Much of the student travel at my former institution, a traditional liberal arts college, involved semesters at Oxford, or in Florence, or maybe someplace with easy access to Australian beaches. At my current place, a teaching-intensive public institution where students are mostly Pell-eligible, first-generation or students of color (and many are all three), international study can be just as important. But it often takes very different forms.
More than 90 percent of the students at my institution grew up in this region and will spend their working lives here. Most have never been out of the country, and many have never left southern New England. That means that we have to create quite different travel opportunities for our students than does the liberal arts college down the road, whose students are much more likely to have passports.
What I explain to job candidates when they come through my office is that our longstanding connections with other countries and their higher education institutions tend to be mission centered. Now, that's not a phrase that many new Ph.D.s have encountered at their graduate institutions. The mission at a doctoral institution doesn't tend to be a topic of discussion for graduate students, and I'm not sure how much missions differ amongst R1 institutions. (I see that my alma mater's mission indicates its desire to be a "world leader in professional, medical and technological education").
But at my regional comprehensive university, we take seriously the official mission of the institution to "support and advance the economic and cultural life of the region" as well as the mission enshrined in the university's strategic goals: that the university "serve as an agent of social justice, instilling in all members of the university community a deeper understanding of the impact they have on the greater good and our world."
Part of my job as a dean is to help job candidates and new faculty members understand that strategic goals and mission can actually mean something. So when I try to sell them on the opportunity to take students abroad, I frame it in terms of our campus understanding of social justice. We take students every year, especially from our College of Education and Allied Studies, to Belize to work with the ministry of education there on a program to keep children and teens in school.
Meanwhile, biology majors and others go to Cambodia every year to work on clean water issues and do some English teaching. Anthropologists take students to Trinidad to work with community organizations on reforestation. Students go to, and come from, Cape Verde, where my university has played a key role in helping to establish the University of Cape Verde -- thanks to our former president, the son of Cape Verdean immigrants who has close ties both to our large local Cape Verdean population and the island itself.
What I want candidates to understand is that some of those trips may be in-and-out voluntourism, but all of them are part of a larger campus ethic not of noblesse oblige but of diversity and social justice -- and at a public institution. That's different, I think, from diversity and social justice goals at a private, tuition-dependent institution. When a public institution, with annual tuition and fees of $8,000, talks about diversity and social justice, it means offering a food pantry for its own students as well as offering students opportunities to serve others. We can't arrange study abroad opportunities that only privileged students can take up. We have to set up short-term trips so that students don't have to miss too much time at their jobs. And we have to try to subsidize the expenses, or we violate our own values.
Three of the faculty members in my college are trying to arrange a study tour to South Africa for our students. They have great ideas about it, involving studying nation formation and monuments and all kinds of historical and cultural investigation that can make for a great student experience. I went to South Africa myself this winter (on my own dime, not on state money), and I worked on setting up some contacts for us at the kind of institution that lines up with our students and our mission. But the toughest thing about setting up a way to take our students to South Africa will be figuring out how to get the costs down to a level at which our average student could think about going.
I'd be interested in hearing from readers about ways you make study abroad opportunities work for low-income students. Travel scholarships? Work opportunities that enable students to save for travel? Cost-saving arrangements with international universities?
I genuinely believe that if you can get students out of the country when they are 19 or 20 years old, their identities change. They become people who travel -- for the rest of their lives. And, goodness knows, we need more people who aren't afraid to go out and learn about someone else's culture.
Students who are at more elite institutions have many opportunities to do that, and their educations are the richer for it. Think about how much study abroad opportunities could enrich the undergraduate experience of the hardworking, not-so-privileged students who attend a regional public institution.
Paula M. Krebs is dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, in Massachusetts. On Twitter, she is @PaulaKrebs.
The Middle East Studies Association’s new letter to Turkish government officials raising concerns about the “pattern of persecution” against scholars who signed a petition opposing military actions in Turkey's southeast includes a “nonexhaustive” nine-page appendix documenting instances in which signatories have faced repercussions, including in the form of criminal and university-level disciplinary investigations and suspension and termination from academic positions.
