English Language Feeds

Minority Serving Institutions Are Successful at Improving Students’ Economic Status, New ACE Report Finds

American Council on Education - 4 min 38 sec ago
Minority serving institutions move students up the economic ladder at two to three times the rates of non-MSIs, according to a new ACE report. The analysis reveals MSIs' value as a path to greater prosperity for students and families.

ACE Names LaMarr A. Smith and Justin Darnall 2017 Students of the Year

American Council on Education - 4 min 38 sec ago
LaMarr A. Smith, a health claims representative and business student from Buffalo, and Justin Darnall, a Marine veteran and aspiring aerospace engineer from Denver, will be presented with the honor at ACE2018.

Judy C. Miner, Chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College District, Elected ACE Board Chair

American Council on Education - 4 min 38 sec ago
ACE's membership also elected Barbara R. Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve University, as vice chair; and R. Barbara Gitenstein, president of The College of New Jersey, secretary.

New ACE Paper Explores Challenges to HBCUs in Internationalization

American Council on Education - 4 min 38 sec ago
The paper is the culmination of a three-year research project that was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, where seven HBCUs worked with ACE to develop campus-wide internationalization strategies.

NAO verdict: Innocent students may have been wrongly removed

The PIE News - 1 hour 37 min ago

“Some people may have been wrongly accused and in some cases, unfairly removed from the UK”: this is the verdict of the UK’s National Audit Office which has assessed the case of international students who were accused of cheating in TOIEC exams needed to gain the right to study in the country.

The government watchdog has released a report into the Home Office’s handling of the so-called TOEIC cheating scandal. 

It states that while widespread cheating has taken place, the Home Office failed to protect those who may have been wrongly accused – and also those who were caught up in the fallout as their colleges were subsequently closed.

“When the Home Office acted vigorously to exclude individuals and shut down colleges involved… we think they should have taken an equally vigorous approach to protect those who did not cheat but who were still caught up in the process, however small a proportion they might be,” head of NAO Amyas Morse said.

“This did not happen.” ​

In 2014, thousands of international students had their visa cancelled or were detained or deported on allegations of cheating. According to NAO, 11,000 left the country; 7,200 voluntarily and 2,500 were forcibly removed. A further 400 were refused re-entry to the country.

“They should have taken an equally vigorous approach to protect those who did not cheat”

In 2014, the report explained, ETS used new voice recognition technology to assess whether a test had been taken by a proxy, and identified 97% of all UK tests as suspicious.

It classified 39% as “questionable” and 58% of 58,459 tests as “invalid,” – these were the visas the Home Office started cancelling, the report states, although it “did not have the expertise to validate the results nor did it, at this stage, get an expert opinion on the quality of the voice recognition evidence.”

Subsequently, there were “competing” views on the validity of the technology, the report added.

Although 49% of invalid tests were taken by highly fluent English speakers, some scores are “not easily explained” by the methods of cheating identified by the BBC documentary, but have not been investigated by the Home Office, NAO explained.

“The NAO has confirmed – as many have been pointing out for years now – that “those affected might have been branded as cheats, lost their course fees, and been removed from the UK without being guilty of cheating,” Stephen Timms MP said.

“And… there is real doubt if a recording held by ETS is really the one for that applicant.

“Thousands have been unfairly penalised, with catastrophic consequences for many,” he added.

Timms called on the Home Secretary to give the students a chance to clear their name by offering them a fresh English test.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, added, “The NAO’s investigation lays bare the Home Office’s concerning reliance on voice recognition evidence to detect cheating; only subjecting it to independent review after two years of using it as the basis to revoke visas.”

She urged the Home Office to check whether its response had been fair and proportionate for all those involved.

Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan said the report proved the Home Office failed to scrutinise the evidence provided by ETS despite “significant flaws” in the data.

“Those affected might have been removed from the UK without being guilty”

“The way the Home Office has treated these students makes a mockery of the British justice system… and the impact has been devastating.

“Those still living under the shadow of the allegation and fighting to clear their names are living every day in growing despair,” she said.

Ramadan added that NAO reporting that 2,500 have been forcibly deported and 400 stopped from entering the UK (numbers which it defined a possible “underestimate”) prove that the threat of detention and deportation is real.

Speaking to The PIE, English UK chief executive Sarah Cooper said that while there have been other threats to the reputation of the UK as an international education destination, this shouldn’t be underestimated – but the industry, she said, has come a long way from 2014 and close collaboration with government will prevent this from happening again.

“We must encourage collaboration [with government], so we can protect the reputation of the sector while supporting individual students… we have a moral responsibility when we recruit international students to give them the best possible experience,” she said.

Universities UK said it will discuss any concerns universities have with the new APPG on TOEIC and urged the government to learn the lesson from this “damaging episode” and prevent it from happening again.

“Where there is evidence that innocent students have had historic, wrongful action taken against them then the Home Office should act swiftly to correct this,” a spokesperson said.

“We have a moral responsibility to give [international students] the best possible experience”

“In individual cases where allegations of cheating were made, universities – having previously acted on advice from the Home Office – will have to make decisions based on individual circumstances and wider policies.”

The Home Office relayed that the Home Secretary will make a statement in Parliament upon consideration of the report.

“The report is clear on the scale and organised nature of the abuse, which is demonstrated by the fact that 25 people who facilitated this fraud have received criminal convictions,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

Additional reporting by Kerrie Kennedy.

The post NAO verdict: Innocent students may have been wrongly removed appeared first on The PIE News.

Tracking Canada’s “tremendous” growth curve

The PIE News - 1 hour 45 min ago

At Languages Canada conference in 2018, the chair of the association’s advocacy committee Gary Gervais told The PIE that despite its enormous success, the Canadian international education industry doesn’t get the recognition he feels it deserves.

“In the aerospace industry, if someone sneezes it usually makes front page news,” he says. “International education in Canada now is bigger than aerospace in terms of economic impact, yet we rarely get recognition in society.”

At the same conference, a delighted trade commissioner announced that Canada had reached its goal to host more than 450,000 students as of December 2017 – a target that was set for 2022.

