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Trump discusses ‘smart person’s waiver’

The PIE News - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 05:38

President Trump has acknowledged flaws in the US’s work visa system for international graduates during a press conference in Osaka, Japan, and discussed the creation of a new “smart person’s” waiver system.

He made the comments while speaking to reporters about tensions between China and the US, referring to Chinese students as “tremendous assets”.

“We want to keep these people here”

This is despite concerns that visa issuance into the US is becoming more complicated: visa rejection rates are reportedly rising and Chinese students face one-year visa limits for some master’s degrees.

“We have a problem…in our country that you graduate number one in your class from the best school in the country, and they say you have to leave; we can’t keep them,” stated Trump.

“We’re going to call it the ‘smart person’s waiver’. But we’re going to make it so that they can not only stay but have access to green cards. We want to keep these people here.”

But the news – if it turns into policy – may be too little too late to repair the damage done to the US’s reputation as the world’s most popular study destination.

In June 2018, new regulations capped postgraduate work visa lengths for Chinese students in fields like robotics, aviation and hi-tech manufacturing to just one year, a response to Beijing’s increased focus on science and technology, which has fuelled fears of corporate espionage and intellectual property theft.

Chinese graduates pursuing research or management positions at certain companies also now require clearance from several different US agencies, a process which can take months.

However Emily Guerrant, spokesperson for Michigan State University – one of the most popular universities among Chinese students – told The PIE News that despite political tensions around access to the US, they were expecting a bigger cohort of international students enrolling for the 2019/2020 academic year.

“While we realise the national dialogue around international students and visas can impact both the desire and intent for international students to come to Michigan State University, we have worked to ensure that students feel welcome on our campus and in our community,” explained Guerrant.

To date, no further details of the ‘smart person’s waiver’ have been released.

The post Trump discusses ‘smart person’s waiver’ appeared first on The PIE News.

Lily Guo, founder, GATE, China

The PIE News - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 03:33
Lily Guo is the founder of a successful education counselling business in China. She spoke to The PIE about the evolution of GATE, which helps place Chinese students in institutions overseas but is also opening up bilateral channels from the West into China.


The PIE: How did you decide to work in this industry?

LG: I graduated from a university with a teaching degree. I started my teaching 20 years ago and I noticed that education in China still needed to improve in many fields. So that’s why I hope now that I can help more Chinese students to get a better education.

In China now, internationalisation is considered very important, not only by the students but by all the Chinese people. The Chinese government also realised that internationalisation will really help to improve many things in China: first of all education, of course. We should learn from the rest of the world. Chinese students as you know they also like to study or work in other countries. China now is open.

“For most Chinese students, the family really cannot afford an international experience…but they still need to have this opportunity”

The PIE: Where did you learn English? In China, or did you study abroad?

LG: I come from a very poor family so I couldn’t imagine studying abroad. So that’s why I had to study in China. And after my graduation, I started to work in an international company – that was my opportunity.  For most Chinese students, the family really cannot afford an international experience. But they still need to have this opportunity. Even just a weekend. I really hope that I can help them at least a little to open their eyes to the world, not just their local city.

The PIE: Where did you go the first time you went abroad?

LG: In the US. I landed in San Francisco and I thought “Oh my God. This is really San Francisco. It’s not just in my mind!”

I thought there would be many high buildings like New York or Beijing, or Shanghai. But I just saw many houses and not many high apartment buildings compared to Beijing. I thought: “That’s not America.” Later on, I realised that this was the real America. You don’t need to build so many high apartment buildings as you don’t have that huge population and you have enough land. So I just realised it’s different!

The PIE: Which institutions do you feel are the best for Chinese students, in terms of the support they offer them?

LG: I find some institutions especially in California because they are very diverse and they know more about international students, so they really help students overcome culture shock. In China, we have more than two thousand years of history. Our country is quite different from other countries. And families help the young generations to know about our culture and we respect our parents and the older generations.

And so that’s why Chinese students will look shy. Most of the time, they just keep their mouths closed, because this is the culture. You cannot just challenge the parents or the older generation. So this doesn’t mean that students don’t care or that they don’t want to learn. This is just their culture.

But now Chinese schools are trying their best to encourage the students to open their mouths and ask their questions.

We are also helping our students. We set up some courses on critical thinking skills – what critical thinking should look like and how can they use it to learn. It’s important that institutions overseas understand Chinese students, but it’s also important that we help them.

“Education at least should be an area where Trump doesn’t close the door, because education is international”

The PIE: Have you seen a change in the destinations Chinese students want to go to?

LG: Before we had more students going to the UK, Australia and New Zealand. But I think 13 or 14 years ago, American institutions started to open their doors to the Chinese students. After that, more and more Chinese students started to choose the US as the main destination. But still, we have many students choosing other destinations.

The PIE: Are you concerned that the US will become less. popular because of Trump?

LG: Yes, to a certain extent. But I think education at least should be an area where Trump doesn’t close the door, because education is international.

The PIE: Are you also sending American students into China?

LG: This is our plan. We really hope that because now we have more US institutions that partner with us. So they are expecting not just to recruit the students from China but to advance their internationalisation.

Internationalisation is bilateral, so that’s why they really hope that we can open opportunity also for their students here in China.

The PIE: How many students do you work with now?

LG: We work together with the institution in China. So our students, while studying in China most of the time they will spend a short time, half a year to one year, in the US. So now we work with than 3,000 students. The number is increasing very quickly because we have more and more partner institutions in China.

