GenX women in higher ed from around the globe

Posts Tagged ‘Globalization’

The Exodus: Philippine Academics Who Never Return Home

In Ponderings of a Peregrine Pinoy Professor on 2010/08/04 at 09:23

Rosalie Arcala Hall, writing from the Philippines.

There is something about the air in America that seduces the senses. To those who have never been to the land of milk and honey, the scent one encounters in opening the ubiquitous balikbayan box (Filipino care packages) is a close proxy. It is intoxicating, tempting and proven to induce reckless behavior among even the well-intentioned foreigner, even serious academics.

During the orientation for Philippine Fulbright grantees in 2009, one message was driven home like a hammer: there is no way around the two-year home residency requirement attached to a US exchange visitor (J1) visa. Not even marriage to a US national would waive this requirement. This point had to be made because the grantees included young academics, particularly women, who on record seem to be more prone to romantic liaisons while abroad (myself included). The spectre of Fulbright grantees violating their visa terms is a serious concern for an institution whose thrust is to encourage people to go back and contribute to their country’s betterment.

Academics are no exception to the hordes of Filipinos wanting to immigrate to the US to get a job (any job) that brings one closer to the middle class aspiration of a home, car/s and a 401k. Even the most ardent nationalists quickly realize how hopeless the Philippines is after spending some months abroad. No blackouts, free wifi, relatively cheap food, travel opportunities, all those green bucks– at some point one gets seduced by the idea of a First World lifestyle. When the built-in-support network of US-based relatives is added to the mix, Filipinos get braver in facing visa violations. It’s easy to be convinced by kin who tell you that it’s sheer stupidity to return to poverty back home.

To my home university, this brain drain has exacted a heavy toll. I know of at least 8 faculty members who were sent to obtain graduate degrees in the US, Canada and Australia and who have never returned. They disappeared from the grid as soon as they found a foreign citizen they could marry or as fast as their spouses or children could obtain dependent visas. No shame in stringing the university with false promises of returning after completing their degrees. No honor in turning their backs against the tens of thousands of dollars that the university spent to support their studies. No guilt over the thought that they have singlehandedly blacklisted other faculty members from ever being considered for future grants, given the stigma of their institutional affiliation.

To American Ph.D. holders who lament the dearth of tenure-track positions and the growth of adjuncts, the case of Filipino academics who reneged on their promises to their home universities but went on to establish successful academic careers in the US presents an interesting juxtaposition. How should their personal choices of economic betterment be weighed in against our (Philippine) values of honor and debt of gratitude? Is individual scholarship more important than the ethical/moral obligation to the collective? Do US universities even consider these points when hiring?

Case in point: A Filipino-American scholar, who unbeknownst to me was a reneging fellow from our Fisheries College, was to deliver a lecture under Fulbright auspices at our university. My colleagues from the Fisheries College raised a ruckus about this and boycotted the event. I also learned that the same colleagues rejected his earlier request for my university to be his Fulbright host institution. Clearly, this person is either insensitive, had permanent amnesia that he has legal obligations with my university or worse, totally convinced that his stellar scholarly achievements in the US would conveniently make up for his past unethical conduct.

I tend not to fault people for their “lapses of moral judgment” but with reneging Philippine academics, I take exception. Professional success is never a good substitute for a clean conscience, particularly in the business of “professing.” When I was dating my husband, I told him unequivocally that if he married me, he’d have to relocate to the Philippines permanently. It was non-negotiable. I take pride in being the Fulbright Philippines’ poster girl of an academic who returned home and never regretted it.

This post was also published on Inside Higher Ed.

Out of Office

In Anamaria's Posts on 2010/07/16 at 10:07

Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, writing from Lund, Sweden.

I am writing from my balcony, lit by the last rays of the sunset. It is almost 10:30 pm. Late sunsets are one of the unique beauties of the Swedish summer. With a bit of help from the weather gods, I will be sailing for the next few weeks along the Southern coast of Sweden, away from my office, my students and my coworkers.

This picture is very familiar to most academics based in Scandinavia and I would guess a very close approximation of what vacations look like in other parts of Europe, perhaps less sailing, but definitely a lot of travel. Either on private trips or to conferences, European academics tend to be away from their desks during the summer. The university calendar allows for a combination of hard work and periods of recovery, a welcome change from the rhythm of a packed schedule during the rest of the year.

When I was attending graduate school in the US, I realized that the idea of a summer vacation was a strange concept for many Americans. Academics in the US seemed to spend much more time at their work in comparison with the Europeans. I always wondered why this difference existed. It appears to me that having the time to relax and change the pace is a good move not only on a personal level but also for one’s intellectual performance, creativity and energy necessary for teaching. Why is there such a difference in the approach to vacations on the opposite sides of the Atlantic? And what do vacations look like in other parts of the world?

Seasonal rhythms in the academy have been discussed in the blogosphere, both by Kris Olds at GlobalHigherEd and in our own pages (from Meg and from Heather). Academics must have an eye on the future at all times. Vacation is a time off from this and the benefits of a regenerative period are hard to challenge. Beyond the personal level, the difference in vacation times is consequential in today’s globalizing of higher education. How do institutions with different schedules cooperate? How are their expectations aligned when employees must collaborate during the summer time? I have found that there can be difficulties in gathering interest among French professors to teach courses in August. How are international students’ own expectations met during exchange programs or semesters abroad? An American student would find it confusing when she did not receive an answer to her questions emailed to a Swedish administrator during the month of July. The globalization of higher education pushes for more coordinated procedures ruling the academic seasons.

A downside of this harmonization may be that it will involve not only synchronized vacation periods but also a drastic reduction of such holidays. We might simply have to work all the time in order to fit the various schedules of our international partners. July may be the classical free time for a Swede but if she has to cooperate with colleagues in a Japanese or an Australian university, she will have to be accessible during the active seasons of their universities. We have to be “always on,” always available and have calendars that are flexible enough to fit the global networks within which we participate. Is it the case then that academics simply cannot leave their jobs behind for a little while?

While this debate is going on, I will lean back and enjoy the evening sky.

This post also appeared on Inside Higher Ed.

Go Global and Get Uncomfortable: Push Yourself and Push Your Students

In Happy Mondays on 2010/05/28 at 09:00

Going global seems to be on my mind these last couple of weeks. Denise’s post from earlier this week talked about the challenges and rewards of taking a group of undergraduate students to Indonesia and helping them to deal with culture shock. Meg’s post from Wednesday focused on bringing international students to the U.S. The big international education conference in the U.S. – NAFSA 2010 – starts this weekend in Kansas City.

Last week Harvard Business Review published a blog post on leadership and the global mindset. The week before, both Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at George Washington University and Martha Nussbaum’s speech at Colgate College touched upon the need to push ourselves to a global level of humanistic compassion and understanding.

Below, a video of Michelle Obama delivering her speech to the GWU crowd on the National Mall:

In her speech, Dr. Obama stressed the following in relation to globalization:

  • That we are no longer isolated from what happens on the other side of the world.
  • That it’s in our best interest to look beyond our immediate self-interest, and look out for one another globally.
  • That so many of today’s challenges are borderless, from the economy to terrorism to climate change, and that solving those problems demands cooperation with others.

Everyone’s talking global. Everyone’s going global.

Or maybe not – reports from Canada and community colleges in the US stress that not everyone has the financial means to study abroad. Michelle Obama referenced her own working-class background in her speech, stating that: “I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, where the idea of spending some time abroad just didn’t register.” Neither she nor her brother studied abroad. The focus was on getting in, getting through, and moving on. Obama’s story is an American story. Study abroad is still viewed as a luxury to many in the U.S., particularly for the non-traditional students who make up over 70% of those studying at higher ed institutions.

We need to find a way to help all of our students go global. However, before we throw money at helping more students study abroad, I think we need to think seriously about what it is we want our students to achieve. We need to do what higher education in the U.S. often fails to do: we need to think about outcomes.

Is the overriding goal of study abroad the goal of achieving a global mindset?  I would argue that at some level, it is.

While the global mindset from the HBR blog focuses on leadership, I think it is pretty relevant within the framework of higher education. I think we owe it to our students and ourselves to focus on facilitating their growth (and our own) through the development of a global mindset.

According to Mansour Javidan at the HBR blog, people with Global Mindsets are:

  • Passionate about diversity and are willing to push themselves.
  • Comfortable with being uncomfortable in uncomfortable environments.
  • Better able to build trusting relationships with people who are different from them by showing respect and empathy and by being good listeners.

In her commencement speech at Colgate, Martha Nussbaum focused on the importance of liberal arts and the ways in which the current economic crisis threatens the future of the Humanities and the Arts. I interpret Nussbaum as saying that one of the ways of achieving a Global Mindset is a continued focus on liberal arts:

  • They [Humanities and the Arts] only do what is much more precious than that, make a world that is worth living in, people who are able to see other human beings as equals, and nations that are able to overcome fear and suspicion in favor of sympathetic and reasoned debate.

Although they may be on opposite sides of debates on capitalism I think both Javidan and Nussbaum are headed in a similar direction, a global direction. This type of thinking needs to inform higher education’s production of globally competent students – students who are prepared to lead, work, and live in a global world.

The study abroad programs that our institutions endorse should provide a diverse student body, should force our students outside of their comfort zones, and should teach them to listen with empathetic ears. If you are sending your students abroad, make sure the host institution is not filled with students who speak the same language and who are from similar backgrounds. If you are going with your students, make sure they do more than visit the museums. Get them off the tourist routes, make them speak the language, force them out of their comfort zones. And if they can’t afford to go abroad, find ways to expose them to similar experiences in-country. I have helped non-traditional students find local immersive experiences  - teaching ESL to a group of local Somali women, helping recent Haitian immigrants relocate, etc .

I have found that is pretty easy to force American students out of their comfort zones – so, LET’S DO IT!

As a student, what got you out of your comfort zone? If you are a teacher, what has worked with your students?

Mary Churchill

Bookmark and Share

CBIE Canadian Bureau for International Education Media Release. May 27, 2010. CBIE Report Urges Culture Shift in Academia and Government to Open Study Abroad to Many More Participants. (link).

“Degrees of Difficulty.” May 24, 2010. USA Today online blog. (link).

Duncan, Arne. May 26, 2010. “International Engagement Through Education.” Remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan at the Council on Foreign Relations Meeting. (link).

Fischer, Karin. May 13, 2010. “New Group Will Help Community Colleges Become More Globally Focused.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. (link).

Javidan, Mansour. “Bringing the Global Mindset to Leadership.” May 19, 2010. Imagining the Future of Leadership series on the Harvard Business Review Blogs. (link).

Moltz, David. April 19, 2010. “Global Community Colleges.” Inside Higher Ed.com. (link).

Nussbaum, Martha C. May 16, 2010. Not For Profit: Liberal Education and Democratic Citizenship. Commencement Speech at Colgate University. (link).

Obama, Michelle. May 16, 2010. Remarks by The First Lady at George Washington University Commencement. (link).

How Did I Get Here?: Bali is not Bangkok

In Liminal Thinking on 2010/05/24 at 09:00

I am writing this from a beautiful terrace overlooking tropical gardens and rice paddies. I’ve spent a day walking around in the sun, smelling the good smells of Southeast Asia–in fact, all my favorite smells, because Southeast Asia is one of my favorite places to be. I love the noise, the people, the bugs, the geckos in my bathroom, the sweat rolling down my back, and taking off my shoes when I go inside. I love the food, especially the unexpected green chili masquerading as a green bean that makes you choke and then cry like a baby. I love Thailand, where I learned a lot about myself, fell in love, and think about all the time.

But I’m in Bali, Indonesia, not Northern  Thailand, where I expected to be this week and for the next five weeks. When the Thai army began firing on the Red Shirt protesters who had encamped in central Bangkok, things changed quickly. The university deemed the situation too unstable to take students there, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I moved an entire program–with 26 students enrolled–to Bali, a place I’d never been to, trusting an organization I’d never worked with. Leaps of faith are pretty typical with me, but this was a big one.

I am asking my students to make that leap, too, and it’s a burden of responsibility that weighs heavily with me. When I travel with students, I’m the person they turn to when things don’t make sense: How did I offend that person? How do I ask for what I need? What is this strange rash?  But more often, it’s the effects of culture shock and growing up that become most pronounced for them, and I’ve watched it so many times it’s almost predictable. I’ve seen the cocky, cool kid break down and cry with frustration. I’ve watched whole groups of students turn on a student whose cultural insensitivity was shocking. I’ve seen young men and women blossom into amazing adults who’ve suddenly realized their own capabilities. They are annoying, whiny, pouty, beautiful and magnificent.

I know that things will work out here–Bali is beautiful, and some of the things I love about Thailand are here, too, even the geckos. I will get over the disappointment of not seeing my friends this year, and I will get over the heartbreak of watching Thailand rip itself apart. I will remember, too, that my students, every day, at some level, will be asking themselves “how did I get here?” I may not really know that answer, myself, but I think Bali will tell us.

Denise Horn

Bookmark and Share

Higher education as a business relation or as an individual right?

In Anamaria's Posts on 2010/05/12 at 09:00

There is some frustration involved in managing an international master’s program. Yes, frustration, and that is the least said. I wish I could have written the fulfilling or the rewarding or the exciting process of going through hundreds of student applications and ranking them and so on, but “frustrating” remains the most appropriate epithet. And this is not a complaint for having too much work on my hands: on the contrary, I really get a kick from peeking into the lives of such interesting people as our prospective students, so many of whom are really dynamic, enthusiastic, forward-looking types ready to get involved in the shaping of their own lives and of a better world (or at least a better Europe, since we are a program in European Studies).

The frustrating part comes from not being able to appropriately provide answers, solutions to these great students’ questions. Sweden is going through a revolution of its higher education. From next year on, tuition fees will be introduced for all non-EU students – this is the first time higher education is treated as a service for the rich and not as a human right. Already last year, the Swedish Migration Board toughened the criteria for obtaining a student visa. If admitted to a two-year program, a non-EU student must demonstrate they possess on their personal account (no sponsorship allowed) 146 000 Swedish crowns, which is about 15 000 euro. That is a lot of money to own as a 23-year old, wouldn’t you say? Migration rules and tuition fees combined make studying in Sweden practically impossible for regular people from outside the European Union.

More frustrating then to sit in this chair I am sitting, forced to explain to very qualified students that no, we cannot help them with any kind of scholarships, and no, there are no exceptions from the visa rules, and finally no, that Lund University has very limited housing and we cannot help them with finding apartments in the city. Lots of “no” and lots of limits to the capacities to change the system.

If students are going to invest so much money and effort to come here and be a part of our education, I feel under a very strong pressure to deliver excellent results that would make it all worth the trouble. And this is the problem when one looks at higher education in business terms, as a service that is bought by students. One’s pedagogical and academic work is being judged by criteria outside the academia – “return on investment” and “job with an international company” are not usually part of my world. On the contrary, if university studies are seen as a natural right for personal development and enrichment, the measure of success would be different: fulfillment, learning, inner satisfaction, capacity to select, process and criticize information, higher creativity. Sweden was the last haven of the perspective of the academia as a right. Now, like pretty much everywhere else, a university diploma is not a step towards intellectual development and learning, but a business purchase, something between a Louis Vuitton bag and 10 000 worth of shares at the London Stock Exchange.

Anamaria Dutceac Segesten

Bookmark and Share

Recruitment Agents: An Excuse for Prejudice

In Happy Mondays on 2010/04/19 at 09:00

“US and Australia Usher in New Agent Guidelines” –This article came flying through my Twitter feed this week and I was happy to see that progress is being made towards institutionalizing the training and vetting of agents who recruit international students to study at higher ed institutions. This is particularly important as countries such as the US ramp up their recruitment of international students in hopes of diversifying their student body and revenue base.

I include revenue here because higher education is a business. While we know that our institutions focus on teaching, research, students, and faculty, we need to be more open about the fact that they also focus on generating revenue. Perhaps this is most obvious in the US, where some private institutions are now charging upwards of $40,000 a year.

In the world of international education, one of the more controversial issues in academic institutions in the US is the use of agents. What I want to address in this post is how the use of agents in the recruitment of international students brings together an interesting mix of:

  1. a denial of academia’s pursuit of profits witnessed through the ethical concern over commission-based recruiting
  2. a xenophobia or prejudice against international agents and students.

Scholars of racism and sexism know that certain events and processes create situations where prejudice becomes more explicit and obvious. In my experience, the practice of contracting agents is one of those processes.

Discussions over the process of contracting agents to recruit international students have facilitated some of the most open prejudice I have witnessed in academia. The agents are often from Asia and the Middle East and are rarely white men recruiting white students. Agents are human – some may be unethical but many are just as talented and amazing as our very best admissions folks. The people in admissions and recruitment do many things but one thing they do particularly well is sell our institution for us. Agents are experts in their countries and regions and we pay them to sell our institutions on our behalf.

Just as we work hard to hire the best admissions counselors and recruiters, we should also choose to work with the best agents.

Agents are interested in assisting prospective students in finding a good institutional fit. These agents know that their reputation depends on that good fit. They want the student to attend the institution, successfully graduate from the institution, and return to their home country to move on to further success. They are not trying to talk people into applying to institutions just so they can get a commission. The horror stories of a bad fit can ruin their reputations and the reputations of the agencies they work with.

I am always surprised to hear otherwise intelligent people use illogical arguments to support their views against recruiting international students. These same individuals are even more vehemently opposed to the use of agents in this recruitment.

In these discussions, it is assumed that:

  • documents have been forged,
  • students have cheated on tests,
  • students have attended suspect institutions, and
  • agents have coerced students into applying and have taken their money
  • agents have lied to students and are generally untrustworthy

The unspoken assumptions that support and fuel this prejudice are:

  • domestic students do not forge documents,
  • do not cheat on tests,
  • attend reputable institutions and
  • do not work with fee-charging counselors who help them write their essays and prepare for their interviews

Obviously, some students are honest and some are not. This is true for both domestic and international applicants. If we assume that the domestic applicants and their counselors are being honest, we must make the same assumption for international applicants and their agents.

We should not insult the rest of the world by using the trump cards of ‘ethics’ and ‘quality’ as justification for the practice of prejudice.

Mary Churchill

Related Post: Recruiting International Students: Moving Beyond Revenue

Bookmark and Share

Related articles and websites:
  1. Aleem, Zeesha. 2009.”The Changing World of International Recruitment.” AACRO Transcript (interesting comments) link here
  2. Clark, Nick. 2010. “The Use of Recruiting Agents in the United States” March 2010. World Education News and Reviews link here
  3. De Luca, Marisa. “‘Agent’ – A Dirty Word?” Institute of International Education website – link here
  4. Redden, Elizabeth. 2009. “Not-So-Secret Agents” June 10, 2009. Inside Higher Ed website – link here (good article and many comments)
  5. Steinberg, Jacques. 2009. “Before College, Costly Advice Just on Getting In.” July 18, 2009. New York Times online  - link here
  6. Steinberg, Jacques. 2009. “For Hire for Hundreds of Dollars, or Thousands, Independent Counselors Proliferate.” July 18, 2009. New York Times online – link here – blog post to accompany article with over 300 comments from readers
  7. SUNY Becomes Host to the American International Recruitment Council Secretariat. Jan 31, 2010 – press release – link here
  8. AACRO Proposed Standards – response from AIRC President and Chairman  link here
  9. ICEF Agent Training Courses – more info here

The Global World is Here: International Education for the 21st Century

In Happy Mondays on 2010/03/29 at 09:00

This past week the British Council gathered more than 1,200 delegates for Going Global, the UK’s international education conference.

One of the more interesting discussions to come out of this conference was an attempt to define what it is that makes a university “truly global”.

Some points from the presentations:

  1. Recruiting international students (typically non-Western to the West)
  2. Having an international faculty
  3. Opening branch campuses around the world (typically in non-Western locations)
  4. Brokering partnerships with foreign universities
  5. Developing and implementing a curriculum that focuses on global preparedness

It is this last point that I am most interested in discussing in today’s post. With regards to globalizing the university, the undergraduate requirements for graduation are one of the more difficult areas to target for rapid change. Changes to the curriculum and requirements often involve faculty votes and occur incrementally (meaning very slowly).

First, we need to come to consensus on what we mean by a global world. This global world always seems to be envisioned as anywhere but here. I would argue that we are much more likely to otherize and exoticize the global world than our students are. They probably think that they are part of the global world. Why is our location, our standpoint NOT part of the global world? Why do we stand here and look THERE?  Additionally, each academic discipline approaches a concept such as a “global world” from a radically different perspective.

Once we have thought long and hard about an interdisciplinary definition of “global world” (one that includes business and engineering not just the humanities and social sciences), then we have to be equally honest with ourselves about our goals for our students. Although most agree theoretically/intellectually that we need to prepare our students for this world, there is little agreement on what that translates into for requirements for actual students, TODAY.

When we say that we want to prepare them for a global world, what exactly do we mean? For most of us, our students already have HUGE advantages over the majority of the population on this planet. So, are we teaching them how to capitalize even further on their advantages as privileged agents of neoliberalism? Or, do we have a social justice mission? Do we try to instill in them some sort of obligation to leverage their privilege, advantage, and knowledge to make changes for the better. How do we do this and who gets to define what “better” means?

If we are serious about giving students the tools they need to succeed in today’s world, we need to be serious about rethinking our curriculum and our requirements.

We need to move beyond viewing international education as a revenue generator and/or a marketing ploy.

We should begin by thinking critically about our definitions of the world and by being honest with ourselves and our students about the “real” world – the one where we live and where we can make a difference.

Mary Churchill

Bookmark and Share

Some interesting reading from the past week:

Altbach, Philip, Liz Reisberg and Laura E. Rumbley. 2010. “Tracking a Global Academic Revolution.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. March-April 2010.  (access article here).

Labi, Aisha. 2010. “Education Leaders Gather in London to Imagine the New Global University.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. March 25, 2010. (access article here).

Morgan, John. 2010. “The High Watermark of the Anglo-American Academy.” Times Higher Education. March 27, 2010. (access article here).

The (Bitter) Sweet Spot Between Values and Money

In Happy Mondays on 2010/03/22 at 07:30

Is there a sweet spot between values and money? Can one feel financially secure and also feel like they are living a life that is true to their values?

In last week’s posts several writers addressed a range of issues that can be brought together under the umbrella of making tough decisions. Whether we call it idealism, balance, or compromise – each of is searching for a way to live a meaningful and fulfilling life while continuing to earn enough money to pay the bills.

Meaning and fulfillment are derived from an endless array of sources. For some of us, it is the joy of teaching and having intense, life-changing interactions with students. For others, it is having the power to make decisions that impact people’s lives in positive ways. For some, it is the freedom of autonomy, spontaneity, and the thrill of new experiences. For others, it is the security and comfort of a partner and/or children and connections to a local community. In life, I have found that none of these are mutually exclusive and that they morph and blur over time.

We desire meaningful and creative work in an environment where we are encouraged to strive for intellectual and artistic breakthroughs.

