Category Archives: Study in the US

Universities ‘over-reliant’ on Chinese students: HEFCE

Universities ‘over-reliant’ on Chinese students: HEFCE

Brendan O’Malley, 26 February 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 356

English universities have become over-reliant on growth in recruitment of full-time postgraduate students from China and have developed a risky dependence on scholars funded by their own governments, according to new analysis by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, or HEFCE. English universities have become over-reliant on growth in recruitment of full-time postgraduate students from China and have developed a risky dependence on scholars funded by their own governments, according to new analysis by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, or HEFCE.

This will be challenged by a fast decline in China’s youth population, as well as China’s own efforts to become a study destination country, the paper warned. China’s 20-year-old population is expected to decline by 40 per cent in the period from 2015 to 2020, compared with 2005 to 2010.

English universities have also developed a risky dependence on additionally attracting more and more postgraduate students from countries with strong state-funded scholarship programmes that are dependent on government funding priorities – such as Malaysia, Iraq and Libya.

“While this demonstrates the excellent value of an English postgraduate degree for overseas national governments, this may be an area of vulnerability if these countries shift their funding priorities,” the HEFCE report says.

The paper, Global Demand for English Higher Education: Latest shifts and trends, also warned that although total international student numbers have recovered in England, the growth rate of these enrolments remain low compared with English-speaking competitor destinations.

The growth rate in the United States in 2013 compared to 2012 was 8%, double that of the international student enrolment in England (4%), the analysis found.

“There is an indication that US universities are increasingly using agency recruitment and third parties’ pathway programmes, which is likely to present an additional challenge to English higher education institutions in their recruitment efforts overseas,” HEFCE warns.

Currently, full-time international entrants constitute 18% of total entrants in England, compared to 4.2% in the United States, according to the analysis of 2013 figures.

Challenged by Asian hubs

The long-term sustainability of growth in postgraduate demand outside China will be further challenged if privately funded demand for postgraduate education continues to decline.

The paper warned that in the medium to long term, the dependency on China and Malaysia for growth at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels will be challenged by their desire to become international education hubs.

Growth rates in the numbers of international students studying in the two countries are already high and “growing domestic capacity and continued investments in education systems may create an attractive and economically viable proposition for some of the students in the East Asia region seeking overseas education”, the HEFCE report says.

Unemployment driving recruitment

The HEFCE analysis compares statistics for 2012-13 with those for 2013-14.

In England, at undergraduate level, Italy and Spain drove growth in demand for undergraduate and postgraduate education.

“They were among the countries with the highest youth unemployment and declines in the volume of economic output, which highlights the counter-cyclical nature of demand for English higher education in these two countries,” the report says.

Overall, there was a 4% rise in EU entrants to full-time higher education in England in 2013, compared with the previous year, taking the total to 38,140, up by 1,395. But the number of entrants remained 12% below 2010 levels, according to the paper published on 18 February.

Non-EU international entrants to full-time higher education rose by a healthier 7% during the same period to 138,865, up by 9,020, says the paper.

Although there was a 7% recovery in EU undergraduate entrants in 2013, compared with the year before, this is still 16% below 2010 entry levels.

Two factors negatively affecting recruitment of EU students are the hike in tuition fees in England in 2012 – mostly involving a tripling of the cost – and the EU’s demographics. Apart from the Netherlands and tiny Luxembourg, EU member states have seen significant declines in the population of 18 year-olds since 2010.

England has been hit most by a decline from some of the largest EU countries of origin, such as Germany and France. Since 2010, first-degree entrants from those two countries dropped by 42% and 30% respectively.

By contrast the EU countries with the largest growth in first-degree entrants in 2013 compared with 2010 are Italy (365 entrants), Hungary (140), Portugal (135) and Spain (100). Other than Hungary, for which data are not available, these are all among the countries with the highest levels of unemployment, the report says.

Improving employability

“Improving their employability prospects with an English degree may be among the key decision-making factors students from these countries consider when weighing their study options,” HEFCE says.

Spain, Portugal and Italy, along with Greece and Cyprus, have experienced the largest declines in their real gross domestic product, or GDP, in the past two years.

“Spain and Italy were also among the countries with the largest absolute declines in their 18-year-old populations since 2010, which suggests that the economic drivers towards studying in England are overriding the demographic ones,” HEFCE says.

Non-EU international entrants to full-time undergraduate courses grew by 8% in 2013 compared with the previous year, reaching 54,250, up by 3,960.

“Students from East Asia continued to drive undergraduate entry to England,” the report says.

Malaysia had the strongest growth, with 35% (1,040 entrants). Hong Kong and Singapore continued their rate of growth from previous years, with 13% and 21% growth respectively.

There was a slowdown in the rate of growth in entrants from China to 3%. But entry from Nigeria grew by 17%, the report says.

Impact of transnational education

This suggests that growth in undergraduate entrants is concentrated in “countries which are strong in transnational education delivered by English higher education institutions”, the HEFCE says. It noted that more than half of the students from China and Malaysia, the two countries driving growth at undergraduate and postgraduate level, commenced their undergraduate degree through courses delivered by British institutions overseas.

The decline in Indian students’ entry levelled off in 2013, remaining almost unchanged compared with the previous year. Saudi Arabia continued to decline, falling by 18%. Its numbers have more than halved compared with 2010.

The non-EU student share of the full-time undergraduate entrants rose from 8% in 2005 to 13% in 2013. But the EU student share of the same population was the same in 2013 as 2005, at 5%.

Overall the percentage of full-time undergraduate entrants who were foreign students rose from 13% in 2005 to 18% in 2013, the HEFCE paper says.

Increasing Chinese postgraduate entrants

The number of international and EU entrants to postgraduate education rose by 6% and 1% respectively from 2012 to 2013, to a combined total of 103,680.

Nearly half the growth was driven by increasing numbers of Chinese entrants, rising by 9% to 31,195 entrants, up 2,615. The fastest rise was among Malaysian students, which increased by 30% to 2,180 entrants, up 500, the report says.

HEFCE has previously reported that China has a very high progression rate (56%) of students who started their undergraduate education in England through a transnational education course and progressed to postgraduate studies.

The entry rate from Indonesia and Iraq grew by 41% and 21% respectively. There was recovery in demand from Saudi Arabia, up 19 %, and Libya, up 81%, but their numbers remained lower than in 2010.

Fall in entrants from India

While China’s share of full-time non-EU postgraduates has risen from 25% in 2010 to 37% in 2013, India’s share has fallen sharply in the same period from 18% to 8%.

This is in contrast to student flows from India to other English-speaking countries: overall enrolments from India increased by 6% in the US (3,650 students) and 33% in Australia (4,105 students) in 2013, with growth concentrated in postgraduate studies, the report says.

The fall in entrants from India seems to have hit science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM – subjects and business related subjects particularly badly, with a 66 % decline in Indian entrants to STEM subjects between 2010 and 2013.

England’s postgraduate sector is now heavily dependent on one country, China. Among full-time postgraduate entrants, the leading countries of origin are: China (37%), India (8%), Nigeria (6%), United States (6%), Pakistan (2%), Saudi Arabia (3%).

“The long term sustainability of growth in postgraduate entry is uncertain,” the HEFCE says.

Foreign students dominate taught masters

England’s full-time postgraduate taught masters courses are now heavily dominated by foreign students, who make up 74% of entrants, with 12% of those coming from the EU and 62% from non-EU countries. There are now almost as many Chinese full-time masters students as home students.

Entrants to full-time postgraduate research degrees by EU students rose by 11% while international entrants rose by 10% between 2012 and 2013. The increasing demand was driven by Italy and Spain among EU students and by China (up 12%), Iraq (up 99%), Malaysia (up 23%) and Libya (up 37%) among international students.

The governments of Iraq and Malaysia funded more than half their new entrants in postgraduate research, while the Libyan government sponsored more than three-quarters of its entrants.

University World News

When Less Is Less

When Less Is Less

March 2, 2015


Purdue University announced last week that it was it was replacing a "complicated" and outdated system for calculating how many paid days off employees would receive each year. But when employees actually counted up the days they could receive off in the old and new systems, many were dismayed to find that the "simplified" one was substantially less generous than the current one.

The university announced changes for one plan that covers clerical, custodial and service employees and another that covers faculty members and administrators. The university said it was responding to employee concerns about how complicated the system is. But employees feel they are losing ground in most of the changes. But attention has been focused on the plan for clerical and service employees, because their salaries are lower than others' at Purdue.

While faculty have been speaking out against the changes proposed for them, most have focused on the staff changes. And staff members -- who lack tenure -- have welcomed the focus (with several staff members who reached out to Inside Higher Ed referring questions to tenured professors, saying that they needed these people to speak on their behalf).

On Friday, about 750 Purdue employees -- faculty and staff alike -- attended an open forum that focused on the impact on staff members. Longtime Purdue employees said this kind of turnout and public anger of employees was rare if not unheard of at the university.

During a lengthy meeting, not a single employee (aside from the human resources administrators explaining the changes) said it would improve his or her situation. Many said their personal circumstances would be hurt, and that Purdue was destroying a strong bond that has historically existed between employees of all types at the university. Among the tweets from the meeting: "Many people were hired with a specific expectation and that changed unilaterally," "People in audience pouring their hearts out to give their perspectives" and in a tweet to administrators: "Audience: not to be rude, but you’re doing a sales job but no one here is buying it."

One example cited by many employees is that the changes would remove provisions that allow staff members to carry over unused sick days (of which they receive 10 a year) and to be paid for unused days upon retirement. Employees say that in many Purdue departments and laboratories, a single staff member responsible for key clerical or cleaning duties tends to try very hard not to call in sick, so as not to disrupt work. And because they aren't paid a lot (or able to save a lot), they view the eventual payout as part of retirement planning. Staff members who have complained about this change report being told that they should be taking sick days regularly -- and should not expect the days to help them later.

Overall, staff members at Purdue today have between 21 and 31 paid days off a year, counting vacation and sick leave and a single personal day off, depending on years of service. The days are specified, so someone starting off would have 10 vacation days, 1 personal day and 10 sick days. Under the new system, someone starting off would have just 10 days off (for all purposes) and that would rise over years of service to 25 days. (See slides at end of article, which come from a PowerPoint Purdue officials distributed.)

At the forum (and in e-mail surveys), many staff members said they would lose about six days a year of paid time off -- and then lose more by lack of payout upon retirement.

For faculty members, the drop in total days a year would be from the current system of between 28 and 91 days (depending on years of service, with the higher totals available to longtime faculty) to 25 days a year. Carryover days from one year to the next would be reduced.

Both faculty and staff would benefit from a new short-term disability program from the university. But at Friday's forum, people said that didn't offset the anger over the changes to leave policies.

Patricia Hart, professor of Spanish and chair of the University Senate, said in an interview after the meeting said that while many faculty are frustrated about the changes, the top concern is staff members. "The people being most hurt are those at the bottom of the pile," she said. Professors, who rely on staff members every day, have decided they need to take a stand for staff even before they speak out about concerns over the faculty plan. "We have lots of employees earning minimum wage or close," Hart said. And they won't have the same options as more highly paid faculty member to deal with these changes by using their salaries to pay for various things, she said.

In widely praised remarks at the start of the open forum, Hart said that frugal budgets at Purdue are hurting people who don't have wiggle room in their budgets.

"Austerity management has meant that, through attrition, one person may be doing the job of two or three. Many live with the constant stress of worrying that they might be downsized," she said. "Did you know that up to 14 percent of the clerical and service staff who work full time have second jobs? ...A number of clerical and service staff live below the 2015 federal poverty guidelines. If there are low raises and shrinking benefits, it becomes harder and harder to sustain the positive work environment that we need for preeminence."

Hart noted that Purdue has been operating on a frugal budget of late, with President Mitch Daniels announcing tuition freezes and telling various audiences that the university could preserve quality and help the families paying Purdue tuition in this way. Hart said she applauded the administration's concern for the families of Purdue students. "But Purdue faculty and staff also have families," she said.

Purdue's news office referred questions to Trenten D. Klingerman, interim vice president for human resources at Purdue (who many employees said had been gracious in listening to criticism, and who they don't think is responsible for "austerity" measures being imposed campuswide). Via e-mail Klingerman said that he did not view the changes as motivated by a desire to save money. He said that it would cost $1.3 million annually to add the short-term disability payments. Savings from the other changes would be over the long term.

Purdue hasn't backed away from any part of the plan, he said, but was taking the complaints seriously. "It is clear, both from the high rate of attendance and the passion expressed, that there is significant concern regarding the proposed changes," said Klingerman. "As I told the faculty and staff at the forum, we are taking their concerns seriously as we continue study the plan design."

Changes to Sex Assault Bill

Changes to Sex Assault Bill

February 27, 2015


WASHINGTON -- The bipartisan group of U.S. senators thathas been pushing legislation to curb campus sexual assaults is making some changes to their proposal as they look to advance the measure in the new Congress.

The sponsors of the legislation, who now include five Democrats and five Republicans, on Thursday unveiled a newversion of their bill aimed at holding colleges more accountable for addressing sexual violence.

Those lawmakers said at a press conference that the revised proposal was a response to feedback from victims of sexual assault, advocates for the rights of accused students, law enforcement and college and university administrators.

“We have listened,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat who is leading the effort. “Today’s bill is much stronger for it. We have improved it. We have made changesbased on suggestions we have heard.”

McCaskill said the legislation would strengthen the rights of accused students, which critics have said are undermined by the bill.

“We are very focused on making sure there’s also due process,” she said.