We are focusing on university or college-level students. And now we are also helping the Chinese institutions to become more ‘applied’. That means that they need industry partners, so we help to build up the bridge between the institutions and the industry. Many companies and HR people also like to hire our students because they are more hands-on. They know how to use and apply the knowledge they have learnt.

“We work with than 3,000 students – the number is increasing very quickly”

The PIEWhat are your hopes for the next few years of your business?

LG: I really hope that we can partner with more Chinese institutions and US institutions, but perhaps because of the political situation we have to choose and maybe also find some resources from Europe. In Europe now they are more open to China and to the Chinese.

But I really hope that the US can keep the doors open. I also feel that America has already been important for so many years and we have a lot of friends here. And I really hope that I can help both sides so that the two have a better understanding of each other. And help the Chinese students and US students to learn more about each other and build up their relationship.

China is open to welcome US students and for them to learn about our culture and our history. And people, most of the people, are warm-hearted and friendly. So you know, Chinese students can be friends of US students. Maybe both of them can be more open.

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Australia: TEQSA issues transparency note

The PIE News - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 02:50

Australia’s higher education relator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, has issued a good practice note to give providers better guidance in adhering to the principles of admissions transparency.

The latest in its series of good practice notes, Making higher education admissions transparent for prospective students supports the work of the Admissions Transparency Implementation Working Group.

“Providers were operating on scores which were higher than the ones they had admitted students on”

“The note is part of a whole range of measures that we’ve been taking in relation to admissions transparency,” TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran said.

“That was the sector working together to find ways to improve the visibility and transparency requirements to Australian universities.”

Primarily focused on domestic admissions, the note and working group do have implications for international students, particularly those who use Australia’s high school system to enter university.

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, which gives students an overall position relative to other students within their state, was a particular of contention, McClaran said.

“We wanted to make sure that it was clear that providers were being transparent about the actual ATAR scores that they’d admitted students on previously,” he told The PIE News.

“In some cases, providers were apparently operating on scores which were higher than the ones that they had actually admitted students on. Therefore, a potential student might be deterred from applying to a particular university or other higher education institution.”

McClaran added the good practice note also sought to help providers clarify alternative routes into higher education, such as those that had gone through a vocational provider, or had left formal education for some years.

While focussed on domestic students, he added that the broader principles of admissions transparency applied to all students.

“Anecdotally, there was a feeling that there was already a considerable degree of transparency around international students because if you want international students, you’re going to make a very strenuous effort to make sure that they understand,” he said.

In early 2019, TEQSA also released a guidance note on English language pathways.

The post Australia: TEQSA issues transparency note appeared first on The PIE News.

University of Puerto Rico faces deep cuts to appropriations

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 00:00

The move by Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy to slash $130 million in state support for the University of Alaska in a line-item veto -- an amount equivalent to 41 percent of the university’s state appropriation -- sent shock waves through the world of public higher education, and for good reason. Even against a backdrop of state disinvestment from public higher education nationally, the magnitude, manner and speed of the threatened cuts to Alaska’s budget were highly unusual, and university leaders warned they will have to take drastic cost-cutting measures if the Legislature does not act to override the governor’s veto.

But not as well-known is the fact that elsewhere in the U.S., another public university system is facing cuts of a similar magnitude, and on a similar, albeit somewhat longer, time frame. The appropriation for the University of Puerto Rico's operating expenses was slashed by $86 million this year, to about $501 million, following on a $44 million cut the year before that and a $203 million cut the year before that.

A fiscal plan for the university certified by the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board in June calls for the appropriation to continue to fall over the next several years, so that by fiscal year 2022 it will be under $400 million, 56 percent lower than the $879 million baseline figure at which the Puerto Rican government historically funded the university's operations.

Professors say the cuts being imposed by the government and the financial oversight board -- which was established by Congress to oversee the U.S. territory's finances as it confronts a $123 billion debt crisis -- are straining faculty and staff resources and imperiling access for students.

The president of UPR, Jorge Haddock, disagrees, and argues that the cuts have not affected academic quality or access to the institution. The university's accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, in June reaffirmed accreditation for all 11 of UPR's campuses after having placed them on show-cause directives requiring them to provide evidence of compliance with various standards, including those relating to adequacy of financial resources and financial monitoring and reporting.

Appropriation Cuts and Tuition Hikes

Professors say the deep cuts to UPR's government appropriations and hikes in tuition will jeopardize the primary engine for social mobility and economic growth for the island, which -- in addition to facing a financial crisis -- is still recovering from the extensive damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

"They're destroying the source of professionals, the source that is going to sustain the local economy, but they’re not interested in building the economy of the island. They're trying to privatize everything on the island," said Charles R. Venator-Santiago, an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut and executive director and president-elect of the Puerto Rican Studies Association.

In November the association's leadership issued an open letter expressing "alarm at the draconian budget cuts being imposed on the University of Puerto Rico by the Fiscal Oversight Management Board (FOMB) with the acquiescence of government and university authorities." The letter argued that the cuts to Commonwealth support "will endanger the future of the island’s premier institution of higher education."

“It’s becoming harder and harder to maintain the level of excellence that we need at the university,” said Angel Rodriguez, the president of the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors. Rodriguez estimates that the university has lost about 40 percent of its professors from attrition over the past decade. In that same time frame, enrollment has decreased by about 9,000 students, from about 64,000 to 55,000, as the island's population has fallen.

While there have not been program closures or terminations, faculty say they are feeling the effects of faculty and staff lost through attrition who are not replaced.

“The objective is to shrink the public university and to make it less competitive,” said Isar Godreau, a researcher at the UPR Cayey campus's Institute of Interdisciplinary Research and an anthropologist. “As faculty retire, there are no replacements, so departments keep getting smaller and smaller. Nonfaculty are also not being replaced, so the administrative processes in an already bureaucratic system have come to a status of inefficiency. It feels like they are just letting the system deteriorate on its own.”

“I can’t say I’ve seen a decrease in the quality yet, but I do see the exhaustion in my colleagues,” Godreau added. “We’re trying to keep it up in spite of everything that’s been happening.”

Meanwhile, the undergraduate tuition rate has more than doubled from $57 per credit in 2017-18 to $124 this coming academic year, and is slated to increase to $157 by fiscal year 2023. That may seem low -- and indeed by mainland U.S. standards, it is -- but professors say it must be contextualized against the median household income in Puerto Rico, which at $19,775 is about a third of the $57,652 median income across the U.S. The island’s 44.4 percent poverty level is more than three times the national average of 12.3 percent.

Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the financial oversight board, said the tuition increases were developed with the objective that the maximum annual tuition would be about $1,000 less than the maximum Pell Grant award, which sits at a little more than $6,000. The fiscal plan also calls for an expansion of need-based scholarship funds.

Jaresko said that Puerto Rico can't afford to subsidize the university at the level it historically has. In the past the Puerto Rican government contributed about 70 percent of the university's budget.

"The Commonwealth is unable at this time to make the same contribution," she said. "Given that the Commonwealth is in bankruptcy, everyone is sharing in this pain. It’s a time of right-sizing."

At the same time, Jaresko said, “UPR isn’t taking advantage of all of the opportunities it has to diversify its revenues. When you look at diversifying your revenues by increasing tuition, when you subsidize tuition, the greatest subsidy goes to the most wealthy. The idea here would be to use the resources in a way where, yes, you subsidize but you subsidize those who are in need, not those who are not in need.”

"There are other pieces," she added. "I don’t know another university that doesn’t ask its alumni for contributions. UPR has extraordinary alumni who when I meet with them either on the island or off the island they proactively comment that they have never been asked -- not to mentor students, not to take interns, not to offer financial help. UPR has been lulled into a sense of financial security in a way with this level of subsidies that hasn’t forced them to develop these other tools that are really valuable."

The fiscal plan for the university certified by the oversight board in June also discusses UPR's pension system, which according to plan is funded only at a 43-percent level. It recommends that UPR can either increase its spending on pensions and make what the board determined is "the full actuarially required" contribution of about $160 million per year -- a step that will require it to find savings in other places, likely by further increasing tuition, reducing faculty or closing some of its 11 campuses -- or that it freeze or cut retirement benefits.

The fiscal year 2020 budget certified by the financial oversight board called for the university to make $160 million in contributions to the pension plan, $80 million more than the university budgeted based on earlier projections and more than double what it paid last year. UPR said it cannot make the additional $80 million payment, which UPR President Haddock said came as an "out-of-the-blue" demand from the fiscal board.

The rightful role of the seven-member financial oversight board is a highly contested subject in Puerto Rico. Asked who has the final say on UPR's finances -- the university's governing board or the financial oversight board -- Haddock said the answer depends on whom you ask but that according to Puerto Rican law he is supposed to enact the budget set by the governing board. Jaresko said that in refusing to adhere to the budget certified by the financial oversight board the university is not complying with Promesa, the 2016 federal law that established the financial oversight mechanism for agencies on the island.

"We don’t have the money on top of the $86 million cuts -- now they want us to add another $80 million contribution. It's almost like they want to hurt us," Haddock said.

“I don’t know where they think we can get this money, because it would have to come from further cuts.”

"Essential Service"

Haddock said that the university has responsibly managed the cuts without suffering any damage to its academic programs.

"It has not caused any damage on the academic quality or the academic programs," he said. "We have not cut one single program because of the budget cuts, and we have continued to increase the quality based on the rankings, and based on the feedback from Middle States in the accreditation process."

Haddock said the university is seeing increased revenues from federal grants and from other sources. "We’re looking at all this new income and then the savings are in nonacademic areas that do not affect our academic deliveries directly," he said. "We have savings on power, electricity, we have savings on paper -- we’re moving towards paperless. We also have attrition in nonacademic personnel. There alone the reduction [in this year's budget] was $40 million." At the same time, he said, the budget calls for increasing faculty by 3 percent per year.

"It's obvious," he said, "that there was room for savings."

Haddock said that after the projected cuts to appropriations are phased in, the university still stands to derive about 40 percent of its budget from central government appropriations (or, to be more precise per the fiscal plan, 38 percent).

"As a president, of course I would love to have more money from everywhere from every source," Haddock said. "But I think that we’re still one of the best-funded state universities in the U.S. Forty percent -- that doesn’t exist in many universities any longer."

Though Haddock argues that the cuts have been managed so as to not damage academics, others assert that the cuts have contributed to reductions to the full-time faculty workforce. In May testimony to a congressional committee, Ana Cristina Gómez Pérez, a professor of law at UPR’s Rio Piedras campus and a coordinator of the budget committee for the University Board, an advisory board consisting of campus administrators, faculty and students, said the university has frozen hiring for tenure-track positions in favor of hiring part-time adjunct lecturers. She said that as of Dec. 31, 746 full-time professor positions were frozen. (The UPR president's office was unable to verify the figure or provide requested data on faculty attrition and changes in full-time versus part-time faculty prior to deadline.)