Too often, this type of work does not pay the bills, does not get published, does not earn funding, is not commercially successful. So, we are forced to strike a compromise, find a sweet spot – or a bittersweet spot – between what we want to do, what we are able to do, and what we need to do.

Personally, I find that resistance is crucial to living with compromise. Resistance in our day-to-day lives takes many forms, ranging from leading formal protests like sit-ins and marches to a daily refusal to let your family be negatively impacted by your job to a life-time of refusing to create art that may be commercially successfully but soulless.

I am inspired by the protests of March 4, by the Edupunk movement, by the increased use of social networking (blogs, facebook, twitter, etc.) to share dissatisfaction, unrest, and desire for change while simultaneously creating new communities and new types of social contracts.

Along with Itir, I feel that I have moved from realism to idealism. In my 40s, I have gained a sense of responsibility for taking risks, for giving back, for making change happen, for making fewer compromises. And as Meg reminded us, making a compromise is doing what we know is wrong. I don’t know about you but I can only do that so many times a day before it begins to have a negative impact on my soul, my creativity, my sense of self.

I believe that a rapidly increasing globalization has forced a change that looks like a crisis to some and a brighter future to others. I believe that our most radical and creative solutions can be found amidst the upheaval of chaos.

I believe we can move from a bittersweet spot to a sweet spot.

Mary Churchill

Bookmark and Share

Recruiting International Students: Moving Beyond Revenue

In Happy Mondays on 2010/02/15 at 09:00

Mary Churchill, writing from Boston in the USA.

Welcome to the February 15, 2010 edition of Happy Mondays here at the University of Venus.

What caught my eye (along with my mind and heart) last week was news from the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada on international students as revenue generators.

  • Why do universities recruit international students? Money – the primary consideration is financial. Higher education is big business and the profit margin – the ROI – is the overriding motive. Senior leaders are pretty open about the link between international recruitment efforts and revenue.  The International Association of Universities (IAU) recently announced a new service assisting institutions in internationalization efforts. One of the services they offer is helping institutions develop “marketing approaches to attract more exchange or fee paying international students.
  • In the current economic climate, universities in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia are  “desperate” to recruit full-paying students and for many, international students represent a growing market.
    • According to Stephen Connolly, higher education is Australia’s third-largest export earner at 17 billion employing over 100,000 people. (see Connolly’s article here)
    • Similarly, Nicholas Keung reports that international students created 83,000 jobs for Canadians last year with students contributing $6.5 billion to the local economy. (see Keung’s article here)
  • So, not only has globalization brought a “free trade of minds” to higher education but also a free trade of wallets. Generally, anyone who can pay their way is welcome. The financial winner is the country with the least barriers. In higher education, this has been Australia. However, “winning” has its consequences as witnessed by the rash of attacks against Indian students/taxi-drivers in Australia. (see Ziguras’s excellent post on the GlobalHigherEd blog).
  • As Meg wrote in last Friday’s post: “Students need support in understanding the differences in order to cope with culture shock and to ensure academic success… the differences themselves can create big problems if they are not identified and ways to cope with differences provided.”  I would add to that – Institutions also need support in understanding these differences.
  • If we do not change the mindset of the faculty and staff at the universities recruiting international students, we will not create an environment that facilitates the success of the students. If faculty and staff do not embrace international students as part of their core constituency, the students will not succeed. International students typically move halfway around the globe, leaving their support structures of friends and family thousands of miles away. We become their new home – their new family and friends.
  • If we do not work on changing the mindset of the cities and countries receiving these students, we are creating an environment filled with “big problems” – a xenophobic society filled with hate crimes. As a society, we have an obligation to see international students as more than revenue generators. If we bring them here, we have an obligation to embrace them.
  • While the IAU is willing to help institutions attract “fee paying international students” their focus should also be on helping institutions develop the capacity for ensuring the success of those students.
  • I believe that we are obligated to facilitate the success of all of our students, not just our domestic students.  They are more than merely revenue-generators; they are human beings making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives…and ours!

Mary Churchill

References:

“Cash-strapped universities desperate to recruit foreign students.”  Peggy Curran. Feb. 12, 2010. The Gazette http://www.montrealgazette.com/Cash+strapped+universities+desperate+recruit+foreign+students/2553161/story.html

“Understanding What’s Up Down Under.” Pramit Pal Chaudhuri. Feb. 12, 2010. Foreign Hand Blog on Hindustan Times. http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/foreign-hand/2010/02/12/understanding-what’s-up-down-under/

“Visa rules change but the door remains open.” John Morgan. Feb 10, 2010. Times Higher Education. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=410378&c=2

“International education needs fixing.” Stephen Connolly. The Sydney Morning Herald. Feb. 10, 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/international-education-needs-fixing-20100209-npmm.html

IAU Internationalization Strategies Advisory Service http://www.iau-aiu.net/internationalization/pdf/ISAS.pdf

“New rules help draw foreign students. Colleges laud move to speed visa process.” Nicholas Keung. Feb 8, 2010. Toronto edition of TheStar.Com http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/education/article/761995–new-rules-help-draw-foreign-students

“Indian students in Australia: how did it come to this?” Christopher Ziguras. August 11, 2009. Global Higher Ed blog. http://globalhighered.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/indian-students-in-australia-how-did-it-come-to-this/

On “Skating to Where the Puck is Going to Be*”

In Happy Mondays on 2010/02/08 at 08:45

Every Monday I will cover some of the highlights from the prior week’s news in higher ed.

Below, some insights from last week–which included speeches from the presidents of Yale and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) (*UNH President Mark Huddleston quoting Wayne Gretzky in his speech-see sources and links at the bottom of the post):

2010 Vision

  • It is clear that elites and elite higher ed institutions like Yale have everything to gain from increased globalization and this class of people and institutions has already been globalized and  are already reaping the benefits of a globalized knowledge economy,  “a new kind of free trade: free trade of minds.” (see Levin and Wildavsky below)
  • Communication and the exchange of knowledge between Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China is more common than that between Yale and UNH. (an elaboration on Saskia Sassen)
  • The impact of a global knowledge economy/the “free trade of minds” is radically different for faculty and students at an institution like Yale than it is for faculty and students at a place like UNH. (think trickle-down education theory)
  • In an article last week, UNH president Mark Huddleston: “If the current trend continues, the typical New Hampshire family will be paying 75 percent of its disposable income to send a child to UNH by 2020”- Huddleston sees himself as caught in “forces” beyond his control and his focus is on staying in the game and “skating to where the puck is going to be.”
  • In the UK, tuition is increasing as access is being restricted. Survival is the name of the game.
  • Countries like China, South Korea, Singapore, and India implement the best lessons learned from American and British higher education in an environment where they are supported by their national governments and by societies that value education.
  • Institutions in the U.S. and the U.K. look for ways to increase revenue without losing customers and focus on survival of individual institutions rather than on radically reinventing higher education.
  • Higher education is big business.  Like housing before it, higher education is currently in a boom phase and headed towards an inevitable bust.

2020 Vision.

Imagine a world where…

  • Hundreds of non-elite institutions like UNH  “go out of business” and for-profit institutions focused solely on teaching occupation-related “real world” skills take their places.
  • Tenure is eliminated and full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty members are replaced by part-time adjunct instructors. (see NY Times article here)
  • Students are customers and institutions define education as what students want today rather than what they need or what society needs for tomorrow. (see NY Times article here)
  • The measure of an institution’s success is their job placement rate rather than their graduates’ capacity for critical thinking.
  • I send my son Jack to Tsinghua University in Beijing because in less than fifteen years it will be the best education he can get – if they accept him -and it is “where the puck is going to be.

Radical solutions? See the comments below.

This is the first in a series of Happy Mondays posts by Mary Churchill. Check back here next Monday for further insights on the crisis in higher education and predictions for a radically different future.

Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 264 other followers