English Language Feeds

ETS announces instant access TOEFL iBT scores

The PIE News - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 09:43

Global test provider ETS has launched instant scores for TOEFL iBT reading and listening exam sections to give test takers early performance indicators, which will help with identifying whether a student will need to resit exams.

As of February 15, students have been able to see “unofficial” scores for the reading and listening sections immediately upon conclusion of the test, becoming the only English-language assessment that provides students scores instantly.

“ETS wants to ensure the testing experience is as convenient and flexible as possible”

“Our commitment to students and institutions drives the changes and enhancements we’ve implemented over the last several months,” said Srikant Gopal, executive director of the TOEFL Program.

“ETS wants to ensure the testing experience is as convenient and flexible as possible for students while maintaining the rigorous standards of a fair and unbiased assessment that institutions rely on as a valid measure of academic English-language proficiency,” Gopal continued.

The instant scores mean students can make decisions about reporting scores or retaking the test, he explained.

“If students are unsatisfied with their performance on these two sections, they can choose to cancel their scores at the end of the test, which prevents these scores from appearing on their official score report as well as from going to the institutions that they selected to receive their scores.”

ETS is seeking to give students “the opportunity to make decisions about retesting sooner”, Gopal said, which is helpful for those up against deadlines during application season.

In September 2019, ETS reduced the retest waiting period for the TOEFL iBT from 12 to three days.

“Having the opportunity to view these scores immediately also provides students with instant validation of their performance, especially after working hard to prepare for the test and working diligently to complete it,” Gopal added.

Although the “unofficial” scores provide early performance indicators, full scores will still be available approximately six days following the test.

“We anticipate that in almost all cases, the unofficial reading and listening scores that students will see upon completing the TOEFL iBT test will be the same scores that students will see on their official score reports,” Gopal explained.

“However… we do additional quality checks before they can be considered official scores.”

The speaking section of the test remains unchanged, and will continue to be scored centrally by anonymous human raters as well as AI technology “to ensure fairness and reliability”, Gopal added.

Additionally, ETS has reduced the time needed to register online for tests from four to two days in a bid to make online registration more convenient.

“We understand that students worldwide will face deadlines and unexpected circumstances that may require them to make decisions later in the process,” Gopal said.

“We’re confident this updated policy will provide ample opportunity for students to register at a time that is most conducive to their schedules.”

In 2019, ETS launched a mobile app for test-takers on the go, as well as its MyBest Scores. It also shortened the time of the TOEFL iBT test by 30 minutes to a total of three hours.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: More Students Report Talking With Their Professors Outside of Class. Here’s Why That Matters.

The latest National Survey of Student Engagement found that, over the last decade, more first-year students reported discussing careers and other topics unrelated to coursework with faculty members.

A pipeline through historically native land has sparked protests in Canada

Economist, North America - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 08:49

“STOP THE INVASION! No pipelines on stolen native land!” So chanted dozens of protesters on a chilly afternoon this week in Vancouver. With placards in hand, they blocked traffic on a busy thoroughfare, doing their part to “shut down Canada”. That has become the rallying cry against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a C$6.6bn ($5bn) project which will transport natural gas 670km (420 miles) across British Columbia to the Pacific coast, where a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant is under construction.

The pipeline is an “invasion”, detractors say, because about a quarter of its route passes through land traditionally belonging to the Wet’suwet’en, a First Nations people. Since early February, when police broke up a blockade (with an injunction to do so) local disputes have escalated to national unrest. Allies of the Wet’suwet’en have organised copycat demonstrations far away from the pipeline itself.

None of this has scuppered the plans, but it has disrupted the economy and embarrassed the Liberal government. Canadian National Railway (CN) shut down lines in the east of the country and temporarily laid off about 450 workers; Via Rail, a passenger service, is doing the same to nearly 1,000. Food, heating fuel, farm exports and commodities are gridlocked. Cars and ships have been unable to get through bridges, ports and the...

An interview with Uruguay’s president-elect, Luis Lacalle Pou

Economist, North America - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 08:49

AT HIS campaign headquarters on Artigas Boulevard, named after Uruguay’s founding hero, the man who hopes to be its next one was energised. Luis Lacalle Pou, the country’s conservative president-elect, is 46 years old but looks younger, with floppy brown hair, no jacket and sleeves rolled up. Days ahead of his swearing-in on March 1st, in an interview with The Economist, Mr Lacalle Pou set out a wide range of plans, from relaxing immigration rules to cutting public spending. But what obsessed him most of all was tackling a recent surge in crime (see chart). He lamented that just down the road were “no-go areas” overrun with violence. “It’s time to take back the streets,” he said, “by force if need be.”

The first step was to take back power. Last November, in a run-off, Mr Lacalle Pou narrowly defeated Daniel Martínez, the candidate of the Broad Front, a leftist coalition that had ruled Uruguay for 15 years. (The last president from Mr Lacalle Pou’s National Party was his father, in the 1990s.) The Broad Front had maintained economic and constitutional stability, and liberalised marijuana use and same-sex marriage. But it also presided over sharp rises in public employment, the fiscal deficit and violent crime. The homicide rate in Uruguay, a traditionally safe country of about 3.5m, shot up by 46% in 2018, to...

Mariam Sheikh honoured at IIWA 2020

The PIE News - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 07:55

The former vice-president of Amity University Dubai, Mariam Sheikh, has received a lifetime achievement award for her work with foreign universities in the UAE. 

The prize was given at the International Inspirational Women Awards 2020, an event organised by Indian not-for-profit organisation the GISR Foundation.

“I strongly believe in the development of society through education”

Sheikh has spent the last 35 years helping to set up international universities in Dubai, where she specialised in student recruitment. She was amongst 81 other women who were awarded for their contributions towards society. 

“Our visionary leadership that supports women 100%, believes that for a society to be productive, it has to utilise the talents and capabilities of women who represent around half of the UAE population,” she told The PIE News

“I strongly believe in the development of society through education – its value system – to leave a profound legacy for the future generation.  

“I am of the opinion that international exposure and amalgamation of various cultures will help to create a tolerant and peaceful global society that will be progressive and will establish a future,” she added.

Sheikh started her career in education in the early 1980s, when she ran a Nursery school.  She then went on to head a number of schools before moving into higher education in UAE.

She sponsored a foreign campus for Canada’s University of New Brunswick at Knowledge Village – a move that prompted other foreign universities to set up campuses in Dubai. 

Sheikh then worked with institutes including The Canadian University of Dubai, Heriot Watt University from Scotland and Amity University of India in Dubai, where she contributed to the development of their foreign campuses.

She told The PIE  that she was “so proud and grateful to see that my work has been noted and that I am being commended publicly for it.”