Speaking on behalf of the University Board (which is a separate entity than the UPR governing board), Gómez Pérez called on Congress to amend Promesa to classify UPR as an “essential service” and to guarantee funding of at least $800 million a year.

“Within the context of this crisis and the aftermath of the hurricanes, the University of Puerto Rico is the only institution that can provide the island with the platform for recovery and restructuring,” Gómez Pérez said in her written testimony. “Currently, the University of Puerto Rico has a diverse array of research and projects aimed to recovery in the areas of health, education, safety and renewable energy, among others. It is also the first and only public institution of higher education in the island and custodian of its cultural heritage. Moreover, it has the best graduation rates compared to other higher education institutions of the island. We believe that the FOMB is misguided in its conception and designing of the fiscal austerity measures of the University of Puerto Rico.”

"We have an austerity-on-steroids problem, but we also have the problem of not being fairly represented at the governmental or institutional level," said Godreau. "We have a representative in Congress that has no vote. Puerto Rican people cannot vote in the election for president. Seven unelected members of the fiscal control board are imposing these measures, these policies, and they have power over the governor, over the Legislature, finances. Who tells these seven members that they can't impose these measures?"

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Top Education Department official discusses focus on public-facing data rather than regulation

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 00:00

BALTIMORE -- So far the Trump administration’s take on trying to hold colleges more accountable has relied largely on releasing more public-facing data about their performance at the program level, while also deregulating and dropping sanction-bearing rules from the Obama era.

The U.S. Department of Education’s top higher education official, Diane Auer Jones, the principal deputy under secretary, described this approach on Wednesday at an event held here by Inside Higher Ed on the future of public higher education.

“Our philosophy on accountability is that government has an obligation to make data and information available to consumers. But we don’t think government knows better than an individual what is right for that individual,” she said. “People should know what the outcomes might be so that they borrow responsibly. But somebody who’s interested in philosophy should still pursue philosophy, and somebody who’s interested in welding should pursue welding.”

In May the department updated the College Scorecard, for the first time including preliminary data on student loan debt at the academic program level. More is on the way for the consumer tool created by the Obama administration, Jones said, including annual earnings of graduates one year after college and data on college debt held by parents, such as through Parent PLUS loans.

The administration has reached out to the private sector for help with the updated Scorecard. “We’ve been working with Google, because one thing I know is that Google will do it better than the government can do it,” Jones said. “So we will have a student-facing website. But if we really want data usable by students, Google’s going to do a much better job.”

Jones reiterated the department’s caveats about the Scorecard's new data being preliminary and still a work in progress. She said the plan is to publish a limited amount of high-value metrics for students and parents, but to also release much more for researchers to use.

"You have to start somewhere," she said. "We had a decision to make -- do you wait until you have the perfect site to put data out or do you put it out as you get it? And we’re putting it out as we get it."

The Scorecard is a welcome step toward more transparency in higher education, said F. King Alexander, president of the Louisiana State University system, who joined Jones as a participant in the panel discussion.

“We spent 40 years without providing any information to anybody. And we know more about used cars we bought,” Alexander said.

In the Great Recession’s wake, Alexander said, students and parents started asking more about college outcomes. Yet the new data haven’t come easily.

“It was a fight the last 10 years to get the Scorecard up,” said Alexander, adding that trade groups for higher education, private colleges and for-profits “fought it every step of the way.”

Carrots, Sticks and Performance Funding

Many have criticized the Trump administration for dropping the gainful-employment rule, which the Obama administration largely aimed at for-profit institutions and designed to punish colleges where relatively large shares of graduates were unable to repay their student loans. Likewise, some say the department’s recently concluded rule making on accreditation gives those agencies too much latitude to avoid punishing low-performing colleges.

Jones defended the move toward relying more on transparency and the market than on regulations. And she said the executive action on accreditation creates a higher standard of accountability, in part because it gives colleges more time to correct problems.

“We think we have better tools, because we will have tools that look at every program at every institution, so it won’t just be a subset,” she said. “We are hoping that carrots work, and that transparency works.”

She also said federal regulations come with a cost to colleges.

“We’re trying to figure out how to responsibly reduce the regulation to the big things, which is the student experience, so that you can shift more of your resources to students and faculty,” said Jones.

The feds won’t be tying college aid to outcomes at the program or college level under this administration, Jones said. But such policies currently are on the books in roughly 35 states, which have linked a portion of support for public colleges to metrics such as graduation and retention rates, numbers of degrees issued, and, increasingly, attempts to measure equity, such as enrollment levels of students who are low income or from minority groups.

Alexander said the move toward performance funding in the states began shortly before 1980, when legislatures began disinvesting in public colleges by failing to keep pace with enrollment gains.

“We’ve never seen new money. We’re fighting over a constrained set of money,” he said. “We’ll meet some of these new standards. We will do these things. The problem is not that we’re having to do it. The problem is that we’re allowing state legislators to avoid their responsibility.”

Kate Shaw, executive director of Research for Action and a speaker at the session, agreed with Alexander that states generally are failing on their side of the bargain.

“States are backing away from their responsibility to higher education,” she said.

However, Shaw, who is a former state-level higher education executive officer in Pennsylvania and whose organization studies performance funding for colleges, said so-called outcomes-based funding formulas -- when well designed -- have created important incentives and bargaining power in statehouses for public colleges.

“Until outcomes funding came around, no higher education [institution] was accountable to anybody, and state legislators and policy makers knew it,” said Shaw. She also said the formulas can identify inequity in systems and colleges.

Alexander said graduation rates have been overused as an accountability tool.

