English Language Feeds
The first round of Queensland’s partnership fund to support the state’s recently released International Education & Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016-2026 has been rolled out on the Gold Coast.
The Queensland International Education and Training (IET) Partnership Fund, launched by Queensland education minister Kate Jones, will provide A$6m over five years to support programmes and ideas that align with the strategy’s key initiatives and goals, including building market share to 20%.
“IET is incredibly important to our state’s economy, contributing $2.8bn annually in export revenue and employing 19,000 Queenslanders,” Jones said in a statement.
“With the right initiatives we can grow IET to be worth an estimated $7.5bn delivering an additional 6,000 jobs by 2026”
“With the right initiatives we can grow IET to be worth an estimated $7.5bn delivering an additional 6,000 jobs by 2026.”
One of the largest of its sort in Australia, the fund seeks to uncover “grassroots ideas” from a range of stakeholders, including institutions, local government, community groups and students, as well as help establish organisations to develop initiatives to support international education.
Funding packages available range from $5,000 to $150,000, with applicants required to match the amount received.
Among the initiatives outlined in the state’s strategy announced in November 2016 were regional goals which aim to encourage students to study outside of capital city, Brisbane, which currently attracts a third of the state’s international students, 50,000.
Tom Tate, mayor of the city of Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, said in a statement his city’s schools were embracing international students.
“We are committed to growing international education here on the Gold Coast, not just through our schools but also at Griffith Gold Coast and at Bond University,” he said.
The launch of the IET Partnership Fund will be followed by the inaugural IET summit, also on the Gold Coast, next month, which will bring together industry stakeholders to discuss how to grow international education in Queensland.
Expressions of interest for funding will close on February 27.
In 2009, a Pennsylvania State University football player was accused of sexual assault. The player was told to report to the university’s Office of Student Conduct for an interview. As he sat down with student conduct officials, according to a report released last year by the US. Department of Education, the player had one question:
“Does football know I’m here?”
The question was not unusual, according to the department’s report. While overshadowed by the scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach who was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child abuse, Penn State’s football program for years sought to shield football players from the university’s student conduct office. Former head coach Joe Paterno “repeatedly resisted” attempts to discipline his athletes through the typical campus process, university officials told the Education Department. The result was that some athletes thought they had a “license to break the rules.”
The scenario mirrors some of the incidents detailed in a court document -- filed last week by three of members of Baylor University’s Board of Regents -- that describes how Baylor’s former head football coach allegedly covered up sexual assaults and other misconduct by his players. Similar complaints were included in a lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee at Knoxville last year, in which eight women alleged that athletes accused of sexual assault were given preferential treatment in the student conduct process.
Likewise, it evokes the 2012 allegations that officials at Florida State University covered up sexual assault complaints against its star quarterback. And the recent allegations at the University of Richmond, where one student says the basketball player she accused of assault avoided punishment because “athletics was breathing down [the] neck” of student conduct officials. And the similar allegations made in September about a football player at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“This is an issue across the country, and we’ve seen it for a long time,” said Brenda Tracy, a victims’ advocate and member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence. “Athletics already exist in a silo, and football coaches and athletic directors have always preferred taking care of these sorts of things in-house.”
‘Special Rules for People With Special Talents’
Baylor’s board in May asked the university’s president to resign and fired the head football coach over allegations that they had continuously mishandled -- and covered up -- sexual assaults committed by Baylor football players and other students.
Pepper Hamilton, a law firm the university hired to investigate how it has handled allegations of sexual assault, presented a lengthy oral report to the board, which placed blame on the university’s president, athletics director and football coaching staff. The extent to which the head football coach, Art Briles, and his staff covered up complaints of sexual violence and other misconduct has not been entirely clear, as the university declined to release a detailed report about Pepper Hamilton’s investigation.
But last month, a student filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that at least 31 football players committed 52 rapes while Briles was coach. Last week, three Baylor regents filed their response to a defamation lawsuit brought against them by the university’s former director of football operations, Colin Shillinglaw. In that filing, the regents included a series of text messages that they argue demonstrate how the “football program was a black hole into which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared.”
Among the incidents included in the filing is a description of how Briles and his staff handled allegations that a defensive end on the team physically abused his former girlfriend. She filed a report with local police, according to court documents, and provided the report to Shillinglaw and two assistant coaches. There was no evidence, the regents stated, of the report ever being shared outside the athletic department.
In April 2013, a female volleyball player told her coach that she was gang-raped by five Baylor football players in 2012. The volleyball coach shared the names of the players with Briles, who, according to the filing, replied, “Those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?” The female athlete’s mother later met with an assistant football coach, providing the same list of names. Nobody ever reported the alleged gang rape to any university officials outside the athletic department or to police. At the time, Baylor did not have a full-time Title IX coordinator.
Ian McCaw, the university’s athletic director at the time, was notified of the 2012 gang rape, but allegedly -- and incorrectly -- told the volleyball coach that if his player did not press charges, then the athletic department could do nothing.
In a 2013 text message conversation between McCaw and Briles, McCaw was informed about a player who had been arrested for assaulting and threatening to kill another student. A football staff member attempted to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges, Briles texted, and local police agreed to keep the incident out of public view. “That would be great if they kept it quiet,” McCaw replied, according to the court filing.
McCaw resigned from Baylor in May after being sanctioned by the university. In November, Liberty University hired him as its new athletics director.
“Mr. McCaw was faced with a complex situation wherein he desired to honor the wishes of the alleged victim, who was unwilling to speak to the police, according to her coach, and a request from her coach for guidance as to where he should go with information he had obtained in 2013 about this incident,” Tom Brandt, McCaw’s lawyer, said in a statement released Friday by Liberty. “Mr. McCaw responsibly directed the head coach to the Office of Judicial Affairs, which handles student conduct matters and was the appropriate venue to take such an allegation.”
Liberty declined to comment on the 2013 text message conversation. When first asked in November why Liberty would hire McCaw after the scandal at Baylor, the university said McCaw “is a godly man of excellent character.”
Three other Baylor football staffers have found work elsewhere since leaving the university after the scandal came to light. Kendal Briles, the team’s former offensive coordinator and son of the former head coach, was hired in the same position at Florida Atlantic University in December. The university defended the hire, with Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic’s head football coach, saying, “I don’t think because you’re on the staff and there’s an issue going on that no one has said you’re directly involved in, that it should follow you.”
Since then, Kendal Briles was specifically named in connection to the scandal. In the lawsuit filed by a female Baylor student last month, the younger Briles was accused of contributing to the culture at Baylor by luring recruits to the team with promises of attractive female college students. “Do you like white women?” Kendal Briles allegedly said to one recruit. “Because we have a lot of them at Baylor, and they love football players.”
When asked this week about the new allegations, a Florida Atlantic spokesman said Kiffin’s earlier “statement still stands, and the university does not comment on issues at other universities or any related litigation.”
The recent court filings also detail instances where Baylor’s athletic department reached out to local lawyers on behalf of football players accused of sexual violence and other crimes. The lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee last year made similar allegations, including that accused athletes -- and no other students -- were provided with a list of sympathetic lawyers, many of them athletic boosters. As part of that lawsuit’s settlement, the university agreed to no longer provide the list of lawyers to athletes, and it created a commission that will re-examine its hearing processes for bias.
The lawsuit described Tennessee as showing a “deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment.” The university settled the lawsuit in July for $2.48 million.
The report released in November about Penn State, which was written by the Education Department to summarize an investigation into the university violating the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, included several other examples of the university offering favorable treatment to athletes accused of violence. Football players at Penn State, the department stated, were led “to believe that there were special rules for people with special talents.”
In 2002, a Penn State football player was accused of sexual assault and was suspended for two semesters. Unbeknownst to the student conduct officials who suspended the student, according to the Education Department, the player was still allowed to travel with the team and play in the Capital One Bowl that year. In numerous other cases, “athletic department and football program officials questioned the nature or severity of sanctions imposed for various offenses.” One such case involved a football player who was suspended after he was accused of forcing a woman into a bathroom and sexually assaulting her.
“You know you want this,” the player allegedly said, holding the bathroom door shut as the woman fought to open it. “I’m a football player. You know you want this.”
In 2007, a group of Penn State football players broke into an apartment to confront a man who had reportedly disrespected a teammate, leading to what witnesses described as a brawl. After hearing about the incident, Paterno, the former head coach, sent an email through his personal assistant to the president and athletic director, saying, “I want to make sure everyone understands that the discipline of the players involved will be handled by me as soon as I am comfortable that I understand all the facts.” Later, when one of the players failed to appear for a meeting about the incident with a student conduct official, the athlete said that Paterno had told his players that if they visited the student conduct office, they would be “thrown off the team.”
Penn State said in a statement in November that it has since improved its procedures for addressing sexual assault and other misconduct involving athletes.
“While regrettably we cannot change the past, today the university has been recognized for significantly strengthening our programs since 2011,” the university said. “The safety and security of our university community is a top priority.”
The NCAA’s Response
The Big 12 Conference, of which Baylor is a member, announced on Wednesday that it would withhold 25 percent of future revenue distributed to Baylor, pending a review of the university’s sexual misconduct processes. The NCAA has not announced whether it will take any similar action.
Currently, the association does not have any rules related specifically to sexual misconduct of athletes. After its largely failed attempt to punish Penn State over Sandusky’s abuse, according to several sports law experts, the association is likely wary of sanctioning any more institutions over issues outside its official purview. In Baylor’s case, the association may have more of a say -- if it can establish that football players were receiving special treatment not available to other students.
The NCAA waded into similarly sordid waters last year when it charged the University of Louisville with four rules violations after a former men’s basketball assistant paid an escort service to provide strip shows and sex for recruits and other players.
