international

Universities Canada Approves Antibias Requirement

Members of the Universities Canada association voted Wednesday in favor of a new criterion for membership related to nondiscrimination.

The new criterion approved by more than two-thirds of members present at the association’s fall meeting states: “With respect to all institutional policies and practices, the institution affirms its commitment to equal treatment of all persons without discrimination, on the basis of race, religious beliefs, color, gender, physical or mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, family status, sex, and sexual orientation, or other grounds identified in applicable human rights law.”

Prospective Universities Canada members must immediately meet the new criterion, while existing members have until 2020 to make any changes necessary to meet it.

Helen Murphy, a spokeswoman for Universities Canada, said the addition of the criterion was not prompted “by any one incident or issue. Rather, the board believes that this new criterion reflects the views and principles of a majority of our members and Canadians. The decision of our membership demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion by Canada’s universities.”

A statement on the association’s website prior to the vote said that, if the criterion were to be adopted, “member institutions could not have policies, processes or codes of conduct that discriminate based on ‘protected grounds’ -- for example, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or color.” It further noted, however, that “the intention is not to restrict member institutions from hiring protocols aligned with their specific university mission. For example, it would not restrict a Francophone institution from hiring French-speaking faculty and staff, or a faith-based institution from hiring faculty and staff who are part of their faith community.”

But what about other policies, such as language in a “community covenant” at Trinity Western University, a Christian university in British Columbia, that stipulates that members of the university community will voluntarily abstain from, among other things, “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”?

Asked about this specific policy, Murphy of Universities Canada deferred to the association's board: “With respect to any specific university policy, it will be the role of our Board of Directors to apply the institutional review policy in any case raised and make a recommendation, if necessary, to the membership. Any recommendation to remove an institution from membership would require approval by two-thirds of members present for a vote,” she said.

In a statement, Trinity Western’s president said he believes the university is in compliance with the new membership criterion. “We’ve been aware of the possibility of a bylaw change for some time,” Bob Kuhn, the president, said in a written statement. “Trinity Western University has always had a clear commitment to complying with all applicable human rights laws. Universities Canada’s new bylaw is informed by these laws, which make allowances for faith-based and other specialized institutions. We believe we comply with the new bylaw, and we will remain a valued member of Universities Canada as we have for more than 32 years.”

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Some Egyptian SAT Scores Canceled

The scores of an unspecified “subset” of Egyptian students who sat for the October SAT have been canceled “based on evidence that a test preparation organization illegally obtained and shared the test content before the administration,” said the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the SAT.

“We've done our best to limit the number of students whose scores were canceled,” Jaslee Carayol, a spokeswoman for the College Board, said via email. “Without the cooperation of the test-prep organization, we were unable to determine which students had access to the test materials, so we had to cancel the scores of all students who may have seen them. Therefore, score cancellation alone should not reflect on the integrity of any individual student. Any scores that institutions do receive from applicants in Egypt are valid and accurate.”

Carayol declined to say how many students' scores were canceled, saying that the College Board “cannot share further details because making certain details public could compromise our prevention and detection processes.”

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The Choice to Study in Canada

The majority of American students who study in Canada, particularly those at the undergraduate level, do so primarily because of the relatively lower tuition fees of Canadian universities, according to a new report from Universities Canada based on eight focus groups of Americans studying over the northern border.

The report, titled “Heading North: The Experience of American Students at Canadian Universities” and funded with a grant from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, notes that students are also motivated by the opportunity to experience another culture while remaining close to home.

At the graduate level, students typically are drawn by specific programs, fields of research or faculty members. The report identifies a lack of funding opportunities as the primary obstacle to Americans wanting to pursue graduate degrees in Canada.

American students in the focus groups used positive terms to characterize their experiences at Canadian universities, including in relation to the quality of academic programs and campus life. They expressed mixed opinions on the ease of Canada's immigration and visa processes.

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Fears expressed about future of key European research program

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Are low chances of being funded discouraging best researchers from key European Commission program?

U of Cincinnati Suspends International Student Fee

The University of Cincinnati has agreed to suspend a new, controversial $150-per-semester fee required of international students, WCPO News reported. The university won't charge the fee for the coming spring semester but may bring it back in some future form. The fee is smaller than those charged at some other large universities but has caused considerable anger at Cincinnati. The university says it needs the extra money to provide services to international students. But critics say some international students are on tight budgets and they already pay substantially more in tuition (because they are from out of state) than do Ohio residents.

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Conference spotlights effort to send more students from minority-serving institutions abroad

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At Generation Study Abroad summit, panelists discuss how to get a more diverse group of students abroad, including students enrolled at minority-serving institutions.

Trump Threatens Visas for Those From China

Donald Trump's various statements on visa policy have alarmed many in international education, with most of the concerns focused on the potential impact on students coming from countries with large Muslim populations, countries for which the Republican presidential candidate has vowed to heighten scrutiny of visa applications. In a speech on Saturday, Trump made a new promise on immigration. He said he would "begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back." While he did not name countries, The New York Times noted that this policy would affect visas for people from China. More international students come to the United States from China than from any other country.

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New Multinational Network of Universities in Europe

The founding president of a new network of nine research universities in Europe says the member institutions are united by “the conviction that there is no trade-off between research excellence by global standards, broad access for students and an inclusive academic environment and societal impact in research, teaching and outreach.”

