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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 00:00
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Chamber of the Americas is proud to introduce our new member, Sandra Mendez Santana, CEO/Co-Founder, ProfesionalsAQUI.com, Caracas, Venezuela

Chamber of the Americas (English) - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 21:47

CONTACT:
Sandra Mendez Santana
CEO/Co-Founder
ProfesionalesAQUI.com
Calle Paisana de El Marques con calle 12 de La Urbina
Piso 9, Apto 92
Caracas, Venezuela
5842.4449.9869
Sandra.Mendez.santana@gmail.com

BSC Hampstead to offer NCUK foundation year

The PIE News - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 07:23

NCUK, an organisation which provides preparation courses for entry into a consortia of eleven UK universities, has announced British Study Centres as its newest UK partner.

Students completing the International Foundation Year Business Programme at BSC’s Hampstead campus will be guaranteed progression to one of NCUK’s universities which include the University of Manchester, University of Sheffield and Liverpool John Moores University.

“BSC have evidenced robust academic performance, experienced tutors, and modern facilities in London, one of the most attractive destinations for international students. We believe they will be a great addition to the NCUK network,” commented Georgina Jones, NCUK market development director.

“BSC have modern facilities in London, one of the most attractive destinations for international students”

Students will graduate with a NCUK foundation certificate level 5 and will be able to progress on to degrees in subjects including economics, finance and accounting. The programme will begin in October 2017 and will be available to up to 30 students.

According to NCUK, despite market concerns around Brexit and the UK’s visa and immigration policies, it has seen a growth in students enrolling on its preparation courses in the UK.

Steve Phillips, managing director of transnational education and pathways at BSC, also noted an increase in interest for academic foundation programmes at the group’s language schools. “We’ve taken steps to meet the needs of this growing segment. Whilst we consider our own programme development and other market providers, we felt the range of university progression of NCUK was second to none.”

BSC merged with Experience English last year after both were acquired by the Real Experience Group. The group operates seven locations across the UK but the IFY will only be offered at its Hampstead campus.

“BSC London Hampstead is ideal as it’s a great location for long term academic students,” Phillips told The PIE News. “It has a library, self-study centre, cafe, and outdoor terraces – like a small campus.”

In addition to BSC, the IFY is also offered in the UK at Malvern House, Chelsea Independent College and INTO Manchester. The course is also available at centres in 13 countries outside of the UK including China, Malta, Nigeria and India.

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New Zealand’s regional education export gains exceed NZ$270m

The PIE News - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 06:22

International students directly supported over 2,300 jobs and generated NZ$270.6m for New Zealand’s regions, outside of Auckland, according to reports released by Education New Zealand.

The reports detail the 2015/16 economic impact of the international education industry on eight of New Zealand’s regions outside of Auckland, which attracts 60% of the country’s international students.

They found the international education industry directly supports or creates one job for every eight international students in the regions of Northland, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson-Marlborough-Tasman, Otago and Southland regions, accounting for a combined 16% of the industry’s total economic impact in New Zealand.

Employment figures and economic contribution further improve to almost 3,800 jobs and $406.7m when incorporating indirect goods and services consumed by students, such as food and drink, textbooks and communications services.

“These new reports show the wider economic benefits of international education in regional communities”

“Job creation is vital for the economic and social success of our regions, and these new reports show the wider economic benefits of international education in regional communities,” Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith told The PIE News.

“International education is now worth $4.28bn to the New Zealand economy and is our fourth largest export industry, so it’s important that our regions are a part of that growth story.”

John Goulter, ENZ general manager stakeholder and communications, said the reports “demonstrate that the benefits of enrolling one student are shared widely within regional communities, not just within education providers”.

Goulter said ENZ, which established the Regional Partnership Programme last year to help grow student numbers in 15 regional areas around New Zealand, is committed to sustainable growth and that the industry is “uniquely placed to add real value in the regions”.

“We can see that international education is having an increasingly positive impact on business sustainability, employment and other outcomes such as social and cultural diversity,” he said.

As well as highlighting the economic impact of international education, Goulter told The PIE News the reports will help to measure the success of the RPP and inform future government investment.

Despite Auckland’s current dominance in attracting international students, Goulter said regional growth would play a significant role in sustainably growing the industry and the reports provided a grounding to better understand what could be achieved beyond the city.

Of the eight regions, Otago provided the lion’s share of economic impact and the largest employment numbers, with $142m and 1,307 jobs when including both direct and indirect factors. The next largest region was the Bay of Plenty, with $86m and 816 jobs.

Comparatively, however, the figures are significantly smaller than Auckland, which netted $2.17bn and 16,000 jobs – half of international education’s economic and jobs contribution for the entirety of New Zealand – during the same period.

International education’s contribution to the GDP of each region also lagged significantly behind the national contribution of 1.7%, with all regions except Otago seeing contributions under 1%.

Only Otago’s Dunedin city managed to surpass the national average, seeing international education contribute 2% to its GDP.

Goulter said the differences in economic impact, jobs numbers and GDP contributions exemplify the potential for growth beyond Auckland: “New Zealand’s regions have great capacity to grow both enrolment numbers and value from international education.”

ENZ has dedicated significant resources on building the education exports from the county’s regions lately, including an online portal promoting the regions, the RPP and a new international education strategy with increased focus on regional areas.

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Aus’s Gold Coast touts high-ranking credentials

The PIE News - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 04:47

Australia’s Study Gold Coast, on a trade mission to the UK, used a dinner event at Claridge’s in central London to promote its unique assets as an education destination with high-ranking institutions and beach lifestyle appeal too to education and industry stakeholders.

Shannon Willoughby, CEO at Study Gold Coast, explained to guests that she was keen to push the “smart” that was as important as “sun, surf and sand”.

She nodded to recent rankings that featured Gold Coast institutions in prominent positions, such as THE’s Best Small Universities in the World (Bond University, 20th) and the individual rankings for QS’s hospitality and leisure management courses, which profiled Griffith Business School as number nine in the world and top in Australia.

“Australia’s sixth largest city offers a range of innovative courses and globally recognised qualifications”

“Home to more than 200 international and domestic education providers, including three world-class universities and specialist institutions, Australia’s sixth largest city offers a range of innovative courses and globally recognised qualifications,” explained Willoughby.

Study Gold Coast has launched a promotional video using the strapline ‘Australia’s Favourite Classroom’ and was using the trade mission – alongside Trade Investment Queensland, Gold Coast City Council and other education stakeholders – to push its rankings credentials during the Queen’s Baton Relay in the lead up to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“It’s a win-win for everybody as we count down to the Commonwealth Games as more jobs become available and innovators seek new-world nous, learned right here on the Gold Coast. We train them here, let’s keep them here,” added city of Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate.

More than 6,600 athletes and officials from 70 Commonwealth nations and territories will take part in 11 days of competition from April 4-15, 2018. An abundance of opportunities for student interns, jobs and volunteer experience will be on offer, while the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation will need to find around 1,400 staff and 15,000 volunteers to run the event.

During the event, the governor of Queensland, the Honourable Paul de Jersey, also pointed out that Gold Coast had “hospitality in its DNA” nodding to major investments in the area transforming Gold Coast into a welcoming innovation hub.

Di Dixon, project director at Gold Coast Health & Knowledge precinct, an emerging industry hub for research and development, told guests she is encouraging companies to take up space in the zone, which will bring companies and universities side by side to explore the potential of 3D printing in surgery and other similar initiatives.

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Canadian universities post large gains in international applications

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 00:00

Leigh-Ellen Keating, who directs international services for Brock University, in Ontario, just attended a student recruiting fair in Mexico. “The table was flooded with people, which is not historically what I have seen with the Mexican market,” she said. “They just want to go to Canada, and historically I think a lot of them would go to the States.”

“It didn’t hurt,” Keating continued, that the recruitment fair coincided with an anti-Trump rally in front of the hotel where the fair was held. She suspects some of the rally participants might have popped over to check out college options in Canada. President Trump is highly unpopular in Mexico. He kicked off his campaign by depicting some Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists and has pledged to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally and build a border wall.

“Mr. Trump, he’s not bad for our recruitment strategy,” Keating said.

At a time when many American universities are reporting declines in applications from international students, some universities north of the border are seeing increases on the magnitude of 20 percent or more. At the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, undergraduate international applications are up by 25 percent and graduate international applications have increased by 41 percent. At McMaster University, also in Ontario, international applications have increased by 34.4 percent compared to the same time last year.

At the University of Toronto, applications from international undergraduate students increased by slightly more than 20 percent this year over last year. Driving the growth are big increases in applications from the U.S. (up 80 percent), India (up 59 percent), Turkey (up 68 percent) and Mexico (up 63 percent, but from a small base). Richard Levin, Toronto’s executive director of enrollment services and the university registrar, attributed the gains in part to the “generalized effect of global events drawing attention to Canada and Toronto in particular as a kind of safe, inclusive, stable space.”

“It’s speculative at this point, and we’ll of course have to wait and see what happens in terms of enrollment, but there’s a lot of change in the world, and when there’s a lot of change, people will look for places that they would feel safe in and included,” Levin said.

Meanwhile, 39 percent of U.S. universities that responded to a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and several other higher education groups reported declines in international applications for the fall. Enrollment professionals who responded to the survey reported “a great deal of concern” from prospective students and their families about feared changes to visa rules, the possibility that Trump’s executive order barring entry to nationals of six Muslim-majority countries -- temporarily blocked by the courts -- could be expanded to include other countries, and the “perception that the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries.”

Canada, as one of the countries that competes with the U.S. for its share of the world’s internationally mobile students, could stand to gain if even a small fraction of U.S.-bound students choose to go elsewhere -- or, in the case of students coming from the six countries affected by the travel ban (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), if they're forced to. U.S. politics aside, many Canadian universities crack the upper echelons of international rankings, and the country's prominence as a study destination is increasing -- not least because of the opportunities it provides for former international students to immigrate. In November, Canada amended its points-based Express Entry immigration system to award extra points to graduates of Canadian universities when they apply for permanent residency.

The application increases Canadian universities are reporting for this coming fall come in the context of years of steady and significant growth in Canadian universities’ international enrollments, which increased by 92 percent from 2008 to 2015, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada published in a report by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Canada had 353,570 international students in fall 2015, while, for comparison's sake, American colleges and universities collectively enrolled more than a million.

Some of the more than a dozen Canadian universities contacted by Inside Higher Ed for this story stressed the context of recent growth in international enrollments and said the application increases they’re seeing this year are on par with recent growth rates. Others say they are seeing a “surge” or “spike” and suggest there might be evidence of a “Trump effect,” at least when it comes to the increase in applications they’re seeing from certain countries -- including from the U.S.

Especially notable given the numbers of students involved, many Canadian universities are also reporting substantial gains in applications from India, which sends more students to the U.S. and to Canada than any country other than China. A shift in the number of Indian students choosing Canada over the U.S. could put a strain on U.S. universities, many of which have counted on increasing numbers of international students to balance their budgets.

At the University of British Columbia, international undergraduate applications are up by 15 percent this year, but Damara Klaassen, the senior director of the university’s international student initiative, stressed that was on par with prior year increases. “Apart from more and more people talking about it and wondering whether there is an effect, I’m not seeing any trends that I would attribute to political happenings in the U.S.,” Klaassen said. “I don’t want to downplay the importance of anything that happens in any one country by any means, but I do think in general this type of conversation underestimates the thoughtful and multiyear approach that international students put into searching for the best fit for their higher education.”

Ryerson University, in Toronto, is seeing a 25 percent increase in international undergraduate applications compared to this time last year, which comes on top of a 34 percent increase in international applications the year before that. The university has stepped up its recruitment resources, having "invested considerable resources in 2015 specifically toward increasing our international enrollment in undergraduate programs," according to Marisa Modeski, Ryerson's assistant director for student recruitment.

“I think it’s a little bit early to point to a particular influencer in terms of the contribution to application numbers,” Modeski said. “We’re often asked about 'the Trump effect,’ for example: are we seeing an increase because of that or because of Brexit,” a reference to the United Kingdom’s vote last year to exit the European Union. “Those can certainly be influencers, but I don’t think you can point to those as exclusive reasons for the increase in applications. I think you have to holistically look at all the positive things that Canadian universities have to offer.”

Some Canadian universities, however, report that the increase in applicants they’re seeing this year stands out even against the recent context of international applicant and student growth. At the University of Alberta, international undergraduate applications are up by 28 percent this year. Some of the increases for particular countries are even more striking: applications are up 118 percent from India, 51 percent from the U.S., 35 percent from the United Arab Emirates, 22 percent from Nigeria, 96 percent from Bangladesh and 82 percent from Pakistan. Applications from China also increased, but by a smaller percentage (12 percent).

"This is a surge," said Britta Baron, the vice provost and associate vice president for international at Alberta. Baron cited three possible reasons for the surge, with the caution that this is speculation. "One is the political developments in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and two is the fact that the Canadian dollar is weak." The Canadian dollar is currently worth 75 cents U.S., and the relative weakness of Canada's currency makes its universities a better bargain for many international students.

"Three," Baron, said, "is the fact that Canadian universities over time have stepped up their efforts to recruit."

Alberta has also seen a surge this year in applications from Iran: undergraduate applications from the country increased from 12 last year to 68 this year, while graduate applications rose from 263 last year to 740 this year -- "and counting," Baron said. Alberta, like a number of other Canadian universities, waived application fees for citizens from countries affected by Trump's original travel ban, including Iran.

Memorial University, in Newfoundland, also waived application fees for students from the countries affected by the travel ban -- and for applicants from the U.S. “We wanted to show the students in the United States that Canada was an open, inclusive and welcoming place, and that they should think about turning their eyes northward when they were thinking about their educational possibilities,” said Aimée Surprenant, the dean of Memorial's School of Graduate Studies. Memorial's applications from the U.S. have increased by 47 percent, and its applications from Iran -- among the countries affected by the travel ban, the one that sends the largest numbers of students abroad -- have increased by 80 percent. Other Canadian universities have also posted increases in American and Iranian applicants: Concordia University, in Montreal, for example, reports a 77 percent increase in American applicants to its graduate programs, and a 219 percent increase in Iranian graduate applicants.

"Certainly I think that international students like to come to North America," said Memorial's Surprenant. "They think it's a place where they can get a really great education and something that has a lot of prestige back where they come from, and the U.S. has always been the number-one choice for that. But I think that this travel ban has made them look just a little bit farther and cast their net a little bit wider."

As for American students, several Canadian universities reported surges in inquiries and interest from the U.S. after the presidential election -- though, for context, it's worth noting that the number of American students who study in Canada has historically been low and is less than half the number of Canadian students who come to U.S. universities. The University of Saskatchewan reports that traffic from the U.S. to its prospective undergraduate student website increased by 392 percent on Nov. 9, the day after the election, compared to the week prior, while its prospective graduate student website had a 191 percent traffic increase. Lionel Walsh, the assistant vice president for North American recruitment at the University of Windsor, which is located just across the border from Detroit, said the university has nearly doubled its number of applications from the U.S. Windsor's American students pay a special "U.S. neighbour" tuition rate -- "we put a 'u' in neighbor," Walsh said -- that is lower than the standard international rate.

At McGill University, in Montreal, which has long attracted large numbers of American students, applications from the U.S. have increased by 22 percent, from 4,409 applications for fall 2016 to 5,397 for fall 2017 (the latter figure is as of Feb. 22). McGill also has experienced a big increase in applications from India (up 54 percent) and a smaller but still healthy 18.5 percent increase in the number of applications from China.

Paul Davidson, the president of Universities Canada, said that he's been hearing of application increases across the country. Davidson said “local circumstances” in the U.S. and the U.K. are “making it a little more compelling to consider Canada.”

“I think it is an opportunity for Canada,” he said. “It’s part of a broader context where The Economist magazine did a list of the top five cities in the world to live in, and three of them were in Canada. The New York Times identified Canada as the destination for 2017; The Economist put Canada on the cover as being a country that is open and dynamic and diverse. Canadian university presidents would take stacks of copies of The Economist with Canada on the cover as they traveled through India and to other Asian countries.”

“It's not unrelated,” Davidson added, “to the work of our new prime minister [Justin Trudeau], who's been out talking about diversity as a strength and Canada as a place that's open to investment, open to trade and open to people.”

Trump, by contrast, has spoken against free trade agreements, attempted to restrict entry for citizens of multiple Muslim-majority counties, and generally propagated an "America first" message. The U.K. has also taken an insular turn with its Brexit vote.

“I do think Canada is having a moment,” Keating, of Brock University, said. “Some of it I think we’re having on our own, and some of it I think we’re having as a result of other people having less cheerful moments. The U.K. and the U.S. are not currently in the best position to be recruiting.”

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Debates on cultural appropriation in higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 00:00

Colleges and universities periodically debate issues of cultural appropriation, which is when a privileged group adopts part of the culture of an oppressed group and in so doing is perceived to erase the role of the oppressed group, or to denigrate it.

A call for white women at Pitzer College to stop wearing hoop earrings attracted national attention last week. That discussion was nonviolent, although the Latina women who called for white women to stop wearing the earrings have received threats via email.

On Friday, a Hampshire College student was in a Massachusetts court to face charges that she assaulted a member of the women's basketball team of Central Maine Community College when, at a January game at Hampshire, the woman refused to take out braids that she had in her hair -- braids that Carmen Figueroa, the Hampshire student facing charges, and an unidentified additional Hampshire student demanded be removed because they are an example of cultural appropriation.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette obtained court records in the case, and described the police report on what happened after the Maine athletes declined to remove their braids: "When the players did not comply and began to leave the building, Figueroa allegedly initiated a fight towards one of the players. At the same time, another unknown Hampshire College student pulled the hair of a visiting women’s basketball player, causing her to fall to the ground, according to court documents. While the player was on the ground, police allege that Figueroa kicked and stepped on the player, causing injury.

"Another Maine player attempted to protect her fallen teammate, but Figueroa 'grabbed her by the head and threw her to the ground,' according to court documents. The second player suffered scratches and other marks. As coaches broke up the fight, Figueroa attempted to punch at the Maine students and 'was screaming swears and racial slurs,' according to court documents."

Figueroa pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of disorderly conduct, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. She could not be reached for comment.

This is not the first time that cultural appropriation has been an issue at Hampshire. In 2013, a student group that organized a Halloween party for the college withdrew an invitation (but still paid) a band made up of white people who played "Afrobeat" music, amid debate over whether the band was engaged in cultural appropriation. A statement from the college at the time said: "The decision by student planners not to have the band perform was not based on the band's racial identity. It was based on the intensity and tone that arose on the event's planning site on social media, including comments from off campus that became increasingly aggressive, moving from responses to individual student voices to rude, and at times unsettling, remarks."

Central Maine officials did not respond to email messages seeking response.

A spokesman for Hampshire said that he could not comment on anything to do with the case because of student privacy regulations.

Hampshire has a politically engaged, left-leaning student body, and officials there have been stressing the importance of civil debate. President Jonathan Lash in January sent a letter to students in which he cited "principles of discourse" at the college adopted in 1990. They include that "that we refuse to reduce disagreement to personal attacks or attacks on groups or classes of individuals" and that "we value civility, even in disagreement."

And in a letter to students last month, Lash wrote in part, "Constructive conflict and creative discomfort can be a part of learning, but only if they move us toward understanding rather than fear, build relationships rather than isolate, motivate us to create rather than destroy. We make these possible when we live as a community in love and respect, cherishing the skills of listening as well as speaking, supporting as well as opposing, challenging each other while offering compassion, disagreeing without seeking to silence other voices."

On many campuses, issues of cultural appropriation are discussed in the context of symbols that many say promote stereotypes about certain minority groups. This has been part of the discussion over the move by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to ban most of its members from using team names or mascots based on Native Americans or their tribes. Likewise, the issue comes up every Halloween when some students (typically white students) host "ghetto parties," or Cinco de Mayo parties where students and others (generally white people) embrace various stereotypes of Mexicans.

In 2015, the then president of the University of Louisville and his staff members posed in sombreros (below right), prompting widespread criticism (and then an apology from the university).

Some of the current debates -- such as the discussion of hoop earrings at Pitzer College -- go beyond what most people agree are stereotypes. Many condemn ghetto parties, but the Pitzer students who have criticized white women who wear hoop earrings have been subject to widespread criticism from those who say that this is a personal fashion choice that doesn't stereotype anyone. Others, meanwhile, defend the Pitzer students.

Issues of cultural appropriation were also raised in many of the minority student protests during the 2015-16 academic year. The instance that attracted the most attention was the complaint by some Asian students at Oberlin College that Asian food offerings served in college cafeterias were not authentic and amounted to cultural appropriation.

And the allegations about the Hampshire student are not the first time hairstyles have been an issue. At San Francisco State University last year, students debated a confrontation (caught on video, above) in which a black student accused a white student in dreadlocks of cultural appropriation. The white student later responded with a video defending his right to wear his hair in that style.

'Dynamic of Power'

Akil Houston, associate professor of cultural and media studies at Ohio University, writes extensively on hip-hop music and also on issues of cultural appropriation. He said that people frequently misunderstand critiques of cultural appropriation as being about fashion or music and not about "the dynamic of power" that is central to the reactions of "marginalized students."

He said that from these students' perspective, "here I am and I don't have political and economic power, but one of the few places where I do have power is a cultural tradition, and now that's being taken as well." Further, Houston said, there is a pattern of minority people being mocked for their fashion choices, only to have white people who make the same choices be hailed as "trendsetters" or "exotic."

Focusing on earrings or hair misses the point, he said, "that the dynamic of power is the underlying issue."

Kimberly A. Griffin, associate professor of education at the University of Maryland at College Park, studies race relations in higher education. Via email, she said she believes student concerns about cultural appropriation reflect the tense campus environment on racial issues generally -- an environment in which many minority students feel that racism is on the rise.

"My sense is that students are generally frustrated with cultural appropriation, and that the current climate makes it worse and more frustrating," Griffin said. "While they have long experienced marginalization, Latino, black and Native American students are living in campus communities that are perhaps more openly hostile than they once were. They are also managing and navigating political rhetoric and policies that are at often at best marginalizing, and at worst, racist. Living in these times can make cultural appropriation sting more; students may feel like white students want to pick and choose parts of their culture but not stand up for them as people, see themselves as part of a common struggle or support their humanity."

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Suit alleges Ohio U sat on complaints of professor's sexual misconduct for a decade

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 00:00

Two graduate students at Ohio University are suing the institution -- including a former department chair -- for allegedly allowing another professor to serially harass female graduate students for over a decade. Although the plaintiffs allege they were harassed and groped at a class party in 2015, a related university investigation found that the professor in question had harassed students going back to 2003.

The case comes at a time when many colleges and universities are rethinking their approaches to enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender discrimination in education -- including timelines for taking disciplinary action against those accused.

Ohio has already moved to fire the tenured full professor and says its processes ensure that all complaints are “investigated thoroughly and handled appropriately.” At the same time, it’s launching what it calls a “comprehensive training strategy to enhance the campus community’s understanding of the shared responsibility to report all forms of sexual misconduct and to work to stop sexual misconduct from occurring.” Training will be mandatory for all faculty and staff members.

The accused harasser, Andrew Escobedo, says he’d like to comment on the allegations but can't, in light of pending litigation. He's previously denied them, however. Escobedo has been on administrative leave since March 2016, awaiting the outcome of a university investigation against him and disciplinary proceedings.

And the former department chair accused of sitting on students’ complaints about his colleague? Joseph McLaughlin, an associate professor who is now president of the Faculty Senate, said he’s “confident the judicial process will determine the facts.”

Michael Fradin, the plaintiff’s attorney, pushed back, saying that Ohio “has for many years maintained a ‘boys-will-be-boys’ attitude towards sexual misconduct,” and that unless that changes, “female students will not have an equal opportunity to succeed there.” The “nationwide academic community should keep a very close eye on the university's response to this suit,” he added.

Dozens of other professors in the English department have already taken some matters into their own hands, writing in a letter to graduate students last week that their “hope lies in a future that looks and feels very different from our present, and in coming together as a community and moving toward a brighter future.” The English professors said they'll honor the outcome of internal processes with respect to Escobedo, but they're also committed to ongoing training from the institution's Survivor Advocacy Program and Title IX training.

“Humans sometimes fail each other, and they err, sometimes out of illness, sometimes out of malice, but often out of blindness, willful or otherwise,” Marilyn Atlas, a professor of English who signed the letter, said via email. “As much as possible, we members of the English department want to think about the past, the present, and make things more right going forward.”

Students “deserve a safe, respectful education, the best education our faculty has the strength, insight and means to provide,” she added.

Allegations, Old and New, Emerge

According to the lawsuit, Escobedo made unwanted sexual advances toward the plaintiffs -- both current graduate students in English -- at an end-of-semester celebration in late 2015. Escobedo invited the students in one of his courses to a night out at a pub. He allegedly bought students numerous drinks throughout the night and touched one on her back, her thighs, her buttocks inside her jeans and her groin over her pants. She says she physically signaled that she did not consent to the contact, including by moving seats and placing coats and other objects between herself and Escobedo. But because she had learned earlier in the evening that the professor had not yet submitted grades for the class, she says, she worried that doing more would impact her mark.

“As her current professor, Escobedo had a position of power over [the plaintiff] such that any sexual impositions by Escobedo involved an inherent quid pro quo,” the complaint asserts.

Escobedo allegedly forcibly kissed the student on the mouth during a walk back to campus, when another student stopped to use the restroom. She told him to stop, but he continued to hold her and rub his erection against her body, according to the complaint. Escobedo allegedly told her not to tell anyone about the incident.

The second plaintiff’s allegations are similar to the first’s. She says the professor groped her vagina and breasts over her clothes several times throughout the same evening and told her, “Careful, I still haven’t submitted your grade.” The complaint says she was so uncomfortable that she left the event early, but that Escobedo stopped to give her a hug on her way out the door and intentionally touched her chest.

The students say they both thought about leaving the university after the incident, given their close working conditions with Escobedo and fear of retribution for reporting him. One says her work space was so close to Escobedo’s that she held office hours in another location to avoid him. Escobedo’s wife also is on the department’s faculty, and the plaintiffs say they’ve been encouraged by unnamed parties within the department to forgive the professor because he has various personal problems and responsibilities.

Both students want Escobedo terminated and barred from campus, and for the university to address its allegedly hostile culture for women, along with emotional and other damages. To simply terminate Escobedo would be a "bandage" on a bigger wound, the lawsuit says.

The suit alleges that Escobedo was enabled by departmental and institutional permissiveness toward sexual relationships with students, and that his “proclivity” for young female graduate students was well-known. The university’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance and McLaughlin, for example, were allegedly informed in 2006 by another faculty member that Escobedo was having an inappropriate relationship with a student. But instead of investigating, the office allegedly conducted a departmental climate survey.

According to university documents submitted with the students’ lawsuit, at least one other professor in the department “felt that the 2006 report was not treated with the seriousness that it deserved, and there were no restraints or sense of consequences for [Escobedo].”

Regarding McLaughlin, the department chair at the time, the lawsuit alleges that he was a personal friend of Escobedo’s and especially “deliberately indifferent to the allegations of sexual [misconduct] against Escobedo, even though the allegations were severe, widely known and likely factual.”

A 2016 university investigation into Escobedo sparked by the plaintiffs’ report uncovered allegations of harassment of four other potential victims from 2003 onward. Ohio determined that Escobedo had more likely than not harassed two additional women beyond the two he allegedly harassed in 2015. It found insufficient evidence of the two other claims, however. Escobedo denied the allegations during the investigation, including by saying that the second complainant from 2015 had fabricated her report out of a sense of "social justice."

As universities assess their policies and procedures surrounding Title IX, advocates have encouraged institutions to shore up their timelines for addressing reports of sexual harassment and assault. Part of the idea is to minimize the damage that alleged serial harassers can do by investigating claims thoroughly but swiftly. The University of California system, for example, recently approved new code of conduct guidelines for faculty members, saying that campuses have three years to the day of a report of harassment to a department chair or above to take any disciplinary action. The system has met much criticism for perceived “slaps on the wrist” to alleged serial harassers in recent years.

Escobedo, who was told on March 2 of Ohio’s intention to dismiss him based on the findings of last year's investigation, received his Ph.D. from the Berkeley campus in 1997.

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Science advocates dismayed by size of cuts proposed for NIH and other agencies

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 00:00

The White House budget proposal released last week would have devastating effects on science and technology in the United States as well as the education of the next generation of researchers, say organizations representing scientists and research institutions.

The budget document from the Trump administration -- a broad outline of the full budget due later this spring -- calls for reducing the funding of the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, or nearly 20 percent. And it calls for eliminating or slashing spending on other research programs at many other federal agencies. No specific numbers were released for the National Science Foundation.