“The Baylor case is certainly closer to the NCAA’s traditional jurisdiction than Penn State ever was,” said Josephine Potuto, a law professor at the University of Nebraska and a former member of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. “It fits within the current bylaw structure if whatever was going on was special to athletes. There would be an underlying violation related to providing extra benefits to athletes. It’s an ill fit, but it does fit.”
It’s an ill fit, Potuto explained, “because ‘extra benefits’ is just a terrible way to describe this behavior. The NCAA will need something more specific than that if they want to continue in this area.” The NCAA has indicated that it might, in the future, be willing to take a larger role in punishing sports programs when their teams and athletic departments interfere with sexual misconduct investigations.
In July 2014, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, released a report suggesting that more than 20 percent of institutions allow their athletic departments to oversee sexual assault cases. McCaskill called the finding “borderline outrageous.” And in a Senate hearing that week, Mark Emmert, the NCAA’s president, promised he would raise the issue with the association’s members.
Later that year, the NCAA released a handbook instructing colleges on how best to prevent and respond to sexual assaults involving athletes, and adopted a resolution telling athletic departments not to interfere with such investigations. The guidelines are not enforceable rules, however, and since the handbook’s release, several institutions have been accused of allowing their athletic departments to influence disciplinary decisions for athletes accused of sexual violence.
During a discussion on college sports issues at the Aspen Institute in September, Emmert admitted that the guidelines had been ineffective at some institutions, despite strong support for the handbook and resolution among the association’s members.
“We passed that unanimously, promulgated it, continued to talk about the issue, and then we had a series of very high-profile issues happen yet again over the past, even, just six months,” Emmert said. “It’s pretty shocking to me personally when you see universities not understanding what that relationship should be.”
The NCAA recently formed a new committee to explore the possibility of creating rules that would allow the association to punish colleges that do not follow the 2014 resolution. The decision came after 170,000 people signed a petition created by Brenda Tracy, the victims’ advocate, and her son that asked the NCAA to ban any athletes who have committed violent crimes.
In 1998, Tracy reported being gang-raped by football players while attending a party at Oregon State University. The Oregon State players were punished with a one-game suspension and 25 hours of community service. The players’ coach at the time, Mike Riley, called the two men “really good guys who made a bad choice.” Since 2014, Tracy has visited college campuses to speak to football players about sexual assault, including recently meeting with the team at the University of Nebraska, where Riley now coaches.
Earlier this year, Tracy and Oregon State’s president persuaded the Pac-12 conference to adopt new rules barring programs from offering scholarships to athletes who have been kicked off another team for assault and harassment. The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 have also adopted similar policies.
Tracy has since become a member of the NCAA’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence. The commission has not drafted any legislation yet, she said, though “the discussion is moving in that direction.”
“In many cases, athletes are committing sexual violence against other athletes,” Tracy said. “The NCAA has a large population of athletes who are survivors. These are women and other athletes who feel betrayed by the organization. I feel like the NCAA has an obligation to protect its membership.”Students and ViolenceEditorial Tags: AthleticsNCAAIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
Academics are keen observers of the absurd in their professional lives -- or so their many ironic, often gallows-humor social media accounts suggest. From jokes about students not reading the syllabus or the pain of peer review to Mark Wahlberg-inspired research memes, their posts bring smiles and eye rolls. Yet in recent weeks, a number of these often anonymous accounts have taken a serious turn, speaking out against the policies of the Trump administration thus far.
“I simply couldn't make a joke of what's going on politically, and I think having an academic response is important,” the faculty member who tweets as @AcademicBatgirl said in an interview. The tenured professor, an American teaching at a Canadian university, used to share posts mostly about things such as postholiday “writing amnesia” (not knowing what the hell one’s manuscript is about after too much time away), or the neurosis of the academic creative process. But lately, she’s been posting more things like this:February 6, 2017 January 26, 2017
“I can't ignore the problems that are now escalated given the political situation,” she said. “I couldn't rightly speak for all academics, or give voice to colleagues. Rather, I just want to be courageous enough to say something. I think not saying something would be irresponsible.”
A nearly tenured professor at a public college in the South started his anonymous Twitter account, @ProfessorJaded, several years ago as something of an experiment -- to create a literary character and test out story lines. The handle has become more of what he described as “a blended synthesis of my own experiences and snarky quotes, which I would never say aloud in a normal setting,” however.
“The daily grind, ridiculous questions that would annoy me, different aspects of work that I found ridiculous each continued to serve as my inspiration to keep the Twitter account alive,” he added in a Twitter message. Here some representative examples:
I'm not your parent …
I don't care about why you're not here any more than you care about why I might miss a day.
Just get it together.
Always remember that it's never too early in the semester to cry under your desk, grieve your lost choices, or rethink your life.
The account developed a following based on its observations of academic life, and for that reason, among professional ones, Professor Jaded kept politics out of it -- until now. Recent events “became too much for me to keep my hedgerow between academics and state,” he said. Trump’s “oblivious approach to higher education isn't just discouraging -- it’s infuriating. His obsession with image makes even the vainest college administrator look like a humble beggar.”
Professor Jaded has criticized Trump’s controversial immigration ban as well as his nomination of philanthropist Betsy DeVos for education secretary (and her infamous reference to guns as a necessary tool for schools to fight off grizzlies).
I had a student from Syria who's working toward a degree and saving money to bring his family to the US. Thanks for keeping me safe, T-Rump.— Professor Jaded (@ProfessorJaded) January 29, 2017 January 21, 2017
Another social media humorist known as Lego Grad Student usually tells of the trials and tribulations of graduate school through the tiny, painted-on eyes of his popular character. His elaborate Lego tableaux, posted on Twitter and elsewhere, can be dark -- hinting at the psychological toll graduate school can take, for example -- but they used to always be somehow lighthearted.
Yet the graduate student behind the handle, at a West Coast research university, was so affected by the 2016 election that he was “compelled” to express how he felt, he said via email.
“On the morning of Election Day, I had made the flag post to remind people simply to vote,” he said. “That night, once the election was effectively over, I was trying to process how I felt and was even writing a short essay about it, but I just couldn't capture what was going on in my head. Almost instinctively, I turned to that flag I had made and broke it apart, having it crush the grad student underneath.”
It said more than words could, so he posted it, along with several follow-ups.November 9, 2016
Some things have broken and cannot be fixed any time soon.
But no matter what, we have to move forward, stay focused, and keep trying. pic.twitter.com/XwO2Vbxp6p
Like others mentioned here, Lego Grad Student has continued making humorous posts alongside political ones. He also found a way to combine efforts, parodying in a series of nonvisual posts his recent dissertation defense and things heard and seen on the campaign trail.— Lego Grad Student (@legogradstudent) December 15, 2016
Committee member: "Regardless of how you got your data or did the analyses, your conclusions simply don't foll--"
Over all, said Lego Grad Student, “my posts have been a combination of my processing my personal frustrations, trying to remind others that they are not alone, and helping other students wrestle with their own feelings. The more of a positive response I got from people, the more politically charged I think my posts might have become.”
Like your commentary in Legos? The plastic female scientists at @LegoAcademics had this to say about the immigration ban:
The ban undermines the collaborative ideals science and destroys our community. Academics: support your colleagues, students, friends. pic.twitter.com/M0Yjd6ZBMn— Lego Academics (@LegoAcademics) January 30, 2017
Here are a few more pointed contributions from other accounts:
Still watching the news pic.twitter.com/necqBpLWJ6— Academic Pain (@AcademicPain) January 25, 2017
RIP: The American Presidency (1789-2017)— Anonymous Professor (@anonymousprofs) January 20, 2017
We hope it won't take 4 years before we resume regular programming. We'd prefer snarky tweets abt admin, colleagues, & students to tyranny.— Oh the irony (@IronyPhD) January 26, 2017
You know how parents get super-upset when someone hurts their kid?
That's how America feels about the GOP confirming DeVos. We won't forget
Professors and students have also flocked to Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay on Twitter) over the years to laugh and cringe at various professorisms and obtuse academese, like this classic:
I am currently out of the office but will nonetheless reply immediately due to self-regulation inefficiency & a profound inability to say no— Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay) December 21, 2016
The account, managed by Nathan C. Hill, an associate professor of education and counseling psychology at McGill University in Canada, has always had something of a serious side, offering readers various notes on motivation or messages of support in between the satire. But it’s become more serious lately, too, with posts linking to a searchable index of academics worldwide providing logistical support to scientists unable to enter the U.S. due to travel restrictions, for example, and news about the upcoming March for Science.
"Scientists do not believe in building walls. Rather the opposite: science is about human collaboration to benefit mankind" @MiguelNicolelis— Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay) January 31, 2017
It's not activism. It's critical thinking in action.— Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay) January 30, 2017
When research is subversive and teaching is protest, learning is hope. Never stop learning.— Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay) February 1, 2017
Hill said that after taking a recent hiatus from his account, and hearing stories about students unable to attend conferences over the border, U.S. colleagues losing qualified student applicants and more, it became clear that “not providing encouragement or resources to academics who are increasingly struggling with challenges to academic freedom and mental health due to the recent dramatic shift in U.S. politics was not something I could easily justify.”
Given his background in psychology and having developed @AcademicsSay in part to raise awareness of well-being in higher education, he added, “it felt disingenuous to avoid discussion of these issues for fear of being criticized as a non-American interloper or going partisan for the sake of retweets.” Although it would be easier to stay silent or stick to the sarcastic script for which the account is known, he said, “the very real flip side is leaving an increasingly large community of struggling academics behind and shirking the responsibility of giving back that comes with social media influence.”
Certainly not all humorous higher ed accounts have gone serious since the election. But the trend toward the political raises questions about the role of the academic in what some have called a “resistance.”
One of the faculty members behind @anonymousprofs said it was important to weigh in. “Perhaps the choir of dissenters might convince those who get Jedi mind tricked that Trump is going to make a sovereign country pay for a wall between our two countries that they should vote for someone else -- anyone else -- four years from now,” he said.
Hill said because he’s already used Shit Academics Say to draw attention to online threats to academic freedom or the “underbelly” of academic publishing, it seems “unethical and self-serving for me to sit out this latest fight when a quick tweet or Facebook post can make a difference, either by informing my audience of ongoing developments and avenues for engagement, or just sharing a smile.”
He added, “If I can help my community feel a bit more hopeful, happy or validated, I think it's worth it.”
Lego Grad Student said he never had any intent to get into politics, because he didn't want to alienate people or "sell" them something they didn't sign up for. But, now, he said, “I can’t help but feel that we've entered new territory where I simply felt irresponsible staying silent or acting as if it didn't matter.” And while he’s for the most part “preaching to the choir,” he added, “I am generally speaking to issues and events which I believe should be broadly seen as negative, and I think it is important to help people remember that they aren't alone, and to help maintain their attention to what is going on.”
As have others since the election (including fans of rogue U.S. National Park Service Twitter accounts), Academic Batgirl recalled Martin Niemöller’s statement that begins, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak up.”
As academics, she said, “we have a responsibility to speak up in times of despair. … As a woman, I must speak up. As an academic and a woman, I absolutely must speak up.”Editorial Tags: LifeSocial media/networkingImage Source: Twitter/@LegoGradStudentIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
More international students continue to apply to and enroll in U.S. graduate institutions, though not at the rapid pace seen in recent years, according to a report released Thursday by the Council of Graduate Schools.
Application and enrollment rates did increase, but the rates of growth have slowed from last year -- down to 1 percent (from 3 percent in 2015) for applications and remaining constant at 5 percent for enrollment. Although the 5 percent enrollment growth rate is the same as 2015, both are down from the two previous cycles, which saw rates of growth of 10 percent in 2013 and 8 percent in 2014.
The annual International Graduate Applications and Enrollment report evaluated data collected from surveys last fall of nearly 400 participating U.S. graduate institutions. The surveys have been conducted every year since 2004. This year, the council collected data on students' degree objectives, regions of origin, eight major countries of origin and 11 fields of study.
China and India are still contributing the most first-time international graduate students by country, at 36 percent and 27 percent, respectively. But enrollment for Chinese graduate students remained flat this year over last, and it declined for India by 7 percent.
Compared to last year, enrollment from the Middle East and North Africa dropped by 11 percent -- 13 percent from Saudi Arabia by itself -- and from Brazil by 9 percent.
Over all, international graduate students make up 25 percent of first-time graduate student enrollment, based on data from universities that participated in the survey.
“International students continue to be a vital part of U.S. graduate education,” said Hironao Okahana, the report's author and assistant vice president of research and policy analysis for the Council of Graduate Schools.
Okahana called the 5 percent enrollment increase a “healthy” rate of growth and praised the milestone of international students reaching one-quarter of those enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs for the first time.
“We hope these trends will continue and doors for U.S. graduate education remain open for both domestic students and international students,” Okahana said.
In light of two recent major political events -- the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the 2016 U.S. presidential election -- it’s quite possible next year’s report could reflect a break in years of international students increasingly vying to study in the United States, Okahana said, though it’s still too early to predict exactly what changes may occur.
“There are several factors that seem to drive international student mobility into coming to the United States,” he said. “Political climate is a factor. It’s not the factor, but it’s a factor.” He cited the strength of the economy and job markets of both the U.S. and students’ home countries as other important considerations.
But more significant than Brexit and the election of President Trump, Okahana said, is the executive order Trump signed on Jan. 27, which temporarily barred immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa (before the order was suspended by a federal judge Feb. 3).
Beyond the prospective students living in those seven countries, others may interpret the order as a sign that the U.S. does not welcome foreign students or that their countries could at some point join the list.
“Certainly the executive order, this particular one, will put enormous uncertainty on visa holders, particularly those from the affected countries,” Okahana said. “I personally would not be surprised if this is weighing heavily in prospective students’ mind, or even current students who are already in the country.”
Because the survey was administered between Sept. 25 and Oct. 31, neither Trump’s election victory nor the executive order are captured in the report released Thursday, but Okahana said the Council of Graduate Schools will monitor the numbers closely over the next application and admission cycle.GlobalForeign StudentsEditorial Tags: EnrollmentForeign countriesInternational higher educationIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
College is often a transformational time for students, filled with challenges, uncertainty and self-discovery. For black male students, these challenges can be even more daunting. That’s what Derrick R. Brooms tries to capture in his new book, Being Black, Being Male on Campus (SUNY Press), which explores the experiences of 40 black, male college students trying to navigate social, academic and cultural life on campus.
Brooms, associate professor of sociology at the University of Louisville, wanted to shift the narrative about black men in educational settings by writing about their lived experiences rather than retention and graduates rates. The discussion surrounding black, college-going men today is predominately negative -- the media and broader public give more attention to the “disinterested, disengaged black male” than the one who performs and achieves at or above average. And those latter scenarios are often depicted as rare success stories.
The author, a black man who was once a college student himself, wrote this book in hopes of allowing the 40 men to tell their stories and, in the process, reveal what it’s really like to be black and male on an American college campus.
Brooms spent almost three years interviewing 40 students from two unnamed public universities. Some attended a predominantly white institution in the rural Midwest where black students make up about 15 percent of the 10,000 students on campus. The others attended college in the South, at a larger metropolitan research university where black students account for 11 percent of the student body.
Through one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys, Brooms learned about the men’s early influences, aspirations and how they fit into the larger college experience. Each chapter of the book is peppered with anecdotes Brooms collected during the interviews, revealing honest, complex and emotional reflections.
Inside Higher Ed recently asked Brooms about the book. His emailed responses are below.
Q: Much of your book draws from the experiences of 40 black men whom you interviewed in depth. Why did you decide to take this narrative approach in chronicling the experience of black men in college?
A: This approach was taken to highlight their voices as a measure to assess and understand their experiences from the men’s point of view. I believe that if we are to understand the men’s experiences, then we must make space for them to express and make meaning from their experiences. This perspective is even much more necessary given the ways in which black men have been diminished and denigrated in wider society, in educational discourse and in educational institutions in particular. Much of what we learn about ourselves is offered to us through the messages we receive from and the interactions we have in social institutions. Given the importance placed on schooling and educational attainment, we must do more to understand how black students experience schools and how institutions act on them.
Importantly, much has been said about black males in the educational pipeline and, all too often, negative portrayals and deficit narratives accost them and their efforts at every turn throughout the K-20 pipeline. Additionally, we constantly hear that black males are in “trouble” and in need of “saving,” and we also hear that they are not serious or they do not care about school. Much of this narrative uses and depends on statistics to make a case about achievement gaps. That is, one might argue that if we simply looked at the numbers then we could determine who is doing well and who is not. But educational experiences across the K-20 pipeline are no simple matter. All too often, the onus of black males’ performance is placed at their feet, as if their experiences are not impacted by school faculty and staff and by institutions -- as well as other environmental, ecological and sociopolitical factors ….
Thus, we have a critical need to listen to and learn from black men, and other students of color, as they attempt to navigate and negotiate their time in college. Quite often, black men’s voices are left to the sideline. If we are serious about understanding the experiences of these and other students, and if we are serious about improving their schooling experiences, then we must begin with them as creators of knowledge about their own lives and experiences.
I see this work as being written with these 40 black men, as opposed to me writing about them ….
Q: How do your own experiences as a black, male college student compare to the ones represented in your book?
A: I see many of my own experiences with those of the black men represented in this book. I attended the University of Chicago (’96) for college and had a myriad of experiences, both positive and negative. Overwhelmingly, my positive experiences outweigh my negative experiences. Still, all of my experiences inform my teaching praxis, service (both on and off campus), and research. Quite easily, I can recount instances in college in which my intellectual acumen was denigrated and questioned simultaneously; I experienced racial harassment, racial slurs and disparaging remarks on and around campus; and I experienced racism in and out of the classroom. There were a number of individuals who seemingly wanted to make it quite clear that I didn’t “deserve” to be at the university -- or, more accurately, that I didn’t deserve to be at “their” institution.
What mattered most in my experiences were relationships that I developed with peers, faculty and staff who cared about me, supported me academically and personally, and who wanted me to succeed. These individuals mattered a great deal in how I experienced college. Additionally, it mattered that I was able to connect with and engage in a variety of organizations on campus that helped support my efforts as well. Thus, as I think about the students that I teach, work with, learn from, serve and support, I think about their possibilities in addition to their strengths and assets.
Q: Based on your own college years and what you learned from the 40 subjects in the story, how has the campus experience for black men evolved in the last few decades?
A: As has been seen by recent events across college campuses, our students tell us that although much progress has been made, there is still a great deal of work to do to make educational opportunities more equitable for students of color. In particular, I’m thinking about the recent #BlackOnCampus movement and the My Culture Is Not a Costume campaign, along with the alterations and discontinuing support for various programs of study such as bans on Mexican-American studies, defunding (or underfunding) of ethnic studies programs, and cuts to black studies programs, to name a few. Here, I wish to note that many of the issues and struggles highlighted impact black male students and other students of color alike.
In recent years, we have witnessed our students develop a much sharper analysis of their college experiences, which has been bolstered by their learning from the past. Much of what students shared during the past few years eerily resemble experiences of black students on white campuses from decades ago: hostility, isolation, alienation, racism and micro- and macroaggressions. Black male students continue to highlight campus environments that are hostile to their presence and disturb their sense of belonging. They continue to recount separate and segregated college campuses -- even as efforts for “diversity” have increased dramatically over the past two decades. They highlight how they feel unsupported by many of their peers, faculty, staff and administrators, which often repositions them as “outsiders” on campus. As a result, as the students in my study offered, they often are in a state of limbo in trying to find their place on campus where they believe they (can and do) belong, where they feel valued and that they matter, and where they feel that they can succeed.
An important component of their experiences are their abilities to achieve and succeed in spite of, not because of, the campus environment or obstacles that they faced. This finding reveals the assets and strengths, resilience, and motivation that the men bring with them to campus, which they invariably rely on to “make it through” college ….
Q: All the students you interviewed attend historically white institutions. This affected how they were treated, what was expected of them and how comfortable they felt on campus. What can and should be done to alleviate the pressure and isolation of feeling “like you’re really, really, really a minority” on campus, as one student put it?
A: The challenges that students of color face on white campuses require that we think differently about college and the impact of the campus climate (institutional history, structures and policies as well as programs and opportunities, perceptions and attitudes of campus, and external sociopolitical and political economic context). Without a doubt, campus climate affects what students experience on campus, how they experience their time on campus and their efforts for success. Education scholars such as Jacqueline Fleming, Walter Allen, Edgar Epps, Sylvia Hurtado, Sam Museus and others have provided us with data on institutional culture and climate, frames for understanding students’ experiences, and made a number of recommendations for improving college campuses for students of color. Additionally, the work of James Earl Davis, Terrell Strayhorn, T. Elon Dancy, J. Luke Wood, William A. Smith, Shaun Harper and many others has been instrumental in illuminating how black men experience college in these college environments. As I reflect on their research in conjunction with my own work and findings from this study, I believe there are a number of things that colleges can do to alleviate undue pressures and isolation that students feel and experience.
First and foremost, I believe that student voices must be at the heart of improving campus environments. We must consult with students about their experiences and their needs so that any programs that are developed keep them as a focal point. Whatever we do for students but without students is against students. Second, I believe that improving campus climate takes a collective effort, spanning the gamut of administrators, faculty and staff members. We cannot afford to pass off these efforts to a single office on campus (e.g., office of diversity) or a single point person (e.g., diversity officer). Campus climate affects all students; thus, all members of the campus community should be charged with contributing to improving how all students across various social identities experience campus. Third, I strongly encourage colleges and universities to move beyond compositional diversity and make greater efforts toward inclusion. Diversity has become rhetoric and a buzzword that too many colleges tout as an achievement. Instead of diversity, I encourage college administrators to focus on inclusion; instead of a diversity plan, colleges need to establish and intently pursue inclusion and equity plans. Here, colleges must provide specific and strategic resources to ensure that all students are provided with opportunities to perform at their highest abilities. Creating an inclusive campus climate must be an institutional effort that occurs in both in-class and out-of-class settings. Building an inclusive campus requires that faculty and staff members are invested in inclusion; we must move away from what Jeff Duncan-Andrade calls “hokey hope” and instead be much more intentional in our efforts to create and sustain inclusion on our campuses ….
Finally, I strongly encourage administrators and other stakeholders to stop viewing instances of hostility and racism as isolated incidents on campus. Such a perspective continues to diminish and marginalize students’ experiences and allows for students to be otherized on campus. At the same time, we also cannot allow our students’ struggles to be “learning opportunities” for the campus. We have mounds of data from as far back as we care to look that recount many of the challenges that our students face. Colleges and universities must do more to improve equity and build inclusive campus environments. We need to move from being reactive to proactive so that we take intentional steps toward improving our college campuses so that all of our students can thrive, excel and pursue their goals.
Q: Explain to readers the Black Male Initiative program. For many students featured in your book, BMI was an integral part of their overall college experience. Why does this program work so well? How can BMI be expanded or improved?
A: Black Male Initiative programs are male-centered programs primarily designed to increase the retention and graduation of black male students. These programs have boomed across colleges and universities over the past two decades. Many of these programs consist of both academic and social components intended to provide support and resources for black men on campus. Academically, the programs help support students’ in-class experiences through formal and informal mentoring, tutoring, student-led study sessions and workshops and activities that have an academic focus. Socially, the programs offer opportunities for black men to connect on campus, learn from each other, engage in social activities and support each other in their social and personal lives. Thus, across both domains, the programs can help black men establish a “community” on campus that supports their efforts in multiple ways.
For the men in my study, BMI was an integral part of their overall college experience, and they identified the program as a significant space for their academic and personal development and growth. The men gave primacy to the peer relationships that they developed through their engagement in the program, which helped alleviate feelings of isolation and alienation. Instead of feeling alone, the men interpreted BMI as a communal space where they could be supported. Additionally, given the challenges that many of the men faced, they also identified BMI as a counterspace on campus, which helped them resist some of the hostility that they experienced. This counterspace was critical, as they were able to share experiences and learn from each other ways to negotiate and navigate the college more effectively. Additionally, BMI helped reduce the size of the campus and helped them put their experiences within a broader perspective. Within BMI, the men expressed that they had a community to lean on and learn from, which helped bolster their academic efforts and their persistence. Some of the men intensely expressed that BMI helped them gain or further their sense of purpose on campus.
Importantly, how the men made meaning of their BMI experiences was situated within their own needs, goals and desires. What their engagement and meaning making from BMI reveal is the need for multifaceted and multidimensional efforts to enhance their collegiate experiences. The men identified BMI staff as key institutional agents who they believed were invested in their success. Their beliefs that these staff members, as well as BMI members and a handful of faculty and staff, cared about them and wanted them to succeed helped strengthen their resolve to be resilient and persist. These findings amplify the importance of relationships and support in these black men’s college experiences.
BMI programs can be expanded and improved through greater institutional efforts to support these programs. In my assessment of the programs in this study as well as several others, BMI programs are understaffed and underresourced. Unfortunately, and not necessarily surprisingly, too many BMI programs have one staff member or budgets that defy logic of being called a budget! At one institution in the study, a single staff member served as an adviser, program coordinator, coach, advocate and mentor (both formal and informal) to all of the students engaged in the program. This type of structure does not sufficiently meet students’ needs, and it can undermine the possibilities and longevity of BMI staff members as well. Additionally, given the range of student needs, more resources are required to support their college matriculation. I argue that BMI programs cannot be posited as one-stop shops where supposedly all of these students’ needs can be met. BMI programs must be positioned to work in conjunction with other offices on campus and must include faculty involvement as well. Student affairs and academic affairs, especially at the institutions included in my study, have a long way to go in working collectively and collaboratively to support these students. At the same time, in thinking about faculty of color in particular (several of whom were identified by students in the study), our colleges and universities must do more to support and appreciate the various roles that they play on our campuses. We cannot ask more of faculty of color while continuing to underappreciate the multiple levels of service they provide to and the multiple roles they play for our students and campuses. And when we think about faculty involvement in BMI-type programs, we need faculty support from a range of backgrounds, disciplines and social identities.
Finally, I also believe, as the students shared as well, that our administrators must do more to support BMI programs. Students want to see administrators’ support through their actions and their presence. Students want more than administrators saying that they care; in fact, students interpret care through actions and behaviors. The mere existence of a BMI-type program is not enough. Just as improving campus climate takes an all-inclusive effort, improving the collegiate experiences of black men requires inclusive and holistic efforts.DiversityEditorial Tags: RaceDiversity MattersIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
Editors of academic journals should be investigated for “professional negligence” if peer review at their publications takes too long, says a leading critic of the scholarly publishing industry.
Despite many editors being unpaid or poorly remunerated for their work, plant scientist Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva believes they “should be held accountable” if authors are made to wait for an “excessive or unreasonable amount of time” before a decision is made on their research.
Writing in Publishing Research Quarterly, Teixeira da Silva, formerly of Japan’s Kagawa University, says keeping authors in limbo for months or even years causes great stress to academics and damages their careers by delaying publication.
However, editors face little accountability, censure or punishment for subjecting scholars to unnecessary delays, says the paper, written with Judit Dobranszki from Hungary’s University of Debrecen, titled, “Excessively long editorial decisions and excessively long publication times by journals: causes, risks, consequences and proposed solutions.”
Studies show that peer review had taken as long as three years, while, in some extreme cases, authors had waited up to eight years after their manuscripts were accepted to see their work published, the paper says.
Peer review involving original research should take no longer than five to eight months and initial proposals to editors should be answered within two weeks, suggest the two scholars.
Journals should clearly state when authors should expect feedback and publishers should pressure “peers to respect deadlines … and blacklist those peers who … exceed deadlines,” say the authors.
In the case of “exceptional delays,” unless “formal and sincere apologies” are offered to the authors, editors should be “removed from the editor board or even [face] an ethical inquiry at the editor’s research institute,” they recommend.
“Victims of a lack of professionalism” who face long delays should also be “offered additional rights, including the right of challenge or the right to suggest the formal removal of an editor from their post, without fear of retribution or retaliation,” they add.
The paper follows several run-ins between Teixeira da Silva and publishers over his claims they had unnecessarily delayed publication of his work. He was banned from submitting work to journals published by Taylor & Francis in 2015 over “continuing challenges” to their procedures, as well as “inflammatory language,” according to the website Retraction Watch.
Speaking to Times Higher Education, Teixeira da Silva explained his frustration at publishing delays, particularly when papers had already been accepted for publication.
For instance, a journal paper he had written about Donald Trump remained unpublished, despite being accepted by an online journal well before the U.S. election, he said.
However, he acknowledged that the disciplinary approaches laid out in his article may backfire if they alienate academics from accepting peer review posts, which are largely unpaid.
