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Chamber of the Americas is proud to introduce our new member, General Trading Co, Ltd., Munjungdong, Chungminro 66, Songpagu, Seoul, Korea

Chamber of the Americas (English) - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 18:51

Heekon Song
President & CEO
General Trading Co., Ltd.
9th Floor T-9094, Garden 5 Life
Munjungdong, Chungminro 66, Songpagu
Seoul, Korea
Parque Leoncio Prado 285 oficina 101 Lima – Perú
Mobile: +82.10.9906.4306
Tel: +82.2.2157.1988
Fax: +82.2.2157.1989
Skype ID: songgy73

5 Pitches to Rethink Education From The Chronicle’s Third Annual Version of ‘Shark Tank’

Listen to our pitch-a-thon from South by Southwest Edu, featuring ideas to improve the study-abroad experience, help faculty members develop new teaching skills, ease transfers to four-year institutions, and use text messages to tackle “summer melt.”

After the Hype, Do MOOC Ventures Like edX Still Matter?

Five years and 11 million students on, Anant Agarwal, chief executive of the nonprofit organization, says there is still plenty of innovation to come from the venture and its university partners: “We’re just getting started.”

‘Publicly engage like never before’, universities urged

The PIE News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 06:08

Higher education institutions aiming to forge ahead with their internationalisation strategies will need to reevaluate how they articulate their goals and engage with the public, leaders in the sector have said.

“We have engaged in a serious omission,” John Hudzik of Michigan State University told an audience of higher education professionals at the Going Global conference this week in London.

“We have paid insufficient attention to documenting the outcomes of internationalisation in terms that are relevant to politicians and the public.”

Answering the question “Is internationalisation dead in a ‘post-truth’ age?”, Hudzik and other prominent leaders in the sector were reflecting on how universities should communicate their mission in the current political climate.

“Globalisation should not be seen as a process to exclude people and countries”

Those in higher education leadership are often guilty of dismissing the public’s concerns about globalisation and immigration, rather than addressing them and demonstrating the benefits of international engagement in a local context, the panellists argued.

“Globalisation should not be seen as a process to exclude people and countries,” commented Ka-Ho Mok, vice president of Lingnan University in Hong Kong, but the panellists acknowledged that it is often seen that way.

To counter this, “We need to publicly engage like we never have before, demonstrate rather than just explain the role internationalisation plays in the local context,” urged Janet Beer, vice chancellor of the UK’s University of Liverpool.

“Unless we create an understanding that we exist for public benefit, then everything we do is at nought. We are here for public benefit, we are here for good.”

But too often, Hudzik admonished, “We talk mainly to ourselves, in rooms like this, comfortably in an echo chamber, and we ignore how globalisation has spawned real concerns for people elsewhere… and we dismiss them as surely uninformed or worse.”

In the UK, last year’s Brexit referendum, in which universities campaigned vocally to remain in the EU, showed that the attitudes in the higher education sector are often out of step with a large proportion of the public. This is one example where the sector has been seen as elitist and self-interested, panellists noted.

Universities must also be culturally sensitive in articulating their goals, counselled Nico Jooste, director of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.

“In the developing world, the word ‘internationalisation’ is not a favourite word,” he said. “They’d rather talk about linkages than internationalisation,” he explained, as the latter is often associated with imbalanced relationships between international partners.

And simply changing the way universities communicate isn’t enough, he said – they should also examine their approach to internationalisation itself.

“Our practices are defeating ourselves in bringing a better message,” he challenged.

“We are calling things internationalisation that are not internationalisation. We sugar coat our commercial drives by calling them internationalisation and by doing that we might just kill internationalisation.”

Rather than seeing international engagement through the lens of student recruitment as a revenue-generating exercise, institutions should be investing in meaningful collaboration, he argued.

“I don’t think universities are prepared to put enough money into internationalisation,” he said. But when a large proportion of international student mobility accounts for students from the developing world coming to study in developed countries, “just imagine what it would do to the world if you took 30% of those fees to develop linkages with institutions in those countries”.

Mok echoed that “internationalisation should not just mean student mobility”.

“Universities should think about creating an international context on campus to help students appreciate we are living in a world of diversity,” he said.

The post ‘Publicly engage like never before’, universities urged appeared first on The PIE News.

Proposed US budget threatens educational exchange programs

The PIE News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 06:07

Deep cuts to the State Department’s educational exchange programs outlined in the White House’s proposed 2018 budget would damage the US’s soft power diplomacy, education organisations have warned.

The White House’s budget, A New Foundation for American Greatness, would cut funding for the State Department’s Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE) programs, which include the prestigious Fulbright program, by 52%.

