Category Archives: International Students

Some college leaders are responding quickly to racist and sexist incidents

University colleges to increase staff PhDs tenfold

Jan Petter Myklebust
27 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 360

Danish university colleges are developing a plan to raise the proportion of staff having a PhD tenfold, from 5% to 50%, by 2022. Danish university colleges are developing a plan to raise the proportion of staff having a PhD tenfold, from 5% to 50%, by 2022.

The colleges – which are comparable to universities of applied sciences in other European countries and provide profession-specific higher education in teacher training, engineering, nursing, physiotherapy and many other disciplines – were given the right to undertake research in 2013.

Previously, research and development, or R&D, within the specific professional areas were undertaken solely by universities. In addition to carrying out applied R&D, the university colleges must ensure that the new knowledge is transferrable into practice by delivering more research-based teaching.

Since 2013 university colleges have been receiving independent R&D funding, and to an increasing degree will target external funding in collaboration and competition with Danish universities.

Examples of university colleges include the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus offering undergraduate programmes in photojournalism, multimedia, PR, communication, and design; and the VIA University College in Risskov, offering 35 higher education programmes.

The University College Capital, or UCC, offers bachelor programmes and postgraduate diploma studies in 16 locations in the Greater Copenhagen area.

Reaching the target

University Colleges Denmark – a secretariat serving administrative and policy-making functions for the university college sector in Denmark – has commissioned a report from DAMVAD socioeconomic and policy consultancy entitled “Investigation and Analysis for the Professional Colleges in the Implementation of a PhD Strategy” (with a summary in English).

The report concludes that almost 1,700 PhDs are needed from now until 2022 to reach the target of one in two teaching staff having a PhD. When taking retirement of the current staff into account, as well as the current number of PhDs among the teaching staff, 400 of the existing teaching staff have to be upgraded to a PhD-level.

DAMVAD estimates that there will be a shortage of between 900 and 1,300 relevant PhDs in 2022. The gaps are found within the three larger bachelor educations: the bachelor degree in social education, didactics and nursing. These three areas combined amount to 60% of the total need for PhD qualifications.

DAMVAD is presenting five different scenarios for delivering 190 new PhD candidates each year. The university colleges will cooperate with universities and hospitals in training of the PhD candidates and the total cost, depending on which model of training is chosen, is estimated to be between DKK1.4 billion and DKK1.9 billion (US$204 million to US$277 million).

Stina Vrang Elias, CEO of the Danish think tank DEA, which is supported by the Danish Society for Education and Business, told University World News: “It is essential that the Danish university colleges maintain their character and preserve the close link between theory and practice that distinguishes them from the academic university studies.

“University colleges’ R&D activities must be something other than the research that academic universities conduct. The quality must be the same – but the focus on retaining the practical approach should be different.”

The head of the Chairmen of Danish University Colleges, Carsten Koch, told University World News that capacity building of R&D within the university colleges should not be an aim in itself.

“I consider it of great importance that the university colleges stick to their raison d'etre, namely, to deliver research which is practice-oriented.”

He said the specific R&D task and field for the university colleges are much too important for them to simply copy universities.

University World News

Foreign students add to campus attraction – Research

David Jobbins
27 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 360

Would-be university students recognise the potential educational benefits of studying alongside international students even before they embark on their higher education, research from an independent UK think tank suggests. Would-be university students recognise the potential educational benefits of studying alongside international students even before they embark on their higher education, research from an independent UK think tank suggests.

A survey on behalf of the Higher Education Policy Institute and the university pathway provider Kaplan found that 87% felt they would gain a “better world view”, 85% said it would be useful preparation for working in a global environment, and 76% that it would help them develop a global network.

The results, collected by research agency YouthSight through its Applicant Omnibus Survey, suggest people are not naïve about the ways in which it can alter the student experience. Some two-thirds of university applicants have studied alongside international students before.

A minority of applicants have concerns about the implications for their educational experience while at university of the presence of international students from other cultures and with varying language skills. But they are far outweighed by those who are less fearful.

In particular, 67% do not anticipate that the presence of international students will lead to lower quality academic discussions (11% stated this was a risk).

However the margin was narrower on the impact of the presence of students without English as a first language (42% said they would not slow down a class while 29% thought they might) and on the amount of attention they would need from teaching staff (39% said they would not need more against 29% who felt they could need more).

One in five of those questioned positively hoped that some of their lecturers were from overseas, while the vast majority (74%) did not mind either way.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said: "UK policy-makers have a tendency to exaggerate the costs and underestimate the benefits of students from abroad. That explains why foreign students remain in the Home Office's target for reducing net migration, despite a growing consensus that this is contrary to the national interest.