“I can get our graduation rate up: you turn away the low-income kids and you turn away the males. I know the numbers,” he said. “If you’re going to use a rate, you better use how many are graduating, how many graduates are you putting in the economy for the good of the local region and the state, and are they increasing their number of low-income students, who are the ones who need higher ed the most.”

Shaw agreed that performance funding should include a broad, nuanced set of metrics. But she said colleges with selective admissions typically are the ones that can game performance formulas.

“Most institutions in this country don’t have the luxury of cherry-picking,” said Shaw.

While the Trump administration won’t use the Scorecard to set bright lines for colleges, it could be done, said Jones, perhaps successfully.

“I’m sure that there will be researchers out there who use College Scorecard data to come up with a formula that would be a pass-fail line,” said Jones. “There are going to be people out there doing it. It’s not going to be us. It could be a future administration. It could be researchers.”

‘Supplement or Supplant’

Jones said the Obama administration undertook an interesting experiment by allocating new money to community colleges, specifically through a $2 billion grant program. The question, she said, was whether the funding would “supplement or supplant” state support.

“What we saw was, in many cases, it didn’t supplement,” she said. “How do you put federal resources out in such a way that it doesn’t gives states the excuse to just pull more money out of higher ed? Because the federal resource isn’t always going to be there. This idea that we prime the pump so that states take over just kind of hasn’t worked so well.”

Alexander said that in K-12 policy, the feds have included “supplant” clauses, and he argued for the creation of federal-state partnerships that incentivize states to better fund public colleges. If that doesn’t happen soon, he said, several states in coming years will stop supporting public higher education entirely.

“We created a federal voucher system with no accountability,” he said. “States started figuring out that they could pull their money out, and let the institutions raise tuition and fees, and they could get re-elected by not raising taxes.”

The Trump administration has spent much of its energy on higher education reversing the Obama administration’s take on accountability and regulation. And a future Democratic White House is likely to go the opposite direction.

Jones was asked how college leaders should plan amid the regulatory whiplash.

“If you are focused on serving your students well, and making sure that employers in your community want to hire your students, you will survive almost any shift in political focus,” she said.

“Regardless of political party, we have different ideas about how to get there, but what we all agree upon is that we want schools to be serving their students to the best of their ability,” said Jones. “And we know it’s what you want as well. If you always keep that in mind, you’re going to be fine.”

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Indiana lecturer under scrutiny for alleged verbal abuse of mentally disabled employee

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 00:00

This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

A biology lecturer at Indiana University Bloomington has gained criticism for using derogatory language toward an intellectually disabled restaurant employee, prompting a petition calling for an investigation of the incident.

A video circulated on social media Monday apparently depicting Claire Nisonger, a senior lecturer of biology at IU Bloomington, becoming confrontational with an intellectually disabled employee at McDonald's. The video has since been removed from Facebook, where it was originally posted. The original poster of the video said Nisonger called the employee a “stupid retard” during the confrontation. Nisonger allegedly also verbally accosted another intellectually disabled individual who was in the customer line. The video has been taken down from Facebook, apparently for violating rules regarding bullying.

The incident prompted condemnation from the IU Neurodiversity Coalition. The group defines neurodiverse individuals as individuals with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome and other conditions. The group started a petition shortly after to call on the university’s Board of Trustees to investigate the incident, and it issued a statement affirming “the value that neurodiverse individuals bring to our campus and our community.”

The petition also called for the board to “ensure that no neurodiverse IU students will be subjected to abuse by Ms. Nisonger by immediately removing her from all interactions with IU students and taking all necessary measures to ensure that any future interactions Ms. Nisonger may have with IU students will not include hate speech or abuse toward neurodiverse people.”

A spokesperson said in an emailed statement the university was gathering more information about the incident.

“Indiana University is aware of the off-campus incident involving an IU employee and the associated social media response,” said Rebecca Carl, university spokesperson. “University leaders have heard from individuals engaged in or concerned about the matter and are taking steps to learn more.”

A request for comment from Nisonger was not returned. Nisonger posted on the IU Neurodiversity Coalition’s Facebook page issuing an apology for the incident.

“I regret that my use of the term ‘retarded’ offended people. I did not abbreviate it and it was not directed at the cashier on duty,” Nisonger wrote. “I had no intention of offending people and sincerely apologize. I should note that I have received a number of awards for my work with diversity groups at IU over the years. Look at my whole record.”

Members of the Neurodiversity Coalition chose not to accept Nisonger’s apology after nearly two hours of internal debate, according to the group’s faculty adviser, Nejla Routsong. Routsong is a visiting lecturer in IU Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business.

“We discussed pretty passionately for a few hours, but finally we agreed that her apology wasn’t a real apology,” Routsong said. “I thought that she hadn’t fully absorbed the impact of her actions on the person in question who she abused and moreover on our community. This is obviously a triggering event for our community, and there’s a reason people are so upset by this. It’s not just this one incident -- it's one symptom of behavior that happens way too much in our society.”

The Neurodiversity Coalition had just formed at Indiana University in April and only recently set up a Facebook page, hoping to become a more active organization in the upcoming fall semester. However, Routsong said the event involving Nisonger has motivated the group to take action. Routsong said she believed this issue was an “aberration” among IU faculty, and she believes the university will act appropriately in response to the issue.

“I trust they’re doing a very detailed investigation, and I hope they’re getting in touch with the victim in this case, because the neurodiversity movement is really about allowing these individuals to speak for themselves and not be spoken for,” Routsong said. “This has been a time that the members of our coalition can say, ‘Now that people are listening, what do we want say?’”

