WENR, May 2016: Americas

U.S.: Two years after launch, a renewed push to attract international applicants to a Georgia-based MOOC

Amid the hype about MOOCs (massive open online courses), the Georgia Institute of Technology’s strong academic reputation—and a low price point—set it apart from many entrants in the field. With the graduation of the first cohort enrolled in its online master’s degree program in computer science, the institution says the program is a qualified success. Plans for the future include efforts to attract international applicants. In the program’s first two years post-launch, an overwhelming number of applicants were U.S.-based men.

April 27
Inside Higher Ed

U.S. H-1B visas fund $100 million in free tuition at community colleges

The Obama administration unveiled a $100 million competition to support free tuition to community colleges seeking to provide students with employable skills. Grants will be awarded through the Labor Department to partnerships between employers, training programs, and community and technical colleges. The grants are funded through H-1B visas, with employer-supplied visa fees for highly skilled foreign workers supplying the revenue to support the newly announced competition.

Inside Higher Ed
April 26

U.S.: Chinese private school company plans to buy University of Connecticut campus

The University of Connecticut’s West Hartford campus may be under new management in the near future. Weiming Education Groups plans to buy the campus and turn it into an international school. China-based Weiming works with English-language partners in countries around the globe, offering to help them improve the English skills and academic proficiency of Chinese international students. Weiming began operating schools in the U.S. in 2012. It now claims more than 40,000 students across 42 schools worldwide.

April 26
Times Higher Education

U.S.: DHS visa sting highlights need for HEIs to ‘own’ vetting of agents

A recent federal sting led to the arrests of 21 individuals who allegedly helped more than 1,000 foreign nationals obtain fraudulent student visas. Those charged were ICEF accredited agents with references from multiple universities. Those facts, say obersvers, highlight the need for higher education institutions to thoroughly screen agents who supply them with leads on potential international students. “The individual school, college, university or program that enrolls students with the help of a third party … needs to own responsibility … for protecting the interests of legitimate students and preserving the integrity of their own reputation,” said a representative of the American International Recruitment Council.

April 26
The PIE News

Illinois: $600m in stopgap university funding may not be enough

Will $600 million save cash-strapped public universities in Illionois? State lawmakers agreed to put the state’s public colleges and universities on life support through the summer – but a 10-month lack of funding, which has resulted in rounds of layoffs and lowered credit-scores for several institutions, may prove an insurmountable barrier for some schools who are unable to guarantee that students will be able to finish their coursework or obtain degrees.

April 25
The Washington Post

U.S.: A widening wealth gap in higher ed

A new report focuses on the impact of family wealth on college achievement among U.S. youth. The report indicates that, in terms of education and employability, U.S. students from lower income brackets are falling farther behind their wealthier peers. Among the report’s key findings: In 2014, 24-year-olds from the top two (of four) socioeconomic strata earned 77 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded. In 1970, that figure was 72 percent. The implication is that, in terms of college completion, family wealth matters more now than it did a generation ago. By 2020, experts say that two-thirds of new jobs in the U.S. will require college-level achievement.

April 22
The Atlantic

U.S.: Enhanced federal oversight of HEIs

In what observers see as “a major restructuring of the relationship between the federal government and accreditation,” the U.S. Department of Education issued new guidelines for agencies that accredit institutions of higher education. The new guidance encourages accreditation agencies to focus on measurable indicators of student achievement, including employability post-graduation. It also seeks to lessen bureaucratic requirements for institutions not categorized as “of particular concern.” The recommendations come on the heels of a November 2015  executive action establishing new requirements for accreditors.

April 22
The Chronicle of Higher Education

U.S.: Recruitment of international students who lack credentials hurts students, U.S. global standing

Aggressive international recruitment efforts at Western Kentucky University, including a partnership with an unsavory agency based in India, are representative of  a money-driven recruitment approach “that is becoming more common as a thriving international educational consultancy industry casts a wide net.” One risk of the approach is that unprepared students who have fallen prey to high-pressure sales tactics will flunk out, say observers. That outcome hurts students, compromises academic rigor at the universities where students land, and devalues the U.S. higher education sector overall.

April 20
The New York Times

U.S.: Regional HEIs feel the effects of Saudi scholarship cuts

In the 2015/2016 school year, 474 international students were enrolled at Northern Kentucky University; 248 – more than half – were from Saudi Arabia. Given new restrictions on the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP,) that ratio represents a substantial and immediate challenge for the universities Office of International students. Why?  KASP now limits recipients to attending the top 100 universities in the world – and Northern Kentucky University, where the “made up a vast majority of the international students” have, for the last few years, been Saudi, does not make the cut. To address the gap, the university is now recruiting heavily from countries, traveling to 30 since last fall. Target markets include China, India, South Korea, and Africa, which will supply an expected 40 students.

April 20
The Northerner

Canada: Program intended to give international students ‘valuable’ work experience falling short, says report

A new report shows that, between 2008 and 2014, international graduates on Canada’s post-study work program earned less than half of what their Canadian peers did. Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, which was designed to give international graduates of designated institutions “valuable work experience,” instead facilitates a “large pool of temporary labour, largely in low-paid positions, says the report. It also charges that the program has led to the emergence of low-quality post-secondary programs. Canada’s Express Entry program, which seeks to create a path to permanent residence for international students and other immigrant groups, was launched in 2015. Work programs for international graduates of post-secondary programs have since been more heavily scrutinized.

April 6
The PIE News

U.S: Fake university, real student visa fraud – DHS Sting leads to 21 arrests

How prevalent is student visa fraud in the U.S.? Prevalent enough that the Department of Homeland Security created a fake institution, the University of Northern New Jersey, and had it accredited, as part of an elaborate effort to curb it. In early April, the operation led to the arrests of 21 brokers (or agents) who knowingly “recruited foreign students … mainly from China and India… to an institution that … would not have real classes.” The brokers arranged student visas for 1,076 people, most of whom were already been living and working in the U.S., but who sought visa extensions in order to extend their employment. Most will have their visas revoked. The bust is the most recent in a string of crackdowns on so-called ‘visa mills.’  In 2012, the General Accounting Office issued a report saying that Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not provide sufficient oversight of the verification process for student visas.

April 5
The New York TimesThe New York Times

Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries