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UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski to Receive ACE Lifetime Achievement Award

American Council on Education - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 02:30
Nationally recognized higher education leader Freeman A. Hrabowski, III will be presented with the ACE Lifetime Achievement Award during ACE2018, ACE’s 100th Annual Meeting next month.

ACE Names 33 Emerging Higher Education Leaders to ACE Fellows Program

American Council on Education - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 02:30
ACE has selected 33 emerging college and university leaders for the 2016-17 Class of the ACE Fellows Program, the longest running leadership development program in the United States.

Aus: familiar faces in new gov’t ministry

The PIE News - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 01:56

A week after the government’s surprise re-election, Australian international educators have received further continuity after the announcement that all but one position overseeing the country’s education sectors remain unchanged.

Announced by prime minister Scott Morrison, the new cabinet sees Dan Tehan retain the education portfolio and Michaelia Cash remain as employment and skills minister, a move welcomed by the higher and vocational education sectors.

“The coming three years presents Australia with a real opportunity”

“We see continuity as paramount in what are turbulent geopolitical times when it has never been more important to ensure policy stability in the areas of defence, trade and education,” said chief executive of the Group of Eight Vicki Thomson.

“All portfolios the Go8 contributes to by way of research, international engagement and educating the future workforce required to underpin our national economy.”

The only change in terms of education, Steve Irons was announced as assistant minister for vocational education, training and apprenticeships within the employment and skills portfolio. He replaced Karen Andrews, who retained her science and technology portfolio.

“The coming three years presents Australia with a real opportunity to restructure the tertiary education system so that there is greater integration between the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors,” said Troy Williams, chief executive of Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia.

“Quality is very much front and centre of ITECA’s culture and that of our members; however, it’s clear that there is a significant degree of regulatory overreach that’s doing little to support quality student outcomes.”

With ministerial positions overseeing education remaining consistent, the focus of the past eighteen months will also likely remain the same for both educators and the government in the near future.

Ongoing government directives have seen an increased focus on regional education, including boosting the number of international students outside of metropolitan areas, as well as concerns around English proficiency.

The Regional Universities Network welcomed Tehan’s reappointment, with chair Helen Bartlett saying the organisation looked forward to the future implementation of the National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy.

Universities Australia, which has been combatting successive funding cuts within the university sector, meanwhile pledged to continue to work towards increasing access to higher education, and reminded Tehan of his comments that it was “the great enabler”.

The post Aus: familiar faces in new gov’t ministry appeared first on The PIE News.

Questions raised over the true burden of the 'big deal'

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 00:00

A growing number of U.S. institutions are not renewing their bundled journal subscriptions with big publishers, citing rising costs that have made these deals unsustainable.

Louisiana State University recently said that it could no longer afford its $2 million annual comprehensive journal subscription deal with publisher Elsevier. By unbundling its "big deal" and subscribing to only the most essential journals, the institution's administrators hope to save the library $1 million a year. LSU is far from the first institution to complain that publishers’ subscription costs are too high. The University of California system, Temple University, West Virginia University, the University of Oklahoma and Florida State University all announced this year that they are dropping big deal contracts with various publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature.

But one skeptic is challenging the conventional wisdom about high subscription rates and raising doubts about big deals not being good deals.

Kent Anderson, CEO of publishing and data analytics company RedLink, has argued that the subscription model is actually “pretty efficient” for institutions.

"It’s actually pretty amazing that thousands of students at colleges and universities -- as well as instructors and researchers -- can in most cases get access to much of the world’s developing knowledge for less than a penny on every dollar spent by institutions of higher learning," he wrote on The Scholarly Kitchen, a blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing.

Anderson knows about the costs because earlier this year he conducted an analysis that determined that academic libraries generally devote about one-third of their budgets to subscription purchases, with an average cost per title of $23.48 for public universities and colleges and $18.74 for private institutions.

Looking at subscription costs as a percentage of total institutional budget, Anderson found that universities spend approximately 0.5 percent of their total budget on subscriptions.

At the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, for example, it would cost each in-state undergraduate student $26 a year to gain access to all the journals to which the university subscribes. Anderson's analysis determined that 99.81 percent of students' tuition payments go elsewhere.

For public institutions, the highest share of their budgets applied to journal subscriptions was 1.4 percent, and the lowest share was 0.19 percent. At private institutions, the highest share was 1.56 percent and the lowest was 0.09 percent.

“Rather than blaming publishers for budget woes as they themselves deal with unprecedented volumes of submissions, higher technology and infrastructure demands, these data to me hint that we might want to celebrate the fact that such vast amounts of knowledge are so affordable. From these data, it looks like site licenses are raindrops in the rivers of institutional spending,” Anderson wrote.

The percentage spent on subscription costs may sound insignificant as a portion of the total university budget, but it can still represent millions of dollars, said Ted Bergstrom, the Aaron and Cherie Raznick Chair of Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“If an embezzler embezzles less than 1 percent of a company’s revenue, does that mean we shouldn’t worry about the embezzler?” he said. “We are still talking about serious money. It’s not going to kill the universities to pay off these monopolists, but it doesn’t make sense to submit to them.”

Anderson acknowledged in his article that library budgets are tight, but he wrote that it “doesn’t look like subscription costs are stressing institutions themselves.”

Camille Veillette Péclet, collections director at Université de Montréal Libraries, disagreed with Anderson’s assertion that subscription costs place a “surprisingly low burden” on institutions.

“Any subscription cost or cost increase for an institution is accounted for in its budget and has a financial impact on other institutional expenditures, such as book purchases, new resources, scholarships, etc.,” she said.

Anderson said in an email that he was not in a position to label any part of a university budget as superfluous. He said he was surprised to learn, however, that many smaller institutions didn’t have budgets of millions of dollars, but tens or even hundreds of millions.

“Universities have been asked to do a lot more for students, parents and communities. Their budgets have grown commensurate with these demands,” he said. Libraries, on the other hand, may still be suffering from an old image problem and may be seen as “musty, dusty places rather than the digital hubs of knowledge for their institution.”

“Recast and updated, the mental model of the library as the conduit to reliable new information might help libraries retain and even increase their budgets so that they aren’t forced to make draconian cuts or difficult choices,” said Anderson.

Many librarians argue it is not necessarily the cost of journal subscriptions that is the problem, but the fact that their pricing is increasing rapidly and at above the rate of inflation. At Louisiana State, for example, the institution has a $6 million annual serials budget. With price increases of 5 percent, the library must find $300,000 in new funding each year.

For members of the Association of Research Libraries, expenditures for subscriptions increased 521 percent from 1986 to 2015, said Péclet. She noted that five academic publishers maintain profit margins of 40 percent annually.

“By paying their subscription costs, institutions inevitably contribute to these profit margins,” she said.

Anderson noted that publishers are producing 4 percent more articles each year but making only 2 percent more in revenue.

“The growth of article outputs is above inflation, and article review, rejection, editing, product and publication drives costs,” he said. “More articles are being generated because there are more scientists and scholars producing work. This hits everyone.”

Lisa Hinchliffe, professor and coordinator of information literacy services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the percentage of total institutional budget is not a particularly useful frame for examining the cost, or the value, of subscriptions.

Librarians often determine the value of a journal by balancing its cost against the need it meets, said Hinchliffe. "Spending even $1 for something that is not needed is a waste. Spending $10,000 that meets $1 million in need is probably a pretty good deal."

Libraries tend to use cost per use as a metric of value for journal subscriptions, but Hinchliffe has argued that even this metric can overstate value, because libraries may be paying for content that is available for free.

The rise in open-access publishing has decreased the value of subscription deals as more content is available for free, said Roger Schonfeld, director of the libraries, scholarly communication and museums program at Ithaka S+R.

Schonfeld says the main reason the value of the big deal is in decline is because of something he calls “leakage,” the availability of journal content through channels not controlled by publishers.

Piracy site Sci-Hub is one service through which content is “leaking,” he said. But there are other sources of content leaks that are not illicit. Institutional repositories, for example, are an accepted part of the scholarly publishing ecosystem.

“The big deal as a bundled subscription model is definitely under threat,” said Schonfeld. “Most of all from the fact that the libraries are less interested in just subscriptions -- they want read-and-publish or publish-and-read agreements that capture the full stack of publishing services.”

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New study shows continued use of stereotypical imagery has negative effect on charitable donations and inclusion at universities

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 00:00

Colleges reluctant to end the use of Native American and other mascots deemed offensive often cite fears that getting rid of the icons could hurt fund-raising. But a new study shows that failing to phase out prejudicial mascots can have a negative impact on donations and students' feelings of belonging.

The study by researchers at Yale University focuses on an unnamed Midwestern university -- clearly referring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- which officially ended the use of a stereotypical Native American mascot known as “the Chief” but had not replaced the mascot. The study showed that images of the mascot persisted in 50 percent of spaces on campus and more than 10 percent of clothing worn by students.

“The imagery is present on campus, and because of that you have the option and opportunity to purchase the imagery,” said Michael Kraus, a co-author of the study and assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale. “When you don’t replace the mascot, what other imagery do you have to show your school spirit or link up to sporting events? Then it takes on a normative place in the community.”

The study of the persistence of the imagery was conducted by observing students and students’ clothing at various locations across campus, as well as examining results when searching campus athletics online. Another experiment in the study found that exposure to this imagery reduced feelings of belongingness among students, particularly students of color.

“More broadly, I think you could think of a mascot as sending a signal about what this place is going to be like and whether it’s going to be welcoming and whom it’s going to be welcoming to,” Kraus said. The failure to replace the mascot, and its continued presence on clothing, Kraus said, “sends a message to students that they are less central to the campus.”

Researchers in the study also found that exposure to the prejudicial imagery reduced the likelihood of an individual donating to that university by 5.5 percent. The study asked those surveyed to split a $2 donation among several universities, some after being exposed to the imagery of the Chief at Urbana-Champaign.

In 2006 the NCAA aggressively pursued changes to these mascots and images at universities across the country, instituting prohibitions on displaying “hostile or abusive” imagery. Since then, many universities have found new mascots. Those who pushed back against this shift often said the mascot played a role in the tradition of the university and changing could alienate donors.

Though the findings in the Yale study did not survey alumni or university donors, the reactions of residents in Illinois showed a potential for more donors should the university make larger efforts to reduce the stereotypical imagery. Research scales were used to determine an individual's explicit and implicit tendencies, and those who rated on the lower ends of a prejudicial scale were less likely to see the university favorably.

“From our data, we see that this decrease in donation is especially among people who are lower in prejudice,” said Xanni Brown, a Yale Ph.D. student and co-author of the study. “Perhaps changing these mascots changes who the sorts of people are who are contributing to the university.”

In the American Indian College Fund’s Declaration of Native Purpose in Higher Education, the group writes that several college campuses have mascots that “reinforce racism and white supremacy” and that evaluating this imagery is critical to creating a welcoming space at the university.

Kraus and Brown said creating new university symbolism and imagery in the wake of removing the stereotypical imagery creates a more inclusive environment, as the new imagery takes the place of the old.

“Practically, that means stopping selling clothing with this type of imagery on it and spending time getting investment from the community broadly and deciding what a new symbol and new mascot could be for the school and putting effort into putting it out there and getting people on board,” Brown said. “Symbols are powerful for these sorts of institutions, and you can pick a new one.”

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Research focuses on national policies supporting the internationalization of higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 00:00

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A report released Wednesday at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators annual conference looks at national policies supporting the internationalization of higher education in the Americas.

The report -- “The Shape of Global Higher Education: The Americas” -- focuses on national policies in the U.S. and Canada as well as four Latin American countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. It was released by NAFSA in conjunction with the British Council and builds on a similar report the council released this month focused primarily on national higher education policies in Europe.

The researchers score countries on 37 indicators variously related to their internationalization strategies, their policies on student and academic mobility and research, their policies on transnational higher education, their policies relating to quality assurance and credential evaluation, and funding support for student and faculty mobility.

Out of 20 countries compared in the report, the Netherlands has the highest overall score, followed by Germany, Ireland, Australia and Poland. Canada ranks 10th out of 20, and the U.S. 13th. The four Latin American countries rank 17th through 20th.

However, Alex Usher, the main author of the report and the president of the Toronto-based Higher Education Strategy Associates, emphasized in a presentation Wednesday that the metrics in the study favor European countries in their assumptions. For example, one indicator, regarding foreign degree recognition, asks whether “the process taken by national academic recognition bodies in recognizing foreign qualifications [is] clear, transparent and consistent?” In the U.S., unlike in Europe, credential evaluation is not taken by a national recognition body but instead by individual colleges and universities.

Similarly, another indicator asks about governmental efforts to sign new bilateral agreements with foreign education ministries on higher education collaboration. In the U.S. individual colleges and universities generally take the lead in forging partnerships with their foreign counterparts.

“The assumption is that governments are the prime mover in internationalization policy, and for a whole bunch of reasons that’s not true in Canada or the United States -- it really is institutions that are the driving force,” Usher said. “If you take out a lot of that stuff around where it’s government or institutions, whether it’s decentralized or centralized, actually Canada and the U.S. don’t look that different than Europe on most of these measures.”

Indeed, the report concludes, “In the main, this analysis finds the six countries in the Americas chosen for this study -- Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the United States -- to all rate slightly lower on our measures of support for international engagement in [higher education] than other national systems with comparable levels of national income (as measured by GDP). In Canada and the U.S., this may not be due to lesser interest in internationalization so much as a different set of institutions and approaches: labor market institutions and credential evaluation are more market-driven, HE policy is more decentralized and the impetus for internationalization lies more with colleges and universities than with governments. But in Canada and the U.S., the drive to attract more international students is strong, albeit mainly for financial reasons. There is therefore little reason to expect that either country will see its scores fall in the near future, though equally their different institutional structures may make it difficult to rise much, either.”

“In the less wealthy Latin American countries, the story is slightly different,” the report continues. “The ability of these countries to attract foreign students is diminished both by the lack of ‘prestige’ institutions and by the fact that very few courses are available in English. That said, any of the three Spanish-speaking countries could become a regional hub for IHE in Spanish because of the large Spanish-speaking Latin American market; Brazil’s attractiveness is diminished further by being several thousand kilometers from any other Portuguese-speaking nations. However, as each of these countries moves closer to having services-based knowledge economies, the need for domestic universities to act as economic drivers will increase and, for that to happen, these institutions’ research strength will need to be increased. One therefore suspects that the emphasis on internationalization in these countries in the years to come will be with respect to international faculty cooperation, or on increased outbound mobility for graduate or postdoctoral students.”

NAFSA also released a separate report on Wednesday about the decline in new international enrollments in the U.S. The report, titled "Losing Talent: An Economic and Foreign Policy Risk America Can't Ignore," cites data from the annual Open Doors report showing two consecutive years of declines in new international enrollments at U.S. colleges and notes survey data showing that "institutions continue to report that prospective international students and their families are concerned about U.S. federal policies and rhetoric on immigration, along with apprehensions of personal safety and tense race relations."

The report also cites Project Atlas data showing that the U.S. share of globally mobile students fell from 28 percent in 2001 to 22 percent in 2018. "We are losing our market share of international students and scholars, while many other countries are proactively introducing national policies and marketing strategies in order to attract these talented individuals," the report says.

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Scholars fear for future of academic freedom in Italy

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 00:00

Calls by Italy’s far-right governing party for a book about it to be removed from a university reading list have been met with limited resistance, Italian academics have warned, opening the door for further attacks on academic freedom in the future.

Last month, a regional branch of the League, part of Italy’s governing coalition and currently the country’s most popular party, demanded the removal of La Lega di Salvini from the reading list of a course taught by a political science professor at the University of Bologna.

The branch objected to the book’s description of the party as “extreme right” and to its criticisms of Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and Italy’s deputy prime minister.

Academics have a duty of loyalty to the state, and universities should not be places of political “propaganda,” party representatives argued in the Emilia-Romagna regional assembly.

Gianluca Passarelli, a political scientist at Sapienza University of Rome and co-author of the book, told Times Higher Education that his biggest surprise had been how little reaction there had been in Italy to such an attack.

“From a media point of view, there has been no attention,” he said.

The book, published in September 2018, draws on surveys and policy documents to examine the party, which entered government last June in coalition alongside the antiestablishment Five Star Movement.

In a sense, the book’s content is “quite banal,” Passarelli said, because calling the League “extreme right” was hardly controversial in academic literature and was something that the authors had done before in previous research.

“The fact that they tried to silence our book meant that they … do not accept their identity,” he said. Passarelli added that the incident illustrated that the League was attempting to “deny the freedom of research.”

The League’s attack on the book was “worrying,” said Andrea Mammone, a history lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a commentator on Italy’s far right. It was “one of the first times that someone is challenging an academic book," he said. “They are actually criticizing researchers … They want to shut down opinions.”

Whether the League would continue to attack academic research “depends on the reaction of society and mainstream politics,” Mammone said. “For me, there was not enough reaction.”

Despite the League’s objections, Passarelli’s book has remained on the reading list. There have been no further developments since the initial attack, a University of Bologna spokesman said. Nor has the Italian government enacted any concrete policies to limit academic freedom, said Mammone. The country’s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research is led by an independent, Marco Bussetti.

But Salvini has stoked antiacademic sentiment by repeatedly disparaging the professoroni: know-it-all, elitist experts who, he claims, oppose his policies. “I’m worried about their overall approach,” Mammone said, because the League sees academic freedom as a “leftist bastion.”

“The Italian academy is strong,” said Passarelli. “We are not scared of the League, frankly. The problem is that they do not like universities. They assume that we are lazy, that we do not do anything” and “do not produce anything useful to the country,” he warned.

League representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Visa Woes, Politics, and Fears of Violence Are Keeping International Students Away, Report Warns

Nafsa, the international-education association, reiterated fears that the social and political climate in the United States is deterring foreign students and hurting the economy.

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Origins of an Admissions-Bribery Mastermind Are Buried in a Confidential Report

The U. of California at Los Angeles questioned Rick Singer, who orchestrated a vast criminal admissions scheme, in 2014.

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: How Xenophobia Affects Higher Education

Sarah Todd, vice president (global) of Griffith University, in Australia, and president of the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education, talks about xenophobia and its effects on internati

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: Public Colleges Seek Ways to Pull Up the Welcome Mat for White-Nationalist and Other Extremist Speakers

The institutions are rethinking policies that allow provocateurs, eager to test the limits of free speech or just to make trouble, to appear even though no one on campus invited them.

Portugal sees Brazilian student boom, with more than 12,000 in higher ed

The PIE News - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 06:11

A growing interest in studying abroad, ease of obtaining a visa and the absence of a language barrier have led to a boom of Brazilian students in Portuguese universities.

Recent data shared by the government showed that 12,200 Brazilians enrolled in the Portuguese higher education system in 2017, the most numerous nationality among 42,500 international students.

“In comparison to other countries, Portugal is still much cheaper”

In 2006, data showed 1,900 Brazilian students enrolled in Portugal, meaning numbers have grown by 540% over the last decade.

This was part of a general trend seeing Brazilian nationals moving to Portugal, as Foreign and Frontiers Service (SEF) reported there were 85,400 Brazilians living in the country in 2017, by far the biggest foreign community.

The Portuguese government has eased the student visa process with initiatives such as reducing compliance costs and using ICT to deliver better public services.

For Brazilian students, the process is even easier as more than 30 Portuguese universities accept the National Secondary School Examination (ENEM) for admission.

Research by Uniplaces, a service designed for students to book accommodation, shows Brazilians as the most numerous nationality, making up 15% of the international student body.

The total number of foreign nationals in Portugal has been increasing year after year, as well as the number of applicants for residency permits in the country – reaching 416,600 in 2017.

“It is much harder to be admitted [to] Brazilian universities than Portuguese ones. Public universities are not free of costs like in Brazil, but the fees are half of what would cost to study in Brazilian private universities,” said Laura Calasans, a graduate in Universidade Nova, in Lisbon.

“In comparison to other countries, Portugal is still much cheaper, as the cost of living is quite reasonable.”

There is a chance for students to pay even less for private education – as much as a Portuguese national – because of the Equality Treaty signed by both Brazilian and Portuguese governments.

The numbers are still going up despite cuts to educational programs funded by the Brazilian government such as Science Without Borders. Recently, the Brazilian government announced further budget cuts to the education system, a move which caused widespread protests all around the country.

“Whoever comes from Brazil to Portugal has the advantages of a country that operates a low social inequality, has access to the rest of Europe and is offered a better quality of life than in most Brazilian cities,” said Bruna Franceschini, a PhD student in Coimbra University.

Franceschini first arrived in Portugal as a master’s student in 2013 and has since noticed a profile change in Brazilian students: from applicants interested in masters and PhD to graduates driven by the personal goal of living abroad or to escape difficult times in Brazil.

However, waves of immigration are not met without resistance.

“It is much harder to be admitted [to] Brazilian universities than Portuguese ones”

At the end of April, Brazilian students found an insulting scene at the halls of Lisbon University: a gift shop was set up selling rocks. An explanatory sign said that the rocks were free to be thrown at ‘Zucas’ – a pejorative way of referring to ‘brazucas’ or Brazilians.

Speaking to the Brazilian news Consultor Juridico the dean of Lisbon University Carlos Brancos de Morais stated that the incident should not spoil the academic cooperation in the institution.

“There is an institute in the University focused on the cooperation with Brazil. We have research projects, PhD with shared tutelage, common collective work.

“I am sorry that cooperation built over years between students and professors of both countries might have been temporarily confused by the action of an irresponsible group,” said the dean.

The post Portugal sees Brazilian student boom, with more than 12,000 in higher ed appeared first on The PIE News.

ESU IPSC winner crowned in London

The PIE News - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 03:02

The winner of the International Publish Speaking Competition organised by the English Speaking Union was named at the Royal Institution in May after a grand final featuring speeches by finalists from Spain, China, Lithuania, Australia and Philippines.

Ennio Campoli Patak from Spain was crowned winner, while Australian Justin Lai finished as runner-up. Together with the other finalists, John Rafael Faustino from the Philippines, Greta Pangonyte from Lithuania and Fan Yuehang and Yixian Chen from China, they spoke to a packed auditorium on the theme “nature is a common language.”

“Many Asian education systems are starting to recognise the importance of soft skills”

The grand final was the culmination of an intense week of competitions and coaching, which saw the ESU national public speaking champions from dozens of countries gather in London.

“What you have seen here is a culmination of what they have learnt,” director of education Duncan Partridge told The PIE, praising the international dimension of the experience.

“Young people are understanding that international and cultural differences are there, but they are not really important,” he added.

Christa Lai from the Hong Kong Schools of Music and Speech Association, who accompanied two contestants from Hong Kong, also agreed that the competition gives students more than just public speaking skills.

“Such an international competition gives them an experience and exposure to different kinds of people, so it helps them know the world better and also understand what they want to study,” she told The PIE.

Launched in 1980, the IPSC reaches over 1m young people in 50 countries across the globe in a quest to promote public speaking and oracy skills among young people.

Partridge explained that these have a different weight in each education system, depending on cultural and political factors, with interest in Asian countries rapidly rising.

“Many Asian education systems are starting to recognise the importance of these soft skills, and particularly China,” he explained.

The post ESU IPSC winner crowned in London appeared first on The PIE News.

Anne Fox, freelance Consultant & Teacher, Denmark

The PIE News - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 01:55
Anne Fox, a freelance consultant and teacher at Norwegian University of Technology, told The PIE about her experience adapting Diversophy, a conversation card game, to bring refugees and locals together in Denmark – and how language schools and universities could use it.


The PIE: Can you tell us more about Diversophy, and how you started using it?

Anne Fox: I have quite a long history of exploring the intercultural communication side of things – for example, I have been running a podcast called ‘Absolutely Intercultural’ since 2006 – and one of the big organisations in the field of intercultural communication is SIETAR (the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research).

One of the eminent people in SIETAR is George Simons, and George developed a game in the 60s that had its origins in the civil rights movement in the US at the time, to try and get students talking to each other in halls of residence in America where he was based.

“The refugees here are under huge pressure to get a job”

He then adapted the game for business people moving to other countries as part of their acculturation training. The game was hugely successful and when the refugee crisis started in 2015 he was about to celebrate his 80th birthday, and he thought it was time to give something back

When the refugee crisis started he thought the game could be adapted to promote communication between refugees and the native population, and he put out a call for collaboration. Initially, he started working with a university in Finland and they did the first version and then they put out a call for further collaboration. I was in Denmark volunteering in an asylum seeker centre as well as helping refugees settle in my local village, and with my background, I thought that would be a good idea.

I teamed up with an intercultural consultant, and we decided we would adapt the game. George Simons has a version of his business game for many different countries across the world but he didn’t have Denmark, so we had to start from scratch. Our idea was that we knew that in Denmark networking in order to get a job is really important and the refugees here are under huge pressure to get a job as soon as possible although they just don’t have that network.

By creating the game we could maybe make a small step towards creating connections between natives and refugees. This is how it started.

The PIE: How did you adapt the game?

AF: We applied to the Ministry of Integration for money to be able to translate it and test it, because one of the features of the game is that it’s multilingual, and we decided, in the end, to make the cards in Danish, English and Arabic. With funding from the ministry, we could get a translator and create events to test it out.

The first event was in a Danish folk high school (a uniquely Danish phenomenon, a residential education centre for adults). We tried it out there because we allied ourselves with our local folk high school which at the time was focused on culture and teaching Danish and would receive refugees for periods of three months to learn Danish. We had their students and invited Danes who came and tested the game for us.

“We always tried to include a food element, because that tends to make things run more smoothly”

We were trying to develop the game in a way that would benefit everybody. We had one principle: everybody in the room was equal. It’s not the Danes saying “this is the way it is in Denmark,” it is 50% learning about Danish culture but also 50% learning about the refugee culture. So that’s one of the principles that we were very firm on.

We had four events in the end, and at each event we always tried to include a food element, because that tends to make things run more smoothly, and because our take on the game was creating connections.

We also developed a way to have an element at the end where we tried to get people to share their wants and wishes – a giving and receiving tree, we called it – so people could go up to this graphic of a tree and hang Post-Its on one of its branches that said things like “I’d be happy to offer a cup of coffee,” or “I have too many apples in my garden, you are free to come and pick them” or “I’d like to learn Danish conversation, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to practise”, so we wanted to create a sort of exchange at the end.

We tried to make them public events: these are not courses or classes, they were public events to test the game.

The PIE: How did you get people to join in?

AF: It was difficult for us to get Danes and refugees together, for lots of reasons. One reason is that the refugees tended to cluster in their own networks, and so I think they are afraid to come out, which is understandable, so we had to work out how to get refugees to come. But the people that came to our session were very positive.

“I think that international students are still often quite disconnected from the home students”

They really appreciated the game and the exchange, and there was a lot of conversation – that would be of interest to language teachers.

It really does promote conversation. We allied ourselves for two of the events with a Food Waste project, where volunteers go around the supermarkets once a month collecting food waste, and then they bring what they collected to an agreed venue and then volunteers decide what they are going to do and cook it and then everybody can come for a free meal.

We thought this was an ideal setting for testing the game. After the evening one of the Danish participants said: “oh, it’s so nice to do something where you are not just talking about the weather!”

It was more difficult than we had anticipated because food is normally something that brings people together, but there are cultural differences of course that we had to be aware of and ensure that the food was acceptable to all.

The PIE: How can this be used for language teaching?

AF: It’s not for beginners, but we tried to help by having other languages on the cards. If you were in an English setting you would have perhaps more leeway to add more languages. I think this is not the only game that acts as a conversation prompt. There are many more. These games seem to work.

“The game gives people a voice”

When you put a room full of strangers together it can be difficult to start the conversation, and this really does work – I saw it work at IATEFL as well! There was some really animated conversation. It means that people are engaged in the content of the conversation and I think what you saw at IATEFL was that it makes people want to communicate. This is not by any means a structured grammar-led exercise, not at all, but as a conversation exercise,  and people seem to be very engaged in it.

The PIE: How could it be applied to universities?

AF: It would be great as an intro activity, I think that international students are still often quite disconnected from the home students, and I don’t think one game is going to work miracles, but if it was part of the program perhaps it would fit very well at the beginning of the session, as an ice breaker. I think it helps you learn something and it does help you understand more about the people around you. From that point of view, it’s helpful.

Everybody in the room is equal – the game gives people a voice. It makes what they know important, and from that point of view, it’s very useful.

The post Anne Fox, freelance Consultant & Teacher, Denmark appeared first on The PIE News.

Erasmus+ program not a “one-trick pony”, reports indicate

The PIE News - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 01:42

Students who partake in the European Commission’s principal exchange project – the Erasmus+ program – say they are more prepared for work than those who did not complete the program, and that it boosts a European sense of belonging, according to two new studies.

Based on feedback from nearly 77,000 students and staff and more than 500 organisations, the studies found that enrolling on the Erasmus+ program helped students find desired careers and get jobs quickly, and the program supports digital transformation and social inclusion.

“Erasmus+ graduates feel more ready to take on new challenges and have better career prospects”

Around 80% of Erasmus+ alumni were employed within three months of graduation, and 72% noted their experience abroad helped them get their first job.

Nine in 10 Erasmus+ students indicated they improved their ability to work with people from different cultures and felt they had a European identity, the reports showed.

Universities participating in Erasmus+ cooperation projects strengthen their international cooperation and innovation capacity by making use of new technologies and innovative teaching and learning methods.

More than 80% of academics reported that experience abroad helped develop more innovative curricula, while two out of three participating universities stated EU-wide projects contribute to increasing social inclusion and non-discrimination in HE.

“Erasmus+ graduates feel more ready to take on new challenges, have better career prospects and are more aware of the benefits the EU brings to their daily lives,” Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics said.

“At the same time, universities that take part in Erasmus+ are not only more international but also better placed to respond to the needs of the world of work,” he added.

The Erasmus+ is not a “one-trick pony”, director of Erasmus+ National Agency Higher Education at Germany’s DAAD Klaus Birk explained.

“It helps students job opportunities, it supports personal development and it leads to greater identification with Europe,” he told The PIE News.

“Many politicians have called Erasmus the most important and successful EU program,” Birk said, adding that 93% of students in Germany are registered at universities which participate in Erasmus.

“But there are still students who do not know about all the benefits and are reluctant to study abroad, mostly because they fear that it could extend their studies, which Erasmus explicitly tries to avoid by urging the universities to accept the learning outcomes of the partner universities (learning agreements, ECTS).”

Three points for improvement include simplification and less bureaucracy, inclusion, and the extension of the international dimension, Birk concluded.

Speaking with The PIE, director of SEPIE in Spain, Coral Martínez Iscar said the conclusions of the reports were “positive as an impact of what has been done and positive as a prospect of the near future”.

“This is a program that is 31 years old and we hope that it will have a very long life”

As well as helping students and teachers “find their path”, the program also enables them to have a “better perspective for the near future” while the international experience lets them become familiar with other cultures.

“[International experiences] reinforce the so-called social skills, which are so important right now because most people that are studying right now are studying for jobs that actually don’t exist [yet],” Martínez Iscar said.

“Erasmus+ also allows universities to get the gist of what they should be doing and what their role is. The impact study says that the Erasmus+ program allows them to be more inclusive, be more innovative, and to get a hold of what students and teachers need, such as digitisation,” she added.

Nevertheless, there are always areas of improvement Martínez Iscar noted.

“This is a program that is 31 years old and we hope that it will have a very long life. So there are areas we have to improve,” she said.

The Commission announced the program’s budget will be doubled, with the aim of tripling mobility numbers, Martínez Iscar also pointed out.

However, like Birk, she added that it needs to be more user-friendly.

“[We need to] reduce bureaucracy so that every participant feels that it’s not a very big burden bureaucracy-wise to participate,” she said, while another key area is making social inclusion a reality.

“This is a program that is 31 years old and we hope that it will have a very long life”

“By 2021, the European Universities Initiative should be up and running, which will boost the competitiveness of European higher education.”

Vice-president of the European Students’ Union Katrina Koppel welcomed the iterations of the Erasmus+ program as a “force for good for education in Europe”, but that the report lacked critical perspectives.

“Currently, Erasmus mobilities are difficult to access for students with disabilities, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, those with dependants etc,” Koppel said.

These groups could “benefit from Erasmus the most”, she argued, adding, “Unemployment and lack of sense of belonging remain the largest issues for those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

The ESU encourages the Commission to be more self-critical on this issue, she added.

The post Erasmus+ program not a “one-trick pony”, reports indicate appeared first on The PIE News.

Professor resigns from Louisiana College over its lack of response to an offensive sermon

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 00:00

A professor of Hebrew and the Old Testament at Louisiana College has resigned to protest a sermon given in February by a dean at a required chapel service for students. The professor says the dean, Joshua Dara, insulted women in multiple ways that are not Christian or compassionate and that show extreme sexism.

The professor, who was present at the sermon, said that Dara said women were turning themselves into a "crack house" by having multiple sex partners. And Dara encouraged women to "mow your lawn," an apparent reference to their pubic hair. According to the professor and others present, awkward laughter was followed by many women saying they felt they had been demeaned, a topic that carried over into classroom discussions. Russell Meek, the professor who resigned, said he was leaving to protest the failure of the college to criticize Dara and thus offer support to female students. Meek provided email messages about the incident to Inside Higher Ed and also to Bayou Brief, a nonprofit journalism organization that wrote about the situation on Sunday.

The emails show that Meek complained repeatedly to Louisiana officials, telling them about the impact that the sermon had on students. And they show that the college viewed this as a case of "differences in cultural perceptions."

An email to the campus from Norman Miller, chief spokesman for the college, said that "there was never any intent to be insensitive." Miller said that Dara's talk "was evidence of differences in cultural perceptions and nomenclatures." He added, however, that "the highly respected" Dara wanted to offer a response to "those whose sensitivities were transgressed."

Dara's email, sent with Miller's and addressed to students, then said, "I am sorry to hear that some of you were offended by the tone of my preaching at the chapel this week. I am grateful that you brought this issue to my attention and I ask your forgiveness. It was never my intention to cause anyone distress. Next time, I'll be sure to weigh my warped sense of humor against my sense of propriety and choose something that isn't controversial."

Dara did not respond to a voice mail or an email asking for comment. Miller did not respond to email messages seeking comment, or voice mail messages to his office number or a mobile number that the Louisiana president's office said would reach him. He also did not respond to Bayou Brief.

In a phone interview, Meek said that the sermon wasn't bad because it was controversial or an example of poor use of humor. He said it was a direct attack on female students, coming from a senior administrator at the college.

When Dara spoke, Meek said "my mouth just dropped open. It was shocking." He said female students immediately started asking questions in class about whether the college believed that, if they had had sex, they could not hope to be married and live fulfilling family lives. "The students were very upset," he said.

Dara's sermon at the Baptist college came just days after "Abuse of Faith," a major investigation by The Houston Chronicle and The San-Antonio Express News on hundreds of incidents of sexual misconduct by Southern Baptist pastors, deacons and others. The series documented cases involving 700 victims.

Meek said the series should have prompted soul-searching by Baptist institutions about how their church has treated women. "And then this junk is spewed," he said, in reference to the sermon.

In a letter to Louisiana's president, Rick Brewer, Meek wrote, "Dara delivered a public message in chapel, at the least implicitly endorsed by those who gave him the platform to do so, in which he reduced women to sexual objects and communicated that their value was in how many sexual partners they had. Yes, this is offensive. Yes, this is a false gospel. And yes, this message was delivered publicly as biblical truth … The fruits of misogyny are abuse. Physical, verbal, sexual abuse. Men are told that women are objects for their pleasure. Women are told that their value is in their sexuality and physical appearance. And all this is presented as true. As the Southern Baptist Convention reckons with the current sexual abuse scandal, we must address institutions that foster the teaching and worldview that engenders such abuse."

Meek also wrote, "Let me state this clearly: No woman is a crackhouse. No woman exists for the pleasure of a man. No woman's value is in her physical appearance. The Bible is very clear about this."

Wade Burleson, a pastor and writer, has been blogging and tweeting about the situation at Louisiana College. He posted the following to Twitter as word spread that Meek was leaving the college over its refusal to take action against Dara.

The time has come for Southern Baptists to stop protecting our own and call a spade a spade, no matter how much we like the individual or the institution. https://t.co/nBBXFIRBBk #sbc19 #ChurchToo #LouisianaCollege #AbuseofFaith #MeToo

— Wade Burleson (@Wade_Burleson) May 19, 2019

One student who asked not to be identified described being at chapel for the sermon and feeling hurt by the college ever since. In class right after the sermon, the student said "everyone felt uneasy in their own skin" because of what had been said. As for Meek, the student said that he was showing courage, even if it meant the professor would no longer be at the college. "You don't have to die on a hill, but if you pick one to die on, dying on the hill of sexism and misogyny is a good one," the student said.

Some students have also been taking to social media to praise Meek and to say that they felt hurt by the way the college didn't take seriously the way they felt after the sermon.

As a student of this institution who enrolled because I felt safe and loved there, I now feel the opposite way. I’m glad someone is speaking out to try and get LC back to what it could be. https://t.co/GIH6iVsRyn

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Fears about athletics, sexual violence and transparency abound as Michigan State names new president

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 00:00

As it recovers from one of the most bruising sexual assault scandals in the history of academe, Michigan State University has picked Samuel Stanley Jr., a medical doctor and leader of the research-intensive Stony Brook University, as its new president.

Stanley has served at Stony Brook, one of the most prestigious institutions in the State University of New York system, since 2009. He is being brought on as Michigan State navigates the fallout from the case of Larry Nassar, a former university physician who sexually abused hundreds of female athletes. Nassar was found guilty and jailed for molesting not only college women but also gymnasts on the U.S. Olympic teams.

Michigan State's leaders portrayed Stanley's selection as a fresh start as they announced his appointment, which begins on Aug. 1 and was approved unanimously.

“Dr. Stanley is an empowering, compassionate and thoughtful leader, who will work tirelessly alongside our students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and broader Spartan community to meet the challenges we face together and build our future,” Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement. The university noted that he is a representative on the United Nations' He for She campaign, which promotes gender equity.

But skepticism abounded in some quarters. Stanley, who will be paid $800,000 a year, was picked in a confidential search, in which the trustees refused to describe their process or allow the public to meet with finalists. This decision seemingly widened the divide between mistrustful students and professors and the institutional leaders who were accused of ignoring campus sexual assault and the underlying issues that allowed Nassar to operate for so long. Stanley’s predecessor, the former president Lou Anna Simon, faces felony criminal charges for lying to police about how much she knew about Nassar.

This meant that activists who sought reforms around sexual assault and transparency said they couldn’t judge Stanley yet, though he pledged at the trustees’ meeting to sit down with Nassar’s victims and their families.

“The job of the president is going be much harder now because [the trustees] left us where we were before: with a lack of trust,” said Andaluna Borcila, a member of advocacy group Reclaim MSU and an associate professor at James Madison College, the university's public affairs college.

Many observers on the Michigan State campus declined to offer opinions on Stanley's credentials. But his learning curve will likely be steep. At more than 50,300 students, Michigan State’s enrollment is nearly double that of Stony Brook’s roughly 26,250 students (with 17,500 or so undergraduates).

Perhaps more significantly, Michigan State is a member of the powerhouse Big Ten conference, one of the wealthiest college sports leagues, which has in recent years been defined by its controversies as much as its winning records and lucrative television contracts. In addition to Michigan State's travails, the University of Maryland at College Park’s president stepped down after a player died following practice and investigators discovered the institution’s football program was plagued with widespread coaching abuse. Ohio State University recently announced the results of an investigation, which found that a former university doctor sexually assaulted nearly 200 young male athletes. And last year, Urban Meyer, Ohio State's former head football coach, came under fire for failing to report his deputy’s alleged domestic abuse.

Stanley will go from running an athletics department with a roughly $32 million budget to one that exceeds $126 million in revenue, according to 2016-17 academic year data. And no such scandals have rocked the America East conference, in which Stony Brook participates, leaving the question whether to Stanley is equipped to handle the Big Ten athletics culture.

Some pundits are optimistic, like Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. McPherson praised Stanley’s “thoughtfulness” and said Stanley's time as the vice chancellor for research at Washington University in St. Louis will help him adjust to Midwestern culture.

McPherson said that Stanley will need to learn the complexities of Big Ten sports, but that “strong” coaches will be in place to help run the programs while Stanley can focus on other parts of the university’s operations.

Strong coaches aren't always a boon for presidents, though: coaches in major programs have been criticized for seemingly eclipsing presidents in terms of influence and thus escaping punishment when they err. A major critique of Ohio State’s response to Meyer was that he just received “a slap on the wrist” -- a brief suspension. (Meyer retired earlier this year.)

“The president does have to be engaged enough to know these coaches,” McPherson said. “But he’s clearly focused on safety and has emphasized the safety of students. He’s saying the right words.”

Walter Harrison, president emeritus of the University of Hartford and a former chairman of what is now known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Board of Governors, called Stanley a “brilliant choice.” The board is the NCAA’s top governing body.

As Hartford's president, Harrison worked with Stanley when both were members of America East’s board. Stanley is also a former Board of Governors member.

Even though Stanley has never been in charge of an institution with big-time athletics, he has a “calm and reasoned approach” to addressing ethical dilemmas, Harrison said. The same sort of tensions at Michigan State -- financial pressures, lack of oversight -- exist everywhere in college athletics, though not to the same degree, he said.

Stanley has indicated an interest in boosting Stony Brook's athletic profile. During his tenure, football in 2013 moved into the Colonial Athletic Association, which was a more competitive conference, but still in the lower Division I Football Championship Subdivision. And he managed a $21 million renovation to the basketball arena and a new $10 million indoor practice facility.

Harrison acknowledged that Stanley was stepping into a “boiling cauldron,” but he said that Stanley's status as an outsider would likely benefit him -- and would help break down some of the problematic aspects of Michigan State's culture.

“Part of their issue is that they are so intensely interested in their own affairs,” Harrison said of Michigan State leaders.

Stanley is the first non-Michigan State alumnus to be hired as president since John A. DiBiaggio in 1985. Simon, who was making $50,000 less than Stanley when she resigned in January 2018, spent virtually her entire academic career at the university, starting as a graduate student and being promoted from provost to president in 2005.

Michigan State’s interim president, former state governor John Engler, also a Michigan State alum, was initially picked for his political ties and but quickly angered many on campus with his comments about sexual assault survivors and resigned early.

Stanley’s background -- and Stony Brook’s reputation -- will likely endear him to some campus academics. A Harvard University Medical School graduate, he specializes in infectious diseases and biomedical research. Stony Brook, meanwhile, helps manage Brookhaven National Laboratory, a national nuclear research lab, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. Stanley is the chairman of its board, Brookhaven Science Associates.

This is a similar relationship to Michigan State’s relationship with the Department of Energy and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, located on the East Lansing campus.

“Dr. Stanley’s entire career, as both a researcher and leader, embodies a commitment to all aspects of academic excellence and demonstrates his assurance that students are at the center of his mission,” Melanie Foster, a trustee who helped chair the presidential search committee, said in a statement.

Some still need some convincing. Elizabeth Abdnour, a Michigan State alumna, said some aspects of Stanley’s career are being made public now that she questions. Abdnour was a senior investigator specializing in sexual assault cases for Michigan State from 2013 to 2018. She said she was eventually fired when she expressed an interest in talking to the Office for Civil Rights, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education that had come on campus during her time there to vet the institution’s handling of sexual violence cases.

Abdnour, a lawyer, broke off to start her own law firm. She said that Stanley needs to speak to the campus directly about past problems at Stony Brook. OCR has three open investigations at Stony Brook (these are quite common and do not necessarily mean the university has violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal sex discrimination law). Faculty members at Stony Brook have also complained about financial mismanagement, and in 2017, more than 50 high-ranking professors wrote to the SUNY chancellor about their concerns.

“This president needs to show a level of understanding and take a very detailed look at things that are continuing to go wrong at MSU,” Abdnour said. She said she represents clients -- students and staff at Michigan State -- whose Title IX cases have gone unnoticed. One investigation has been open for 450 days, she said.

“It seems to be getting worse.”

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Two historically black colleges opt to share a football stadium

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 00:00

Two universities with rival Division II athletic programs are taking a unique approach to boosting home football game attendance by agreeing to share a football stadium starting in the upcoming season.

Saint Augustine's University and Shaw University, both historically black colleges located in Raleigh, N.C., will share the George Williams Athletic Complex located on Saint Augustine’s campus. Both colleges participate in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association conference.

Lucera Parker, Shaw's spokesperson, said the idea of sharing the stadium has been discussed by university administrators for a number of years. Before Saint Augustine's built the athletics complex, the city of Raleigh was considering funding a joint project between the colleges.

The Shaw Bears previously played at a stadium in Durham, N.C. -- a 40-minute drive from the main Shaw University campus. The new agreement means Shaw fans will only have a short drive across Raleigh to see the team play. Kimberly Williams Moore, Saint Augustine's spokesperson, said the teams will alternate weeks of home and away games, meaning a home game will be played for either school on any given weekend.

“If we have someone here celebrating football every weekend, that’s wonderful,” Moore said. “I think we’ll see more to come with cooperation between schools.”

Rival teams Shaw and Saint Augustine's play each other in the annual Raleigh Classic, which for the past 12 seasons has been played either in Durham or at Saint Augustine's. With the agreement, the Raleigh Classic will be played in Raleigh for the foreseeable future. Moore said she predicted increased ticket sales as a result of the agreement.

“The fans in Raleigh did not like going to Durham, so the ticket sales and revenues will surely rise,” Moore said. “That was a huge benefit.”

Parker said that while the teams are rivals, this agreement reflected their shared goals in terms of athletics and growing the colleges’ football programs.

“Anything that works for the mutual benefit makes sense,” Parker said. “We’re interconference rivals, but we’re also comrades at arms in terms of the goals of our universities and the students we educate. This is a win-win all around.”

Parker said it was logical the shift would result in higher sales for Shaw home games. Shaw University will also keep the concessions sales when the school plays at the stadium. The college will also save money by not having to regularly bus players and the band to games in Durham, Parker said.

“This is the right decision for both universities. As institutions of higher learning, both schools have a responsibility to support each other,” Saint Augustine's interim president Gaddis Faulcon said in a statement. “I look forward to watching Saint Augustine’s University and Shaw University host football games at the George Williams Athletic Complex this upcoming season.”

In the same statement, Saint Augustine's athletic director George Williams said the agreement was "a win for Raleigh."

“The two universities have a long-standing history of working together, and this is the latest example. Football fans in the area have the opportunity to see either team plan on any given Saturday. This is a victory for Saint Augustine’s and Shaw, but the biggest winners are the southeast Raleigh community, the entire city of Raleigh and Wake County. I can’t wait for the Raleigh Classic.”

Moore said she believes this agreement will continue to bolster fan support for both schools in the coming years.

“Our goal is to build up all our sports, and that comes from continuing to build a fan base of boosters and find more alumni support,” she said.

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At international education conference speakers discuss strategies for evaluating incomplete or unverifiable educational credentials from refugees

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 00:00

WASHINGTON -- With the number of refugees at a record high, what should colleges and universities do to give opportunity to forcibly displaced people whose prior educational qualifications are undocumented or unverifiable?

Speakers here at the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference presented Tuesday about programs in place to recognize credentials from refugees in Europe and Canada as well as more nascent efforts to encourage more flexible admission policies for refugees and other people in refugee-like situations in the U.S. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees estimates that there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, representing the highest level of displacement on record.

“Recognition is the key to empowerment, is the key to inclusion and the key to preventing exclusion from the society,” said Marina Malgina, the head of the section for interview-based procedures at the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education.

Malgina presented on the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees, a multinational, Council of Europe-led initiative that involves an assessment of higher education qualifications based on an analysis of available documentation by professional credential evaluators and an interview.

The resulting document, or “passport” -- a sample of which is at right -- “explains the qualifications a refugee is likely to have based on the available evidence,” according to an information sheet on the council’s website. “Although this document does not constitute a formal recognition act, it summarizes and presents available information on the applicant’s educational level, work experience and language proficiency. The evaluation methodology is a combination of an assessment of available documentation, the considerable experience gained through previous evaluations and the use of a structured interview. Thus, the document provides credible information that can be relevant in connection with applications for employment, internships, qualification courses and admission to studies.”

Kevin Kamal, the associate director of institutional relations at the Canadian office of World Education Services, a nonprofit organization that evaluates academic credentials, described a similar project in Canada.

Canada has since 2015 experienced a sizable increase in the number of refugees, in particular coming from Syria. The challenge, Kamal said, is how individuals who only have partial or unverifiable academic documents from their home countries can prove their educational qualifications.

“How these individuals are going to receive recognition for their academic achievements, that remains a big challenge,” he said. “When we are talking about recognition we are really talking about access, access to employment, both in regulated and nonregulated occupations, and access to higher education.”

Kamal presented on what's known as the WES Gateway Program. Qualifying refugees are referred to the program through one of 13 partner organizations, two of which are licensing agencies and 11 of which are refugee resettlement agencies. To participate refugees must have at least one officially issued document, such as an academic transcript, degree certificate or professional license. WES then seeks evidence to corroborate the document based on documents in its archive and issues an evaluation report.

In the pilot phase involving 337 Syrian refugees, a significant number of Canadian institutions -- both community colleges and universities -- proved willing to accept WES’s evaluation of an unauthenticated credential. According to Kamal, 42 percent of those participating said they used WES’s evaluation for higher education purposes. Of that 42 percent, 71 percent said they received an offer of admission from a Canadian college or university. Kamal said a number of licensing agencies accept the documentation as well. WES Canada has now expanded the program beyond Syria to also include refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela, and the program is now being tested on a smaller scale in the U.S.

“One of the challenges when it comes to credential recognition for refugees is clearly just the acceptance of it,” said Bryce Loo, the research manager for WES in the U.S. “A lot of work that we’ve had to do in Canada is working on building partnerships, building recognition: Is this something that will be used?”

The U.S. unlike Canada, has scaled back its admission of refugees over the last several years. As for the credential evaluation challenge, Loo said, "My general assessment is more has been happening in Europe and Canada relative to the U.S., but there is movement happening in the U.S." He noted several groups that are working on this issue, including an organization that was established last year, the University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants.

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers published a policy paper earlier this spring, "Inclusive Admissions Policies for Displaced and Vulnerable Students." The paper includes a practical guide for credential evaluation for institutions working with applicants who have unverifiable or incomplete academic documents due to forced displacement (Loo is one of the co-authors of the guide).

The guide provides a list of documents that can be requested as supplemental corroborating evidence as well as a list of additional steps colleges can take in assessing an applicant's background and content knowledge, including examinations or standardized testing requirements, assessment of skills, interviews by professors, completion of a special project or paper, submission of a portfolio or sample work, and the utilization of prior learning assessment frameworks more typically used to give adults returning to college credit for their prior work experience. It also includes a checklist for universities to follow to ensure they have the appropriate expertise and resources to conduct an evaluation, and discusses the option of working with a third-party credential evaluation service.

The AACRAO report notes that refugees may not be able to access official credentials from their previous institutions for a variety of reasons: colleges and universities in conflict zones may have closed or stopped functioning, or even if they are functioning they might refuse to issue a document to a student for any number of reasons, including political motivations. The report notes as well that some applicants "may have good reasons for not requesting their credentials from institutions or ministries of education (which can be agents of the local government) for fear of retribution to themselves or their loved ones who are still in the country. Many young Syrian men, for example, have fled that country to avoid mandatory military service to the [Bashar al-]Assad regime. By requesting documents be delivered to an institution abroad, these young men will expose that they fled the country and thus avoided their military service, putting family and friends on the ground still in Syria potentially in jeopardy."

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 00:00

Emporia State University

  • Marc Fusaro, business administration
  • Jennie Long, elementary education, early childhood and special education
  • Jeffrey Muldoon, business administration
  • Lei Wen, accounting, information systems and finance

Furman University

  • Cecilia Kang, music
  • Erin Wamsley, psychology
  • Patricia P. Sasser, library

Miami University, in Ohio

  • Katherine Abbott, sociology and gerontology
  • Katherine Batchelor, teacher education
  • Karen Brown, nursing
  • Kristen Budd, sociology and gerontology
  • Amelie Davis, geography and the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability
  • Bob De Schutter, Armstrong Institute of Interactive Media Studies
  • Scott Friend, marketing
  • Mack Hagood, media, journalism and film
  • Frank Huang, music
  • Yao “Henry” Jin, management
  • Seonjin Kim, statistics
  • Dominik Konkolewicz, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Jonathan Kunstman, psychology
  • Jeff Kuznekoff, interdisciplinary and communication studies
  • Hongmei Li, media, journalism and film
  • Michele Navakas, English
  • Barbara Oswald, social and behavioral sciences
  • Andrew Paluch, chemical, paper and biomedical engineering
  • Alexandru Alin Pogan, mathematics
  • Andrea Righi, French and Italian
  • Jennifer Rode, nursing
  • Amy Roberts, family science and social work
  • Brody Ruihley, kinesiology and health
  • Eric Stenstrom, marketing
  • Leslie Stoel, marketing and College of Creative Arts, fashion
  • Suzanne Stricklin, nursing
  • Chris Sutter, management 
  • Sarah Watt, educational psychology

Middlebury College

  • Keegan Callanan, political science
  • Daniel Silva, Luso-Hispanic studies

Washington College, in Maryland

  • Jennie Carr, biology
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