"The astonishing scope of the prosecutions, disciplinary investigations and campaigns of private harassment directed against the 1,128 signatories of the peace petition is staggering," says the letter, from the association's Committee on Academic Freedom. "We have never before amassed such a record of violations of academic freedom and freedom of expression in such a short period in the history of our activities in defense of academic freedom in the countries of the Middle East."
Three Manchester University students from Africa were killed and a fourth was injured early Sunday after being struck by a van along Interstate 69 in Indiana, the Associated Press reported. The students were standing outside their disabled vehicle when they were struck by the van, whose driver has been charged with reckless homicide and driving a vehicle while intoxicated.
According to a message from Manchester’s president, the crash killed Nerad Grace Mangai, Brook M. Dagnew and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu. A fourth student, Israel Solomon Tamire, is being treated for injuries at a Fort Wayne, Ind. hospital. The students all came from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the exception of Mangai, who came from Jos, Nigeria. Mangai and Dagnew were both sophomores majoring in biochemistry. Hailu was a first-year medical technology major at the private Indiana college, which enrolls about 1,500 students.
Six members of Israel's Council for Higher Education announced that they were resigning from the body, potentially preventing it from making decisions as it now lacks the required membership of 19, The Jerusalem Post reported. The resignations were a protest over the actions of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the council. He recently ousted the vice chair of the council and pushed through his own candidate for the position. Critics say that Bennett's candidate was not, as is custom and some believe required, a full professor at a research university.
"Over the past several years, I hear the same thing -- human rights conditions have gotten worse," U.S. Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said in written remarks distributed by his office. "Human rights lawyers are 'disappeared' for simply trying to represent the poor and vulnerable. Labor rights advocates are targeted, academics and students muzzled, civil society and ethnic minorities increasingly are viewed as a security threat."
Smith said he visited NYU's Shanghai campus at the invitation of Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman, who testified at a June hearing the congressman chaired on academic freedom issues raised by American universities developing campuses and partnerships in China.
"As a university committed to exploring ideas from multiple perspectives, we were pleased to welcome Rep. Chris Smith, the first sitting member of the U. S. Congress to visit the NYU Shanghai campus since its inception a little over three years ago," Thomas Bruce, NYU Shanghai's senior counselor, said via email.
"Smith spoke with passion and vigor, and the multinational audience, comprised of NYU Shanghai's faculty, staff and students, was equally passionate and vigorous during a lengthy, challenging question and answer session," Bruce added.
The event was open only to the "NYU Shanghai community," and not the general public.
Student protestors at the University of Cape Town on Tuesday night burned artwork, set a shuttle bus and a research vehicle on fire, and petrol bombed the vice chancellor’s office, according to the university. Eight students were arrested and six suspended.
The night of vandalism began after students associated with the Rhodes Must Fall movement refused a university request to move a shack they had erected to protest what they describe as discrimination against black students in the allocation of university housing. The university -- which had asked students to move the shack to an alternative location, citing traffic blockage and safety concerns -- denies claims of discrimination and says that three-quarters of students in university housing are black. Cape Town reports having 6,800 beds, enough for about a quarter of its 27,000 students.
The Rhodes Must Fall movement coalesced at Cape Town last spring around a successful effort to bring about the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the British imperialist and diamond magnate who donated the land for Cape Town's campus, and describes itself as a “student, staff and worker movement mobilizing against institutional white supremacist capitalist patriarchy for the complete decolonization of UCT.” The group posted on its Facebook page a link to an Eyewitness News video showing police dispersing protesters with stun grenades and rubber bullets.
The University of Manitoba has announced that its Senate has approved a plan to reserve 45 percent of the slots in its education bachelor's program for various diversity categories. The goal of the effort is to add to the diversity of those who teach in Canada's elementary and secondary schools. The program will go into effect next year and the slots will be reserved for those who are: from Canadian indigenous groups; "racialized persons," including indigenous people from outside of Canada; people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; people with disabilities; and people who are economically disadvantaged.