The petition circulated gathered 1,300 signatures in 48 hours and is still gaining signatures, according to the group’s Facebook page.

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Report details lack of accommodations for College Park students with disabilities

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 00:00

The bathroom in the University of Maryland, College Park’s South Campus dining hall is on the third floor, up a couple flights of steps. But students in wheelchairs can’t reach it the way most students would. They need to take a side entrance, up an elevator -- where they’ll find that the restroom door isn’t powered by an automatic opener and isn’t even large enough to accommodate some of their wheelchairs.

This is just one student testimonial in a more than 20-page report detailing deficiencies with accommodations for students with physical disabilities at College Park.

While a wheelchair lift and a new bathroom are being installed at the South Campus dining hall, the report lists many more examples of inaccessible bathrooms and buildings at the state’s flagship institution, as well as crosswalks without the necessary ramps for wheelchairs. The report does not discuss technology accommodations.

While colleges and universities in many cases are keen to help students with their individual accommodations, campuswide projects that help students with physical disabilities are sometimes lacking, despite requirements by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

“As accessibility standards have changed over time, we will continue to evaluate the campus landscape and facilities,” Natifia Mullings, a College Park spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Our aim is to address accessibility concerns so that we can create an inclusive campus for all students, faculty and staff.”

The report was created by Adith Thummalapalli, a student who uses a wheelchair. Thummalapalli, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment, was almost unable to get to his classes in the J. M. Patterson building for weeks earlier this year when the elevator there went down for maintenance. Thummalapalli would need to call a representative in Facilities Management, who would meet him at the elevator, pry open the doors by hand and take him up. Thummalapalli was unaware the elevator was being fixed when the semester began. The university has since changed its protocol to notify Accessibility and Disability Service of all maintenance around campus.

The Student Government Association took notice of Thummalapalli’s work and passed a resolution to publish the report and use its findings to push the administration to make the campus more accessible. Student government representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Mullings said that the report was “reviewed” -- she did not elaborate how or by whom -- and said, “We want to hear from members of the community who are experiencing accessibility issues on campus so that we can better understand their current accessibility needs and concerns.”

In addition to the inaccessible bathroom at the South Campus hall, the report identifies problematic restrooms in several academic building, as well as the Adele H. Stamp Student Union and McKeldin Library. Mullings said at least one new accessible bathroom is being created -- in the biology/psychology building.

The report also found that at least 10 campus crosswalks lacked at least one of the ramps that enable people using wheelchairs to safely navigate from the sidewalk onto a roadway.

At least four dormitories on the campus are also not accessible, the report states. The buildings, which are on the south side of campus, all opened in the 1940s (as most of the buildings on campus did) and take advantage of an exception with ADA standards -- they are thus legally compliant.

But the report states that it is “morally deceptive” to call them accessible. At one, Kent Hall, only a side entrance in the basement doesn’t have stairs leading to the door.

“No infrastructural changes can really be made in these old buildings, but UMD should not claim that they are ADA-accessible when so many other buildings actually deserve that designation,” the report reads.

Many of the issues the report identifies have also been tracked in the university’s ADA Transition Plan, which the law requires. Institutions must identify barriers for students with disabilities and then develop a strategy for how to eliminate those barriers. The university’s initial plan was prepared in 2000 and updated most recently in 2016.

From 2013 to 2016, the university spent more than $2 million on physical improvements to the campus, largely in restroom upgrades. Officials intend to spend at least $43 million on construction for disability accommodations, again mostly on bathrooms and elevators.

Some on the campus have praised the university administration for helping students with physical disabilities -- specifically for the “Will You Stand Up for Me?” campaign out of the college’s Department of Transportation that encouraged bus riders to move from their seats for people who needed them most. But other students have been more critical.

In the campus newspaper, The Diamondback, one student, Liyanga de Silva, wrote that “people with disabilities shouldn’t be an afterthought.”

She was particularly harsh on the administration for Thummalapalli’s encounter with the elevators. De Silva wrote that the College Park campus is already hard to navigate because it’s so large and hilly. But she wrote that the issues with Thummalapalli illustrate a much larger problem.

“Why didn’t anyone consider the impact an elevator outage would have on Thummalapalli and other students who use wheelchairs? It seems like a pretty logical conclusion to make, but because no one made it, students with disabilities were treated as an afterthought,” she wrote.

“I appreciate Facilities Management’s attempts to accommodate Thummalapalli by telling him that if he needed the elevator, an employee would come and open it for him. However, even that backup plan meant he could still be 10 to 15 minutes later to his class than his able-bodied classmates. A simpler solution to this issue is better communication between the parties and departments involved.”

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New Chinese model for higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 00:00

Some Chinese universities are switching to a hybrid model of combined academic and vocational education as the country grapples with its unique demographic challenges as well as graduate employability problems akin to those afflicting higher education sectors elsewhere.

Universities and vocational colleges in about 10 Chinese provinces are piloting the “1+X” system, whereby students emerge with both academic degrees and a cluster of vocational certificates, under a plan that could see hundreds of undergraduate institutions assume a more applied focus by 2022.

The pilot, which started in March, is part of a broader pivot from higher to vocational education unveiled in February. The government has committed 100 billion yen ($15 billion) from the country’s unemployment insurance fund to overhaul vocational education teaching and facilities, upgrade the skills of a reported 15 million people -- including recruiting a million additional vocational students this year alone -- and tackle a mind-set that vocational education is inferior to university study.

The plans illustrate not only the scale of reform in China but also the pace at which it can unfold, and the way in which demographics, economics, culture and labor-force needs can collide to force a deflection in social policy.

The Chinese Ministry of Education’s director of vocational and adult education, Wang Jiping, said that while vocational and academic education were different, they had “the same important status,” according to the translation of a government-sanctioned press conference transcript.

The focus on vocational education has emerged amid record university graduations, with 8.34 million Chinese obtaining degrees this year -- 140,000 more than in 2018 and about two million more than in 2010, according to Tsinghua University education researcher Zhou Zhong.

However, international education market intelligence site ICEF Monitor reported that the pool of jobs per graduate was shrinking, while the South China Morning Post recounted survey findings that graduates were competing for “a dwindling number of vacancies” in an economy struggling to sustain growth amid the trade war with the U.S.

In comments reported by business news channel CNBC, China’s top economic planning body said that domestic companies were cutting their intake of new university graduates. “Recruitment demand for university graduates is tightening in internet, finance and other industries,” said the statement from the National Development and Reform Commission. It said that some companies had reduced, postponed or suspended their campus recruiting efforts.

People without degrees are also finding it tougher to get jobs, according to the chair of Australian studies at Peking University, Pookong Kee.

Meanwhile, China is grappling with a dwindling pool of workers. China’s working-age population shrank by almost 3 percent between 2011 and 2018, according to a report compiled by the Australian embassy in Beijing, and now accounts for about 65 percent of the country’s population -- with projections that this will have slumped to 57 percent by 2030.

Kee said that during festivals such as Chinese New Year, when workers returned to their home provinces, factories closed down for lack of technicians. “As China upgrades its manufacturing and other industries, they are looking for people with high skills,” he said.

But a “strong social stigma” had developed against training for such jobs in China and nearby South Korea, where a Confucian approach militated against vocational education. This attitude “places a premium on university,” he said.

Kee said that new workers in some technical areas now commanded higher salaries than university graduates. Nevertheless, parents did not want their children working as technicians.

“Everybody wants their kids to go to the top universities,” he said, adding that the 1+X system -- with its job-delivering vocational certificates as well as its face-saving degree -- was a cultural as well as practical solution.

While information is sketchy on the number of universities offering 1+X, the Australian Embassy said those that embraced the model would be rebadged as “universities of applied sciences.” Reports on government websites do not specify how many institutions are expected to sign up, but participation this year is not limited to the officially sanctioned pilot regions.

Zhong said that the ministry planned to “scale up” to more regions in 2020 and to introduce the model throughout China’s higher vocational colleges, which collectively account for 53 percent of the country’s higher education institutions. She added, “The plan is to have all [the colleges], if not yet all of their programs, adopt the model in 2022.

“The Ministry of Education’s increased funding and rapid expansion of vocational education sends a signal to the Chinese people about [its] growing value.”

Zhong said that China’s tertiary gross enrollment rate was expected to reach 50 percent in 2020. “For those who go [into] the labor market after undergraduate education, there is increased need to distinguish themselves,” she added.

“The 1+X qualification may well differentiate the bearers from those who only have academic degrees from general higher education institutions.”

Hiroshima University education researcher Futao Huang said that Chinese universities would inevitably become more practically oriented if higher education enrollments continued to rise.

He said that the government’s plan would also foster utilization of vocational colleges -- some of which have reportedly been at 30 percent capacity -- by focusing on employability, strengthening ties with industry and creating “more flexible pathways” for their graduates.

Zhong said that the government also planned to widen vocational colleges’ admissions from the traditional intake of high school leavers to include retired servicemen, laid-off workers and migrants from rural areas.

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Singapore certifies EHL beginning 2021

The PIE News - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 18:09

Switzerland’s Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne has been granted permission by Singapore to deliver its bachelor course in the country, with the first students expected to begin their studies in late 2021.

The campus in Singapore is part of the hospitality management school’s plan to remain a global leader in its field and expand its students’ international opportunities.

“Receiving this certification is a great milestone which allows us to move forward with the next steps of the project, and namely confirm the location of the premises of our campus in Singapore,” said André Witschi, chairman of the EHL Group Board of Governors.

EHL will offer the same Hospitality Management bachelor degree in the island state as it delivers at its campus in Lausanne.

The go ahead is a “great demonstration of confidence in the quality and excellence of our institution,” added Juan F. Perellon, chief risk and compliance officer, EHL Group, and member of the Board of Directors of EHL Campus (Singapore).

It represents an important step in the institution’s international growth strategy, according to EHL Group CEO Michel Rochat.

“We go where the market needs us to be, and our goal to open a campus in Singapore will allow us to remain one step ahead, understanding, shaping and stimulating the global hospitality industry, as we have been doing for over a century,” said Rochat.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: U. of California Canceled Its Elsevier Subscription. Now It’s Losing Access.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road: Not being able to access newly published scholarship may be a nuisance for California’s faculty and students.

Chronicle of Higher Education: U. of California Professor Faces Trial in Turkey

How American colleges are hooked on Saudi money; North Korea expels a graduate student as a spy; India may allow foreign branch campuses; and more.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Lawmakers Bicker as U. of Alaska Inches Closer to Historic Budget Cuts

Facing a Friday deadline, state legislators are debating when and where to vote on bids to override the governor’s vetoes of higher-ed funds.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Want More Alumni Donors? Ask People With Student-Loan Debt

A survey conducted by GiveCampus also found that nearly half of the respondents, and 58 percent of millennials, are likelier to donate if they can specify how their donation will be used.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions: New Chief at Delgado Community College, Bismarck State College President to Retire

The chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College has been named chancellor of Delgado Community College. Bismarck State's chief will step down after 13 years.

