English Language Feeds

Pieter Vermeulen, Director of Int’l Recruitment, University of North Texas

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:27
For decades, tests like the TOEFL and IELTS had the corner on the international student market. But Duolingo has edged in on their domain, offering an online exam that is a fraction of the cost and can be taken anywhere, at any time. Pieter Vermeulen, director of international recruitment at the University of North Texas, spoke with The PIE about alternatives to the traditional English language proficiency exams.

 

The PIE: The Duolingo model is a fascinating one. What are your thoughts on its potential to improve access to higher education for greater numbers of international students wishing to study in English-speaking countries?

Pieter Vermeulen: I believe this will be a significant disruptor in the English language testing market, but a disruptor in the positive sense – this will become the new way that many institutions improve the means by which they test for English language proficiency.

The PIE: Approximately 600 colleges and universities in the US accept Duolingo exam results, including UNT. Have you encountered any resistance to the Duolingo English Test, at UNT or beyond?

PV: There are always different parties on campus who will look at this in different ways, right? I’m seeing some resistance from the traditional English language learning institutes (we have one ourselves) who are used to a very different model of testing.

“About 220 [students] roughly have taken the Duolingo exam”

But one aspect of Duolingo that has always reassured me since its introduction to the market is that every test question is pegged to the common European framework of measuring language proficiency. So that means we’re not throwing out the kid with the bathwater. In other words, we’re still very much using our old metrics, but we’re just delivering it in a new format.

The PIE: How many international students are at UNT?

PV: We’re a very large public university with 39,000 students. We have, at the moment, 2,525 international students. So far about 220, roughly, have taken the Duolingo exam.

The PIE: And which countries are those Duolingo UNT students from?

PV: We’re in the process of introducing our recruiting partners to the Duolingo exam, so there’s an awareness phase. The two markets at the moment that have been at the forefront are China and India.

“In China, the DET makes particular sense”

In China, the DET makes particular sense because the Chinese academic year is aligned with the lunar calendar. That means that the end of their academic cycle goes past the traditional TOEFL test dates. The Duolingo exam, then, offers them a window to show us their language proficiency.

India, because of our large engineering school, is another market where we are naturally very active. We are also active in South Korea and Vietnam, and again, in those two markets, we’ve been introducing our partners to the test.

The PIE: Do you think that Duolingo will open up opportunities for students from countries and regions where there is less access to TOEFL or IELTS test-taking centres?

PV: Yes, I think this will very much democratise the process of demonstrating your English language proficiency. Because it is an online test, access is hugely improved, especially in countries where the geography is so vast that it is an impediment to students being able to get to the test centres.

Africa is one example of that wide geography in combination with traditional test centres being centred in one or two major cities. So yes, I think it will help us push into secondary regions and cities.

“We have, at the moment, 2,525 international students”

The PIE: So far, have you seen any difference between how your international students who took the Duolingo exam are performing compared to the others?

PV: A handful of students who took this test enrolled at UNT in September [2019] and have just completed their first semester of course work. As these students progress in their studies, UNT will track their academic performance compared to other international students from similar feeder schools abroad, who have taken traditional English proficiency tests like IELTS or TOEFL.

While no multi-year, large sample longitudinal studies are available yet, early case evidence suggests that the DET and its Artificial Intelligence-driven Adaptive Testing Methodology will likely prove a reliable alternative indicator to traditional English tests.

The PIE: What can AI do for the future of higher ed?

PV: No one knows yet, right? Artificial intelligence itself is so rapidly developing, as is machine learning and everything that makes it possible. But the example of Duolingo in the English language testing realm is a good litmus test for how disruptive and quick change can be.

So we can imagine that a number of other processes involved in bringing students on campus, more in the realm of general admissions, might also be similarly impacted.

“Because it is an online test, access is hugely improved”

General admissions tend to be a very document-driven process, where students have to send in transcripts, tests scores, and financial documents.

A machine can review many of those documents much better than a human, much more accurately. So if you see how quickly those kinds of machine learning technologies are changing you have to expect that there will be room for AI to significantly impact our admissions processes on campus as well.

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Agents welcome new cultural scholarship program in Saudi Arabia

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:09

Education agents have welcomed news of Saudi Arabia’s first-ever cultural scholarship program, with data already showing an increase in students searching for a range of courses.

Saudi minister of Culture, prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, announced the launch of the program in December 2019.

“Students across the region are becoming more aware of a greater choice of degree programs”

It will provide scholarships to male and female students who want to study culture and arts courses at international institutions.

Courses that fall under the cultural scholarship program include archaeology, design, museums, music, theatre, filmmaking, literature, visual arts and culinary arts and can be taken at PhD, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

“The program aims at developing Saudi culture… as well as to meet the growing labour market needs,” said the minister.

Imad Chaoui, regional director, Middle East, IDP Education, told The PIE that IDP and Hotcourses global traffic data indicated a spike in Saudi students searching for creative arts courses.

“The ministry’s announcement of the new cultural scholarship program appears to have been well received by students based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“Looking across IDP’s global platform of international course search websites, we have seen early shifts in the courses KSA students are researching.

“In the week since the announcement, we have seen an increase in the proportion of students in KSA searching for creative arts, social studies and media courses.”

Chaoui added that KSA has a strong history of connecting students with international education.

“We believe this announcement will further help connect KSA students with global opportunities.”

MENA university search platform UNIVER also noted an increased interest in arts courses. Subjects currently trending on UNIVER include architecture, film, music and fashion.

“Students across the region are becoming more aware of a greater choice of degree programs in the arts and humanities and moving away for the typical choices of engineering and business,” said Amanda Gregory COO, UNIVER, and Ahmad Abu Shaikha CEO, UNIVER & Alpha International in a statement.

“Leading global universities have an unprecedented opportunity to recruit fully funded students to study everything from Fashion through to Film-making.

“As Saudi and the wider Gulf region continues to diversify… we see the Saudi sponsorship program as the beginning of a long period of growth in the international student recruitment market,” they added.

Summer Abdelsamei, education consultant MENA region for SI-UK, said the company is planning on opening new channels with the Saudi market.

“[The program] will allow lots of Saudi students to achieve their dreams and put their country on the top of the global tourism map,” she told The PIE.

“The new scholarship is a huge jump toward a developed artistic culture… as part of the culture development plan that has started in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently.”

The Saudi Ministry of Culture has been busy with this cultural development plan, recently launching an artist in residency program in Jeddah to grow the local arts scene and foster cultural exchange.

Gregory and Abu Shaikha also told The PIE about the country’s developmental strategy over the coming decade.

“[The program] will allow lots of Saudi students to achieve their dreams”

“As Saudi Arabia continues in its efforts to welcome international visitors through the introduction of the tourism visa, encourage trade and diversify the economy in line with Vision 2030, it is natural to look at cultural development as a major part of the country’s development,” they said.

“Across the Gulf, one of the most recent cultural successes was the opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi in 2017, and with Dubai hosting Expo 2020 later this year, the region is becoming a global leader in the importance of culture for future development.”

Saudi Arabia has a long history of funding scholarships, with it’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program sponsoring over 100,000 students in the US alone since 1960.

However, the funding of Saudi students in international institutions has not always been easy. In 2018 Saudi students were caught up in a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada.

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OfS: increase in mental health issues “worrying”

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 05:57

The Office for Students in the UK has said that the number of students who report mental health issues has “risen substantially over the last decade” in its 2019 annual review.

International students in particular face a unique set of challenges, from feeling isolated in a new country to having different attitudes towards mental health, and a lack of knowledge regarding support services that can leave them vulnerable.

“We’ve produced documentation on the NHS…particularly for Chinese students”

While students at college or university are “significantly less likely to attempt suicide” than those who don’t go on to higher education, the OfS review called the increase in mental health issues “worrying”.

Earlier this year, the OfS spent £14.5 million on 10 collaborative projects to address mental health concerns among students.

Student Minds, which is currently working on three of the projects, including one that aims to improve links between students and the NHS, praised the move when it was announced but encouraged the sector to do more.

“Beyond the 10 successful partnerships, there were another 38 bids that go unfunded, showing that there is a lot of vision and potential for further work to address other gaps across the UK,” said Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds.

Working with Student Minds, SOAS, the University of Leeds, and CampusLife, the University of Nottingham’s project specifically targets international students.

Andrew Winter, the institution’s campus life director, told The PIE that the project – ‘International student mental health – good practice guidance and intervention case studies’ – aims to create a toolkit that can be used across the sector.

“One of the things that we’ve done here in Nottingham is produced documentation on the NHS and how that works, particularly for Chinese students and for students from the Far East, where their medical cultures are different,” explained Winter.

The project is also offering funding for student groups, such as country-specific societies, to help get their input on what can be done for their mental health.

“We’ll be able to talk to those groups individually and get a bit more understanding.

“‘International’ is often considered one thing and UK students are another thing, but we know there’s huge diversity in the international bracket,” he added.

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Japan targets int’l workers with PSW boost

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 05:01

Japan has implemented measures to create more opportunities for international students to find work in the country, government ministers have announced, as stakeholders warn current policies are not helping the country meet its demand for highly-skilled workers.

In a package that was adopted at a ministerial meeting in Tokyo last month, the government agreed to revise its 2018 “inclusive society” strategy.

“The government support for international students looking for work is… a strategy to increase the highly-skilled”

Updated measures include creating an environment for international students to find work efficiently, while policies should expand the scope for students to obtain new types of work visas via additional tests, Jiji Press reported.

The government will also work with companies to clarify which students are permitted to stay if there is a gap between graduation and employment, and students will be urged to apply for internships.

Speaking in December 2019, prime minister Shinzō Abe reminded of the country’s need to overcome population decline, and of the “opportunity of rising interest in migration” within the country.

The number of international students gaining work visas in Japan after graduating hit a record high of 25,942 in 2018 – up from 22,419 the previous year.

The 2018 figure marked more than a tripling of 2006 numbers, according to Yuriko Sato of the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Additionally, a Revitalisation Strategy in 2016 set a goal of raising the international student employment rate in Japan from the current 30% to 50%, Sato explained.

“The government support for international students in looking for work in Japan is not an option for filling jobs lost by population decline but a strategy to increase the highly-skilled,” Sato told The PIE News.

However, research has indicated that Japan’s initiative to retain international graduates has “not been very successful”. Nearly 40% of international graduates working in Japanese companies plan to leave the workplace within five years, a survey by Ernst & Young Japan found.

According to Sato’s research, international graduates return home to find work due to better promotion prospects, less work stress and graduates are closer to their families.

“Though the government has promoted the acceptance of international students as a strategy to increase the highly-skilled, the recent increase of international students owes to the increase of those who study at specialised training colleges and Japanese language schools,” Sato explained.

Previously, the administration warned it would make it more difficult for Japanese-language school students to finish courses quickly to access the jobs market.

“Those who graduate from specialised training colleges will be regarded as a source of middle-skilled workers, not the highly-skilled,” Sato said.

With 50% of its student cohort coming from over 90 countries, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University sees the country’s work opportunities as an important point for recruiting students.

While the majority are attracted to APU’s vibrant, multicultural and multilingual environment, for many “the possibility of finding work in Japan is one of the most attractive points of our university,” Jerry Pietrzak, media and communications manager at APU noted.

Students from Korea, Vietnam, and China are interested in working in Japan due to geographical proximity, although APU has seen many students from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan graduate before joining the Japanese workforce, Pietrzak explained.

He added that the government has relaxed some requirements for those wanting to start a business in Japan.

“Working during their studies – up to 28 hours a week – means students gain valuable work experience,” Pietrzak said.

“Most of the companies hiring our international graduates have done so with an eye towards globalisation”

But despite the focus on revitalisation and adding to the highly-skilled workforce, international graduates are typically recruited for reasons around “globalisation and diversity” according to APU career office counsellor Mei Chhan Chau.

The “relatively simple process” of converting student visas to a work visa – as long as the student has secured a job offer – is in contrast to countries like the US or UK where it can be much more difficult, she told The PIE.

“It has been our experience that most of the companies hiring our international graduates have done so with an eye towards globalisation and building a multicultural work environment, as well as for the skills that our graduates can bring to the workplace,” Chhan Chau said.

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Afghanistan: AUAF faces closure

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 02:40

The future of the American University of Afghanistan has come into question after a report revealed it has been unable to secure assurances for continued funding from The US Agency for International Development.  

According to CNN, USAID had a close-out meeting with university personnel at the US Embassy in Kabul in December 2019 and AUAF may have to close its doors in May of this year. 

“Recent news reports have correctly reported that AUAF is dependent on US government funding”

The AUAF relies on USAID for more than 60% of its budget and is dependent upon the agency’s financial backing.

AUAF’s president, David S. Sedney, said that he is “working hard to ensure continued funding” for the university, although he did not go as far as saying the university would not close. 

“Recent news reports have raised concerns that AUAF may be preparing to close its doors,” he said in a statement.

“When the AUAF Board of Trustees appointed me as president… I took on that responsibility, and that privilege, with a wholehearted commitment to see AUAF not only thrive but grow.

“Recent news reports have correctly reported that AUAF is dependent on US government funding. That was true when the University opened in 2006 and continues to be true today,” he added.

However, this is not the first time that AUAF has faced closure. In 2016 an attack by the Taliban at the university saw several people killed and dozens injured.

Sedney said that US government funding was necessarily increased in 2017 to allow for heightened security that enabled AUAF to reopen in March of that year, following the attack eight months earlier.

“As long as sustainable peace is still an aspirational goal, rather than a reality in Afghanistan, the need for funding to maintain a strong security environment will also remain a reality,” Sedney continued.

“I, along with the AUAF board and administration, am actively working to ensure that the funding for AUAF operations, security, academic programs (including new programs) is in place for 2020 and beyond.”

Early in 2019 the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction – the US government’s leading oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction – published the results of an investigation into AUAF and its use of US money.

AUAF records obtained by SIGAR and USAID OIG investigators showed that it had lost more than US$63 million since 2012, it depended on US aid for 86% of its funding, and as of February 2018, it had the money for only another month’s expenses.

To avoid a failure of the university, USAID extended the 2013 cooperative agreement and raised its total value to $72.8 million, enough to keep the AUAF open through at least May 2019.

Last March, a report by The New York Times stated that Sedney signed an administrative agreement that saw the university pledge to undertake reforms in budgeting, management and oversight as a condition of future government funding.

“The current cooperative agreement between the USAID and the AUAF began on August 31, 2013, and will end on May 31, 2020,” a USAID spokesperson told The PIE.

The spokesperson said that any future USAID funding for AUAF is “subject to a competitive process” and contingent upon the university’s continued compliance with certain terms that AUAF signed in 2018.

That future funding… depends on the school’s ability to comply with the agreement it made with USAID to improve its operations, fiduciary oversight and internal controls.”

The spokesperson told The PIE that during a meeting with AUAF Board of Trustees in December 2019, USAID’s leadership had strongly encouraged the university to diversify its funding sources.

“Future USAID funding for AUAF is subject to a competitive process”

AUAF is Afghanistan’s only Western-style university and has a student body that is nearly half female.

Country representative for the Afghan Women’s Resource Centre, Maryam Rahmani, told The PIE that the university’s closure would have a negative impact.

“There would be an effect on higher education of girls at master’s level as there are very limited opportunities of getting a scholarship in other private universities and AUAF was a great help,” she added.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Are Rural Students the Next Priority for Colleges?

Two steps will be key. The first is simple: Make sure the students have access to broadband. The second is much more complicated.

Are Rural Students the Next Priority for Colleges?

Two steps will be key. The first is simple: Make sure the students have access to broadband. The second is much more complicated.

Virginia's plan to cover tuition and basic needs for community college students

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

Advocates for increasing college attainment and equity say that free college programs need to cover more than just the cost of tuition.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a proposal that would do just that, although some are criticizing the proposal’s eligibility restrictions.

The Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back, or G3 program, was included in Democratic governor Ralph Northam’s $138 billion biennial budget proposal. The $145 million program would make community college tuition-free for low- and middle-income students, as well as provide grants for other costs like transportation and food.

Addressing Need

Megan Healy, chief workforce development adviser for the state, said she looked at other states offering free community college and saw that while the federal Pell Grant usually covers tuition costs, students still have unmet needs for living costs.

With this plan, students will get up to $1,000 per semester for those extras, which is based on the amount they would earn for working 10 hours per week at the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“Now these students are working two part-time jobs and not three,” Healy said.

While a growing number of states have announced free community college programs, they tend to be “last-dollar” models, meaning the state will cover tuition after a student uses up all other grants and aid. Many advocates support a “first-dollar” approach that would cover tuition first and let students use Pell Grant money for books, food and other expenses.

But first-dollar programs tend to be the most expensive. Virginia’s proposed program seeks to split the difference by being “last-dollar plus,” adding basic needs coverage to the standard tuition grants.

Colleges also would get incentives to enroll more Pell recipients. When a student attending a college on a full Pell Grant completes 30 credits, the college would get $500 under the proposal. When that student graduates, the college would get $400. The money would be put back into student advising and other supports.

The program is limited to families who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $25,750 for a family of four in 2019. Unlike many other plans, adult and returning students would have the opportunity to take advantage of the program. The average age of students getting short-term credentials is 36, according to Healy, and about two million Virginians have some college credits but no degree.

Healy estimates that roughly 40,000 students could take advantage of the program if it’s passed.

Reid Setzer, director of government affairs at the Education Trust, said the state should be applauded for trying to address the issue of outside costs for students.

The proposal includes a few caveats. Students would have to sign a “community engagement agreement” that states they would complete two hours of work experience, community service or public service for each credit hour they are enrolled. Healy said she expects to count the time students spend working if they don't have any time to provide other service. This aspect of the program aims to connect students with the community so they'll stay, as well as to provide opportunities for them to build soft skills.

It’s also limited to students who are enrolled in certain fields. The budget language doesn’t call out specific areas, Healy said, so it can shift over time. The fields would be chosen based on short- and long-term economic projections, employer input, and the number of job openings, she said. Right now, it includes health care, information technology, public safety, early childhood education and skilled trades.

