, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and Eastern Illinois University, now face accreditation challenges, and may have difficulty attracting students going forward. The situation in Illinois, where multiple schools have gone without state funding for eight months, reflects lack of state support for public universities nationwide: Moody’s also put eight Louisiana universities on review. State funding for the schools was slashed by 47 percent between 2010 and 2014. Additional cuts are expected.

Washington Post
February 25

Are Canada’s polytechnics the education model of the future?

Canada’s polytechnics offer bachelor’s degrees, apprenticeship programs, and on-the-job learning. MacLean’s argues that, in the current economic climate, this combined focus on theoretical knowledge and workplace skills could give polytechnics an increasingly important role in the country’s higher education sector.

February 24

Stanford receives $400 million for new global scholars program

A pledge of $400 million will draw scholars from around the world to Stanford University. Nike co-founder and chairman Philip Knight will contribute that amount to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, which is supported by a $750 million endowment. The fund will support 100 scholars annually. Scholars will be funded for at least three years of graduate-level work on issues of major global significance. The inaugural class will begin in the fall of 2018, and will comprise 50 scholars.

February 24

Displaced Syrian refugees receive scholarships for online studies

A Swiss foundation donated $1 million to a nonprofit U.S.-based online university, University of the People, to provide scholarships to 500 Syrian refugees. Although tuition at UoPeople is free, exam fees tally roughly $4000 over four years. As of February 22,  UoPeople had accepted 100 applicants. Nearly half of the accepted students were residing in Syria; the remainder were in Turkey, Germany, and other countries. The school had received some 1,300 applications as of later February. An estimated 450,000 of the more than 4.5 million refugees who have fled Syria since the war began are university age.   

The PIE News
February 22

NYC visa program seeks to retain international students and create jobs

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the City University of New York (CUNY) launched a new initiative to help international entrepreneurs incubate local businesses. The program is designed to retain international students who have been educated locally.  Up to 80 entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in the program. They are expected to create more than 700 local jobs within three years. New York City, which hosted 52,270 international students in the 2013-2014 school year, attracts the most international students of any metropolitan area in the U.S.

Crain’s New York Business
February 19

Low costs lure American students to German universities

More than 10,000 U.S. students are studying in Germany—an increase of nine percent over the previous year and 25 percent over 2008-2009. Cost is likely a significant factor for these students: German universities in federal states are typically free for German citizens, as well as U.S. citizens. By contrast, college tuition in the U.S. has risen 500 percent since 1985 and shows no signs of stopping.With one of the world’s lowest fertility rates in the world, Germany views an investment in international students, including Americans, as an investment that will pay future dividends in the form of skilled workers.

February 17

Quebec considers cuts to university funding; looks to international tuitions to fill the gap

As the Quebec government contemplates significant cuts to higher education funding in the 2016-2017 school year, it has suggested that universities make up the difference with higher tuition for international students. Based on past experience, McGill students have expressed concerns about how deregulation will affect the international student community.

The McGill Tribune
February 16

Cornell reverses need blind admissions for international students

Few U.S. institutions practice need-blind admissions for international students;  Cornell’s decision to become “need aware” in international student admissions reduced that number even further. Cornell is the second Ivy League school to terminate its need-blind policy in the past six months. Dartmouth announced last fall that it would factor international students financial need into admissions. Cornell administrators say that the goal of the new policy is to ensure better “yield” among admitted students, whether foreign or domestic, by making sure they have the resources needed to actually attend.

Inside Higher Ed
February 15

Berkeley faces a new cash-strapped normal

An unprecedented $150-million budget deficit at Berkeley has sparked “a broad strategic planning process that will include overhauling the university’s work force and academic structures, improving fund raising, and expanding online-degree offerings.” Although one of the country’s most prestigious public research universities, Berkeley faces pressures that are roiling public higher education institutions nationwide: rising costs, decreased state funding, and increased reliance on fees from tuition. Berkeley’s chancellor referred to the situation as a “new normal” in an open letter about the effort to adjust.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
February 11

Venezuela’s students take their practice to the streets as university system struggles

Already suffering from a ‘brain drain’ in the form of a million degreed citizens who have fled the country in recent years, Venezuela is in the midst of an acute higher education crisis. The government has tasked universities with enrolling up to 75 percent more incoming students at the same time as it has gutted budgets, which are between 70 and 80 percent lower in 2016 than they were in the previous year. Protest strikes have shut some universities down, spurring a handful of Caracas orthodontics students to begin offering free dental checkups in the capital city’s main plaza. The students say they view the exercise as a practicum that furthers their studies.

Wall Street Journal
February 2

U.S. interest in international students perceived as a potential threat to major Australian ‘industry’

The executive director of the International Education Association of Australia says the U.S. may pose a threat to Australia’s share of the international student market. “The USA (is) increasingly fighting for market share,” he noted, arguing that the Australian government must prioritize policies that make Australia an attractive destination for international students. Such students pumped a record $19.2 billion AUD into the Australian economy last year. The international education industry is now a commodity worth almost as much as traditional Australian cash cows such as iron ore, coal, and oil and gas. Australia hopes to attract one million international students by 2025.

The Australian
February 2

Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries