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Nigeria’s HEI deficit discussed at UK conference

The PIE News - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 06:09

The issue of Nigerian students not having enough spaces at universities in their own country, as well as how UK boarding schools can establish, nurture and maintain relationships with families and schools in Nigeria was discussed at the “New Year…New Partnerships in Nigeria” conference held in London recently.

Delegates heard that as many as 900,000 students were unable to get places in Nigeria’s 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education-resulting in young people leaving the country in order to study.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37%”

In his opening remarks, event organiser Mark Brooks explained how Nigeria is one of the African continent’s top growth markets. 

“UNESCO estimates that 90,000 Nigerians study abroad today,” he said.  “Nigeria has a population of more than 200 million and 20% of the population are aged between 15 and 24.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37% and one of the motivations of getting a fantastic education at British boarding schools or British run education in Nigeria is to provide students with opportunities and avoid problems with unemployment,” he added. 

The sheer size of Nigeria’s population has interesting consequences for the country’s education market, delegates heard. 

“The average family has four to five children and we expect the population to grow to around 400 million [by 2050],” explained Lami Adekola, deputy country director,  for the UK’s Department for International Trade, Nigeria.

“That shows massive potential in terms of the share numbers of students that we generate every year.”

Adekola also spoke about Nigeria’s infrastructure and education assets. 

“We have 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education, which is grossly below what is required for the population we have. 

“About 900,000 students could not get an education in Nigeria in 2018 and it shows the volume and numbers we are talking about,” Adekola continued.

“Most of these students sought alternative destinations to basically get into schools. And a lot of parents are even beginning to look for measures before university level; they send their children out of the country to schools at the secondary level, so it is easier for them to transition to universities.” 

Adekola identified the UK as one of the top destinations for Nigerian students because of the cultural ties between the two countries.

But according to Yemisi Akindele, founder of High Achiever’s Academy, cultural sensitivities still have the potential to cause issues for Nigerian students coming to the UK.

She spoke about the Nigerian approach to parenting and how some parents may be more nervous about letting their children visit other households during boarding school exeats.

She also told delegates that British schools had to make sure the dietary requirements in relation to the religious views of students are respected.

Top destinations for Nigerian students include the US with around 16,000 students as of March 2019; Malaysia, with roughly 13,000 in 2019; Canada, with 11,290 in 2018 according to IRCC data and the UK with 10,540 in 2017/18.

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US overtakes UK as “best in world” for education

The PIE News - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 04:07

The US is perceived as the top country in the world for education, having overtaken last year’s top spot holder the UK, according to a survey by U.S. News & World Report.

The 2020 ‘Best Countries’ rankings, which surveyed 20,000 people from across the globe, also rated the United Arab Emirates as the best country for study abroad.

“North American and European countries are seen to provide the best education in the world’s future leaders”

The “Best Country for Education” list is based on three factors – whether the countries provide top-quality education, having a well-developed public education system and if people would consider attending university there.

With the UK, Canada, Germany and France taking second to fifth places respectively, the report contends that “North American and European countries are seen to provide the best education in the world’s future leaders”.

The remaining top 10 countries perceived as best for education are all in Europe apart from Australia, which is ranked in the seventh position.

Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark ranked sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

The US, along with China, dominated the US News & World Report 2020 Best Global Universities Rankings, which was released in October last year.

The ranking also list the best countries to study abroad, with the United Arab Emirates taking the top position in 2020, with last year’s top country Malaysia sliding down to number 11.

The UAE is followed by South Korea, China, India and Turkey in 2020.

The best countries to study abroad section was based on answers from more than 8,500 adults under age 35.

They were asked to score countries based on their cultural accessibility, fun, number of cultural attractions, whether they would consider attending university there and whether it was a country that provides top-quality education.

“Despite historical trends that show the US and the UK to be the countries that attract the most international students each year, young adults’ perceptions ranked countries primarily in Asia with less established –but promising – economies as the best countries to study abroad,” the report concluded.

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For-profit programs not the only ones that would fail gainful-employment test

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00

Only about 60 percent of programs at private nonprofit institutions, and 70 percent of those at public colleges and universities, would pass the Obama administration’s gainful-employment test, if it were in place and applied to them, according to an online tool developed by a conservative Texas policy group.

Coming amid a stalemate over how to proceed with college accountability after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos repealed the gainful-employment rule in July, the tool made public by the Texas Public Policy Foundation was aimed in part to further the idea that public and nonprofit institutions -- and not just for-profit colleges -- should face scrutiny for how well graduates do financially.

The Obama administration rule subjected colleges and universities to a loss of financial aid funding if too large a share of their graduates do not make enough to repay their student debt. While nondegree programs at public and private nonprofit colleges were subject to the rule, it was controversial for being aimed primarily at for-profit institutions. In repealing the measure, DeVos said it unfairly targeted colleges and universities based on their tax status.

“As a country, we’ve only really applied the accountability metrics once, during the Obama administration,” Andrew Gillen, senior policy analyst in the foundation’s Center for Innovation in Education, said in a telephone interview. “What would happen if we applied the exact income and debt measures to other institutions?”

“What was shocking [was] how many programs are failing and how many students are attending those programs,” he said.

Based on the Department of Education’s College Scorecard data, the tool allows a search for the median income and debt of graduates at 40,000 college programs. Using similar standards to those in the gainful-employment rule -- based on the percentage of graduates’ income compared to their debt -- it judges whether programs would pass or fail the test or be on probation.

According to the web tool, private for-profit programs indeed do worse than public and private nonprofit programs in getting graduates jobs that pay enough so they are not overwhelmed by their student loans.

Only 5,646 of 10,147, or 55.6 percent, of private, for-profit programs for which income and debt data were available would have passed the standard. Another 2,071, or a fifth, would have failed. And 2,430, or 24 percent, of the programs would have been on probation. As with other types of institutions, data were not available for a large number of programs -- 10,633.

But private nonprofits didn’t do much better. Only 6,262 of 10,585 programs, or 59 percent, would have passed. Another 1,916, or 18 percent, would have failed. And 2,407, or 22.7 percent, would have been on probation. No information was available for 56,965 others.

Public institutions fared the best, with 14,234 of 20,216, or 70 percent, passing. Only 1,463, or 7.2 percent, of the programs failed. Another 4,519, or 22.3 percent, would have been on probation. Data were not available for 103,283 programs.

This indicates that a lot of the people asserting that for-profits are uniquely bad actors are wrong -- as a group, their performance is quite similar to that of nonprofits. Publics do noticeably better than either nonprofit private or for-profit colleges, no doubt because they generally cost less to attend and therefore their graduates have less debt.