So far, Healy said there is bipartisan support for the program. The proposal would receive final approval in March and then begin in the fall.

Better Understanding of Basic Needs

Research from the Education Trust found that Virginia has an affordability gap of $3,400 for community colleges -- meaning that students on average are unable to cover that gap -- so this proposal won't solve everything, Setzer said. The assumption that students will still have to work multiple jobs also is troubling, he said, as research has shown that working 10 hours or less while in college is ideal for student success​. The community engagement requirement, even if does accept students' regular work, could still serve as a psychological barrier that could hurt participation, he added.

Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research at the think tank Demos, said the program has some “good elements,” but he’s “skeptical” of how narrowly tailored it is.

“I don’t know that today’s policy makers always have a great handle on what the skills and jobs of the future will be,” Huelsman said. “We should let students choose their own path; if we overly prescribe it, it’s complicated and leaves students out.”

He also said that adding an income-level limit makes it “overly complicated.”

Healy said they looked at doing a blanket free community college program, but it would cost half a billion dollars over the biennium​. While the state’s economy is doing well and income and sales tax revenues were higher than expected, that still only goes so far.

“For our first step out of the gate in this area, we wanted to think about, what does our economy need? What do employers need?” she said.

Healy also said they needed to devise a plan that would get bipartisan support, and only Democrats would support blanket free college programs.

Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, also supports the inclusion of need-based grants, citing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory that people need to secure physiological and safety needs before moving on to bettering themselves.

“If you don’t take care of food, shelter, clothing, transportation -- just basic needs in the 21st century -- then the burdens on students and their families become unmanageable,” Kanter said.

Huelsman also supports this part of the proposal.

“At community colleges, tuition is only 20 percent of the total cost of attendance,” he said.

But, while the $1,000 grants are a “good start,” Huelsman added that the state may need to think bigger.

As the newly Democratic General Assembly gets its footing, Healy expects the state’s minimum wage to one day get an increase, which could trigger an increase in the grant size.

Whether including funds for basic needs will become a trend in free college programs is yet to be seen. Kanter said she didn’t know free college would be a trend a decade ago.

“I think people are more aware of the basic needs of students and families now than they were 10 years ago,” she said, “and I think business leaders and communities are coming together to make that available.”

Huelsman said the free college conversation needs to move forward to encompass this idea.

“It’s quite clear to me that if we care about increasing attainment, if we care about making college more affordable, then meeting that cost of living, whatever that entails, is vital to that effort,” he said.

Those in higher education need to broaden their financial understandings of the modern American household, said Huelsman. It’s important for those making policies or running colleges to understand what’s happening with wages, health-care costs and inflation. Right now, leaders seem to focus mostly on higher education economics, like the Pell Grant and tuition increases.

“It’s very siloed,” he said. “Meanwhile, we are seeing an economy in which wages are stagnant. A better understanding of that and a better incorporation of that can’t be a bad thing.”

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Private college presidents gather to talk challenges and opportunities as decade begins

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- An annual gathering of private college presidents proved to be a story of many different disconnects this year.

Disconnects between markets, domestic and international. Disconnects between different institutions, stressed and strengthening. Disconnects between campuses and the public, or at least a public narrative of skepticism toward higher education that many presidents desperately want to change.

The gathering -- the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute -- began with an announcement that it had grown to its largest size ever, with 851 participants including 360 presidents and 175 of their spouses and partners in attendance. But the very next topic at its opening event was a keynote speech with a different tone, as attendees heard about population trends that are placing a significant burden on their financial and enrollment outlooks.

To be sure, not every institution at the conference is under financial or enrollment stress. Some attendees were reporting their largest-ever fundraising campaigns or great successes attracting students with smart marketing, recruiting and pricing campaigns.

Still, the conference is heavily populated with representatives of small, nonwealthy private colleges that draw most of their students locally. They are exactly the type of institution most likely to struggle with enrollment or balancing the books. And in recent years, CIC has been providing more programming to help them address their concerns.

Even as many attendees acknowledge the sector's problems, they feel a disconnect between the value they offer students and what they see as a public narrative unfairly attacking them as unaffordable and out of touch.

“Public, the journalists, officials have come to doubt the value of our demonstrably effective institutions,” CIC president Richard Ekman said as the conference opened Saturday. “So restoring public confidence in higher education and in private colleges must be a top priority for all of us here. We know that doing so requires more than rebutting our critics point by point, although we must be relentless in correcting false facts.”

Ekman was followed by Nathan Grawe, social sciences professor at Carleton College in Minnesota and the author of the ubiquitous 2018 book Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press). Grawe has become an in-demand speaker sharing research findings from the book that project many colleges will have a difficult time enrolling traditional-age students in coming years because of a post-recession “birth dearth.”

Large drops in numbers of high school graduates enrolling in regional four-year colleges after 2017 are expected to plateau in the next few years. But a return to the annual demand growth of the past seems unlikely for such colleges, and the sector is likely to experience sharp declines again by the second part of the decade.

Grawe expressed optimism because of constructive energy private colleges are harnessing as they try to address the enrollment challenge. There are other reasons to be optimistic, such as rising numbers of Latinx students attending college and a Latinx population that is generally becoming more wealthy -- providing a ray of hope for cash-strapped institutions that rely on tuition revenue to stay in operation.

Optimism aside, Grawe cautioned against people's instinct to double down on old assumptions when confronted with unpleasant information.

“They will try to avoid,” he said. “And it turns out, the more letters you have after your name, the more likely you are to engage in this.”

Presidents asked many questions about Grawe's projections: Would adding adult students to his analysis change regional colleges' outlook? What would happen if economic conditions change, pushing more students to enroll in college when they can't find jobs? What would happen if institutions addressed concerns about affordability? How might graduate enrollment change?

The what-ifs might not change the outlook for many colleges that are heavily dependent on local 18- to 24-year-old populations. From a strategic standpoint, though, they might make sense for presidents trying to prepare institutions for the coming decade.

“When you're on that plateau, you're in a different world,” Grawe said. “You're in something of a world of scarcity, where there aren't just more students you can go recruit. We have to think differently, as a result.”

In sessions and in conversations throughout the conference, presidents demonstrated some of the ways they're trying to prepare for the future. They discussed corporate partnerships, outreach to adult learners and finding ways to better meet student needs. Some discussed the overcoming challenges facing rural institutions, like isolation and regional economic development.

Presidents were also buoyed Monday by talk of employers needing the critical thinking and learning skills that their institutions emphasize.

And they heard from a global higher education leader who sees opportunity in international students. Mariët Westermann, vice chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi and former executive vice president for programs and research at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, spoke Sunday of a disconnect between the stresses small colleges in the U.S. are feeling and rising demand for education in regions like Africa, the Middle East and India.

“All I hear is of unmet need, versus in America we're headed obviously for a situation where we're having too low a birth rate to fill our seats,” Westermann said. “So I think there is an opportunity coming no matter what happens in our political landscape.”

She acknowledged broad challenges, however.

“While global citizenship -- this idea of global citizenship -- seems a necessary ideal for a planet as under duress as it is, the shine has gone off of that idea a little in recent years,” she said.

Indeed, talk of opportunity contrasted with some presidents' insecurities, concerns and discomfort. A session on building a senior leadership team for stressed institutions was heavily attended. Presidents grilled members of the press about free college proposals from Democratic presidential candidates and on what some see as an unfair public narrative about out-of-control student debt.

Presidents are arguably feeling the stress of forces much bigger than their own institutions bearing down on private, regional, nonwealthy colleges. Those forces include income inequality, a suddenly skeptical public, leery policy makers and, some whisper in private conversations, campuses where complacency dominates. Some boards or faculty members wish to return to the past, one president confided. But the past is not coming back.

Under such conditions, it should be no surprise that presidential tenures have been shortening. Those short tenures create a challenge for presidents themselves and the boards tasked with guiding institutions over time.

The closing plenary included talk about who is responsible for improving financial conditions at colleges when presidential turnover is high.

“I think when the presidents are churning, the board has a different set of responsibilities than it had when you used to have long-term presidents,” said Lawrence M. Schall, president of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Schall is an exception to the trend of shortening tenures, having been president of Oglethorpe since 2005 and planning to step down in June.

Not everyone would agree that boards should push for changes in times of presidential turnover. Some would prefer to see boards empower presidents to make changes themselves.

Separately, some argue against using finances as the only marker of institutional health.

“To me, it is the mission that drives the health of the organization,” said Mary Dana Hinton, president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.

Missions vary widely by institution, as do conditions on the ground. It could be said that, as much as they share, small private colleges must overcome disconnects between each other in order to find strategies that will work for all of them.

As a result, meeting the challenges of the next decade is a difficult, complicated problem. Hinton may have summed it up best:

“I cannot think of a single question in higher ed right now for which there is one perfect answer.”

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Universities stick to .edu domain names

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

Most U.S. university websites have ended in “.edu” since the dawn of the internet, but in recent years the number of domain name options has exploded.

New extensions such as “.university,” “.college,” “.degree” and “.education” present an opportunity to modernize the online branding of higher education institutions that, in many cases, selected their web address in the '80s and '90s. But it’s an opportunity few institutions have embraced, said Bob Brock, president of the Educational Marketing Group.

