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Vice-rectors resign en masse over anti-corruption rule

University World News Global Edition - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 04:44
All 13 vice-rectors at Thailand's prestigious Mahidol University resigned en masse at the end of last month after Thailand's anti-corruption agency announced that the vice-rectors of public univer ...

Research and training top the agenda in Australian state visit to India

The PIE News - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 04:25

Education and research collaboration were at the centre of talks during the Australian prime minister’s visit to India this week.

In his first trip to the country since he entered office, Malcolm Turnbull was accompanied by Australian education minister, Simon Birmingham, who led a delegation of 120 representatives from Australian universities, industry and training institutions.

Turnbull said in a speech that in the fields of education, training, science and innovation, “our dynamic and growing knowledge partnership can be truly transformative.”

“We will continue to ensure that we provide outstanding opportunities for Indian students,” he said. “And also that Australian students learn more about India by visiting and studying here including through the scholarships and grants supported by my government’s New Colombo Plan.”

“We will continue to ensure that we provide outstanding opportunities for Indian students”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed the importance of cooperation in education research, calling it “the most important field of engagement between India and Australia”.

The state visit took place over four days.

As well as the financial benefits, the mission focused on the potential to build education opportunities for both countries.

“On this mission we’ll be focused on making sure that we enhance the mutual recognition of qualifications, delivering increased opportunities for Australian providers to support the delivery of education in India, as well as reassuring Indians that Australia is a popular, safe, friendly destination for students to continue to come to in increasing numbers,” said Birmingham.

The Association of Australian Education Representatives in India hosted a reception in New Delhi, where the association’s president, Rahul Gandhi commended the move towards mutual recognition of master’s degrees.

Over the past year, AAERI has worked with Australia’s Department of Education and Training to extend postgraduate degrees from 1.5 years to two years to align with the Association of Indian Universities guidelines, which don’t recognise master’s courses of under two years.

Gandhi thanked Australian higher educators for their cooperation, saying: “This has helped thousands of Indian students obtain an equivalent qualification certificate from the Indian universities.”

Gandhi also praised to the country’s post-study work offering for Indian students, and Australia’s TAFE sector.

Australia has piloted a number of initiatives to help upskill the Indian workforce, in line with India’s goal to train 400 million people by 2022. During the visit, Birmingham opened the fourth Australia-India Skills Conference.

“It is a great opportunity to hear how Australia’s excellent vocational trainers can work alongside their partners in India to build the skills that India needs and to make productive and fulfilling relationships along the way,” he said.

Upskilling agreements that came out of the visit included the launch of a pilot run of the ‘training the trainer’ courses for 250 students in five cities in India.

Meanwhile, Universities Australia hosted a roundtable during the visit, with the aim of increasing research and employability collaborations between Indian and Australian universities.

“It’s clear that both countries’ universities, in areas like research and training, have a lot to offer each other”

“These are two countries that understand the value of education, research and innovation in powering future prosperity,” said Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia. “It’s clear that both countries’ universities, in areas like research and training, have a lot to offer each other.”

Education ties between India and Australia are already strong, with over 60,000 Indian students studying in Australia in 2016.

However, this number dipped in 2009/10 after a series of assaults and racial abuse against Indian students damaged Australia’s reputation in the country.

“Around one in 10 of Australia’s international students come from India and we’re the second-most popular destination for Indian students,” Birmingham said.

“We’re committed to providing Indian students who choose to study in Australia with a high quality education and safe place to study when they visit.”

The post Research and training top the agenda in Australian state visit to India appeared first on The PIE News.

University shuts down amid violent student protest

University World News Global Edition - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 04:00
A demonstration by students protesting against the living and studying conditions at the Abdou Moumouni University campus in Niger's capital Niamey has forced the authorities to shut down the univ ...

White nationalist group prompts backlash at Auburn University

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:00

A white nationalist group that initially claimed affiliation with Auburn University has prompted condemnation from officials there.

The controversy surrounding the Auburn White Student Union represents the continued rise of white supremacist activities on university campuses, intensified by the contemporary political landscape.

Per its website, the group subscribes to the “alt-right” movement -- a right-wing following that often espouses white supremacist and racist views. Initially the site was emblazoned with an eagle and the moniker “Whites of the Alt-Right Educating Auburn Gentiles for Liberation and Empowerment,” or WAR EAGLE, a reference to the university’s motto. Since, the logo has been removed and replaced with a disclaimer that the group isn’t associated with Auburn.

The group is shrouded in digital anonymity. No contact information appears on its website, and the organization that registered the website domain is listed as “c/o RespectMyPrivacy LLC.”

A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors racism and bigotry nationwide, revealed that even with the upswing of white nationalist activity at colleges and universities, most of it comes from groups with no campus ties. At Auburn, there is only the suggestion it's run by students, and it's unclear if students have been recruited to the group.

The league found 107 incidents of white supremacist activity at colleges and universities as of March 6, when it released the report. Largely, these involved white supremacist promotional materials, like posters or leaflets, being dispensed on campuses.

News reports have linked the group with the recent emergence of anti-Semitic flyers on the Alabama campus. These materials spurred social media outrage, and the university Twitter account spent part of Tuesday sending the same statement to people: “This group isn't an Auburn student org, and we find the views expressed in their materials reprehensible and unrepresentative of the university.”

Not everyone felt satisfied by the university's response.

"That's nice and all, but what actions are being taken? Can we do something about them using our name like this?" one user tweeted back.

On the group website, it asserts that “far-left” movements like Black Lives Matter have targeted conservatives.

“Black-white integration has failed miserably, and our country becomes ever more divided the more nonwhites it has. White people are hungry for a group that will give them real, organic community, based on kinship, sincerity (rather than self-censorship and political correctness), and commonality. They’re fed up with the false idols of consumerism and sports teams as a substitute for real community. They never cared about abstractions that were foisted on them, like ‘tolerance,’” the website reads.

The group goes on to describe the election of President Trump as a victory that has energized the white conservative base.

Three “classes” of membership are detailed on the website. During a trial period, a group hopeful would study "white history," psychology and the current political “reality.” A full membership grants access to the group’s “inner sanctum.”

“Members who wish to remain anonymous may choose to meet only with other full members. While we forbid all illegal and criminal activity, anonymity is important if an anti-white employer would fire you for advocating for your race,” the website states.

An auxiliary membership is available for “allies” who may not fully agree with the group but empathize with its cause.

Only people of white ancestry are admitted, though the website states that those with “small amounts” of nonwhite ancestry will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The firestorm at Auburn won’t likely die down any time soon, as Richard Spencer, an infamous white supremacist who is frequently called a neo-Nazi, is slated to speak on campus Tuesday, he confirmed on Twitter. He will discuss Trump, Syria and the alt-right, he said, adding that his talk will likely be "wild."

Auburn released a statement Wednesday about Spencer’s lecture: “We strongly deplore his views, which run counter to those of this institution. While his event isn’t affiliated with the university, Auburn supports the constitutional right to free speech. We encourage the campus community to respond to speech they find objectionable with their own views in civil discourse and to do so with respect and inclusion.”

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New York's free-tuition plan leaves private colleges uncertain about the future

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:00

New York’s freshly signed free public tuition program puts the squeeze on many of the state’s weakest private colleges and universities.

Private college presidents know it. But most aren’t yet sure what to do about it.

Those presidents reacted with a mix of dismay, confusion, criticism and, in some cases, resolve in the days after New York leaders struck a deal to start a tuition-free public college program this fall. The creation of a program in New York caps a winding and unexpected path for the free-college idea, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed early this year after it appeared to have died with Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Cuomo held a ceremonial bill signing for the program Wednesday, which Clinton attended.

The program, called the Excelsior Scholarship, will allow New York residents from families earning up to $125,000 per year to attend the state’s public community colleges and four-year colleges without paying tuition. It will go into effect this fall for students who are newly enrolling at institutions in the State University of New York and City University of New York systems and who come from families with incomes of up to $100,000 per year. The income limit will jump to $110,000 in fall 2018 and $125,000 in 2019. Cuomo’s office estimates that about 940,000 families in the state will be eligible at that point.

The program poses a significant challenge for New York’s many small private institutions, which suddenly find themselves facing a new kind of competition and increasing inter-sector warfare in the state. The pressure will be highest on tuition-dependent colleges and universities that already compete for students in part by heavily discounting their tuition and that draw most of their students from inside the state. More prestigious colleges and universities, which pull in more students from out of state and are more selective in their admissions, are less likely to feel a major pinch.

But experts warned that all private institutions in New York should take this moment to evaluate their strategies for the future. Some will have to find ways to keep the doors open in a suddenly more competitive landscape, and all should be aware of where they stand in a market that has suddenly been upended.

“I think the only outcome that’s certain from this initiative is that it has thrown the marketplace into confusion,” said Charles L. Flynn Jr., president of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The college, located in the Bronx, draws about 80 percent of its 1,600 undergraduates from within New York State.

“We don’t know how it would work, we don’t know how it can work and we certainly don’t know how it will affect individual families,” Flynn said of the free-college program.

Private colleges would seem to have a few strategies available if they want to attract students who are newly considering public institutions. One is that they could throw more financial aid at students who are on the fence.

Not everyone has the money available, however. Mount Saint Vincent already has a freshman tuition discount rate in the high 50 percent range, Flynn said. The national average tuition discount rate for first-time, full-time freshmen is 48.6 percent, according to the most recent report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

“How can I go above that?” he said. “We don’t have a lot more aid to throw.”

The college can survive in the event its enrollment dips this fall, Flynn said. But he can’t yet rule out having to take steps like layoffs if enrollment drops substantially. And he said Mount Saint Vincent is in better financial shape than many other private institutions in New York. He has heard talk of some institutions already preparing for layoffs in the wake of the free-tuition bill passing, he said.

SUNY and CUNY do not yet have estimates for how much the free-college program will boost fall enrollment, spokeswomen for the systems said. A March report from the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York projected that public institutions would see an enrollment increase of between 9 percent and 22 percent under Cuomo’s plan.

The report went on to estimate that enrollment in the state’s private nonprofit colleges and universities would fall by between 7 percent and 15 percent under Cuomo’s plan. That would cost private institutions a collective $1.4 billion in revenue, representing a major shift in student behavior and hitting institutions with diverse student bodies especially hard.

New York is home to more than 100 private nonprofit colleges and universities enrolling about 300,000 students from within the state, according to CICU. Just over half of the state’s colleges have student bodies that are at least 75 percent New Yorkers. Close to 90 enroll fewer than 2,000 students.

In other words, many tuition-dependent colleges would be at risk of missing critical enrollment targets if public colleges’ free tuition draws even a few students away from them. Those colleges are likely already financially strapped and can least afford to see sudden drops in enrollment.

“Once this is out there and implemented, possibly some of the more precarious institutions will go under,” said Gary Olson, president of Daemen College, near Buffalo, which enrolls about 2,700 students -- 2,000 of them undergraduates, 90 percent of whom come from New York State. “And what that will do is cause millions of dollars of lost economic impact on the local community where the college is located.”

Daemen’s full-time undergraduate tuition sticker price is $26,400 for the 2016-17 academic year. It’s possible that the college will have to increase its tuition discount rate to attract students, Olson said. The college’s discount rate is currently in the low 40 percent range for freshmen.

Olson wasn’t ready to commit to raising the discount rate, however. Daemen is more likely to argue that it provides a better education than its public competitors.

“What we’re likely to do is play the quality card,” he said.

Olson also argued that there are several problems with the Excelsior Scholarship that will ultimately disappoint students. The program requires students to graduate on time. It also requires recipients to live in New York for the same number of years they received free tuition -- otherwise, the scholarship amount will turn into student loans.

Time will tell if Olson’s argument proves true. But even if it does, it won’t help colleges and universities that can’t survive a year or two of lower enrollment.

Such a college or university could attempt to recruit more students from outside of the state. It could also attempt to draw more students from upper-middle-class or wealthy families who do not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Those aren’t necessarily reasonable propositions, however. Many private colleges or universities would be enrolling more out-of-state or wealthy students if they were able to.

Experts said that in the short term, the discussion is likely to keep coming back to the idea of price.

“The challenge for private institutions is that all of this media is out there touting free tuition,” said Craig Goebel, a principal at the Baltimore-based strategy consulting firm Art & Science Group. “My fear for the private institutions is that even students who won’t be eligible for this program will be swayed to pursue public education on a misunderstanding of what’s going on.”

Private colleges might have to take their evaluation of price beyond tuition discounting.

“Pricing strategies are probably going to be a hot topic on some campuses,” said Wes Butterfield, vice president overseeing the financial aid services division of the consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz. “This is part of the reason we’ve been moving to this environment: because of cost. We’re talking about the initial sticker price. Maybe this is an opportunity for campuses to take a look.”

Butterfield cautioned against focusing too much on price, however. Private colleges and universities need to examine their mission, vision and values in order to better position themselves in the market, he said.

“You have to look at what you do and make sure you are tightening up that aspect of your institution, first and foremost,” he said. “Take a look at your programs and make sure you are providing students strong outcomes. That’s the easiest and the hardest thing to do in some respects, but it allows you to take some of that pressure off of the cost piece.”

Private colleges in New York should have been taking a hard look at their strategies even before the free-tuition program became law, said Sarah Coen, senior vice president at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Strategic enrollment plans can’t ignore student demographic and economic trends, she said. Many of those trends do not favor parts of New York State.

Coen suggested that colleges focus on retention as they face increasing competition for new students.

“If there is more concern of losing the incoming student, then what are these private institutions doing?” Coen said. “It’s a really good time to make sure your current students know how much you love them and want them to stay.”

Presidents will have to strike a delicate balance between the triage of making sure their colleges and universities survive in an unsettled market and the long-term planning that is necessary to set them up for the future.

“Institutions that are relying on big discounts and financial aid to enroll a class, they’re going to be in trouble,” said Rick Hesel, a principal at Art & Science. “The ones that have a strong, differentiated position based on substance, on the student experience, will be better off.”

Another Art & Science principal, David Strauss, warned college presidents against falling into the trap of thinking they can simply do a better job of marketing themselves. They need to take a real look at their missions and how they can strengthen them, he said.

