Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 20, 2018

A new study looks at the motivations of international students studying in China. According to the study, published in the Journal of Studies in International Education, the number of international students in China has grown more than tenfold since 1995, from 36,855 to 442,773. More than half (57.9 percent) of international students in China come from other countries in Asia.

The study by Wen Wen, an associate professor of higher education at China’s Tsinghua University, and Die Hu, a Ph.D. candidate in international education at the University of California, Los Angeles, is based on both survey results and interviews with 30 international students. The authors found that the reputation of the institution was the most important factor affecting international students’ decisions to study in China. They noted that China has a sizable number of top-ranked universities compared to countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Students from elsewhere in Asia -- with the exception of Japan -- were more concerned with university reputation compared to peers from other countries, while students from Europe, North America and sub-Saharan Africa were comparatively less concerned with quality and reputation indicators.

Economic factors drawing students to China included the low cost of living and the availability of scholarships. The authors noted that the Chinese government provides generous scholarships to students from developing nations, providing the equivalent of $300 million in scholarships to international students each year. Beyond direct economic incentives, the authors observed that students expressed optimism about economic cooperation between China and their home countries and thought that studying in China would give them an edge in their careers.

The authors found that the desire to better understand China and its culture was a relatively less important factor in drawing international students to China. Some students in the study cited political motivations, including -- for students from certain Southeast Asian countries -- anti-Chinese sentiment and limited educational opportunities for ethnic Chinese students back home.

September 20, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute: Kevin Bruyneel, professor of politics at Babson College, explores the phenomenon of settler memory. Learn more about the Academic Minute here


September 19, 2018

Paul Zwier, the professor of law at Emory University who was suspended from teaching earlier this semester for using the N-word in a torts class to discuss a case involving racial discrimination, will only teach nonmandatory courses for the next two years so that no student is obligated to take his class, the university announced Tuesday. In a letter to law students, faculty, staff and alumni, James B. Hughes Jr., Emory’s interim dean of law, said Zwier volunteered to revise the teaching manual for his textbooks to address inclusive ways of covering racially sensitive topics, and he will work with a small group of student leaders and faculty members to promote and participate in dialogues on racial sensitivity. Zwier also will complete sensitivity and unconscious bias training.

Zwier “has agreed that each of the above actions is appropriate, and he is in full support of them,” Hughes wrote. “We are a diverse collection of individuals bound together by a common set of interests and values. We sometimes disagree among ourselves and disappoint each other, but the ties that bind us compel acceptance of our flaws and forgiveness of transgressions -- especially when mistakes are acknowledged, sincere efforts to make amends are made, and forgiveness is sought. At this moment, we are presented with an opportunity to demonstrate and enhance our strength by drawing our community closer together. Let us seize it.”

In a separate memo to the law school, Zwier said that he’d used a word “that can and does cause harm, and I am writing to you to take responsibility for the harm I caused.” He added, “I have learned from this experience, and I am committed to taking positive steps -- altering my torts materials and teacher’s manual to better insure that what happened is less likely to happen again in future discussions of these cases. In my classroom teaching, I will also endeavor to be more sensitive in future conversations about cases involving allegations of racist behavior. Please accept my apology.”

September 19, 2018

Inside Higher Ed's new report, "On-Ramps and Off-Ramps: Alternative Credentials and Emerging Pathways Between Education and Work," is an up-to-the-minute look at how colleges, companies and other players are reconsidering how to measure and recognize knowledge and skills.

The special report, Inside Higher Ed's second, assesses the fast-changing landscape of postsecondary education and training credentials, based on interviews with scores of higher education leaders, corporate officials, policy makers and other experts. Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed's news editor, explores a wide range of examples of new kinds of credentials at all stages of the postsecondary pipeline: apprenticeships and other noncollege preparation for entry-level jobs; new pathways designed to lead to four-year degrees; badges and other add-ons to the traditional bachelor's degree; and shorter, narrower credentials that could disrupt graduate education.

The report also examines the funding sources for the new credentials and the risk that the push for them widens rather than closes racial and gender gaps in educational attainment.

The report is available for purchase here; you may also download a free preview of it from that page. And we invite you to sign up for a webcast on the themes of the report, featuring Inside Higher Ed's editors, on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 2 p.m.

September 19, 2018

Nezar AlSayyad, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, who was suspended this summer for three years without pay for sexually harassing a graduate student, resigned and is planning to sue the institution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. AlSayyad remains barred from campus through 2021, according to an administrative email sent to students, faculty and staff at the College of Environmental Design and obtained by the Chronicle. AlSayyad’s emeritus status reportedly will be withheld for three years, but he will receive his pension and retirement benefits immediately.

AlSayyad has denied the harassment allegations. His attorney told the Chronicle this week that he plans to pursue legal action against the university to challenge his three-year ban and have his emeritus privileges reinstated after the one-year suspension period previously recommended by a faculty committee. A five-month investigation by Berkeley found that AlSayyad spent months grooming a graduate student before putting his hand on her upper thigh and proposing that they go to Las Vegas. Berkeley tripled the terms of the faculty-recommended suspension because administrators determined that AlSayyad had abused his power in trying to isolate the student from other mentors for his personal gain.

September 19, 2018

The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday condemned what it called President Trump’s “disregard for and assault on science,” this time in relation to Trump’s comments about the credibility of a study by George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. AAUP’s statement says that Trump has "falsely claimed that the study, which found some 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria" in 2017, was politically motivated. It cites a recent tweet by Trump saying, "This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"

While the AAUP takes no position on the accuracy or inaccuracy of this or any other study, reads its statement, “such research can be properly evaluated only by qualified experts through open channels of review and debate. Studies of this sort must not become political footballs. For the president of the U.S. to accuse scholars of political bias, without a shred of evidence, is an unacceptable assault on independent research and the academic freedom of scientists.”

The Milken Institute issued a statement last week standing by its research integrity and accuracy. “This study, commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference,” it said. “Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest. We are confident that the number -- 2,975 -- is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”

September 19, 2018

Faculty members at Saint Louis University are raising questions about whether a recent $50 million gift to create a research institute gave inappropriate control over hiring to the donors, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The concerns follow the news that the director of the center was selected jointly by the business school dean and the donors, without faculty input. While many donors specify that their gifts are for certain topics, they typically do not decide who gets hired to do the work. University officials said that the director's position was a staff position, not a faculty position, but professors noted that the person was given a faculty title. University officials have since pledged that the donors will not play a role in faculty hiring.

September 19, 2018

Yale University is launching a five-year, $26 million initiative to “recruit and retain pre-eminent scholars in every field,” President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak announced this week. Some of the resources will be devoted to current professors, including immediate salary adjustments in some areas of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences “where we need to be more competitive,” Salovey and Polak said in a letter to the faculty. They said Yale also will establish a universitywide fund to recruit “truly transformative faculty,” or those professors “who redefine their fields, who not only answer important questions, but change the very questions that are asked. This is a high bar, but we want to encourage schools and departments to pursue such candidates.”

Salovey and Polak said the earmarked funds augment a five-year, $50 million Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative announced in 2015, and that “we remain committed to building a more diverse faculty.” They warned that resources alone are not enough to recruit and retain the best, and that Yale must otherwise work to ensure faculty excellence, such as by searching “again and again without compromising our standards” and maintaining “the highest tenure standards, even when decisions are difficult.” Building the kinds of community and climate that make it “very hard to leave” matters, too, they said.

September 19, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Elizabeth Anderson, assistant professor in the department of earth and environment at Florida International University, describes the challenges of new dams changing the flow of rivers in the Amazon basin. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 18, 2018

The Department of Education has until Oct. 12 to offer a stronger justification for delaying an Obama-era student loan rule issued to help defrauded borrowers. If it can't do so, the rule will take effect, a federal judge said Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss ruled earlier this month that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unlawfully delayed the rule, known as borrower defense, because the decision did not include an adequate rationale. After the delay, consumer groups and Democratic attorneys general sued the department.

DeVos in July issued an overhaul of the rule with tougher standards for defrauded borrowers to get loan forgiveness. Moss's ruling could mean the department must carry out requirements of the much more generous Obama borrower-defense regulations until the expected effective date of the DeVos rule next year.


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