Thousands of students and professors across India are protesting after the president of the student union at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in Delhi, was arrested Friday on sedition charges, The Guardian reported. Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested following accusations that “anti-Indian” slogans were used at a campus demonstration marking the anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri man convicted for his involvement in a deadly 2001 attack on India’s parliament. Kumar has denied making anti-Indian statements.
One of the few institutions to practice need-blind admissions for applicants from abroad will begin considering the financial need of prospective international undergraduates in admissions decisions.
Under its current policy, Cornell University does not consider need in assessing applications from international students -- but because it has a limited budget for international student aid ($11.5 million out of a total $235 million aid budget last year) it also does not offer aid to every international student with demonstrated need. Under a new need-aware admission policy for international students, to begin with the fall 2017 admission cycle, Cornell intends to provide all admitted students, including all admitted international students, with aid packages meeting 100 percent of their demonstrated need.
Barbara Knuth, the senior vice provost and dean of the graduate school, said the total budget for international student financial aid will remain stable.
“This is not at all meant as a budget-cutting move,” she said. “The intention of it is to give us more ability to actively manage enrollment, because there are clearly differences in yield,” the percentage of admitted students who choose to come to Cornell. “International students who were admitted and are offered financial aid yield at about a 90 percent rate. International admitted students who do not apply for aid yield at a rate of about 65 percent, but international students who apply for aid but are not offered aid yield at about 30 percent. It makes it a lot harder to manage for the geographic and global diversity that we’re trying to achieve in the international student population because the yield is comparatively low for that group," Knuth said.
“The other purpose of this of course is to avoid those very difficult situations where international students who are admitted who have demonstrated financial need but are not awarded any aid may in fact run into challenges meeting their educational expenses,” she continued. “We have had difficult situations like that. It’s very hard financially and psychologically on the student as well as the family.”
Cornell is still need blind for U.S. citizen and permanent resident applicants. Knuth said the change in policy will bring Cornell in line with peer institutions in the Ivy League that are also need aware for international applicants, including Brown and Columbia Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania. (Dartmouth announced a change from need-blind to need-aware admissions for international students last fall.) The wealthiest three Ivies -- Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities-- are need blind and committed to meeting full demonstrated need for all international students.
Juliana Batista, the president of Cornell's Student Assembly, said she worries about the loss of opportunity for international students under a need-aware admissions policy. “Moving into a need-aware policy really disregards some of the exceptional students that have come to Cornell in the past,” she said. Batista, who stressed that she was not speaking on behalf of the whole assembly, said that some international students who don’t receive aid from Cornell might apply for private scholarships after admission or find a way to pay for college with the help of a relative or by leveraging a financial asset of some kind.
“Essentially, you are not allowing those students the opportunity to find a way to finance their education,” she said.
In addition to becoming need aware for international students, Cornell also announced that beginning in fall 2016 it would treat undergraduate students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status the same as U.S. citizens and permanent residents for admission and financial aid purposes. That means that they will be eligible for need-blind admission and will no longer have to compete with international students for the limited pool of financial aid funds available to them. Because DACA students are not eligible for federal and state grants and loans, Cornell intends to provide institutional aid in their place. (Note:This paragraph has been corrected to reflect that it was Cornell University that announced a change in policy for DACA applicants. The original article misstated the name of the institution.)
A new directive from China’s Ministry of Education calls for stepping up “patriotic education” efforts – including for students studying at universities abroad, The New York Timesreported.
“Assemble the broad numbers of students abroad as a positive patriotic energy,” says the directive, which was publicized by the state news outlet Xinhua on Tuesday. “Build a multidimensional contact network linking home and abroad -- the motherland, embassies and consulates, overseas student groups, and the broad number of students abroad -- so that they fully feel that the motherland cares.”