In part, the tool is designed to make the Scorecard data accessible enough to let parents and high school students choose what programs to go to, Gillen said.

“If someone were to say they got into Harvard, should they go? People would say they should,” Gillen said. But according to the tool, Harvard’s dentistry program failed the test. A Harvard spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

But the Harvard School of Dental Medicine said in a statement, "Tools like this can be misleading when looking at gainful employment in the field of dentistry. It’s concerning that the data does not provide a comprehensive comparison of programs or take into account the career paths of graduates. Harvard School of Dental Medicine graduates go on to highly successful careers and residencies in competitive dental specialty programs, achieving earnings well beyond gainful employment requirements."

To Gillen, the tool would also help college administrators see how well programs are preparing students to get adequately paying jobs. But he said it could guide policy makers as well in withholding funding from underperforming programs.

It’s also intended to guide policy makers to restore but expand the idea of penalizing programs that leave students with too much debt, an idea nonprofit colleges generally oppose.

Differences by Discipline

Some programs were particularly problematic. Only 14 percent of law students graduated from programs that would pass, while almost 70 percent graduated from programs that would fail.

Because the College Scorecard data differ from what was used by the Education Department in implementing the gainful-employment rule, Gillen acknowledged making a number of technical adjustments.

Douglas Webber, director of graduate studies and an associate professor at Temple University department of economics and Institute for Labor Economics, and Robert Kelchen, an associate professor in Seton Hall University’s department of education leadership, management and policy, said in emails that Gillen’s methodology seemed “reasonable.”

For-profit colleges said the data showed they should not be singled out. “There are problematic programs in all sectors,” Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the association representing private for-profit institutions, said in a phone interview. However, he didn’t expect a break in the stalemate.

“The partisanship that has divided the country has entered higher education,” Gunderson said.

The College Affordability Act passed by Democrats on the House education and labor committee in October would restore the gainful-employment rule -- but only for for-profit institutions.

Advocacy groups lamented that DeVos’s repeal of the gainful-employment rule removed accountability from low-performing for-profit institutions. "The gainful employment rule was a commonsense regulation that held schools accountable for delivering value to federal student loan borrowers. It applied to all career education programs, including those at public and nonprofit schools, as well as to for-profit degree programs where evidence demonstrated students had been suffering from terrible loan outcomes while owners and shareholders got rich on student loan dollars," Abby Shafroth, a National Consumer Law Center lawyer, said in a statement.

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said in a phone interview she’d be opposed to extending a gainful-employment rule to public institutions. The focus of the rule was on for-profit institutions because some misled students about being able to get high-paying jobs. Other accountability regimes, including boards of trustees and accreditors, at public and private nonprofit institutions, already protect students, she said.

Placing rules on public institutions “would further exacerbate the false narrative that the value of college relates only to employment,” she said.

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American University of Afghanistan faces uncertainty over future U.S. government funding

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00

The American University of Afghanistan opened its doors in 2006, in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of the country three years earlier. In a country still marked by conflict and stark gender inequalities in educational opportunities, the private, coed, nonprofit institution stands out as an outpost for American-style education.

The​ university currently enrolls about 850 students -- 42 percent of whom are women -- across its undergraduate and graduate programs. It offers undergraduate degrees in law, business, political science, public administration and information technology, as well as a master's program in business. It also offers professional development programs.​ It has more than 1,000 graduates and has produced 97 Fulbright scholars to date.

Despite such successes, the future of the university may be at stake.

AUAF is highly dependent on U.S. tax dollars, which, according to the university's president, David Sedney, account for about 70 percent of its budget. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed more than $110 million to the university since its inception, and additional funding has come from the Departments of Defense and State. It's unclear whether USAID funding for the university will continue after the current funding term ends May 31, as was initially reported by CNN.

The uncertainty over future funding comes after officials at USAID raised serious concerns about AUAF’s governance and fiscal controls. A joint investigation by USAID's Office of Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) concluded that AUAF could not account for more than $63 million in U.S. government funds, according to SIGAR’s Oct. 30 report to Congress.

A separate SIGAR report, from April, faulted AUAF for "a history of mismanagement, lack of controls, and financial instability." The report said that examinations of financial documents found that the "university was not sustainable in its present form, financially or programmatically, due to poor governance and management." It also alleged failures of oversight and conflicts of interest on the part of the university's board.

Details about the alleged conflicts of interest by university board members were not disclosed in the SIGAR report to Congress. SIGAR denied a Freedom of Information Act request by Inside Higher Ed for specific documents relating to SIGAR and USAID's investigations of AUAF.

Sedney disputes the allegation of missing or unaccounted-for funds and described SIGAR's characterizations of AUAF as "inaccurate and misleading."

“Every dollar that we’ve spent from the U.S. government has been fully accounted for in our monthly, quarterly and yearly reports,” he said. “In cases where the contracts are over, we have done final reports that have been approved by the issuing agencies. All of those documents are available to SIGAR and the U.S. government.”

Sedney said U.S. government funding is necessary for the security of the university, which in August 2016 sustained an attack by the Taliban that killed 15 people. Several weeks before that attack, two AUAF professors were kidnapped. The professors -- Kevin King, an American, and Timothy Weeks, an Australian -- were freed from Taliban custody just this past November, after more than three years in captivity.

Sedney said the attacks on the AUAF campus and the abductions of its professors compelled the university to increase spending on security, which accounts for about $7 million out of the university’s overall $28 million budget.

“All of that security spending is paid for by the U.S. government,” Sedney said. “Unfortunately, given the security situation in Afghanistan and the very clear intent of the Taliban to continue attacking us, we have to spend that money on security. Continued U.S. government funding is vital to our continued operation, because there’s no one else besides the U.S. government that will pay for security. Various donors we've talked to are not in a position to pay for security, because it brings with it a range of potential legal liability issues that only a sovereign government can accept.”

Future of Federal Funding

A USAID spokesperson said that additional funding for AUAF past May “is subject to a competitive process and contingent upon the university’s continued compliance with the terms of the Administrative Agreement (AA) that AUAF signed with USAID’s Suspending and Debarring Official in 2018.”

The spokesperson said the administrative agreement "was the result of a referral from the Office of the USAID Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, which found significant weaknesses in the university’s operations, fiduciary oversight, and internal controls."

The spokesperson said USAID's leadership has "strongly encouraged the university to diversify its funding sources" and to apply for competitive grant funding through the Advancing Higher Education for Afghanistan's Development (AHEAD) program, which is administered by USAID. Sedney said the university has applied for the funding.

