English Language Feeds

Chronicle of Higher Education: Before His Ouster, Trustees Cautioned Auburn U.’s High-Flying President

Steven Leath was warned that his big changes could cause “unrest.” A year later, he was gone.

Aus: UAC enters int’l admissions space

The PIE News - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 07:04

A new agreement with the Australian National University will see private company Universities Admissions Centre enter into the international education space for the first time.

Signed in June, the agreement extends UAC’s management of ANU’s application processes to international students, after a March agreement saw the two organisations collaborate for domestic enrolments.

“It’s part of UAC’s strategic brief to expand into the inbound international space”

“We are very pleased to be an ongoing partner of ANU, as they continue to innovate their admissions and offer processes. The relationship is going from strength-to-strength,” said UAC managing director David Christie.

Speaking with The PIE News, general manager of business solutions, James Kevin, said under the agreement, UAC would enter into the offshore international student market, after primarily focussing on domestic students and some onshore internationals.

“[Our platform has] only ever really be utilised for international students who are studying Year 12 in Australia,” he said.

“It was a fairly limited cohort… and certainly, it’s part of UAC’s strategic brief to expand into the inbound international space. But we really needed a new portal to facilitate that.”

The underpinning portal of the agreement, Agent Access, will facilitate all processes of direct admissions, as well as allow agents to lodge applications on students’ behalf.

Kevin said the work of UAC in the domestic space guided their decision-making for internationals and used their white-label platform for universities as a launching off point.

“We figured that’s off and running and doing well, but we felt that international was a big piece that was missing,” he said.

“We felt we could apply the same sort of technologies and efficiencies in the domestic space to the international space.”

In 2018, ANU announced it would no longer grow its total enrolments, looking to keep its proportion of international students stable.

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Unimy to “revolutionise” MBA applications

The PIE News - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 05:16

A new platform for MBA applicants to schools around the world is seeking to “revolutionise” the process by matching prospective students with their best fit via AI and human expertise.

“It is crucial to get a sense of the culture of your chosen school”

Founded by higher education marketing and orientation consulting specialist, Advent Group, Unimy uses “unique” tools such as its Cultural Fit test to match applicants with their “perfect MBA”.

The Cultural Fit Test aims to identify how a candidate’s cultural expectations compare to the cultural practices at different schools, while the AI Matching Tool uses algorithms to find the top 10 schools where candidates with similar demographics, professional experience and characteristics have applied.

According to Unimy the tool measures six cultural dimensions by surveying students, and is “inspired by the importance of cultural fit in the workplace”.

“Just like when applying for a new job, it is crucial to get a sense of the culture of your chosen school and whether you belong there,” the company said.

Currently, the platform displays over 1,000 courses at 853 accredited business schools, after being launched in early 2019.

“Most of the programs and business schools listed are located in the US,” a spokesperson told The PIE News.

“However, we’re not limiting our promotional activities by now – we’re still experimenting to find out where our product would perform best.”

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STA Travel joins forces with Study in the USA

The PIE News - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 03:48

Student and youth travel organisation STA Travel has teamed up with international student marketing business Study in the USA to increase resources for international students considering enrollment in US institutions.

The two organisations joined together following reports that new international student enrolments in the US declined by 6.6% last year, corroborating findings from 2017 and continuing a trend first observed in the 2015/16 academic year.

“This partnership comes at a time where international interest in US study abroad opportunities has declined”

STA Travel is Study in the USA’s first exclusive travel partner, and through the collaboration, international students will have access to new content surrounding travel in the US.

The partnership will also work to facilitate further industry reach for both STA Travel and Study in the USA in the educational travel space.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Study in the USA to provide further resources for international students interested in studying in the United States,” said Christine Sutton, senior vice president, STA Travel.

“This partnership comes at a time where international interest in US study abroad opportunities has declined significantly.

Working together will allow STA Travel and Study in the USA to reach more prospective students, help students feel welcomed and overall make studying in the United States a more desirable option,” Sutton added.

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Irish gov’t passes bill to protect staff & students at English language schools

The PIE News - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 03:06

Plans to introduce a long-awaited International Education Mark in Ireland can finally be realised as part of newly-passed legislation that establishes protections for the staff and students of English language schools in the country.