Instead, more root-and-branch change is needed to make publishing more professional, which might include paying peer reviewers, he suggested.
“Banning, reprimanding, cutting and punishing [would] lead, ultimately, to a sense of bad feeling and bitterness, at least by one party,” he said, adding, “you cut your peer pool by eliminating potentially important peers.”Editorial Tags: PublishingTimes Higher EdIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
This month’s edition of the Pulse podcast features an interview with Yermie Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Memorang, a free digital study tool for students.
In the discussion with the Pulse's host, Rodney B. Murray, Cohen describes how students can prepare for exams with the company's premade flash cards and quizzes, and how Memorang works with publishers and authors to develop its content.
The Pulse is Inside Higher Ed’s monthly technology podcast, produced by Murray, executive director of the office of academic technology at University of the Sciences.
Find out more, and listen to past Pulse podcasts, here.Teaching and LearningTeaching With TechnologyEditorial Tags: Information TechnologyTeachingIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
In a large-scale survey of how friendly universities are, Erasmus students said they struggle to make friends with locals while on exchange, negatively affecting their overall experience.
The survey of 12,365 homecoming Erasmus students carried out by the Erasmus Student Network, argues unfulfilled friendships could contribute to lower satisfaction rates among study abroad students. It also reveals that students often find the career and language benefits of studying in another European country don’t match students’ expectations.
On the bright side, the study also shows that most students learned more than they expected about the local culture of the country where they studied, about other foreign cultures and mostly about their own culture.
“We can conclude that friendship networks are a very important aspect of the stay abroad for international students”
As might be expected, longer stays abroad appeared to correlate to a greater improvement of perceived foreign language skills, knowledge of the host country’s culture and employability.
Another outcome that students said surprised them is that they developed far more friendships with students from their own country than they expected while studying abroad.
This contrasts with reports by many of the participants that it was difficult for them to make local friends. Around 40% said they felt local students weren’t interested in interacting with them; 33% said there weren’t enough opportunities to meet local students; and 23% cited different lifestyles as a barrier to international friendships.
ESN also carried out a survey of 9,387 local students, exploring their experiences of interacting with foreign students. Almost half (46%) said they had no international friends.
“This unfulfilled desire [to make more local friends] could be a reason for lower satisfaction with the stay abroad experience,” the study notes.
“We can conclude that friendship networks are a very important aspect of the stay abroad for international students. Friendships with local, multinational and co-national students positively contribute to the general satisfaction with the stay abroad,” it continues.
Given that both international and domestic students reported few opportunities to interact with each other, the study recommends educators work to create these opportunities through initiatives like a buddy system that pairs international students with local mentors.
Only 68% of students surveyed said their institution offered a buddy system. And those students who were assigned a buddy weren’t always convinced of their usefulness, rating the buddy system on an average 4.53 out of 10 (where 10 is most useful).
Mentoring should be expanded the study suggests but universities should “place the focus on training the local students for the tasks of becoming a useful buddy.”
The study notes that as well as having an impact on academic progress, longer periods of overseas study naturally lead to more social interactions, resulting in better integration in the host country.
“The destination itself doesn’t play an important role in students’ satisfaction”
The European Commission should work to promote the benefits of longer stays among national agencies and higher education institutions, it argues. Meanwhile, universities should encourage students to take part in 12-month exchanges rather than shorter placements, it says.
It found satisfaction levels didn’t differ greatly depending on whether or not students went to their first choice of country or institution. “This suggests the destination itself doesn’t play an important role in students’ satisfaction,” the report notes.
The survey also supports the theory that mobility leads to more mobility. More than two-thirds of those who had studied abroad (70%) said they were interested in pursuing a master’s degree abroad after their exchange experience.
“Overall, students without a study abroad experience show a greater tendency to stay after their studies in their home country and students with a study abroad experience tend to subsequently migrate mainly within Europe,” the study notes.
The post Erasmus students struggle to make local friends – ESN survey appeared first on The PIE News.
Global IT company, IBM has announced a new initiative that aims to train 25 million Africans in digital skills development over the next five years, in order to help increase the level of digital literacy on the continent and upskill the workforce.
IBM Digital – Nation Africa, which will be rolled out on a cloud-based learning platform, will provide free programmes to users to help nurture innovation, and improve digital competence.
The company will invest $70m into the initiative which will focus on cultivating skills for “New Collar” jobs – a range of careers which include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and the cloud computing.
“Industries across the spectrum need to enable the existing and future workforce to perform at the forefront of technologies”
The programmes will also cater for a spectrum of abilities from basic IT skills up to advanced subjects including cybersecurity and programming.
IBM has also partnered with the United Nations Development Programme to collaborate on STEM skills delivery, certification and accreditation.
“UNDP is pleased to leverage its global presence, development knowledge, and long standing partnerships to provide context, traction and scale to this collaboration with IBM,” said Walid Badawi, UNDP country director in South Africa.
Africa’s booming population currently exceeds 1.2 billion, with almost 20% aged between 15 and 24.
However, there is a great need to upskill the workforce.
“In order to find solutions to Africa’s challenges, industries across the spectrum need to enable the existing and future workforce to perform at the forefront of technologies such as cognitive and cloud computing,” said Hamilton Ratshefola, country general manager for IBM South Africa.
“This will be the key to spurring economic growth.”
The initiative will launch from IBM’s regional offices in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco, allowing it to expand across the continent.
It will also incorporate IBM’s already existing Watson software, a question answering computer system, allowing the programmes to be adapted to the individual user.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is pleased to announce that Dr Joanna Newman has been appointed as the next Secretary General of the organisation. Dr Joanna Newman, currently Vice-Principal (International) of King's College London, UK, will take up the post on 3 April 2017. She succeeds Professor John Wood in the role.
The PIE: What does WUSC do?
MM: We are a nonprofit organisation that works in international development, but we actually started as an organisation that worked with student groups to provide scholarships and integration support to those who had fled the second world war.
So now the programme that I work on works with student groups across the country at colleges, universities and what we call CEGEP, which would be equivalent to the French lycée, to raise the funds and provide integration support, academic support, access to employment support, to refugee youth who are living in protracted country situations or in refugee contexts.
The PIE: Why is it important to do this work?
“The student groups that we work with on different campuses will work with their student union to establish a levy”
MM: There’s a number of different reasons: one, obviously the refugee crisis is immense and we can’t leave it up to just governments and United Nations bodies to respond to this crisis; and higher education institutions are uniquely placed to provide additional, durable solutions for refugees.
The other piece is the ability to create positive images of newcomers by involving students in directly supporting and integrating refugee youth into the classroom.
The PIE: What’s the model to do this?
MM: All students pay into the programme for the most part. The student groups that we work with on different campuses will work with their student union to establish a levy, and they set the levy amount based on their budget. So that’s done one time – there’s a referendum, students vote in favour or not – but almost always in favour. And then that levy lasts indefinitely, so that funding model is sustainable.
And then that same student group will often approach their institution for matching funds, so whether it’s tuition waivers, accommodation waivers, meal plan waivers, that significantly decreases the cost to the students. So that allows them to bring in more students.
The PIE: Do you provide any funding or is this all from the students?
MM: We don’t provide any direct funding. Our own funding goes towards part of our operations so that we can support the student groups, and so that we can recruit refugee students overseas to come to Canada. So that’s part of the process as well: we do the calls for applications in students’ countries, assess their language abilities with the help of partners on the ground, and then do interviews and make sure they have all the documentation, that they are registered refugees.
The PIE: When did this programme start?
“Before, refugees came as international students; now they are officially resettled by the institutions, through the private sponsorship programme”
MM: We started the resettlement programme in 1978, but our Canadian universities and colleges have been supporting scholarships for refugees since the late 1930s – the 1950s on a large scale. The difference was in the way that they came to Canada. So before, they might have come as international students, and then with the possibility of staying; now they are officially resettled by the institutions themselves, through the Canadian private refugee sponsorship programme.
The PIE: How does private sponsorship for refugees work in Canada?
MM: Private sponsorship allows a country to bring in additional refugees through a resettlement programme that is led by community groups – so organisations, church groups, can get together, raise the funds necessary, identify a family or connect with IRCC to identify a family on their behalf, and then take on the responsibilities that the government would usually do. They fund the sponsorship for 12 months, and social integration like enrolling your kids in school and finding a job, connecting you to a faith-based community if that’s what you want, or having your kids play with newcomer kids.
They sign an agreement with the Canadian government and the government does a screening process to make sure the group is well prepared to provide that type of support, and they still screen the refugee applicants.
The PIE: And how have the challenges to resettling refugees changed since the 1950s?
MM: There’s a lot more red tape, I think, even just in the last five years, because the demographic of students who come through the programme have very different backgrounds. So previously, we were sponsoring refugees who were born in refugee camps, who were raised there, who were able to get their documentation in their country of asylum, because they were being given the local curriculum: so in Kenya, for example, they follow the Kenyan curriculum; when they graduate they still get the Kenyan documentation.
“There’s a lot more red tape, I think, even just in the last five years”
In the case of the Middle East, Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians, they’ve fled recently and they didn’t bring their documents with them so that’s been a huge challenge in terms of admitting students. The language piece is also different. Students we’ve been resettling out of camps in Kenya and Malawi, they follow an English or a French curriculum so they already have the language skills when they apply for the programme. With the Middle Eastern students, English might be newer to them.
Then we’ve had students drop out of our programme. There are sometimes challenges with young women, so because our programme resettles individuals, often young women are not allowed to come and access the programme because they’re not allowed to come alone. So that’s something we’ve learned in the last year with the large influx of Syrian students and Middle Eastern students that we brought.
The PIE: The widely-published photo of Alan Kurdi on the beach has been cited as a watershed moment in how the refugee crisis was viewed. What was the impact like in Canada?