IIWA was set up to celebrate the commitment, courage and confidence of exceptional women across dimensions and geographical boundaries.

A number of women were honoured at the awards in categories including Woman CEO of the Year, Woman Change-maker of the Year and Best Woman Performer in Woman Rights.

Balvinder Shukla, who is the current vice-chancellor at Amity University, spoke at the event, telling the audience that women are change-makers who would bring about “change in the society, country and the world”.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: How Much Could the Coronavirus Hurt Chinese Enrollments?

In a survey, two-thirds of Chinese student-recruitment agents said they expect the number of students from China who study abroad to decline in the next year; and other news in global higher ed. 

Coronavirus epidemic to hit short-term summer programs hardest – BOSSA

The PIE News - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 04:49

As Chinese banks sterilise cash to try and prevent the further spread of coronavirus and bars deliver happy hour drinks to customers in lockdown, many agents are preparing for “a decline in students going abroad this year”, according to a survey from the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association.

BOSSA is China’s largest international education association and together with the China Overseas Study Service Alliance, it counts more than 300 agencies, education providers and organisations among its members.

The majority of Chinese students use an education agent, and BOSSA- COSSA agent members account for two-thirds of all Chinese students sent abroad, according to the association.

According to the survey, BOSSA members report that staff are continuing to work remotely and communicate with clients online or by telephone, with agencies taking a “wait and see approach” to developments and closely following official reports and news from partner institutions.

“Reports of attacks on Chinese international students are most disconcerting to BOSSA”

“The epidemic has invariably caused 40%-60% of students to be directly affected in college applications, visa applications, and in-country exit and entry,” stated the survey report.

The main application issues reported by agents include incomplete materials due to the cancellation of standardised tests (35%), delayed school starts (28%), blocked travel (39%), blocked entry or exit (39%), blocked visa applications (38%) and blocked admission (8%).

Countries such as Australia have stopped processing visas for Chinese students, meaning some may have to defer their studies, while those heading to countries still issuing visas may experience delays due to the evacuation of embassy and consulate staff from China.

“BOSSA’s staff and members are closely monitoring visa centre closings, cancelled flights, banning of Chinese travellers, and associated national and global matters of the novel coronavirus affecting the health and safety of Chinese students abroad,” BOSSA spokesperson Jon Santangelo told The PIE News.

He explained that reports of verbal and physicals attacks on Chinese international students are most disconcerting to BOSSA and its agents.

“Hosting schools and universities need to communicate an awareness of challenges which may arise and offer sequential supportive actions to their students. These educators should also convey this information to their partnered recruitment agents,” Santangelo said, adding that BOSSA’s own Agent Expo has been postponed from March 19 to May 29.

The report also revealed that agencies believe almost 36% of students will change their plans with regards studying abroad due to the epidemic, while 66% say the total number of students studying abroad this year will decline.

In addition, more than 80% said they believe summertime short-term programs will be the most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“The main concern at this stage, having spoken to university partners, is the IELTS and pre-sessional English courses,” Billy Xu of Sower International Education Group told The PIE.

“A large number of Chinese students who join master’s programs will need to take pre-sessional English courses, and these vary from 10 to 30 weeks or even longer.”

“Hosting schools and universities need to communicate an awareness of challenges”

Xu said that in order to get a visa for the pre-sessional courses, students need to take the IELTS with UKVI exams, but now that IELTS tests are closed until April “there will be a foreseeable drop for this Autumn intake”.

For international students currently in China that cannot get abroad to their classes, some universities are trying to offer online options.

Some reports have suggested internet restrictions have been eased to help students access courses although others within China say there has been an increased crackdown on access to the non-Chinese websites and VPN usage.

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ILAC acquires CTC and Sterling College

The PIE News - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 03:32

Renowned English language provider, International Language Academy of Canada has announced the acquisition of Canadian Tourism College and Sterling College in British Columbia.

The acquisition comes as part of the expansion of ILAC’s new higher education division, adding programs in tourism, hospitality, business and nursing to its offering.

“ILAC continues to focus on providing best-in-class English language learning”

The organisation currently offers a range of programs to young adults aged 16 to 18, adults 19+ and gap year programs across 10 campuses in both Toronto and Vancouver.

“The formation of ILAC Higher Education allows us to work with our public partner institutions to deliver qualifications that currently have high job demands in Canada,” said Feroz Ali, ILAC’s new president and chief development officer of the HE division.

“This will allow ILAC students to either pathway into our amazing public institutions or continue to allow their students within our higher education division,” he added.

“ILAC continues to focus on providing best-in-class English language learning and we believe this partnership complements our existing pathway partnerships, offering a wider selection of services to our students,” the organisation’s CEO Jonathan Kolber said.

The provider stated that the merger “existing post-secondary operations with CTC and Sterling College will increase ILAC’s ability to deliver program excellence while continuing to foster diversity on its campuses in Toronto and Vancouver”.

In 2019, private equity platform ONCAP announced an agreement with ILAC to continue the business’s growth, “both organically and through acquisitions”.

Ali further said that he was “delighted to join the governance and management team at ILAC to help realise its growth potential”.

“This is an incredible opportunity to be part of the changing landscape in international education in Canada,” he said.

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Education Department escalates inquiry into reporting of foreign gifts and contracts

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 01:00

The Department of Education continues to step up its scrutiny of universities receiving foreign gifts and contracts. In going after Harvard and Yale Universities last week, the department sent a clear signal it was serious about enforcing the law, which requires colleges to report all gifts and contracts involving foreign sources valued at $250,000 or more.

The Education Department's new investigations into whether Harvard and Yale comply with reporting requirements follow other investigations launched over the past year into the disclosure of foreign funding at Cornell, Georgetown, Rutgers and Texas A&M Universities as well as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland.

Department officials say the agency's efforts to enforce Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which addresses disclosure of gifts and contracts, have led to the reporting of approximately $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign money since last July 1.

Reed D. Rubinstein, the principal deputy general counsel at the department, has indicated that those efforts have "also revealed disturbing facts."

"One university received research funding from a Chinese multinational conglomerate to develop new algorithms and advance biometric security techniques for crowd surveillance capabilities," Rubinstein wrote in a Nov. 27 letter to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations. "One university had multiple contracts with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China … Another university had a relationship with Kaspersky, a Russian company that has been banned from contracting with the U.S. Government."

College officials have pushed back, arguing that the Education Department's aggressive efforts may go beyond the scope of what the law requires. The college officials also say the department has taken an unnecessarily combative, rather than collegial, approach to enforcing a law that no one much paid attention to in the past.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has not been swayed by the criticisms of the department's work.

“This is about transparency,” she said in a press release last week about the Harvard and Yale investigations. “If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom. Moreover, it’s what the law requires.”

She pointedly noted that the investigations have yielded results.

“Unfortunately, the more we dig, the more we find that too many are underreporting or not reporting at all,” she said in the release. “We will continue to hold colleges and universities accountable and work with them to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent, as required by the law.”

Many universities have in fact been lax in their reporting over the years. A 2019 report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that nearly 70 percent of colleges that received $250,000 or more in annual funding from Hanban, the Chinese government entity that funds the Confucius Institutes located at various American colleges and high schools, failed to report the funding. An increasing number of universities have closed these centers for Chinese language education and cultural programming, in response to pressure from congressional lawmakers.

Karen Perat, a Yale spokeswoman, said the university failed to submit required foreign gift reports for the years 2014 to 2017, an oversight that she said was corrected in November.

“Yale believes its reporting is now current and complete,” Perat said. She said Yale is preparing a response to the department's request for further information.

"Yale takes very seriously the importance of ensuring that funding from foreign sources does not in any way compromise American interests, and it respects the Education Department’s requirements about reporting of such funding," Perat said. "Yale also believes that a signal strength of American higher education has long been the quality of its international relationships and collaborations, which have helped our universities produce exceptional scholarship and research and exceptionally prepared graduates, to the direct benefit of the American people."

Terry Hartle, the senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said the stepped-up enforcement of the reporting requirement, which was enshrined in law in 1986, is a new priority of the Trump administration. He said while colleges had stopped paying much attention to the law, the department bears culpability for the lax reporting, having never issued regulations to implement the law. He noted that the department only issued informal guidance in 1995 and 2004.​

“There’s no doubt that colleges and universities need to put more emphasis on Section 117 reporting,” Hartle said. “Having said that, there’s also very little doubt that the Department of Education would prefer to have an issue rather than to fix a problem.”

Hartle explained that higher education leaders have been eager to meet with department officials to discuss compliance but said their requests for meetings have been refused.

"We are very anxious to fully and completely comply with the letter and spirit of Section 117," he said. "The Department of Education could facilitate this enormously by engaging in conversations. They refuse to do that."

Instead, the department "has indicated that its approach to collecting data on 117 will be based on investigations rather than collaboration to get the data," Hartle said.

An Education Department official suggested the reporting requirements are not that complicated. 

"The facts do not provide the Department with a reasoned basis for concluding that Section 117 reporting is too complicated or difficult for higher education, with all of its intellectual and financial resources, to manage," the official said via email.

The Harvard and Yale Investigations

The department’s investigations into Harvard and Yale are notable for their expansive scope and focus on two of the country's most elite institutions.

In its letter to Yale, the Education Department asks for “all records of, regarding, or referencing gifts, contracts, and/or restricted or conditional gifts or contracts from or with a foreign source to the Institution” since August 2013, including “true copies” of contracts and donor agreements.

The letter also requests “a list of each program, activity, and/or person at the institution (e.g., an Islamic law program, a Confucius Institute, a research scientist funded in whole or substantial part by a foreign corporation, a foreign graduate student studying physics under a scholarship or other contractual arrangement with a foreign government, a fellow in a cultural studies program created by endowment or other gift by a foreign national) that is in whole or in substantial part directly funded or supported by and/or employed due to a gift, contract and/or restricted or conditional gift or contract with or from a foreign source” from Aug. 1, 2013, to the present.

Another line item asks Yale to list all gifts and contracts that have benefited specific entities of the university, including the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and the Kerry Initiative, a program founded by John Kerry, former secretary of state under President Obama. The letter asks throughout for information about "all" gifts and contracts, not just for those at or above the $250,000 threshold that typically triggers a reporting requirement.

"The letter speaks for itself," the Education Department official said. "We are requesting records of all foreign gifts and contracts, regardless of size."  

"Taking the words on the page at face value, it seems to me to be a dramatic expansion of the kinds of things that are typically reported or required to be reported under the statute," said Alex Hontos, a partner at the law firm Dorsey & Whitney, which represents a number of large academic institutions in government enforcement matters.

The letter to Harvard makes similarly expansive requests. The Education Department says in its letter it is “aware of information suggesting Harvard University lacks appropriate institutional controls and as a result, its statutory Section 117 reporting may not include and/or fully capture all reportable gifts, contracts and/or restricted and conditional gifts or contracts from or with foreign sources.”

The department cites as evidence for the alleged lack of appropriate controls the arrest last month of Charles Lieber, a Harvard professor and chair of the chemistry department, who was accused of failing to disclose payments of $50,000 a month he received in return for his participation in a Chinese government-sponsored talent recruitment program. The department's letter also cites a statement Harvard issued in September about a review of donations it received from the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, in which Harvard president Lawrence S. Bacow noted that Harvard's "decentralization makes such a review more complicated than it would be at some other institutions."

Harvard said last week that it is reviewing the Education Department’s notice of investigation and preparing a response.

Sending a Message

Meanwhile, the Education Department posted a notice in the Federal Register on Feb. 10 of a new form it proposes to use to collect information from universities about the foreign gifts and contracts they receive.

ACE and 29 other higher education groups had raised concerns that an earlier version of the proposed information collection request, or ICR, exceeded the scope of the department’s information-collecting authority under Section 117.

ACE said that while the Education Department has since “backed away from some of the more problematic provisions in the original ICR,” the association continues to have concerns.

“The new ICR … still includes the requirement to submit the names and addresses of anonymous individual donors, a provision ACE and others in the higher education community oppose,” ACE said in a Feb. 11 statement. “ED says it will protect the identity of such donors, but it is not clear that promise of confidentiality can be kept once the documents are in federal possession. ACE also opposes the requirement of supplying to ED true copies of contract and gift agreements that ED will now address under a separate rulemaking process, due to concerns over maintaining the confidentiality of these documents.”

Several universities investigated by the department said they had improved their processes for tracking and reporting gifts and contracts from foreign sources.

"In response to our recent review under the U.S. Department of Education, Rutgers has improved and clarified our procedures to ensure compliance with our foreign gift and contract disclosure requirements. All gifts received and contracts executed with foreign sources are reported semi-annually in accordance with the specified reporting timelines, deadlines, and financial thresholds," Rutgers said in a statement.

MIT said it identified ways to improve its foreign gift and contract reporting process more than a year ago.

"MIT’s reporting since January 2019 has been based on these improved processes," the university said in a statement. "The Institute is committed to working constructively with federal officials to address the department’s questions.”

Meanwhile, Texas A&M said it had actually overreported its foreign funding to the department by more than $2 million.

"Texas A&M has been praised by federal leaders for our fervent commitment to protecting our institution from intellectual property theft and undue foreign influence," a spokeswoman said.

It seems clear the federal scrutiny of gifts and contracts will not be going away any time soon. International collaborations in general -- and collaborations with China in particular -- are coming under increased scrutiny from lawmakers, who have raised alarm about the risk of foreign actors stealing research funded by American tax dollars. To a large degree, the newfound scrutiny of universities' foreign collaborations has been bipartisan in nature.

Indeed, U.S. senators Rob Portman, the chairman of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and a Republican, and Tom Carper, the ranking member of the committee and a Democrat, issued a joint statement praising the Education Department's investigations last week.

"The fact that $6.5 billion in foreign gifts to U.S. institutions went unreported until now is shocking and unacceptable," they said. "We would urge the Department to also work with institutions to improve the reporting process to increase transparency and ensure that U.S. schools are in compliance going forward."

The Education Department official said DeVos is the first education secretary to hold colleges accountable for reporting.

"First, this is an issue of national security because, among other concerns, foreign money (from governments, government-run corporations/NGOs, and individuals) may come with 'strings attached' that compromise academic freedom," the official wrote. "These money streams raise serious questions about academic program/research integrity and the security of intellectual property. Second, colleges and universities are heavily subsidized by the American taxpayer. They must be held accountable [to] our American students, parents, and taxpayers, as well as the U.S. government, for complying with our laws, including transparency laws. Third, the vast underreporting in what is a very basic regulatory system suggests a potentially serious lack of internal financial controls -- this is very concerning in light of the fact that colleges and universities have extensive federal audit requirements and their failure or decision not to track foreign money could be a symptom of problems elsewhere as well."

Hontos, the lawyer with Dorsey & Whitney, said colleges, universities and academic research institutions should be prepared for such heightened scrutiny going forward.

"Certainly, if the United States government is going after Harvard and Yale and doing it in an open way, posting these kinds of open letters on a website and making a big splash about it, that’s really an effort by the government to send a message -- and that message is supposed to be heard throughout academia," he said.

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No-shows burden counseling center resources

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 01:00

When college mental health care providers and students talk about campus mental health resources, two very different perspectives emerge.

Students who have experienced mental illnesses themselves see the availability of on-campus services as one of the core responsibilities of the institutions they attend. They believe that if those services aren’t being utilized or are found by students to be inadequate, it’s up to the college to adjust.

College-based mental health providers consider themselves central to student well-being and academic achievement. They want to help as many students as possible but say the need for services well exceeds what their centers are funded to provide.

Where these positions converge and diverge has become the latest challenge for many colleges across the country facing increasing demands and skyrocketing costs for student mental health services.

For example, American University officials recently attempted to call attention to the number of missed appointments at its counseling center due to late cancellations and no-shows. Some students took offense at what they felt was an example of the university blaming students for the center's failures.

Daniel Solomon, a senior at Clemson University who founded ​You’re Not Alone, a peer support group on campus for students who struggle with mental illness or who have family members or friends that do, said he could relate to AU students' frustrations.

Students make sacrifices to go to college and in return expect the institution to take care of them, he said.

“It all has to go back to providing more resources. That in and of itself would solve all the issues,” Solomon said. “If universities are going to bring smart, well-educated students to their campus and provide them with an education and also make us pay for our health bills, then it’s their responsibility to keep us healthy.”

Shivani Nishar, a student at Brown University, is co-coordinator of its chapter of Project LETS, a national organization that works to decrease barriers to mental health resources on campuses.

“The blame or responsibility should never be on the student, especially a mentally ill student,” Nishar said. If a student doesn’t show up to a scheduled counseling appointment, it’s the university’s responsibility to “work out the logistics,” she said.

But counseling center directors believe students should view campus mental health services as a shared resource and a shared responsibility.

“It’s not totally fair to expect in any mental health service that I can be seen as much as I want to be and as quickly as I want to be,” said Peter LeViness, director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Richmond.

Counseling resources are a two-way street, said Ben Locke, executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University.

“Big picture, it’s important for institutions and the services they provide to have a both-and conversation, where the students are an integral part of that service and making the service successful and being responsible consumers of expensive services,” Locke said.

The average annual operating and salary budgets of counseling centers at institutions with more than 10,000 enrolled students exceeded $1 million, while those with 35,000 students or more reached $4 million from 2017 to 2018, according to the most recent 2018 survey of 571 counseling center directors conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, or AUCCCD. The average total annual budget for counseling centers recorded in the association survey increased by more than $112,000 from 2016 to 2018, rising to $1,059,324.

Yet demand continues to outpace the supply of services universities are struggling to provide, said LeViness, who also coordinates the AUCCCD survey. As a result, center directors are taking a hard look at how resources can be wasted, including by the very students they are meant to help.

When American University sent an email to students listing the hours lost in psychiatric services due to appointment no-shows, some students found the email “hurtful” and felt it blamed them for the gaps in the mental health services provided by the university.

AU has been attempting to improve those gaps in services as part of its strategic plan, said Traci Callandrillo, assistant vice president for campus life. She said the idea to share information with students was well-intentioned.

“When it comes to health-care agencies, being able to be clear that we’re doing the best that we can in how the resources are being utilized is an important part of us being good stewards of resources for the community,” Callandrillo said.

The email listed data from the fall 2019 semester: one-fifth of all counseling center appointments were no-shows or late cancellations, or the equivalent of five no-shows each day. And there were 48 missed appointments with psychiatrists at the student health center. Similarly sized institutions (10,000 to 15,000 total enrollment) had a no-show rate of 9.2 percent for talk therapy appointments from 2017 to 2018, according to the AUCCCD survey.

Students have been complaining about the wait time for initial consultations at the counseling center in forums with administrators, said Jeremy Ward, speaker of the student government’s undergraduate senate. So when students received the email from Fanta Aw, vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence, it caused a “flare-up,” Ward said.

“We do not know why the administration felt the need to express what comes off as complaints about students, and we do not believe that telling students that their behavior is the problem will do anything to improve mental health services on campus,” the student government executive board said in a statement.

Conversations about wait times and appointment availability at American’s counseling center were “certainly” happening when she was a student, said Kelly Davis, a 2015 AU graduate and director of peer advocacy supports and services for the Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council, an elected group of students who lead mental health initiatives on their campuses and identify trends and best practices. She said the email was “tone-deaf” and “discounts the fact that no-shows are pretty common across all health concerns.”

“If you’re offering a service that people are not utilizing, most businesses would not blame the customer,” Davis said. “There’s a whole lot of reasons that someone wouldn’t show up for an appointment, and that can be like a kick while you’re down. Not only are you not showing up, you’re preventing others from getting help.”

But when a student does not show up for an appointment or cancels too late for the appointment time slot to be given to someone else, that’s time that another student could have been seen, Aw said in her email. Wait times at counseling centers increase when there are more no-shows, LeViness said.

“It’s an unfortunate loss of resources in any case, and if you want to think of it in terms of cost, it’s even more costly for psychiatric appointments, in terms of the units and time that person is being paid,” LeViness said.

Seventy-two percent of 400 university presidents reported in a 2019 American Council on Education survey that they were spending more funds now on mental health initiatives than three years ago. ​

Psychiatric appointments, which are usually with medical doctors, are typically two to three times more expensive per hour than meeting with a counselor or therapist, who are not medical doctors, and they’re also more coveted, because of how limited they are at any given center, Locke said. More than half of the institutions in the 2018 AUCCCD survey had no psychiatric provider, a licensed medical doctor or nurse practitioner who could diagnose and care for students with psychological disorders. American has both a full-time psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner, said Lisa Stark, assistant vice president for communications.

“In the world of health care and mental health care, big picture, that’s in some ways a cost of doing business,” Locke said. “But if a large percentage of appointments are just simply no-shows or late cancellations, and they can't be reused for other students … that represents a financial investment that's unused.”

University medical centers are looking for ways to reshape their structure to mitigate no-shows, such as relying more on a walk-in appointment model and sending students reminders about scheduled appointments, Locke said.

When there are no-shows at the University of South Florida’s counseling center, the counselor is put “on call” so if a student walks in, they can be seen, said Scott Strader, director of the center. South Florida was recognized as a leading university for its quality of and investment in mental health care in 2018 by the nonprofit Active Minds, a youth mental health research and advocacy organization. Having clinicians available for initial consultations on a same-day basis allows students to show up when they are feeling most motivated to seek help, Strader said.

“As we look at the demand for services, maximizing the clinical availability of time is very important, and a lot of us are focused on how our providers’ time is maximized,” Strader said. “That is a way to kind of offset the no-show issue. Students can get an immediate touch point with a provider. They might not need a follow-up, and if they do, we put them in that initial provider queue and wait a couple of weeks.”

The South Florida center’s no-show rate is between 7 and 8 percent for scheduled appointments, Strader said, lower than the national average for talk therapy appointments, according to the AUCCCD survey. The South Florida center also saw a significant decline in no-shows when it increased its fee for missed appointments from $10 to $15 in 2017, Strader said.

The University of Oregon, which also won Active Minds’ Healthy Campus Award in 2018, charges a $25 fee for no-shows, said Alisia Caban, the associate director of the Oregon center. Oregon informs students about the fee up front and explains to them that the center is an important, utilized resource, Caban said.

American does not want to charge students for missing counseling appointments because it can be a barrier for people who can’t afford the fee, but it does charge a $20 no-show fee for psychiatric appointments, said Callandrillo, the campus life official. She said the university will continue to receive feedback from its wellness council and campus as a whole about “how we as an institution are meeting those needs and understanding the expectations.”

Despite her criticism of American’s data-sharing email, Davis, the alumna, praised the university's willingness to engage in dialogue about the no-show problem.

“There is an inherent power imbalance between those who use the services and those who provide it,” Davis said. “There’s a shortage of resources, there’s a lack of investment in campus mental health, and from their perspective, if they’re putting in resources they don't’ think people are utilizing, that’s frustrating … The answer isn’t to blame the consumer of the service. It’s to try and be creative in how you get better outcomes.”

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Report shares sustainable college endowment investment strategies

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 01:00

Students' calls for institutions to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry and start investing in more eco-conscious companies have been ongoing for years but don’t show any signs of dying down.

Just last week, students at Cornell University staged a mock wedding between a six-foot-tall cutout of the university’s clock tower and a cardboard businessman wearing a hat inscribed with the words “big oil,” as part of a series of continuing protests. Administrators at Cornell did not promise to change their investment portfolio in response to student activism, but the issue of fossil fuel divestment will be considered by the institution’s shared governance groups, they said. This pledge, however, came with a warning that divesting from oil, coal and gas companies would take many years and “could have significant economic costs for the university.”

Cornell is far from the only institution to come under pressure from students to divest from fossil fuels. Activists rushed onto the field at the annual football game between Harvard and Yale Universities in December. Leaders at the two institutions have indicated that they do not support divestment, but the pressure is only increasing. Harvard Forward, a pro-divestment group, was recently successful in placing five candidates on the 2020 Board of Overseers election ballot. Harvard Forward's platform advocates for the university to divest all its assets from fossil fuels and develop more transparent investment guidelines.

Calls to divest from fossil fuels are often met with resistance from critics, who say such considerations will undermine investment returns. The fear that divesting from fossil fuels will yield lower returns is pervasive among university leaders, said Georges Dyer, executive director of the Intentional Endowments Network -- a membership organization for higher education institutions pursuing so-called sustainable investment strategies.

Student climate activists protested for four hours Thursday afternoon –– staging a “wedding” and blocking traffic –– urging Cornell to divest from fossil fuels.

— The Cornell Daily Sun (@cornellsun) February 14, 2020

The network published a report Wednesday highlighting research findings from academics and practitioners that show sustainable investment strategies, “in general, perform as well or better than traditional approaches.” Featured research findings include a July 2018 article published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and the Sightline Institute. The article acknowledges that fossil fuel companies have historically provided strong investment returns but says they stopped offering a significant advantage in the 2013 to 2018 period.

In addition to summarizing existing research, the report shares case studies of 11 institutions that are attempting to build environmental, social and governance, or ESG, factors into their traditional investment evaluations. In some cases, the changes were introduced as recently as six months ago and therefore do not provide a definitive long-term view. But the report indicates the early results are promising.

Institutions pursuing sustainable endowment investing strategies featured in the IEN report follow:

  • Arizona State University
  • Becker College
  • California State University
  • College of the Atlantic
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Hampshire College
  • North Carolina State University
  • Unity College
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of California System
  • Warren Wilson College

Arizona State University, for example, reported that its $100 million Sustainable, Responsible and Impact investment pool, established in July 2019, has outperformed non-ESG-oriented strategies since its launch. Jeff Mindlin, chief investment officer of the Arizona State University Foundation, acknowledged that it has been “too short a time frame to draw significant investment conclusions,” but he said he is encouraged by the performance of the fund as well as the “growing sophistication and availability of products in this space that allow us to build a portfolio that doesn’t need to sacrifice returns in order to align with our mission.”

The case studies are not intended to be a comprehensive review, “nor provide the definitive last word on this important area of study,” the report said. “But for endowment fiduciaries asking whether they can implement mission-aligned strategies without sacrificing financial returns, these examples demonstrate that it is possible to take a thoughtful approach … and maintain or improve investment performance.”