“Acting on a cosmetic level, where we figure out how to communicate a bit better, aid a bit better, recruit a bit better, is unlikely to create real competitive balance for the institutions that will be challenged by this move,” Strauss said.

Some private college presidents suggested they could emphasize four-year graduation rates. The SUNY system’s four-year graduation rate is only 48.9 percent. But some small private colleges post four-year rates below that level. Other presidents said they could compete on indicators like economic mobility, class size and levels of academic support offered.

“You just have to look at this thing and say, it is what it is, how do we make the best of this?” said Kenneth Macur, the president of Medaille College in Buffalo. “When you’re already in a position to compete on value and not on price, then you’re in a position to compete.”

Medaille enrolls about 2,100 students, about three-quarters of whom are undergraduates. More than 90 percent of the undergraduate population is from New York.

Yet Macur said he is not impressed by the free-tuition law. He described it as more hype than substance.

New York’s public institutions do not have the money or the capacity to take on a huge influx of students on short notice, he said. He went on to argue that the law effectively undermines the worth of a SUNY education by telling the public that its value is zero.

Macur also pointed to issues he has with a new grant program being created for students attending private colleges. The program offers awards of up to $3,000, but private colleges and universities have to provide matching funds. They would also have to freeze tuition for the student receiving the grant.

“Nobody has the money sitting around,” Macur said. “Keep in mind, we’re awarding 40 and 50 percent discount rates.”

Medaille’s tuition discount rate is in the 50 percent range, Macur said. The college quotes full-time undergraduate tuition in Buffalo at $27,276 per year.

New York’s private colleges had wanted Cuomo to boost the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, a grant available to students attending both public and private institutions.

“This was an opportunity where he could have built a stronger partnership between publics and privates,” said Shirley Mullen, president of Houghton College, in western New York. “This is perhaps a lose-lose that could have been a win-win.”

Houghton is a Christian liberal arts college that draws about 40 percent of its students from out of the state, Mullen said. Its student body makeup and specific identity as a Christian college make her confident about her college’s future.

“I think we are probably a little less vulnerable than schools who have a much higher percentage of their students coming from New York State,” she said. “There is also a specific reason that most families are choosing to come to Houghton. They’re coming for the strong academic programs, but also for the faith-based component.”

Also confident was Philip A. Glotzbach, president of Skidmore College, located north of Albany.

“I actually worry more now about international students, given some of the things that are going on with immigration” at the national level, Glotzbach said.

Only 29 percent of Skidmore’s students come from New York State, he said. The 2,500-student college is highly selective, accepting just 24 percent of its applicants. And it has a relatively low tuition discount rate of 32 percent for first-year students.

As a result, Glotzbach said, the free-tuition program is unlikely to cut into enrollment at Skidmore.

“Some other private schools, schools that compete more on the basis of sticker price than we do, might suffer from this,” he said. “I don’t think it will have much effect on Skidmore.”

Editorial Tags: Business issuesNew YorkTuitionImage Source: New York governor's officeImage Caption: Hillary Clinton and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared Wednesday at a ceremonial bill signing for New York's free public college tuition program.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Fresno State and the Secret Service are investigating an untenured lecturer who said President Trump "must hang" on Twitter

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:00

In yet another cautionary social media tale, California State University, Fresno -- and federal officials -- are investigating a non-tenure-track lecturer in history for inflammatory tweets he’s made about politics.

Lars Maischak’s Twitter posts this semester include:

  • To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better. #TheResistance #DeathToFascism
  • Don't tell me to "obey the Law." "The Law" in this country is one part Racism, one part Class Oppression, all Capitalism. #TheResistance
  • [After Ash Wednesday] Judging from the largely absent facial markings this year, Christianity is paying the price for its pact with Fascism. Students abandon it.

Many in academe wouldn’t bat an eye at Maischak’s comments, since professors tend to skew to the political left, and a large number have expressed particular concern about the rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration. Professors themselves often employ their own brands of rhetoric, using strong language for effect that they say should not be taken literally. And Maischak has since said he never meant to incite actual violence against the president.

The tweets nevertheless caused a stir on campus last weekend, after the far-right website Breitbart ran an article about them. Here’s the thrust of the piece: “This is today’s academia. These are types of voices hired to teach recent high school graduates American history. How do you think George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson fare when taught by one who sees the world in this way? How do you think America’s Judeo-Christian heritage fares?”

Where the do the feds come in? Joseph Castro, university president, said during conference call with reporters Wednesday that Fresno State alerted federal authorities to Maischak’s tweets Saturday after learning about them from an unnamed news source -- and that the university has since been in “constant” contact with them. He declined to disclose the status of any federal investigation or name a specific agency taking the lead, but said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are all aware of the situation.

Why? Castro said Maischak’s comments were “serious” and merited a full review.

In earlier statement, Castro said, “Maischak’s personal views and commentary, with its inclusion of violent and threatening language, is obviously inconsistent with the core values of our university. … In response to these concerns, we have conducted a preliminary review to ensure that it is clear that the statements made by him were as a private citizen, not as a representative of Fresno State.”

The university’s “primary concern is for the safety of our students and with providing a conducive learning environment,” the statement continues. “We acknowledge that our faculty have an obligation to establish and maintain ethical and professional conduct, inside and outside of the classroom. … The review of these and any other statements will be conducted in the context of rights of free expression, but also for potential direct threats of violence that may violate the law.”

Maischak declined to answer specific questions about his case Wednesday evening but said in an emailed statement that he’d been contacted by the Secret Service and was cooperating fully with their ongoing investigation. He said he never intended harm to anyone, nor to incite harm.

“I ask forgiveness of those who felt threatened or offended” by the tweets, he said. “My statements each represent the end point of a dark train of thought triggered by my despair over the actions of the present U.S. government.”

Maischak, who has deleted his Twitter account, said he had 28 followers at the time of his posts and was seeking catharsis in recording his thoughts.

“I never expected them to be read by anyone but a close circle of acquaintances who would know to place them in their context,” he said. “To treat Twitter as of no more consequence than a journal was a poor decision. … In this spirit, I am prepared to take full responsibility for my statements.”

That’s a tad more tempered than Maischak’s previous statement to local media, released on Monday. In it, he said that Trump-sanctioned arrests of undocumented immigrants recalled visions of 1930s Germany.

“Most observers will consider these arrests a blatant injustice,” he said. “My thought at the time was that if this were to become a mass phenomenon, encompassing in the end all 11 million undocumented immigrants, the guilt amassed by the present government and its supporters would be tremendous, and would lead to demands for vengeance.”

In general, “the substantial continuity between fascism and the present Republican Party makes it likely that the deeds of [Trump’s] government will be the subject of court proceedings, or even a tribunal akin to the Nuremburg Trials,” Maischak, who is from Germany, said Monday. “Historical precedent suggests that such proceedings often end with the incarceration or execution of the leadership.”

Still, Maischak added, “I would be horrified to learn that anyone would have read this tweet as an invitation to violence. I still do not think, within the context at the time, and within the context of my other statements on Twitter, that any reasonable reader could come to that conclusion, however.” To that point, he said he was appalled that Castro “is allowing himself to be instrumentalized for a right-wing smear campaign.”

Indeed, leftist professors have become something of a favorite topic for websites such as Breitbart in recent years. Many of the profiles on the controversial Professor Watchlist cite Breitbart and Fox News as sources, for example.

Maischak’s case parallels many others in recent months, with mixed outcomes for professors involved. George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University, for example, wished for “white genocide” for Christmas on Twitter and just this month tweeted that he wanted to “vomit” after seeing a civilian give up an airline seat in first class for a U.S. soldier. Drexel’s administration flip-flopped in its public response to the first comment but ultimately declared it “protected speech.” A small group of Faculty Senate members is now reportedly seeking an investigation into Ciccariello-Maher’s impact on the university.

In another case, Oberlin College in November fired Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, after The Tower, a pro-Israel website, uncovered a series of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and conspiratorial Facebook posts Karega made about world events. Oberlin first affirmed her right to free expression but then backtracked, following a push from the college’s Board of Trustees.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville investigated but decided not to punish Glenn Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law and well-known conservative blogger at Instapundit, for his tweet saying motorists should “run down” protesters blocking the highway outside of Charlotte, N.C., following a police shooting in September. Somewhat like Maischak, Reynolds said he wasn’t actually encouraging people to target protesters (some of his critics argued otherwise).

Scholars have different views as to when and if extramural utterances should be relevant to one’s professional standing. That question was at the heart of the Steven Salaita controversy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, which reverberated across academe. A brief recap: Salaita made anti-Israel remarks on Twitter and lost a promised tenured position in 2014, but the administration faced major fallout from its actions.

The American Association of University Professors maintains that extramural speech should only be investigated if it calls into question a professor's professional fitness. And even then, inquiries should only be led by a faculty member’s peers.

As for Maischak, Robert O’Neil, a First Amendment scholar and former president of the University of Virginia, said Fresno State is within its rights to investigate him.

O’Neil said it would be hard to argue that Maischak meant Trump should “hang tough” or anything other than hang -- literally -- based on his public statements. “Bizarre” declarations of harming a president (or even judges), must be taken seriously, O’Neil said, “as much on social media as in a letter.”

Moreover, he said, Maischak’s tweet lodged in a “highly charged political environment,” and his discipline of history arguably imposes on him a “higher level of academic commitment here than, say, for a chemist or mathematician.”

For those reasons, among others, O’Neil said, comments such as Maischak’s do “risk a charge of incompetence.”

Maischak’s union, the California Faculty Association, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Castro said Maischak has been working at Fresno State since 2006 and confirmed that he’s still employed and teaching (though the university is currently on spring break). Possible future interruptions to his teaching schedule will be dealt with in a manner least disruptive to students, he said.

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Department of Education makes first official senior hires

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the hiring of nine senior staff members Wednesday, including an acting under secretary with significant experience working on student aid and postsecondary issues.

The hiring of most of the individuals in the announcement had previously been discussed publicly, but it was the first official announcement from DeVos about who would fill key staff positions. Like other federal agencies in the Trump administration, the Department of Education has gone nearly three months without naming appointees to a number of political positions.

James Manning, who was named senior adviser to the under secretary and acting under secretary of education, was picked last November to lead the Trump "beachhead" team at the department -- the group appointed by the incoming administration to assist with the transition at each federal agency. Manning has experience as a department official going back to the Carter administration, last serving as acting chief operating officer of federal student aid. As acting under secretary, Manning would be the most senior official in the department after DeVos.

Rohit Chopra, the former student loans ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said Manning is experienced and fair-minded.

"He knows the Office of Federal Student Aid inside and out, which has been a trillion-dollar headache for many an education secretary," said Chopra, who also served as a special adviser to former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. "I hope his role signals that cleaning up loan servicing and debt collection will be a top priority."

The hires announced included others with deep experience in education policy, as well as more controversial picks.

The addition of Rob Eitel, who was named senior counselor to the secretary Wednesday, was the subject of media scrutiny last month after it was reported that he had taken a leave of absence from for-profit college chain Bridgepoint Education Inc. to serve as a special assistant to DeVos. Eitel had been the chief compliance officer at Bridgepoint, which would be affected by the department's approach to regulations such as borrower defense and gainful employment.

Other hires announced Wednesday included:

  • Josh Venable, chief of staff
  • Dougie Simmons, deputy chief of staff for operations
  • Ebony Lee, deputy chief of staff for policy
  • Jana Toner, White House liaison
  • Jose Viana, assistant deputy secretary and director for the Office of English Language Acquisition
  • Jason Botel, deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education and acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

Senate approval would be required only for the assistant secretary position.

The appointment of Candice Jackson as deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights has stirred concerns among advocates for victims of sexual assault. Jackson staked out a public image as a supporter of women who accused former President Bill Clinton of assault. Last year, however, she called the women who accused President Trump of harassment and assault "fake victims." Jackson was also named acting assistant secretary. The "acting" designation for Jackson, Botel and Manning would allow them to initially fill those roles without Senate approval.

Brenda Tracy, an activist on sexual assault issues and a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, said the appointment of Jackson felt like "the rug being pulled out from under us" for advocates of Title IX protections.

"It just feels like a slap in the face," she said. "It's disheartening to know you don’t have the support of your government behind you."

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To improve Ph.D. completion rates, Australian universities use metrics on their supervisors

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:00

Universities can improve their Ph.D. completion rates by using metrics to assess the performance of supervisors, Australian academics say.

Richard Russell, a former pro vice chancellor for research operations at the University of Adelaide, told the Third International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training that, while everyone knew academics who “should never have been allowed to supervise Ph.D.s,” institutions that tolerated this were “failing in their duty of care.”

At the event, organized by Britain’s Council for Graduate Education, Russell explained how leading research universities in Australia’s Group of Eight agreed to require the formal training and registration of doctoral supervisors as long ago as 2004-05. More recently, Adelaide realized that it “needed to optimize candidatures to hold our levels of funding and scholarships.”

All supervisors were therefore assessed on their number of past students, current “load” and an index designed to capture “outcomes versus opportunities.” The university was keen to reward supervisors for “timely” completions, other completions and “student rescues,” when someone about to abandon a thesis was persuaded to stay on. It wanted to penalize noncompletions and withdrawals due to dissatisfaction with supervisors, but to remain neutral about early withdrawals, student-initiated withdrawals for nonacademic reasons and failed rescue attempts.

The result, Russell said, was a much more effective system for classifying and tracking the performance of supervisors. This has led to problems being addressed earlier, the removal of “totally unsatisfactory supervisors” and an 8 percent increase in timely completions.

Faculty members have bought into it because they can use the results to support applications for promotion, and the university can demonstrate “the efforts made to reduce unnecessary wastage” when “arguing for additional scholarship support,” according to Russell, who said that behavior such as “dragging failing students out” until their scholarships run out is no longer seen as appropriate.

Delegates to the conference also heard from David Bogle, head of the graduate school at University College London, who spoke on behalf of the League of European Research Universities. Universities’ goal, he said, must be to create doctoral graduates who are “creative, critical, autonomous intellectual risk takers” and can act as “drivers of their professional development.” With skills development now “the cornerstone of the modern doctorate,” institutions should start thinking of the candidate as the central “product” and the thesis as just an important piece of supporting evidence, Bogle said.

The conference ended with a presentation by David Uribe, head of the European University Association’s Council for Doctoral Education. At a time when only “4 percent of doctoral holders end up working in academia,” he stressed the importance of raising “awareness among doctoral candidates of the importance of recognizing and enhancing the skills that they develop and acquire through research.”

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 00:00
  • Baldwin Wallace University: Dee Bagwell Haslam, a businesswoman and television producer.
  • Central State University, in Ohio: Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney, widow of South Carolina State Senator the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, who was among the victims of a mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015.
  • Centre College: J. D. Vance, the author.
  • College of Mount Saint Vincent: Maria T. Vullo, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services.
  • Indiana University at Bloomington: Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America.
  • Northeastern University: Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent; and Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, co-founders and co-CEOs of the innovative lifestyle brand Warby Parker.
  • Northwestern College, in Illinois: Emery Moorehead, who was a member of the Chicago Bears team that won the 1985 Super Bowl.
  • Reed College: Arun Rath, an NPR News host.
  • Rocky Vista University: Mark A. Baker, clinical associate professor of radiology at University of North Texas Health Science Center.
  • Saint Joseph’s University, in Pennsylvania: Madeline Bell, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Linda Cliatt-Wayman, a leader in education advocacy on behalf of children living in poverty.
  • Southern Methodist University: Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
  • Thomas College: Richard L. Whitmore Jr., a retired men’s basketball coach.
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UK public does not want fewer international students

University World News Global Edition - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 16:02
Nearly three-quarters - 73% - of the British public would like to see the same number or more international students coming to study in the United Kingdom, after discovering the contribution they ...

More Russian students are choosing to study abroad

University World News Global Edition - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 10:10
Amid the ever-growing cost of tuition at Russian universities, increasing numbers of local students are choosing to study in European universities, according to data of the Russian Ministry of Edu ...

Santiago’s transport system is sputtering

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

Not going round fast enough

TRANSANTIAGO, the Chilean capital’s public-transport system, had its tenth birthday in February, but no one celebrated. Launched with much fanfare, the scheme was supposed to integrate bus and metro lines and speed up traffic. Smog-spewing yellow buses disappeared. Smart cards replaced cash.

But Transantiago is sputtering. Fare evasion is rampant, journeys are getting slower and the state has spent billions of dollars to prop up private bus operators. Passengers sometimes wait ages at stops scrawled with graffiti with no inkling of when the next bus will arrive. Espacio Público, a think-tank, calls Transantiago Chile’s worst public-policy project since the country returned to democracy in 1990.

Despite all that, Transantiago has brought some improvements. The number of fatal accidents has dropped sharply, as has pollution from exhaust fumes. The system’s 20,000 employees are now on formal contracts and have better working conditions than before. Because bus drivers no longer handle cash, the number of robberies has fallen. Compared with transport in many other Latin American cities, Santiago’s works...

A Brazilian inflation fighter becomes immortal

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

BRAZILIANS who remember the hyperinflationary 1980s cheered the news on April 7th that prices rose by just 4.57% in the year to March. Inflation has not come that close to the central bank’s target of 4.5% in seven years. In a fitting coincidence, on the same day one of the architects of the Real Plan, which tamed inflation in 1994, donned the gold-and-green livery of the “immortals”, as members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters are known.

Edmar Bacha is just the third economist to join the august group, whose 40 lifetime appointments are reserved for towering intellectuals and the finest wordsmiths. His election last November (by members of the academy) was one of the most contentious in its 120-year history. It may also be a sign of the times.

Besides wrestling with inflation, Mr Bacha was head of the statistics office and the state development bank. He later became an investment banker. He has a way with words. In “Fable for technocrats”, an essay published in 1974, he described Brazil as “Belíndia”, a tiny, rich Belgium surrounded by a vast, poor India. In “End of inflation in the kingdom of Lizarb”—where “everything is back to front”—he skewered...

Eight years after a coup, a heated election in Honduras

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

IN THE early hours of June 28th 2009 a unit of the Honduran army stormed the house of the president, Manuel Zelaya, disarmed his guard and spirited him onto a plane bound for Costa Rica. The army sent tanks onto the streets, silenced radio and television stations and cut off electricity and water to parts of Tegucigalpa, the capital. A fake letter of resignation from Mr Zelaya was read out to Honduras’s congress, which approved his ousting. It was Latin America’s last real coup.

As a general election approaches in November, those events are uppermost in Hondurans’ minds. That is partly because Mr Zelaya has not gone away; his wife, Xiomara Castro, is a presidential candidate. More important, the current president, Juan Orlando Hernández, is breaking a taboo which Mr Zelaya was thrown out of office to protect: he is running for re-election. That, plus Mr Hernández’s authoritarian style, has made the main election issue the fate of democracy itself.

The authors of the constitution, adopted in 1982, wanted to prevent would-be strongmen from entrenching themselves in power. Unambiguously, the document declares that anyone who has exercised “executive power” may...

Canada agrees on free trade with itself

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

But is it locally spawned?

DOING business across Canada is not for the impatient. Its ten provinces and three territories see themselves as quasi-countries. They set standards and write laws with little regard for what their neighbours are doing. In Ontario petrol must be at least 5% ethanol; Manitoba insists on an 8.5% blend. Each province has its own ideas of how much grain dust people can be exposed to, and what sort of packages coffee creamer should come in. Ontario requires that toilets at construction sites be equipped with “open-front” seats; Alberta is toilet-seat neutral. If you buy booze in one province you had better drink it there. New Brunswick is pursuing a resident all the way to the Supreme Court for refusing to pay a fine of C$292.50 ($220) when he was caught bringing in beer and wine he had purchased in Quebec. Trade among provinces is less free than it is among the 28 members of the European Union.

So politicians from the regions and federal government were in a self-congratulatory mood after they signed a “Canadian Free-Trade Agreement” on April 7th. Brad Duguid, Ontario’s economy minister, who hosted the gathering, pronounced...

Italy: PON returns for 2017, funding language and citizenship courses nationwide

The PIE News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 05:53

In exciting news for the European study travel industry, the Italian government has announced it will resume providing scholarships to enable high school students to complete short, language study abroad courses through the PON scheme after a year-long lull.

After previously hosting thousands of Italian student groups through PON, language schools have welcomed the revival of the program.

However, the scheme has undergone a major overhaul this year. Funding, previously available to schools in four regions, has been rolled out nationwide, and Italian schools sending students overseas will for the first time have two years to spend money they are awarded.

“We think that some schools will still try to organise [study abroad] programs, but not like in the past”

There are also large tranches of funding going towards domestic education initiatives, so the number of students who will study overseas is as yet unconfirmed.

Secondary schools will be able to claim a maximum of €45,000 to send a group of up to 15 students to study overseas to complete a three-week European language course within the EU, through the new European Citizenship arm of the PON scheme.

A total of €80m has been allocated to the European Citizenship ‘action’ – one of ten that now make up PON – with some of that money going to finance language and citizenship courses within Italy.

“We think that some schools will still try to organise [study abroad] programs, but not like in the past,” Lorenzo Agati, president of the Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents, told The PIE News.

“It’s not only language courses, but we see that some schools are also interested in work experience or internships, so it’s a bit different from what it used to be.”

Students participating in the study abroad component must have already reached level B1 in their chosen language.