MM: I think that was a very important moment for Canada in particular, because that young boy’s family had applied for resettlement to Canada and his forms had been sent back. And he had applied to come through private sponsorship, and so it was a community sponsorship, and Canadians became aware of their ability to contribute and to participate in private sponsorship. It was huge. It changed our election – they weren’t talking about immigration so much and they weren’t talking about refugees in the election until this photo emerged, and then suddenly it became one of the key issues in the election.
“With any immigration programme anywhere, there needs to be the infrastructure in place by the government to process cases”
But the change in government was critical because this new government unlocked some of the barriers that prevented things from moving quickly in refugee resettlement.
The PIE: What were some of those barriers to refugee resettlement before the election?
MM: With any immigration programme anywhere, there needs to be the infrastructure in place by the government to process cases. When this new government made their commitment to sponsor 25,000 Syrians in the space of three months, with the existing infrastructure there was no way that would have been possible, and they poured immense resources into processing and screening people. And they also introduced new immigration targets.
The PIE: Since Justin Trudeau was elected, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been renamed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – do you think that had an impact on public perception of refugees?
MM: That’s a really good point. Yes, and I would say in addition to that, the way that leaders are speaking about refugees [has had an impact]. Before, there was a lot of fear instilling and politicians were using phrases like “barbaric cultural practices” and it wasn’t very favourable to creating a welcoming society; whereas this new government has been very much the opposite and I think that sets the stage with the media as well. As soon as politicians are talking about it differently, the media are covering it, and then there’s a trickle down effect.
The PIE: How many students have you taken so far through the resettlement programme?
MM: In total, we’re almost at 2,000. Last year we sponsored around 160, and we hope that our numbers will stay high. We were scared that our numbers would be like a flash in the pan, but we’re seeing sustained engagements.
The PIE: Do you only place undergraduate students?
“We’re hoping our model can serve as an example for other countries”
MM: Traditionally yes, but this past year we’ve started placing graduate students as well, which has been a whole other ball game for us. Admitting someone to a master’s programme is nothing like admitting someone to an undergrad programme; the steps involved are so much more labour intensive, plus research interests are often very specific.
The PIE: What are some of the goals that WUSC working towards at the moment?
MM: Two years ago, we set a goal to double our programme in five years. We reached that last year, because of this increased public attention on refugee issues, so we’ve set a new goal to double that again in the next five years. We’re hoping to, at minimum, be sponsoring 300 students a year, but through engaging new institutions. We thought that’s where our main area of growth would be, but in the last year we saw that it was the existing institutions that increase their numbers.
But we want to continue to expand the number of institutions because that contributes to public awareness, public buy-in. And also colleges are very interesting because they provide faster pathways to employment as they’re offering one-year, two-year programmes, very practical skills.
We’re hoping our model can serve as an example for other countries who are not sure how to go about offering educational opportunities to refugees. We hope that it will inspire other HE communities to get involved in these issues because they haven’t traditionally been, with the exception of a few countries.
Our model is one of the only ones that provides durable solutions in addition to education, so we’re hoping that more countries will consider that durable, lasting solution. But they of course have to work with their governments to put that in place. So we’re looking at especially countries that are exploring the private sponsorship model already and they’re interacting with our counterparts at IRCC.
Betsy DeVos saw her nomination for education secretary clear its Senate hurdle Tuesday when Vice President Pence broke a 50-50 tie. Every Democrat and Independent and two Republicans opposed her nomination.
To many of the teachers' groups and other critics who protested, called and emailed their senators, the confirmation of the pro-charter school, pro-voucher Michigan billionaire was a blow to public education. But while most of the public debate about her nomination swirled around issues affecting K-12 public schools, it largely neglected the realm of higher education.
Observers of higher education policy said DeVos could have a significant effect in the short term by changing tack on Obama administration strategies that saw the department take on a bigger oversight role involving for-profit colleges and student loan servicers.
DeVos’s public image took a scouring during the confirmation process. After a rocky hearing on Capitol Hill in which she often looked unprepared or ill informed about questions of education law and policy, she was widely mocked on forums like Twitter and Saturday Night Live. Newspaper editorial boards across the country questioned her competence and qualifications for the job. And DeVos did nothing during the confirmation process to win over Democrats who were -- at best -- skeptical of her nomination since Donald Trump announced her as his pick to lead the Department of Education.
The contentiousness of the confirmation process has led some observers to question whether DeVos will begin her tenure as a weaker secretary. But Barmak Nassirian, the director of federal relations and policy analysis with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said Secretary DeVos’s credibility and effectiveness will be a direct function of her conduct on that job.
“You don’t want to be on Saturday Night Live being made fun of. That’s generally not a good way of building effectiveness,” he said. “It is possible to overcome those kinds of perceptions with impressive conduct and good administration of programs.”
Nassirian, a frequent critic of for-profit colleges, said it appears the Trump administration will be more sympathetic to that sector and the student loan servicing sector. The Obama administration introduced a number of regulations to step up accountability of for-profits that receive revenue from federal financial aid.
Those regulations, which the department pursued independently of any congressional mandate, came under frequent attack from Republicans in Congress. Whereas Obama's second secretary of education, John B. King Jr., made no bones about aggressive oversight of for-profits, it's likely the department will be less active in that role under DeVos. Jeff Andrade, a senior adviser with the McKeon Group who has previously worked at the department and for GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said DeVos would find power through the secretary’s bully pulpit to highlight problems that conservative critics have found with the department’s current approach.
“Most casual observers will take a look at the Obama administration’s position with respect to for-profits and come to the conclusion that a lot of it was bureaucratic and regulatory overreach,” he said. “A lot of it was done without congressional input, without congressional leadership and in many cases without a legislative mandate.”
Even after receiving intense scrutiny from Democrats, DeVos has made few policy commitments on issues like student loan policy and implementation of gainful employment rules or other oversight measures in the for-profit sector. But it’s likely that she will find more areas of agreement with Republican congressional leaders than did her Democratic predecessor, King.
DeVos said after her confirmation that she will be a tireless advocate for all children.
"I appreciate the Senate’s diligence, and I am eager to get to work," she said in a statement. "Partnering with students, parents, educators, state and local leaders, Congress, and all stakeholders, we will improve education options and outcomes across America."
GOP lawmakers have put rolling back the Obama administration's regulatory legacy at the top of their agenda. They've indicated they plan to use the Congressional Review Act to block “midnight regulations” like the borrower defense and teacher prep rules finalized in the waning months of the Obama administration. They could also look to defund gainful employment, which the department crafted to weed out vocational programs that graduate students with high volumes of student loan debt and poor prospects of paying it off.
Andrade said DeVos could undertake a re-evaluation of the gainful employment regulations, including the quality of the data and metrics used. And the department under DeVos could give programs currently deemed failing more time to come into compliance with the regulations.
“She obviously can’t wave a magic wand and make the regs go away,” Andrade said.
Much of the heavy lifting on those issues will also be done by staff members that have yet to be named. DeVos hasn’t indicated whom she might name to serve as an assistant secretary or under secretary.
Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst with progressive think tank Demos, said the public outcry that accompanied DeVos’s confirmation could make her more cautious about pursuing controversial agenda items.
“There’s absolutely a chance she would be chastened by this, given the level of opposition to her confirmation,” Huelsman said.
DeVos’s confirmation as secretary could also mean a more chastened department in regulatory areas beyond the for-profit sector. In areas such as guidance for campuses on enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and oversight of loan servicers, the department could be “less of a cop on the beat,” Huelsman said.
Under the Obama administration, the department through Dear Colleague letters pushed colleges and universities to take a more active role in investigating sexual assaults on their campuses. Those policies could be among the first to be shifted in a department whose leadership is more sympathetic to concerns about due process rights for students accused of sexual assault. Advocates for victims of sexual assault say federal guidance was critical to ensure institutions were reporting and resolving cases appropriately, but many critics -- including some Republican politicians -- said the Obama administration's policies denied the accused fair treatment.
But there are a number of nonideological issues that could keep the department preoccupied in the coming months, said Dennis Cariello, a former attorney at the Department of Education who now advises institutions including for-profit colleges. He pointed to a Government Accountability Report from last year that found the department has miscalculated the costs of income-driven repayment programs and news, more recently, that it had included an error in loan repayment rates in the College Scorecard.
“The department is basing policy on repayment rates that are wrong. There’s no Republican or Democratic way to make sure you have correct data,” he said. “You’ve just got to get that done.”
Editorial Tags: Federal policyImage Caption: Betsy DeVosIs this breaking news?: Is this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
Women earn 60 percent of baccalaureate degrees and 46 percent of doctoral degrees, excluding professional programs, according to 2015 data from the National Science Foundation, yet they’re still underrepresented in many disciplines. Why? A new study points to segregation by gender based on field of study and what it calls program prestige.
“Prestige segregation is weaker than field segregation but substantively important,” the paper asserts. “On average, between 11 and 13 percent of female doctoral students would need to ‘trade’ programs with men in order to eliminate prestige segregation.”
Averaged across all fields and adjusting for field segregation, men are overrepresented in the most elite programs by a factor of 1.06. But overrepresentation in many fields is substantially higher, according to the study, with the most segregated field, mathematics, approaching a male overrepresentation factor of 1.5. “A 6 percent male advantage in elite representation in the average program, up to a 50 percent advantage in some especially prestige-segregated fields, is a nontrivial gender disparity,” the paper says.
Beyond prestige segregation -- measured using program rankings by the National Research Council -- the paper suggests that field segregation in doctoral education is pronounced, follows a similar pattern as segregation at the undergraduate level and is strongly associated with field-level skills -- namely math and language.