Under reforms passed by the Irish government, the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Bill will also strengthen the role of Quality and Qualifications Ireland as the regulator of English language schools and establishes a fund that English language schools will be obliged to contribute to if they provide courses of three months or more.

“I want to ensure that international language students coming here have a quality learning experience”

The fund aims to offset losses for students and staff in the event of a language school collapsing follows the snap closure of a number of language teaching schools in the country in recent years.

The bill also enables QQI to examine the compliance of those in the English language education sector with national employment law.

In cases where non-compliance is identified, QQI will be empowered to withdraw authorisation from a provider to use the IEM.

Ireland’s minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said the measures in the bill are necessary to give international students the welcome and protection that they deserve.

“I am delighted to be able to say that the government has put in place protections for the staff and students of English language schools, with the passing of this bill,” she said in a statement.

“We have over 120,000 international language students from all over the world learning English in Ireland every year.

“I want to ensure that international language students coming here have a quality learning experience that will encourage them to act as ambassadors for what Ireland has to offer when they return to their home countries,” she added.

The Irish Council for International Students said it “warmly welcomes” the enactment of the Bill and the measures that will see tighter regulations for providers of English language and higher education programs to international students.

“We are delighted that this long-awaited legislation has finally been passed,” said ICOS’ executive director Sarah Lennon.

“International students can now come to Ireland with greater reassurance that they will be protected, and the introduction of the International Education Mark will ensure that only providers that meet the highest standards will be allowed to offer programs.

“ICOS looks forward to working actively with the Department of Education… and all the agencies that will be involved in the implementation of the new measures.”

Speaking to The PIE News, a spokesperson for Marketing English in Ireland said the implementation of the IEM is a positive development for schools that consistently deliver high-quality language programs and student experiences. “With a no-deal Brexit threatening the Irish economy the ELT sector in Ireland is more important than ever for the Irish economy,” the MEI spokesperson added. “We hope that the implantation of this mark will mean an end to an unfair playing field for our members and will force all schools to implement high standards.”

In parallel to the passage of the bill, mediator to the English language education sector Patrick King recommended the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee to set minimum employment standards for the ELT sector.

King had been appointed by Mitchell O’Connor to prepare a report on the ELT sector following the closure of Grafton College last December.

According to the report, King found the majority of teachers he interviewed were “highly critical” of the working conditions in Ireland’s English language schools.

He said most expressed concerns about the “precarious nature of their employment” given the closure of a large number of schools with little or no notice to staff.

“International students can now come with greater reassurance that they will be protected”

“Many thousands of students travel from all over the world to attend English language courses in Ireland…however, this reputation is fragile and is damaged each time an English language school closes at short notice [and] when there is evidence that school employees are poorly paid and have unfair working conditions,” King noted.

Commenting on the mediator’s findings, regional officer at trade union Unite Brendan Byrne said he has written to the minister seeking a clear timeline for the establishment of the JLC.

“It took the closure of Grafton College, leaving teachers and students high and dry, to finally hammer home the point that action was needed to protect both teachers and learners in this booming sector,” said Byrne.

“Now we need to ensure that these recommendations are acted on as quickly as possible to ensure that the ELT sector is characterised not only by high-quality learning but also by high-quality employment standards.”

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Georgia State University President Mark P. Becker Elected ACE Board Chair

American Council on Education - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 02:30
ACE’s membership also elected Paul J. LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire University, as vice-chair and Gail O. Mellow, LaGuardia Community College (NY), as secretary.

Political science association pleases and surprises members with its flagship publication's new editorial board

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 00:00

The American Political Science Review’s new editors want to preserve its strong reputation while broadening its readership, relevance and contributor pool. They’ve pledged editorial transparency, checks and balances in their decision making, and a commitment to research ethics.

Other guiding principles involve diversity of content, methods and representation, outreach to multiple audiences, and engagement with members of the American Political Science Association -- of which the review is the flagship publication.

The 12 editors bring with them experience, and then some. Seven have served as lead or associate journal editors. Altogether, the team members have served on more than 40 journal editorial boards, including the Review’s. They're experts in methods from geospatial analysis and formal models to participant observation, archival and historical research, and life history interviews. 

And, oh yeah, they’re all women. With “a mandate.”

“Our editorial team is unprecedented in many ways. Although many political science journals -- including the APSR -- have had all-male editorial teams, few have had all-woman teams; nor have many had teams with the breadth of experience and expertise encompassed by ours,” the new editors said in a statement. “We also bring expertise in every subfield of the discipline, in nearly every region of the globe (including two regional experts in African politics), and in wide-ranging domains of U.S. politics.”

Members bring "substantive strengths in the domestic and international politics of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality -- areas that have been traditionally underrepresented, both among the editors and in the pages of the APSR," they said. They are diverse along lines of race, ethnicity and sexuality and “APSA’s selection of our team sends a strong signal about the association leadership’s commitment to structural and cultural changes at the journal and in the discipline more generally. We take seriously what we understand to be a mandate to effect these changes.”

One of the new editors, 
Sharon D. Wright Austin, professor of political science and director of African American studies at the University of Florida, said Monday that it’s “quite an honor” to be part of the group, and that her team was founded on a common desire to make the Review more inclusive.

Like other leading journals in political science and additional broad fields, the Review -- while revered -- has faced criticism that it is too white, too male and too biased toward certain kinds of research to truly represent a discipline.

The Review’s current editors challenged this notion, in part, in a self-study published as part of a larger investigation into gender bias last year. Looking at 10 years’ worth of publication data, or more than 8,000 submissions and 18,000 reviews, the editors found no evidence of gender bias in the editorial process --and that solo male authors dominated submissions and had the highest desk rejection rate.

Instead of editorial bias, the current editors wrote, “[Our] analysis points much more to the problem of a systematically low submission rate of female authors as explanation for the underrepresentation of women” in published articles. “It would hint to concerns that male and female authors have different quality standards when submitting their work in the first place.”

Either way, underrepresentation is an unsolved problem.

The political science association doesn’t compose boards but picks editorial teams as a whole based on group submissions. The current set of editors -- two women and five men, all white -- all work at institutions in Europe. They’ve called their selection historic in its non-North American orientation, and sought to globalize and otherwise broaden the review in their own way.

Austin, at Florida, said her own team “is very excited about the work we are planning to do to maintain the high standards of the journal while also making it more inclusive of diverse research topics and methodologies.” It also wants “to end the perception of the APSR as a journal that does not publish certain kinds of research.”

Clarissa Hayward, professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis, said that kind of research includes political theorists'.

“It includes scholars who use ethnographic and other qualitative research methods and political scientists who study topics like power, racial injustice, gender inequality and social movements. And it includes LGBTQ scholars and scholars who are women and people of color,” she said.

The new group has received public congratulations from many political scientists, including some students and junior faculty members who say an all-female board and its particular vision bolsters their faith in the field and academe. Other commenters -- mostly anonymously -- have been more critical, calling the board’s invocation of diversity “Orwellian,” for example.

As to critics' worries about whether men are being excluded, Hayward pointed back to the data.

“I would suggest they read some of the recent studies that show that, for years, men have been overrepresented, rather than underrepresented, in the APSR,” she said. One study, for example, found that 70 percent of articles published in the journal between 2007 and 2016 had only male authors. 

Another point: the APSR receives thousands of submissions each year and doesn’t use the full allotment of space that its publisher, Cambridge University Press, allows, Hayman said.

“We firmly believe that we can improve the representativeness and the quality of the APSR, and that we can do that without excluding any group of political scientists.”

Austin said that the Review “has had several all-male teams, but I don't remember anyone questioning whether they were diverse.”

The new editors have “diverse backgrounds and interests and, even more important, we are very qualified to serve as editors for this prestigious journal,” she added.

John Ishiyama, University Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science and Piper Professor of Texas at the University of North Texas, was editor in chief of the Review from 2012 to 2016.

He said the new board could “invigorate the profession” in that it's a new chapter and “signifies a break with past practices.” As far as the team being made up of women, he added, “I generally see this as a positive step. After all, there have been many all-male and racially homogeneous editorial teams in the past, so why not a racially diverse team of women?”

What “really matters” is that “I believe that they can do this job.” And it’s a "helluva" big job, Ishiyama added.

Typically the journal has one lead editor for all four years, like Ishiyama. The new team plans to have co-leaders who will rotate down the line to assist their new co-leaders every year. The team's term starts next year and ends in 2024.

Ishiyama’s one concern? The size of team, since 12 is an unusually large number, and coordination problems can arise. He noted that the APSA will now provide centralized administrative support for editors at its headquarters -- a shift triggered by the growing number of submissions to the journal and one that could benefit the new editors. 

Even so, “I do think that someone needs to be the point person, the lead editor if you will, to make sure the big ship moves in the same direction,” he said.

Melissa Michelson, professor of political science at Menlo College and an editorial board member for the Women Also Know Stuff campaign in political science, said she thought that women will be “more inclined to submit their work to the journal” under the new board, as will authors whose work focuses on areas often dismissed as “not of general interest” -- race, gender and LGBTQ politics, for example.

“That means those who have benefited from the historical bias toward work done and about white men will have more competition for the limited space in the journal,” she said, “and so of course this will be seen by some people as a threat, or as inappropriate.”

However, she said, “we are moving forward, not backward” and the “future of political science is diverse, inclusive and, increasingly, female.”

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Hawley puts Trumpian spin on higher ed accountability

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 00:00

Freshman GOP senator Josh Hawley has sought to make a name for himself in recent weeks by going on the attack against liberal elites.

He’s gone after tech giants in public comments as well as “anti-flag” shoe brands. His most recent target is traditional higher ed. Hawley introduced two bills earlier this month aiming to shake up traditional higher ed. One would remove most eligibility standards for short-term training programs to access Pell Grants and instead assess them based on student outcomes. Another bill would put colleges on the hook for defaulted student loans.

“You shouldn't have to take on a mountain of debt and get a four-year degree you don't want in order to get a good job in our state and in our country,” the Missouri Republican said in touting the bills.

Neither idea is original in higher ed policy circles. There’s already bipartisan legislation backed by community colleges and business groups that would open Pell eligibility to programs as short as eight weeks, potentially turning the program into the biggest supporter of job training in the country. And lawmakers have offered a slew of “risk-sharing” proposals in recent years. Senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, said earlier this year he wants to make higher ed programs accountable for loan repayment rates.

Hawley’s proposals, though, combine those ideas with the rhetorical attacks on higher ed favored by other up-and-coming Republicans in the past. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, he apparently had traditional higher ed in mind when he critiqued “cosmopolitan elites” in a speech at the National Conservatism Conference.

They make up a class, Hawley said, that live in the United States but “identify as ‘citizens of the world.’ They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community.”

(At the same conference, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax offered a "cultural case" for limiting immigration to the U.S. that stirred a backlash from many connected to her university.)

Before his election to the Senate last year, Hawley worked as a lawyer for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and as an associate professor at the University of Missouri Law School, and he served briefly as Missouri attorney general.

It’s not clear that college groups will pay much attention to the Hawley bills for now. Growing student debt and poor outcomes for students has become a preoccupation for members of both parties. The proposals, though, are unlikely to make a significant impact on legislative discussions soon.

Similar Ideas, Different Framing

Hawley doesn’t sit on the Senate education committee, and neither of his bills has added a Senate co-sponsor so far. They also didn’t receive endorsements from organizations that are influential on higher ed policy. It would be unlikely any bill introduced under those circumstances advances far, said Jon Fansmith, director of government and public affairs at the American Council on Education.

Legislation introduced with broader support also has benefited from extensive back-and-forth with other members and groups who advocate on postsecondary issues, he said.

“There’s an understandable interest in holding institutions accountable for outcomes of students,” Fansmith said. “The point here is it’s an attack on a perception of what higher education is that’s not in line with reality.”

Federal aid programs like Pell Grants already support students pursuing alternatives to four-year degrees like associate degrees and certificate programs, he said. And Fansmith said the accountability measure Hawley offered would likely penalize the kinds of colleges that serve high numbers of low-income and minority students.

The Pell Grant bill would make any program in existence for at least five years eligible for federal aid as long as it met a number of benchmarks for student outcomes, among them: completion rates, job placement rates and starting median salary of graduates. The accountability legislation would require colleges to pay off half of borrowers’ defaulted student loans. And it would prohibit colleges from raising prices to offset costs.

