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Chronicle of Higher Education: Growing Hemp Is Now OK. University Researchers Are Busy Planting Seeds.

In hemp, farmers see dollar signs, and colleges, especially land-grant institutions, want to lead the scientific charge.

Uni portal aims to be “TripAdvisor” with job focus

The PIE News - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 06:55

A new university search site, UniAdvisor, has been launched by the entrepreneur behind the Asian employment connection platform aimed at internationally educated graduates, CTurtle.

Shane Dillon, CEO of Hong Kong-based CTurtle, told The PIE News he hopes that UniAdvisor will become “the TripAdvisor for international education”.

“Our plan is to be the market leader in terms of future student inquiries about study abroad options,” he stated.

A USP of the site is that it has alumni ranking their institution based on factors including graduate and alumni income.

“We saw a huge gap in the market for students to get accurate and trusted information on what to expect in terms of access to employment, issues around safety, quality of teachers and graduate and alumni income,” said Dillon.

“In the first week we are already averaging 150 unique visitors a day and seven minute average time on site.”

Dillon explained that his company had been collecting data for three years through its research project, International Student Employment and Satisfaction (ISEOS).

“The idea for UniAdvisor started from students asking us for access to this data to make more informed decisions on where and what to study,” he said.

The site has launched this month and lists each institution (327 listed so far) by university, country and employment satisfaction.

Using peer feedback and referral as a means to help students choose where to study is a tool used by a few new digital innovators (although not search sites), but UniAdvisor seems to be different in that it also focuses on employability outcomes as a data differentiator too.

Dillon explained, “The many sites already available all had the same public data (course cost and THE/QS score) and information from institutions and agents was reported to be the most accessible and the least accurate [in the ISEOS report].

“We believe the best international education advice comes from other international students and alumni.”

The research data which consists of responses from over 17,000 students is still in the process of being verified by a research partner and added to the site, according to Dillon.

CTurtle was previously known as the International Alumni Jobs Network, and IAJN was a finalist in The PIEoneer Awards 2017.

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UK universities see 30% increase in Chinese applicants

The PIE News - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 06:35

New data from UCAS has revealed that the number of UK university applicants from China has increased by 30% for the 2019/2020 academic year to 19,760, overtaking the 18,520 applicants from Northern Ireland.

The UK is the second most popular destination for Chinese students seeking a university education abroad after the US, which is becoming viewed as less attractive destination due to new visa restrictions and warnings from the Chinese Ministry of Education.

“The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer, with record, demographic beating application rates in England and Wales, and the steep rise in international applications, especially from China,” said Clare Marchant, UCAS’ chief executive, in a statement on the findings.

“The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer”

According to the report, applications from within the EU and elsewhere increased by 1% and 8%, respectively.

While many countries saw a rise in the number of students applying to UK universities, applications from the Nordic countries decreased, along with those of Germany and Hong Kong.

Yet despite the increasing numbers of international students, some have noted a change in attitudes since the Brexit vote, according to sources who spoke with The PIE.

“I was surprised at how things have changed over the past few years… People have become quite unfriendly towards one another since Brexit,” one Chinese student at a London university told us.

“But I do like the research atmosphere in the UK and the traditions of freedom.”

The number of Chinese students at UK universities has increased annually over the last few years. The reported figure is also slightly lower than the total amount as not all students apply to universities through UCAS.

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Trilogy Education gains two UK partners

The PIE News - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 04:55

The University of Manchester announced the launch of its coding bootcamp in partnership with Trilogy Education, the second UK institution to join the US edtech company after the University of Birmingham in June.

Specialising in digital skills training, Trilogy Education has been partnering with universities in the US to deliver career-oriented technology boot camps. It has recently been acquired by 2U.

“Technology is transforming Manchester’s economy”

In Manchester, the Boot Camp will be a non-degree program teaching front-end and back-end skills necessary for a career in coding and web development, catering to adult learners.

“The accessible nature of the programme brings opportunities for technical development to a new audience of adult learners across the North West region,” Robert Stevens, head of the School of Computer Science at Manchester Uni, said in a statement.

Dan Sommer, CEO and founder of Trilogy Education, added that training digitally-skilled workers play into strengthening the city’s economy.

“Technology is transforming Manchester’s economy, but its continued growth hinges upon an increasing supply of digitally-skilled workers,” he said.

“The University of Manchester joins a growing network of top universities that are working to create stronger, more resilient cities through skills-based training programmes.”

Over at the University of Birmingham, the program has been praised by the mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who echoed Sommer in underlying the importance of digital skills in the workforce.

“Initiatives such as this, where workers in the region can benefit from global expertise at one of our leading universities, are critical if we are to continue to grow the economy and the skills and spending power of the people,” he said in a statement.


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King’s Wimbledon to open in Bangkok

The PIE News - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 04:08

Elite British independent day school King’s College School Wimbledon is to open a sister institution in Bangkok next year in collaboration with Excellent Education of Thailand.

The school will open doors in September 2020 and at capacity it will cater for 1,500 local and international pupils from pre-school to year 13, preparing students for IGCSE and A levels.

The institution will be owned, managed and operated by XET, while King’s Wimbledon will oversee curriculum, pastoral care and co-curricular programs.

“Just like our partners in Excellent Education Thailand, we have extremely high ambitions for this new school”

“We hope that by setting up King’s College International School, Bangkok, we can fuse two great cultures – British and Thai,” King’s director of overseas schools Karl Gross told The PIE.

“Just like our partners in Excellent Education Thailand, we have extremely high ambitions for this new school.

“We want to provide the best possible education to Thai and expatriate children, based on academic excellence but also on the virtues of kindness, good manners, respect, hard work, aspiration and courtesy.”

XET’s CEO Sakorn Suksriwong said that the company had been looking for a partner to establish a high-quality international school in Bangkok.

“We have spent years researching and screening schools which offer a blend of the highest academic standards and a holistic approach to education,” Suksriwong said in a statement.

“When we met with King’s College School Wimbledon, we…realised that we had found the right partner to match our high ambitions.”

The new premises will be situated in the Ratchada-Rama 3 area of Bangkok and its facilities will include a sports complex with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 600-seat auditorium and specialist science, music and art resources.

King’s College International School Bangkok will be the third overseas school for King’s Wimbledon after the opening of two schools in China in September 2018.

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Former rubbish picker receives scholarship

The PIE News - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 01:23

The transformative power of international education has made headlines in Australia and Cambodia after a former child ‘rubbish picker’ used her valedictorian speech to highlight how receiving a scholarship has helped her achieve her dreams.

Cambodian Sophy Ron, who is 21 years old, grew up working seven days a week collecting rubbish in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey waste dump to support her family, before receiving a scholarship to attend Trinity College’s Foundation Studies in Melbourne.

“All I knew was to compete to earn more so my father could be proud of me”

“Coming here has been absolutely life-changing for me,” Ron said at her graduation from Trinity College.

“Ten years ago, I was a little, clueless girl who helped support her family by picking up rubbish on a filthy garbage dump for money every day.”

Living in a small hut with her eight family members, Ron didn’t receive the chance to attend school until she was 11 years old.

“I never knew what school was like, never knew what English is. I never knew that school could be so beautiful,” she said.

“All I knew was to compete with my bigger sister to earn more so my father could be proud of me.”

After receiving assistance from the Cambodian Children’s Fund, Ron became the inaugural Trinity College scholarship recipient and is now preparing to begin her Bachelor of Arts studies at the University of Melbourne in July.

“Trinity brought me here under a scholarship and made me the person I am today,” Ron said.

“If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to speak English, live in the real world, experience real things, make friends and be confident. I would be back in my country, either getting married or dying of a disease.”

After completing her studies, Ron said she wanted to return home to Cambodia, where she plans to start her own business and contribute back to the CCF after it helped her to study in Australia.

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Survey of business officers finds four-year publics see peril ahead

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 00:00

As chief financial officers at private colleges express more optimism, those from nondoctoral four-year publics take a darker view. Survey also explores endowment drawdowns, likelihood of mergers and possible impact of another recession.

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Pennsylvania state system tries to draw redesign efforts off the page and into reality

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 00:00

Two key developments this week have the potential to give momentum to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s much-watched redesign effort.

But it remains to be seen if the system will have enough time to escape a tightening financial vise in a state where competition is fierce for a diminished pool of college-aged students. Also yet to be seen is whether leaders can maintain the buy-in needed to lock in major cultural and structural changes they believe are necessary.

Wednesday, the system’s Board of Governors froze tuition for the upcoming academic year for the first time since 1998-99. It followed that action Thursday with a move that’s likely to draw less attention from students but could feel more important to faculty members -- beginning a process to create a systemwide faculty senate or faculty advisory council.

PASSHE is “missing out” by not having a systemwide shared faculty governance structure, said the chair of the Board of Governors, Cynthia D. Shapira, during Thursday’s board meeting.

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“We’re missing out on getting real, direct advice on consultation from the people we are entrusting at the most basic level, at the most grass-roots level, to carry out our mission,” she said.

In a vacuum, neither change is necessarily groundbreaking. While a tuition freeze is virtually unheard-of across the state system’s 14 universities, it’s also only a one-year show of good faith that leaders hope will reassure the lawmakers who control Pennsylvania’s purse strings. And the action to set up some sort of systemwide faculty governance came as a request from Shapira to have a commission study the idea and report back by May 1.

However, in a state system that has been trying to emphasize culture change and accountability, the developments could prove to be key early decisions. The idea of systemwide shared governance is of particular importance from a structural standpoint, according to Dan Greenstein, PASSHE's chancellor.

“We’re moving in the direction of this system redesign, where we’re looking at how we enable students at any one of our 14 universities to have access to programs and courses at any of the other 13 universities,” Greenstein said in an interview. “And of course, that gets you into all sorts of interesting conversations around shared academic programming, student portability, credit mobility. And those are typically the kinds of conversations you need to have with academic faculty, because that’s right in the heart of what academic faculty do.”

No vehicle has existed at the statewide level for those conversations, Greenstein added.

Pennsylvania does have a strong statewide union for faculty members, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, or APSCUF. It has traditionally served in a consultative statewide role in the absence of a faculty senate or advisory council, Shapira said. It could continue to do so, at least in part, going forward.

But the board chair wants the new shared governance body to be stakeholders in a different kind of conversation outside the sometimes-combative labor-and-management focus that comes with the union relationship.

The faculty governance idea could turn into a source of tension with the union if it’s seen as undercutting APSCUF’s traditional position in any way. Any tension would come at a critical time, as the union’s collective bargaining agreement expired at the beginning of July and leaders are currently working to negotiate a new contract.

Kenneth Mash, president of the union, isn’t worried.

“I know where the faculty are,” Mash said in an interview. “I know that the faculty know that we are their organization and we are their voice.”

APSCUF’s roots are as a professional organization, Mash said. It has always expressed ideas and concerns about every aspect of the system and its universities, including academics.

If Mash had his way, APSCUF would continue to fill the systemwide shared governance role that PASSHE leaders are emphasizing. Still, he declined to fault Thursday’s move to create a new systemwide shared governance structure, saying he hopes the specifics turn out to be in everyone’s best interest.

“Everything they’ve been doing looks to be of great intention,” Mash said. “It’s just the devil is in the details.”

The union president struck a similar tone on the topic of the one-year tuition freeze. He called it a gambit.

PASSHE may need such a calculated risk to prove to lawmakers that it is serious about halting steady increases in tuition in hopes of securing more state funding. The system can’t continue with today’s low levels of state funding, Mash said. Only 27 percent of funding per full-time-equivalent student at public institutions in Pennsylvania comes from state support, with the rest coming from net tuition revenue, according to data from the State Higher Education Executive Officers association that covers multiple institutions and systems.

“You can’t maintain it,” Mash said. “It’s not doable.”

The tuition freeze nonetheless leaves the system facing a $62.7 million budget gap. That’s after state lawmakers increased funding for the system by 2 percent this year. They appropriated $477 million, $29 million less than system leaders had requested.

A tuition freeze will be felt by those working on university campuses, Mash said, addressing the board Thursday.

“The pain really is felt much more by those people who have to work directly with students every single day,” he said. “They are the ones who are going to witness major cuts to their departmental budgets. We’re going to see internships and other experiences cut, like they’ve been cut before.”

Over all, Mash thinks it’s the right move to hold the line on tuition. The system has been in the same pattern for long enough, he said.

PASSHE leaders are hoping for a one-time investment from the state in educational and operational infrastructure, recurring funding, and legislative changes to ease regulations in areas like purchasing. They hope the tuition freeze and other changes designed to make their governance more transparent, improve student success, find operating efficiencies, attract new students and find new revenue sources can help to sway lawmakers.

Powerful legislators have been skeptical of the system in the past. The chair of the state House Appropriations Committee earlier this year said lawmakers had lost faith in the system and that it hasn’t lived up to its mission of educating students from poor and middle-class families.

PASSHE's Problems

Leaders across the state have expressed concern that enrollment has dropped across PASSHE’s 14 institutions among students from low- and middle-income families. The system includes regional public institutions but not state-related research universities like Pennsylvania State University or the University of Pittsburgh.

The system redesign dates to a comprehensive review in 2016-17. Merging or closing some of the system’s institutions, which are scattered unevenly across the state, has been the source of much discussion over the years. One consulting group warned against mergers, closures or spin-offs, while another recommended them.

System leaders have rejected the idea of closing or merging institutions. Instead, they’ve pursued the redesign process with the goal of improving the system’s completion, job placement and social mobility metrics, as well as its affordability and the alignment between degree offerings and work-force openings.

Greenstein’s hiring, in 2018, came after the process had already begun. He’s thrown himself into the effort, preaching culture change and pushing for a detailed redesign framework. Still, polling of about 900 faculty, staff and students has shown that just 39 percent perceived their universities as being able to change.

While this week’s changes are early developments in the redesign process, they aren’t the very first to be approved.

In April, the system approved a new policy that for the first time will allow individual universities to set their own multiyear tuition strategies. It goes into effect next year, although the strategies will still be subject to approval from the Board of Governors.

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British universities see big jump in Chinese undergraduate applicants

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 00:00

The number of Chinese students applying for undergraduate study in the United Kingdom jumped by 30 percent this year, according to data released Thursday by the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, a centralized admission service for U.K. higher education.

A total of 19,760 Chinese students applied to U.K. universities during the 2019 admission cycle, compared to 15,240 the year before.

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Number of Chinese Applicants 8,500 9,660 10,510 10,690 10,730 11,540 12,450 13,390 15,240 19,760 Percent Change From Prior Year -- +13.6% +8.8% +1.7% +0.4% +7.5% +7.9% +7.6% +13.8% +29.7%

Over all, the number of international applicants from countries outside the European Union increased by about 8 percent, while the number from elsewhere in the E.U. increased by 1 percent.

While application data are less telling than enrollment data, and some international students may be applying to universities in multiple countries, the data nevertheless point to a surge in interest in British universities among prospective international undergraduates in general and among students from China in particular.

Comparable application data are not available for U.S. colleges for this fall, but U.S. universities have seen a decline in the number of new international students for the last two academic years. International education professionals have raised concerns that visa policies, anti-immigrant rhetoric and perceptions of a less welcoming or safe environment may be contributing to the declines.

Students from China make up the single largest group of international students in the U.S. by far. As their numbers have grown, many U.S. universities have come to rely on Chinese undergraduates who can pay full tuition to help balance their budgets.

“The trend with China clearly shows that there is a strong appetite and demand among international students to study overseas. If the U.S. is making things more difficult for international students, they are going to find alternative destinations,” said Rahul Choudaha, the executive vice president for research and global engagement at StudyPortals, an online marketing and recruitment platform.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, an Oxford-based think tank, said he thinks Britain is likely benefiting from the trade war between the U.S. and China, as well as from tensions between China and Australia. But he stressed that’s not the only factor in the increase in international applicants from China and elsewhere.