“Close to two-thirds of the net association between gender and field is captured by a five-category measure of math skills,” the paper says. “This disparity could, of course, reflect differences in the student populations (primarily undergraduate vs. exclusively graduate), in the measures of skill, or in modeling strategies. If there is indeed more skill-based gender segregation in graduate education than in undergraduate education, the sources of these disparities warrant further research.”
“Degrees of Difference: Gender Segregation of U.S. Doctorates by Field and Program Prestige” was written by Kim A. Weeden, Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor of the Social Sciences and chair of sociology at Cornell University; Sarah Thébaud, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Dafna Gelbgiser, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell. It was published this week in Sociological Science.
Using program-level data on earned doctorates from 2003-14 from the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the research council's 1995 rankings of doctoral programs, the study’s authors awarded each program an absolute and relative prestige score. Institution type was also considered, and gender ratios for each field were calculated.
Comparing the math and verbal skills of the 41 research council fields with the average 2008 math and verbal Graduate Record Examination scores of test takers intending to go to graduate school in a given field of study, the authors constructed categorical variables differentiating five skill groups.
Eventually they matched most of the 3,271 programs ranked by the research council to the 5,132 programs listed in IPEDS as granted degrees in council research fields. Last, they cross-classified arrays of field, program prestige and gender from the merged data.
The authors were unsurprised to see that gender segregation by field in doctoral education is extensive, with men or women overrepresented in the average field by a factor of 2.12, and a third of male or female doctorates needing to change their disciplines for men and women to receive the same percentage of Ph.D.s in all fields.
Prestige segregation was weaker, but still “substantively significant,” according to the paper. Some 12 percent of male or female doctorates would need to change programs to achieve full integration, it says, with men or women overrepresented by a factor of 1.29.
Assessing the relationship between field segregation and skills via various models, the authors found that 65 percent of disciplinary imbalances by gender are associated with math skills, as measured by GRE scores, which were lower on average for women. The association for verbal skills was just 19 percent.
Regarding prestige segregation, the authors’ analysis suggests that men are overrepresented in programs in the top three deciles but especially in the top decile. Women’s representation, meanwhile, “increases toward the middle of the prestige distribution, reaching its peak among ranked programs in the 71-80th percentile bucket.”
Men’s representation increases again in the bottom two prestige groups, but not to the same extent as male overrepresentation in the top two decile groups.
In another model, men were overrepresented in the top prestige groups, while women’s representation increased as ranking declined.
Looking at both program and cross-disciplinary difference by gender, math skills account for about 15 percent of the total field-level variation in the strength of prestige segregation, the paper says, while verbal skill shift effects account for about 22 percent. So field-level skills “contribute only modestly to observed differences in the strength of prestige segregation.”
Discipline by discipline, another model showed that women are underrepresented in the highest-prestige programs in most, but not all, fields. Top-decile programs are male dominated in 27 of the 41 research council-ranked fields, female dominated in four fields -- Spanish, biomedical engineering, materials engineering and geography -- and gender neutral in the remaining 10 fields.
Male overrepresentation in the top decile programs is particularly strong in economics, in which men are overrepresented by a factor of 1.27, and mathematics, where men are overrepresented by a factor of 1.48.
The authors don’t claim to know why they observed what they did, but they do explore whether their findings are consistent with various social phenomena: self-selection of Ph.D. students based on observed ability, self-selection based on self-assessed ability, self-selection based on prestige-linked program attributes, prestige-linked admissions decisions by the programs themselves, and gender-specific attrition.
“The overrepresentation of men in the highest-prestige programs is broadly consistent with all of the posited mechanisms at the point of admissions,” the paper says. But men’s overrepresentation “in the top programs -- and the absence of strong skill-based variation across fields in this pattern -- is more consistent with self-selection based on perceived ability, at least under the assumption that there is a generalized cultural belief that men are better at all higher cognitive tasks, not just math-related tasks.”
Regardless of its source, the authors say, “the basic pattern of prestige segregation will be familiar to students of gender inequality: women are underrepresented among graduates of programs that most often lead to the higher-paying, higher-prestige jobs. This pattern has obvious implications for efforts to address gender inequality in the [science, technology, math and engineering] work force, including academia. Indeed, representatives of elite STEM departments have long claimed that a barrier to diversifying the faculty is the shortage of women and minority Ph.D.s from status-equivalent institutions.”
Results show that in most fields, the tacit assumption -- that elite Ph.D. pipelines are more male dominated than average Ph.D. pipelines -- "is on the mark," the authors argue. So from a policy perspective, "efforts to diversify the faculty at elite research institutions must be complemented by efforts to reduce prestige segregation at the doctoral level."
As far as further research, the paper suggests that the “near-exclusive focus in the theoretical literature on the social psychological, macroinstitutional and cultural antecedents of segregation might usefully be supplemented with attention to the organizational antecedents of segregation.” More than that, it says, fields of study do not capture “all the ways that men and women’s experiences in higher education, even within a given education level, differ.” Program prestige is just one structural issue with potentially important consequences for gender inequality.
Weeden reiterated via email that the data don’t tell why women are underrepresented in high-prestige programs, but again speculated that women could be self-selecting out of applying to the elite programs, “whether because -- on average -- they tend to score lower on the math GRE, because at a given level of observed ability (e.g., a given score on the GRE) they tend to underestimate their own ability, or because they have different sets of constraints on them than men when it comes to choosing a Ph.D. program.”
At the same time, she said, admissions committees could be selecting men and women differently and making decisions about whom to admit partly based on their own ranking. If there’s a broader lesson within the paper, she added, “it’s that we need to pay more attention to departments as the organizational actors that are making admissions decisions -- a perspective that tends to get lost in much of the research on gender in higher education.”
Cultural beliefs about gender and aptitude are deep-seated and hard to change, so what can be done? Weeden said that if women are selecting out of the applicant pools at elite programs, “one possible point of intervention is the undergraduate advisers, who can encourage their most talented female students to apply to elite programs.” Elite programs can also help by making sure that their admissions processes “don’t overlook talented women who may not rise to the very top on GRE scores, but who show exceptional promise on less easily ranked dimensions,” she added.
Catherine Hill, director of research for the American Association of University Women, said the paper's conclusions are in line many of the association's, especially about how women may self-select for careers based on flawed assessments of their abilities. "Over all, male students overestimate their skills while female students underestimate their skills relative to objective indicators of competence," she said. "Both men and women miss the mark when it comes to self-evaluation. These kinds of errors can result in missed opportunities, wasted time and poor choices."
The article recalls experiences described by Sara Hottinger, interim dean of arts and humanities and professor of women’s and gender studies at Keene State College, in her recent book, Inventing the Mathematician: Gender, Race and Our Cultural Understanding of Mathematics. Among other anecdotes, Hottinger describes self-selecting out of a mathematics graduate program, despite having an aptitude for the field.
She said the new paper poses questions about whether women are self-selecting out of high-prestige programs due to their perceptions of themselves — that they’re not capable enough — or due to the attributes of the top programs themselves; Hottinger didn’t like how competitive math could be, for example.
In high-prestige programs in quantitative fields, such as math and engineering, she said, it’s likely a combination of both. “Women may not necessarily see themselves as real mathematicians because we live in a culture that equates mathematical skill and success with masculinity,” she added. So women “might assume they are not skilled enough to get into the top programs or that they will ultimately be unsuccessful in those programs. It also may be the case that women who consider or visit these programs find the environment within the program itself unfriendly or unsupportive.”DiversityEditorial Tags: Graduate educationWomenImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this breaking news?: Is this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
An executive order barring entry to individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries signed by President Trump -- enforcement of which has been temporarily halted by a federal court -- has directly affected more than 17,000 international students and untold numbers of foreign-born scholars who have made their careers in the U.S., many of them former international students themselves.
The majority of the students directly affected -- more than 12,000 of them -- come from Iran, the 11th-leading country of origin for international students in the U.S., right after Mexico, according to data from the Institute of International Education. Under the executive order, students and scholars with most types of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas from the seven banned countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- were not required to leave the U.S., but those who happened to be outside the country at the time of its signing were not allowed to re-enter and those who left the U.S. would not be able to return as long as the ban remained in place. The executive order called for a ban of 90 days, but it is not clear if that would be extended.
With the restraining order in place, travel has resumed, but the situation remains changeable and subject to court decisions. Civil rights groups have criticized the ban as a pretext for barring the entry of Muslims, a step Trump called for at one point during the campaign. Trump has justified the executive order as a terrorism-fighting measure. "This is not about religion -- this is about terror and keeping our country safe," he said in a Jan. 29 statement.
“The president said multiple times that ‘this is not about religion -- this is about terror and keeping our country safe,’” said Shiva, an Iranian assistant professor of computer science at a Midwestern university who asked that her last name not be used. “It hit me really hard hearing those words. I was thinking about hundreds of Iranians that I know and have met in the U.S. that are all scholars at best universities or are working at the best tech companies. They are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs …. How can someone link us to terror? It was unjustified in my mind.”
Shiva is one of a group of friends who created a Facebook page, “Your Nextdoor Iranian,” which shares personal stories from Iranians in the U.S. Many of the stories shared are from people who report getting their master’s or Ph.D. degrees at U.S. universities. According to data from the Institute of International Education, the majority of Iranian students in the U.S. -- more than three-quarters -- study at the graduate level, and the majority, again, more than three-quarters, are enrolled in STEM fields.
“The idea of the page came up instantly as a way to show Americans who Iranian people really are, at least those who are already living among them,” Shiva said. “We wanted to show we are humans with simple concerns of being able to visiting our families, or not being separated from our husbands and wives, being able to study where we deserve to be. We wanted to show how each one of us is contributing to this country and show how this ban is affecting each one of us.”
Shiva, who is in the U.S. on a work visa but has applied for a green card, shared her story of how the ban has affected her. “I came to the U.S. to attend a university for my master’s in computer science in 2009. I finished my master’s and my Ph.D. in July 2015. I then started a tenure-track assistant professor position in August 2015. As a junior faculty, I already have a lot on my plate, and while I have to focus on my research, this new order has introduced so many concerns for me. I have invested so much time and money in my future during the past seven years, and now I am worried that I have to move somewhere else and I have to start all over again. This is not easy. Staying here with this new immigration ban means not being able to attend any international conferences and not being able to see my family ever again. I had previously been working with Singapore and Finland on different research projects that I will not be able to continue since I am not able to travel.”
Other stories on the Facebook page include that of Samira Asgari, an Iranian national who holds a doctorate from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. She was initially barred from entering the U.S. to begin a postdoctoral position at a Harvard University laboratory focused on tuberculosis progression.
Asgari, who filed suit in federal court to contest her denial of entry, was refused permission to board U.S.-bound planes despite having a J-1 exchange visa issued on Jan. 27, the date the executive order was signed. According to the legal complaint, she is an expert in genomics, infectious diseases and computational biology, and her research involves “state-of-the-art sequencing technologies for finding the variants that confer susceptibility to infections, and in particular, pediatric infections.” She finally made it to Boston on Friday, six days after she first attempted to board a U.S.-bound flight.
Ali Rostami, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in computer engineering at Rutgers University, is also featured on the Facebook page.
“I spent last four years of my life to help developing driving safety systems for American people to get hurt less and American companies to make more profit. Even thinking about the fact that one out of every two Americans don’t want me here makes me sad. Not nervous, just sad,” he wrote.
“I’m sad because they don’t even know me, and yet they don’t want me here,” Rostami said in an email interview. “It’s called racism. I am getting punished because of something I never did. They don’t know what percentage of these seven countries’ citizens in the U.S. are contributing to the society and what percentage are engaging in unlawful activities. It’s sad, because when I was watching CNN on my flight to LA from NYC, I saw Americans responding to a question if they support the travel ban with ‘Yes. I feel much safer now in an airplane.’ We don’t deserve to be called terrorists. Statistics show zero terrorist incidents (at least after Sept. 11) by citizens of these seven countries. That’s where you find yourself discriminated, getting punished for a crime you (or your people) never committed. That makes you feel lonely. Treated unfair.”
Rostami said he knew when he left Iran he might not be able to visit his family because of the long time it takes to renew visas. But he thought his family could at least visit him in the U.S., “even if they have to go to a third country to do the interview at a U.S. embassy and wait for six to eight months for a tourist visa, if they could get one. Now, living in the U.S. feels like spending my life in a first-class prison.”
“Frankly, I think if they ever say we don’t want you (with continuing the ban), I’d simply say goodbye,” he said. “I’m confident that I’ll be fine finding a highly paid job in Europe.”GlobalEditorial Tags: IranIs this breaking news?: Is this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
Business incubators are booming among universities lately, with many top research institutions establishing incubators and bragging about their ability to help move innovation out of the ivory tower and into the marketplace.
But new research published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal shows that university-affiliated incubators aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when it comes to at least one key metric of innovation -- patents. Incubators’ establishment is actually associated with a decrease in average patent quality and licensing revenue across the country’s top research institutions.
That doesn’t mean incubators over all saddle universities with a negative net impact, say the research’s authors, Baylor University Entrepreneurship Professor Peter G. Klein and University of Bath Innovation and Entrepreneurship Associate Professor Christos Kolympiris. Instead, they say, their findings show that universities may be changing their mind-sets and incurring hidden costs when they start business incubators.
The findings drew skepticism from leaders at university incubators and technology transfer offices, who argued that patents aren’t the only measure of innovation success at universities and incubators. Critics also pointed out that the findings do not necessarily hold true at all universities.
Klein and Kolympiris set out to examine the effect incubators have on U.S. research universities’ innovation quality -- universities emphasizing incubators may be tilting their philosophy away from long-run, high-level teaching and research, Klein said. Universities want their faculty members and students to perform research and get patents, he said. At the same time, universities are increasingly trying to become technology and entrepreneurship hubs, helping to turn those patents into viable businesses. Meanwhile, many are also struggling with funding and trying to supplement their budgets with revenue from patent licensing.
It’s hard to examine innovation quality, however, so Klein and Kolympiris decided to use patents as a measure of innovation quality. They first analyzed more than 55,000 patents granted from 1969 to 2012 at U.S. universities largely in the Association of American Universities, examining forward citations -- the number of times a patent is cited by subsequent patents. They also analyzed licensing income.
If incubators complement high-quality research on campuses, one would expect patent quality and licensing revenue to improve once incubators are established, Klein said. But the authors found the opposite to be true.
They found a drop in innovation quality follows the creation of university-affiliated incubators. Then they found a reduction in licensing income after incubators were established.
Those results suggest university incubators compete for resources with technology transfer offices, the authors wrote. It also suggests they compete for resources with other campus programs and activities.
“To be honest, we weren’t expecting to find the results we found,” Klein said. “We went into it thinking we would document more positive effects.”
The takeaway from the research is not necessarily that incubators are bad or that universities should not establish incubators, Klein said. It’s that a university may incur hidden costs when it changes its mind-set by establishing an incubator.
“We think commercialization is great,” Klein said. “I’m all about entrepreneurship and innovation, but I think we need to take a balanced perspective and realize that universities are complex coalitions of groups, and they have multiple objectives. It’s not always possible to be all things to all persons.”
Klein and Kolympiris had no way of observing the actual mechanisms involved in the changes they observed, Klein said. Klein’s sense from talking to those working in technology transfer departments is that the symptoms observed may be a case of split priorities.
“It’s not the incubator, per se, that is the driver,” he said. “That’s just a symptom of the university deciding, ‘We’re all about different things.’”
Universities, after all, do not have unlimited budgets. They may be able to raise funds for some new operations, but in many cases at least some money for incubators has to be diverted from somewhere else in an institution.
So university budgets are reallocated. Resources that might have gone toward research might be funneled to application.
The authors said that their report is a look at top research universities on the whole -- the situation could be very different on individual campuses.
“We’re saying that on average, this is the effect that we’ll find,” Kolympiris said. “It is possible that some universities will actually benefit from having an incubator. Quite a few would lose. The effect is the average effect.”
Questioning the Findings
University leaders involved in technology transfer offices and incubators disagreed with some of the study’s key premises. Brett Cornwell is executive director of Texas A&M Technology Commercialization, the technology transfer organization for the Texas A&M University System. It manages more than 900 patents.
Universities are all structured differently, so depending on a university’s organizational structure, there might be very little connection between funding, incubation activity and patenting decisions, Cornwell said. But he added that patents aren’t always a good proxy for innovations -- particularly where incubators are concerned.
In Cornwell’s experience, young and unsophisticated technology commercialization programs emphasize patenting. Institutions with more sophisticated activities, including incubators, are usually more selective in what they patent.
“When you talk about having incubators and accelerators, almost by definition that means the university is getting closer to the market, thinking about market pull,” Cornwell said. “That implies sophistication and sophisticated decision making about what you invest in and what you don’t invest in.”
Further, Cornwell questioned whether forward citations are always a marker of patent quality. The true quality of a patent is the value a company can derive from it, he said.
That value doesn’t necessarily show up in licensing income, either. Universities divide royalty monies between different parties like tech transfer offices and inventors. And incubation might lead to other benefits for a university, Cornwell said.
“At the end of the day, the university receives 35 percent of that top-line income,” Cornwell said. “What was interesting is the same companies that were licensing the same tech for us and were paying the royalties had done about five times more sponsored research.”
Economic development is an important part of many university incubators, according to Keith McGreggor, director of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab start-up incubator.
“The economic development angle, which is at least a part of the university spinning things out, is predicated on jobs created and tax bases for revenue generated by the companies that try to spin out and stay local in the state,” McGreggor said. “And that’s not the same thing as measuring the impact of patents that are created.”
McGreggor also wondered about equating income from patents to patent quality.
“If the university has a very progressive approach to pricing the intellectual property, say for the benefit of their own spinouts, then the measure of value of that wouldn’t necessarily be reflective of that spinout’s subsequent action,” he said
McGreggor said he feels no tension between research and incubation at Georgia Tech. He hasn’t seen a competition for resources.
“I don’t think this is a zero-sum game with respect to resources allocated,” McGreggor said. “I wonder how it will be when the entrepreneurship faculty encounter the technology licensing offices and the incubators, how that will change our landscape in coming years.”
Texas A&M and Georgia Tech were both included in the innovation study. But they’re not the only ones that pointed out incubators might have benefits beyond patents and royalties.
They can help recruit faculty and students, said Stacy Strauss, director of the Innovation Center at Ohio University (which is not an AAU member and was therefore not part of the study). “Students, if they know they have an opportunity for experiential learning outside the classroom, perhaps by being embedded within the staff of a biotech company -- that’s a way the university can attract and retain a higher-quality student,” Strauss said.
Klein and Kolympiris acknowledged those arguments. They are not saying incubators destroy value over all, Kolympiris said. Incubators can add many other forms of value, including prestige and connections to local communities.
The researchers freely admit that they are not measuring those other outcomes, Klein said.
“Maybe universities should have incubators, even if they have some possibly harmful effects on basic research,” Klein said. “If this research helps to begin a conversation or deepen ongoing conversations about these issues -- what is a university for, what should universities do -- we think that’s terrific.”Editorial Tags: Business issuesIntellectual propertyImage Source: Baylor UniversityImage Caption: Peter Klein is a professor at Baylor University.Is this breaking news?: Is this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0