Observers are skeptical about how the federal government would enforce those provisions. But the bills have excited some conservatives critical of traditional higher ed. Mary Clare Anselem, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, wrote in an op-ed that the legislation “could be life-changing for many students.”

“Currently, the outdated accreditation system allows only traditional colleges to access federal dollars, maintaining a status quo that discourages innovation in higher education,” she wrote.

Heritage wants the federal government out of the student loan system entirely. Anselem said Hawley’s accountability proposal would be a positive step by pressuring colleges to improve their performance.

His proposal to open up the Pell Grant program lands in the midst of an ongoing debate about short-term Pell. Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, and Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, introduced legislation in March that would allow students to use Pell for short-term programs designed to help them quickly land jobs in industries that don’t require a college degree. The bill, known as the JOBS Act, is co-sponsored by 14 other senators, including Democrats and Republicans.

Kaine has made similar arguments to Hawley about supporting a broader range of postsecondary programs. In a letter to The New York Times in March, he wrote that many Americans “feel alienated” by a federal higher ed system that places so much value on four-year degrees.

The JOBS Act would require that short-term programs meet requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and be approved by state workforce commissions and the Education Department. The Hawley bill, however, would do away with most front-end eligibility requirements for higher ed programs, including state authorization or minimum seat time. Instead, it would use student outcomes entirely to assess programs’ eligibility for aid.

"Senator Hawley believes that by busting the higher education monopoly and opening Pell to any program that has a proven track record of success preparing students to get good jobs, we will see more innovation and competition in the postsecondary education and job training, which will create more opportunities for students at lower costs," a Hawley aide said.

On college accountability as well, members of Congress have offered multiple plans targeting outcomes on student loans, including some with bipartisan support. A 2017 GOP proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act would have blocked federal aid to colleges if 45 percent of borrowers weren’t in repayment on their loans within three years. And a proposal from former Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, would cut off funding to colleges where 15 percent of borrowers hadn’t begun paying their loan principal within three years.

Alexander and Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, have also pushed their own accountability frameworks for inclusion in a potential HEA reauthorization.

“The idea of risk-sharing is not groundbreaking,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. “It has bipartisan support. The two parties just haven’t been able to agree on the details.”

He said the concepts being pushed in the Hawley bill aren’t especially new. “The framing is just different,” Kelchen said. “The framing is ‘breaking up the higher education monopoly.’”

Kelchen noted the institutions that might suffer the most under Hawley’s accountability proposal are community colleges and for-profit colleges that serve more low-income and minority students. But he said when lawmakers who aren’t on a relevant committee introduce legislation, it often amounts to messaging rather than something likely to become law.

A Hawley staffer said the bills are "important first steps towards reducing costs, increasing accountability and maximizing opportunities for students, but there’s more to be done."

Ben Miller, vice president for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said new lawmakers often look for policy areas they can make their signature focus.

Higher education has often been that issue. Hawley isn’t the first up-and-coming GOP senator in recent years to question the value of a traditional degree or argue the federal government should do more to emphasize vocational education. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, famously argued during the 2016 GOP presidential primary that “we need more welders and less philosophers.”

Welders, Rubio claimed in one debate, make more money than philosophers -- a claim belied by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Florida Republican’s arguments didn’t carry the same sharp undertones as Hawley’s attacks on liberal elites and the higher education monopoly. But he nonetheless changed his tune on the need for philosophers last year.

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Career and technology education is an effective pathway to earning money

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 00:00

High schoolers who take career and technology education courses achieve the same college success as students who focus on more academic courses, and they are only slightly less likely to enroll in college in the first place, a study published Tuesday by Education Next found.

Researchers Daniel Kreisman, an assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University, and Kevin Stange, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, reviewed data from nearly 4,000 participants in the 1998-2015 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and found that for each upper-level CTE class a student took in high school, they earned about 2 percent more annually, even if they didn't go to college, compared to people who took more academic courses without going to college, who had no such return.

“The returns when you get a job from taking upper-level academic courses are all explained by whether you went to college,” Kreisman said. “College increases your earnings, but having taken an academic course does not, necessarily. It doesn’t look like the workforce really values doing well, simply, in math, for example.”

