Tag Archives: Colleges and Universities

Governance issues are holding the country back

Ranjit Goswami 06 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 357

A recent controversy over the renewal of Professor Amartya Sen’s period at the helm of Nalanda University shows that India needs to address governance issues that are preventing progress in higher education. A lot has been said about quality, or rather the lack of it, in India’s education system. With nearly 25 million births a year, and more than a million people entering the workforce every month, the country’s future social stability, from the sustainability of its economic growth to its global economic competitiveness, is largely dependent on a single factor – the education and skills the nation’s youth possess.

Acknowledging the huge challenge – in terms of the number of schools, colleges and universities in a country with less than US$2,000 per capita income in nominal terms – surely we must say that a lot has been achieved over the last two decades.

Capacity building, at each local school and at colleges and universities, takes a huge amount of time, as do building the quality or reputation of each of the many institutions.

But what has been missing is the progressive and supportive governance necessary at the highest level, even though capacity building at that level is less difficult than in each institution.

Two critical aspects are at fault: One is the role of the regulators; the second is the interface between local governance of each institution with that of its promoter. For public institutions, the promoter is invariably either the state or the central government, because they are ultimately funded by taxpayers’ money; whereas for private institutions, the promoter is the non-profit private entity.

The role of the regulators is said to be directly responsible for various deficiencies in education but much less is said about the deficits in the second critical aspect of governance.

Nalanda University

The recent controversy about Nalanda University exposes just the tip of the iceberg of this issue and its impact on India’s higher education system. In only 10 years since it was conceived and five years since it opened, Nalanda has found itself in an unnecessary quagmire.

The early signs do not bode well when set against Nalanda’s centuries-old gloried past, which the new-founded university wants to replicate.

It was a large Buddhist monastery founded in the fifth century and attained widespread regional recognition from the sixth to the ninth centuries as a learning centre in diverse areas such as the fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and even the art of war – going beyond its core of Buddhist studies. Its eventual decline lasted until the 13th century when it closed.

The present controversy started when the university’s famous chancellor, Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen, said he would not seek a second term in spite of a prior willingness and board approval.

The reason, as Sen stated in various TV interviews and reported in news articles, was the delay in the Nalanda University Visitor’s (President of India) approval of a unanimous board recommendation to offer a second term to Sen. According to Sen, the President should have respected the board’s decision in a timely manner or have indicated otherwise.

Apparently there was no response for more than a month. Nalanda, unlike most other Indian universities, was created by a unique Nalanda University Act of 2010. In India, a delay or unresponsive communication of one month from the government, which Sen was referring to, is seldom considered to be a delay by other Indian institutes which regularly face similar timescales.

Even the Indian Institutes of Technology, or IITs, which were created by an IIT Act of 1961, routinely face longer delays dealing with more critical decisions and have remained without a permanent head for months or even years as a result.

Given this context, one might wonder why Sen jumped to his conclusion prematurely. As Sen stated, had there been prior shortcomings in the formation or functioning of the board (as some reports suggested), these should have been dealt with then and there in an appropriate and transparent manner.

Delays

Sen has worked extensively in the field of higher education in India, the UK and in the US with public and private institutes of repute. In the absence of clear communications from the promoter of Nalanda University – the government – he deserves understanding rather than criticism.

Regular day-to-day decisions need to be made, more so for a new university like Nalanda which is launching new academic programmes; and the decision-making process should be nurtured over the years.

India has rarely witnessed any head of an institute publicly speaking out against such business-as-usual delays. As there are, and should be, performance matrices for heads and faculty members of an institute, there should also be performance matrices on the promoters’ side.

Unfortunately, promoters of institutes in India, whether public or private, mostly believe that providing financial support alone gives them carte blanche to act with impunity and no accountability.

Private entities in education still operate in a disorganised manner, in spite of the sector’s huge growth, because there are so many of them. Most of these private players lack expertise in governance interface.

The controversy at Nalanda University should be a learning point and be acted upon. Building world-class universities takes time, resources and a supportive ecosystem and accountability should not be a difficult problem.