A new provision in the bill would require colleges to notify both the victim and accused student within 24 hours of a college’s decision to move ahead with a disciplinary hearing for an allegation of sexual misconduct. The legislation also now describes students accused of sexual assault as “accused students” instead of “assailants.”

Joe Cohn, the legislative policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, called some of those changes "an incremental step in the right direction."

But, he said, the proposal "still doesn't come anywhere close to striking a balance" between the rights of the complainant and the rights of the accused.

Elsewhere in the legislation are tweaks that appear to address some of the concerns colleges and universities have expressed about the bill.

The new draft, for instance, clarifies which law enforcement agencies colleges must sign an agreement to combat sexual assault with, as well as the role of the adviser that colleges would have to assign to a student making a complaint of sexual assault.

The legislation would now require colleges to anonymously survey their students about the prevalence of sexual assault once every two years instead of annually. The results of those surveys at each institution would be published online.

But much of the legislation, including requiring more sexual assault training on campuses, remains unchanged from when it was first announced last summer.

Colleges would still face stiffer financial penalties for mishandling sexual violence cases under the Clery Act and the gender equity law known as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The bill would allow the Department of Education to impose a fine as high as 1 percent of a college’s operating budget.

However, the proposal now calls for the revenue collected from those enhanced penalties to be used for a new grant program to help colleges to combat sexual assault rather than flowing back to the Department of Education office responsible for enforcement.

Some colleges and universities had argued that allowing revenue from penalties to flow directly back to the Department of Education might create a “bounty mind-set.”

Since the legislation was first unveiled last summer, some universities, like the State University of New York System, have embraced the proposal and adopted procedures that, in some cases, mirror the legislation. Other groups, such as the American Council on Education, said they were concerned that the proposal was too “heavy-handed” toward institutions.

Governors, state legislatures and individual institutions have also proposed and enacted new policies to deal with sexual assault in recent months.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat, said that colleges and universities have been “taking some steps in the right direction” to address sexual assaults.

“There have been some reforms,” he said. “But there is so much work still to be done.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, though, continued to take a harsher tone against how colleges are performing on the issue.

“The reason why schools are failing is that they do not take this crime seriously,” she said, adding that one-third of students found responsible for sexual violence by a college are not expelled from the institution.

The Senators cosponsoring the legislation said Thursday that they were optimistic they would be able to pass a version of the bill in the new Congress.

Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, the leading Republican cosponsor of the bill, said he discussed the bill with Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate education committee and was interested in bringing the bill before that panel.

“This may not be the perfect piece of legislation that he may agree to,” Heller said, adding that “at the end of the day it may look a little different than what we have.”

McCaskill said in an interview that she, too, had spoken with Alexander about advancing the bill, and, in particular, the added requirements on colleges.

“We are open to his suggestions on how we can make it less burdensome,” she said.

In a statement provided by his office, Alexander said that he wanted to “ensure that regulations on colleges are effective for students.” He has made reducing federal requirements on colleges a priority as he works on a rewrite of the Higher Education Act.

“I look forward to working with Senators McCaskill, Heller and others to examine the best steps the federal government and our colleges and universities can take to help create a safe environment for students,” he said.

What Happens on Campus Stays on Campus?

What Happens on Campus Stays on Campus?

February 27, 2015


When police arrested 4 Wesleyan University students on Tuesday in connection to “a bad batch” of the club drug Mollythat sent 10 students and 2 others to hospitals, those charged joined an elite cohort: the small number of Wesleyan students arrested for drug violations.

In 2012 and 2013, the last two years of available federal data, 521 Wesleyan students were referred to campus officials for disciplinary action involving drug use on campus. Only four students were arrested.

At a time when Wesleyan students and others are considering what more could be done to prevent drug overdoses, the statistics raise questions. At the same time, they are typical of small private colleges. But a review of federal crime reports shows that larger, public universities are much more likely than colleges like Wesleyan to arrest drug offenders, not just refer them for disciplinary action.

At Wesleyan, officials defended their approach.

"We are committed to responding to violations with education, treatment and sanctions, as appropriate,” Dean Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. “These federal statistics reflect our vigorous efforts to enforce our policies. At Wesleyan, we don't sweep these problems under the rug.”

Wesleyan is not alone in its low number of arrests resulting from students being caught using drugs, but it's not in the majority, either. Across the country, institutions vary widely in which cases of drug use become police matters and which ones stay on campus.

Small, private liberal arts colleges tend to have low number of arrests, even with proportionately high numbers of disciplinary referrals. At Colgate University, 245 students in 2012 and 2013 were referred for disciplinary action for drug abuse violations, and 6 were arrested. In that same time span, Oberlin College referred 198 students, while 5 were arrested. It’s a similar story at Kenyon College, Reed College and Occidental College: student arrests were in the single digits; disciplinary referrals were in the hundreds.

In 2013, private, four-year institutions with enrollments of fewer than 5,000 referred more than 14,000 students for disciplinary action for drug violations. Fewer than 2,000 students were arrested.

"There is a philosophy for minor drug offenses on some campuses that emphasizes the educational process of helping students learn from their mistakes without the outcome of a criminal record,” said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. “Of course, this depends on the severity and would mostly be cases of individual use for the first time. When campuses find students in possession of amounts that are used for sale, there is little tolerance and those cases may involve coordination with campus law enforcement.”

Certain hard drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamine, can invoke a police response even for possession, said Laura Bennett, president of the Association for Student Conduct Administration. But the majority of referrals for drug use are "lower level," she said, and if they result in a sanction at all, it's typically "an educational outcome," such as being required to take a course about abuse or to participate in community service.

"The focus of the conversation is very different," Bennett said. "It's not 'You broke the law. Here's your consequence.' The conversation is about the student's usage. It's about helping the student make better choices. Just because you have a beer or smoke a joint, that's not necessarily grounds to say you can't come to school here anymore. Sometimes the criminal justice system is not the place for really addressing that effectively."

William Holder, a spokesman for Wesleyan, declined to explain how the university decides what kind of punishment is appropriate, saying only that administrators consider "a variety of potential sanctions, as well as educational measures, depending upon the facts of individual cases.”

It can be a different story at large, public institutions -- particularly those that use sworn campus police officers rather than security forces, and where police are more likely to be the first to respond to misconduct. Nearly 70 percent of colleges and universities with enrollments higher than 2,500 now operate full law-enforcement agencies, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In 2013, public, 4-year universities with enrollments of 20,000 or higher referred 13,600 students for drug abuse violations. Nearly 8,500 students were arrested. At institutions such as San Diego State University, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the numbers of disciplinary referrals and arrests for drug use are nearly equal.

At a number of large universities, however, arrested students actually outnumber students who are referred for disciplinary action. Between 2011 and 2013, 537 students at the University of California at Berkeley were arrested for drug use on campus, and 254 were referred for disciplinary action. At the University of Georgia, 42 students received disciplinary referrals, while there were nearly 200 arrests.

During that same 3-year time span, Florida State University referred just 32 of its 40,000 students for disciplinary action for drug use on campus. More than 400 students were arrested.

“Our process is to enforce the laws as they are outlined with each chapter of our Florida statute,” David Perry, chief of police at FSU, said. “We try not to apply uneven discretion in drug cases. It’s pretty straightforward. We’re there to enforce the laws.”

Perry is also the president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. He said the association's members use whatever resources are available to them for sanctioning students. At colleges and universities with sworn police officers, that means arresting and prosecuting students if necessary. At smaller colleges with public safety officials, that largely means referring students to the campus judicial system.

At FSU, some of the arrested students are also referred to the university for additional disciplinary action, Perry said, but students who are caught by university employees rather than campus police rarely have their cases referred to law enforcement unless the incident is putting other students at risk.

Bennett, of ASCA, said while some argue that colleges shouldn’t be adjudicating criminal misconduct, she doesn’t see it that way. There’s room for both processes, she said.

“Some do say colleges shouldn’t be addressing some of these things, and that they’re best left to the courts,” Bennett said. “I really go back to that it can be both, not necessarily either-or. Our process is not determining if a student broke a law, but if a student has violated our policies or is putting other students in danger. College policies should be focused on what it means to be a member of the campus community.”

The FBI and the Professor

The FBI and the Professor
February 26, 2015

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recruited a University of South Florida business professor and former head of its Confucius Institute as a spy, Bloomberg reported. The article recounts how Dajin Peng, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, agreed to provide information on his home country and the local Chinese community in Tampa, Fla., to an F.B.I. agent, who, in turn, worked to try to protect Peng when USF accused him of racking up thousands of dollars in fraudulent expenses, writing false information in letters in order to help Chinese scholars obtain visas and storing sexually explicit images on a university laptop (Peng denied wrongdoing, and the university said it acted appropriately and was not influenced by the F.B.I.).

As Bloomberg reported, Peng’s case "shows how worried the U.S. government has been about growing Chinese involvement in American higher education, especially the activities of the Confucius Institutes. It also reveals the rise of another sometimes-unwanted influence on campus -- that of U.S. intelligence agencies keeping tabs on the rapidly growing ranks of foreign students and professors.”