A working paper published in January by authors Christopher J. Ryan Jr. and Christopher R. Marsicano looked at hundreds of college and university endowments in order to compare the returns on funds that did not divest from fossil fuels versus those that did. The authors were not able to conclude that divestment has a discernible effect on endowment returns. The Independent Petroleum Association of America, which warns of great financial losses from divestment, said the analysis was flawed. Some universities have, however, recently announced plans to explore divestment -- Georgetown University announced plans to stop making new investments in fossil fuel companies earlier this month.

Dyer described the new report released Wednesday as the first to share real-world case studies of colleges implementing sustainable investing strategies and meeting financial performance targets.

“This is what university and college endowment professionals need to see in order to proceed with confidence,” he said. “It shows that endowments large and small can invest for a low-carbon, sustainable future, in ways that reduce risk, enhance returns and protect their reputations.”

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Polish academics fear role of Roman Catholic group in legislation on free speech

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 01:00

Polish academics have raised fears about government moves to create a committee to rule on alleged freedom of speech violations in universities, highlighting the involvement of a group of ultraconservative Roman Catholic lawyers in the proposed legislative changes.

Ordo Iuris, which describes itself as defending the Polish Constitution against “radical ideologies that aggressively question the existing social order,” said the ruling Law and Justice Party’s amendments to the controversial 2018 higher education law, to introduce clauses to protect freedom of speech in universities and to create a new committee to rule on alleged breaches, were “based on the draft” it submitted.

The proposed law change follows a high-profile free speech controversy at the University of Silesia in Katowice, where students complained that an academic had expressed homophobic and anti-abortion views during lectures.

Łukasz Bernaciński, a member of Ordo Iuris who is studying for a Ph.D. in law at the University of Łódź, said the organization had published a report in January describing key “violations” of free speech in Polish universities in recent years. Ordo Iuris, he added, “drafted a bill” that it presented to the minister of science and higher education, Jarosław Gowin, a former university rector who is also the deputy prime minister.

“The project met with great interest, so the ministry decided to start work on changing the law,” Bernaciński continued. “Currently, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education has drafted a bill that is based on the draft submitted by Ordo Iuris Institute.”

The Silesia controversy had “a direct impact” on Ordo Iuris’s interest in the issue, he said. Students had been “outraged at the Christian concept of the family, taught based on scientific foundations and research,” he said.

“This means that there has been a dangerous precedent that may prohibit universities from presenting research on specific phenomena and prevent academic debate on these topics,” Bernaciński said. The new committee on free speech “would issue nonbinding recommendations to university authorities,” he added.

A ministry spokesman said Ordo Iuris “did not participate in the preparation of the project” but rather was “one of many organizations and institutions … invited to participate during the open public consultation phase.”

Jarosław Płuciennik, professor of the humanities, cultural studies and religion, and former pro vice chancellor for education at the University of Łódź, said committee members would be “like disciplinary judges who will introduce a lot of stress on academics, who will be afraid of dealing with many issues because they will be afraid of losing their jobs.”

He added, “It’s a philosophy which can be described in two words: discipline and punish.”

Płuciennik feared the proposed law was a way to “allow expressions of views in academia,” potentially providing a platform in universities for those in the Catholic Church who campaign for a total ban on abortion, or for climate change deniers.

Ordo Iuris is “very radical” and “very proud of influencing people in Poland” and sees academia as a “liberal, leftist” bastion, Płuciennik said.

The ministry’s spokesman said the proposed law change “addresses many situations that indicate the need for intervention to protect academic freedom, including freedom of expression when teaching, research or a debate open to various scientific arguments is at risk.”

He said the ministry was “fully aware” of the concerns of some academics. “The representative bodies of the Polish academic community are actively involved in a dialogue with the ministry; we [are] all working constructively towards formulating an optimal legal framework,” he added.

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New presidents or provosts: Alverno Chicago Clark Estrella Fraser Lakehead Tusculum

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 01:00
  • David Barnett, interim provost and vice president, academic, at Lakehead University, in Ontario, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • David Fithian, executive vice president at the University of Chicago, in Illinois, has been appointed president of Clark University, in Massachusetts.
  • Joseph Foy, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Letters at Marian University, in Wisconsin, has been chosen as vice president for academic affairs at Alverno College, also in Wisconsin.
  • Manuel Gomez, associate provost and registrar at National American University, has been selected as vice president of academic affairs at Estrella Mountain Community College, in Arizona.
  • Scott Hummel, executive vice president and provost at William Carey University, in Missouri, has been appointed president of Tusculum University, in Tennessee.
  • Joy Johnson, vice president, research and international, at Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, has been promoted to president and vice chancellor there.
  • Ka Yee C. Lee, vice provost for research and a professor of chemistry, has been promoted to provost at the University of Chicago, in Illinois.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: In About-Face, Syracuse Lifts Suspensions of Protesting Students as They Continue Occupation

The university said it had not suspended the students over their protest, which criticizes inaction on racist incidents on the campus, but for their sit-in.

Chronicle of Higher Education: In These States, College Students Say Republicans Have Made It Harder for Them to Vote

New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida have recently passed laws that threaten to hamper college-student voter turnout in the presidential election.

UK announces points-based visa system

The PIE News - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 09:58

The UK government has launched its long-awaited points-based immigration system which it claims will “open up the UK to the brightest and the best from around the world”.

EU students will also be subject to the points-based system for study visas, as the single global system promises to “treat EU and non-EU citizens equally”.

“We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities”

Due to come into effect from January 2021, the proposed changes require those seeking to work in the UK earn at least £25,600 a year, as well as having specific skills and qualifications, including the ability to speak English.

Student visa routes will also be points-based, the government said.

“We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down,” said UK home secretary Priti Patel.

“We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.”

Students seeking to study in the UK will need to demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, that they can support themselves financially and that they speak English, the government explained.

Earlier in 2020, a report from the Migration Advisory Committee recommended a previously proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for migrants to be reduced to “about £25,600”.

Director of Universities UK International, Vivienne Stern, said she welcomed the fact that academics and researchers are being recognised for their “high skill level and their contribution to the UK economy and society”.

“We know that the British public agrees that the UK immigration system should be designed so that scientists, academics and their support staff can work in the UK and we have recommended that holding a job offer should give university staff priority status,” Stern noted.

A UUK poll had previously shown the British public overwhelmingly believe that immigrants should be welcomed into the country on the strength of their skills.

“While we welcome the recognition that the salary threshold of £30K was too high, we still need to ensure that all university staff will be able to work in the UK… [staff] who are vital to supporting the success of our universities,” Stern added.

However, NUS president Zamzam Ibrahim said it was “clear” the government had failed to listen to concerns of students in establishing this new points-based immigration system.