And with attractive post-study work policies in place, a reputation for quality education, a welcoming environment and shifts in global competition, the country’s boom period looks set to continue.

Growth is all around

If 2017 was the year of records, 2018 showed another 16% growth, especially from India – which overtook China at the helm, according to IRCC data.

All sectors have been growing – and not only in terms of student numbers.

“There has been a tremendous amount of growth in the last decade in every aspect of internationalisation – recruitment, research partnerships, joint programming, collaborations, even internationalisation at home,” Universities Canada assistant director of international relations Cindy McIntyre tells The PIE

Image: Pexels

Languages Canada, which introduced new membership criteria to reinforce its identity as a national association of quality language education providers at last year’s conference, also registered growth in 2017.

Gonzalo Peralta, Languages Canada’s executive director,  thinks that numbers would be even higher were the language teaching sector to benefit from the same work rights policy that makes other study streams so attractive. It lost such rights in 2014.

“Our members lost 15 per cent of their student numbers and revenue, so the impact was substantial,” Peralta recalls. “Our numbers are finally back to levels higher than 2014, but they would certainly be higher still with an appropriate work rights policy for language students.”

Sherri Motohashi, principal at iTTTi Vancouver, one in a self-identified “dwindling breed” of single-location ESL providers, says the lack of work rights and the difficulty to offer pathways have impacted their typical source markets.

“Traditionally good markets for us have changed a lot… Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Colombia are our top providers, but Korea is on the decline as students are not interested in ESL for ESL purposes and want immigration or work options,” she explains.

In the future, she sees an increase in the junior market and study for immigration pathways, and difficult times for adult ESL, with the combined pressure of increased competition and rising agency commissions. 

“Traditionally good markets for us have changed a lot”

The language teaching industry, she says, needs to continue lobbying for language students’ work rights to be in line with what other competitor countries are doing.

Many of the largest ESL chains – ILAC, ILSC and Tamwood, for example – pivoted to offering career training when work rights were removed from the language training industries in Canada. 

Lack of long-term planning?

Meanwhile, McIntyre at Universities Canada suggests global competition is shifting.

“With the US and the UK seeming a little less attractive to international students due to recent political trends, I think our key competitor would be Australia right now,” she says. The feeling is mutual in Australia.

But global dynamics do change unexpectedly, and within Canada, some question the country’s preparedness to react to policy shifts.

“If there is a change in government in the US, the appeal to study in the US could return and affect Canadian numbers. If there is a pandemic in any of the top five source markets, this could also have an immediate and negative effect,” Gabriela Facchini, international business development and partnerships manager of Ontario’s Sheridan College, tells The PIE

Facchini says that the industry is “in a bubble” right now, with many institutions in growth management mode, and she fears some may not be looking at the bigger picture.

“Changes can burst the bubble and I think that Canadian schools are not paying enough attention to how to prepare for changes that will eventually come,” she suggests.

But beyond the challenges that lurk in the future, the unprecedented growth in student numbers is exposing other issues across the whole industry.

Image: Pexels

“Diversity is a key area where we are placing our efforts,” says Doug Weir, executive director, student programs and services at the University of Alberta. 

“Creating a diverse campus enhances the student experience and helps graduate students that are capable to fully participate in the global world.”

Beyond its educational importance, diversification is an urgent market need, as the diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia in 2018 showed, with the rapid removal of the majority of sponsored Saudi students after a political storm a perfect example of sudden market upheaval.

“We only had 10 students from Saudi Arabia, but if the market had been India, we would have lost more than 45 per cent of our [cohort],” admits Facchini, who says the college is focusing on shifting its reliance and targeting other markets such as Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam.

The issue is also top of mind for Universities Canada members, McIntyre adds, and will be a part of the ongoing marketing and branding efforts in the future.

Country roads

International students clustering around the major urban centres have contributed to some pressure on the system. Vancouver is a pronounced example, where housing shortages are often making headlines – but a temporary lack of student housing was also recently in the news in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

In other instances, capacity is a problem – for higher education consultant John Shalagan, this is a new and serious issue for colleges and universities, which have been left free to set their international enrolment growth “with mixed results,” he says. 

However, capacity seems to be an issue only in some particular pockets at an institution level more than a geographical one. 

“Growth means something very different in every campus in this country,” explains Larissa Bezo, interim president and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

She adds that across the membership of CBIE, some institutions have a significant number of international students while others have yet to reach the target.

Further growth potential lies outside of those pockets, and Bezo points to what is happening in Atlantic Canada as a good example of lateral thinking.

“It’s a very proactive approach trying to promote a region in Canada where there is a strong desire to welcome larger numbers of students, with the concerted effort to create pathways for their integration, work and beyond,” she says.

If Canada has become a magnet for international students, its outbound mobility still leaves stakeholders unsatisfied.

CBIE and Universities Canada have called on the government to endorse a goal of 25 per cent of all Canadian students having an international education experience by 2028.

“We need to nurture the welcoming initiatives that we have in our campuses”

Outbound is also a priority in the college sector. “We are dreaming to have something like the Erasmus+ program in North America,” Amyot says.

UC’s McIntyre adds that international students in Canada will gain more exposure to indigenous culture, a priority her organisation has for all students. Another future trend she sees is initiatives building bonds between indigenous students in Canada and other countries. “There is a lot to be gained from those kinds of connections,” she says.

The government has allocated millions to supporting outbound student mobility in its latest federal budget.

The industry won’t rest on its International Education Strategy goal laurels either, aware of the ebbs and flows of the market and geopolitical situations. “We need to nurture the welcoming initiatives that we have in our campuses. We can’t just sit here and say ‘well, this is great’,” Bezo says.

And if the industry’s reaction to the Saudi crisis is anything to go by, she adds, there is much hope for the future.

“There has been enormous goodwill and coordinated effort across institutions and associations,” she says. “I am encouraged by our ability to be nimble, responsive and proactive – other issues or challenges may come as the sector advances.”

This is an abridged version of an article that originally appeared in the October 2018 edition of The PIE Review, our quarterly print publication.

The post Tracking Canada’s “tremendous” growth curve appeared first on The PIE News.