Science advocates hope Congress will reject the proposals to scale back the NIH, an agency whose work typically attracts bipartisan support. Few were expecting a great budget year for the NIH or other science agencies. But the size of the proposed cut stunned and angered many.

"When we saw the number, we were gobsmacked," said Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "That is a devastating cut to NIH."

Such a reduction in federal funding would be counter to recent appropriations trends for the agency, which received a $2 billion boost in 2015.

It would also follow a serious blow dealt to the agency from 2013 sequestration cuts. At that time, the NIH budget was cut by 5 percent, a fraction of what's being proposed by the Trump administration but enough to seriously impact grant awards made by the agency. Complicating any plans to absorb potential budget cuts is the fact that NIH awards multiyear grants, meaning a major budget cut would severely limit the institutes' ability to make new grants. Sequestration cuts led NIH to issue 700 fewer competitive research grants in fiscal year 2013.

Eighty percent of the agency's funding goes to universities and medical centers throughout the country, said Joanne Carney, director of government relations at the American Association for the Advancement of Science -- most of that through grant awards. Such reductions would directly affect whether undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields at U.S. institutions persist in those careers, she said.

"When you see such drastic reductions in federal spending, it discourages students from completing or pursuing STEM degrees," Carney said. "Those who have already completed their Ph.D.s and are trying to get their first research grants may look overseas. Other countries are going to look more desirable."

The Trump budget would include "a major reorganization of NIH's institutes and centers to help focus resources on the highest-priority research and training activities," according to the blueprint released last week. That reorganization would include eliminating entirely the $70 million Fogarty International Center, which focuses on global health by supporting research on the topic and by training researchers to work in developing countries. Researchers say that work is important because many of the serious health threats faced in the United States originate elsewhere. Advocates say there's no way a funding cut as large as the one proposed in the Trump blueprint couldn't be felt across the rest of NIH.

Cuts to federal research programs in the White House budget blueprint went well beyond the NIH. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research office saw a proposed cut of more than 50 percent; the Department of Energy's Office of Science would be cut by 17 percent; and the Environmental Protection Agency's R&D office would see a 48 percent cut.

Those offices make grant awards or even operate research facilities on the campuses of research universities.

Even before the dramatic proposals in the White House budget document, advocates for university-based research said long-term trends in federal appropriations had endangered the role of the U.S. In a March 10 letter, Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman called on President Trump and Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to use the budget process to "revitalize the federal government's scientific research and higher education investment strategy."

"By placing much of the focus of deficit reduction on nondefense discretionary spending, the federal government has hampered its research and higher education investments that foster innovation and create new jobs, improve health, strengthen national security and enhance the knowledge and skills of the U.S. work force," Coleman wrote. "If these trends continue, the U.S. risks creating an innovation deficit and losing its status as the global innovation leader."

Some Possible Cuts Unclear

While advocates saw alarming proposed cuts to science funding, the prospects of social science research in the full Trump budget are not clear. The document did not include specific numbers for the National Science Foundation, which is a key supporter of research in the physical sciences, computer science and the social sciences. The NSF is among "other agencies" noted in the budget document that, together, face a cut of 9.8 percent, said Wendy Naus, the executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations.

"We don't know if that's going to be taken from specific directorates or across the board," Naus said. In the past, Republicans in Congress have been highly critical of spending on social science research.

While funding for the Census Bureau would receive a rare bump -- 7 percent -- in the Trump budget, other statistical agencies located across the federal government would be negatively impacted, Naus said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's statistical capabilities, for example, would be reduced while the administration maintains "core departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture," the document states.

"By undermining these surveys, you're undermining the quality and credibility of the data," Naus said.

More immediate are concerns over areas like the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which would lose $900 million of its $5 billion budget. The Office of Science supports research at 300 universities as well as national labs.

Research advocates say they are encouraged by the mixed reviews or even outright criticism of the budget proposal from the president's own party. Republican Hal Rogers, the former chairman of the House appropriations committee, said after the budget document's release last week that many of the cuts outlined were "draconian, careless and counterproductive." And Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, last week identified national laboratories supported by the Energy Department and the National Institutes of Health as two of his priorities as a member of the appropriations committee.

Congress has until the end of April, when the continuing resolution ends, to complete a deal on a fiscal 2017 appropriations bill before it passes a 2018 budget. That gives science organizations multiple opportunities to make clear why the work of research is so important.

"The only reason we're not in bed under the covers today is because getting the proposal through Congress is going to be, I think, extremely difficult, particularly on the NIH cut," Zeitzer said.

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Competency-based education remains a niche market for software vendors

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 00:00

Software vendors in the competency-based education market are pursuing different strategies as their role in the industry is growing more slowly than some had anticipated.

Others are getting out. Ellucian said last month that it would end support for Brainstorm, a platform it acquired in 2015.

The company reached that decision based on market research and feedback from colleges, said Toby Williams, chief product and strategy officer at Ellucian.

Last year, Ellucian partnered with the consulting and research firm Eduventures and the American Council on Education to survey 251 colleges on their competency-based education strategies. The survey identified one major reason why the competency-based education market may be a tricky one for vendors to build a profitable business model in: most colleges aren’t ready to go all in yet.

The study found that only 7 percent of the colleges surveyed said they delivered most of their education using a competency-based model. Many more colleges said they were at the point of testing competency-based education in individual programs (18 percent) or courses (37 percent).

Additionally, Ellucian’s own customers told the company that they were not prioritizing spending money on platforms specifically for competency-based education when they could use their existing learning management systems for those experiments, Williams said.

“They didn’t need a system,” Williams said. “While they believe that [competency-based education] will continue to develop over time as a means of serving a certain segment of nontraditional students, it’s not their highest priority from an investment and resource perspective.”

Ellucian ended support for Brainstorm on Feb. 10. The company continues to support colleges experimenting with competency-based education in other ways, for example by investing in its lineup of administrative software, Williams said.

The factors that influenced Ellucian's decision are being felt at other small and large companies in the space. While competency-based education continues to be a much-buzzed-about term in higher education, it has not been a gold mine for vendors looking to support an emerging market.

The same is true from the perspective of colleges and universities. A report released last year by the rpkGROUP, a consulting firm, found that colleges need to enroll thousands of students in order to reach the point where per-student revenues exceed expenditures in competency-based education. At this stage, however, most competency-based education programs are much smaller than that.

Sagence Learning has operated in the competency-based education market since 2015 and works with institutions such as Brandman University and Walden University. In an interview, Jade Roth, chief executive officer, declined to say how many colleges the company works with, but added that it has signed four new contracts over the past four months.

“The rate of acceleration … has perhaps not been as fast as people would have liked,” Roth said about the competency-based education market. That's not necessarily a bad thing, she added -- taking things slow can be more beneficial in the long run.

Sagence has raised $35.7 million from investors, according to CrunchBase. While Roth said funding is “always a challenge,” she added that the company is focused on accelerating the growth of competency-based education and other alternative ways of delivering education that don’t rely on seat time.

“We see opportunity in CBE, but not in CBE alone,” Roth said.

Southern New Hampshire University built its own platform, Motivis Learning, to support its competency-based education programs. The company spun off from the university in 2014. Today, about 10,000 students at dozen schools and colleges use the Motivis platform. The company is also exploring an expansion into the corporate education market, CEO Brian Peddle said in an interview.

Motivis has used colleges’ tendency to conduct small-scale experiments with competency-based education as a market strategy, Peddle said. “Get it at the beachhead, then go wide after that,” he said about the company’s approach. “Sneak in the side door with a CBE program, and then expand our reach.”

And once inside, Motivis can then make the pitch to a college that it should ditch its existing learning management system for the company’s platform, Peddle said.

D2L is taking the reverse approach. The company is already well established in the learning management system market -- its platform, Brightspace, is used by hundreds of colleges. That user base gives the company more of cushion as it actively works with “dozens” of colleges on competency-based learning, President and CEO John Baker said in an interview.

“The way that we’ve always approached competency-based education … is we look at it as one component of the learning experience,” Baker said. “What we’re hoping is you’ll see more and more courses, programs, universities and colleges making a complete transition to that model of learning. But we recognize that that transformation takes time.”

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Plan to set up women's universities in each district

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:36
Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman recently informed the National Assembly that a comprehensive plan is underway to have women's universiti ...

Drop in foreign applicants at some colleges - Survey

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:34
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Minister calls for 're-packaging' of ideology classes

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Arab students now have greater say in integration plan

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In order to retain their funding for empowering Arab students, academic institutions in Israel must now appoint an Arab student to the steering committees working on increasing integration of Arab ...

Universities may soon offer full degrees overseas

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:29
After two years of political debate, Dutch universities may soon be able to offer full degree programmes overseas after the Dutch House of Representatives passed a transnational education bill tha ...

Education department moves to prosecute essay mills

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:28
The Department of Education and Skills is planning to introduce laws to prosecute 'essay mill' companies who offer to write students' assignments in exchange for money, writes Carl O'Brien for ...

Nearly 15,000 Syrians studying in Turkish universities

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:25
Nearly 15,000 Syrians are enrolled in Turkish universities as of the 2016-17 academic year and they are among 3 million Syrians currently in Turkey to "continue living in a humane way", reports ...

Oxford University leaders call for EU citizen guarantees

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:24
The leaders of the University of Oxford are asking politicians to make sure that citizens of the European Union can stay in Britain post-Brexit, writes Lianna Brinded for Busi ...

Digital disruption lowers cost of pricey masters degrees

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:23
A round of price-cutting has broken out in the market for high-priced masters degrees with four Australian universities offering students a pathway to complete part of the degree online at a steep ...

MPs urge stronger business-universities tie-ups

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:22
The government must make it easier for businesses to invest in technology created in British universities if the United Kingdom is to fix its chronic under-investment in research and development, ...

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