Many institutions are buying these new domain names but aren’t actively using them, said Brock. Colleges are purchasing these addresses simply to protect their brands and prevent third parties from snapping them up.

Many education-related domain names can be purchased for less than $20 a year, though prices vary widely. The expense and administrative burden can quickly start to add up for institutions the more web addresses they buy, said Brock. The domain name www.stanford.degree was available for around $66 a year on Tuesday afternoon, while www.yale.mba was being offered for $30,000.

Which domains institutions should buy or not is a tricky question, said Liz Gross, founder and CEO of Campus Sonar, a company that develops social media strategies for higher education institutions. Taking some preventative measures to protect your institution’s reputation is sensible. "When the .sucks domain name came out a few years ago, the easiest way for many brands to deal with it was to buy it," she said.

Even wealthy, elite institutions that are very protective of their brands can sometimes miss opportunities to prevent pranksters from co-opting their name -- this week Inside Higher Ed purchased www.harvarduniversity.wtf for just $5.17, including tax.

While it’s unlikely any prospective student would mistake a “.wtf” website for a genuine university website, many more legitimate-sounding names are readily available. Inside Higher Ed purchased www.berkeley.mba for $19.99. Using free website design templates, it’s possible to create something that might pass as authentic in minutes.

Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer and assistant dean for marketing and communications at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, said the school had purchased some domain names but noted, “We have to draw the line somewhere.”

“Copyright laws help clarify what’s Berkeley and what’s not. We come down hard on any other site offering a Berkeley M.B.A. or other degree, or using the Berkeley Haas logo without permission,” he said.

Pearce said the school has previously identified fraudulent websites using their branding.

“We send an immediate cease and desist and will get our campus legal department involved, if necessary,” he said.

Fraudulent websites may initially confuse prospective students, said Pearce. “But any serious applicants would quickly realize they are not on Berkeley Haas’s site.”

“Any time you muddy the waters with limitless options, you make it harder for users to find the information they are looking for,” said Pearce, reflecting on the new domain names. “Qualified educational institutions should confine themselves to the .edu domain to avoid confusion.”

Higher education institutions are not alone in being slow to abandon traditional domain names such as .edu, .com or .org. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up the possibility of companies creating their own branded domain names in 2012. Hundreds of companies, including Nike, Target and Netflix, paid the $185,000 application fee but seemed unsure what to do with their new domain names. In 2016, ICANN threatened to end their .brand agreements if the companies didn’t use them.

Michael Diamond, academic director of the integrated marketing communications department at the New York University School of Professional Studies, agreed it makes sense for higher education institutions to stick with their established .edu websites and “not dilute their brand.”  

Diamond says it’s unlikely that prospective students seriously looking to pursue a four-year degree at a traditional institution would be fooled by a spoof website.

“A lot of investment goes into the content and web experience of a university website, a fraudulent site isn't going to make that investment," he said. 

He is concerned, however, that people pursuing a nontraditional education pathway could be more easily tricked by fraudulent websites. There are plenty of consumer-oriented sites ranking colleges' academic offerings. The same level of information doesn't exist for companies offering unaccredited nondegree credentials and certificates.

While the .edu domain name holds a lot of weight for consumers, it is not guaranteed that every institution using an .edu website is accredited.

Joseph Crook, certification coordinator for private postsecondary education at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, has identified several unaccredited institutions using .edu web addresses. Many of these sites are from defunct schools that appear to be “trying to either trick someone into thinking they are one and the same as an accredited institution, or something more nefarious,” he said.

The University of Northern Virginia, for example, a for-profit institution now based in South Dakota, was stripped of its accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in 2008. The university still holds its unva.edu web address.

“I do find it concerning that there are unaccredited institutions that are able to use the .edu domain name,” said Crook. He said many prospective students and their parents view the .edu domain as a “quality benchmark” and don’t realize there may be unaccredited institutions using it.

Jim Burnett, director of membership at higher education IT organization Educause, manages the team responsible for approving new .edu web addresses. He explained that prior to 2001, there was no requirement for institutions to be accredited to obtain an .edu website.

According to the terms of an agreement struck by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Educause, all .edu names in existence prior to Oct. 29, 2001, were not impacted by the new eligibility requirements. This “grandfathering” process explains why some companies and unaccredited institutions continue to hold on to their .edu addresses, said Burnett.

There are some companies, such as research-sharing platform Academia.edu, that have been criticized for their use of the .edu domain. But the company registered the web address in 1999 -- before the current criteria were introduced.

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine, a for-profit company offering low-cost pathways to degrees, said he felt it was important his company used a .com web address to make clear it is not a university. Using .org or another domain name associated with education could confuse consumers, he said. “We didn’t want to be deceptive.”

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UVA decides to save its library card catalog

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

The card catalog for the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library was once the only way to find needed books. Over four million cards cataloged each book’s location and from where it was donated.

Today, students and researchers use a digital catalog to find library materials, as is typical with most academic libraries. The card catalog, all 68 cabinets of it, was taken out of commission in 1989.

The university's library is set to undergo major renovations over the next three years, and for a while, the future of the card catalog seemed uncertain.

“There was no real disagreement on the potential research value of the card catalog,” said John Unsworth, dean of libraries at Virginia. “The question wasn’t, ‘Is it worth saving?’ It was, ‘Can we afford to save it?’”

There wasn't going to be enough room in the renovated Alderman Library for the massive set of cards, and scanning each card was estimated to cost almost half a million dollars. The university's administration planned to discard the collection.

Neal Curtis and Sam Lemley, two graduate students at the university who had worked previously with the card catalog, felt compelled to act. They presented a plan to load the card catalog into boxes, store it at a facility in Waynesboro, Va., during renovations, and then keep it in university-owned high-density storage. The estimated cost of this proposal was around $75,000, a good deal less than scanning the cards would be, although it would require about 180 hours of labor.

The two organized volunteer manpower to assist with the move and solicited donations to the library to pay for the project. They’ve so far raised about half of the needed funds.

The two Ph.D. candidates, who are both writing dissertations on literature, said that contrary to what some may believe, the project is not motivated by nostalgia. They said preserving the catalog is a gift to future researchers and historians.

“We’re not arguing for the superiority of the Alderman card catalog,” Curtis said. “[The card catalog and the digital catalog are] different. They tell us different things.”

“It’s a document of the history of the university,” Lemley said. “Who knows what’s lurking undiscovered?”

For example, if one wanted to find out how the library holdings changed as the university admitted its first women and first African American students, the card catalog would be the only place to find that information, they said. Ascertaining when a book and its card were added to the collection is not an exact science, but a combination of looking at the type of paper used and the assigned number can help.

“This is a snapshot of the library at the end of an era of analog discovery tools,” said Unsworth. “Our electronic catalogs don’t give us a way to reconstruct past states of the collection.” Once a book is gone from the stacks, it’s also gone from the digital catalog.

The boxes are set to be barcoded by library staff so future researchers can request boxes and read through them in the reading room. Unsworth said he's happy the catalog will be preserved for the future, but he noted that a digitized version, though more expensive, would probably still be preferable. That's because researchers could search through the holdings much more easily.

John Ulmschneider, dean of libraries at Virginia Commonwealth University, said he understands the decision by UVA to save the catalog, although VCU did not make the same decision. His institution has saved some cards related to its health and medicine collections, but disposed of most others. Though cost and space played into the decision, so did the relative research potential of the cards.

“VCU’s collections in health and medicine are extensive and deep,” Ulmschneider said via email. “That’s because those collections extend from its founding as the Medical College of Virginia in 1834.” But collections at the university for other disciplines often date back only to 1968. The cards for those collections didn’t have handwritten notes or other vital information on them, as UVA's cards often do.

“VCU has saved space and money by eliminating most of its card records,” Ulmschneider said. “But the richness and depth of collections and the card surrogates that describe them at older, distinguished universities like UVA may make it impossible to make the same choice.”

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Colleges launch new programs

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00
  • Northern Vermont University is starting an online M.A. in education with a concentration in digital media instruction.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is starting an undergraduate degree in biological neuroscience.
  • University of the Cumberlands is starting a master of science in digital forensics degree with an optional criminal justice specialization, and a master of science in justice administration with digital forensics.
  • Virginia Tech is starting a major in cybersecurity management and analytics.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Happy New Year, Higher Ed: You’ve Missed Your Completion Goal

The United States hasn’t come close to achieving President Obama’s target of leading the world in college attainment by 2020.

read more

Alumni are “most reliable” source of info for students looking to UK, Europe

The PIE News - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 11:13

Alumni are the most reliable source of accurate information for international students looking to study in the UK (74%) and elsewhere in Europe (79%) according to the results of a new survey. However, relatively few respondents cited alumni as their primary source of information about international study.

Published by Cturtle, the ISEOS 2020 report examines how international student experience, study destination, study mode and graduate employment outcomes affect international alumni’s likelihood to recommend their university and country of education to future students.

“From our experience universities have preferred the ‘poster child’ approach with alumni”

Between June and September 2019, 16,830 responses to online surveys were collected – of which 4,673 participants were educated in the UK, and an additional 479 were educated in other European countries.

Of the combined participants educated in the UK and Europe, the majority (36%) were from Malaysia, 21% were from India, 11% from Vietnam, and 10% from Singapore.

A total of 95% of the survey participants had already completed their studies.

According to the survey report, an almost equal number who studied in the UK (83%) and Europe (82%) said they chose to study abroad to improve their career opportunities.

It showed that ‘university ranking’ was the top reason for choosing the UK (57%) and Europe (52%), followed by ‘location’ (51% and 50% respectively), ‘price’ (41% and 38%) and ‘job opportunities’ (18% and 28%).

By comparison, ‘alumni engagement’ was a factor for just 10% of UK and 12% of Europe educated respondents.

Despite some similarities in figures, there were some clear differences when it came to the primary source of study abroad information for both cohorts.

According to the report, education counsellors and agents were the primary sources of information for 35% of UK educated participants, compared to 44% of those who studied in Europe.

Meanwhile, websites or contacts at the school were important sources for 29% of those educated in the UK compared to just 12% of those who noted Europe as their country of study.

“I believe there needs to be better access to reliable information for future international students whether that is from universities, agents or third parties like Cturtle and UniAdvisor,” Cturtle founder and CEO, Shane Dillon, told The PIE News.

“In general, universities need to modernise their approach, leverage technology and alumni to better engage future students and improve the reliability of that information.”

And despite alumni being noted among the most reliable sources of accurate information with regards to ‘life in the UK and Europe’ (74% and 79% respectively), as well as ‘migration opportunities’, ‘job opportunities’ and ‘work rights’, just 6% of UK educated and 7% of Europe educated respondents cited alumni as their primary source of information.

Credit: Cturtle

“From our experience universities have preferred the ‘poster child’ approach with alumni, heavily focusing on the promotion of the rare graduate who immigrates to the UK and is successful in their chosen field,” Dillon said.

“This can be misleading to the experience of the majority of international students with 97% end up working outside the UK.

“I believe better access to reliable information for future international students from the most trusted and reliable source “international alumni” solves this pre-departure knowledge gap,” he added.

The report also examined overall student satisfaction, with 83% of UK educated and 87% of Europe educated students noting a “positive international experience”.

Some 65% of UK educated and 74% of Europe educated respondents also noted that they were “satisfied with the return on investment”.

A total of 74% in the UK and 78% in Europe said they had a “sense of being welcomed in the country of education”, with 87% and 92% of respondents respectively noting that they felt “safe on campus”.

With regards to employment, around half of students (45% in the UK and 52% in Europe) said that they worked part-time while studying.

However, just 28% in the UK and 31% in Europe said their university supported them in finding a part-time job.

By comparison with the more extensive Cturtle survey, 50% of participants educated in the US, 45% in Canada and 44% in New Zealand said their universities supported them.

However, participants educated in Europe had the highest proportion (61%) of part-time jobs related to their areas of study, across the entire survey.

“Universities need to… leverage technology and alumni to better engage future students”

“I think it is important to support international students who want part-time work, this is critical to their financial security while students and their overall experience in the country of education,” Dillon told The PIE.

“The European part-time work related to the field of study was also a welcome surprise for us,” he added.

Post-graduation, 87% of UK educated respondents said they are currently working in their home countries, compared to just 3% in the UK.

For those educated in Europe, almost three quarters (74%) said they are currently working in their home counties, compared to 11% working in their country of study.

“We believe it will be universities who can prove – with data – the employment outcomes of their international graduates who will win the competition for future student enrolments,” concluded Dillon.

The post Alumni are “most reliable” source of info for students looking to UK, Europe appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: A Computer-Science Program Takes a Dramatic Approach to Getting Students to Open Up

Traditional classes on giving presentations weren't cutting it at Northeastern, so the dean of computer science turned to the theatre department.

Fake uni sting: ICE releases video evidence

The PIE News - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 07:22

A video showing international students knowingly broke the law has been released by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in response to criticism over the University of Farmington sting

The sting was carried out in 2019 by the Department of Homeland Security, who used the bogus university to catch international students who were trying to falsely maintain their student visa status.

So far, around 250 have been arrested.  

“These individuals were not new to the US student visa system”

As a result of the sting, ICE faced wide-spread criticism, with the Times of India reporting there was no way for international students to check the university’s authenticity.

Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even called for ICE to be abolished in response to Farmington, while defence attorneys for the students said they believe they were entrapped and didn’t realise the university was fake as the university was listed on the ICE website as an approved school.

Following the outcry, acting deputy director of ICE, Derek Benner, released a video along with a statement that hit back against reports that “mischaracterised the purpose and rationale for the investigation”. 

“These individuals were not new to the US student visa system; they were familiar with its requirements and their obligations,” Benner said. 

“They secured visas to enrol in another US school and were already in the United States when they transferred to Farmington.”

In addition, Benner continued, prior to enrolling at Farmington each prospective enrolee was informed that there were no classes, curriculum or teachers at Farmington.

“Despite this, individuals enrolled because they saw an opportunity to avoid any academic requirements and, instead, work full-time, which was a violation of their nonimmigrant status,” he added.

Benner said that evidence, including video footage, audio recordings, and correspondence collected during the investigation supports that each prospective enrolee knowingly and wilfully violated their non-immigrant status.

These recordings appear to back up ICE’s claims that at least some of the 250 students who were arrested knowingly broke the law.

The video shows an undercover member of DHS tell a Farmington candidate,“we would send you documents on the class and schedule that says you’ve gone classes, and everything like that”, to which the candidate responds, “that’s fine”. 

The DHS operative then goes on to say “Okay, you know this is not legal, right? So it has to kind of stay between us, right?” to which the student says “I know, I know”.

Benner claimed that Farmington is a “clear example of a pay-to-stay scheme,” and said that such schemes result in a dangerous lack of accountability and diminish the quality and integrity of the US student visa system.

“The investigation provided [Homeland Security Investigations] with a better understanding of how recruiters and others abuse the nonimmigrant student visa system,” he said.

“This, in turn, informs and improves DHS’ efforts to uncover fraud at schools, provides insight into networks within the United States that facilitate such abuse, and serves as a deterrent to potential violators both in the short- and long-term.”

“Individuals enrolled because they saw an opportunity to avoid any academic requirements”

ICE has been met with further criticism from the sector in recent times, after civil rights lawyers filed a lawsuit against Boston Public Schools claiming that they were giving ICE access to student information.

The lawsuit centres around Boston Public Schools sharing student incident reports – something that they deny doing – but the attorneys behind the lawsuit say the school district is putting students in jeopardy, and are calling on the district to shut down the communication.

The post Fake uni sting: ICE releases video evidence appeared first on The PIE News.

Aus: transaction fees worry int’l students

The PIE News - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 02:38

Education providers must do more to alleviate the stress of transaction fees and increase their provision of payment plans for international students, new research by Australian-based edtech company Cohort Go has revealed.

The Aussie Study Experience report, which surveyed almost 700 international students in Australia, found 49% of respondents believed education providers should provide new payment options to reduce transaction fees.

“Providers who differentiate themselves will be more likely to attract… students”

“Australia’s prosperity is directly linked to international education, which is why it’s vital the international education sector continues to innovate and look to improve the student experience of students studying here, said Cohort Go chief executive and co-founder Mark Fletcher.

“Transaction fees imposed on money transfers have been a frustrating bidder cost of paying for international education. Students are calling for education providers to adopt alternative payment options which impose little or no fees on their students, such as fee-free global payment gateways.”

Speaking with The PIE News, Fletcher added many banks typically charged between 3-6% in foreign exchange margins and fees, which saw some students paying up to an additional $30,000 for their education.

“Anything the international education sector can do in order to reduce the costs of fees would be well received by students and their parents,” Fletcher added.

According to the survey, 42% of students also wanted more flexible payment plans for their tuition fees.

“While managing payment plans is very complex, there are solutions in the market that can significantly simplify the receipting and reconciliation of these payments,” Fletcher said.

“In an increasingly competitive industry, education providers who differentiate themselves and enhance the student experience will be more likely to attract a growing cohort of students.”

In terms of who bore the costs of education, Cohort Go’s survey found 37% of courses were paid for by parents, while 25% were paid through internet banking and 15% on credit card.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Education, Australia’s year to October 2019 figures continued surpassing whole of 2018 numbers, with over 738,000 international students.

The post Aus: transaction fees worry int’l students appeared first on The PIE News.

AU administrators and students disagree on extent of racial problems on campus

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

Zach Mills was preparing to head out to a meeting with fellow doctoral students at American University when two officers from the Washington, D.C., police department showed up at his front door.

The officers told Mills they had been contacted by the university's police department and asked to check in on him. He invited them into his apartment, which is located about a mile and a half away from the campus.

Officer Adam Sotelo entered the apartment while the other officer waited in the hall, as is customary practice for such "wellness check" visits. Mills and Sotelo sat in Mills’s living room and talked. Things were going fine -- both Mills and Sotelo said they had a normal, friendly conversation -- until two officers from AU's police department arrived and entered Mills's unlocked apartment. According to Mills, the AUPD officers were "aggressive" and "threatening." They barged in without his consent, yelled at him and repeatedly demanded to see his university-issued identification card. He said he felt confused and fearful but sat calmly with his hands in his lap and asked the AU officers to leave his apartment several times.

Mills said the AU officers ignored his requests until Officer Sotelo, a certified crisis intervention officer, explained that things were under control and that they could go. The university officers complied, but Mills was left deeply unsettled. To him, the encounter was a continuation of a pattern of discriminatory acts he’d experienced as an African American doctoral student at AU’s School of International Service. The Aug. 28 incident also reinforced his belief that he was being targeted by faculty members and university administrators for lodging various complaints about discrimination in his department at the school, commonly referred to as SIS.

Mills's interaction with campus police was far different from a highly publicized wellness check on another black AU student that resulted in her being forcibly removed from her university-managed apartment. That incident occurred in late September, just a month after the episode with Mills, and was captured in a disturbing video that showed Gianna Wheeler being carried out of the apartment and surrounded by multiple university officials and D.C. fire department personnel. Wheeler had been suspended from American after being accused of assaulting another student, a charge for which she was found not guilty after a disciplinary hearing by the university. The video, which went viral on social media, prompted outrage on and off the campus and led to student protests and allegations that university administrators had shown racial bias in their handling of the wellness check.

Mills, a doctoral candidate in his fourth year in the SIS program, said he saw similarities between how he and Wheeler were treated and felt both cases were rooted in racial bias.

American administrators have forcefully defended the university against these allegations of racism and pushed back on the criticisms leveled after the video of Wheeler's removal surfaced. They said the outrage was misplaced and the circumstances misunderstood. But coming after several years of repeated racial controversies on campus, AU students of various racial backgrounds believe their university has a serious race problem. ​

As other colleges and universities around the country grapple with racial tensions on their campuses and growing public perceptions that higher ed institutions are cauldrons of racial strife, AU administrators are clearly aware that perceptions can sometimes become reality. They appear to be redoubling their efforts to address the problems and protect the university's reputation. ​But like other higher ed institutions, AU is operating in a racial climate on campus and in the larger society in which an accumulation of racial controversies leads to more and more events being viewed through the prism of race. Whether or not each incident is actually about race is a matter of perspective and lived experience.

“I did actually develop medically diagnosed PTSD after this and was having blackouts over the last eight weeks,” Mills said of the wellness check. “I’ve been having a really horrible time since all that happened. I just remember people yelling at me and standing over me, and being very fearful.”

Mills believes the wellness check was the result of an orchestrated campaign to discredit his complaints about racial discrimination in the program and undermine his academic standing.

American University representatives said they could not comment on any specific wellness checks because of privacy laws. They said wellness checks, in general, are guided by university policy and are prompted "when the Office of the Dean of Students receives information or reports of concern about the general well-being of a student, from a fellow student, faculty or staff," according to a written statement. The checks are part of AU's Care Reporting system, the statement said, and the first step is to try and contact the student directly.

"Should there be an immediate threat to the individual’s safety, or if the student does not respond to attempted communications, AUPD is then asked to do a wellness check at the student’s residence," the statement said. "AUPD only has authority to conduct welfare checks on American University housing owned or leased. If a student lives off-campus in private housing, AUPD will contact the DC Metropolitan Police Department for assistance and will accompany them on the check if that department requests it."

From Mills's perspective, the arrival and confrontational style of campus police, after AUPD had already asked D.C. police to conduct the check, was no coincidence.

"It was extremely traumatic," he said. "After the police left, I was furious."

University administrators say wellness checks involve complex and sensitive issues guided by policies meant to protect the privacy of students who may be experiencing personal problems or mental health crises. The administrators note that every wellness check involves unique circumstances and that generalizations made by outsiders not privy to all the particulars are often inaccurate. They say this was precisely the case with the video of Wheeler being forcibly removed from her apartment.

After several days of sustained criticism for its handling of the incident, two university vice presidents emailed a long statement to the campus defending the university's action.

"We take the concerns about these complicated situations seriously, especially given our national climate and the lived experiences of communities of color and other marginalized communities across this country," the statement said in part.

In written responses to questions about Mills's allegations, the AU representatives said the university "is committed to fostering an inclusive community based on mutual respect where our educational pursuits can thrive. We do not tolerate or condone discrimination in any form. If a student feels he or she has been discriminated against, they are encouraged to file a formal complaint."

That's exactly what Mills did.

Things Come to a Head

After several years of what Mills described as repeated microaggressions and discrimination in the SIS program, he'd had enough. He filed a formal complaint about a professor in the program and later decided to enlist classmates to hold a vote of no confidence in the program director. Mills acknowledged it would be a purely symbolic move; university officials said there is no policy or procedure for students to take such an action. In any case, Mills made no secret of his plan to call for the vote.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and Mills was getting ready to meet with students to discuss the vote. That's when Officer Sotelo and his colleague came calling.

In Sotelo’s account of the events that day, nothing about the wellness check stood out to him. He said once he determined Mills was not in crisis, he felt there was no need for the AU officers to go through the process with Mills again. He said Mills was calm when they first spoke but seemed "aghast" that the AU police showed up at his apartment. Sotelo also said that while he did not observe the AUPD officers closely, he didn't feel they were overly aggressive. He said there seemed to be points of contention between the university and Mills.​

AUPD did not respond to a request for comment.

It's not clear that the campus officers were legally allowed to visit Mills's apartment, which is neither owned nor managed by the university.

D.C. law stipulates that "no person appointed as a campus or university special police officer … shall display a badge, weapon, or other evidence of authority in any place other than the property owned by, or under the control of the academic institution of higher education upon whose account he or she was appointed and by whom he or she is paid."

A university spokesperson said in a written response to questions about the incident that Mills invited the AU officers into his apartment. Mills categorically denies this, and Officer Sotelo's account also does not support this.

A Show of Concern or a Show of Force

On Aug. 27, three professors in the doctoral program in which Mills is studying all separately filed what the university calls care reports about him. Mills said this was after he'd made known his plan for the no confidence vote.

One of the care reports was submitted by Boaz Atzili, the program director Mills was planning to name in the vote. Another report was submitted by Susanna Campbell, an assistant professor at the school. Both reports said Mills had told the professors of feelings of depression he'd had in the past. Mills said that these dark feelings stemmed from the end of a long-term relationship and that he later regretted telling the professors about his feelings because he was being "dramatic." The relationship ended in May 2019, and Mills said the emotional fallout made it difficult for him to update professors over the summer about the project on which he was working. He said he also told three other AU professors, two of whom were not white, about these feelings, and none of them submitted care reports.

The third care report outlined an email Mills had sent to Sharon Weiner, an associate professor, which she described in the report as “uncharacteristic of past communications” and filled with “rage” and “anger.”

Mills said he'd made Weiner aware of some of the discrimination he experienced at AU and she "waved them off."

Weiner wrote, “I am worried about him and that he might harm himself or create disturbances on campus. He accuses a couple of people of being white supremacists and states that he will publicly accuse them because everyone needs to know ‘the truth.’”

The three professors who filed care reports were all contacted for comment but did not respond. Representatives from AU's office of communications instead answered all questions about Mills's case.

Mills considers the incident a "politically motivated wellness check” and akin to being swatted, or having police called on you under false pretenses. He said after the wellness check took place, he told a dean he wanted to file formal complaints against the professors who'd filed the care reports, the AUPD and two students who confronted him about his views. He wanted it all investigated.

However, he was warned against taking such action because of the possibility of retaliatory accusations or claims of slander by the professors.

A friend who saw and spoke to Mills in the days following the wellness check described him as “in shock.”

A note dated Sept. 18 from a doctor at AU's student health center stated that Mills “is currently being treated for symptoms of acute stress, related to a recent traumatic experience.” The note referenced the wellness check. The doctor also noted that the symptoms “appear to be significantly interfering with his academic functioning.”

Recent studies have shown that various types of discrimination experienced by college students exact an emotional and physical toll and lead to heightened feelings of anxiety, loneliness and discrimination. A report published last year by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Fund for Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity showed that hate incidents against minority students have increased in recent years.

Officer Sotelo said he cautioned Mills against using such strong language and hyperbole to express his feelings to administrators, because once someone speaks of being suicidal, “hands are tied.”

The university said in a statement that there were 289 wellness checks in 2019 as of December. That number is comparable to recent years; there were 260 checks in 2018 and 277 in 2017.

Mills said his problematic interactions with faculty and department heads go far beyond the wellness check.

He said one of his earliest racial encounters occurred on the first day of a course he took during his second year in the program. The course was Politics and Policy-Making in International Relations, and Mills said the professor, Daniel Esser, used Mills, the only black student in the class, as an example when Esser referred to the potential consequences for students doing poorly and not submitting assignments. Then, during a class break, Esser approached Mills and commented on his not thinking all black people were lazy, Mills said. The professor also said in class that he had an antiblack bias, Mills and other students who took the class said.

A classmate who did not want to be identified said Esser was problematic. The student, who is white, said Mills was treated differently than other students and held to a “double standard.” While the student was “absolutely appalled,” she said she wasn’t surprised because there's no accountability by the administration for such overt displays of racism beyond empty references to the university’s official diversity statement. She said there also is no mechanism for students to report racism without retaliation.