Professor says AU Cairo wronged him in canceling his chair after he resisted donor's demands

Inside Higher Ed - 2 hours 34 min ago

A professor at the American University in Cairo is in a dispute with the university over the cancellation of his endowed chair after, he says, he refused to accede to the requests of the original donor’s son that he send him lectures in advance and that he encourage his non-Muslim students to convert to Islam.

Adam Duker came to AUC in fall 2016 fresh out of graduate school, after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, to accept a position as an assistant professor and the Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair in Comparative Religions. After the provost informed him in July 2017 that the university would no longer fund the chair at the donor's request, Duker has continued to use the Abdulhadi H. Taher chair title, defying senior administrators’ demands that he stop.

In April, Duker submitted a letter of resignation, saying in his letter that the university has been in breach of his contract since July 2017 by denying him the title included in his contract and retaliating against him for his refusal to stop using it.

In December, Duker was accused by his dean of a “prima facia [sic] case of faculty misconduct” for continuing to use the endowed chair title “despite clear and repeated instructions and requests to the contrary.”

The University Senate’s grievance committee determined that Duker did not commit faculty misconduct, and instead expressed its concern that the provost unilaterally changed Duker’s title without providing “an alternative and satisfactory option that would compensate him for being stripped of his hard-earned title.” The grievance committee also registered its concern “that the donor was allowed to interfere in academic matters and influence the provost’s decision to strip Dr. Duker of his title.”

It is common for colleges and universities that seek endowed chairs to specify the general topics of the chairs with donors, and to keep donors and their families engaged with the college after the gift is given. But donors of endowed chairs are not typically allowed to oversee a professor's work or cancel a chair if they disapprove. Typically, endowed chairs are just that -- endowed -- and so once set up cannot be revoked.

In written answers to questions provided by an AUC spokeswoman, AUC says that the funding for the chair was not withdrawn but that it was redirected at the donor's request to fund scholarships.

"No member of AUC's faculty or administration has interfered at any time or in any manner with the complainant's courses, curriculum, teaching, outside activities or freedom of expression," the university said. "AUC required him to desist from using the name of the deceased donor of the funds that originally had supported his work, and AUC stepped in to provide full direct funding for that work when we redirected the original funding to scholarships. Until the complainant's unsolicited and voluntary resignation in 2019, he has continued to enjoy his full rights and privileges as a faculty member. The university is deeply committed to religious and academic freedom and has stayed true to those values."

Duker maintains that AUC, a nonsectarian university with American accreditation that receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, infringed his religious and academic freedom by revoking his chair title at the donor's request.

“It is illegal for an academic institution receiving U.S. taxpayer money to strip a professor of his position because a Saudi billionaire objected to his refusal to favor Islam over other religions,” Duker wrote in his letter of resignation.

Donor Demands

The Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair in Comparative Religions was established in 2002 by a Saudi Arabian businessman of that name who has since died. Duker was the fifth professor to hold the chair, and he says he came to AUC in large part because of the prestige of holding an endowed professorship and the academic doors it would open for him.

“My research doesn’t pertain at all to the Arab world,” Duker says. “I work on the French wars of religion in the 16th century; there was no obvious research advantage to me coming to Egypt. The two major factors were the endowed chair and the opportunity to build a comparative religions and comparative religious history program at the most prestigious university in the Muslim-majority world.”

Within his first year of arriving at AUC, Duker says he was asked by AUC president Francis J. Ricciardone to travel to California to meet with the son of the donor, Tarek Taher, at his home in Malibu, Calif. They met in January of 2017. During that meeting, Duker says, Taher expressed concerns that the chair had previously been vacant -- it was vacant for one year before Duker’s arrival -- and made multiple demands on his teaching that were inappropriate.

“He demanded that I show him all of my lectures in advance before I give the lectures so that he be allowed to preapprove and vet my lectures. I told him he’s always welcome in my classroom, if ever he would like to stop by, but no, I wouldn’t be sending my lectures in advance,” Duker recalls.

“He demanded that I discontinue teaching Hinduism and Buddhism, that I could only teach the Abrahamic religions, and of the Abrahamic religions, I can only teach Judaism and Christianity in such a way as to show the superiority of Islam,” Duker says.

Duker says the donor was upset to learn Duker was exposing his students to the Jewish community in Cairo. “I was not allowed to expose my students to living Jews, to Jewish sites, such as synagogues, cemeteries, and most importantly he was concerned that I never take my students to Israel,” Duker says.

“He insisted that I teach a course on the truth of the miracles of the Quran. He wanted me to teach that the miracles of the Quran are true and provide evidence for that,” Duker continues.

“He also made it very clear that he wanted me to use my authority as a professor and my position as chair to encourage any non-Muslim students that I have to convert to Islam.”

In addition, Duker said, Taher objected to the English translation of the Quran he used in his class -- an Oxford University Press translation -- because it translated “Allah” as “God” and, in his view, took Allah out of the Quran.

Taher did not respond to requests for comment. Inside Higher Ed sent Taher multiple emails as well as a Facebook message and made several calls to a phone number that Duker said was valid at the time of the January 2017 visit (there was no answer and the voice-mail box was full; text messages sent to the number were undeliverable). Inside Higher Ed also sent an email to Taher's family company requesting that it be forwarded.

Duker says he tried to gently sidestep Taher’s requests and objections. “I did tell him he’s welcome to my classroom any time to attend, or if he ever wants a platform to explain why his family wants to invest in religious education, I would be happy to have him speak in my class or give a guest lecture. I wanted to accommodate him if I could, but the things he was asking for were so far out there that it would be a violation of my professional responsibilities to do that,” he says.

Duker says that despite the demands, the meeting ended on a positive note, “with kisses and hugs all around.” He returned to Cairo and kept in touch with Taher, even extending an invitation to his wedding.

Six months later, the following July, he was surprised to receive an email from the provost, Ehab Abdel-Rahman, saying that after numerous conversations, Taher “has formally requested that he no longer wants the Abdulhadi Taher Endowed Professorship in Comparative Religions. To honor his request, we will stop funding of that professorship as of July 1, 2017 … Going forward, kindly remove any reference to this endowed professorship. This may include but not limited to removing reference to it on websites, email signature, business cards, etc.”