“Gutting exchange programs isn’t a win for the taxpayer, because the investment in national security is immense”

Under the proposed budget, resources for educational exchange “will be more narrowly targeted towards specific foreign policy priorities while avoiding duplication”, according to a congressional budget justification, focusing support on “core global programs” such as Fulbright.

But while it does allocate the majority of academic exchange spending – $125.6m of a total $148.6m – to Fulbright, the budget would still cut Fulbright funding by 52% compared to the 2017 budget estimate.

It would continue to operate in 90 countries (compared to 160 now) “where the program provides the greatest benefit to US interests”.

Global academic exchange programs – including English language programs and educational advising and student services – would be hardest hit, facing a 73% budget reduction.

Meanwhile, more than half the funding for professional and cultural exchanges would be removed.

The budget for program and performance activities, such as alumni engagement and program evaluation, would be slashed by 86%, and the ECE personnel budget by just over a third.

Some other “impactful programs” funding outbound mobility will also be maintained, such as the Gilman Scholarship and the Critical Language Scholarship.

And continued support for Education USA’s advising centers “will help reinforce foreign student interest in US higher education and study opportunities in the United States”, the budget justification adds.

If enacted, the cuts come as part of a $19bn reduction to US diplomacy and aid budgets – almost a third.

But those in the education sector have argued that these programs play a crucial diplomacy role. One in three world leaders have taken part in a US exchange program, noted Ilir Zherka, executive director of the Alliance for International Exchange.

“Gutting exchange programs isn’t a win for the taxpayer, because the investment in America’s national security is immense,” he said, adding: “If adopted, these cuts would greatly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts.

“As Defense Secretary James Mattis has suggested, the way to reduce the possibility of war is to increase people-to-people diplomacy – which is at the heart of cultural and educational exchanges.”

NAFSA echoed similar concerns. “As an organisation whose members are devoted to promoting the value of global understanding, we believe a reduction in the tools America uses to build bridges makes us all less secure,” its deputy executive director, public policy, Jill Welch, told The PIE News.

“We believe a reduction in the tools America uses to build bridges makes us all less secure”

“We urge the administration to reconsider its approach to international assistance and exchange efforts.”

The $4.1tn budget, which would come into effect in October, marks a sharp move away from non-military overseas engagement, while ramping up military expenditure.

“This budget requires some tough tradeoffs between competing priorities in both non-defence and also with the State, AID [Agency for International Development], and International Affairs Budget,” Doug Pitkin, the State Department’s director of budget and planning, said in a briefing.

The proposed cuts are reminiscent of those included in the March preliminary budget. However, these were overturned in the 2017 Omnibus Bill, which secured a 7% budget increase for educational and cultural exchange programs through the end of the year.

Several politicians have pledged to similarly thwart the cuts proposed this week.

“This budget is not going to go anywhere,” said Lindsey Graham, the Republican chair of the Senate subcommittee responsible for diplomacy and foreign aid, who argued the cuts would “gut soft power.”

“If we implemented this budget, you’d have to retreat from the world or put a lot of people at risk.”

Almost all of the proposals outlined in this week’s budget would require legislative action to take effect.

“As we continue to make the case for strong funding in fiscal year 2018, we will once again count on bipartisan congressional leaders and the thousands of exchange supporters across the country who will work to ensure that these programs are maintained,” Zherka said.

The post Proposed US budget threatens educational exchange programs appeared first on The PIE News.

International student numbers up 15% on last year

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 05:22
Australia has bolstered its popularity as a world class education destination with new data showing international student numbers jumped up by 15% in ...

STEM focus to drive 'world-class' universities scheme

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 03:22
India's plan to develop 20 world-class universities will favour institutions strong in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM subjects, experts said this week as the human resour ...

Calls for release of students jailed over Boko Haram joke

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 03:20
Amnesty International has called for the release of three students sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment by a military tribunal after they shared a joke among each other about the recruitment criter ...

Cloud-based language learning market set to soar

The PIE News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 02:44

The global cloud-based language learning market has huge growth potential – with demand from those learning for education purposes set to outpace the business learner, according to a global research firm.

Transparency Market Solutions has studied the market and estimates that the market was worth $146.3m in 2016, and will rapidly expand to be worth $427.5m by 2025.

North America’s leading position is down to “vast spending” on English courses by foreign students

Its report says that much of the demand for virtual learning is coming from North America, which accounted for 50% of revenue in 2016.

“The leading position of North America in the market is primarily attributable to the vast spending on English language learning courses by foreign students enrolled in higher education institutions in the region,” it notes.

Languages considered in the scope of study were English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, and Russian.

English will lead future demand, “as the language increasingly becomes the preferred language of communication in the fields of academics and businesses across the globe”, states the report.

It says that the corporate market currently accounts for 50% of demand but the “education segment” of learner is expected to grow at a faster pace to 2025.

And the Asia-Pacific will see most new growth in business by region, it predicts: “Governments in [India, China, and Japan] and other countries in the region have mandated language learning initiatives in school systems, which is also expected to drive the market.”

It is a fragmented marketplace in terms of leading providers, with acquisitions and partnerships happening to build market share.

Leading providers currently include Duolingo, Linguatronics LC, Rosetta Stone, Culture Alley, Speexx and EF.

The post Cloud-based language learning market set to soar appeared first on The PIE News.

Fertile ground for US-UK HE partnerships, potential for deeper ties

The PIE News - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:09

Similarities between the US and the UK’s higher eduction environments create fertile ground for institutional collaboration, which many universities to take their first forays into cross-border partnerships before venturing into other markets, it has emerged from a report from the American Council of Education.

The report also outlines that the political situation in both countries has led to renewed attention on these US-UK partnerships.

The two countries share “overall quality, access to funding, strength of the research enterprise, and general trajectory of internationalisation” in higher education, according to US-UK Higher Education Partnerships: Firm Foundations and Promising Pathways.

Because of these similarities, UK-US partnerships are sometimes used to test the waters for institutional partnerships further afield, explained Brad Farnsworth, vice president at ACE’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement.

“In terms of where our US institutions are looking at as the next frontier, the UK is not in there”

“US institutions… use their partnerships with the UK as more of a laboratory to experiment on more sophisticated modes of engagement because of the familiarity,” he told The PIE News.

Some institutions think international partnerships are “really risky and complicated and it could have huge payoffs, so let’s start doing this at a place where we are really, really familiar with the legal and political environment,” he said.

“And if it works, we can take it around the world.”

However, there is the danger that this familiarity will lead to complacency. Robin Helms, director of internationalisation and global engagement at the CIGE, said US-UK partnerships are sometimes placed on the backburner.

“One issue we brought up is there’s a lot of existing activity, but in terms of where our US institutions are looking at as the next frontier, the UK is not in there,” she told The PIE News.

Existing relationships need to be actively maintained, Helms said, but are sometimes taken for granted.

“There was one UK institution representative who said every time we do something in a new country, when we start a partnership in China, there’s a big press release and all of these things, and not so much when it’s US and UK,” she commented.

Another commonality that has emerged more recently between the two countries is political turbulence.

The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump have brought about a “parallel set of challenges for colleges and universities, particularly when it comes to internationalisation, and renewed attention to the UK-US higher education relationship,” the report states.

One common challenge is boosting the levels of participation in outbound study, despite both being among the top study abroad destinations for students of each country, the report notes.

Twelve per cent of US students who travelled abroad in 2015/16 (38,189) went to the UK, for academic credit and non-credit bearing programs, according to IIE’s Open Doors data.

The US was the third most popular destination for study abroad for UK students (3,615) in the same year, behind France and Spain.

In spite of these common elements, the report points out a number of differences between the two higher education systems, which create further challenges in partnerships, including the size of these institutions, degree structure, and compliance requirements.

Another challenge is calendar and course equivalencies. While in the US, a course unit typically equals the duration of a semester, in the UK, it often lasts as long as a year.

Cultural differences, as well as internationalisation and partnership goals, also inhibit some relationships.

As a result, the report recommends that institutions work to clearly articulate the value proposition.

“In everybody that we talked to there really is an enthusiasm for these relationships”

“In everybody that we talked to there really is an enthusiasm for these relationships,” Helmes assured. “I think they are really seen as strong and there is strong commitment to it. It’s just this really thinking through making the case and really articulating the value proposition.”

And, in light of the geopolitical changes, Helms noted that there is “tremendous potential” to navigate this shared reality “by sharing practices and thinking beyond institution level partnerships to how our system’s working together”.

“How are we sharing good practices?” she asked. “How are we contributing to the greater global good in ways that go beyond these institution partnerships?”

The post Fertile ground for US-UK HE partnerships, potential for deeper ties appeared first on The PIE News.

Appeals court rejects revised version of Trump's travel ban

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:00

A federal appeals court on Thursday declined to lift an injunction on President Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim nations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a 10-to-3 ruling, found that the Trump policies amounted to religious discrimination, in violation of the Constitution. Further, the appeals court found that while the president of the United States has broad powers related to entry to the country, those powers are not absolute.

Of the president’s travel ban, the court decision called it “an executive order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination. Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles -- that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another. Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”

The current version of the ban contains some modifications from the first version, which was also rejected by courts. The current version applies to people coming to the United States from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and includes those coming for educational purposes.

The case is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The current version of the ban, which the government has been blocked from implementing, contains some modifications from an earlier version, which was also rejected by courts.