“In the future, other government departments should be given a say in setting migration policy too. They understand the educational and soft power benefits of educating people from other countries and could provide a counterweight to the Home Office’s different priorities.”

Linda Cowan, Managing Director of Kaplan International Colleges, said: “An important finding of this research is the extent to which domestic students about to begin their university studies already anticipate benefits of studying alongside students from other countries.”

The fieldwork for the research was conducted between 6 and 7 February 2015. The sample consisted of 500 interviews with applicants, representative of the UK in terms of gender, age and school type.

University World News

Sharp drop in applications to study abroad

Eugene Vorotnikov
25 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 360

The number of Russian students applying to study abroad has dropped by between 25% and 30% this year, according to a leading consulting agency on foreign education. In some disciplines, especially languages, the numbers have dropped by 40%.
The number of Russian students applying to study abroad has dropped by between 25% and 30% this year, according to a leading consulting agency on foreign education.

In some disciplines, especially languages, the numbers have dropped by 40%.

The economic crisis in Russia and devaluation of the national currency, the ruble, caused by Western sanctions, are behind the decline in demand, according to analysis by the Bureau of International Educational Programmes.

Alexei Surin, CEO of the Bureau, said the drop in applicants may significantly increase if the current economic situation in Russia deteriorates further during the next few months.

The problem is also aggravated by the government’s decision to cut funding from the existing state Global Education programme from 12 March. The programme covered the costs of tuition for 1,500 Russian students studying in foreign universities each year, but from will now only cater for 750 students.

Alexander Klimov, Russia’s deputy minister of education and science, said: “The decision is connected to the significant decline of interest among Russian students in participating in the programme, due to the devaluation of the Russian ruble. At present the maximum amount of the grant cannot cover the costs of tuition and living abroad.”

He said the government decided not to increase the funding of the programme, and instead halved the number of participants covered but more than doubled the size of the grants, from RUB1.3 million to RUB2.7 million (US$22,600 to US$46,900).

According to data of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the current number of Russian students who study abroad is estimated at 50,000, but due to the current economical instability in Russia these figures may significantly decline.

The Ministry said that although some foreign universities have proposed reducing tuition fees to Russian students, as well allowing them to make payment in instalments, many Russian students abroad are considering leaving their foreign university.

In recent months many Russian students studying in the US have asked the management of some Russian universities and the Russian government about the possibility of transferring to domestic higher education institutions, according to Marina Frolova, head of Assyst agency, an agency specialising in the training of Russian students for studying in American universities.

However, Russian regulations currently do not allow quick transfer from institutions abroad and to those at home.

Some Russian analysts and officials have therefore called on the national parliament, or State Duma, to design a package of amendments to ease such transfers.

Artem Khromov, head of the Russian Student Union and student ombudsman, said his union has urged the State Duma to adopt amendments to the existing federal law on education to allow Russian students to transfer to domestic universities from foreign institutions without having to pass additional exams.

A bill has been drafted incorporating the proposed changes and is expected to be put before parliament in April, with the support of the official spokesman of the Russian Duma Committee on Education.

According to an official spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the government did consider closing the Global Education programme altogether.

However, it survived because it has strong advocates in the Russian Presidential Administration, in particular Andrei Belousov, presidential aide.

University World News

No Expectation of Privacy

March 25, 2015

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration briefly considered but ultimately decided against expanding a new student privacy bill beyond K-12 education, according to sources with knowledge of the drafting process. The resulting draft is a “missed opportunity” for the White House to address privacy in higher education, legal scholars say.

The Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015, which will be introduced later this week by U.S. House Representatives Luke Messer and Jared S. Polis, seeks to limit how educational technology companies can use data they collect from students using their products. It builds on a proposal released by the White House in January, which in turn resembles a student privacy law passed in California last year.

The bill was supposed to be filed on Monday, but by the end of the day, lawmakers were “still working through some of the technical nuances of the bill,” a spokeswoman for Messer said in an email. Those involving in drafting the bill -- a joint effort between the White House and the two representatives -- were reportedly asking for outside input as recently as this past weekend, suggesting a difficult balancing act between concerns raised by privacy advocates and pressure from the private sector.

A recent draft of the bill attempts to strike a compromise, according to The New York Times. It would prevent companies from using educational data for marketing purposes, but allow data to be disclosed for student “employment opportunities.” While the bill would allow students and their parents to request to see and correct data -- and let schools request that those records be deleted -- it would also enable companies to change their privacy policies after schools sign a contract to use their services.

And as the name suggest, the bill has nothing to do with higher education. Although the White House made initial contact with at least one higher education organization earlier this year to discuss privacy issues, conversations about whether or not to expand the bill’s scope did not move past that stage.

The decision did not come as a surprise to legal scholars who have followed the administration’s recent privacy initiatives. When Obama in January outlinednew privacy proposals, he focused on two groups: individual consumers and students under the age of 18. In his State of the Union address the following month, he called on Congress to “protect our children’s information.” Last year’s student data privacy pledge, which has drawn support from more than 100 education and technology companies and an endorsement from the White House, was also aimed at K-12 students.

Still, Elana J. Zeide, a privacy research fellow at New York University’s Information Law Institute, called the administration’s decision not to make a broader statement on privacy “myopic.”

“At least on the most basic level, federal privacy law recognizes that higher education students should have privacy rights as well,” Zeide said. “Even if they’re not as vulnerable, higher education students can still suffer the harm that drives privacy concerns in the K-12 space.”

Zeide acknowledged that the bill “reflects most of the privacy conversation, which has really focused on children and the K-12 space.” Apart from the frequent malicious attacks that target colleges and universities, most of the major student privacy concerns that have surfaced in the past year have been related to students under the age of 18. Collapses of companies such as ConnectEDU and inBloom have triggered debates about data stewardship, for example, while Google’s practice of scanning student email for ad keywords raised questions about the terms of service that come with the ed-tech products schools use.

Yet those incidents also had higher education implications. ConnectEDU offered both college and career planning services, and Google provides email for many colleges and universities.

Limiting the privacy bill to K-12 education may also be a matter of “political expediency,” Zeide said, as politicians may be more willing to pass protections for minors than for legal adults, then extend those protections, if necessary. “Sometimes it sets the pace for protections that then bleed into -- or are seen as appropriate for adults to have also,” she said.

But not including higher education in the privacy bill could promote a “chilling effect” at colleges and universities, potentially limiting emotional expression and political activism, Zeide and other legal scholars pointed out. Recent research suggests this year’s freshman class is spending more time on social media and less on face-to-face socializing, meaning more information about their life in college is being collected and stored.

“The process of learning and the pursuit of truth in research requires privacy,” higher education consultant Tracy B. Mitrano, former director of I.T. policy at Cornell University, said. “Surveillance, whether it’s governmental or commercial, chills that process.”

Mitrano, who also blogs for Inside Higher Ed, said it would be a “mistake” not to extend the protections in the bill to students at colleges and universities. “It’s not about age,” Mitrano said. “It’s about the missions of higher education.”

Even if higher education were included in the bill, chances are privacy advocates still would not be satisfied. After a draft of the bill was circulated earlier this week, privacy groups were quick to criticize what they saw as loopholes in the legislation -- such as the ability to change privacy policies after the fact.

Asked how she would improve the bill, Mitrano pointed to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. “I believe that FERPA already covers the issues raised in this privacy bill, mainly gathering of data by ed-tech companies and using it for their commercial purposes,” Mitrano said. “Rather than have this bill, I would amend FERPA to make it crystal clear… and then add technology security regulations, damages and a private right of action.”

The bill may grant the right to view and correct records, but that provision requires students and parents to take an active role in protecting the information. Zeide suggested more proactive regulations.

“One thing that would have to be in the bill is it provides protection without respect to students' and parents’ consent.” Zeide said. “Even if parents and students can make informed and meaningful choices -- which they have a difficult time doing in general -- it’s important that there are baseline rules and baseline protections.”

Mitchell L. Stevens, director of digital research and planning at Stanford University, said one policy that attempts to regulate both K-12 and postsecondary education would be a "bad idea."

"For adult learners, privacy is the wrong place to start," Stevens, associate professor of sociology, said. "I think privacy is the word we use to voice anxiety about the purposes of data when we don’t know what other language to invoke."

Stevens last year helped organize the Asilomar Convention for Learning Research in Higher Education, a gathering of faculty members and researchers to discuss appropriate use of data in higher education. The goal of the convention was to find new ethical guidelines for the glut of data produced at colleges and universities.

On Tuesday, Stevens also challenged the idea that students above the age of 18 should by default have full control of the data they produce.

"If you think about any empirical trace of instruction -- K-12 or postsecondary -- they’re really joint products," Stevens said. "The learner plays a role, the institution plays a role and the particular instructor plays a role. I think it’s fairly simplistic to default to the presumption that the data that are generated through that venture are primarily owned by one party."