“While the reinstatement of two-year post study work visas was a positive step, by introducing financial thresholds for EU students it will close off access to the UK’s higher education system to all but the richest international students,” Ibrahim said.

“All EU students must continue to have access to student finance if we are to meet the government’s own target of attracting 600,000 students to the UK by 2030.”

Ibrahim added that the salary threshold will prevent institutions from recruiting the staff they need and deny future students the opportunity to learn from those with international backgrounds.

“These plans will create further perverse outcomes for students and educational staff”

It is estimated 70% of the existing EU workforce would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker route, which “will help to bring overall numbers down in future”, according to the UK Home Office.

“This new system will also prohibit the best international students from graduating into the entrepreneurial, charitable and creative industries, and any public sector not deemed valuable by our government,” Ibrahim added.

“Already our student visas and other visa application systems are not fit for purpose; these plans will create further perverse outcomes for students and educational staff migrating to the UK alike.”

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Mauricio Espinosa Moncada, President, AMTE, Mexico

The PIE News - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 07:50
In his own words, president of the Mexican Association of Educational Tourism (AMTE) Mauricio Espinosa Moncada is on a mission to “open something very disruptive”. In this PIE Chat, Moncada spoke about his role, the market in Mexico and the need for educators and professionals in the sector to continuously adapt.


The PIE: How did you get into the industry?

Mauricio Espinosa Moncada: I started more than 12 years ago with a small organisation in Mexico that was sending students to the University of Salamanca in Spain. Then I completely changed my career for a time, before returning to work in the industry with EF. I started as a country project manager, then they offered me the role of country director of Peru. After three years, Kaplan asked me to come back to Mexico and open the whole operation for Kaplan in Mexico.

Due to problems with Venezuela, China and Russia, Kaplan cut investment in some countries, and Mexico was one of them. So I opened Kaplan and I closed Kaplan. As we were giving really good numbers, they decided to give us an exclusivity contract for Mexico.

So I opened a company – I founded a company together with a partner. And then sadly after two years, the exchange rate completely changed in Mexico and I decided to leave the company. At that time, I used to be the vice president of AMTE, but I decided to quit the education industry and try something new.

“We are growing a lot – in one month we had five new members, and others are interested”

The PIE: So where are you working now? 

MEM: I’m working for Mundo Joven Travel Shop. Burlington English, a group from Israel with English schools worldwide, approached me and said, ‘We want to open Mexico. We have been trying to approach the Mexican market for several years’. So I invested.

The headquarters and the first school opened in January. It’s a local school and we compete with companies like Berlitz. The plan is to create two very best schools in the next four years in Mexico, and aiming to have a hundred in the next 10 years. So it’s a big plan.

We are going to open something very disruptive. Students can go whatever days they want – it’s included in the price – and because students are not going to go five days per week, we can put more students in the school than our competitors.

So we can actually start with a price that is killer – less than a 1000 pesos – around US$50 per month. Other major schools in Mexico are around $150-400 per month. So we can have English courses for a very large population in Mexico that can’t afford an expensive English course.

The PIE: Can you tell me more about AMTE and its membership? 

MEM: AMTE is an association for agencies, but we’re open to providers, embassies and schools. We are running more events and ICEF is going to join AMTE. We are growing a lot – in one month we had five new members, and others are interested. And just one year ago we used to be around 20, so we’re aiming to double.

We figured out that we were perceived as very commercial, so we are working with partners to try to become more academic in a certain way. We also decided to put money in the digital media promoting AMTE to students. So we’re telling the student, ‘if you want to travel abroad, you must be sure that you’re travelling with a secure AMTE agency, school or provider’.

We want to be very inclusive, to share best practices and show examples of innovation in the industry because I really believe that the industry hasn’t changed that much in the last 20 years. It’s very important for us to really change fast right away because I’m sure that groups like Booking.com or Expedia at some point are going to watch our industry and say, ‘you know what? There is a market there’.

“We can have English courses for a large population in Mexico that can’t afford an expensive English course”

For major markets, Mexico included, the market is pure language. A very simple product. The students now are trying to research more about the school on the internet. So we believe that there is a market in Mexico that is really ready to buy through e-commerce.

We have to prepare, really invest in technology, innovation, platforms. In our market, 40% is languages at least – that can be purchased through e-commerce. When I was working with EF, they were really experts with this. And that’s one of their advantages; they really know the market.

The PIE: What are a couple of examples of innovative work in the industry? 

MEM: Booking platform for agents and education providers Book & Learn is run by young professionals and they think in a disruptive way. I’d say that Book & Learn and Edvisor own probably 80% of the agencies in the world together just because they invented an easy way for the sales process and software that can make life easier.

Agencies tend to approach young people in a very formal way. We need to approach them in a different language. And this language probably is technology. We sell experiences. When you talk with a student, they talk about the experience – not the brand, not the English course, not how good at academics we are. We need to rethink how we approach students. We need to talk to them like young people.

“Agencies tend to approach young people in a very formal way”

If you just jump to YouTube and watch most of the videos of schools, you would see that those videos are very boring. But then there are also very good examples of people who are approaching it in the right way. EF, for example, did an amazing video. I believe that we really need to rethink our marketing both online as well as offline to attract more people.

The PIE: Should that approach depend on which market you work in? Say if you’re working in Turkey and you’re trying to reach Turkish students, is that going to be different than if you’re in Mexico trying to reach Mexican students? 

MEM: Of course, the cultural factor is very important. But at the end of the day, the basics are the same. We must focus on the basis of this market, the young people and try to approach with a cultural touch.

What really concerns me is that the world is changing fast, and we are not noticing many of these changes. We could lose [students] if we don’t adapt as fast as possible. Now that you talk around the world. We talk with many associations around the world – with associations in Germany, Ireland, Colombia.

I really believe that we have to act like a block. We have to prepare many things – just a few countries have good statistics about education.

The PIE: Coming back to Mexico. What are the trends for Mexican students? 

MEM: Junior camps are growing a lot in Mexico. Of course, it was a very challenging year because of the economy. I would say that will continue because of likely recessions in the next year in many countries. However, the numbers are still growing.

The PIE: What is the new Mexican president’s approach to Mexicans going abroad?

MEM: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is really focused on making the inside economy stronger. And I really believe that he’s not going to give scholarships in the next coming years.

“We could lose [students] if we don’t adapt as fast as possible”

We’re trying to change the Ministry of Education’s mind because we believe that government support is super important in order to keep the market growing. There are many poor people in Mexico. They are not even going to be close to having these kinds of experiences travelling abroad. But as well, there are many people that can do it, but still, need a scholarship, and they deserve a scholarship. They have brilliant minds.