More than 15,000 students and more than 2,000 visiting scholars came to U.S. universities from the six nations named in the current version of the ban in 2015-16, according to data from the Institute of International Education. While they make up only a small share of international students and scholars in the United States, leaders of academic groups have been united in condemning the travel ban. Many say it has had an impact on the image of the United States with international students (or potential students) all over the world, not just in those countries covered by the ban.

The Middle East Studies Association, a scholarly group, is one of the plaintiffs in the case decided today by the Fourth Circuit. The association’s president, Beth Baron, a professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, said in a statement that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling “reaffirmed what MESA and our partners in this lawsuit have been saying from the beginning: President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the U.S. Constitution. We are thrilled that the court upheld the Constitution’s prohibition on actions disfavoring or condemning any religion, for that principle is a fundamental protection for all of us -- including MESA members.”

“Today’s decision will allow MESA to move forward more freely in advancing our mission as a scholarly association -- to facilitate the free exchange of ideas,” Baron said. “The order has already harmed our student and faculty members by preventing travel and disrupting research. We hope today’s legal victory will mitigate this disruption.”

The other plaintiffs include refugee resettlement organizations -- in addition to the ban on entry for nationals of the six countries, Trump’s executive order also suspended all refugee admission -- and six individuals who allege that Trump’s executive order would impact the ability of their immediate family members to obtain visas or enter the U.S. as refugees. One of the plaintiffs, identified only as Jane Doe No. 2, is described in the opinion as a college student who has a pending visa application on behalf of her sister, a Syrian refugee living in Saudi Arabia.

Another, identified as John Doe No. 1, is a scientist with lawful permanent residency status who has filed a visa application on behalf of his wife, an Iranian national. The opinion quotes John Doe No. 1, who is Muslim, as saying that the ban “forces [him] to choose between [his] career and being with [his] wife.”

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Report looks at perceptions of third-party pathway programs for international students

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:00

The main reason universities partner with outside companies to offer pathway programs for international students is to increase recruitment and enrollment of international undergraduates, while their main reasons for not partnering are concerns about academic standards and loss of control over the admissions process, according to a new report commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

The report, available free for NAFSA members and for purchase for nonmembers on the NAFSA website, examines the growth of third-party pathway partnerships, in which universities partner with corporate entities to recruit for and deliver first-year programs that combine credit-bearing academic course work and developmental English classes for nonnative speakers. Pathway programs allow universities to go deeper into the pool of potential international students by enrolling students who fall short of the English proficiency standards required for regular admission.

Third-party pathway partnerships are a relatively new phenomenon in U.S. higher education, and their growth over the last decade has been controversial, raising concerns about outsourcing as it relates to core functions like admissions and teaching as well as questions about college readiness and rigor. On the other hand, the robust recruiting resources and specialized expertise that pathway providers promise have been enticing to many university administrators who are increasingly under pressure to recruit more full-pay international undergraduate students, and the number of such partnerships has steadily increased. While prestigious American universities with global name recognition have no shortage of international applicants with strong English-language skills, that's not the case for many other institutions. And advocates for the pathway programs say there are many students with strong academic ability who simply need to improve their English.

The NAFSA report identifies 45 universities that offer third-party pathway programs in partnership with eight different corporate entities: BridgePathways, Cambridge Education Group, INTO University Partnerships, Kaplan International Pathways, Kings Education, Navitas, Shorelight Education and Study Group. The 45 universities are nearly evenly split between public (24) and private (21). Most of the public universities offering these programs are large, doctorate-granting institutions, with 17 of the 24 enrolling more than 10,000 students. Most of the private universities are classified as comprehensive master’s colleges and universities. Ten of the private universities in the analysis enroll between 1,000 and 9,999 students, and one has an enrollment of fewer than 1,000 students.

The NAFSA report is based on a survey of international educators on their views on pathway programs. A total of 347 international education administrators from 261 institutions responded to the survey, yielding a response rate of 14.7 percent. The report targeted professionals who work in international education offices -- one of the eligibility criteria for respondents for the survey was having attended a NAFSA conference in the previous five years -- and so does not capture a full range of viewpoints of administrators who might work in other academic units.

Respondents said the top reasons why institutions, in general, partner with third-party pathway providers are “to access recruitment network of pathway provider” (59 percent of respondents selected this answer), “to expand enrollment of international students at bachelor’s level” (57 percent), “to improve yield of international enrollment" (57 percent), “to make up for lack of in-house expertise” (44 percent) and “to enhance diversity of international enrollment” (32 percent).