“AUAF’s Board, not USAID, has the fiduciary responsibility to make decisions regarding the future of the university, which is an independent entity,” the USAID spokesperson said. “The U.S. government has emphasized regularly to the management of AUAF and its Board of Trustees that they must exercise this responsibility, to ensure the university’s overall financial health and sustainability, as is the case with any other nonprofit organization.”

Thomas Barfield, the president of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, a scholarly group that has its Kabul headquarters at the AUAF campus, discounted the talk of competitive funding.

"It's hardly that they’re waiting to see if there another great university that also has a large campus and program and they’ll decide between the two," said Barfield. "This is an American flagship project, and they either fund it or they don't."

Barfield, who is also a professor of anthropology at Boston University, said AUAF, which was backed by First Lady Laura Bush in its early years, "probably lost much of the political clout it had earlier on, and it became one of [US]AID's projects. If you have the first lady behind you, that’s really different than if you are just one of [US]AID'S educational projects."

Barfield said the accounting problems at AUAF described by SIGAR are common for American projects in Afghanistan. But unlike with many other projects, he said he has not seen evidence of waste, abuse or fraud at AUAF. He thinks it would be a mistake if funding for AUAF were allowed to lapse.

“This has been one of the major projects of the U.S. government on the soft side, the largest and most visible project,” he said. “If you're willing to pull the plug on that, is that an indication that you’re willing to pull the plug on Afghanistan, too? That has implications that go well beyond a year’s funding for a particular aid project.”

Ahmadullah Azadani, a member of AUAF's student government association, has called for the U.S. government to continue funding AUAF.

"Many think the university is being politicized, linking the recent news regarding funding troubles with the Trump administration’s efforts to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and shrink the financial expense called for by involvement in Afghanistan," Azadani wrote in an opinion article in The Diplomat. "But cutting money without providing alternatives for educational purposes will damage the United States’ reputation gravely. It will demonstrate U.S. irresponsibility and faithlessness, leaving AUAF dangling."

Sedney said AUAF administrators and board members are actively working to ensure funding is in place for 2020 and beyond.

“We continue to reach out to a wide range of funders, and we continue to get support both from the U.S. and internationally, as well as Afghans,” Sedney said. "We do get support, but it’s unfortunately not at the scale that is necessary to cover the cost of operations and security."

He said university administrators were continuing discussions with American government officials.

"We remain optimistic that we will get the funding that we need to continue, as we have for the last 13 years," Sedney said.

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Arbitrator says UC Berkeley owes its computer science TAs $5 million

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00

The University of California, Berkeley, must pay $5 million to teaching assistants it improperly denied tuition remission and other benefits, an arbitrator said this week after reviewing a union grievance.

Berkeley says it’s disappointed with the decision but that it will cooperate.

The case concerns about 1,000 students, including many undergraduate teaching assistants in the department of electrical engineering and computer science. Enrollment in these kinds of courses has swelled nationally in recent years, contributing to a major computer science faculty shortage. At Berkeley, for instance, an introductory computer science course now attracts 1,800 students, compared to about half that in 2014. Berkeley, which also has too few graduate student instructors to meet that need, has responded by appointing more and more undergraduate TAs to lead discussion sections and perform other teaching-related tasks.

That’s not necessarily a problem for the United Auto Workers-affiliated student employees' union, as these TAs are covered by the contract and receive pay of around $30 an hour, depending on appointment type, not considering tuition remission. But the union says that the university is putting far too many students on eight-hour appointments, which do not qualify them for tuition remission, and too few on 10-hour appointments, which do qualify them for a big break on tuition and childcare benefits. Graduate students on these 10-hour appointments are also entitled to health-care benefits.

In negotiating the 10-hour threshold for tuition remission during contract negotiations, the union says it understood that eight-hour appointments would be used only sparingly. And they were used that way for about a decade. Since 2015, however, non-remission-eligible appointments have surged from about 2 percent of assistantships to 12 percent.

The allegation here is that Berkeley is deliberately trying to keep students under the 10-hour threshold to avoid having to remit their tuition, thereby dramatically decreasing their potential compensation. It’s akin to employees accusing an employer of keeping them just below the threshold of full-time work in order to avoid having to give them full-time benefits.

Nathan Kenshur, an undergraduate math tutor and head steward for the union, said Wednesday that the electrical engineering and computer science department's practice now is to employ hundreds of workers per semester as eight-hour TAs, in "a transparent attempt to dodge the contractually negotiated tuition benefit."

Not everyone who's served as an undergraduate TA in the department thought their terms were unfair. Barak Gila, who has since graduated, held that position in 2015 and 2016. He taught discussion sections, wrote and graded midterms, helped monitor online discussions, and, as head TA in his final semester, helped lead the TA program. He did receive tuition remission.

In Gila's experience, pay was good, and even it it hadn't been, he said, “undergrads were freely choosing to accept jobs.”

"I’m not sure why it's illegal for professors to choose to hire more eight-hour TAs, rather than cut their class sizes almost in half," Gila added. By that, he meant that departments with given budgets for a course may either hire more TAs on smaller appointments and offer more sections, or have bigger sections with fewer TAs on 10- to 20-hour appointments.

The arbitrator’s decision was not immediately made public. Information that the department shared at a town hall around 2016 show that undergraduate TAs on eight-hour appointments cost $4,000 per term, while 10-hour appointees cost $11,000. In-state tuition remission accounts for most of the difference between the two figures. 


Kenshur said he understands that some TAs don’t feel the grievance was necessary, but that this is about even more than the 1,000 students affected.

“Undermining the collectively bargained labor contract between student workers and the university threatens the benefits and rights of every worker on this campus,” he said. The TA practice could have spread and “eroded tuition waiver rights across the board.”

Jobs, Kenshur noted, “can still be exploitative even if workers are willing to do them.”

Janet Gilmore, a university spokesperson, said the university and the department “believed that appointments should be kept at 20 percent,” or eight hours per week or less, “in order not to interfere with student academic performance.”

The union, of course, argued that the university's reasoning was mostly financial, not pedagogical. And the arbitrator agreed with the union, directing the electrical engineering and computer science department to “cease and desist making both graduate and undergraduate appointments below 25 percent,” or the 10 hour-per-week, benefits-eligible level.

Berkeley is now required to provide retroactive fee remission benefits to students who were not provided them around the time the grievance was filed, in 2017, Gilmore said.

The union has said that each affected student who taught in the department in 2017 or later is entitled to $7,500 per term taught. The university, however, says that it’s not yet clear how many students will get how much.

