Survey on Canadian Attitudes on Internationalization

A new survey of how domestic Canadian students experience the internationalization of the campus by a Toronto-based consultancy finds mixed results. 

Of the 1,398 students surveyed by Higher Education Strategy Associates, 43 percent counted at least one international student among the five closest friends they made at university. Overall, the study found that students generally have positive attitudes toward the diversity that international students bring to their social lives and the classroom. 

However, the study also identified a number of tensions. Roughly half of respondents agreed with the statement that the presence of international students has considerably enriched their classroom learning experience. However, roughly a third said there have been occasions in which having international students in class hindered their learning experience.

Students in business and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields – which attract large numbers of students from overseas – were least likely to agree that international students had enriched their learning experience. Across all fields of study, students who had a close international friend were more likely to say that international students enriched the classroom experience.

As for the issue of international instructors and teaching assistants, 70 percent of students said they took a course with an international instructor or T.A. who was difficult to comprehend because of his or her English or French ability (the survey is of domestic Canadian students, recall). And 32 percent said an instructor's language level had negatively impacted their ability to succeed in a course.

“None of this should be taken as an argument against internationalization,” the report concludes. “Rather, it suggests two things: first, that the values of internationalization are still in many ways adopted only superficially by Canadian students, and require strengthening. And second, that not enough attention is being paid to the dislocations caused by internationalization, particularly with respect to instructors’ official language abilities. Mitigating those problems is likely key to sustaining students’ support for internationalization over the long run; without it, the large minorities who have had less than positive experiences with campus internationalization could turn into majorities, and the resulting discontent could imperil the entire process."

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Was Russia Seeking Spies With Exchange Program?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been interviewing participants in an exchange program to Russia on whether the head of that program may be trying to recruit agents, The Washington Post reported. The investigation -- first reported in Mother Jones -- concerns the Russian Center for Science and Culture, in Washington, which offers trips to Russia for young professionals, including graduate students. A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington said that the exchanges were legitimate and did not involve the recruitment of xspies. "'All such ‘scaring information’ very much resembles Cold War era," the spokesman said, adding that these reports are an attempt to "distort and to blacken activities of the Russian Cultural Center."


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New index seeks to measure equity in South African universities

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New index compares progress at universities in transforming themselves, post-apartheid. Not all academics applaud the tool.

How the BBC Helped a Dog Earn an MBA

The BBC decided to investigate the M.B.A. program offered by American University of London, and so enrolled a dog named Pete, giving him the fake name Peter Smith and a fake biography with various job titles. The university requires that students submit photographs, but the BBC opted not to send one, since the picture would have shown a dog. No problem. The university offered Pete an M.B.A., with no academic work, for $7,300. In a statement to the BBC, the institution defended itself. "We are not a bogus university … and have always been upfront about our status," said the statement. "We have not applied for accreditation with any American, British or other official agency. Many graduates go on to higher education or hold important positions on the strength of our degrees."


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Federal Cuts for Eurasian and Eastern European Studies

The Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) has learned that the Title VIII program – a U.S. State Department program that funds language training and research in Eurasian and Eastern European studies – did not receive an appropriation for the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Because the money is typically allocated one year and spent the next, that means a significant reduction in the number of fellowships and grants available in 2013-14.

The budget for Title VIII had already sustained cuts: while the funding level averaged about $4.5 million per year throughout the early 2000s, it was cut to $3.3 million in fiscal year 2012, according to an analysis of the funding situation that ASEEES published in its newsletter earlier this year. 

“Government seems to be shortsighted in cutting these small programs that have large outcomes," said Lynda Park, the association's executive director. 

"I think just about every specialist in our field who was trained in the last 25 years was impacted by Title VIII in one form or another.”

ASEEES is maintaining a list on its website of programs that will be suspended for the 2013-14 year. The association is advocating for the restoration of funding for 2014-15. 

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LSE Looking Into Controversial Dismissal of Peking U. Prof

A spokeswoman for the London School of Economics told Times Higher Education that the university is attempting to establish the facts surrounding last week’s dismissal of Xia Yeliang from Peking University, a partner institution of LSE. 

The dismissal of Xia from Peking’s economics department purportedly for political reasons has been widely watched as an important test case for academic freedom in China – one with implications for Western universities collaborating with institutions there. Xia has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party and an advocate of democracy. In September, more than 130 faculty members at Wellesley College signed a letter saying they would urge the administration to reconsider Wellesley’s institutional partnership with Peking if the university fired Xia (as it announced Friday that it had).

Peking has said the reason for firing Xia is his poor teaching record.

Although the LSE spokeswoman told Times Higher Education that the university is looking into the case, the president and vice-chancellor of Cardiff University, another partner institution of Peking, told the newspaper it would be inappropriate to take a position on the matter.

“Universities have their own procedures on accountability, agreed with their governing bodies, and as an autonomous institution we avoid intervening in the complex decisions that other institutions may have to take from time to time,” Colin Riordan said in a statement.

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A call for prerequisites for math and science in Australia

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An Australian report says the disappearance of prerequisites in science and mathematics fields has many students entering universities unprepared, and urges they be reintroduced.

Texas A&M Plans to Open 'Peace Campus' in Israel

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, is traveling with Texas A&M University officials to Israel this week to announce plans to open a branch campus in Nazareth, considered the leading Arab city in Israel, The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported. The campus, which will award Texas A&M degrees, will be called Texas A&M University at Nazareth - Peace Campus, and will aim to educate Christians, Jews and Muslims together. Israeli officials have been pushing to expand higher education opportunities for Arabs in Israel, and are backing the plan by pledging to seek an exemption to Israeli regulations that would normally prohibit the creation of a branch campus by a foreign institution. Texas A&M, which as a public institution cannot use state funds for the project, is planning to raise money for it.


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A Peking U. professor is fired in what's seen as a test case for academic freedom

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Peking U. fires economics professor  in widely watched test case for academic freedom in China -- an outcome that some Western academics have said should raise questions about partnerships there.

Laureate-Affiliated University in Chile May Lose Accreditation

A 34,000-student university in Chile affiliated with Laureate Education, Inc. has received notification from the National Accreditation Commission that its institutional accreditation will not be renewed at the end of its current three-year term. The Universidad de las Américas plans to appeal the decision, which -- if it stands – would mean that new students would be ineligible for government loans or grants.

The university has not yet received the report from the accreditor indicating the reasons for the decision, said Matt Yale, a Laureate spokesman. He’s confident of the university’s chances for a successful appeal nonetheless. 

“We are very confident because this is a really great university with a world-class management team, commitment to student outcomes, and a track record of operating a very good university,” Yale said.

Laureate, a for-profit university system, has grown its overseas footprint rapidly in recent years, expanding to operate 78 institutions in 30 countries. It operates six higher education institutions in Chile, including three full-fledged universities.

Laureate is not the only multinational for-profit education operator to face accreditation woes in Chile. In 2012, the National Accreditation Commission rescinded its approval of the Universidad de Artes, Ciencias y Comunicación, which is operated by Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix.

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