In open-ended comments quoted in the report, respondents cited reasons related to expanding recruitment and international student enrollment, e.g.: “Our international student numbers will likely decline because of decreased Saudi applications, so we are looking for new sources for international student recruitment.” Other open-ended responses included: “It was determined to be the most cost-effective option of increasing international student enrollments.” Another respondent cited the allure of a pathway provider’s network of recruitment agents: “We want access to a network of reputable agents and don’t want to have to build the infrastructure for managing them.” (Pathway providers typically partner with in-country recruiting agents, who are paid on commission -- another controversial practice in itself that is also gaining ground in the U.S.)

On the other hand, the top reasons respondents selected for not partnering with third-party pathway programs had to do with concerns about loss of control -- specifically “fear of loss of academic standards” (65 percent) and “concern for loss of control of international admissions process” (56 percent). Other reasons respondents selected for why universities, in general, do not partner with pathway providers included the sense that an existing university-governed intensive English program is working well (51 percent), the specific terms of a contract, such as the length and cost (44 percent), and a preference to develop in-house expertise (35 percent).

“We have in-house programs and believe they better serve the academic success of our students. We also prefer to keep the profit and academic ownership of such programs,” one respondent said. “We want to ensure our program maintains quality and adheres strictly to our mission of service to our students. We also want to maintain all revenue and keep costs low,” said another.

The survey also asked international education professionals to identify the factors to consider when working with third-party pathway providers. The top responses were: “define academic qualifications and preparation of students” (52 percent), “ensure transparency of recruitment practices (50 percent), “align with institutional goals and culture” (43 percent), “involve campus stakeholders during decision making” (39 percent), and “understand key responsibilities of institution versus provider” (39 percent).

The report includes breakdowns of responses according to institution type, size and whether or not the university already has a pathway partnership in place. Eighteen percent of respondents to the survey said their universities currently partner with a pathway provider. Another 13 percent said they were considering a partnership, while 64 percent said they were not considering a partnership. (Five percent chose “other.”)

"The reality is international student recruitment is going to become more and more important, for public institutions because of budget cuts and for private institutions because of demographics and the cost," said Rahul Choudaha, the principal investigator for the report and co-founder of DrEducation, a research and consulting firm. "Anyone who can bring capital, investment to grow the enrollment, that's the trend where higher education is moving."

"Clearly, there is one side of the story where there is interest and there is a need," Choudaha said, "but on the other side there are stakeholders who feel concerned.”

The survey research reports on the perceptions of international education administrators at universities, not the views of officials at the pathway program providers. Bev Hudson, the president of Navitas North America, a pathway provider, said of the report that it is "a common myth that pathway programs somehow dilute control of the admissions and academic processes, but it is a fear often rooted in misinformation. In fact, pathway programs offer much richer and nuanced insight into international students’ ability to be successful in degree programs than the standard credentials and performance documentation required for direct-entry students."

"Students move out of the pathway when they have reached the admission level specified by the university and only matriculate into a university degree program upon successful completion of the program and demonstration that they have met the university’s own admission standards," Hudson said via email.

The report from NAFSA will be discussed Tuesday during a session at the association's annual conference, which meets this year in Los Angeles.

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As lawmakers examine improper payments, record of former FSA chief under scrutiny

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:00

WASHINGTON -- GOP lawmakers said Thursday they had planned to subpoena the former chief of federal student aid, Jim Runcie, to testify before a House of Representatives oversight subcommittee and may still do so.

Runcie resigned from the Department of Education effective Wednesday rather than testify at a hearing on improper payments by the department. In a resignation memo and other correspondence leaked to the media, he also cited broader disagreements with the direction of the department under Secretary Betsy DeVos as reasons for his departure.

“No wonder American taxpayers are fed up with the federal government,” said Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican. “I think we should subpoena the guy and bring him in here to answer some of these questions.”

The oversight subcommittees on government operations and intergovernmental affairs met to review the progress the Department of Education is making toward accurately estimating improper payments to students and colleges and reducing them in the future. The Federal Direct Student Loan program and the Pell Grant program have among the highest rates of improper payments among federal government programs.

But Republican members were as interested in Runcie’s absence -- he had been scheduled to testify before his resignation -- as they were in the comments of the witnesses who did show up to testify, including Federal Student Aid Chief Financial Officer Jay Hurt.

Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, said that Runcie’s decision to not testify was a “slap in the face” to taxpayers.

Congress and federal watchdogs periodically review programs at each agency where significant amounts of improper payments may occur. At the Department of Education, that can involve both overpayments of aid to students who shouldn’t receive it, underpayments or payments without proper documentation. Those faulty payments could also include federal loan money not returned by an institution after a student’s withdrawal. The department has been out of compliance with federal law seeking to cut down on those payments for three successive years after missing certain compliance requirements. And a May report from its Office of Inspector General found that those payments have gone up.

According to testimony from Inspector General Kathleen Tighe, the improper payment rate was 7.85 percent for the Pell program and 3.98 percent for the Direct Loan program in fiscal year 2016 -- both well above targets established by the department in an annual financial report.