The report, “Depth Over Breadth: The Value of Vocational Education in U.S. High Schools,” addressed the question of whether students who take CTE courses are disadvantaged because they did not invest time in more standard academic courses, and the answer is they are not, Kreisman said.

Kreisman and Stange also identified specific demographic groups that are more likely to enroll in vocational courses: male students, disadvantaged students who have a low household income or whose parents did not attend college, and students in rural America, specifically Southern states. For these students, the report suggests, it’s important to continually offer both introductory and advanced-level vocational courses.

“CTE helps the less advantaged kids,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce. “High school is very academic now; it has almost nothing to do with the real world. For most young people, that’s an absurd situation … They don’t see any relationship between their Algebra 2 course and the real world.”

Vocational or CTE courses, which are most commonly introductions to industries like transportation, business and management, and computer technology, “facilitate better postsecondary enrollment decisions before students make potentially expensive mistakes -- an important priority amid concerns about the number of college dropouts burdened with student debt,” the report said.

However, the report “doesn’t say anything about bypassing college,” Kreisman said.

“I can’t necessarily say that someone struggling in academics would be better off going right into the labor market,” he said. “The students who choose to go into these courses end up benefiting from them, meaning if we limit the chances for students to take these courses, they won’t have that option.”

There is concern, however, that high schools are leaving vocational learning behind for a heavier academic course load, which may not work for all students. Federal funding for vocational programming has dropped 32 percent since 1985, and high school students’ average number of vocational credits dropped by 14 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But Kreisman said the outlook is turning positive, with more STEM courses placed into CTE curricula and CTE course work being incorporated into college-preparation classes.

“There’s demand for these hard skills and the cost of college has gone way up, so it makes sense for students who want to take these types of courses, especially in high school, because when they get [out], it becomes very, very costly,” he said.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: California’s Plan for Student Complaints Still Must Pass Ed Department’s Muster

The state’s consumer-affairs agency is “working closely with colleges around the country” to encourage a speedy resolution by the U.S. Department of Education.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Meet Your Campus Troubleshooter

Have a problem? Your ombudsmen can listen to you vent and point you to solutions. Just don’t expect them to be your advocate.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Corbin Gwaltney, Founder of ‘The Chronicle of Higher Education,’ Dies at 97

He began the newspaper as an eight-page broadsheet designed to provide serious coverage of the nation’s colleges in 1966. In 1988 he started The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

ENZ launches agent training portal

The PIE News - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 09:21

Education agents recruiting on behalf of New Zealand providers have a new resource to ensure they are providing the best information to international students, after Education New Zealand unveiled its highly anticipated agent training portal.

AgentLab, launched in early July, comes after about a year of development and industry collaboration, replacing ENZ’s previous agent training platform to enhance engagement with agents and communicate changes within the country.

“There have been considerable changes in technology and learning styles”

“Education agents play an important role in New Zealand’s international education sector,” said ENZ chief executive Grant McPherson.

“Currently, more than half of all international students who study in New Zealand engage with an education agent for advice and information before their arrival.”

The new platform also places interactivity at its core, gamifying the process and allowing agents to undertake the short, 10-minute modules in any order they choose.

“In addition to interactive courses, AgentLab will have live webinars, a document library and the latest education news from New Zealand,” McPherson said.

ENZ announced an update to its training platform in 2018 as a means to provide new information on New Zealand as a study destination and to take advantage of improvements in technology.

“There have been considerable changes in technology and learning styles since [2013] that mean the program is not as effective as it could be,” ENZ’s channel services and partnerships director, Dan Smidt, told The PIE News at the time.

The platform has also been enhanced for access on both mobile and desktop.

Additional course content will be added to AgentLab over time, and McPherson said international education stakeholders, such as providers, study clusters and peak bodies, would also be able to contribute to content in the future.

In late 2017, Labour minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan announced the government’s intention to regulate offshore agents.

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GoXchange student app launched

The PIE News - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 06:44

GoXchange, an online community network seeking to support exchange students by connecting them with peers at the same study destination has been launched to give new exchange students “first-hand advice” about life in their new home.

The GoXchange app allows students from UK and Irish institutions link up with fellow exchange students, as well as former students, to reduce the stress and uncertainty of living and studying in another country.

“Our mission is to increase the number of students having an overseas experience”

Those who have previously lived and studied in the host destination will be able to give new exchange students “first-hand advice and insights to help them prepare for the move, as well as get help finding a suitable internship to further help their employability”, according to the company.

“The extensive admin along with worries about settling into a new city and country can put some off embarking on such an adventure,” said Daniel Hinkley, co-founder of GoXchange.

“With our new network, our mission is to increase the number of students having an overseas experience as part of their studies and to help them get the most out of it.”

The new network will help universities’ mobility teams better manage their student cohorts, Hinkley added.

“Mobility is a rapidly evolving area of higher education.

“With so many different study and work programs, we’re streamlining the whole process to make sure that universities can spend less time on emails and admin and more time on student wellbeing and welfare.”

The app was created by the team behind app cloud service CampusConnect and the basic product is available for free.

The University of Westminster, The University of Limerick, and Maynooth University are the first three institutions to register their profiles on GoXchange.

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UK: Int’l students paying for “woefully inadequate” doc-checking service

The PIE News - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 02:50

International students at UK universities are facing costly and “woefully inadequate” services in applying for visas, after parts of the application process were outsourced to a government-contracted company charging up to £200 for appointments.

According to Universities UK, French IT services company Sopra Steria is unable to meet demand from applicants in the UK, with some students waiting 30 days to get an appointment.

“Students and universities cannot be expected to pay to address Sopra Steria’s broken system”

Universities have taken issue with the added costs incurred by applicants who have to use the company’s services.

UUK noted that applicants having issues with the online system are being charged £2.50 per minute to access a support line, and a result of the delays some students are paying to fast track their appointments and travelling to one of Sopra Steria’s centres, often many miles away from where they live.

Additionally, many who are paying between £100 and £200 for premium appointments still cannot get one and some are refused a refund of the money they pay.

Chief executive of UUK Alistair Jarvis said the company’s offer is unacceptable.

“Despite constructive engagement between the Home Office, UKVI and universities, the current capacity and level of service being offered by Sopra Steria remains unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

“Students and universities cannot be expected to pay to address Sopra Steria’s broken system.”

UUK is calling on Sopra Steria to fully address the concerns before the September surge when in excess of 40,000 students will need to register their biometric details, Jarvis added.

According to the organisation representing 136 universities across the UK, Sopra Steria recently began to offer pop-up services at campuses, however, the 15-minute appointments will cost £50, and be paid for by the student or university.

“International students make a huge cultural and economic contribution to the UK,” Jarvis added.

“Sopra Steria should be helping to send a more welcoming message to international students, signalling that the UK is open to talented individuals from around the world, as is the case at our universities.”

In 2018, Sopra Steria was awarded a £91m contract to deliver “a more streamlined application process from over 60 locations across the UK, including 56 local libraries”.

At the time managing director of the company’s government business, Adrian Fieldhouse promised a “great customer experience”, and said people would be offered to pay more for added value services to “create their own bespoke service to meet their specific needs”.

Additionally, UUK noted that students cannot travel when they have an outstanding visa application. If the service continues to be inadequate, some visiting students may be unable to travel home for the Christmas holidays, it highlighted.

Cardiff University recently warned that a lack of free visa appointments threatened ample time to process 1,000 of its students’ applications by autumn, and an on-campus pop-up service could cost between £150,000-£200,000.

Unable to find an appointment in Cambridge, Elisa Calcagni, a PhD student from Chile at the University of Cambridge, chose to pay £100 for an appointment in Croydon.

“Despite booking a timed appointment, there was a waiting time of an hour and then the system wasn’t working properly leading to further delays,” she said.

“Despite booking a timed appointment, there was a waiting time of an hour”

A spokesperson for Sopra Steria told The PIE News that the business is working closely with the Home Office, universities and higher education institutions across the UK to deliver the Tier 4 visa application service.

“This is tailored to each institution’s needs to provide greater student convenience and choice,” the spokesperson said.

“We are focused on adapting the service to respond to areas of greatest demand and are increasing capacity where needed.”

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