Controversies of this nature also exacerbate other ongoing challenges – ranging from attracting back the diaspora of Indian-origin academics from overseas and luring foreign academics to take up assignments in India, to making India an attractive destination for international students, which lies at the foundation of Nalanda University.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often talked about the need for speed, transparency and accountability, and a ‘more governance, less government’ spirit.

Acknowledging that the government does not have the capacity to micro-manage and that a delayed response does not serve the needs of speed or transparency and is no substitute for making hard decisions when necessary, Nalanda’s struggle could act as a catalyst to transform academic governance in India – if only we actually want to learn from it.

Professor Ranjit Goswami is dean (academics) at the Institute of Management Technology, or IMT, Nagpur, in India.


University World News
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150303150520197

Reaching students in a snap

Abi Mandelbaum
06 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 357

Colleges and universities across the country are increasingly turning to the popular social media platform Snapchat to attract and engage students. Recently, Snapchat – a photo and video social media platform – surpassed Instagram and Tumblr as the fastest growing social media app for smartphones, with an estimated 200 million Snapchat users, the vast majority of whom are aged 25 or younger, and with 77% of US college students reportedly using Snapchat on a daily basis.

Does this mean that colleges and universities should consider using Snapchat as part of their communication and marketing efforts? Some already do.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported that US colleges and universities are using Snapchat to interact with three primary audiences: current students; prospective student-athletes; and prospective students. Of these three groups, it appears the majority of universities use Snapchat to interact and connect with current students.

Tyler Thomas, a social media specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, or UNL, said his school uses Snapchat to promote campus events, world events, contests, giveaways and to build one-on-one relationships.

“We have seen great growth in our Snapchat community and expect that Snapchat will become more of a priority in the months ahead,” he said.

Thomas said Snapchat was an effective tool because it allowed for quick bursts of content that could be shared in a number of ways, including drawings, graphics and videos.

The University of Houston has also adopted Snapchat, although like UNL, Houston’s primary audience is current students. Jessica Brand, the university’s social media manager, said Houston adopted the app because its user-base was in line with the school’s key demographics.

“We continued to read articles about the growing popularity of the app, and eventually decided we should have a presence there as the university continues to find new ways to engage with our audience,” she said.

High school students

Brand said Houston did not exclusively use Snapchat to reach prospective students, but that did not mean high school students were not benefiting from the university’s efforts.

“We have not done direct recruiting via Snapchat, but we do tend to share first-hand footage of campus events, which gives prospective students a taste of what it might look like to be here, to be a student, and to be involved,” she said.

Kyle Bruce, assistant director of communication for Eastern Washington University Athletics, said his school decided to use Snapchat after it analysed data on their other social media platforms and realised they were lacking in awareness.

“We decided the best thing for our brand was to create a Snapchat account that would cater specifically to student promotions and awareness around athletic events,” he said.

In addition to drumming up awareness for events, he said the app was growing among athletic programmes: “Snapchat is becoming more and more of a recruiting tool in athletics – different sport programmes are using it to communicate with prospective student-athletes,” Bruce said.

“Our account isn’t geared to this primarily, but we showcase what the game day atmosphere is like, which may help attract prospective student-athletes and students in general.”

Recruitment

A few universities are already actively using Snapchat to reach prospective students. Among these are Tennessee Wesleyan College and the University of Michigan. Tennessee was an early adopter of Snapchat and among the school’s first acts was to create a scavenger hunt for prospective students attending an orientation day in which the school showed its followers images of its mascot.

At the time, the school told USA Today it used the app because it connected with students in a way that was different from other communication mediums.

“Snapchat is immediate, personal and reaches the student where you can find them most: on their phone,” said Brittany Shope, the school’s web coordinator, who has since left the college. “To reach out via a smartphone application like Snapchat as opposed to students’ e-mails makes the student feel like the college has taken extra steps to get in touch with them.”

Bridgett Raper, director of marketing and communications at Tennessee Wesleyan College, said her school’s Snapchat campaign was short-lived, but that they were planning to investigate potential opportunities.

Michigan launched its Snapchat in February last year as a result of both campus research and professional statistical analysis. Nikki Sunstrum, director of social media, said the university found that 77% of its core student population was using the app regularly, and that about 70% were interested in engaging with known brands in the environment.

She said the bulk of activity on Snapchat was to engage current students, but that occasionally it triggers inquiries from prospective students.