Calling Out Racism by Name

Mills said he resisted complaining about Esser at first.

“I didn’t want to make waves,” Mills said. “If you develop a reputation in the department, you could have issues down the line -- people don’t want to work with you, or people don’t like you. I didn’t really push anything. I knew it was definitely wrong but I was trying to ignore it back then.”

Mills said he didn't file an official complaint immediately because he was worried about retaliation, but he eventually filed a complaint about Esser.

Lisa Leff, acting dean of academic affairs and senior vice provost at AU, summarized the investigation of Mills's complaint about Esser in a letter about the conclusion and findings of the investigation. The letter was dated Sept. 4, 2018, a year after the alleged incidents took place. The findings were sent to Esser and Mills, who separately shared copies of their letters with Inside Higher Ed.

"Based on my review and analysis of the information gathered in this process, I have determined that your actions do not constitute racial discrimination, nor do they constitute discriminatory harassment as defined in American University’s Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy," Leff wrote in a section directed at Esser.

"On the first day of class, you singled Zach out and used him as a hypothetical example of a student not completing his work, and then later in class, acknowledged that you did that because of 'biases' that you 'tr[y] to keep in check.' On another class day, October 19, you again spoke of having 'biases.' These events did occur, and I have no doubt they caused serious discomfort to Zach."

"In the first allegation above, you expressed unconscious bias, and then once you realized what you had done, you took steps to remediate its effects by taking responsibility for it and apologizing for it. In other words, once you became conscious of your unconscious bias, you worked actively to counter its effects. While such conduct does not erase harm done -- and in these instances, may have in fact exacerbated the pain or discomfort caused by calling attention to it -- it does not in itself rise to the level required by the Policy for a determination that discrimination occurred."

Mills had alleged in his complaint that Esser had tried to “sabotage” him academically by, among other things, altering assignment guidelines applied only to Mills. Leff's investigation found that the mistakes made by Esser were the “kind of mistakes faculty make routinely in the course of their work.”

Mills said he'd noted in his original complaint the difference between how Esser treated him in person and how the professor communicated with him by email, which has a “paper trail.” But Leff only reviewed emails between Esser and Mills as part of the investigation. Mills said Leff’s investigation waved off too many of Esser’s “mistakes,” calling it “statistically improbable” that a professor could make this many mistakes regarding one student.

Esser said he was "incredulous" when he learned that Mills filed the complaint against him.

"At no time have I ever intentionally discriminated against Mr. Mills or any student based on race or any other factor," he wrote in an email response to questions about Mills's allegations and the university's investigation. "Racism is one of the central challenges facing humanity and I was stunned that I was being accused of racism. I also note that Mr. Mills had not approached me in this matter prior to requesting a formal investigation."

Esser said he felt "exonerated" by the investigation. As for the determination that he had exhibited microaggressions and unconscious bias toward Mills, he cited research by Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian American neuroscientist, which "shows that almost every person holds unconscious biases."

"Countering such biases requires responsive and responsible action," Esser wrote, noting that he took responsibility for his actions and apologized.

He said he has taken antibias and inclusive excellence training and noted that he and the three professors who submitted care reports about Mills had all signed an open letter to students following the 2016 U.S. presidential election expressing support for minority students and diversity at AU. The original writers of the letter were all professors from the SIS department.

Mills said faculty members' concerns about his implied emotional fragility and supposed preoccupation with racial issues are examples of how racial hostility that students of color regularly encounter on predominantly white college campuses is invalidated and minimized.

Mills described conversations with Atzili, the program director, regarding the investigation of Esser. Atzili told Mills that Esser could retaliate and laughed about the prospect of that happening. Mills said Atzili also blamed Mills’s problems on the absence of his "black father" and denied that racism existed at American. Mills believes Atzili should have done more.

“He’s been well aware of lots of stuff that’s happened, and he doesn’t interpret any of it as racism, so he would never go report it in the first place,” Mills said. “I don’t even know if he understands what he’s doing when he tries to insinuate that me growing up without a black father has something to do with any of this stuff … I think it’s so deep in the culture of SIS that some people don’t even know they’re fully participating in discrimination.”

Atzili, like the other professors who filed care reports about Mills, did not respond to a request for comment.

A week after the investigation's findings were released to Mills, he got an email from AU president Sylvia Burwell in which she apologized for the “frustration and anxiety” he experienced while the complaint was being investigated.

Burwell wrote that she confirmed that AU followed “its normal process in investigating and resolving” the complaint and that it was “fully investigated.” Mills disputes these points, noting that the witnesses he provided as having knowledge of the racist events were not contacted by the university.

President Burwell also said in the email that her chief of staff and the vice president for campus life would meet with Mills about his concerns. Mills said he skipped the meeting because there were preset conditions for discussion points.

"They refused to discuss anything about me and just wanted to talk with me about racism in general and how diversity can be improved generally on campus," he said in an email. "I have no interest in helping the school fix its toxic racial climate while it is ignoring what happened to me."

There are 41 students in the SIS Ph.D. program, but far fewer in Mills’s program, in which only two are black, including Mills. Every student in the program interviewed noted how few black students had been in the program over the years.

Some of those students questioned whether a wellness check on a young African American man was the best course of action, given that police wellness checks on black Americans elsewhere have resulted in trauma and even death. The shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson during a police wellness check several months ago is a recent example.

“In general I think sending the police is never an appropriate response,” said ​Cherie Saulter, a classmate of Mills. She said in her six years in the program, she can only remember six black students, three of whom have left.​

Saulter, who is white, described Mills’s treatment as disappointing. She said AU's response to racist incidents on campus is insufficient and often involves little more than issuing statements or creating committees to promote inclusiveness.

Multiple students also noted the lack of diversity in the SIS program as one of the potential contributing factors to the success or struggles of African American students and the incidents of discrimination. They also noted the lack of black faculty and limited access to mentorship for black students.

"The SIS Ph.D. program is small, and admits only about six to 10 students a year," university representatives said in written responses. "Over the past 10 years, of the 93 students enrolled in the program, 7 percent have been Asian, 5 percent Black or African-American, 3 percent Hispanic, 33 percent International, 3 percent Multiracial, 7 percent unknown and 37 percent White. Diversity in Ph.D. programs is a challenge nationwide. Faculty in the Ph.D. program rotate annually, so the makeup is ever-changing. SIS is committed to diversifying its faculty … This is a concern and an issue nationwide."

Some of the students who corroborated Mills’s statements asked not to be identified and cited concerns about upcoming dissertation defenses and about losing funding.​

A white student in the program, who requested anonymity because of fear of retaliation, said the lack of black or Latinx professors at SIS makes it difficult for minority students to find mentors or allies who can help them succeed. The student also said professors seem out of touch on diversity issues and that the program has not done the necessary work of building inclusive classes or championing minority voices.

“There is a general climate of racial hostility at American University,” the student said, adding that administrators seem apathetic, incompetent or only interested in preserving their own jobs.

“We know that any institution faces challenges and we always recognize there is room for improvement in any program,” AU representatives said in their written response. They said that the SIS's Ph.D. committee has met with students and faculty over the past year to develop opportunities for improving diversity and inclusion in the program. “Those include proactive recruitment of minority students, revamping first-year qualifying exams to reduce stress, establishing a mentoring system, and requiring faculty discussions on diversity and inclusion in the classroom at the start of each semester,” they wrote.

“These are fantastic efforts, but what it shows is these are not enough,” said Adrienne Pine, an associate professor of anthropology, who also cited the university's new Antiracist Research and Policy Center. Pine said that past incidents exposed a long-standing problem of structural racism at AU.

AU representatives also point to the university's inclusive excellence program that launched in 2018 as another important effort. The program is focused on increasing and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. More than 500 faculty and staff have participated in optional inclusive excellence training over the past two years. AU is also trying to recruit and hire more diverse employees and is reworking the curriculum to ensure inclusiveness. The university also created a Bias Response Working Group last semester to update and improve its bias reporting system. What's more, freshmen are now required to take a class on power, privilege and inequality.

Alexis Arnold, a senior and co-editor of the online campus publication The Blackprint, believes efforts to improve the campus climate are better under President Burwell.

"However, I think that the gravity of the incidents encouraged the university [to] understand that it has to do more with inclusivity beyond a mandatory class … But there is still a lot of work to do to make sure black students always feel safe in a predominantly white space," she said in an email. "Black students need to remain vocal to get the full changes they hope to see."

In the interim, ​Mills said he now only comes to campus to teach his classes -- he conducts office hours over Skype. He worries about being shadowed by AU police officers, which he alleges happened in the days following the wellness check.

Mills is one class away from completing the coursework required before he can defend his dissertation prospectus. His funding runs out at the end of the year, and he has also reached his lifetime cap on student loans. He says he may not be able to complete his degree.

“I feel like I’ve been given a bunch of really horrible options while the university refuses to acknowledge what happened,” he said.