They must then prove they have reached level B2 by the end of their placement at one of a handful of government-approved language centres.

The minimum proficiency requirements and the popularity of the language mean the majority of the study abroad funding is likely to finance trips to English-speaking destinations, according to Henry Tolley, head of business development at Trinity College London, one of the approved exam providers.

The announcement follows a year of confusion in which PON funding was expected but never released. This is despite plans to widen access to funding – which was only previously available to students in the regions of Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia – initially announced in 2014.

“Quite a few centres were waiting for the scheme to open last year and it was very disappointing when it didn’t,” commented Sarah Cooper, chief executive of English UK.

PON provides an “excellent opportunity” for language schools that can accommodate groups beyond the summer months, she said. The return of the scheme, though structured differently, is welcome news to host schools for whom PON groups were previously an important source of revenue.

“In the years leading up to the temporary suspension of PON, Marketing English in Ireland schools welcomed thousands of PON students and we hope to resume those contacts now,” David O’Grady, the association’s CEO, told The PIE News.

“We are excited about this,” he added. “Some of our member schools hope to be able to welcome students as early as June 2017.”

“Quite a few centres were waiting for the scheme to open last year and it was very disappointing when it didn’t”

However, it may take time for schools to put together projects and identify courses that enable students to progress to the required level of language proficiency. “I don’t see the possibility of running any of these programs for the summer; maybe September, October,” cautioned Agati.

The announcement has also been met with a degree of scepticism from some schools that hosted PON groups in previous years, as the scheme has historically been marred by problems including late payments and over-promising by some agents selling courses.

“If the funding is indeed coming through then it will be good news. However, I have grown increasingly sceptical,” said Jimmy Hordon, director of Target English International in Hull, though he confirmed the school does plan to take students if funding is realised.

Andrew Hjort, principal of Melton College in York, similarly noted that schools have run into problems with managing expectations. In the past, some groups have made demands that have been difficult for language schools to fulfil, or chosen to spend a large portion of their budget on hotel accommodation, leaving less for teaching or extra students.

“[PON] is a tremendous idea, it does an awful lot of good. So it’s good news,” he said.

“What would be really good news is if from the outset the government said: ‘This is the amount of money and this is what you are allowed to spend it on’.”

He predicted that “honeypot destinations” such as London and Dublin will be the first to receive enquiries. “We will not get requests as quickly as the London schools, I can almost guarantee that.”

Italian schools must submit their proposals for European Citizenship programs to the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research by May 26.

“We’d encourage centres to start taking action on this now if they’re keen to take part,” advised Tolley, who said Trinity will be working with centres in the UK, Ireland and Malta to provide exams for PON participants.

“One reason to get involved early is that participating high schools must specify where they want their pupils to study when they register for the scheme, and this cannot be changed.”

The post Italy: PON returns for 2017, funding language and citizenship courses nationwide appeared first on The PIE News.

Sana Mustafa, Syrian refugee, US

The PIE News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 03:27
Suddenly separated from her family four years ago, Syrian refugee Sana Mustafa has just completed her second undergraduate degree in the US. She tells The PIE News how an international education can empower an entire family and how she is dedicated to putting a human face on the refugee crisis.

The PIE: You first came to the US on a scholarship, right?

SM: Yes, but it wasn’t to study really. It was a summer training with the State Department and it was about leadership skills and social engagement. Every year they bring students from all around the Middle East and North Africa to the US on leadership training for six weeks.

The PIE: And that was when your dad was detained?

SM: A week after I left to the US he got detained, on July 2 2013. That was the last we heard from him. This July, it will be the fourth year anniversary of when my dad was taken.

The PIE: Can you walk me through what happened next?

SM: His detention basically meant that I could not go back home because of the political situation in Syria and the conflict. We would have been targeted, me, my mom and my sisters, because we ourselves are activists and have been detained before.

It was very hard in my first year, I was dealing with my dad’s detention and I was suddenly in a new country alone. So that was a huge challenge for me, but I definitely made it because of the support of others.

“You always think something ends when you have a conclusion, but we don’t have a conclusion yet”

The stress has brought my mom and my sisters more together, because they had their own struggle when they were smuggled to Turkey where they are living now. They had to figure out life. And it has not passed, we still live in the same situation. You always think something ends when you have a conclusion, but we don’t have a conclusion yet, they are still refugees in Turkey and my dad is still detained, if he is alive, and I am still here.

It does not end by the borders, by leaving the country. It starts actually, because you have extra things to worry about, and now everywhere is not welcoming. Even neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, are hell for Syrians. There is a lot of racism not only in Europe or in the States, so it is not like any country is doing any better.

The PIE: Where is your family from in Syria?

SM: We are from a small town called Masyaf, it is in the countryside of the province of Hama. I was born and raised in this small village town and then I went to Damascus for my undergrad where I did four years in business and marketing. Then due to my dad’s detention while I was in the US, I couldn’t go back, so I had to stay.

When I came here, people were not really aware of the refugee crisis then and it did not mean much when I said “I am a refugee”. Yet people helped me regardless, in spite of my background. Total strangers. I lived with them and they trusted me with their kids and in their houses. It definitely was the American values we don’t see in the media anymore, we see the opposite discourse. It is a country that is built on immigrants. Every family that I lived with has some international background, from their ancestors, their grandparents or themselves.

The PIE: Have you felt a change in those American values recently?

SM: I felt welcomed in the sense they thought it was safe for me here so they were glad there was some sort of security here, which I don’t necessarily feel anymore because of the current xenophobic discourse and political climate. I definitely don’t feel as safe and secure anymore – statistically speaking, the percentage of racist and discriminatory incidents have been increasing ever since the new administration came in.

“I think idealising the refugee population is one of the most mistaken approaches towards the crisis”

The PIE: Have you continued your activism during your time in the US?

SM: Yes definitely, I mean activism outside of a totalitarian regime is so different. Here you protest legally, no one comes to detain you, you are protected. I don’t know how much I can call it activism. I feel like activism is associated with danger, that is why I am always hesitant when they call me an activist outside Syria or the conflict area. I am like ‘hmm, maybe I’m an advocate or something’.

The PIE: So what are you advocating for now?

SM: My main goal is humanising the crisis. I think idealising the refugee population is one of the most mistaken approaches towards the crisis. A refugee committed a crime in Germany last year, you feel obligated to respond and ask “Is he an ISIS terrorist?”, because you are idealising this refugee. But if you humanise this group as just another population like any other population where you have good people, bad people, criminals, lawyers, you have successes, you have losers, you see they are human beings just like me and you.

So idealising does not help anything. If a refugee committed a terrorist attack how is that my fault? He is the only one responsible for his actions and he is one person who committed this.

The PIE: A lot of our readers are trying to find ways to help refugee students like yourself. Having been through the process what would you do to improve it?

SM: One of the obstacles is that we came from a very different education background and different education system. Just the application process itself is so ambiguous and scary for Syrian students. First because it is in English, secondly it is very complicated, even for a native speaker to know what to do, what to talk about, what not to talk about, how to navigate the system.

When I applied, I got mentored by an American friend and she literally just helped me to articulate what I wanted to say, because sometimes you have the ideas but you don’t have the vocab or know-how to present it as a native speaker. So I would say help with application would help.

“Just the application process itself is so ambiguous and scary for Syrian students”

And I always say to be people do not separate the political or policy activism from giving money activism. For Americans, I say call your congressman and say we want refugees. It does make a difference in the system.

The PIE: How do you see this going forward? Are you optimistic that educators will help find a solution?

SM: Yes I am. I am very optimistic about those people who already know something and may want to be involved as educators. There are a lot of initiatives and projects that are working on different aspects of the refugee crisis, so there are ways for educators to be involved.

However, I am less optimistic about those who do not agree with us and we need to get them on board. There are people who have never met an Arab or Muslim refugee in their lives and it feels like my duty to put a human face on these numbers because they believe they are terrorists. They believe that we are oppressed women and incapable.

What changes peoples’ minds is a conversation, and we don’t listen to them enough. Tell me why I am dangerous or why you think I want to bring others here. When you make them feel like you aren’t attacking them, that you are trying to understand, that is a better approach.

The PIE: You said earlier when you empower someone educationally you are empowering their whole family. What does that mean?

SM: I was 22 when I first arrived and my mom was always extra worried for me because I was here. You can’t imagine a Syrian mom who sees her child off to the US and that is the last time you see her. She was alone worrying about survival for herself and my sisters and for me. And I couldn’t give anything back because I was barely surviving here. My elder sister had to work three jobs, almost 17 hours a day, just to be able to afford things, because there were no other financial means, they took everything.

So the moment I started studying and working on campus was when I was able to start being able to help them. I got my sister to school in Germany and I got my sister to programs in Turkey and I can even financially help them. I am kind of the pillar of the family now because I was here and because I was able to continue my education and I graduated. And during my studies I made a lot of contacts; I was out there talking with people and because I am here they also applied to come here.

“When you are in a refugee camp studying, everything is negative and everyone around you has worse stories than you”

The PIE: What do you think about the programs that are trying to take education to Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan or Lebanon? Are they effective?

SM: I think these are a very temporary solution. If that happens there with mental support then yes, it can be effective. But if I am thinking every day ‘what am I going to eat?’, I can’t focus. When you are in a refugee camp studying, everything is negative and everyone around you has worse stories than you. People do not focus much on the mental health issue so much and it is a main issue. I did counselling in my school purely just to be able to continue. It is a good temporary solution, but it is better to be in the right environment.

The PIE: Do you have hopes that you will ever be able to go back to Syria? Do you even want to go back?

SM: Oh yes, if I could go back now I would go back. But do I think I will be able to go back? Not in the near future. You know the average years for refugees living outside of their country is 17 years? Say the war stopped in Syria, the work on reconstruction and conflict resolution takes years. The reconciliation among people just to be able to go there and feel safe takes so much time.

Of course when it comes to the rebuilding process I am going to be part of it, but I don’t think I’ll be in Syria in the near future. I don’t really care about the geographical location anymore. I am more interested in where the opportunity takes me or where life takes me. I don’t feel any geographical or identity ties to any place other than Syria and I can’t be there, so let it be anywhere.

The post Sana Mustafa, Syrian refugee, US appeared first on The PIE News.

Peking University to open business school in Oxford

The PIE News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 02:38

China’s prestigious Peking University has announced it is setting up an overseas campus in the UK.

The university’s HSBC Business School will open just outside of Oxford next year, with its first intake expected in August 2018.

The largest intake to PHBS Oxford is expected to be students from the UK and Europe, but the school will also serve as an overseas campus for students from China. Visiting Chinese students will come to the campus starting the spring after it launches.

Just outside of Oxford’s town centre in Boars Hill, the Foxcombe Hall space will be the location of PHBS Oxford, which was once a regional centre for the Open University.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities”

The campus will be housed over 3,600 square metres of floor space, and 15 acres of grounds.

Those enrolled at the business school will spend a year at the Oxford campus, and another year at the PHBS Shenzen campus, in the south of China.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities,” commented Jianhua Lin, president of Peking University.

The new campus will offer master’s degrees in finance, management, economics and an MBA.

A Peking University news release said this development is a milestone for the university, and “for the development of China’s higher education, given its inferior position globally over the past century.”

“China is opening its higher education market to the world,” it said.

The HSBC Business School was founded in 2004, and Peking University will be celebrating its 120th anniversary next year.

The post Peking University to open business school in Oxford appeared first on The PIE News.

Study finds female professors outperform men in service -- to their possible professional detriment

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 00:00

Women shoulder a disproportionately large workload at home in ways that might disadvantage them professionally. But are female professors also “taking care of the academic family” via disproportionate service loads? A new study says yes and adds to a growing body of research suggesting the same.

“We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” the study says. “When we look within departments -- controlling for any type of organizational or cultural factor that is department specific -- we still find large, significant differences in the service loads of women versus men.”

All that matters because service loads “likely have an impact on productivity in other areas of faculty effort such as research and teaching, and these latter activities can lead directly to salary differentials and overall success in academia,” the paper says. “In the urgency to redress not only differences in time use but compensation imbalances, as well, the service imbalance is one that deserves to rise to the forefront of the discussion.”

“Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?” published in Research in Higher Education, was written by Cassandra M. Guarino, professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Riverside, and Victor M. H. Borden, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University at Bloomington. The authors considered data from the 2014 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, a web-based national survey related to the National Survey of Student Engagement. The faculty survey included responses from nearly 19,000 faculty members at 143 colleges and universities, and asked about how faculty members spend their time (in addition to professors’ views on student engagement).

Guarino and Borden limited their analysis of the national survey to responses from tenured or tenure-track faculty members at four-year colleges and universities, or about 40 percent of the sample. The national survey asked only how many hours a week faculty members spent on service, not which kinds of service they did or how departments were run. So the authors supplemented that data with those from much more detailed yearly faculty activity reports from two research-intensive campuses (one flagship and one “urban”) of an unnamed Midwestern university. The latter data set, from 2012, pertained to about 1,400 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. They reported whether their service was “internal,” performed on campus, or the  more visible “external” kinds of service performed off campus for professional associations and other groups or communities.

Women Do More

In a first, basic crack at the data, the authors determined that women in the national sample performed 30 more minutes per week of service than men and 1.5 more service activities per year than men in the local sample, and that the difference was statistically significant in both cases.

To glean more meaningful results and control for a number of factors, they proceeded with a multiple regression analysis. In the national sample, women reported 0.6 hours more service per week than men, controlling for rank, race and discipline. Female full professors, in particular, reported significantly more time spent on service than male full professors -- though full professors of both genders spent the most time on service over all. Faculty members in business and some sciences appeared to spend less time on service than those in the arts and humanities.

Results for the local data mirrored those for the national set. Controlling for rank, race, department and campus, female professors reported performing, on average, 1.4 more service activities per year than their male counterparts.

The difference was driven largely by internal service, the study says, with women performing approximately one more internal service activity annually than men.

Associate professors in the Midwest university sample reported performing more internal service than other ranks, but full professors exceeded them in terms of external service. “There was some evidence to suggest that that Asian female faculty performed more service than Asian male faculty, and that women in various fields performed differently than their male counterparts,” the paper notes. “Women in the public policy faculty performed significantly more service than men on that faculty, and women in law and, to a lesser degree, education performed less.”

