WENR, September, 2016: Americas

U.S.: For-Profit Higher Ed Giant Freezes Enrollments; Closes All Campuses (Updated)

ITT Technical Institute, which operates a nationwide chain of schools enrolling some 45,000 students, is poised to become the latest casualty of increased federal scrutiny of the for-profit higher ed sector. In late August, the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) barred ITT from enrolling new students who fund their studies with federal aid. In response, ITT stopped first stopped enrolling new students; and then announced the closure of all its campuses. Some 40,000 students are affected. The institute has been under investigation since August 2014. The investigation has centered on ITT’s recruitment tactics, quality of instruction, graduation and job placement rates, financial practices, and administrative capacity.  ITT has over 130 for-profit college campuses in more than in 30 states.

US News & World Report
August 30

Colombia: Progress in Internationalization Is Real, but Incomplete

In contrast to other Latin American countries, Colombia has effectively implemented a number of higher education reforms that track international norms, says international education expert Liz Reisberg. These include a national system to evaluate the quality of higher education and foster accountability; relative parity between the private and public sectors in terms of research and academic quality; an explicit focus on internationalization as a criteria for accreditation; and more. But, she notes, the country still has a way to go.

Inside Higher Ed
August 29

U.S.: New Rankings Spotlight the Best Colleges for Adult Learners

How did Howard Community College, not typically a top-ranked U.S. school, earn a coveted top spot on a national college scorecard? Simple: A different ranking scale. The Washington Monthly, named Howard one of the best U.S. colleges for adult learners. The Monthly evaluated schools based on criteria including: the availability of credit recognition for  skills and experiences obtained in non-academic setting such as work; affordability; flexibility of class schedules;  and the availability of services, such as on-campus child care and financial aid counseling, needed by many adult learners. Other factors included loan repayment rates and earnings 10 years after the start of college. Forty percent of the 20 million students enrolled in degree-granting, post-secondary programs are 25 or older.

The Washington Post
August 29

U.S.: Planned Global Education Hub at Berkeley Is Quashed

Budget challenges and the departure of U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks have put the kibosh on an ambitious plan to transform 130 acres of underutilized, university-owned land into an international research hub. The plan, spearheaded by Dirks, envisioned joint degrees, offered by U.S, Berkeley and top foreign universities, and robust interdisciplinary research focused on climate change, world health, big data, and urban studies. No state funds were ever earmarked for the project. Dirks resigned his post earlier this summer in the face of charges that he misused public funds and mishandled allegations of sexual harassment on campus.

Inside Higher Ed
August 29

U.S.: ELT Providers Hurt by Drop in Funding For Students From Brazil and Saudi Arabia

In the face of the rapidly changing dynamics in the international education market, English Language Programs are scrambling for enrollments. Changes to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program and Brazil’s scientific mobility program have both led to lower enrollments in intensive English Programs (IEPs). To fill seats, program directors are seeking to extend their reach in some markets and to identify new markets. Early research shows interest in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan as potential source countries.

ICEF Monitor
August 24

U.S.: Scrutiny of For-Profit Schools Triggers Closure of 70-Year-Old Arts School

A for-profit visual arts school in L.A. is closing virtually overnight, leaving students and faculty dangling. The Brooks Institute will refund tuition to students enrolled in the fall, and will seek to help students find placements in new programs. The school’s enrollment has been decimated over the last several years, falling from about 2,500 students to 250 between the falls of 2005 and 2016. Brooks is one of many schools that has come under scrutiny as the U.S. Department of Education evaluates the pro-profit higher education sector.

Los Angeles Times
August 15

U.S.: Texas Tech Plans a Costa Rica Campus

Dallas-based Texas Tech is planning to open a branch campus in Costa Rica’s capital city, San José. The school, which will open in 2018, will cater to Latin American students, including those from from Costa Rica and other nearby countries. It will offer bachelors’ degrees in engineering, computer science, mathematics, and restaurant and hotel management, and a graduate certificate in business. The campus , which is being launched as a bid to raise Texas Tech’s international standing,will be funded by student fees and investments from private partners, including the Promerica Group, multinational conglomeration of financial services companies based in Latin America.

Texas Tribune
August 11

U.S.: Early Adopters Evaluate How to Use Digital Badges to Enhance Student Profiles

One in five colleges across the U.S. have begun to evaluate how to use digital badges to help students enhance their transcripts. Students at Illinois State University, for instance, have earned 7,400 digital badges, verified by faculty. The badges are designed to reflect competencies, skills, and experiences – including seminar courses; lab work; independent study; mentorships; and skills learned through internships or volunteer work – that traditional transcripts do not. Administrators say the badges are designed to meet the needs of students, employers, and graduate school admissions offices alike. The most watched vendors of digital badging platforms include: Credly (which provides services to the University of Illinois), Merit Pages , Acclaim, Badgr, BloomBoard, and the PD Learning Network.

Inside Higher Ed
August 9

Canada: A New Trend? Canadian Universities Seek U.S. Accreditation

In July, the U.S.-based Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) granted accreditation to Canada-based Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University (SFU). SFU sought accreditation in order to gain international recognition, and to help graduates who hope to work outside of Canada obtain job placements. The move was the culmination of a seven-year-long application and evaluation process. Another Canadian institution, Capilano University, received accreditation from NWCCU in 2012. Other applications from Canadian institutions seeking U.S. accreditation are pending.

The Globe and Mail
August 4

U.S.: Major Security Breach at the College Board

In March, the College Board released a redesigned – and supposedly secure – version of the SAT. Just months later, the Reuters News Agency obtained access to hundreds of test items, including some 160 math problems, and more than 250 reading comprehension questions. Whether or not the revelations of stolen content would result in cancellation of the next available test session on October 1 remained unclear. The College Board has called the release of the items “a serious criminal matter.” Recent years have seen repeated standardized cheating scandals affecting standardized college admissions tests around the globe. Both the SAT and ACT have been compromised.

August 3

U.S.: Students From China Fall Prey to Tuition Scam in Seattle

Some 90 Chinese students enrolled in summer programs at the University of Washington in Seattle may have been defrauded of up to $1 million in tuition money. U.W. police made the announcement in early August. A supposed deal, proliferated through a social media app called WeChat, offered a five percent savings if students provided an intermediary with their student I.D. numbers and passwords. As of early August, 19 students were known to have been duped, but investigators suspect that another 71 U.W. students may have been scammed, too. Others fear that the scam may have involved other students beyond those at U.W.

Seattle Times
August 2

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Posted in Americas, Regional News Summaries