Jaap Winter, founding president of the Aurora Network, and the president of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, described plans to hold workshops and share practices across like-minded member institutions. “We found kindred spirits in our ambition, and we think we can learn a lot,” Winter said of the new network, which is being launched today.

All nine of the founding members of the network are part of different funding systems. In addition to Vrije, the eight other participating universities are: Université Grenoble-Alpes, in France, and the Universities of Aberdeen (in Scotland), Antwerp (in Belgium), Bergen (in Norway), Duisburg-Essen (in Germany), East Anglia (in England), Gothenburg (in Sweden) and Iceland.

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The need to be culturally aware when advising students (essay)

As an adviser to college-age students, it could be easy for me to say “major in what you love” and be done. Research shows that employers often recruit for transferrable skills, and there is no direct correlation between one’s major and career. In fact, Forbes magazine has presented research findings indicating that only 27 percent of college graduates are working in a job that relates to their major.

The story I most like to tell is of a former student who studied religion and went on to immediately work for a National Basketball Association team in marketing and sales. However, I then recall one of my most challenging advising situations with an Asian-American student whose passion was English, but her parents held to the idea of a “practical” major that would assure her employability. In that situation, an English major alone would not be the option for her -- she could never satisfy cultural values surrounding interdependence and filial piety and be content with following her passion. This situation resolved itself with a compromise: she double majored in English and finance.

Google the phrase “Does your major matter?” and you will find that most articles out there succinctly state, “Nope, doesn’t matter.” Yet, sometimes, it does. To be better advisers, we need to consider the cultural baggage a student brings to a conversation when discussing their major.

We should not presume that factual arguments surrounding employability, regardless of major, will suffice in discussions with parents and other family members. That can appear ethnocentric, as it fails to consider cultural values and norms that are outside American ideologies of independence. If we continually advise without understanding diverse students’ practical concerns, while appreciating their distinct cultural value systems, we inadvertently project the idea that independence is the norm and interdependence is an erroneous way of thinking. In short, we add to the already pre-existing dissonance that a student is bringing to the academic discussion.

For example, one student whom I queried recalls focusing on biology and medicine because she wanted to make her parents happy. While a discussion with an adviser about alternate options would have been fruitful, advisers who merely espouse majoring in one’s own personal interest could have devalued the real, interdependent factors at play in her decision-making process. Although some experts such as Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci may argue that decisions made based on one’s own interests may be less depleting than those based on external factors like family wishes, a confounding variable must be considered: If the intrinsic beliefs of interdependence are held strongly, how does a college-age student balance that conflict?

When I asked a Korean international student about her major, she said that had her parents not been happy with her major, she would not have been happy herself. A Nigerian-American student said to me, “The family that helped you get to a point where you could make a choice between what you love and what pays better: When it comes time to choose, how could you not choose them? [It] is no longer a choice between two careers but a choice between loves -- the love for your family and for your career. It also becomes a choice between two futures -- one where you are happy and your family miserable, or vice versa. That is when you look at how they helped you get to where you have this choice, and you realize that there is really no choice.”

Happiness in pursuit of one’s own interest may then sacrifice happiness in areas of interdependence. The question for advisers is how our own cultural values influence our advising and potentially devalue the cultural history a student brings into our office.

As culturally competent advisers, we need to allow students the space to share their employability concerns, ask the questions of where their concerns come from and engage in conversation about how feasible it is for them to minimize family conflict (if it is incongruent to their well-being) while pursuing a passion. It is our responsibility to ferret out reasons why a student may not readily adopt the idea that majoring in a passion is a path to consider -- and that it may not necessarily be the “right” and “only” path a student can and should take.

As we advise, it is also important to consider acculturation in discussions with students from diverse backgrounds. For Asian-Americans, studies have shown that differences in acculturation levels between parents and young adults can lead to an increased likelihood of family conflict. But they have also highlighted the importance of family social support in mitigating psychological and bicultural stress.

In addition, many studies continue to indicate differences between white American college students and those from ethnic minority groups. Thus, when we as advisers only advocate following one’s passion, we should ask of ourselves if we are microaggressors, telling students that is the only right way to engage in education. This generation of college students will probably be the first that does not outstrip their parents in earnings. Therefore, a practical major and earnings potential are a real and true concern for our student population.

That is not to say, however, that we, as seasoned advisers, should not continue to encourage students to major in their areas of interest. Indeed, our goals are to help students discover what they enjoy and want to engage with more deeply, and to encourage them to consider education as part of their engagement in developing their identities. Surely, we can all easily identify a vast number of students who have majored in what one may consider an “impractical” major and gone on to make more money than we, with our doctorates, may ever see.

But given the vastly different backgrounds of the students whom we advise, to be an effective adviser, to connect and encourage, we must also be cognizant that our roles will also entail tactful discussions that go beyond merely saying, “Do what you love, and it will all work out.”

June Y. Chu is dean of Pierson College at Yale University.

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Study looks at impact of study abroad on Chinese academics who return home

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Those educated in the West are more likely than others to eventually be promoted to full professors. But those who earned Ph.D.s in China are more likely than others to land top administrative jobs.

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