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Historians approve anti-ICE resolution but vote down anti-Israel proposals at their annual meeting

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

NEW YORK -- Members of the American Historical Association approved a resolution condemning college and university contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 70 to 60, at their annual meeting over the weekend. They approved an additional statement in support of professors teaching off the tenure track, but voted down two resolutions expressing concern about academic freedom in Israel.

The successful resolution on ICE now goes to the AHA’s governing council for further consideration. Per association policies and procedures, the council may accept it, refuse to concur or exercise a veto.

Since its formation in 2003, ICE has inked handsome contracts with various institutions to offer cultural competency, medical and other training to federal workers, and to partner in research. Just a handful of universities currently have such contracts, and few to none of the projects relate to ICE’s most controversial functions regarding immigration. But these agreements have attracted increased scrutiny in recent years, as public disapproval of ICE’s methods -- including family separation -- grows.

Johns Hopkins University, for example, recently said that its School of Medicine Center for Law Enforcement Medicine will not renew its long-standing contract with ICE to provide emergency medical response training. Students and some faculty members previously urged the university to cut ties with ICE. Those tensions factored into a major campus protest last year.

The AHA resolution on ICE cites “serious and systematic violation of human rights committed by both ICE and the U.S. Border Patrol in recent years” and “their presence on U.S. university campuses for recruitment and research purposes.” It urges “university faculty, staff and administrators to sever existing ties and forgo future contracts with ICE and USBP” and to support “sanctuary movements on campuses that seek to protect immigrant students and workers.”

Alexander Avina, associate professor at Arizona State University, was the first to speak in favor of the resolution, saying that his own parents were undocumented migrants and that he now teaches such immigrants in the borderlands. He urged the AHA to take “a stand against ongoing state terrorism” and the idea that universities should make millions of dollars by working with agencies that perpetrate it.

Ashley Black, a visiting assistant professor of history at California State University at Stanislaus, said she teaches students who were part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and who now live in a “state of fear and insecurity.” She asked the AHA to endorse campuses as sanctuaries in the interest of student safety and learning.

ICE had no vocal fans in the room, but a number of historians spoke out against the resolution on the grounds that it strays from AHA’s mission and established rules and practices. Mary Beth Norton, former AHA president and Mary Donlon Alger Professor Emerita at Cornell University, said she might support a resolution that adhered to the AHA’s Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance, highlighting threats to historical sources, academic freedom and historians’ movement. Yet she did not support the resolution as written.

Norton said later that the document said "nothing about historical scholarship or historians. Accordingly, it is outside the purview if the AHA as an organization, even though expressing outrage about ICE is entirely appropriate for individual historians in their capacity as citizens."  

Avina said that he and his colleagues behind the resolution hope that the council will "accept and publicly support" it.

Prior to the business meeting, the AHA Council approved a resolution on what departments can do to support historians working off the tenure track. Unsurprisingly, members also approved the document with no objections. The resolution says that many department chairs “can influence change in such important areas as the integration of [non-tenure-track faculty] members into departmental life and cultures.”

Chairs should make clear that non-tenure-track professors’ participation in service and governance are seen as “opportunities for professional development rather than as new expectations,” for example, and also ensure adjuncts’ access to resources, constructive teaching feedback and input on their syllabi. Chairs can also promote the interests of non-tenure-track colleagues with administrators, in an effort to enhance job stability and economic security via multiyear contacts and other means, according to the AHA.

Voting Down Anti-Israel Resolution

The AHA also rejected anti-Israel resolutions at the meeting, as it has several times during the ongoing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The two resolutions up for a vote this year condemned Israel for restricting the academic freedom and travel of Palestinian scholars and the foreign nationals -- including U.S. citizens -- who wish to teach, confer or do research with them.

Recalling other disciplinary society debates over BDS proposal, several speakers at the AHA meeting described the resolutions as unfairly singling out Israel among many other nations with questionable records on academic freedom and human rights. Proponents of the resolutions, in turn, asserted that the AHA has, over time, singled out other countries for violations of academic freedom. Some also pointed to U.S. federal aid to Israel, saying that the special relationship between the two nations should translate to special concern.

Sharon Musher, associate professor at Stockton University and a member of the Alliance for Academic Freedom, said that the resolution on protecting the right to education "singles out Israel, neglecting academic freedom violations by worse offenders, including China, Singapore and the Gulf Emirate with whom American universities ally."    While Israel merits criticism for some of its actions, the resolution would harm the AHA, she also warned. "Endorsing this politicized resolution today will tarnish the professionalism of the association. It will also create needless division within the AHA. The association should remain a welcome home to all historians, whatever their politics."   The academic freedom resolution was amended during the meeting to be sent out to all members of the AHA, had it passed. But it died before it could even be forwarded to the governing council, with 41 members in favor and 80 opposed. The second proposal, on the rights of U.S. academics visiting Israel and Palestinian areas, failed with 36 members in favor and 61 opposed.

Proponents of the Israel-related resolutions made clear during the meeting that they would not be deterred by failures.

The AHA has no bylaws against repeat proposals. Jim Grossman, executive director of the association, said after the meeting that the issues raised in the petitions will be the subject of annual meeting sessions in coming years.

“Since everything has a history,” he added, “all issues in historical context are appropriate for proposals to our program committee.”

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Conference speakers stress value of liberal arts skills to small college presidents

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- Whenever presidents of private liberal arts colleges gather, the topic of their graduates' career readiness is near the top of their minds.

This year's Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute is no different. Since the program officially began Saturday, presidents in various settings have touted their institutions' track records preparing students for careers and what they believe to be strong long-term prospects for students who earn degrees in the liberal arts.

But among this group, worries run high that the liberal arts are being marginalized in America and the workplace. Some presidents are concerned that parents, students and employers are overlooking their institutions and instead turning toward campuses that tilt more heavily toward science and technology majors.

So it was notable Monday when a managing director at one of the world's largest investment firms told presidents that the leaders who are its best employees are the ones who have the ability to operate outside of silos and to speak to many different types of people.

“That sounds roughly like a liberal arts education,” said the speaker, Jonathan McBride, managing director and global head of inclusion at the investment management company BlackRock.

If the companies BlackRock invests in seek the same characteristics, it suggests liberal arts colleges are right to tell students about the long-term benefits of their education. The characteristics in demand add up to the ability to avoid sameness or not to favor the familiar. And it might be easier to teach those instincts when a student is on campus, surrounded by ideas, instead of at the workplace for only a part of the day.

The discussion also suggests some changes liberal arts colleges could make to keep employers happy. At some point, institutions could start certifying skills that contribute to what McBride calls inclusive leadership, just like some institutions provide certificates for coding skills.

McBride urged college leaders to fight the urge to promote too much specialization. The next big skill will be learning itself, he said.

Nonetheless, some liberal arts college presidents feel they struggle to communicate their value to students and families.

“No matter what research we put out there on outcomes, nobody seems to be hearing it,” said Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles, which draws many of its students from its local area and has a large percentage of Pell-eligible students.

McElaney-Johnson spoke at an afternoon session about promoting the labor market outcomes of the liberal arts. Like many small private institutions, Mount St. Mary's isn't entirely disregarding technical skills as it teaches human skills or soft skills. It's trying to embed technical skills into students' educational experience.

But institutions have to help students understand and tell others why their mix of skills is valuable, McElaney-Johnson said.

Communicating the value of a liberal arts degree is made more difficult by the fact that liberal arts graduates have nonlinear career paths.

About 70 percent of liberal arts graduates do something completely different when they go from their first stable job to their second, said Rob Sentz, chief innovation officer at the labor market analytics firm Emsi. But even technology majors change paths between first and second jobs more than half the time.

“It almost doesn't matter what kind of degree you have,” Sentz said. “You're moving in the market.”

The labor market is demanding skills such as project management, strategic planning, marketing, writing and sales, Sentz said. Why? When a company hires someone to build a new machine, it also has to hire someone to talk about that machine and someone to sell it. It has to hire a manager to oversee teams involved in production.

How can colleges bridge the gaps between employers and campuses -- and between what students think they want and what the labor force is demanding?

The experience of Brandman University in California might offer some insight. Brandman is part of the Chapman University system, with 25,000 degree and certificate students, classes offered online, and campuses in California and Washington. It is also heavily involved in employer-funded degree programs and competency-based education.

Brandman's chancellor and chief executive officer, Gary Brahm, described what he called "backwards program design." It involves designing degree programs by looking at the knowledge, skills and capabilities that will help employment outcomes.

Competencies from professional certifications can also be important, whether they are drawn from the Institute of Supply Management or Microsoft. Competencies can be acknowledged through credentials other than a degree, such as badges students can earn.

Degree programs can be validated by employers and outside sources of workplace data, such as Burning Glass, to ensure the skills really match employer needs and wants.

Brahm also stressed a need to make sure students are picking up the competencies.

“Because we will embed these competencies across the curriculum, we need to have institutionally developed standardized testing to measure how well you're doing,” he said.

Much of that is a way for colleges to learn from employers and about the job market. It may be necessary work and work that some institutions are already doing -- and it may be largely new for some institutions.

Many of the college presidents in attendance Monday were happy to hear an employer, BlackRock, valuing what they already do.

“In a world where in fact the most important expertise is learning, how much do we have to learn from you all?” McBride said. “Everything.”

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