Chronicle of Higher Education: After 25 Years, Why the Tide Turned for Pell Grants in Prisons

Now called “second-chance Pell,” the move to allow incarcerated people to receive the federal student aid has bipartisan support. But doubts remain.

After 25 Years, Why the Tide Turned for Pell Grants in Prisons

Now called “second-chance Pell,” the move to allow incarcerated people to receive the federal student aid has bipartisan support. But doubts remain.

Bristol International College launches

The PIE News - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 04:39

A college for teen international students has launched in the UK’s southwestern city of Bristol, aiming to become pathway to top universities in Britain and around the world.

Based in the UK’s tenth largest city, Bristol International College will accept its first intake of around 50 students in September 2020.

“Bristol is a fantastic city in which to live and study”

The college will offer 2-year GCSE and 1-year IGCSE courses, along with an International Foundation Programme that will seek to prepare students to gain access to top UK and international universities.

“As a specialist college for 14- to 18-year olds, we can offer a best-of-British education experience, combined with exceptional wrap-around care for our younger students,” said co-founder and CEO John Milne.

“Places in the first year are limited to 50, which means we can offer an intimate setting with very small classes and exceptional care outside of the classroom,” he added.

Interest in the school is already high, according to Tony Evans co-founder and sales & marketing director.

“Bristol is a fantastic city in which to live and study,” he explained.

There is no better place to sample a “truly excellent English education”, he said, thanks to the city’s historical, geographical and cultural significance.

BIC is a joint venture between Constellation Group and Experio Life and aims to set students on paths to academic careers at UK and international universities. 

The school will be based at Torwood House in the North West of the city, with accommodation located in the fashionable Clifton Village.

The school will offer students an “exceptional all-round experience” – helping students to succeed academically by providing them with necessary support and guidance in addition to a full social program, said Philippa Mills, the college’s principal.

“I will also draw on my extensive experience in UK boarding schools to ensure that BIC’s pastoral care is second to none, making sure all of our students’ needs are met – and exceeded – whilst they are away from home.”

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2019 Global Internship Conference: “The future is the Pacific”

The PIE News - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 04:22

Nations within the Pacific region are playing a much larger role in geopolitics, climate change, and economic development, and larger countries should be better engaging with its people, delegates have been reminded at the 2019 Global Internship Conference in Auckland.

Themed Integrating Employability Outcomes through Global Internships, 2019 was the first tie the conference was held in Australasia and speakers used the opportunity to encourage further collaboration within the wider Pacific region.

“The future is the Pacific”

“[The region] is worth contemplating, because I’ve taught in places like Oxford and Michigan, where people don’t actually think very much about the Pacific,” said Damon Salesa, pro-vice chancellor Pacific at the University of Auckland.

“We face a Pacific that looks a lot different to the rest of the world, and the rest of the world seems not to have noticed it very much, certainly not as much as people like me think it should.”

Speaking at the opening plenary, Salesa said that Pacific nations were at the frontline of climate change and felt the “unkindness that the ocean feels first”, adding that as a consequence, the region had developed global experts in the field.

Economic prosperity was also a key feature of the Pacific, he added, noting that both China and the US have Pacific Ocean coastlines and that while small, representing around 1% of the world’s population, nations in the region had a substantial role to play as geopolitical tensions rise.

“The future is not the Atlantic, if indeed it ever was. The future is the Pacific,” he said.

Focussed broadly on internships, the conference has taken an increasingly international focus recently, the University of Auckland’s director international Brett Berquist said, with international students wanting more access to additional global and employment experiences.

“A growing sub-theme to the conference for many years has been looking at the international employability of our international students,” he said.

“Many of our campuses have more and more international students coming to study with us. How are we serving their needs [and] where do internships fit within that?”

“If your business isn’t catering to the new New Zealand, then someone else’s sure as heck will be”

Education New Zealand also used the conference to launch its latest joint report with insights agency TRA on employers’ perspectives of international graduates, which Berquist said was a significant step forward in addressing graduate employability concerns.

“We’re used to putting ourselves in the shoes of our students or our institutions, all of us happy to push for policy changes or support systems,” he told delegates.

“But we don’t often put ourselves in the shoes of a small business owner who is trying to make his or her business move forward.”

The report found employers had a larger role to play in communicating the benefits of hiring international graduates and normalising the practice for those who had not previously done so.

At the employers’ forum, which complemented the report’s launch and provided an opportunity for engagement with education providers, several of the speakers used the platform to advocate for creating a more diverse workforce.

“If your business isn’t catering to the new New Zealand, then someone else’s sure as heck will be,” said Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development head of international Henry Matthews.

Anne Fitisemanu, chief executive of TupuToa, an internships provider catering to Maori and Pacifica students, added that employers also needed to be mindful of ensuring they were engaging with people from different backgrounds if they wanted to meet their aspirations for a diverse workforce.

“At the front line, people representative of the people they’re trying to hire or the community they’re trying to hire from,” she said.

“Young people from a range of experiences, they come into these organisations, and if they can’t see anybody like themselves, it speaks volumes to them.”

The 2020 Global Internship Conference will return to North American and will be held in Vancouver.

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ACE Survey Finds College Presidents Striving to Balance Free Speech With Inclusive Practices

American Council on Education - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 02:30
Most presidents are concerned about protecting free speech and promoting inclusion, yet they also believe it is important to allow students to be exposed to all types of speech even if they may find it offensive or biased, according to a new ACE survey.