“I think the fact that is too often overlooked is the value of the pound,” he said. The pound dropped sharply in value following the 2016 referendum in favor of Britain exiting the European Union. With a Brexit deadline still looming, the pound has yet to recover fully in value, making British higher education comparably more affordable to students converting foreign currencies.

At the same time, Hillman said that while the trend of international student numbers was positive, “it’s not as good as it should be.” Data from the Institute of International Education show that the U.K. has 10 percent of the world's share of globally mobile students, second only to the U.S., which has 22 percent, and tied with China.

“We have a very strong university sector, we speak English, the U.K. is a very diverse and interesting place to study, and the global market for international students is growing. As the market is growing, you need to be taking extra students just to stand still in terms of your market share,” Hillman said.

Another notable change in the UCAS data is a continuing increase in the number of Indian students applying for undergraduate study in the U.K., which increased by 30 percent over two years, from 4,790 students in 2017 to 6,210 this year.

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New research shows reducing borrowing can hurt students' success in college

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 00:00

The student debt crisis has become ubiquitous in headlines and even in the mouths of some lawmakers.

New research, though, suggests that if many students are taking out unnecessary loan debt, others aren’t borrowing enough to support their pursuit of a degree.

The studies found that community college students who borrow more have stronger academic outcomes than those who took out fewer loans or reduced their borrowing. And one experiment involving Maryland community college students found that positive effects of increased borrowing carry over to students’ financial well-being after college -- whether or not they actually completed the degrees.

As both federal officials and college administrators raise concerns about overborrowing, the new research points to the possible downsides of messaging that could make low-income students averse to loan debt.

Andrew Barr, an assistant professor of economics at Texas A&M University, who co-wrote the study involving Community College of Baltimore County, said the findings show more nuance is necessary in discussions of student loan debt.

“There clearly are downsides to borrowing for certain people. But there is a reason we have student loans,” he said. “It allows students to finance their education. And for certain students, if you reduce the amount they perceive they can borrow, they seem to do worse.”

Barr, along with Kelli Bird, an assistant professor of education at the University of Virginia, and Ben Castleman, an associate professor of education at UVA, tracked the effects of a monthlong outreach campaign that used text messages to inform students at the Baltimore community college about their student loan debt. Students who received the texts reduced their borrowing through unsubsidized federal loans by about $200, or 7 percent, on average.

That reduced borrowing resulted in students performing worse in their courses. Those who received the texts and subsequently took out lower loan amounts were less likely to earn any credits and more likely to fail a class in the semester studied. Barr said that could be because students cut back on costs like food or spent more time working outside class to cover additional costs after reducing their borrowing amount.

The study also notably found that students who borrowed less were 2.5 percentage points more likely to default on their loans within three years. But those who borrowed more were less likely to default whether or not they completed a degree, Barr said.

“Even for people very unlikely to get a degree, academic performance matters for their likelihood of eventual default,” he said.

Higher ed researchers have found that students who leave college without a degree or credential are at the highest risk of default. But the study suggests that those with worse academic performance are at even greater risk of default. Barr said it’s not clear why that’s the case, but credit accumulation, a higher grade point average or some other factor involving academic achievement appeared to make a difference for students who borrowed more in the experiment.

The study builds on previous findings from a study by Benjamin Marx, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lesley Turner, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland at College Park. In a separate study of community college students released earlier this year, Marx and Turner found that messaging from a college could lead students to make substantial reductions in their borrowing.

The study looked at the results when an unnamed college didn’t include student loans in financial aid packages. Colleges that participate in the federal student loan program can’t dictate the amount of loans available to students. But they can choose the loan amount displayed in financial aid letters.

Students who randomly received financial aid offers including student loans were 40 percent more likely to borrow than were those who got an offer with no student loan funds. And students who received award letters with student loan aid borrowed an additional $4,000 and completed 30 percent more course credits.

“It’s important to avoid a knee-jerk reaction that we need to get rid of student loans,” Marx said. “Lots of community colleges are dropping out of the federal loan program entirely. And there’s evidence that that’s harming students.”

Some community colleges have incentives not to participate in the federal loan program. Consistently high default rates on student loans can lead an institution to lose access to any federal student aid, although very few institutions have suffered that consequence for loan outcomes.

Nine percent of community college students in the U.S. attend institutions that have opted out of the federal loan program, the Institute for College Access and Success found in 2016. Some public four-year institutions have also pursued policies to encourage students to limit their borrowing levels.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has warned that outstanding student loan debt has created a looming “crisis” for higher education. And top department officials have pushed for tools that would allow colleges to restrict improper spending by student aid recipients.

Matt Chingos, director of the Urban Institute’s Center on Education Data and Policy, said there are clearly people who are borrowing too much -- usually those pursuing a credential with little economic value. While researchers have raised questions about whether others aren’t borrowing enough, he said until recently there wasn’t good evidence showing the effects of underborrowing by college students.

“What these papers give us is some solid evidence, at least with the two community colleges studied, that borrowing too little is a real thing and that people benefit from borrowing more,” he said.

Chingos said it’s important to note that those findings don’t say anything about whether it would be preferable to give low-income students a larger Pell Grant or to make college free instead of offering loans. But given current higher ed policy, he said, the studies indicate borrowing can lead to more academic success.

Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research at the progressive think tank Demos, said the studies make clear that taking away one financing tool for college will have a negative impact on students. But those concerned with the effects of student loans don’t want to see reduced borrowing with no other financial backstop for students, he said.

“If a student, today, is on the margins of dropping out or working too many hours, I would advise them to use the tools at their disposal, including loans,” he said. “But from a policy perspective, it makes little sense why we’re asking community college students to borrow in the first place rather than meeting their financial need at the outset.”

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 00:00

Kalamazoo College

  • Menelik Geremew, money and banking
  • Brittany Liu, psychology
  • Amanda Wollenberg, biology
  • Michael Wollenberg, biology

Widener University

  • Jennifer Cullen, human service professions
  • Richard Hopkins, arts and sciences
  • Cary Leung, arts and sciences
  • Dipendu Saha, engineering
  • Anita Singh, engineering
  • Darrell Spurlock, nursing
  • Xiaochao Tang, engineering
  • Eamonn Tweedy, arts and sciences
  • Brooke Wells, human service professions
  • Zora Wolfe, human service professions

Winthrop University

  • Zach Abernathy, mathematics
  • Diana Boyer, geology
  • Monique Constance-Huggins, social work
  • Adriana Cordis, accounting
  • Philip Gibson, finance
  • Adam Glover, Spanish
  • Stephanie Lawson, marketing
  • Tracy Patterson, music
  • Duane Neff, social work
  • Andrew Seth Rouser, fine arts
  • Mary Slade, curriculum and pedagogy
  • Matthew Stern, biology
  • Nicki Washington, computer science.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: At the U. of South Carolina, Trustees Paused a Controversial Presidential Search. Then the Governor Stepped In.

Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, has reportedly been calling trustees and urging them to vote for a former superintendent of West Point.

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Education Dept. Wants Accreditors to Compete. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Proposed rules would remove obstacles to competition, but critics warn that such an approach would lead to even less oversight of higher education.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Hillsdale College Sues U. of Missouri for a Dead Donor’s Money. It Gets Weirder.

The Missouri donor had stipulated that professors hired with his gift must be “dedicated and articulate” believers in the free-market Austrian School of Economics.

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: In Lawsuit, Teachers Accuse Education Department of Botching Public-Service Loans

The suit alleges the department and its secretary, Betsy DeVos, have mismanaged the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

read more

Early learning app Poio launches in the UK

The PIE News - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 09:14

Norwegian early childhood learning app, Poio, has launched its English language version in the UK, extending its reach outside of its Scandinavian base a month after being acquired by learning platform Kahoot!.

Launched in mid-June, the game-based learning app asks children to help a troll name Poio learn to read by collecting words, and founder Daniel Senn said the game aimed to boost literacy rates within the UK.

“Children’s minds are vast sponges during these formative years”

“The UK’s Department of Education reported in 2018 that in one in five British children are leaving their primary education without being able to read and write properly,” Senn said.

“They also indicated that the right solutions to solve these issues were not available in the UK market and, encouraged by Poio’s success with over 100,000 Scandinavian users, it felt that we may have the answer.”

Speaking with The PIE News, Senn added play was a crucial component in engaging early childhood learners and using game elements and characters that children enjoyed meant there was better knowledge retention.

“The spirit of play in education is at the very core of what we do and helps to connect with children who are often left behind by the traditional education,” he said.

“Children’s minds are vast sponges during these formative years, able to recall every one of their favourite Pokémon – but also sometimes struggling to expand their vocabulary elsewhere.

“Instead of taking the traditional approach of chastising children for caring about the things they care about, it’s the role of learning tools to tap into that sense of enthusiasm.”

A US-English version will be made available later in the year.

In May, Poio was acquired by game-based learning platform Kahoot!, which describes itself as the “Netflix of Education”.

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João Gilberto, the man who sang “The Girl from Ipanema”, has died

Economist, North America - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:51

IT WAS NOT João Gilberto’s fault, and as a perfectionist no doubt he suffered from it more than anyone, that his greatest hit, “The Girl from Ipanema”, has been mutilated into supermarket Muzak. At its height, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Brazilian fusion of samba, jazz, and other things too, known as bossa nova (“new style” in Portuguese) entranced the world. Back home, it formed the soundtrack to a period of cultural originality, from architecture to football, that seemed to augur a bright future for Brazil. As a guitarist and singer Mr Gilberto, who died an impoverished recluse on July 6th, aged 88, was a star of that moment. He lived to see a darker present.

Born in the arid backlands of Brazil’s north-east, Mr Gilberto arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1950 as a singer in one of the then-fashionable vocal ensembles. After his career stalled he retreated, broke and on the verge of mental illness, to a kind of internal exile. He spent months closeted with his guitar in a bedroom of a sister’s house, obsessively stripping down and rebuilding his way of playing it. He emerged with the terse, syncopated rhythm, complex chords and a gentle, almost spoken, singing style that were the marks of bossa nova.

He returned to a Rio in musical ferment. A loose fellowship of bohemian young, mainly middle-class musicians,...

Mexico’s finance minister falls out with its populist president

Economist, North America - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:51

IN MEXICO’S LEFTIST populist government, Carlos Urzúa, the social-democratic finance minister, was a reassuring figure. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has unorthodox ideas about how to develop Mexico. Mr Urzúa (pictured, right) would help make sure, investors hoped, that he pursued them without wrecking the economy. But on July 9th, after seven months in office, he quit, abruptly and noisily. In a venomous letter he said his ministry had been forced to employ unqualified people. “I am convinced that economic policy should be based on evidence” and free from “all extremism, whether of the right or the left”. This belief “found no echo” in the government, lamented Mr Urzúa. “I’ve never seen a letter like this in Mexico,” says Luis Rubio of CIDAC, a think-tank. 

Mr López Obrador (pictured, left), who took office in December, has lost other officials, including the environment secretary and the head of the migration institute. Some have left not because the president is spendthrift, but because he has slashed ministries’ budgets to make room for his pet projects. Cuts to health spending prompted the resignation in May of the head of the social-security institute.

Mr Urzúa’s departure will hurt more. It dims the aura of a president who still has high approval ratings. It exposes infighting within his team....

With tenacity and torture, Venezuela’s awful regime is hanging on

Economist, North America - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 07:51

ALMOST SIX months since Juan Guaidó began his attempt to remove Venezuela’s leftist dictatorship, the strain is showing. The 35-year-old’s jet-black hair is peppered with grey. His eyes seem weary. He has dropped his snappy slogan, “vamos bien” (“we are doing well”). Now his demoralised supporters utter it sarcastically. 

But the need to end the rule of Nicolás Maduro is as strong as ever. His mismanagement, plus sanctions imposed in January on Venezuela’s oil industry by the United States, will cause the economy to shrink by more than 25% this year. In dollar terms, the drop in output since Mr Maduro became president in 2013 will be around 70%. Francisco Rodríguez, an economist in New York who has advised the moderate opposition, warns of famine.

On July 5th the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published evidence that security forces loyal to the government, such as the FAES, had murdered at least 6,800 people from January 2018 to May 2019. It documented cases of torture, including the use of electric shocks and waterboarding. The report, written by Michelle Bachelet, a left-wing former president of Chile who had once been sympathetic to Venezuela’s government, described health care as “dire” and noted “violations of the right” to food and other necessities. The regime called the...

Turkey aims to host 200,000 international students by 2023

The PIE News - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 06:13

Turkey is aiming to enrol 200,000 international students by 2023, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said at an event in Istanbul, and has praised educators for their work helping students from nations struggling economically, or suffering war and famine.

“Our goal is to increase international students [in Turkey] to 200,000 [by] 2023,” Erdogan said at a graduation ceremony of the Turks Abroad and Related Communities.

“I see future ministers, premiers, politicians, artists”

“We are currently hosting 150,000 international students from 182 different countries studying in our country,” he said, according to Anadolu Agency.

According to the Council of Higher Education in Turkey, there were 125,138 international students at the country’s universities in 2017/2018.

Speaking to the graduates, Erdogan said they would be Turkey’s “mission chiefs” when the return to their home countries.

“In this hall, I see future ministers, premiers, politicians, artists and – hopefully – Nobel laureate scientists. In this hall, I see hearts that will serve both their countries and the whole of humanity with their works,” he added.

Erdogan has previously complained that Turkey had not established a mechanism for continuing the relationship for alumni.

Additionally, earlier in 2019 Turkey announced it would abolish its quota to ensure international students did not exceed 50% of admissions at universities.

The president also stressed that most applicants of Turkey scholarships same from areas “struggling with serious problems” such as Syria, Palestine and Yemen, the state-run agency reported.

Of the countries mentioned, in 2017/2018 Syria represented 12,980 students at institutions across Turkey, Afghanistan 4,911, Iraq 3,827, Somalia 1,690, Yemen 1,565, Palestine 1,485, and Myanmar 51 respectively.

President Erdogan also called for women-only universities to be established in Turkey.

Organisations such as UNHCR, SPARK, and the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation help students access education in the country.

Dutch non-profit organisation offering access to higher education SPARK has been working to support students from Syria studying at universities in the south-east of the country.

“A lot of investment is necessary. Not only in physical infrastructure”

“Some of these universities are now hosting huge numbers of students,” Ceren Genc, senior higher education (innovation) expert at the NGO told The PIE News.

SPARK has partnerships with five major universities in Turkey; Gaziantep University, Harran University, Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University, Mersin University and Mustafa Kemal University – all in the south-east of Turkey.

“Universities are relying on NGO’s like SPARK who, with international funds are not only providing scholarships and support to the students, but also build the capacity of universities themselves.”

This has been essential, Genc noted.

“In order to host large groups of international students in a good way, a lot of investment is necessary.

“Not only in physical infrastructure but also in human capacity, both academic and administrative, in curriculum development, language training, social and psychological support,” she explained.

By hosting refugee students, these universities will be able to recruit students from elsewhere in the world, she added.

“They will also be much better placed to set up student and staff exchange and become players in the world of international education. These universities deserve to be supported by the international education community,” Genc told The PIE.

For the time being, Istanbul remains the most attractive study destination in Turkey, she said.

“Building on the attractiveness of Istanbul as an internationally renowned metropolis, the universities have invested a lot in developing their international offices and their international strategies in order to attract more international students to their campuses.”

However, to compete for fee-paying international students, universities will have to offer a “high-quality package across the board”, including attractive curricula, adequate staff to student ratio, and good accommodation, facilities and support.

And, Genc added, in order to achieve the 200,000 target by 2023, financial support will be needed from a variety of donors.

“When it comes to refugee students, [financial support] will be absolutely necessary,” Genc concluded.

In 2018, Erdogan announced that the country is aiming to attract 350,000 international students, however, no clear timeframe for reaching the target was established.

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