Sunstrum said that this year the university planned to collaborate with entities across its campus, including promotion and storytelling for individual schools and organisations and event coverage.

Codes of conduct

Given Snapchat’s increased prominence in the social media landscape, colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to reach and engage current and prospective students.

But there are dangers to consider when evaluating the platform, such as the potential that students will interact with the account in ways that are inappropriate or go against universities’ codes of conduct.

A recent USA Today article covers this threat in detail, noting that Snapchat had its own community guidelines and frequently shuts down contact based on violations of its standards.

However, with proper measures in place, the opportunity may prove to be a fruitful step forward for colleges seeking to be more connected to current and future student bodies – and it might disappear in a “snap” if they don’t act soon.

Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and chief executive officer of YouVisit, a technology company that develops virtual tours and virtual reality content for a variety of industries, including education, hospitality, real estate, travel and leisure and many others.


University World News
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150303145703673

Foreign students to pay full fees for higher education?

Jane Marshall 06 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 357

Most foreign students from outside the European Union should pay full tuition fees, and these resources – estimated at €850 million (US$940 million) – should be invested to ensure France adapts to the new challenges of internationalising higher education while offering a fair, high-quality, attractive system, says a new report. Most foreign students from outside the European Union should pay full tuition fees, and these resources – estimated at €850 million (US$940 million) – should be invested to ensure France can adapt to the new challenges of internationalising higher education while offering a fair, high-quality, attractive system, says a new report.

The report, Investir dans l’Internationalisation de l’Enseignement SupérieurInvesting in the Internationalisation of Higher Education – is by Nicolas Charles and Quentin Delpech of France Stratégie, a strategic and consultative unit attached to the Prime Minister’s office.

Charles and Delpech say that France must overcome problems, including inadequate resources, to maintain its market share in an increasingly competitive global environment. That includes a continuing rise in the number of students studying abroad and the evolving internationalisation of higher education with more cross-border programmes and institutions, new curricula and technologies, and international research collaboration.

At present, all university students whether French, from the EU or from other countries, pay the same low registration fees in France. These are currently €184 (US$203) a year for the three-year licence (bachelor degree equivalent) course, €256 for a masters and €391 for a doctorate.

According to UNESCO, France was the third most popular host country for international students in 2012, after the US and the UK. France was then catering for 271,000 foreign students, which is 6.8% of mobile students, those studying in a country other than their own.

In the report’s foreword, Jean Pisani-Ferry, commissioner-general of France Stratégie, notes that the number of internationally mobile students has doubled from two million in 2000 to four million today, and could double again in the next 10 years.

There were fewer than 500 MOOCs – massive open online courses – in spring 2013 but more than 3,000 by the summer of 2014.

This “double transformation marked an upsurge in the process of internationalisation, and therefore of competition in a sector long organised on a practically exclusively national basis and, in France, mostly as a public service”, Pisani-Ferry says.

He sees the evolution as providing opportunities such as more international students from emerging countries, an advantage for France which has retained its scientific tradition. But there are also problems, such as increased competition from higher education ‘hubs’ in the Middle East and Asia, and the French public service ethos which means lack of resources.

Global trends

The report examines three global trends affecting higher education. These are:

Transnationalisation: Marked by the decreasing monopoly of developed countries in research and innovation, such as France and Britain, and increasing participation of emerging countries such as China and South Korea.

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of higher education students rose from about 100 million to 196 million, with nearly half of the growth in the four ‘BRIC’ countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. By 2025 the number studying abroad is likely to exceed 7.5 million. Meanwhile, the revolution in information and communication technologies offers new knowledge-sharing opportunities beyond borders.

Multipolarisation: Currently, the knowledge economy’s centre of gravity remains in the north, but while a quarter of articles published in scientific journals between 1996 and 2010 were written in the US, and more than half of international students choose Western Europe and North America for their studies abroad, a process of decentralisation is gaining ground with competitive higher education provision in Asia and the Middle East.

During the past decade, the growth in market share of international students by the BRICS countries has been double that of the traditional host countries – the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia.

Diversification: Major economic and demographic changes in both emerging and developed countries mean demand for knowledge is increasing and becoming more complex.

Mobility flows, student and programme exchanges, offshore campuses, and new education hubs harnessing regional demand are developments affecting southern countries. In developed countries, institutions are aiming to add a more international dimension to their courses.

In addition, mobility is no longer limited to individuals but extended to programmes and institutions themselves – the number of offshore campuses is expected to rise from 200 in 2011 to 280 by 2020; and knowledge is becoming more portable thanks to digital education, including MOOCs.

The French exception

France’s approach to the internationalisation of higher education has traditionally been based on influence and cooperation, says the report. It is characterised by a high proportion of foreign students from outside Europe – four-fifths of the total – and especially those of African origin who represented 43% in 2011, compared with less than 10% in other major host countries.

Another feature is its extensive non-tertiary education network throughout the world; more than half of the 320,000 pupils attending its primary and secondary schools are not French nationals, and thus spread French influence abroad.

While only 88 of 3,000 MOOCs are of French origin, 220 million people – 3% of the world’s population – speak French daily, representing a large market, says the report.

On the global downside, French higher education institutions do badly in international rankings, and its split system of universities-grandes écoles and universities- public research organisations are a source of fragmentation. There is a lack of trained staff and strategy within institutions to deal with internationalisation, says the report.

Aims for the future

Charles and Delpech say France must adopt an ambitious strategic approach based on clarifying and prioritising its aims for the internationalisation of higher education. Rather than focusing on numbers of foreign students, this should define the reasons why France wants to attract them.

The authors compare systems in other countries including Australia, the UK and Germany, and present four potential, sometimes overlapping objectives for France. These are:

 

  • To attract talented students and researchers to boost a qualified workforce;
  • To improve the quality of higher education;
  • To provide a source of export revenue for the economy and self-finance for higher education institutions; and
  • To be a strategic instrument for influence and cooperation in the developing world.

They conclude that France must combine educational quality with fairness: “France’s ambition would be to use internationalisation as a lever to improve the quality of higher education and research.

“However, the specific characteristics of the French system – the geographical integration of the incoming mobility flows, principally from Africa; its position as an outsider in the global market because of its language – speak in favour of combining quality with fairness.”

No decrease in public funding

The report says that promoting internationalisation is expensive and, in a tight budgetary situation, charging foreign students is often seen as a way to increase funding for higher education institutions because there is at present no differentiation in university fees no matter where students are from.

But while the writers support the principle of charging non-EU students with the full cost of their studies, except doctoral students who would be exempt, it specifies the fees “must be targeted and serve an ambitious investment plan for the quality of higher education and research”.

They estimate their proposed reform could raise about €850 million (US$940 million), calculated on 102,000 students paying an average €11,101 in annual tuition fees. But they stress that the extra finance should not lead to a cut in public funding.

“This pricing principle must not mean a corresponding decrease in public spending, but must serve one purpose: development of an inclusive internationalisation to enhance the quality of French higher education.”

This investment is crucial to countering the negative effects of introducing the charges, expected to lead to a fall in the present high proportion of non-EU students in the short and medium term, says the report.

Five year plan

The report puts forward a five-year reform plan to ensure fairness and quality, and to reinforce the attractiveness of France’s higher education under a full-fees system.

Measures for fairness entail a “significant readjustment of scholarship policies” in favour of disadvantaged students. The report suggests 30,000 additional grants could be provided in the form of tuition fee exemptions, targeting the French-speaking world, particularly Africa. The estimated cost would be about €440 million a year.

Because international students paying fees would have higher expectations, other services would need developing such as digital education and transnational education. The report estimates at least €1,000 for each international student would need to be allocated to implement such initiatives as French language classes and advice services for accommodation and employment. Such a system would cost about €280 million annually.

Three measures would be introduced to ensure attractiveness. The first would be a €50 million annual allocation to export French programmes and institutions abroad, together with a special unit to promote French transnational education with a €2.5 million budget.

Second would be development of digital education for the French-speaking world, with new funding of about €70 million a year. Third would be a policy to attract and recruit new foreign students, aimed at targeted countries, with the objective of France remaining the leading non-English language destination for international students. Funding for this would amount to €7.5 million a year.

An English-language summary of the report is given in the France Stratégie La Note d’Analyse No 23.