In a subsequent email, shared with Inside Higher Ed, the provost said that Taher “clearly mentioned that he does not want his family name to be associated with this professorship … As of your contract, you will remain a faculty member in AUC but you are no longer the Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair of Comparative Religions as this professorship no longer exists.”

Contractual Obligations

It is not clear what the precise terms of the original gift agreement were, and Duker says he has not seen it. In response to a question about whether the terms of the agreement allow a donor -- or an heir to the donor -- to revoke the gift or to change its purpose, AUC said that "AUC policy, acting under law, permits the university from time to time to adjust the terms of gifts by donors, whether living or deceased, striving always to keep faith with the donors' original intent under the changing circumstances of a dynamic world."

Asked what concerns Taher had expressed to the university in asking for the revocation of the chair -- and what AUC administrators' responses to those concerns were -- the university responded, "The heir to the original donor may respond for himself to the public allegations of the complainant. The representations he made directly to us were substantially different from the core allegations made publicly by the complainant. The heir immediately and without challenge accepted that in accordance with our rigorously nondenominational university's commitment to academic and religious freedom, we would continue not only the employment of the complainant, but also the full content of his course and associated programs."

Duker’s position was that even if Taher requested that he no longer be called the Taher chair, the university couldn't grant the request without his consent because AUC had a contractual obligation to him. In an Oct. 20 email outlining his position, he said that he was willing to negotiate another title, but that would “require the university to either grant me a new nonrevocable endowed chair, provide financial compensation for the Taher title or buy me out of my contract.”

Duker says that instead of negotiating, AUC has retaliated against him for continuing to use the title, both in the form of the formal charge of faculty misconduct and in the form of legal threats. In February he received an email from AUC’s attorney, Sunanda K. Holmes, accusing him of being in breach of contract for continuing to use the Taher chair title. Holmes wrote, "Your continuous demands and threats and the continuous use of this title is causing financial and reputational damage to AUC, for which we intend to hold you fully liable under the law."

Duker says that without the chair there is technically no comparative religions program at AUC. "The simple fact is if there is no chair, there is no program -- then I’m just a history professor," Duker says. "I didn’t come here to be a history professor. I came here to teach Egyptian students to understand different religions."

Pascale Ghazaleh, the chair of the history department, Duker’s departmental home, says the situation amounts to a contractual dispute rather than a situation in which Duker's academic freedom is being violated.

“It’s unfortunate that the chair was canceled and it would have been wise of the university administration to renegotiate his contract with him, but that is not the same thing as persecution or violating academic freedoms,” Ghazaleh says.

“He wasn’t pressured to do anything,” Ghazaleh adds. “If you work anywhere and your job is canceled, I guess you could say it’s unjust in the greater scheme of things, but that doesn’t mean you’re being persecuted. No one asked him to publish anything that was different than what he was working on. Maybe the donor said, ‘this is what I want the chair’s purpose to be,’ but to my knowledge at no point was there actual pressure on Adam to conform to that.”

A Tense Environment

Duker describes a hostile environment for him at AUC. He has clashed both with senior administrators and with colleagues in his department during his three-year tenure at AUC.

His third-year review report -- he shared a copy with Inside Higher Ed with the caveat that had abridged the document to delete confidential student information but had not added anything -- is mixed. It says that his student evaluations over all are "very positive" and adds "there is little doubt that Dr. Duker is a devoted and knowledgeable instructor, able to communicate even the most sophisticated concepts in his field effectively to his students." But the report cites conflicts between Duker and his current and former department chairs and colleagues and characterizes him as having a "belligerent manner and assumption of entitlement."

The report also discusses Duker’s involvement advocating for religious minorities in Egypt, including his involvement with the Mustard Seeds Foundation, a Christian organization. “While faculty members are of course free to exercise their freedom of belief and indeed to engage in political activity if they so choose, Dr. Duker is perhaps unaware of the vulnerability of the communities he purports to defend, and the grave damage he can do them,” the third-year review report states. “This is particularly so in an authoritarian and xenophobic political context, in which Western Europeans and North Americans in particular have been associated in the past with colonial interference and missionary work. Given AUC’s place in Egyptian society, Dr. Duker’s claims of advocacy could harm far more than they will help -- not only the institution that employs him, but also those he purports to defend.”

Duker said in written response to the review that there is “a demonstrated religious and political bias” against him. He wrote that relations with several department faculty members and staff, including Ghazaleh, soured after he requested leave to attend his brother's wedding in Israel (Ghazaleh denies this was the source of any hostility, saying she only learned Duker had a brother in Israel after he accused her of being hostile to him because of it). He wrote that while there have been tensions around his refusal to accept the revocation of the chair, he has good relations with professors from other departments and with students, "who have supported me in the defense of my contract and of religious and academic liberty."

Duker also objected to the review’s description of his work with religious minorities and described the association with missionaries and colonialists as “offensive and unprofessional.”

“The leaders of the minority faith communities with whom I work certainly do not perceive me as doing more harm than good,” he wrote.

Duker says he no longer feels safe in Egypt. On a student field trip to a synagogue last fall, he was circled by police and interrogated by an official who claimed to be from the Ministry of Antiquities but who he suspects may have been from State Security (Duker says the official knew his phone number and the names of family members and mentioned the Tahers several times).

“It’s in our judgment not safe for us to be here,” he says of his family. “When I was just a single professor, that was one thing, but now that I have a wife and a son, we need to be in position where we don’t have these sorts of threats, where my work life isn’t clouded.”

He is leaving Egypt this weekend, and his last official day at AUC is Oct. 2, the day incomplete grades are due for the spring semester. “I was pretty sure that if I continue to do this that I was going to be fired or arrested,” Duker says of his decision to resign. “I didn't think this would be a long-term position once the president and provost and the dean made the decision to submit to the will of Tarek Taher.”

Duker thinks it is a shame, because the work he came to Egypt to do is so important.

“I came here to do the difficult work of teaching Muslim students how to understand Christians on the terms of Christianity, how to understand Jews on the terms of Judaism, how to understand Hindus on the terms of Hinduism, how to understand Buddhists on the terms of Buddhism,” he says. “This is incredibly important work, and no one is doing it.”

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University of St. Thomas kicked out of sports league after winning too many games

Inside Higher Ed - 2 hours 34 min ago

The decision raised eyebrows among athletics pundits: a conference forcing out one of its member institutions over issues of “competitive parity.” Translation: the University of St. Thomas, a Roman Catholic college in Minnesota, was winning too much for its peers’ liking.

But St. Thomas’s “involuntary” separation from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference speaks to problems plaguing the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III that harken back a decade. Then, Division III institutions faced a schism: the small private colleges that traditionally dominated the division versus relative newcomers, which were often larger, more affluent institutions, some of which were interested in models akin to the upper leagues and doing away with athletic scholarship bans in Division III.

Dan McKane, commissioner of the MIAC, said the conference presidents felt that they and St. Thomas had clashing “philosophies” around athletics, which meant something different depending on which administrator you talked to. He said, though, that the conflict was similar to the one from 10 years ago.

“In Division III, there are more 450 institutions that don’t all look alike,” McKane said. “Every school has their own advantages. I think through the lens of our presidents, [St. Thomas’s] advantages were too great.”

St. Thomas was a charter member of the MIAC, helping found the conference in 1920. Rumblings about the university leaving began a long time ago, but presidents more formally started discussing the idea about two years ago, McKane said.

The debate largely centered around St. Thomas’s enrollment of roughly 6,200 undergraduate students, double many MIAC institutions, which many felt was unfair.

All 13 members of the MIAC are private colleges in Minnesota. In the last several years, St. Thomas “made some great choices,” said McKane -- investing money in athletics facilities and bringing in high-caliber coaches. The most significant of these hires was in 2008 with the football coach, Glenn Caruso, who has led the team to six conference titles and participation in two national championship games.

The Tommies’ football prowess did not go unnoticed, particularly after a brutal game in 2017, when St. Thomas trounced St. Olaf College, 97-0. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that this match was a catalyst for trying to kick out the university.

Being larger than the other MIAC members (with more money) meant that St. Thomas could attract physically stronger, more talented football players -- to the point that some other presidents felt that the “the safety and well-being” of their teams were jeopardized, McKane said.

The St. Thomas men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the volleyball and softball teams, have also dominated the conference, winning more league championships than any other MIAC institution. St. Thomas won 47 percent of all MIAC championships -- both team and individual sports -- from 2003 to 2018.

St. Thomas wanted to stay. President Julie H. Sullivan met with other conference administrators, trying to persuade them that St. Thomas best fit in the MIAC. Her appeals didn’t work. Though an official vote never took place to remove it, St. Thomas was booted out, officials announced Wednesday.

“While this decision is extremely disappointing, we will continue to prioritize the welfare and overall experience of our student athletes,” Sullivan said in a statement. “They embrace and represent both academic and athletic excellence and are important contributors to our university’s culture. Additionally, our coaches share the values of advancing comprehensive excellence and are among the best in the country.”

Institutions would have left the conference en masse had St. Thomas not.

Nine institutions were needed to formally vote to remove St. Thomas, but most of them threatened to break off and form their own league, leaving three or four colleges with less money and resources to fend for themselves. St. Thomas administrators essentially saved the conference by agreeing to the other presidents’ demands.

“It does look wonky, but knowing the whole background, institutions need to find a good fit,” McKane said. “We want to make sure that the institutions that we’re with can find success. Ultimately that was the presidents’ goal. And clearly this does look very off, but that was not the intention.”

St. Thomas will be allowed to play in the MIAC through spring 2021. It did not break any rules and leaves the conference in good standing, the MIAC said in a statement.

The university now must find a new conference or play independently, which would make scheduling difficult. If it remains in Division III, a likely home would be the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which only has Wisconsin institutions but does not forbid out-of-state institutions from joining.

Administrators at St. Thomas do not favor joining Division II or Division I -- the jump to Division I would be particularly costly. An institution must stay in Division II for five years before even attempting to move to Division I.

Dan Dutcher, vice president for Division III, forwarded a request for comment to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which did not respond.

St. Thomas’s dilemma recalls the split 10 years ago in Division III, because at the time, some institutions wanted to break off and create a Division IV, or a subdivision with a lesser designation.

Division III institutions were already diverse in terms of enrollment, with some universities having 400 undergraduates and some having up to 40,000 at the time. And while Division III colleges can’t offer athletic scholarships, they can extend merit-based scholarships, which have been used to lure athletes to certain institutions. Some Division III colleges have been accused of bending the rules by offering athletes large merit-based scholarships, which deepens the divides between the haves and have-nots among Division III institutions.

Many institutions at the time did not want to be associated with a Division IV because Division III is already considered less prestigious than the upper two divisions, and the shift would likely have made recruitment even harder for less wealthy institutions.

“The larger schools, generally among the newest to the division, wanted to offer athletic scholarships and also to do more to emphasize athletic competition, moving closer to the DI approach,” said Josephine R. Potuto, former member of the NCAA Division I infractions committee and Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. “The smaller schools wanted to retain what they saw as an integrative model of academics and athletics -- athletics offered because of the benefit to students from participation and not to attract fans and donors and etc.”

John Thelin, professor of higher education and public policy in the University of Kentucky College of Education, said that some ambitious small colleges have tried joining the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which does allow its institutions to have athletic scholarships

“What a shame that such a historic conference has this problem,” Thelin said.

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LSU ends Elsevier bundled journal subscription

Inside Higher Ed - 2 hours 34 min ago

Louisiana State University will terminate its “big deal” with publisher Elsevier at the end of this year, joining the growing list of U.S. institutions that have recently decided not to renew their bundled journal subscription deals with the publisher.

LSU is just the latest of several institutions, including the University of California system, Temple University and Florida State University, to announce its intentions to end its business relationship with Elsevier in the last two years.

“For decades, LSU has subscribed to a package of some 1,800 electronic journal titles from Elsevier,” Stacia Haynie, LSU's provost, said in a statement Monday. But “dramatic increases” in subscription costs have made the deal unsustainable, she said.

Renewing LSU’s current five-year contract, which is due to end in six months’ time, would cost the institution at least $2 million annually, said Haynie. Instead, the institution will allocate $1 million to subscribe individually to a smaller number of Elsevier journals on a one-year contract basis.

To access journals LSU no longer subscribes to, the library will offer two options -- an interlibrary loan service that takes about 24 hours and incurs no cost to the library, or an expedited delivery service called Reprints Desk, which takes about two hours and costs the library a fee. The fee is less than what it would cost to purchase the journal article from the publisher directly, which is typically around $30, said Stanley Wilder, dean of LSU libraries.

LSU’s Faculty Senate approved a resolution recommending the cancellation of the subscription package in April. Though the approval was near unanimous, with just one faculty member voting against it, the meeting minutes illustrate that several faculty members have concerns about how the process will be managed. Some faculty members questioned how the library would cope with more interlibrary loan requests and complained that a 24-hour wait could feel like “a lifetime” to busy academics. Others asked for details on how the library will decide which journals to subscribe to, and which not.

Wilder said he is prepared to hire more staff to handle interlibrary loan requests. Over the next six months, the library will be working with faculty to assess to which Elsevier journal titles it should continue to subscribe.

Unlike the University of California system and several European countries that also have recently canceled their Elsevier deals, LSU is not trying to make a point about open access, Wilder said. LSU simply doesn’t have the leverage to try to change the scholarly publishing landscape, he said.

“LSU is not the UC system. We’re not Germany or Hungary trying to break away from the big deal,” he said. “LSU is tiny in comparison.”

Wilder said the decision not to renew the big deal with Elsevier comes down to cost; the Elsevier deal currently accounts for almost a third of the library’s annual $6 million budget.

“We’ve reached a point where our serial expenditures are just not sustainable,” he said.

With subscription costs increasing annually by 5 percent, the library has to find an extra $300,000 in new funding each year.

“I’ve been asked why I don’t just ask for more money, and I’ve explained that the issue is not that LSU administrators are reluctant to support collections,” he said. “This is an unsustainable financial model that has to be brought under control.”

Wilder said he purposefully avoided getting into a lengthy negotiation with Elsevier over the bundled subscription.

“We know what to expect out of negotiations -- nobody gets to where they want to go,” he said. “I didn’t see a way out of our situation through the negotiation of a price reduction.”

Tom Reller, vice president of global communication at Elsevier, said the company is willing to offer universities flexible subscription options.

“University strategic objectives change and customers sometimes need to reallocate their funds, so Elsevier provides different options for its customers, including all-access options as well as title-by-title options that provide customers flexibility to choose the most appropriate titles for their collections,” he said in an emailed statement. “We value LSU’s investment in our services and look forward to working with them on the options that best meet the balance of their collection needs and costs.”

Though staff at the LSU library have been working hard to keep faculty members informed of potential changes, Wilder said there are still members of the campus that may be unaware of what is happening.

“We’ve been reaching out to all sorts of LSU departments, attending meetings, having lots of conversations, by phone, email and in person,” he said. “But we still assume the vast majority of faculty don’t yet know. It’s just hard to reach people.”

Wilder said increased press coverage of the scholarly publishing landscape over the past year due to several high-profile cancellations has helped to make faculty members more aware of the issues the library is facing. And many faculty members have a very sophisticated understanding of the scholarly publishing landscape as a result and are largely supportive of the decision to end the subscription deal.

“There were plenty of concerns raised, and almost without exception, they were legitimate and reasonable,” he said. “They were also easily answerable.”

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Authors discuss their new book on 'moral mess of higher education'

Inside Higher Ed - 2 hours 34 min ago

A new book about higher education spares no players in academe today. The book criticizes administrators as wasteful, professors as more concerned about their own disciplines than student needs and students for cheating. Yes, Cracks in the Ivory Tower: The Moral Mess of Higher Education (Oxford University Press) likely will anger many Inside Higher Ed readers, even if different chapters may anger different readers.

The authors are Jason Brennan, the Flanagan Family Professor at Georgetown University, and Phillip W. Magness, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

They responded via email to questions about their book.

Q: Your book criticizes many players in higher ed as responding to the wrong incentives. Let's start with administrators -- what do you see as the major flaw in their thinking?

A: Most administrators, we think, care about their jobs and the purpose they serve. Nevertheless, they face a common incentive problem.

Any given administrative unit has a clear sense of what it’s doing but only a vague sense of what else the university does. If administrators had purely altruistic motives, they would still have limited knowledge. They’d have an incentive to increase their budget, add new members and expand their mission. They would see the good they do, but they wouldn’t easily see the opportunity cost of such expansion -- the way it drives up costs for students or comes at the expense of other valuable pursuits. Since university resources are scarce, any money spent by one administrative unit must come from somewhere, and that means less money to do other things. But in real life, administrators are normal people. Like most people, they are predominantly if not entirely selfish. Many work in fields where it’s difficult to measure their output or get a clear sense of their value added. For any given administrator, the easiest ways to justify a salary increase, a promotion and/or increased status for yourself is to a) add additional staff beneath you, b) expand the kinds of things you and your office work on, and c) try to be as busy as possible. The same goes for entire units, which have an incentive to maximize their discretionary budget.

So every administrator and every unit has a selfish incentive to add people, activities and work. Since others pay the costs, they have little incentive to engage in cost-benefit analysis -- that is, to ask whether the marginal value of what they do is higher than the marginal value of the resources they consume to do it.

The result: the total number of full-time faculty at American universities has essentially doubled since the mid-1970s, but administrators have quadrupled in the same period. Today, there are more nonexecutive administrators in higher ed than faculty …

Q: Your book says universities are admitting too many Ph.D. students. Why do you think this is?

A: Everyone likes to blame the poor state of the academic job market -- especially in the humanities -- on alleged cuts to faculty lines … The problem is not that humanities jobs are disappearing, but that many academic fields are graduating new Ph.D.s even faster than their full-time job market grows.

U.S. Department of Education data (see, e.g., IPEDS tables 315.20 and equivalent in earlier reports) show that the total number of tenure-track assistant professors in four-year colleges has grown steadily since 2002, and is keeping pace with student enrollment … Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the total number of humanities professors (excluding part-timers) has not only increased by about 60,000 between 2000 and 2015, but that humanities professorship employment grew faster than any other field except all the health sciences.

The annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows a similar pattern. In 2015, the humanities reported 1,383 full-time hires among newly minted Ph.D.s. The social sciences showed 1,215 hires (excluding psychology, which is sometimes categorized as a preprofessional discipline); life and agricultural sciences posted 920; math and computer science posted 441; engineering posted 399; and physical sciences posted 246 faculty commitments from the newest class of Ph.D. students …

The real problem is that while the humanities jobs are growing, Department of Education and other data sources show that the rate at which humanities departments graduate new Ph.D.s is even faster. So, the job market “shortage” is really job market glut of our own creation.

Both administrators and faculty have perverse selfish incentives to churn out Ph.D.s. (For example, professors in doctoral programs get free grading, higher salaries and more prestige.)

Q: Your book accuses professors of using general education as a tool to drive enrollments in certain disciplines. Isn't it possible that faculty members genuinely believe that a degree should be accompanied by more than the major, and that general education prepares a student for the future?

A: We believe that all college graduates should have a wide range of skills and knowledge not captured by any one major. But, unfortunately, empirical work shows gen eds don’t deliver the promised skills or knowledge. Most students do not gain any significant increase in their soft skills such as critical thinking or writing ability from gen eds -- and they generally become worse at mathematics unless they actively study it in their majors. Students forget most of what they learn outside of the narrow areas of their majors. Students don’t learn how to transfer their knowledge. College education falls far short of what most academics, including we, want it to achieve.

If faculty were genuinely interested in educating students, they’d pay great attention to work in educational psychology. They’d want to test to see what works and what doesn't, and they’d modify their methods accordingly. But most don’t do that. They just do the same old thing everyone’s done since the dawn of time, and they either yawn or get mad when you show them the scary studies saying it fails.

We also found that the more financially insecure a department is -- e.g., by having a high faculty-to-major ratio, declining enrollments, a bad job market or few opportunities for outside grants and revenue sources -- the more often its classes seem to appear as gen-ed requirements. Also, mandatory gen-ed credits have gotten more stringent over the years -- especially in writing composition, foreign languages and the “first-year experience” classes that many universities now require. Keep in mind that in most universities, the more butts in seats, the more money your department gets. If you can’t get volunteers to take your classes, you can always force students to take the classes instead and say it’s for their own good. It’s also pretty easy to convince yourself it really is for their own good.

A learning objective that looks good on paper ends up actually becoming a way to prop up departments that need enrollment, even though students are not learning much in their courses. And the students -- or others -- end up footing the bill through tuition payments on a largely ineffective product.

Q: Many of your criticisms seem to apply to institutions that have lots of money, many students, many programs, etc. I imagine a professor at a community college, or an adjunct or someone who works at a poorly resourced institutions that serves low-income students, saying that you are tarring them with the same brush. What would you say to that critique?

A: We focus mostly on four-year colleges, both rich and poor. Both face the same basic problems: they make promises they don’t know if they can keep, and that independent research shows they often fail to keep. They incentivize students to cheat, and students take the bait. They respond to perverse incentives to increase their budgets irrespective of actual value delivered. The primary form of feedback they issue to students is grades, even though psychological evidence shows that grades generally hinder learning, and even though, as we explain in the book, the mathematics of grade point average calculations are literally incoherent.

We suspect the problems are generally worse at institutions with weaker finances. Poorer colleges unfortunately draw a greater number of less prepared and lower-income students. You may know that there is a significant college wage premium. But you secure this premium only if you actually finish college. The sad fact, which we don’t know how to rectify, is that the bottom 50 percent or so of high school students (in terms of preparedness/aptitude/etc.) who begin college actually get a negative return on investment because they don’t finish. They spend time and money, often taking on significant debt they cannot repay, but don’t get the return of a completed degree. Unfortunately, many of these students also tend to be lower-income students, so the financial loss is very serious. Money isn’t the only thing that matters, sure, but it’s sure easier to say that when you have lots of it.

The adjunct issue is complex because, while adjunct faculty use has markedly increased in recent decades, it’s also typically tied to supplemental instruction, additional course offerings and reducing the teaching loads of other tenured faculty -- recall the stable 24-to-one ratio of full-time professors to enrolled students.

One point we stress in the book is that many of the unethical behaviors we see in higher ed also impose the heaviest costs upon underprivileged students. We might ask: Is it worth building a rock-climbing wall in the campus rec center, running a green sustainability drive on campus or doubling the staff of the advising office if these costs are also passed through onto students in tuition hikes and fees? Should we subsidize more faculty careers in unpopular majors if it also means saddling a first-generation college student from a lower-income background with decades of student loan debt?

Q: Are there colleges you think are well run today?

A: Brown University, Jason’s former employer, doesn’t have gen eds. The University of Chicago and Columbia University have specialized core programs which escape the criticism we make in our book, though that doesn’t mean these programs work. (We don’t know if they do.)

Hampshire College used narrative evaluations instead of grades, to its credit.

But, beyond that, our general answer is no, we can’t think of any institutions that are in general well run. Every institution we can think of makes the same basic mistakes and has the same failings.

Q: With "moral mess" in the subhead of your book, I have to ask about the admissions scandal. How does that relate to the issues you raise?

A: Jason works at Georgetown University, one of the schools involved. Georgetown’s former tennis coach allegedly accepted $2.7 million in bribes to help place about 12 students.

Universities are perplexing places. They are filled with left-leaning faculty (like Jason) and even more left-leaning staff and administrators who profess a commitment to social justice. Yet most universities work hard to increase their status by becoming ever more exclusive and elitist. Universities are hierarchical in their own operations, and reinforce other social hierarchies in their outcomes. They serve as gatekeepers of prestige, power and status. Many top institutions have plenty of physical capacity to expand the number of students they admit, but they instead work to keep admissions rates and the number of undergraduates as low as possible, all to enhance the elite status of their brand.

The main value of the Ivy League or equivalent degree is not increased learning. Indeed, the main reason Ivy League students do better than others when they graduate is not that they actually went to those Ivy League schools but that they were impressive enough to get in.

The ratio of, say, Ivy League undergrad spots to the general population is much lower now than 50 years ago, which means in turn that special status attached to having an Ivy League degree is much higher. For every student an Ivy admits, it probably has another six or so competent and qualified to attend. As a result, people have a stronger incentive to cheat their way in.

The scandal also reveals that many people believe it’s far more difficult to be admitted to an elite school than to graduate from it. Parents wouldn’t pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to game the admissions system if their kids had little chance of graduating.

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Colleges add new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - 2 hours 34 min ago
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Let’s Clarify a Few Things About the New ‘Adversity Score.’ (First, Stop Calling It That.)

The College Board’s Environmental Context Dashboard has caused a lot of confusion. Now the organization is trying to explain its new measure of applicants’ disadvantage.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Labor Agency to Propose Rule on Grad Students’ Right to Unionize

Without a case pending, the National Labor Relations Board has announced its intent to determine the employment status of graduate students.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Texas Professors Could Be Criminally Charged if They Don’t Report Sexual Violence

Under legislation approved this week, faculty members could also face dismissal or prosecution for false reports of sexual misconduct.

Edtech: Kahoot! acquires Dragonbox, Poio

The PIE News - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:09

Game-based learning platform Kahoot has substantially expanded its portfolio, announcing that it has acquired learn-to-read app, Poio, and maths education game studio, DragonBox.

Announced in early May, the acquisitions see Norwegian-based Kahoot further expand its global reach in the K-12 educational game market, with the company announcing it planned to release an English version of the Scandinavia-only Poio by June 2019.

“There is only one goal for Poio, and that is to help as many children”

“We’re impressed by how Poio has already helped more than 100,000 children in Scandinavia to learn how to read in an awesome way,” said Åsmund Furuseth, chief executive and co-founder of Kahoot.

“We are together launching Poio in the UK and to our international community of millions of users, empowering kids everywhere to play, learn, and find joy in reading.”

Founded by former teacher Daniel Senn, Poio allows children to play as the titular main character, teaching reading skills through positive feedback and exploration with an emphasis on fun.

“There is only one goal for Poio, and that is to help as many children as possible to crack the reading code through play,” Senn said.

“By teaming up with Kahoot, we will be able to launch Poio in more languages and with new functionality, bringing the joy of reading to millions of children around the world.”

DragonBox, which won best learning game at the 2016 Games for Change awards, meanwhile will continue to develop maths games while supplementing the Kahoot’s current offerings.

Describing itself as the “Netflix of education”, the purchases of DragonBox for £14 million and Poio for £5 million see Kahoot continue its expansionist mindset after last year launching the Ignite accelerator program, which it will use to identify and invest in new educational start-ups.

In 2018, Disney acquired a 4% stake in Kahoot, taking up an option after the mobile and online education games platform completed its accelerator program in 2017.

The post Edtech: Kahoot! acquires Dragonbox, Poio appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: How Much Do You Know About Higher Ed? Take Our Quiz

The latest edition of an annual federal report on education just came out. Find out how up-to-date your knowledge is.

Chronicle of Higher Education: 2 More Faculty Members Lose Their Jobs Over Contacts With China

The latest are at Emory University, which investigated the professors following a warning from the National Institutes of Health about foreign influence on American research.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Morehouse Graduates’ Billionaire Benefactor Pushes Plan to Expand Access to Internships

Robert Smith’s pledge to wipe out the student-loan debt of 400 new alumni made headlines, but his plan to help thousands of minority students nationwide get their first crucial work experience is an

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Argentina’s former president wants to be Veep

Economist, North America - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:52

HÉCTOR CáMPORA, a dentist and second-rank politician, won an election in Argentina in 1973 with the slogan “Cámpora to the presidency, Perón to power”. Having served his purpose as a placeholder, Cámpora resigned after 49 days. Juan Perón returned from long exile and went on to win an election himself. This episode is etched on Argentine memories. It explains why some scoffed when on May 18th Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a populist former president, made the surprise announcement that she was running in October’s election—but for vice-president on a slate headed, at her invitation, by Alberto Fernández (no relation), who was briefly her cabinet chief.

So is this a ruse, or an act of brutal political realism? Ms Fernández divides Argentines. When in 2007 she succeeded her (late) husband, Néstor Kirchner, as president, Argentina was riding the commodity boom. She slammed taxes on farmers and spent the proceeds on padding the public sector, on welfare and on subsidies for fuel and transport. When the economy overheated, her government imposed price and exchange controls and fiddled the inflation numbers. When money got tight it raided the central bank and pension funds. Through it all, insiders made corrupt fortunes. Ms Fernández herself went on trial this week in the first of several corruption cases (she denies wrongdoing). Around a...

Guns from the United States are flooding Latin America

Economist, North America - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:52

LIKE A CRIMINAL and his fingerprints, every gun leaves its mark on the ammunition it uses. Such traces are what Sergio Sandoval de la Peña pores over daily in Mexico City’s ballistics lab. A series of dark-green circles, like the sub-woofer of a speaker, appear on his computer screen. It is a digitised three-dimensional model of a cartridge, found at the scene of a robbery this year and placed under a microscope. Checking the marks against hundreds of thousands of potential matches, Mr de la Peña concludes that the gun that ejected it was also used in a murder last year.

The ballistics technology employed to work such wonders comes courtesy of the United States. Alas, so does the gun, according to Mr de la Peña’s database. A study of weapons found at crime scenes suggests that 70% of gun crimes in Mexico involve American-bought weapons. The share of homicides in Mexico involving a firearm grew from 16% in 1997 to 66% in 2017. That suggests around half of Mexico’s 33,000 murder victims last year were killed by a gun manufactured in the United States, which had 14,542 gun homicides in 2017. An American-made gun is more likely to be used in a murder in Mexico than at home.

Mexico is far from alone. Across Latin America, the share of murders involving guns is creeping upwards. Many countries already beset by organised crime...