WENR: July/August, 2016: Americas

Brazil Dominates Latin America University Rankings

Times Higher Education (THE) released a pilot ranking of the top ten universities in Latin America. The rankings rely on the same performance indicators as those used to rank universities worldwide. Five Brazilian universities, two universities in both Mexico and Chile, and one in Colombia made the cut; all showing resilience despite region-wide economic downturn.

US News University Directory
July 11

U.S.: Hillary Clinton Proposes Tuition-Free Higher Ed for 80 Percent of College Goers

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced a higher education proposal aimed at providing 80 percent of American families with free access to higher education. Under Clinton’s plan, public institutions would be tuition-free for families with incomes under $85,000, with the threshold increasing to $125,000 by 2021. Clinton also proposed a three-month moratorium on loan repayments to allow federal student loan borrowers to refinance or otherwise adjust their payment plans. The plan builds on a centerpiece of former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders’ campaign: a call for free access to public college for all students.

Inside Higher Ed
July 7

U.S.: Institutions Find Creative Ways to Help International Graduates Obtain Visas

A handful of U.S. institutions have launched “global entrepreneur in residence” programs to help entrepreneurial international students stay in the U.S. after graduation. The programs typically allow graduates to work part time on campus while developing start-up enterprises. Critics say the programs unfairly exploit a regulatory loophole to skip the H1-B visa lottery; supporters argue that campus-incubated start-ups create local jobs and other economic benefits. They also say the programs help institutions attract highly desirable international students, whose full tuition fees can help to offset the budgetary pressures facing many institutions. Recent research from WES examines the connection between career services and international student enrollment and satisfaction at U.S. institutions.

The Big Story
July 6

Canada Sees Downtrend in Demand for English Language Teaching

Canada, a major destination for international students, saw a decline in English Language Teaching (ELT) enrollments in 2015. The 2015 results mark an overall drop of more than six percent since 2012. Canada’s decline in ELT enrollments is in part due to increased competition from other countries, and visa challenges, including high refusal rates (especially among students from key emerging markets) and extended processing times. It may also be due to a broader trend toward a global oversupply of ELT providers.

ICEF Monitor
June 30

U.S.: Changes to Saudi Scholarship Program Affect Enrollments at University of Northern Iowa

In the face of new restrictions on the Saudi King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP), the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) has seen a drop in Saudi applications. The contraction in Saudi enrollments could lead to a loss of roughly $1.4 million in gross tuition revenue. UNI is just one of many schools facing a similar cliff. Saudi government-supported scholarships fueled a decade of growth in outbound mobility among Saudi students, making the nation the 4th leading supplier of international students to the U.S. from 2010/11-2014/15. With oil prices falling to a 13-year low in early 2016, the oil-dependent Saudi government has slashed economic supports for its citizens.

Des Moines Register
June 30

Canada and Mexico Seek to Increase Cross-Border Student Mobility

Canada and Mexico are seeking to increase international work-integrated and other learning opportunities for students. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced the shared intention after a town hall in Ottawa. A priority country in Canada’s International Education Strategy and Global Markets Action Plan, Mexico is the second-largest Latin American source country for international students in Canada and the 10th leading source country globally.

Universities Canada
June 28

Brazil Halts Offers of Asylum for Syrian Refugees

Brazil’s new government has abandoned plans to welcome up to 100,000 Syrian refugees into the country. Under President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil offered shelter to more refugees than any other Latin American country. The new administration has cited the country’s economic recession and security concerns as the rationale for the policy change, which could create problems for Syrian students seeking asylum and looking to continue their studies.

Deutsche Welle
June 26

U.S. Federal Government Releases New Data on Accrediting Agencies

The U.S. Department of Education (DoED) has created new scorecards to rate the performance of accrediting agencies charged with overseeing the higher education sector. The scorecards rank higher education accreditors based on a range of student data: graduation rates, student debt, earnings after graduation, and loan repayment rates. Intended to enable the DoED to evaluate and compare accreditors, the scorecards represent, a ‘fundamental rethinking and repositioning’ of the role of accreditors, says one observer. Widespread questions remain about the relevance of the data collected and assessed.