Further reading

 

 


University World News
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150305095959280

Safety concerns grow as campus hate crime increases

Wagdy Sawahel 06 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 357

Arab Muslim education and scientific staff studying and working in western universities and associated research centres are concerned about their safety following last month’s killings of three Arab students near America’s University of North Carolina. Arab Muslim students and academics studying and working in western universities and associated research centres are concerned about their safety following last month’s killings of three Arab students near America’s University of North Carolina.

"This was a hate crime – a crime that would have been defined as terrorism if the roles were reversed," several Muslim student associations and Western academics wrote in an open letter to the campus community about the shootings.

Several reports such as Historical Events and Spaces of Hate: Hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims in post-9/11 America and Hate Crime in the Wake of Terror Attacks: Evidence from 7/7 and 9/11, indicated that attacks worldwide such as the 7 January France-based attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, the September 11 attacks in the US and other attacks around the world have raised fear among overseas Arab Muslim students and academics about the build-up of blanket hostility towards foreigners.

The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s largest bloc of Muslim countries, said the murders of the three Arab students heightened international concerns about “rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts” in the US.

In France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population with five million people and about half from the Maghreb countries, 128 anti-Muslim incidents were reported in the two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo killings. That compared with the 133 incidents reported during the whole of 2014, according to the National Observatory Against Islamophobia.

Investigation

University World News investigated how these events were affecting Arab Muslim students and academics studying abroad, how they were coping and what ways were available to protect them and to make campuses free of hate crime.

"I strongly agree that such events as the Paris attack will affect Middle Eastern and Arab students and academics studying abroad in several ways,” said Libyan scientist Amal Rhema at Victoria University in Melbourne. “For example, they will face more problems when seeking academic acceptance in schools and universities, and in obtaining accommodation and employment."

Nearly 250,000 students from the Middle East and North Africa flock to universities overseas every year to pursue higher education. Saudi Arabia accounts for the highest share with 26% of the students going abroad, followed by Morocco with 18%, and Algeria with 10%.

The favourite destinations for most students are France, which attracts 29%, the US and Britain, according to a recent report.

"We are already seeing sets of anti-terrorism policies not only in France but in Western European countries," said Manar Sabry, an Egyptian higher education expert at the State University of New York.

Sabry added that Arab students might be reluctant to go to the US or Europe because of fear of discrimination and the uncertainty about protective measures taken by the governments, as well as the longer time taken to conduct security checks to grant visas.

"We may also see greater tension in universities against all Muslim and Arab descendants in France as well as in several European countries," she said.

Impact on Arab students

Calestous Juma, co-chair of the African Union's High-Level Panel on Science, Technology and Innovation, and director of the Science, Technology and Globalization Project at Harvard University, agreed: "The world community needs to focus attention on xenophobia and hate crimes," he said.

Juma said the Paris shootings were one concern because such an event had "a chilling effect on the international mobility of students", but that public education and enhanced security could provide some comfort.

A guide to hate crime for international students in the US was produced to protect Arab students and others, especially after the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war. Other reports such as Hate Crimes on Campus: The problem and efforts to confront it have also been published.

On the other hand, Egyptian scientist Farouk El-Baz, director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, USA, said that unfortunate events such as the attacks in Paris should have no effect on Arab students studying abroad.

El-Baz, who is also a member of the Presidential Advisory Council for Egypt’s Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, said Arab students abroad should separate themselves from such inhuman events: "There should be no link between such events and the sincere efforts of those seeking knowledge," he said.

El-Baz's views were echoed by Abdelkader Djeflat, an Algerian higher education expert at the University of Lille in France: “There is no fear whatsoever at the university where I work," Djeflat said.

Similarly, Anouar Majid, a Moroccan-born higher education expert and vice-president for global affairs at the University of New England in the US, said: “I don’t expect anything to change dramatically. Jihadism will be monitored more closely, for sure, but university students will be fine."

Arab students may move

Manar Sabry, however, expected that new students would probably seek safe destinations, while some current students might transfer to a different country if they felt threatened in their western universities.

"The students who will continue their studies should be vigilant regarding any act of discrimination or hate crimes and should record and report such actions to their universities and to the authorities," she said.

Sabry said that authorities and universities in the countries of origin would also consider not sending students to study in France if they believed they faced potential danger.

"International students should be extra careful about any incident around them and avoid questionable situations. Western universities should emphasise their commitment to justice and protection for all students."

She said student unions could play an important role in creating a welcoming environment. They could hold debates, lectures and talks to “narrow the gaps and they can form crisis response teams".

Launching hate-free campuses by engaging the entire campus community in educational programmes, training and activities designed to confront and stop acts of hate, could also be undertaken, Sabry suggested.

Victoria University’s Amal Rhema said one of the ways to deal with hate crime was to make “a big contribution to the media” and give a clear picture of Islam to show that “as Muslims, we are all against these attacks”.

“At the same time, we are also all against insulting the Prophet Muhammad in particular and the religion of Islam in general,” she added.


University World News
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150304090706286

The lonely shame of student debt

Ryan Anderson, The Chronicle of Higher Education
06 March 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 357

The young woman student working for the debt-collecting agency did not know that student loans contain few to no consumer protections. Say what you will about the credit-card industry – at least consumers who get into trouble still have basic legal protections. When it comes to student loans, especially private loans, that’s not the case. The phone rings. I answer. Credit-card collector – again. A pleasant voice on the other end of the line: “Can you please verify the last four digits of your Social Security number?” I verify.

This is an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, America’s leading higher education publication. It is presented here under an agreement with University World News.

The voice then asks me if I consent to letting them use my phone number to contact me about my credit-card debt. I say no, I do not consent.

“Well, how would you like us to contact you to give you updates about your account?” You can send the updates in the mail, I tell the voice. “Very well, please hold on while I transfer you.” I hold.

Another pleasant voice comes on the line: “We’re calling about the status of your account. According to our records, you have not made the current minimum payment. We would be glad to process an electronic check for US$92.55 to bring your account current.” No, I say, I can’t do that.

“Well, is there a reason why you can’t make your payment at this time?” the new voice asks.

My answer jumps out of me: “I can’t make the payment because I am deep in student-loan debt, trying to finish graduate school, looking for work, there is no work, the higher education market is completely devastated, I’m raising a kid, and I happened to go to graduate school right in the middle of a global economic implosion. Sorry.”

Silence.

Then the voice says: “I’m in graduate school, too.” She’s just working this job because she has three kids and she’s trying to make ends meet, she explains. She tells me she’s going to finish in a year, and she’s looking into PhD programmes. We end up having a 10-minute conversation about graduate school and debt. Surreal.

I offer one piece of advice: Don’t pay a dime for a PhD. I end by warning her about student loans because they have been stripped of almost every meaningful consumer protection, including the ability to discharge them in bankruptcy. She tells me she had no idea and thanks me for the advice.

Yes, that really happened. What a strange, ironic and revealing conversation. Ironic because the young woman – who works in the debt-collection industry – did not know that student loans contain few to no consumer protections.

Say what you will about the credit-card industry – at least consumers who get into trouble still have basic legal protections. When it comes to student loans (especially private loans), that’s not the case. Far too many people sign up for student loans without knowing how badly the balance of power is tipped in favour of lenders and collection companies.

But the conversation revealed something else as well. The student-debt problem is happening to people across a broad social spectrum, and we don’t always know about others who might be in the same predicament. Many of us assume that we are alone.

Talking about student debt is taboo. Many of us feel shame and embarrassment, and we keep quiet to avoid being seen as complainers or losers. We keep our heads down.

The result is that there are legions of people in the same situation who don’t know that so many others share similar concerns and face similar hardships. This lack of mutually shared knowledge – of a community – helps perpetuate student debt, especially as new generations sign up for student loans without access to the knowledge or experience of those who came before them.

My debt collector and I have a lot in common. But a dehumanised student financial aid bureaucracy, combined with shame and lack of shared knowledge, means we don’t know about that common ground.

What we don’t know about the realities of our own student debt is killing us, and what we don’t know about the debt of those around us is killing us as well. As the folks from Strike Debt so aptly put it: “You are not a loan.”

The possibilities for meaningful change rest on this powerful bit of shared knowledge: We are not alone.

Ryan Anderson recently received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Kentucky and is a lecturer at San Diego State University, USA.


University World News
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150305100626611