“Identifying which group of students qualify for lost compensation, which could include partial fee remission, childcare assistance and health benefits, will take some time,” Gilmore said.

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New presidents or provosts: Atlanta Metropolitan Ave Maria CNMCC Concordia Eckerd HWS Minnesota Moody Western Nebraska Yale

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00
  • Mary L. Coffey, senior associate dean at Pomona College, in California, has been selected as provost and dean of faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in New York.
  • Rachel Croson, dean of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University, has been chosen as executive vice president and provost at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
  • Damian J. Fernandez, chancellor of Pennsylvania State University's Abington College, has been named president of Eckerd College, in Florida.
  • Tracy Hartzler, vice president for finance and operations at Central New Mexico Community College, has been appointed president there.
  • Christopher P. Ice, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, in Missouri, has been chosen as president of Ave Maria University, in Florida.
  • Georj Lewis, interim president of Atlanta Metropolitan State College, in Georgia, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Dwight Perry, dean of faculty at North Park Theological Seminary, in Illinois, has been appointed as Moody Bible Institute, also in Illinois.
  • Carmen Simone, vice president and dean at the University of South Dakota Community College for Sioux Falls, has been chosen as president of Western Nebraska Community College.
  • Scott A. Strobel, vice provost for science initiatives and Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, in Connecticut, has been appointed provost there.
  • Michael A. Thomas, executive director of the Lutheran Institute for Theology and Culture and professor of religion at Concordia University Portland, in Oregon, has been  selected as president of Concordia University Irvine, in California.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: This Public College Wants to Punish 2 Students for Hate Speech. Is That Legal?

A lawsuit against UConn pits tolerance against freedom of speech. Some say the university overstepped its authority.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Berkeley TAs Are Awarded Millions in Back Pay

The ruling applies to only one department at Berkeley, but the whole University of California system is likely to take note, an expert says.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions: Clark U. Names Next President, New Student Affairs Chief at Tuskegee U.

David B. Fithian will take the helm at Clark in July. Tuskegee's new vice president for student affairts comes from Southern University.

Agency behind Learn and Earn scandal charged

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:47

The owners of a Bhutanese education agency were charged with 2,887 counts of forgery and 730 counts of larceny by deception in the country’s capital, Thimphu, in December.

Bhutan Employment Overseas was the company at the centre of a scandal where participants in a work program to Japan were forced to work over the legal number of hours and live in unsanitary conditions.

The Learn and Earn program allowed Bhutanese to work in Japan for up to 28 hours a week while taking Japanese language classes, and was described as a “win-win” during its inception, offering opportunities to young people in Bhutan while also helping to tackle Japan’s labour shortage.

“Students described experiencing indicators of forced labour”

With the Himalayan kingdom suffering from high unemployment and a lack of opportunities for its youth, working abroad through government-approved agencies and schemes is a popular way to earn money. Common destinations include Japan, Kuwait and Malaysia.

According to a US report on people trafficking, around 200 of the students said that the jobs in Japan didn’t provide them with “sufficient income” and that they were “facing difficulties”.

“Media reported some of the students described experiencing indicators of forced labour, including passport retention and illegal wage deductions, although the government reported all students were in possession of their passports,” the paper noted.

Debt was incurred from visa costs and tuition fees for the language schools, as well as the costs paid to BEO for which the owners are now being charged.

As the case moves forward in Bhutan, those still working and studying in Japan have been taking steps to better protect their rights, including by setting up the International Labor Union of Bhutan with assistance from local unions to represent Bhutanese workers in the country.

“Many young Bhutanese were cheated and trapped into financial debt. As ILUB, we will work hard to protect the rights of vulnerable people and low-skilled workers,” Jaganath Koirala, ILUB’s president, said.

“We will work hard to find stable and decent jobs for our young friends so that they can start a decent and normal life.”

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IIE Hawaii announces “aloha” scholarships

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 09:22

Hawaii-based private English language school, the Institute of Intensive English, has launched an international scholarship targeting students from under-represented countries. The value of the scholarship will exceed US$100,000 yearly.

Based on financial need and/or purpose of studying English, the IIE Aloha Scholarship targets students whose plan is to use English to benefit the student’s local community or world at large.

“We are committed to spreading aloha around the world for a healthier, happier planet”

The scholarship will cover tuition only, and subsidised housing may also be available for students.

“We are committed to spreading aloha around the world for a healthier, happier planet,” said school director, Ed Lee.

He explained that IIE Hawaii’s guiding principle is the Aloha Spirit, reflected in the school’s social responsibility efforts of which the IIE Aloha Scholarship is part.

“Through the scholarship, we will provide students with the chance to learn about the meaning of the aloha spirit, whose essential meaning is love, and empower them with improved English skills, the international language of communication,” Lee added.

Founded in 1984, IIE Hawaii is one of the oldest English schools in Hawaii. The school is recognised for its unique IIE Nationality Mix Policy which guarantees that no nationality exceeds 50% of the student population.

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Swedish uni to offer pathway to NPU in US

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 05:41

Jönköping University in Sweden has entered into a partnership with US institution North Park University to prepare students for studies in Chicago via its pathway program.

The Swedish institution’s pathway program, Jönköping University Enterprise, will provide international students with English language training.

“This collaboration gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop the pathway programs”

NPU and JU have engaged in bilateral student exchanges for many years, and this collaboration is a new extension of the rich partnership already in existence, according to NPU director of international recruitment Michael Drake.

“JU is allowing NPU to utilize their English training resources for students who intend to matriculate to NPU to enroll in an academic program,” Drake said in a statement.

“This is a new and unique partnership where an international student will benefit from a third culture, well preparing them for the rich diversity that they will experience at NPU and in the city of Chicago.”

Based at Campus Gränna 40km north of Jönköping in central Sweden, JUE will serve as a bridge for students failing to meet the English proficiency requirement for NPU.

International students will also be trained to adjust to differences in pedagogy between their home country, Sweden and the US. After successful completion of the program, students will be admitted into a pre-selected program at NPU.

With no English as a Second Language program, NPU has previously been unable to enrol academically qualified students requiring additional English training.

JUE’s Campus Gränna has also provided a Pathway Year Program for prospective BI Norwegian Business School students in Oslo since 2018.

“We at JUE are very proud of this agreement with North Park,” Jenny Dahlkild acting managing director at JUE added.

“This collaboration gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop the pathway programs and expand our collaborations with a new, strong partner university.”

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Chronicle of Higher Education: The Gloves Are Off: What a Deal Between a Mega-University and a Community-College System Says About the Fight for Students

The Gloves Are Off: What a Deal Between a Mega-University and a Community-College System Says About the Fight for Students  

The Gloves Are Off: What a Deal Between a Mega-University and a Community-College System Says About the Fight for Students

Transfer agreements don’t usually signal a sea change. But an agreement between Pennsylvania’s community colleges and Southern New Hampshire University may do just that.

Scott Jones, CEO, Navitas, Global

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 04:02
After the surprise BGH/Rod Jones takeover bid was successfully implemented, Navitas veteran Scott Jones assumed the position as the company’s new chief executive. He told The PIE News his vision for the company and the role of pathways and innovation in education.

 

The PIE: You’ve just completed the first 100 days of being chief executive. What is your vision for Navitas moving forward?

Scott Jones: I always have a philosophy of looking at an organisation, its strategy structure, people process systems, and working in that coordination. The first part was defining what we wanted to be and where we wanted to grow. The existing vision we had was to be one of the most trusted learning organisations in the world. It was a good vision, but it didn’t seem to resonate across the group really well, and I wanted to be more ambitious.

“Any additional competition is good competition”

We workshopped across the board and have now come up with a vision which we’ve communicated within the group. The new vision for Navitas is to be the best global education provider in the world, according to our students, our partners and our people. That’s allowed us to start building upon our ambitions: we’d like to double the business in five years. Actually, we don’t want to, we will.

The PIE: What does doubling the business mean?

SJ: It’s doing more with existing partners. We see a broader opportunity to grow into transnational education, working with our existing partners and taking them offshore. There are also efficiency gains that we can make at our own organisations. In some campuses there’s the capacity to do more, we can definitely recruit more students. We’re listening and learning with our partners to build greater connectivity to allow us to do more with them strategically to enhance and grow their business.

But it’s really doubling student capacity. We want to double the number of students that we have for our partners over the next five years.

The PIE: Market intelligence suggests students are looking to do a pathway offshore before going to a destination. Is that the sort of transnational partnership you mean?

SJ: We’re looking even broader than that. Where these markets are maturing, we’re doing a lot of business development research around opportunities to take partners in-country. We already have Curtin University that we’re running a full managed campus for in Singapore. We’ve taken Lancaster University to Leipzig, Edith Cowen we run to Sri Lanka, and Murdoch University in Dubai.

“I hope, whether it be regulatory or something else, that we keep to a high level”

We’ve created a really strong model to operate in these quite difficult and different jurisdictions and attract domestic students, the ones that may not have gone abroad anyway. That’s been a successful model for us over many years, and we see a great opportunity to expand that area now.

The PIE: How are the challenges different across jurisdictions, and how do you adapt?

SJ: One size doesn’t fit all even when it comes to strategy and the way in which we look at our business. That’s why we’ve spent some time designing the organisation which allows us to have clusters of divisions and countries to support and nurture what needs to happen in those markets depending upon what strategic position they’re in or growth cycle.

Navitas has typically been an innovative company anyway. In 2011, Forbes Magazine voted us one of the top 100 most innovative companies. From there, we’ve adapted and grown our product portfolios in the pathway space, moved into transnational education, had some independent higher education provision. But our primary innovation comes from alignment with our partners.

The PIE: Education isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind within the mainstream when thinking about innovation. Can Navitas and education more broadly better champion itself to the mainstream?

SJ: Education is where a lot of the new ideas flow and stem from through research. When people use the word innovation, however, they look at tech companies. They look at things that disrupt a particular market. They look at the product that’s being innovative, not actually where that has been housed or coming from.

In education, they look at us, and they say it’s kind of a slow-moving beast. I don’t agree with that at all. We’ve just watched universities over the years become much more innovative, agile businesses. But I don’t think we’ve publicised the education industry as an innovative sector in its own right.

The PIE: In that case, how do you see Navitas’ role in the future of education more broadly? Do you want to be the leader?

SJ: I think we’re going to align. We’ve been good at partnering. We’ve been able to build a really strong basis around working with our partners in innovating, and even our pathway products, transnational products and the other sector products.

There are other opportunities. If you look at innovation and drive, it’s coming out of the edtech space. I haven’t yet seen how that’s going to dramatically disrupt where we’re at at the moment. I look at our space and see there’s such a necessity from our clients where we’re teaching in the face-to-face space to provide blended models of learning. To provide agile models of learning. Digital literacy in the classroom, capacity not to be in the classroom, and zoom technologies of learning management platforms.

“One size doesn’t fit all even when it comes to strategy”

This is just my view at the moment, but the edtech space sits under the employer sector. You’ve got jobs websites Seeks, Monster, and Indeed, where they’ve got millions of employers on their database, millions of employees on the database. They can say do this short course here; I’ll then connect you to someone who can place you. I can’t see that Navitas can provide that support, but what we do have is good online program management perspectives. We’re developing that, in our product breadth but that’s aligned to our core product.

The PIE: Why are pathways important within education?

SJ: For me, it’s about opening doors and creating greater accessibility for students. Even more so when students that aren’t quite capable or ready to enter the mainstream education system with larger class sizes, more exposure, not to same nurturing or handholding that’s going on.

One thing we’re seeing in market is as universities globally are getting financially constrained, there’s that necessity for them to be internationalised. We’re seeing some of them dropping standards, which encroaches on the space that the pathway was developed for. While everyone’s entitled to do what they want to do, I think if you care about a student, that’s worrying, because they’re not well equipped to go directly into first year. Many of them exit the system, and it’s not helping anyone. It doesn’t help the institution that ‘s lowered standards, and it’s not helping the student.

But everything naturally works out. The pendulum swings too far one way, and eventually, we find equilibrium. And I hope, whether it be regulatory or something else, that we keep to a high level. Pathways are there for a reason.

The PIE: And for private education providers?

SJ: Any additional competition is good competition. It builds better quality across any sector that you look at. There’s a good place for institutions in niche products where some of the universities don’t necessarily have the capacity to play, or there’s not the same level of scale.

I love private providers that are high quality and can do that. They have a place to play, but I think how many should be questioned, as well as what category and level they have, and what access to funding they should have? There are some that are reputable, and there are some questionable ones that are maybe not. The government is doing an excellent job of cleaning it out and rectifying some of those issues.

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Japan outbound student figures remain steady in 2018

The PIE News - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 02:48

The number of Japanese students who chose to go abroad to study has held firm, according to new figures from the Japanese Association of Overseas Studies, but preferred destinations are changing as the country’s appetite for shorter periods of language study strengthens.

The figures, compiled from a survey of 42 JAOS member organisations, found in 2018 around 200,000 Japanese students went abroad, close to estimates made in 2016.

“English proficiency is rapidly becoming as a critical criteria for management”

Going more in-depth, JAOS’ figures also provide a more accurate picture on the number of outbound Japanese students than those publicly available through the Japan Student Services Organization by including levels of study in addition to university.

“[Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology] statistics include only Japanese people who study at overseas institutions of higher education such as universities or graduate schools,” the report said.

“These omissions led JAOS to conduct a new yearly survey of its own to produce statistical data that includes junior high school students and working adults.”

While overall outbound numbers remained around the same level as previous years, there were noticeable shifts in destinations of choice as well as the desired level of study, particularly for top two countries the US and Australia, which both lost ground.

The US entered its third year of decline although marginally, losing just over 250 students, which JAOS said was possibly due to the current administration and immigration policy discouraging “professional and career-minded candidates… in fear of not landing a permit to remain to build their career”.

Australia, meanwhile, lost 650 students in 2018, as emerging markets, the Philippines and Malta improved their overall share of the market, jumping 20% and 30% respectively.

The Philippines also recorded the single most substantial increase with just under 1,500 additional Japanese students hosted in 2018 to reach over 8,200.

“In Japan, the trend of study-abroad from Japan has always been connected with – and reported by media – by the number of students studying in the US,” the report said.

“However, the decrease in the number of Japanese students going to America is not an accurate reflection of overall the study-abroad market in Japan these days. On the contrary, the overall number of outbound students is actually increasing in spite of a decreasing 18-year-old population in Japan.”

Canada similarly saw a spike in Japanese students, improving 9% or more than 1,150 students.

The study areas of most interest also saw minor shifts, as both short and long-term language studies continued to improve their market to 69% of all outbound students, while undergraduate degree and non-degree programs dropped.

While the Japanese government outlined policies to boost the nation’s English proficiency in preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, JAOS attributed the increased uptake of language studies to changing business needs.

“Outbound students is actually increasing in spite of a decreasing 18-year-old population”

“English proficiency is rapidly becoming critical criteria for management-level positions in Japanese companies aiming to expand to the global market,” the report said.

“Stemming from this trend, we are seeing an increase in both university students seeking language training abroad and professionals looking to advance their career opportunities by enhancing their language ability both on their own and also as company-sponsored trainees.”

The report also noted the increase in long-term language studies, those undertaken for more than three months, was primarily pushed by university students on break or professionals on sabbatical.

Top performer the Philippines, which has rolled out government-backed initiatives to boost the country’s ELT offerings, similarly saw a substantial increase in the number of Japanese students choosing to go there to learn a language.

The Japanese government recently unveiled plans to attract more international students through changes to its post-study work opportunities, including work visa types and improved measures to help graduates find work.

The post Japan outbound student figures remain steady in 2018 appeared first on The PIE News.

science and engineering indicators tk

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00

The U.S. share of global science and technology activity has shrunk in some areas even as total activity has continued to grow, as China and other Asian countries have invested in science and engineering education and increased their research spending.

That’s one of the main takeaways of the 2020 State of U.S. Science and Engineering report, published by the National Science Board on Wednesday. The report has been historically been published every other year, but is TRASNSITIONING TO A NEW FORMAT

“Our latest report shows the continued spread of S&E capacity across the globe, which is good for humanity because science is not a zero-sum game,” said NSB Chair Diane Souvaine. “However, it also means that where once the U.S. was the uncontested leader in S&E, we now are playing a less dominant role in many areas

The report examines recent trends in science and engineering education, the attraction of foreign talent, the science and engineering workforce, publication output, and research and development spending amounts and funding sources, among other topics. Here are some of the main findings:

Doctoral Degrees

When it comes to the number of science and engineering degrees awarded, China has caught up quickly, and on some measures outperforms the U.S.

U.S. universities awarded about 40,000 doctorates in science and engineering fields in 2016, second to the combined total of the 28 countries of the European Union, whose universities awarded 77,000.

China started from a low base -- its universities awarded fewer than 10,000 doctorates in science and engineering in 2000 -- but the country has quickly gained ground. In 2015, Chinese universities awarded about 34,000 doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

China produces more doctoral degrees in the natural sciences and in engineering fields – basically, all science fields excluding the social and behavioral sciences – than the U.S. does.  In 2015, Chinese universities awarded 32,000 doctorates in natural sciences and engineering while U.S. universities awarded 30,000. China first surpassed the U.S. on this measure in 2007 and has retained its leading position ever since.

Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees

At lower educational levels, the U.S. awarded 93,000 associate degrees in science and engineering fields in 2017, and another 133,000 in science and engineering technologies.

Close to half (47 percent) of all students who earned bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering fields between 2010 and 2017 did some coursework at a community college.  Nearly a fifth (18 percent) earned associate degrees.

The U.S. awarded close to 800,000 “first-university” degrees (broadly equivalent to a bachelor’s degree) in science and engineering fields in 2016.  China awarded 1.7 million, a number that has doubled over the last 10 years. Degrees in engineering account for close to 70 percent of China’s first-university degrees in science and engineering fields.

International Students

The U.S. remains the leading destination worldwide for internationally mobile students.

Although total numbers of international students in the U.S. have declined since 2016, the report describes a “mixed picture” when it comes to international enrollments in science:  “Between 2016 and 2018, the number of international students studying science rose at the undergraduate level and declined slightly at the graduate level; the number of those studying engineering declined at both levels," it says. "Among the two largest source countries, the number of Chinse S&E graduate students at U.S. institutions increased during this period, whereas the number of those from India declined.”

Even with declines, international students account for substantial shares of doctoral students in science and engineering fields. Students with temporary visas earned 34 percent of all science and engineering doctoral degrees awarded in 2017, and they made up more than half of all doctoral degree recipients in the fields of engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, and economics.

Since 2000, students from three countries -- China, India, and South Korea -- have accounted for more than half (54 percent) of all  international students earning U.S. doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

Stay Rates

The U.S. has historically retained most international graduates of its science and engineering Ph.D. programs. Between 2003 and 2017, between 64 and 71 percent of international students earning doctoral degrees in science and engineering remained in the U.S. five years after completing their degrees.

However, the proportions of students from China and India who stay in the U.S. after earning their science and engineering doctorates have declined. In 2003, 93 percent of Chinese students stayed, a figure that fell to 84 percent by 2013. The proportion of students from India who stayed declined from 90 percent, in 2003, to 85 percent in 2013. In both cases, the stay rate remained flat between 2013 and 2017.

By contrast, the stay rate for students from South Korea increased, from 36 percent in 2003 to 57 percent in 2017.

Scientific Workforce

The report finds that employment in science and engineering has increased more rapidly than the for the workforce overall, and now accounts for 5 percent of U.S. jobs. The median annual salary for science and engineering occupations in 2017 was, at $85,390, more than double the median for all U.S. workers ($37,690).

Women accounted for just 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce in 2017, up from 26 percent in 2003. Underrepresented minorities made up just 13 percent of the scientific workforce in 2017, up from 9 percent in 2003 but below their share of the college-educated workforce.

Foreign-born workers account for 30 percent of all individuals employed in science and engineering-related occupations.

Publication Output

The number of science and engineering-related publications produced by scientists sin China has grown tenfold since 2000, and now exceeds that of the U.S. China trails the U.S. and the E.U. in terms of citation impact – a measure of how frequently publications are cited --  but has improved rapidly on this measure.

ADAPT FIGURE 21 FOR A CHART

Scientists from the E.U. and U.S. produced more publications in the biomedical and health scientists in 2018 than China did, while China produced a larger volume of engineering publications. Chinese scientists produce more than twice as many engineering-related articles than their counterparts in the U.S.

Scientific collaborations are increasingly international. The proportion of scientific articles with authors from at least two countries grew from 14 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2018.

Research and development

The NSB report states that research and development expenditures have more than tripled since 2000, growing from $722 billion in 2000 to $2.2 trillion in 2017. The U.S. and China together accounted for nearly half of all research and development spending -- 25 and 23 percent, respectively -- in 2017. Research and development spending has grown especially rapidly in China, which accounted for 32 percent of worldwide growth in R&D between 2000 and 2017.

In the U.S., businesses performed almost three-quarters (73 percent) of R&D in 2017, followed by higher education institutions (13 percent) and the federal government (10 percent). About 17 percent of R&D funding goes toward basic research, while the remainder goes toward applied research or experimental development.

Higher education institutions perform the largest share of basic research, and the federal government remains the largest source of funding for it. However, the share of basic funding research that comes from businesses has increased.

The report finds that businesses account for most of the growth in R&D in the U.S. since 2000. Although levels of federal funding have risen, the share of total R&D funding provided by the U.S. government declined from 25 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2017. The share of all basic research funded by the federal government declined from 58 to 42 percent.

At higher education institutions, the share of research and development funded by federal sources declined from 57 percent, in 2000, to 51 percent in 2017. 

ADD ENDING QUOTE

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Landmark College expands online courses for students with learning disabilities

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00

Landmark College, the first college in the United States for students with learning disabilities, is growing enrollment in its online courses. The rural Vermont college is designed exclusively for students who have diagnosed learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder or ADHD.

“These are bright students, intelligent students, but often they have not succeeded in traditional classroom settings,” said Rick Bryck, dean of Landmark’s school of educational research and innovation.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities estimates that one in five children in the U.S. has learning or attention issues, although only a small portion of those are identified in schools. Only about 71 percent of students with specific learning disabilities leave high school with a regular diploma -- trailing the national rate by about 10 percentage points. Students with learning disabilities are half as likely as their peers to enroll in a four-year college and twice as likely to be jobless when they reach working age. The gap widens for African American, Hispanic and Native American students with learning disabilities -- only 65 percent of whom leave high school with a diploma.

To address these problems and hopefully enable students with learning disabilities to succeed, Landmark employs some different pedagogies and structures in both its online and on-campus classes.

Much of Landmark’s philosophy revolves around a concept called universal design for learning. The framework asks instructors to provide students with multiple options for learning material and multiple options for demonstrating their learning. Learning through video or audio might be better for some students than text, the framework suggests. Writing papers or taking an exam might not be best for everyone.

“We can best serve all of our range of students with learning differences by starting from the beginning with good design principles,” Bryck said.

Landmark also focuses on providing students with “executive function support.” Executive function refers to mental skills like short-term memory, self-control and flexible thinking, which many students with learning disabilities struggle with. Poor executive functioning might mean a student has trouble getting to class on time or starting work in advance.

In Landmark classes, executive function support means breaking learning down into “microunits,” Bryck said, and being explicit in instructions. Outside the classroom, on-campus students have access to executive function coaches who use questioning and reflection to help students achieve their goals, while online students have access to similar advisers.

Meghan Whittaker, director of policy and advocacy at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said that the curriculum, courses and trained faculty Landmark offers are certainly helpful for students with learning disabilities. But getting those supports and services into every college should be the real goal for higher education, she said. Persistence in college can be a major problem among students with learning disabilities as they struggle to get the accommodations they need. Many faculty members at traditional colleges are subject matter experts, Whittaker said, but they are often not trained in teaching, potentially adding to problems for students with disabilities.

“What schools like Landmark offer is that students learn to self-advocate but are in an environment that is much more welcoming and inclusive of their needs,” Whittaker said. “The unfortunate part is that it's only available for students that can afford it.”

Of Landmark’s population of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students, only about 36 percent graduate, which in this context means completing their associate degree in three years or their bachelor’s degree in six years.

But in 2018 only 33 percent of students who entered Landmark counted as first-time, full-time, meaning that they arrived straight from high school and are taking a full course load. Internal findings by the college say 83 percent of Landmark college students achieve their goals, though those goals may not include getting a degree from Landmark.

Whittaker noted that colleges exclusively for students with learning disabilities often act as a sort of bridge into traditional higher education.

While the college attracts over 450 students to campus, its online courses for students with disabilities are available only to high school or gap-year students. In many cases students can earn college and high school credit simultaneously.

Part of the goal in focusing on younger students was to help them transition into college, a move that can be more fraught for students with learning disabilities. "They’re not only earning college credit," said Tabitha Mancici, director of customer relations and outreach for Landmark, "but we’re also helping to scaffold and build the skills they need for successful transition into higher education."

Landmark officials say they try to migrate their philosophy into an online classroom. The online dual-enrollment classes keep student numbers small (12 to 14 students) and limit the amount of text students are required to read.

Online courses at Landmark are offered in a wide range of disciplines and are $1,000 per course. The majority of the 100 or so students who participate each semester are from public or private high schools that have partnered with Landmark, some of which focus on students with learning disabilities. The college also deploys “liaisons,” modeled after on-campus executive function support, to help online students succeed. A liaison might be a designated employee of one of these partner schools, or otherwise an employee of Landmark’s. Although liaisons are taught Landmark’s philosophy, approach and technology systems, they are not required to be special educators.

The Challenges of Online for Students With Disabilities

Whittaker said that generally there have been concerns around both online programs and dual enrollment for students with learning disabilities -- ones she is hopeful a place like Landmark can mitigate.

“By and large, we have not seen online programs do a good job for students with disabilities,” she said. “In online programs it’s much harder for teachers to read student cues, to know if they’re falling behind, to know if they’re struggling.”

Dual-enrollment programs for high school students at traditional colleges can sometimes result in students with learning disabilities not being accommodated.

“The student who is enrolled in a dual-education program is still a K-12 education student,” Whittaker said. “The high school the student is enrolled in is still responsible for providing that student’s [individualized education program] and accommodations and special education services.”

But the college and faculty are under different legal obligations, making the responsibility for accommodations in those cases unclear.

“We are mixing two different laws, two different obligations, and neither is really addressing this responsibility,” she said. “The Department of Ed has really not answered questions about who is responsible for what and under what circumstances.”

If students cannot find accommodation in dual-enrollment programs, they might choose not to participate, Whittaker said, setting them even further behind their peers.

“I’m glad to see that Landmark, as a school that specializes in [learning disabilities], is getting involved in the dual-enrollment program,” Whittaker said, “because I think they could be a great partner.”

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Author discusses her new book on first-generation students

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00

First-generation students (those whose parents lack a college degree) can succeed in higher education, but they need support. Laura Nichols, an associate professor of sociology at Santa Clara University, makes the case in The Journey Before Us: First-Generation Pathways From Middle School to College (Rutgers University Press). The book is a mix of interviews with students and analysis of their stories.

Nichols responded to questions about the book via email.

Q: How did you find the first-generation students you interviewed?

A: Given the research that finds that academic tracking and inequities start early in students’ educational trajectories, I focused on aspiring first-generation college students from low-income families who attended a middle school that is part of a network that have as their mission “breaking the cycle of poverty through education.” The school, located in California, started preparing students for academic success early and worked to get students admitted to the best private and public high schools in the area and continued to support them in high school and college. I interviewed alumni of the school when they were young adults about their experiences in middle, high and post-high school graduation. I also analyzed data on the educational trajectories of all of the graduates of the school as well as national, state and school-level data.

Q: Some in higher education might not see the relevance of middle school to college-going. Can you explain why it matters?

A: Early on we are losing students who could be very successful college students and professionals in needed careers. The students I spoke with were very hardworking, driven, and did very well academically, but their trajectories were often interrupted, usually for nonacademic reasons. What emerged from the data was the need to focus on the longer educational trajectory of students, if colleges and states really want to increase their numbers of students who would be the first in their families to go to college.

Middle school students need structure, space and extra support when tackling rigorous curricula and are learning how to be students. Parents working low-income, unstable jobs with irregular hours in the service economy often cannot provide what students need, and they don’t have the financial resources to pay for tutoring or after-school programs or summer camps. Further, the schools that most aspiring first-generation students attend tend to be large public schools that have a high proportion of students from low-income families. Such schools usually don’t have enough advisers and teachers for the large number of students who need help with being college ready, applying to college and filling out complex financial aid applications.

Students who have a parent who went to college are more likely to be able to get help through their transitions to different schools and to make sure that they are taking the appropriate courses to be college eligible. I found that while parents of aspiring first-generation students are extremely supportive of and want their children to attend college (and this is backed up by national data), parents often don’t understand what is important in keeping their kids on track to a college degree such as college preparatory coursework, the role of Advanced Placement or honors courses, taking the ACT or SAT, etc. Even when students had a very supportive adviser, mentor or teacher in high school, once they graduated, it was assumed they were on their way to college because they had been accepted. But many students had to change their plans, typically because financially they could not figure out how to pay for school and continue to help their families with rent and other expenses. The transitions between schools and the first year at the new school mattered the most for the success of students in staying on the college-going path.

Q: You focus on transitions -- from middle school to high school and from high school to college. What can go wrong (and right) in those transitions?

A: I was able to talk to students who had good and bad transitions, and they revealed some main areas we can focus on to improve educational trajectories in the U.S. for all students. Students need opportunity and access to quality, inclusive schools and college preparatory curricula through their whole trajectory as well as access to people who are affirming of their ability to be on the path to college. If they moved from having that at one school and not another, students could fall off track. And students had to spend time at each new school making sure that they could find those who could help them navigate the new terrain to make sure they were getting what they needed to be able to ultimately apply to college. Students also needed stability at home, including the economic, emotional and physical well-being of their family members to be able to make school, and being a student, their main focus. When hardworking students had the benefit of attending schools that provided what they needed to be college eligible and this was combined with their families' stable housing and economic situation, they were able to graduate from college.

Q: What are the primary challenges of first-generation students in college?

A: I found that the challenges depended on the type of college that students attended. Most first-generation college students enroll in large, public two- and four-year colleges. Such schools often don’t have the advising staff to help students with choosing courses, majors and any financial aid snafus that might come up. Students could get off track, thinking that one bad grade meant that they weren’t “college material” or that they couldn’t complete their desired major. They often tried to figure all this out on their own.

The challenges at private, primarily residential colleges were a little different. First-generation students at such colleges are often a small percentage of the student body. Many first-generation students found the adjustment to such schools difficult and doubted their ability to succeed at such schools. They usually needed to find supportive staff and faculty who could help them with the culture shock [and] remind them that they belonged there and to access the resources that existed.

For students at both types of schools, rising tuition and fees, including books, meant that the majority worked long hours off-campus, and there was little job flexibility as their class schedules changed. The first-generation students I interviewed were also helping their families financially as well as with other needs. We really need to find ways to help students navigate work and going to school, especially when they first start working in high school or even earlier. And we need to create great schools where first-generation students live so they can manage their many responsibilities.

Q: What can colleges do to make first-generation students welcome and succeed?

A: There is great work, such as that by Anthony Jack, about what elite colleges can do to welcome and graduate more low-income and first-generation students. These include addressing cultural biases as well as consistently reminding students that they belong at the school, are welcome there and are as qualified as students who come from college-going families. The first-generation students in my study pointed to a number of other issues across the range of postsecondary paths. Students needed help navigating complex degree requirements, financial aid and how to continue school when there were setbacks. Their experiences also showed that we must do more to bolster our public two- and four-year colleges if we are to grow the completion rates of first-generation students.

At a time when we have increasing numbers of high school graduates going to college, we really need to think about students’ trajectories over the long haul. The experiences of first-generation students show us how we need to address issues in education beyond individual schools or types of schools for all of our students, first generation or not. We have designed the path to college to move students on rather than take the journey with them, and states and communities would do well to consider how we can imagine education more broadly and comprehensively.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 01:00
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