While targeted fraud from outside groups is a persistent problem for financial aid administrators, many improper payments are a result of error. The IRS data retrieval tool, along with the use of prior-prior year income data, was designed to remove errors in the financial aid application process. However, the suspension of the tool in March over cybersecurity concerns will likely hinder progress this year in eliminating errors that lead to improper payments.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, told lawmakers that to the extent the process could be automated and the data retrieval tool could be made available to students again, it would be a big step toward addressing errors contributing to faulty payments.

At least part of the higher rates of improper payments for the last fiscal year was a change in methodology for estimating those payments. After switching its approach to those estimates in 2014, the department arrived at much lower rates -- and was dinged by a report from the Office of Inspector General, which argued the change was made to improve results. Department officials at the time rejected that allegation.

As Republicans zeroed in on the payments issue, Democrats sought to shift the focus to the failures of student loan servicers and the potential consequences of massive cuts to the department proposed in the White House budget. Representative Val Butler Demings, a Florida Democrat, questioned how those cuts would affect the department’s oversight capabilities.

Tighe said one of the department’s management challenges has been overseeing the various entities under its purview, whether contractors or grantees.

“It’s going to be challenge for the department, if resources are cut in these areas, to maintain sufficient oversight and monitoring that is needed,” she said.

Republican lawmakers repeatedly pressed Hurt about whether Runcie, his former boss, would have been the appropriate official to answer many of their questions about the payments or whether he should have received large performance bonuses in light of what they called “abysmal numbers” -- questions he declined to answer.

Hurt told lawmakers one challenge to improvements is that the department does not have the resources to adequately arrive at an accurate assessment of those payments without taking resources away from finding and addressing improper payments.

“The only way to produce a statistically accurate number is to divert our resources from actually finding improper payments,” he said.

But pressed by lawmakers on the number identified in the IG report, Hurt conceded that the overall rate of 4.85 percent for faulty payments at the department was “a bad number.”

Meadows, in comments to reporters, said he thought it was still important for the subcommittee to hear from Runcie. He said he didn’t believe the issues reducing improper payments was one of limited resources.

“This is not a new problem,” he said. “This is a problem that has existed when resources were very robust within the Department of Education. So I don’t see it as a resource issue as much as a management issue.”

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Sheila Bair's relationship with board at Washington College strained

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:00

The relationship between the president and governing board at Washington College on Maryland's Eastern Shore has deteriorated and could soon lead to President Sheila Bair's departure after less than two years on the job.

Such a move would be a significant change for Washington College, a small but historic private institution with less than 1,500 students. The college counts itself as the 10th oldest college in the nation. Bair is its first woman president.

Bair is also a notable figure who served as the chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 2006 to 2011. She was one of the early voices to worry about a subprime mortgage crisis and oversaw the FDIC as its powers expanded as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. She has become a critic of high amounts of student loan debt for those who cannot repay large balances. At Washington College she has overseen affordability measures like incentives for low-income students who save, a scholarship program matching tuition dollars families pay out of college savings accounts and a program offering full-ride scholarships to students from low-income backgrounds.

A source close to the college said Bair and members of the college's Board of Visitors and Governors have clashed over board members' high level of involvement in the institution's operations. A draft meeting agenda including an item that would terminate Bair's presidency has been circulating among board members, the source said.

A copy of an email sent by Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp Jr. on May 24 that was obtained by Inside Higher Ed appears to outline a future board meeting in which members were to discuss ending Bair's presidency. The meeting was scheduled for May 31 by conference call.

“Meeting agenda items include the end of Sheila C. Bair's employment as president and the consideration and approval of her successor,” the email said. It went on to say that Culp will cancel the meeting if it is determined to not be necessary.

Contacted on Thursday before the email was obtained, Culp said business was normal at the college.

“Sheila Bair is the president at Washington College, I'm the chair of the board, and we're hard at work,” he said. “I don't want to respond to rumors, so I think I'm just going to leave it there for now.”

Culp did not immediately return a second request for comment after the email was obtained Thursday evening.

Another board member also said he did not know anything about a leadership change.

“I don't know anything about the possibility of this happening,” said Richard Creighton, a vice-co-chair of the board. “I'm surprised that's circulating.”

A colleges spokesman said he was unaware of any pending presidential changes.

Bair did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Her lawyer, Raymond D. Cotton, declined comment.


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German universities oppose plan to compete on teaching quality

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:00

German universities have emphatically rejected a proposal that they fear could mean competing for funding on the basis of their teaching quality, but the plan is not off the table.

As England prepares to unveil its controversial teaching excellence framework (TEF) ratings and the Australian government plans to award a portion of teaching funding on the basis of “performance,” German university leaders have argued that comparing teaching quality is a near impossible task.

Last month, the German Council of Science and Humanities, which advises the federal government and states on research policy, put forward proposals for a new independent body that would award funding for new and innovative teaching efforts.

In an unusually rapid and unanimous response, the German Rectors’ Conference, which represents university leaders, rejected the idea last week. One of the reasons, Horst Hippler, the body’s president, said in a statement, was that “there are limitations on the comparison of teaching … in a competitive setting.”

The final decision rests with federal and state governments.

Sabine Behrenbeck, head of the council’s higher education department, told Times Higher Education that it envisaged making only a very small proportion of the teaching budget competitive -- about 1 percent of the total. This money would go to promising projects exploring new ways to teach, rather than being distributed on the basis of some kind of standardized assessment of teaching quality.

“We don’t recommend a TEF,” she said. “We don’t trust so much in metrics, for assessment, but in evaluation by peers.”

Still, she added that the proposed new body would organize discussions on “how can we evaluate the quality of teaching” in the future.

The proposals are part of a long-running attempt in Germany to get universities to pay more attention to teaching rather than research, an issue that has played out in several other countries, including England.

But the problem for governments the world over is that measuring teaching quality is notoriously difficult: the TEF focuses on metrics including student satisfaction scores and graduate employment, but these have been criticized respectively for being too subjective and too utilitarian as measures of the quality of a university education.

In Germany, there is little indication so far about how teaching quality might be assessed, should this ever become part of national policy. Tobias Schmohl, a researcher at the University of Hamburg’s Center for University Teaching and Learning, said that was “one of the reasons why everybody is nervous right now.” Unlike England, however, graduate destinations are not part of the discussion in Germany, he said.

Other ideas currently being discussed focus on making sure lecturers have teaching qualifications and continuous training, as well as taking teaching experience into account when making hiring decisions, explained Christian Tauch, head of the rectors’ conference’s education department.

Although German universities have rejected the proposed new nationwide teaching body, they nonetheless face a ticking time bomb over their financial situation. In 2020, federal funding that allowed them to cope with a big increase in student numbers is set to expire, and there are question marks over how many strings the federal government will attach to any replacement money.

German universities fear that the proposed new body will mean a continuation of this kind of temporary, project-based funding. Instead they want “continuous, sufficient funding” on a permanent basis for teaching, said Tauch. “You can’t build up new structures based on this [temporary] money.”

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:00

Agnes Scott College

  • Yael Manes, history
  • Nicole Stamant, English
  • Jason Solomon, music

Bates College

  • Jason Castro, neuroscience
  • Caroline Shaw, history
  • Mara Tieken, education

Carleton College

  • Muhammad Faress Bhuiyan, economics
  • Andy Flory, music
  • Sarah Meerts, psychology
  • Cherlon Ussery, linguistics
  • Matt Whited, chemistry
  • John “Thabiti” Willis, history

Kenyon College

  • Ross Feller, music
  • Hans Lottenbach, philosophy
  • Rosemary O’Neill, English
  • Kerry Rouhier, chemistry

Michigan Technological University

  • Ramy El-Ganainy, physics
  • Adam Feltz, cognitive and learning sciences
  • Stefka Hristova, humanities
  • L. Syd Johnson, humanities
  • Pasi Lautala, civil and environmental engineering
  • Bruce Lee, biomedical engineering
  • Nina Mahmoudian, mechanical engineering
  • Chelsea Schelly, social sciences
  • Mahdi Shahbakhti, mechanical engineering
  • Kazuya Tajiri, mechanical engineering
  • Min Wang, mathematical sciences
  • Yang Yang, mathematical sciences

Middlebury College

  • Anne Goodsell, physics
  • Rachael Joo, American studies
  • Julien Weber, French

Mount Saint Mary's University, in California

  • Therese Fassnacht, music
  • Jackie Filla, history and political science
  • Stephen Inrig, health policy and management
  • Robin Owens, religious studies
  • Peter Tan, philosophy

Quinnipiac University

  • Todd Ahern, psychology
  • Fodei Batty, political science
  • Elena Bertozzi, game design and development
  • Xi Chen, sociology
  • Louis Deaett, mathematics
  • Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, legal studies
  • Gary Giumetti, psychology
  • Barbara Glynn, nursing
  • Christopher Hodgdon, accounting
  • Kiku Jones, computer information systems
  • Ruth Kaplan, English
  • Lani Keller, biology
  • Choonsik Lee, finance
  • Courtney McGinnis, biology
  • Karen Myrick, nursing
  • Kimberly O’Neil, English
  • Nicholas Robinette, English
  • Kenneth Ryack, accounting
  • Mary Schramm, marketing
  • Ruth Schwartz, education
  • George Sprengelmeyer, music
  • Jaime Ullinger, anthropology

University of Hartford

  • Mary Arico, civil and biomedical engineering
  • Jaclyn Conley, painting
  • Edward Cumming, orchestral activities
  • Aslihan Demirkaya, mathematics
  • Donna Menhart, ear training
  • Larissa Schroeder, mathematics
  • Karen Tejada-Peña, sociology
  • Amanda Walling, English
  • Lisa Zawilinski, elementary education

University of San Francisco

  • Nola Agha, sport management
  • Arturo Araujo, art and architecture
  • Monisha Bajaj, international and multicultural education
  • William Bosl, health informatics
  • Jennifer Chubb, mathematics
  • Kathleen Coll, politics
  • Rebekah Dibble, organization, leadership and communication
  • Sophie Engle, computer science
  • Michael Goldman, sport management
  • Moira Gunn, business analytics and information systems
  • Monika Hudson, entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy
  • Keith Hunter, organization, leadership and communication
  • Kouslaa Kessler-Mata, politics
  • Allison Luengen, environmental science
  • Thomas Maier, hospitality management
  • Bich Nguyen, M.F.A. in writing program
  • Christina Purpora, nursing
  • Stefan Rowniak, nursing
  • Liang Wang, entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy
  • KT Waxman, nursing

Wagner College

  • Shani Carter, business
  • Jason Fitzgerald, education
  • Nancy Cherofsky, nursing
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Canada’s war over “cultural appropriation”

Economist, North America - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 07:49

Appropriately dressed

ANYONE, anywhere “should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities”, wrote Hal Niedzviecki in the spring issue of Write, an obscure Canadian literary magazine. For that apparently innocuous observation, he lost his job as the publication’s editor. Mr Niedzviecki was defending “cultural appropriation”, the use by artists and writers of motifs and ideas from other cultures. He suggested an “appropriation prize” for creators who carry out such cross-cultural raids. In a special issue of the magazine dedicated to indigenous writers, that was offensive, his critics said.

Mr Niedzviecki’s supporters were also made to suffer. A journalist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was demoted after he offered on Twitter to help finance the prize. The editor of Walrus, a better-known magazine, decried “political correctness, tokenism and hypersensitivity” in...

Argentina’s new, honest inflation statistics

Economist, North America - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 07:49

SOME readers of The Economist may be numbed by statistics. To many others, they are the water of cognitive life. Each week at the back of this newspaper we publish official data on 42 of the largest economies in the world—with one exception. Five years ago we stopped publishing the inflation figure for Argentina produced by the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner because we, and many others, thought it was bogus. We substituted an inflation number drawn up by PriceStats, an international data service. A year later the IMF followed our lead, formally censuring Argentina for “inaccuracy” in its data.

This week we are delighted to resume publication of the official inflation number for Argentina. One of the first things that Mauricio Macri did after he was elected as the country’s president in November 2015, defeating Ms Fernández’s candidate, was to restore the professional independence of INDEC, the statistical office. He charged it with...

The fate of Brazil’s president hangs in the balance

Economist, North America - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 07:49

“IF THEY want, let them bring me down!” So declared Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, in a newspaper interview on May 22nd. He is the second president in the space of a year who is fighting to stay in office in the face of allegations of wrongdoing and dismal poll ratings. His predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached in 2016 on a technical violation of public-accounting law. The allegations against Mr Temer are far graver, but his chances of remaining president may be brighter. Whether he stays or goes, the accusations against him are momentous. The blow to his prestige and influence will delay, and might destroy, vital reforms to Brazil’s economy, which is only beginning to emerge from its worst-ever recession.

Mr Temer’s woes began on May 17th when O Globo, a newspaper, reported that, on a tape recorded by Joesley Batista, a billionaire businessman, he is heard endorsing payment of hush money to a politician jailed for his role in the Petrobras scandal....

Brazil’s fabulous Batista boys

Economist, North America - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 07:49

JOSÉ BATISTA SOBRINHO helped build Brasília. In 1957 his meat business supplied canteens that fed workers constructing Brazil’s modernist capital. Now his two youngest sons, Wesley and Joesley, are bringing the place down. As the bosses of the company their father founded, renamed JBS in his honour, they are at the centre of a scandal that may force a president out of office for the second time in a year (see article).

JBS is the world’s biggest beef exporter. Its revenues rose from 3.9bn reais ($1.8bn) in 2006 to 170bn reais last year, helped by China’s appetite and Brazil’s enthusiasm for national champions. From 2007 to 2015 the development bank, BNDES, injected into Batista enterprises more than 8bn reais in capital and loans. Most of it was to help JBS buy rivals, including American brands like Swift and Pilgrim’s Pride. J...