Regarding external service, women reportedly perform more service than men in the categories of community service and national service.

Why Does It Happen?

The authors had some specific hypotheses as to why gender differentials in service exist, so they looked at the STEM, social science and liberal arts fields (their categories) separately. One hypothesis related to “proportionality,” or whether women are called on to do more service when there are fewer of them in an academic unit. They also considered the importance of gender in departmental leadership, to see if women with male supervisors do more service.

They found some evidence for both the proportionality and leadership hypotheses, varying by discipline. In STEM, having a female department chair was strongly correlated with female faculty members’ external service, which, the authors say, is driven by service to professional organizations and the international community. Within the social sciences, having a male department chair correlated with women doing more department-based service. Interestingly, in the liberal arts, having female chairs correlated with women doing more service, especially within the department -- “a finding that would go against the hypothesis that women are asked to do more service or less likely to refuse requests by male chairs,” the study says.

Guarino and Borden also explored whether women might have a heightened perception of the presence of an ‘‘internal’’ track into paid administrative roles via internal service. But there was little evidence to suggest that, at least in the limited local data, since women tended to be proportionately or underrepresented in such roles. One final explanation -- a gender difference in self-report bias -- proved difficult to assess.

Over all, the study says that the data sets “corroborate” each other, leaving “little doubt as to the existence of a gender imbalance in faculty service loads,” both in number of activities and amount of time spent on service.

Achieving Balance

Yet in the effort to achieve greater gender equity in academe, it continues, “service has often been overlooked as a factor in the quest for parity,” and “merits close attention.”

The authors assert that service is an area of inequity that can be addressed relatively easily, via careful monitoring of service requests and allocations. Female faculty members, it says, “could be mentored to show more selectivity in their service-related choices and cultivate their ability to say no to requests.” Department chairs and deans, meanwhile, “could be made to be more fully aware of how service assignments are being meted out. A simple increase in overall awareness of this issue may improve overall attitudes toward service loads, remove traces of gender bias from service expectations and enable both women and men to accept or decline service requests with equal ease and impunity.”

Guarino in an interview underscored the concept of awareness, saying that women don’t necessarily know they’re doing or -- as the case may be -- being asked to do more until they see objective proof of service imbalances between male and female faculty members.

“There’s no woman who loves this stuff more than men,” she said of service. “But until we see evidence and we can really help women say no, it’s just going to keep happening.”

Guarino also emphasized institutional accountability for fixing gender service imbalances, saying it’s now virtually nonexistent. “There needs to be more internal monitoring of this,” from the department level to the provost’s office, she said.

Joya Misra, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (and an Inside Higher Ed columnist) who has studied the gendered nature of faculty work, said she’s found “dramatic service differentials between men and women,” particularly among associate professors.

Despite the fact that women’s service work “is necessary for the institutions to survive,” she added, the “daily grind of service and leadership rarely carries the respect and reputational benefits of disciplinary service, while it actively limits women's research time.”

As to righting the imbalance, Misra said that it may seem like “women simply need to become more protective of their research time, as men are.” Yet they face “grave consequences if they are not perceived as team players,” she said, while men usually don’t.

Laura Perna, James S. Riepe Professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the new study sheds critical light on faculty workloads, especially with the suspension of the federally-funded National Study of Postsecondary Faculty in 2004.

More broadly, the study raises important questions about “what it is we are valuing in our reward system,” she said. Service, not always rewarded like other kinds of faculty work, “is really oriented toward advancing [an institution’s] collective mission.”

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DeVos withdraws consumer protections from servicing contract process

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 00:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday withdrew guidance issued by the Obama administration aimed at improving the contracting process for student loan servicers.

That guidance, issued by former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. and former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, directed the Office of Federal Student Aid to consider past behavior of servicers in awarding contracts and to include consumer protections in those contracts. The procurement process was an opportunity to improve the experiences and outcomes of student loan borrowers, King said last year.

DeVos echoed those sentiments in a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie. But she said the process had unfortunately been "subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives." That new guidance followed warnings from one industry group that contracts have become too burdensome for servicers of federal student loans.

"We must create a student loan servicing environment that provides the highest-quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers," DeVos added in the letter.

Borrowers make payments on federal student loans to one of several student loan servicers contracted by the department. The largest of those are Navient, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc., Nelnet and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The department is in the midst of a procurement process to re-award those contracts. It also last year started a process, announced by Mitchell, to create a single web portal for federal student loan borrowers to use, no matter their servicer.

Weeks after King issued the guidance on servicers' past performance last June, he joined state and federal officials on a July conference call to announce new guidelines for servicers to provide more transparent information to borrowers. Those guidelines were based on a joint statement of principles released by the Department of Education, the Department of the Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2015 that focused on access to accurate information and consistent service for students, increasing transparency, and adding accountability for servicers.

The Tuesday letter was the first time DeVos has weighed in on federal student loan servicing policies since she began her tenure at the department. Last month, the department announced it would delay deadlines for colleges to submit appeals of debt-to-earnings ratios under the gainful-employment rule -- a decision many proponents of the rule took as signaling DeVos's priorities on accountability for for-profit institutions.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said the organization was pleased with the July guidelines because they would have implemented several loan servicing recommendations from financial aid officials -- among them, the single web portal for borrowers, removing servicer branding from communications and standardizing consumer testing.

"Whether those commitments are still in play, delayed or off the table entirely is unclear. But I don't see how FSA can provide the 'highest-quality customer service' by abandoning those commitments en masse," Draeger said.

The National Council of Higher Education Resources, which represents servicers, guarantee agencies and collection agencies, wrote to key House and Senate lawmakers last week urging that the awarding of the contract for the borrower web portal be delayed and warning that federal servicing contracts as currently written are not financially viable.

"The servicing of the Federal Direct Loan Program and its portfolio has changed significantly over the last five years; under the current contract, servicers have been required to meet a growing number of new requirements -- many around compliance that have questionable impacts on borrowers and others mandated by the CFPB ‐- without getting adequately compensated," NCHER President James P. Bergeron wrote to lawmakers. "The lack of adequate funding and imposition of new compliance requirements are resulting in fewer services being provided to struggling borrowers."

The department did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would follow through on any of the recommendations from previous guidance, including the creation of the web portal.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who will join DeVos at a visit to an Ohio public school later this month, said rescinding the Obama-era guidance opens the door for "rogue operators" to win lucrative government contracts.

"If Secretary DeVos were serious about curing America’s trillion-dollar student loan crisis, she would strengthen, not rescind, these protections," Weingarten said. "Instead, she is enabling and empowering bad actors. It’s just another clear example of Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration putting the interests of predatory profiteers over the needs of the little guy -- in this instance, the millions of people trying to go to college or acquire career skills without being crippled by debt.”

Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project, said the CFPB's lawsuit against Navient has demonstrated that problems with servicers are widespread and their practices can create obstacles to repayment that become costly for borrowers.

"Today’s action by Secretary DeVos could make it easier for the department to hire servicers with a track record of harming borrowers," Yu said. "The Department of Education should ensure that servicers who work for the taxpayer embrace student loan borrower-centric policies and are held accountable when they fall short, rather than rescinding basic rules that assist strapped borrowers."

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