So actually, we’re trying to support them through the private industry as the government is not supporting them. But as well we’re trying to approach the government and try to change this idea.

One of my life missions is to try to make an impact in terms of experiences and internationalisation – everything that means travelling abroad and coming back to your country with an open mind. That’s why I’m so happy to be in AMTE.

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UP Education acquires NZ Tertiary College

The PIE News - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 05:03

New Zealand’s independent tertiary education group UP Education has acquired the country’s largest provider of early childhood education, New Zealand Tertiary College.

Educating more than 3,000 students annually, NZTC trains future early childhood education professionals at bachelor degrees and graduate diplomas levels, as well as healthcare professionals.

“NZTC is a clear leader in ECE teacher education with an excellent reputation”

“NZTC is a clear leader in ECE teacher education with an excellent reputation, a strong culture and a long history of delivering outstanding student outcomes,” UP Education group chief executive officer, Mark Rushworth, said in a statement.

“Bringing NZTC into the UP Education group builds on our strategy to be a leading education provider in industry sectors with strong employment opportunities for students,” he explained.

UP Education looks forward to continuing to deliver for the early childhood education and health and wellbeing sectors, Rushworth added – NZTC is also currently educating 500 in its Health Assistant study programs ranging from Level 2 to Level 4.

NZTC offers online, college-based and blended learning and provides courses to international students in both New Zealand in globally, via its NZTC Global arm.

“For almost 40 years, NZTC has been committed to high-quality teacher education for the Early Childhood Education sector,” Selena Fox, chief executive of NZTC noted.

“With the sector facing significant teacher shortages, NZTC is committed to continuing to play a critical role in meeting the needs of the sector and supporting the government’s focus increasing the number of qualified early childhood teachers.

“Additionally, we are meeting the needs of increasing demand in the healthcare sector for skilled healthcare assistants. Enrolments for NZTC Health and Wellbeing programmes have risen 60% in the past 12 months, and we have strong relationships with key industry employers to transition these students into the workforce.”

NZTC will retain its leadership and teaching and support staff, as well as its name and brand.

UP Education rebranded in 2019, and the acquisition of NZTC brings its annual enrolment to around 13,500 students across its campuses.

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Canada: new study permits issued up 13% on 2018 figures

The PIE News - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 04:29

Canada welcomed more than 400,000 new international students at all study levels in 2019, with Indian student enrolments accounting for the majority of the increase in new study permits issued.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada statistics show that 404,165 individuals were issued study permits in 2019, an increase of almost 50,000 on the previous year. In 2018, 355,100 new study permits were issued.

Although total figures for the 2019 student population are yet to be released, this new data indicates that the entire international student population in Canada now exceeds 600,000, according to one analyst.

“Diversification of source countries is absolutely a priority”

The statistics reveal that 139,740 Indian students were issued study permits in 2019 – up from 107,175 in 2018 – and Indian citizens represent 35% of all 2019 new study permits.

The second biggest cohort came from China with 84,710 permits, marking a decrease on 2018 figures where 85,165 Chinese students were given study permits.

Iran (+39% to 9,795), Nigeria (+16% to 7,585), France (+9% to 14,670) all showed increases of study permits becoming effective in 2019, compared with 2018.

Other countries represented in the top 10 such as South Korea, Brazil, the US and Japan have remained stable, while Vietnam decreased slightly on 2018 figures.

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Rounding off the top 15, the Philippines, Mexico, Bangladesh, Colombia and Taiwan all saw increases, with new study permits for the Philippines notably increasing by 56% to a total of 6,365 in 2019.

In 2018, just 40% of active study permits in Canada were for university study – the rest for students at colleges, Quebec’s CEGEPs or at K-12 schools, Universities Canada highlighted.

Although the 2019 breakdown is not yet available, the organisation expects a similar division.

“With the caveat that these new numbers reflect the system as a whole, rather than just university enrolments, Canadian universities are pleased to see continued growth in the number of students choosing Canada as their study destination,” explained assistant director of International Relations at Universities Canada, Cindy McIntyre.

“Canada’s universities are always happy to see growth in enrolment of international students, but diversification of source countries is absolutely a priority in their internationalisation efforts.

“It’s also a priority for the Canadian government, who have introduced more funding to help diversify the source countries for international students in their recent International Education Strategy.”

Released in August 2019, one of the strategy’s objectives is to diversify source countries of inbound students.

According to CBIE, a number of initiatives have been created or enhanced to support the diversification of the international student population.

These include the Study Direct Stream which “allows students from certain countries to fast track the process for getting a study permit”, according to CBIE director of Knowledge Mobilisation Jacquelyn Hoult.

“Successful achievement of the diversification objectives for international education in Canada necessarily will and need to involve key sectors and institutions working collectively, including government at local, provincial and national levels, post-secondary institutions, and the business and not-for-profit sectors,” Hoult noted.

The latest statistics also indicate that provinces with major cities are continuing to be attractive to international students.

Ontario, including Toronto and Ottawa, remains the most popular province for students gaining new study permits with a total of 198,570 in 2019.

“Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have long been the highest receivers of international students, so this data is not surprising,” McIntyre explained.

“There are always concerns when one source market dominates the marketplace”

“Other provinces are increasing their marketing efforts and the new IES is placing a major focus on attracting more international students to regions where not as many have traditionally gone. But it will certainly take time before the impact of these measures is felt.”

Vice president of Partnerships at Camosun College in Victoria British Columbia, Geoff Wilmshurst, noted that the province has “seen steady international student growth” mainly due to coordinated efforts led by the British Columbia Centre for International Education.

“[A] factor that makes BC a strong destination of choice is our completely integrated credit transfer system which allows students to transfer from one institution to another almost seamlessly,” Wilmshurst told The PIE News.

“It is unique in the world and means that colleges, in particular, can promote degree programs in which they may only offer the first two years.”

Regarding diversifying the international student population, Camosun has seen strong results from countries such as Vietnam and Mexico, Wilmshurst identified.

“We are also making efforts to recruit students from countries that have not been traditional for Canada including the Philippines, which has been a strong immigration source country but not one that we have traditionally had many students,” he added.

“There are always concerns when one source market dominates the marketplace.”

A great deal of capacity exists in Canada’s higher education system, Wilmshurst continued, but “that capacity exists outside of the major population centres and in more rural settings”.

According to CBIE, the retention of international students and prospective residents is of “growing importance” for smaller urban centres – Atlantic Canada’s ‘Study and Stay’ program is one example of the efforts directed toward increasing retention rates of international students where they are most needed, Hoult highlighted.

“The challenge for Canada, in the long run, will be attracting students to these locations. Given that the quality of our education system is quite even across Canada international students would benefit from looking at these options,” Wilmshurst added.

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