Inside Higher Ed
June 21

U.S.: Slump in Energy Prices Results in $40M in Cuts at Only Public University in Wyoming

The downturn in the energy industry is forcing academic changes and cutbacks at the University of Wyoming , the state’s only public four-year university. The institution’s new president must cut more than $40 million from the institution’s budget over the next two years. Options for addressing the shortfall include the elimination of a number of academic programs; staff and faculty reductions; and tuition increases. The school’s new president has also emphasized the need to strengthen the institution’s engineering programs, and beef up its international student rolls.

The Washington Times
June 15

Canada: Small Universities Face Systemic Bias in Research Funding

A new Canadian study indicates that human and systemic bias may cut into small universities’ research funding. The study examined approval rates for proposals submitted to Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council between 2011 and 2014. Researchers found that academics at small Canadian universities were 42 percent less likely to receive federal research funding than those at larger institutions. The study predicts that without intervention the number of funded researchers at small and medium institutions will decline by two-thirds and one-thirds respectively, unless policies such as blind reviews are implemented.

Times Higher Education
June 14

U.S.: Western Illinois University Tackles Declining Enrollment by Cutting Liberal Arts Majors

Under financial pressure, Western Illinois University’s Board of Trustees announced plans to cut four majors: religious studies, women’s studies, African American studies, and philosophy. The cuts typify a trend among U.S. universities, where focus is shifting towards majors that help graduates obtain employment. Critics worry that the changes will lead to less-rounded students, and damage to the university’s reputation and character. Western Illinois University has seen its enrollment decline roughly 11 percent over five years, but some career-oriented majors have bucked the trend. Law enforcement enrollments, for instance, have dropped just two percent in the same time frame.

Inside Higher Ed
June 14

U.S.: New York Senator Pushes for Universities to Disclose Financial Problems to Students

New York Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for the U.S. Department of Education to establish a formal warning system to alert college students about financial crises that could lead to closure. Schumer’s call for student protections comes in response to financial instability at many smaller institutions. For instance, one small Long Island-based liberal arts institution, Dowling College, reversed course on a decision to close multiple times, creating confusion among current and prospective students. The school announced its final decision to close effective August 31.

June 12

U.S.: Report Highlights Small Colleges Struggle to Stay Afloat in Competitive Market 

Schools with 1,000 or fewer students make up 40 percent of colleges in the U.S. A recent report from Moody’s Investors Services predicts that closures of such schools – now hovering at five a year – could triple in the coming years. The American higher ed sector faces a classic supply/demand challenge: a large number of schools competing for a declining number of high school graduates. A new report by Parthenon-EY, a consulting firm in Boston, estimates that 800 colleges face critical challenges because of their inefficiencies or small size.  To survive, many may face a choice in the coming years: merge or shut down.

Washington Post
June 10th

U.S.: Preliminary Data Shows Decline in International Grad Enrollment

Preliminary survey data from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) shows a decrease in the number of applications from international students to U.S. institutions, down to 591,104 from 676,484 in 2015. The council stated that the decline could be attributed to a lower survey response rate or other methodological changes. CGS’s assistant vice president for research and policy analysis said he expected international enrollment to grow. He also noted the need for schools to recruit in countries other than China and India, which accounted for 69.5 percent of applications in the preliminary count.

Inside Higher Ed
June 7

U.S.: Western Kentucky University Rethinks Aggressive International Recruitment Strategies

Dozens of early-stage graduate students from India are struggling to meet expectations at Western Kentucky University. Of 60 students who were granted ‘spot admissions’ by third-party recruiting agents, at least 25 were asked to leave the school following their first semester. Western Kentucky began aggressively recruiting students from India last year as part of an effort to shore up an anemic budget. Use of private international recruitment agencies is far from uncommon; a recent survey by Bridge Education Group showed that 37 percent of universities and colleges in the US work with such agencies. Affected students face deportation unless they can find alternate placements.

New York Times
June 6

U.S.: A Trump Presidency May Have a Chilling Effect on International Student Interest

A Trump presidency could have unforeseen consequences on international enrollments: $4.75 billion in lost revenues from international students. The findings come from a survey of more than 40,000 students in 118 countries. Sixty percent of respondents said they would be less likely to study at a U.S. institution if the presumptive Republican nominee is elected. Only four percent of survey respondents said they would reconsider coming to the U.S. if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is elected.

Chronicle of Higher Education
June 1



Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries