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Globeducate & WWF announce collaboration

The PIE News - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 02:37

K-12 international schools’ group Globeducate and conservation organisation WWF have announced a partnership that will seem them collaborate in nine countries to prepare students to become global citizens.

Globeducate has 55 schools located across France, Spain, UK Italy, Portugal, Canada, Andorra, Qatar and India, and it is expected the partnership will impact on the education of more than 25,000 young people.

“It allows us to engage a global educational community at this pivotal time for our planet”

Launched in January in schools in Canada, Europe and Asia, the Global Agenda for change program will see all schools host screenings of the Netflix ‘Our Planet’ series and educational activities associated with it for the school community.

Students will also take part in the charity´s Wear it Wild event in June, raising money to protect endangered species.

Other activities will include students attending a summit at the WWF-UK Living Planet Centre, guest speaker events at individual schools, and attendance for students in the UK at the David Attenborough Premiere screening at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

With the WWF having played a key role in identifying the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, chief education officer of Globeducate, Daniel Jones, said it was a natural partnership for the group.

“WWF will support our schools in sourcing inspirational speakers and our teachers will have access to online training,” he explained.

Daniel Jones and Matt Larsen-Daw

“We are delighted to be the first international schools’ group to work this closely with WWF.”

Our Planet Education manager at WWF-UK, Matt Larsen-Daw, added that the challenges that lie ahead for society as a result of climate change and biodiversity loss are global ones.

“Connecting students, teachers and educational programs across borders is, therefore, a powerful tool in preparing the next generations to tackle these challenges and play a key role in defining a sustainable future,” he said.

“WWF’s partnership with Globeducate schools is crucial, allowing us to inspire and engage a global educational community at this pivotal time for our planet.”

The post Globeducate & WWF announce collaboration appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Dozens of Colleges Pledged to Enroll More Low-Income Students. So Why Did Their Numbers Go Down?

“There’s a set of institutions that have really lost momentum, or reversed it,” says a consultant who manages a program designed to help colleges expand their enrollments of low- and middle-inco

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Dozens of Colleges Pledged to Enroll More Low-Income Students. So Why Did Their Numbers Go Down?

“There’s a set of institutions that have really lost momentum, or reversed it,” says a consultant who manages a program designed to help colleges expand their enrollments of low- and middle-income students.

Syracuse students suspended for second sit-in

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 01:00

Syracuse University suspended more than 30 students Tuesday for occupying a campus building to protest administrators' slow response to a series of racial and anti-Semitic events that roiled the institution three months ago and made national headlines.

The suspensions came after students began a sit-in at the administration building on Monday and refused to leave.

The sit-in was the second such protest -- the first took place in November, when students occupied another building for seven straight days -- but unlike the last time, when the protesters were allowed to remain in the building while university administrators met and negotiated with them, the institution's leaders took a decidedly hard line after the students refused to move to a suggested different location on campus.

The events have led to a stand-off between university leaders, who insist they understand the students' frustrations and are acting in good faith to address their concerns, and students, who believe they're being given lip service and have to continue to agitate for real change.

Each side has lost patience with the other. The university has made clear it will not tolerate a repeat of the last sit-in. The students have indicated that's exactly what the university will get if they don't get what they want.

When #NotAgainSU, a multiracial coalition led by students of color, occupied a recreation facility on campus last November, they were responding to racial incidents that occurred on campus during the so-called two weeks of hate when a series of swastikas and various racial slurs were discovered on building walls, among other troubling events at the New York campus.

University chancellor Kent Syverud signed an agreement with the protesters committing to address a number of demands, including changes to the university's bias incident reporting policies and increased resources for students of color, such as more diverse staff and a centralized space on campus for multicultural offices and programs -- all of which the university says either have been implemented or are pending.

This time around, however, university officials say they will not bend policies to accommodate participants taking part in a sit-in at Crouse-Hinds Hall, where the chancellor's and other administrators' offices are located. More than 30 students remained in the building on Tuesday, and all received interim suspensions for violating a campus disruption policy. The university also relocated all the classes normally held in the building.

"There was a choice to enforce policy" that was in effect last November and currently, but administrators decided to enforce it on Monday, when students declined to leave the building at closing time, said Ellen Mbuqe, director of news and public relations.

A suspended student organizer for #NotAgainSU who was at both the November sit-in and most recent sit-in, but who did not want to be identified, said she can appeal the suspension. A statement from John Liu, interim vice chancellor and provost, said suspended students who live in campus housing can remain there but they cannot attend classes or enter campus facilities.

“Though the university continues to support peaceful demonstration and the free and respectful exchange of ideas, university leaders are enforcing established policies that help maintain an environment that fosters sensitivity, understanding and respect for all 22,000 students in our community, as well as our faculty, staff and visitors,” the statement said.

University officials said in a different statement that the “continued unwillingness by some to engage constructively, along with changing demands, challenge our collective forward progress.” #NotAgainSU disputed that assertion and said administrators only interacted with the demonstrators to negotiate their relocation to another building on campus, not to discuss their complaints. Administrators offered to let the group hold the sit-in at the university library, which is open 24 hours a day, but that would have defeated the purpose of the demonstration, the student organizer said.

“Change does not come to campus unless occupation like this happens,” the organizer said. “A protest is an active disruption. That’s intentional -- we knew what we were doing.”

The demonstrators continue to demand the resignation of what they call the “core four” -- Syverud; Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and student experience; Bobby Maldonado, chief of the department of public safety; and John Sardino, the deputy chief. Though the officials have made no indication of stepping down, #NotAgainSU has given them a deadline of Friday to do so.

There was no specific incident that ignited the new demonstrations; students were simply frustrated with the administration's slow progress on responding to their demands and investigating the numerous bias incidents on campus that prompted the first sit-in, the organizer said. The suspended students say they are being punished while there are perpetrators of “hate crimes who are still roaming campus freely,” said the #NotAgainSU organizer.

There have been a total of 25 incidents on campus since November, and some continue to be investigated by campus police, Syracuse Police and, in some cases, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mbuqe said. Six of those incidents -- including two instances where people yelled racial slurs out of car windows at passersby -- occurred during the current semester.

The university has issued multiple statements stating that it has acted in “good faith” since the November incidents. For example, a webpage was created to track the university's progress on addressing protest organizers’ demands as well as a bias incident report page on the website of the department of public safety.

Mbuqe said in a written statement that Syracuse has had the same experience with hate speech as many other colleges and universities.

“Our primary focus is -- and will always be -- ensuring our campus is a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment where our students, faculty and staff are and feel safe, valued and respected,” the statement said. “Syracuse University is not immune to broader societal issues including racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other hateful biases. Yet, we are striving to be at the center of the kind of change that can serve as a model for other universities.”

That's not how the protest organizers see things. They said Syracuse is applying its free expression policies differently than in the past and noted that the university did not enforce the disruption policy during the first sit-in, which “makes no sense to us,” the student organizer said. This time the students were told they had to leave the building by 9 p.m., when the building officially closed. More than 2,400 people signed a petition on Feb. 18 to reinstate the suspended students. #NotAgainSU said it plans to continue the sit-in until their demands are met.

“We’ve already met with administrators; we’ve met with the Board of Trustees,” the student organizer said. “We’re not playing with administrators going forward.”

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Success slows for project seeking increased enrollment of Pell students at high-achieving colleges

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 01:00

An initiative aimed at enrolling more low-income students in top-tier colleges is on track to complete its goal. But the most recent data show a concerning slowdown of the project's results.

The American Talent Initiative, managed by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, began in the 2016-17 academic year with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Its goal is to enroll 50,000 more low- and moderate-income students at institutions with graduation rates of 70 percent or higher by 2025. While the initiative tracks data from 320 U.S. institutions that meet this criteria, only 128 are official members.

Between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 academic years, the 320 institutions with high graduation rates enrolled 20,696 more students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants, about 40 percent of the initiative's ultimate goal.

However, data collected so far for the 2018-19 academic year showed that continued progress isn't a guarantee. Of the data collected from 120 member institutions, there was a net aggregate increase of only eight Pell-eligible students during that time, according to the report.

While data from all of the qualifying colleges are not yet available, member institutions made up most of the progress in previous years. Members accounted for 54 percent of all undergraduates enrolled at the eligible institutions, but they made up 62 percent of the progress toward the ultimate goal.

Those working on the initiative said this is a reminder that the goal needs to remain a priority at colleges.

"It’s something we’re focusing on very intensively and something that I would say significantly increases our sense of urgency around the mission," said Martin Kurzweil, director of the educational transformation program at Ithaka S+R.

Still, he said, "leveling off in one year is not necessarily a sign of what will happen over time."

Success in Dayton and San Diego

Some of the challenges institutions face in meeting this goal include the upcoming demographic cliff, declining state investment and a decrease in the yield of lower-income students.

Eric Spina, president of the University of Dayton in Ohio, said resources are the biggest challenge.

With an endowment of less than $100,000 per student, the university is not the wealthiest on the list, Spina said. But, as a Catholic institution, Dayton wants to uphold its values and have a consistent identity.

Historically, the university offered opportunities to lower- and middle-income families, he said. But recently that shifted to more affluent students as the university's tuition became more expensive. In joining the initiative, Spina said Dayton is focused on returning to its roots.

The university is doing well so far. About 260 Pell-eligible students, not including transfer students, enrolled at the University of Dayton in the fall of 2016. By this past fall, that number had risen to 420.

"For us, that's kind of a record," Spina said. He hopes to eventually get in the 20 percent range for Pell-eligible students in an incoming class.

Dayton has created several programs and initiatives to increase its enrollment of Pell recipients. Eight years ago, the university eliminated fees, which led to a higher graduation rate and a lower borrowing rate. It also offers fixed tuition rates across the total four years.

One program is the Flyer Promise scholarship, which takes in about 50 Pell-eligible students each year, often the first in their families to attend college, from certain partner high schools. It lowers the total annual cost of attending the college from just shy of $60,000 to $7,500, which students can cover with work-study and loans, Spina said. The retention rate for these students is 99 percent, he said.

Dayton also has partnered with Sinclair Community College to admit students to both institutions at the same time and to lock in their aid and costs at Dayton before transfer students set foot on campus.

These efforts come at a cost, though. While eliminating fees helped retain students, Spina said it also led to a decline in net tuition revenue.

"As a result, we have to make harder decisions about the budget," he said.

The university now is trying to do "less with less." It's examining what's most important to the mission and what could be trimmed to help support what's most important. For example, Dayton has grown its graduate programs extensively over the past few decades, Spina said. And a committee is examining what programs are in demand, what's central to the university and what could be trimmed.

"There are no sacred cows," he said. "This is the moment to look really carefully at what we’re doing."

In contrast, the University of California, San Diego, has added the most Pell-eligible students so far -- 1,642 students, which is about 400 more than the next highest institution.

One of their key programs is the Chancellor's Associate Scholars Program, which helps admitted students from California with family incomes of $80,000 or less.

It provides up to $10,000 per year, supports parents in understanding the challenges students face in college and helps first-generation students learn the language of a university.

The program is possible due to donations, according to Alysson Satterlund, vice chancellor of student affairs at the university.

"The challenges have always been the financial support to support it," said Ebonee Williams, interim assistant vice chancellor for student retention and success. The university overcame that challenge with commitment from leadership, donor dedication and efficient programming, she said.

Prioritizing this work will be important if colleges want to actually move the needle, according to Tiffany Jones, senior director of higher education policy at the Education Trust.

"You have to decide that meeting the needs of low-income students is more important than rankings," Jones said.

Part of that shift would come from changing the admissions process, such as by going test optional or eliminating legacy admissions. Another aspect would be redirecting resources toward need-based aid instead of merit-based aid.

Over all, Jones said she is excited about the work the initiative is doing. Colleges need to take responsibility for serving low-income students, she said.

But, she said, "it’s important to be aware that increasing the enrollment of low-income students is not the same as addressing equity as whole," as reports have shown.

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Cengage and McGraw-Hill navigate challenging merger delay

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 01:00

When publishers Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education announced merger plans last May, they hoped to have the process wrapped up by the end of this March.

As that date fast approaches, it seems increasingly unlikely the companies will achieve their goal.

In an investor call last week, Michael Hansen, CEO of Cengage, said the publishers continue to “make good progress” on the merger, but he conceded that securing U.S. regulatory approval would require more time than anticipated.

The merger has faced fierce opposition from consumer advocacy groups, students and even college bookstores, but a fast-changing publishing environment and challenging negotiations have added complexity to the process.

Opponents to the merger worry the new mega-publisher, to be called McGraw Hill, will significantly reduce competition in the textbook market and enable the company to drive up prices. The publishers strongly refute this, saying the merger will enable them to pass on savings to students and make their products more affordable.

Officially, the merger is still expected to take place in the first half of this year. Last month, however, Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education extended the cutoff date on their merger agreement to May 1. The deal was set to expire this month. A further extension to Aug. 1 is possible by mutual agreement, though this would take the publishers dangerously close to the start of the fall semester -- an important sales period. 

Several factors are slowing down the merger process, sources close to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity told Inside Higher Ed.

When two large publishers merge, it is common for the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice to request that the publishers sell areas of their portfolio that overlap. Decisions are made on a course-by-course basis using a market concentration measure known as the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index.

Since Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education have so many competing textbook titles, it was anticipated that they would be required to sell a large proportion of them. The Justice Department is rumored to have asked the publishers to make a divestiture worth around $175 million -- the upper limit of what the companies stated they were prepared to do in their merger agreement.   

As the publishers’ portfolios overlap significantly and include some 44,000 titles, figuring out which products to keep and which to sell is not a straightforward process. These divestiture decisions are thought to be further complicated by the fact that many of the publishers’ most popular textbook titles are linked to proprietary digital learning platforms and tools, which may have to be sold or leased to the publishers’ competitors in order to comply with the Justice Department's request, sources told Inside Higher Ed.

A spokesperson for both McGraw-Hill Education and Cengage said that conversations with the Department of Justice regarding potential divestitures are ongoing. “No final decisions have been made, and the companies will not speculate about potential business changes. Until the merger is completed, we remain separate companies and operate as independent businesses,” the spokesperson said.

In the recent Cengage investor call, Hansen was asked if there was a scenario -- perhaps if the companies were asked to divest “too many assets” -- when continuing with the merger would no longer make sense. Hansen replied that there are scenarios in which the logic for the merger no longer holds, “but as I said in my prepared remarks, we are continuing in very constructive and thoughtful discussions and frankly we would not have entered the agreement if we thought that would be a big possibility.” He added, “We don’t see this as a real big scenario at this point, but the situation is fluid. We continue in discussions with the DOJ and we will see.”

As both McGraw-Hill Education and Cengage recently have laid off hundreds of employees in anticipation of merging, questions have arisen about how day-to-day operations at the publishers will be impacted if the merger continues to be delayed or perhaps even abandoned. A slimmed-down staff may look good to investors, but it’s difficult to see how it will benefit customers. In the short term, it is anticipated that the publishers will stop developing new products or making large investments.

On The Layoff, an anonymous discussion board for rumored company layoffs, some commenters theorized that it would be in McGraw-Hill Education’s interest to delay the merger given Cengage’s relatively weaker financial position. The merger was conceived as a merger of equals, but perhaps it could turn into a takeover, they suggested.

If the merger proceeds, observers and industry analysts will be watching closely to see whether any of McGraw-Hill Education’s titles become part of the Cengage Unlimited subscription offer, where students pay one flat fee to access all course materials. So far, neither party has publicly made a commitment one way or the other, possibly fearing an adverse reaction from textbook authors. On this issue, the spokesperson for the companies said simply, “both parties maintain their commitment to continuing and growing their inclusive access and Cengage Unlimited subscription programs.”

During the investor call, Hansen said, “Given the most recent industry developments and ongoing affordability pressures, the rationale for the merger remains strong. The core objectives of the merger-- to improve affordability, extend choice and deliver high-quality products -- will deliver significant benefits to faculty, institutions and, importantly, students.”

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Bloomberg plan brings contrast with Warren and Sanders, but differs from other moderates

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 02/19/2020 - 01:00

In proposing a plan for providing free higher education and forgiving student debt -- but not for all borrowers -- New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday drew a contrast as he has in other policy areas with the more progressive candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But Bloomberg's proposal also is significantly different than those from other more centrist candidates in how they’d deal with other issues like reducing student loan repayments, said Wesley Whistle, New America’s senior adviser for education policy and strategy, and other higher education experts.

An example is the question of forgiving student debt. While Sanders would cancel all debt and Warren would entirely eliminate the loans of more than 75 percent of borrowers, reducing them for 95 percent, Bloomberg’s plan called for a more limited approach, restricting debt forgiveness to borrowers who went to failed or predatory for-profit colleges.

He would also enroll current and future borrowers in income-based repayment plans and forgive balances, tax-free, if borrowers made progress on paying down their student loan debt for 20 years. Bloomberg also would lower the monthly rate borrowers on income-based plans have to repay, from the current rate of 10 percent of their discretionary income to 5 percent.

However, former vice president Joe Biden would go further. While his plan would also lower repayment to 5 percent of discretionary income, borrowers making $25,000 or less annually wouldn’t have to make any payments on their federal undergraduate loans. And he would forgive loans for students who were deceived by for-profit colleges by restoring the Obama administration’s borrower-defense rule.

The idea of lowering the income-driven repayment rate, however, has its critics, including Sandy Baum, a nonresident senior fellow for the Urban Institute's Center on Education Data and Policy and a professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College, who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Bloomberg’s plan “goes too far on reducing loan repayment rates because borrowers would end up paying back a small fraction of what they owe” due to balances being forgiven after 20 years, she said in an email.

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s education proposal, however, does not mention lowering payments in the same way, but would allow borrowers to refinance their student loans. The Minnesota Democrat also would expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to more in-demand occupations.

Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg’s proposal would automatically enroll borrowers in income-based plans if they are struggling to make payments, but does not mention lowering the repayment rate. He also would accelerate the cancellation of student debt for government and nonprofit workers.

On tuition-free college, Bloomberg joins all the major Democratic candidates in proposing to make community colleges free.

However, departing from Klobuchar and Biden, Bloomberg joined Buttigieg in going a little further and also making public four-year institutions free, at least for some students.

Bloomberg and Buttigieg’s proposals also differ in how much to target free tuition at four-year institutions to those most in need.

Buttigieg made headlines in December by criticizing Sanders’s and Warren’s plans for making tuition free at all public colleges, saying even children of millionaires would benefit.

Instead, he proposed making public colleges tuition-free only for families who make less than $100,000. Students from families earning $100,000 to $150,000 per year would get tuition subsidies on a sliding scale under Buttigieg’s plan.

Bloomberg would take an even more limited approach, making public colleges free only for low-income families -- those making less than $30,000.

Like Biden and Klobuchar, Bloomberg called for doubling the maximum Pell Grant amount to $12,690. Buttigieg also called for a $1,000 increase to the maximum amount, but Whistle noted his plan is less reliant on the aid program.

None of Bloomberg's opponents mentioned in this article returned inquiries about his proposal.

Tamara Hiler, director of education at the center-left think tank Third Way, praised Bloomberg’s tack of limiting free tuition. “Having a plan that is more targeted in scope is not only less regressive and less expensive, but it’s also what Democratic primary voters said they would rather see in a candidate.” She cited a November online poll Third Way conducted of likely 2020 Democratic primary voters. It found greater support, 56 percent versus 44 percent, for providing free higher education for low- and moderate-income students instead of all students.

Like others interviewed about the proposal, Hiler didn’t endorse any single plan.

Another backing the limited approach was Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government and public affairs.

“Given limited federal resources, we have believed that federal student aid funds should be focused on low-income and first-generation students. If at some unforeseeable future point there is no limit on available funds, we will revise our position,” he said in an email.

Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, also praised limiting free tuition but said the plan still is off track. “Bloomberg’s proposals are more reasonable than sweeping loan forgiveness or massive ‘free’ college,” he said, “but they still have the wrong basic prescription: more federal ‘help’ where less is needed. Federal student aid has fueled rampant price inflation, and this plan would only exacerbate that with bigger Pell Grants and encouraging more use of student loans.”

Meanwhile, Baum and Hiler praised Bloomberg’s plan for taking aim at improving college completion rates. As part of a federal matching program he’d create, Bloomberg said states would have to adopt programs aimed at improving competition, involving the use of advising, course scheduling, tutoring, childcare services, transportation and emergency financial assistance.

But Hartle, who backed increasing the maximum Pell Grant award, also cautioned that talk is cheap during campaign season.

“The basic rule of any campaign proposal is caveat emptor. Campaign proposals are easy, but enacting concrete changes in public policy of the sort the Democrats are discussing is really hard,” said Hartle. “While higher education welcomes the emphasis on affordability, we should not assume that any of these ideas are set in stone.”

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Grad Students Win Faculty Support as Strike Over Stipends Continues at Santa Cruz

The TAs say they can’t afford the skyrocketing rent in the coastal city south of San Francisco. Now they have national backing.

Hungarian gov’t to spend an estimated €180m on language courses abroad

The PIE News - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 09:17

An estimated €180 million in funding will be provided by the Hungarian government to support some 90,000 of the country’s students when they travel to the UK, Ireland, Malta, Germany, Austria, France and China this summer to take part in two-week language courses.

Each student will be awarded €2,000, meaning the government will provide around €180m in funding. However, the total funding could exceed that figure significantly as exact numbers are still unknown and as many as 140,000 students are eligible for the scheme.

“We very much hope… when they return home their language learning appetite will increase”

The  ‘Foreign Language Learning Scholarship Programme for Hungarian Secondary School Students in Grade 9 and 11′ initiative is being run by non-profit organisation the Tempus Public Foundation on behalf of the government.

Launched in 2019, the 2020 program will see students travel abroad as part of the program. 

The only prerequisite for funding is that the students are in years 9 or 11 and that they are studying the relevant language at secondary school. They are able to travel individually or in organised groups and will arrive between June 13, and August 31 of this year.

Tímea Tiboldi, head of Unit at the Tempus Public Foundation’s Language Learning Unit told The PIE News that the initiative has been set up to help motivate students who are studying languages. 

“Once [the students] have the experience of studying the specific language in an authentic environment it will hopefully stimulate their motivation to learn that language,” she said. 

“They will be able to make friendships which last for a life-time. We very much hope that they will socialise with their peers… [and] when they return home their language learning appetite will increase so that they will be more efficient in learning foreign languages.”

An online survey by TPF between September and October 2019 revealed a notable appetite among students for the initiative. 

Data showed that 89,924 students indicated their intention to participate in the program based on the responses of 531 out of 738 Hungarian public education institutions that responded to the survey.

It revealed that 90% of those students would travel in groups and that 80% of all language learners indicated their intention to travel to English speaking countries. 

Graph: Tempus Public Foundation

Institutions and students were advised not to have strong preferences towards specific target countries before the course offerings of the language schools are made public. This is because demand will have to be adjusted to the capacity of the language schools. 

As a result, 37,485 students did not specify where they wanted to travel to.

Out of the students that did specify 21,770 hoped to travel to the UK, 5,086 specified Ireland, 8308 specified Malta and 1547 specified France. 5,771 students wanted to go to Germany and 1,261 chose Austria. 


Graph: Tempus Public Foundation

ELT schools have also expressed their enthusiasm for the program, with the UK set to gain the most from this influx of international students.

Short Courses director at CATS Colleges, Carl Roberton, oversees short courses for Stafford House London which is set to accept Hungarian students this year.

He explained that at first, he didn’t realise the scale of the initiative. 

“The numbers that have been bandied about, who knows if they are correct or not, are potentially 50,000 students coming to the UK this summer. That is massive,” he told The PIE.

“It’s probably more students than the whole English language business in the UK can manage and maintain a good nationality mix”

However, Roberton also highlighted one of the challenges of such a large number of students from one nationality.

“It’s probably more students than the whole English language business in the UK can manage and maintain a good nationality mix for those students,” he suggested.

“I think Stafford House has had three Hungarian students in the last three years, and suddenly it seems we’re going to have over six or seven hundred this year.”

The exact number of students arriving at language schools will soon become clearer, as applications to ELT schools are due by March and April. 

Groups of students have a 30-day window to apply between February and March, while individuals can apply between February and April. 

Jodie Gray, interim chief executive of English UK said the association and its member centres are feeling “very optimistic” about the program.

“This has the potential to be the largest European scholarship program for many years,” Gray explained.

“It presents an opportunity for British Council accredited teaching centres to welcome tens of thousands of Hungarian young people, helping them to develop their English language skills and experience what the UK has to offer and be inspired,”  she added.

“This has the potential to be the largest European scholarship program for many years”

Gray explained that the program will have a hugely positive impact on the UK’s ELT sector and its international community of students.

“We’re supporting the Tempus Public Foundation, who are managing the program, in order to ensure that every Hungarian student has the best possible time in the UK.”

Tempus Public Foundation has worked with the British Council to find ELT schools partners in the UK. Roy Cross, principal consultant at the British Council, told The PIE that the British Council welcomes the “ambitious” Hungarian government program.

“[It] has the potential to transform how the next generation of young Hungarians relates to and engages with the United Kingdom,” Cross added.

The post Hungarian gov’t to spend an estimated €180m on language courses abroad appeared first on The PIE News.

UnionBank & SMU ink student talent program

The PIE News - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 04:25

Union Bank of the Philippines and the Singapore Management University have inked an agreement to further develop the potential of SMU’s brightest and most entrepreneurial students by learning from UnionBankers.

Under the partnership, up to 10 pre-screened SMU students with mixed expertise will be exposed to various projects of UnionBank for 12 weeks to co-create the development of emerging technologies.

“We look forward to the various innovative collaborations our SMU students will generate through this program”

The students are participants of Singapore Management University’s Global Innovation Immersion program – a talent development program seeking to imbue and enhance the entrepreneurial and global mindset of its most outstanding students.

Students can avail of internships in startups, venture funds, corporates and non-government organisations in selected key markets.

“We are always on the lookout to collaborate with the best knowledge partners that can equip our students with new skills and information and expose them in various learning environments,” said HAU Koh Foo, director of the SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

“With UnionBank’s expertise in the banking and finance space coupled with their experience in fintech, we look forward to the various innovative collaborations our SMU students will generate through this program.”

The program is supported by the Singapore government under the Global Innovation Alliance, a network of Singapore and overseas partners in major innovation hubs and key demand markets, with focus on technology and innovation.

UnionBank executive vice president, Michelle Rubio, said the partnership is in line with the bank’s “Student Mentoring Program” which offers the opportunity to work in the bank’s most innovative projects.

Rubio added that they are looking at strengthening linkages with more schools and universities in the ASEAN region.

In 2018, UnionBank launched its first-of-its-kind Blockchain Institute, Data Science Institute and Blockchain Xcellerator programs to help build a pool of tech talents in the Philippines.

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Aus: SIA website launches resource hub

The PIE News - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 02:53

The Study in Australia website has launched a new resource hub to provide the international education sector with a central location to access reliable, relevant and timely information regarding major events such as the novel coronavirus.

The resource hub includes a suite of assets — in a range of effective formats — which can be adapted and shared with international students and members of the sector.

“Study in Australia is proactively listening to key audiences within the international education sector”

Specifically for novel coronavirus, the resource hub draws upon the latest news and information from key Commonwealth departments, state and territory destination agencies, and education peak bodies, providers and partners.

The platform was introduced at the recent Global Reputation Taskforce meeting, with members of the Council for International Education invited to contribute updated assets and materials.

State and territory bodies have received a collection of creative resources, which can be used across their digital channels to ensure a coordinated response to international students.

“Study in Australia is proactively listening to key audiences within the international education sector, gathering insights and sentiment from media content, social media and on-the-ground conversations with international students and education agents,” a statement on the website explained.

“These insights are being shared on a regular basis with members of the Global Reputation Taskforce, to help inform their respective communications efforts.”

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FutureLearn launches seven microcredentials

The PIE News - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 02:33

Social learning platform FutureLearn has launched seven new microcredentials with six global partners designed to “help learners build specialised skills relevant to their career”. Key areas include cyber security, fintech, teaching mental health and data science.

The microcredentials allow students to participate in job-focused courses to stay up-to-date with the constantly changing work environments and skillsets, according to FutureLearn.

“Microcredentials make it possible to provide staff with the opportunity to upskill rapidly”

“We can all see that the workplace is changing, learners want, and need, to be able to learn more skills, and universities are brilliantly placed to help them do that,” Simon Nelson, chief executive of FutureLearn said.

The six launching partners include Ireland’s Dublin City University, The Open University in the UK, the USA’s University of California and Irvine Division of Continuing Education, and Deakin University, Monash University and Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

“Credit-bearing courses that enhance career-relevant skills are especially in demand, as almost two fifths of employers believe it will be difficult to find people with the right skills and qualification to fulfil business needs in the future,” Niamh O’Grady, head of communications at FutureLearn told The PIE News.

FutureLearn highlighted a 2019 Pearson survey that indicated that more than 50% agreed that ‘the world is shifting to a model where people participate in education over a lifetime’.

“We expect the demand for microcredentials to grow rapidly, not only from individual learners but also from organisations,” deputy vice-chancellor and vice-president (education) at Monash University, Sue Elliot AM said.

“Microcredentials make it possible to provide staff with the opportunity to upskill rapidly in key business areas,” she continued.

Chief corporate engagement and partnerships officer at DCE Brian Breen also said that the launch of its Predictive Analytics course – launched February 11 – will “help bridge the gap between classroom learning and job-relevant skills verification”.

The demand from graduates and professionals for “shorter, more relevant education” people will be able to put the relevant skills into practice sooner, he added.

The courses are being rolled out over February and March 2020.

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The wealthiest universities are paying big endowment tax bills, but how much are others who are on the hook paying?

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 01:00

It has been more than two years since President Trump signed into law a controversial new tax on net investment income at wealthy colleges and universities -- the so-called endowment tax.

Since then, a few large universities have made headlines as they for the first time reported eight-figure endowment tax liabilities. Stanford University received attention for its $42.9 million estimated tax liability last week. A few months earlier, Harvard University grabbed headlines with a $37.7 million tax bill.

As eye-wateringly high as those figures may be, Harvard and Stanford are far from representative of the average college’s endowment. Harvard had the largest endowment in the country in the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ annual study of endowments, valued at $39.4 billion. Stanford’s was the third largest of any single university at $27.7 billion.

Both institutions were well over the threshold that triggers the endowment tax: $500,000 in assets per student. Those with more assets per student are subject to a 1.4 percent tax on net investment income.

Harvard had about $1.6 million in endowment assets per full-time-equivalent student, according to NACUBO estimates. Stanford had $1.64 million.

Meanwhile, the median college in the study had $35,555 per full-time-equivalent student. The median endowment value was a bit under $150 million.

The difference in scale can be hard to picture. For context, a thousand seconds is less than 17 minutes. A million seconds is the rough equivalent of 11 and a half days. A billion seconds is nearly 32 years.

So how much, exactly, are other colleges and universities paying on their 2019 endowment tax bills? The NACUBO study didn’t address the question this year. And it’s a deceptively hard one to answer, because the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department have yet to finalize regulations. That left colleges and universities making estimated payments under interim guidelines after they closed the books on their recent fiscal years.

Still, wealthy colleges and universities were supposed to try to make a good-faith effort.

“Ultimately, their legal obligation is to make a reasonable interpretation,” said Liz Clark, vice president for policy and research at NACUBO. “There were indeed a lot of questions inherent in the tax. It’s not as straightforward as one might believe.”

In an attempt to quantify how many colleges and universities are paying the tax -- and to gauge how much they’re paying -- Inside Higher Ed reached out to 49 wealthy institutions in December and January, requesting a range of financial information including estimated endowment tax paid. Those institutions were selected because their leaders signed a 2018 letter to Congress urging the endowment tax’s modification or repeal.

They may not represent every institution subject to the tax or on the brink of being subject to the tax. But it’s about the right number of colleges and universities to examine, according to NACUBO’s endowment data. NACUBO data show 46 institutions with per-student endowment assets of more than $500,000 on a full-time equivalent basis.

The list of 49 Inside Higher Ed used wasn’t an exact universe of likely endowment tax payers to poll, but with so much uncertainty surrounding the tax, it was a place to start -- and it was filled with institutions that had at least shown interest in the issue.

Still, the results of the polling should be interpreted with caution. Not only is there widespread confusion over how to calculate endowment tax liability at the moment, but some colleges that have reported tax liabilities say they won't actually end up paying the full liability in cash.

The $42.9 million listed in Stanford's financial statements represents the amount of excise tax the institution eventually expects to pay on all of its investment income for the 2019 fiscal year, according to a spokesperson, E. J. Miranda. Realized and unrealized gains are included.

"Because the current year tax is imposed only on realized capital gains, our current year tax will be less than the $42.9 million," Miranda said in an email. "Our actual cash payment for FY2019 will not be determined until we file our FY2019 tax return in July 2020. The difference between the $42.9 million and current year tax will be paid when the unrealized capital gains are eventually realized in future years."

Inside Higher Ed attempted to compensate for different reporting choices by asking colleges and universities how much tax they actually paid or expected to pay. But some simply responded with references to financial statements. In cases like Stanford's, where a liability was clearly attributed to the endowment tax and information on actual tax payments made was not easily accessible, it was considered along with other responses.

A Range of Results

Just 15 of the institutions that signed the letter urging the tax’s repeal responded to Inside Higher Ed’s queries with an estimated payment figure or listed an endowment tax entry in financial reports that were available as of last week.

Of those 15, two gave ranges. One said it estimated a tax liability of under $1 million; the other estimated its liability between $1 million and $1.8 million.

The remaining 13 institutions estimated tax bills between Stanford’s $42.9 million and the $7,500 reported by Rice University. The median was $1.3 million.

Two estimates are much larger than any other -- those from Harvard and Stanford. Remember, though, some institutions like Stanford are reporting liabilities that they won't pay this year, while others reporting less told Inside Higher Ed what they actually paid. Excluding them, the remaining 11 institutions posted a median of $910,000, and the largest individual bill was $4.5 million.

Of the other 34 colleges and universities polled, one responded that it made a payment but would not share the amount. Eight said they were not subject to the tax or that they made no payment. The remainder declined to respond, did not respond, did not break out the endowment excise tax from other taxes in their financial reports or said they were unable to calculate a tax liability without more guidance.

Respondents generally cautioned that the figures they reported were estimates and could change.

“The university believes it will be subject to the excise tax; however, the available proposed regulatory guidance is not sufficient to calculate a reasonable estimate,” the University of Richmond's financial statements said. “The university has reflected an estimate in its statements for unrelated trade or business income tax using the current proposed regulatory guidance. The university continues to evaluate the impact of the Act on current and future tax positions.”

Calculating the endowment tax is complicated by the fact that it technically doesn’t just cover endowments. The tax is a 1.4 percent tax on net investment income. It includes other investment income as defined by the IRS, like housing and royalties, said Andy Hirsch, a spokesman for Swarthmore University, in an email.

“I'll also share that Swarthmore is very concerned about the endowment tax,” Hirsch said. “Swarthmore is one of only a few colleges in the country that’s able to offer need-blind admissions, which means we admit students to the college regardless of their financial need and provide access to a college education for students who otherwise might not be able to afford it. That's only possible through the support of our endowment, and this tax diminishes our ability to do so. In essence, it's a punitive tax that threatens to reduce access to a college education for students from lower-income families.”

Swarthmore is far from the only institution continuing to object to the tax. The chief investment officer for the University of Notre Dame, which reported an $11.3 billion endowment in 2019, has called the tax “a very un-American excise tax” and called for its repeal.

Notre Dame declined to say how much its estimated 2019 payment was. The university’s estimated endowment value per full-time-equivalent student was more than $900,000 in 2019, according to the latest NACUBO data.

Even some responding that they are not currently subject to the tax indicated they are worried about the future under it.

“We are a small college and our endowment-per-student number isn’t high enough to reach the current threshold, but we’re mindful that as our endowment grows, we will be paying the tax,” said Jim Amidon, chief of staff at Wabash College, in an email.

Wabash’s endowment was valued at $344.3 million in 2019. That was just over $390,000 per full-time-equivalent student.

Different officials from colleges speaking on a condition of background cited a range of reasons for declining to share information on their tax payments. They included an argument that it is impossible to compare investment income tax for different institutions because colleges and universities have been left to interpret unfinished regulations on their own. Without more guidance, it’s comparing apples and oranges, the argument goes.

Others cited uncertainty about the tax’s calculation more generally -- they were squeamish releasing numbers that might not prove to be accurate.

Indeed, colleges in several cases reported paying the IRS less than they expect to owe after final calculations are complete.

A note from one college’s financial department said that "the estimated tax was a conservative estimate because we don't have all the data yet to actually calculate it. The calculation is not due to the IRS until May 15, 2020. The IRS has allowed colleges to use a stepped-up basis of Dec. 31, 2017, to calculate the gains, and we are still gathering this information. So once we have that, we'll calculate the actual tax which we expect to be less … the IRS will then refund us the difference."

Finally, some worried that if they were to speak up, the endowment tax might be modified in a way that would hurt their institutions instead of helping them. Regulations are still being finalized, and leaders still hope for changes or repeal. Why attract unwanted attention or burn bridges?

Outside experts, meanwhile, urged more of a focus on whether overall endowment spending rates and returns are lining up. Spending from endowments has inched up in recent years, according to NACUBO data, even though long-term capital market assumptions suggest investors should expect lower returns in the future than what they’ve experienced in the past.

Spending has increased most notably at small and midsize institutions, said Debashis Chowdhury, president and an investment consultant at Canterbury Consulting, in an email. But reported returns for institutions of different sizes suggest returns were clustered relatively narrowly in recent years.

Only 46 out of 780 NACUBO respondents reported an endowment value of more than $500,000 per full-time-equivalent student in 2019, Chowdhury pointed out.

“So that is less than 6 percent of the overall universe subject to that new tax,” he said. “Maybe that’s the story.”

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Title IX debate complicates push for Higher Education Act reauthorization

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 01:00

Any deal to update the law governing federal student aid would have to overcome concerns about the highly charged new rule U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is about to release on what colleges are required do about allegations of sexual assault or harassment on campuses.

That was the message from an aide to Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, who said the Title IX rule would be a stumbling block toward reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

"Senator Murray is a vocal opponent of Secretary DeVos’ efforts to roll back Title IX protections for students and has made clear from the start of negotiations that any reauthorization of our country’s higher education laws must address the four key challenges of affordability, accountability, accessibility and campus safety," the aide to the Washington Democrat said Friday in a statement. "So the question is how much Senate Republicans will be willing to work with her in a serious way to protect students."

In recent days, the two top members of Congress involved in negotiating HEA's reauthorization -- Murray and Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate education committee -- have expressed optimism about being able to cut at least a limited deal by the end of year, before Alexander retires.

Speaking Tuesday at a meeting of community college trustees​, Alexander said, "That doesn't mean we're going to take that whole big act and reauthorize everything." But he added, "I think we can make some progress."

Murray agreed on Monday. “We have been making progress in the negotiations, and I think we can get that done,” she told Inside Higher Ed Monday.

However, the statement from Murray's aide illustrates a concern of many higher education lobbyists that the release of the final Title IX rule will be one of several key stumbling blocks that will make it harder to reach a deal on a broader reauthorization bill that would address a range of issues on student aid.

The Title IX issue has posed a challenge since DeVos proposed a number of changes in November 2018. Perhaps most controversially, the proposed rule would force complainants who say they’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed to submit to cross-examination in a live hearing, despite fears that doing so would further traumatize victims.

The debate will come to a head when DeVos issues a final rule that's not expected to differ much from what she proposed. The administration is expected to release the final version of the rule in coming days.

Lobbying and Legal Challenges

Even as Alexander and Murray were expressing optimism on being able to reach a deal on the broader reauthorization bill, women’s and civil rights groups were gearing up to fight the rule in the courts, in state legislatures, at colleges and universities, and by getting Congress to include a provision in the reauthorization bill that would block the rule.

“Any controversial issue undermines the chances we will see a comprehensive reauthorization act,” said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government and public affairs.

In interviews, opponents of the rule like Elizabeth Tang, the National Women’s Law Center’s counsel for education and workplace justice, said a first battle in Congress could be over passing a resolution of disapproval blocking the rule -- similar to the one the Democratic House approved in January opposing DeVos’s borrower-defense rule, which makes it significantly harder for student borrowers to receive debt forgiveness after being defrauded by colleges.

But as with the borrower-defense measure, chances are slim that a resolution on Title IX would pass the Republican Senate. And even if it were to pass both chambers, President Trump probably would veto it anyway, pushing the debate over Title IX to the higher education bill.

The Democratic House's version of the reauthorization bill, passed by the education committee last October, would block the rule. In interviews, Tang and Liz King, education program director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, were adamant that the Senate version would also block the rule.

“We encourage Congress to use every tool it has to make sure this dangerous rule never goes into effect,” Tang said.

However, higher education lobbyists said adding a provision to block the rule proposed by Trump’s administration would make it difficult for the Senate’s Republican majority to support the reauthorization bid.

A spokesman for Alexander didn’t return a request for comment.

“You never say never, but it’s hard to see a path forward,” Hartle said.

Illustrating the partisan nature of the debate, all Democrats on the House oversight committee criticized the rule in a letter to DeVos on Friday, saying, “your proposal would limit the circumstances under which schools are required to investigate sexual misconduct and make it more difficult for student survivors to resolve their claims.”

In addition to subjecting accusers to cross-examination, the DeVos proposal is expected to require colleges to investigate complaints that happened outside campus programs, like rapes at off-campus apartments. Tang said it would raising the bar on what’s considered sexual harassment.

Instead of it being defined as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” as it has been since 2001, the proposed rule would make the definition more stringent, limiting it to conduct that is “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it “effectively denies” a student equal access to a school’s “program or activity.”

According to Tang, "this rule essentially means many students would be forced to endure repeated and escalating levels of abuse before they can receive help. Some schools might not help sexual assault survivors until after they have already dropped out of a class or out of school altogether."

However, to some, like Teresa Manning, director of the National Association of Scholars’ Title IX project, DeVos’s proposals, including the right to cross-examine accusers, would give much-needed due process protections to men who increasingly have been unfairly accused of sexual misconduct, “causing terrible if not ruinous damage.”

If anything, Manning is hoping the final rule will be stronger than DeVos’s original proposal. Even if the proposal is changed, Manning said she’s done research showing Title IX staff have no practical legal experience, are predominantly female and have feminist beliefs. Believing staff members are likely to be biased against the accused, she wants the final rule to require institutions to provide them an attorney or an expert in due process who is independent of the college.

"If they are not fair in hiring, how will they be fair in hearings?" she said. “The system is only going to be as good as the people in them."

In addition to the fight in Congress over the HEA, Sage Carson, executive director of Know Your IX, said the advocacy group is preparing to campaign to prod colleges and universities to take steps like continuing to investigate off-campus sexual assault and harassment, even if they are no longer required under the new rule. Carson said her group also is planning to lobby state legislatures to pass laws requiring institutions to go beyond requirements of the rule.

Title IX is expected to be fought in the courts as well. The National Women’s Law Center is waiting to see the final rule. If it has the same problems the group had with the proposal, as is assumed, the center will sue. Mark Shade, a spokesman for Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro, said his office plans to sue if the final rule has the same legal questions a coalition of 19 state attorneys general raised last year in a letter to the Education Department.

Among other concerns, the attorneys general said the proposal violated administrative procedures by not making public studies and reports it used to come up with its proposals.

In its own letter to the department, which could be the basis of legal challenges, the National Women's Law Center raised a number of other issues. The group, for instance, said Title IX requires institutions to provide “equitable” resolution of complaints, but “a presumption in favor of one party against the other is not equitable.”

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Arkansas State considers opening vet school with for-profit

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 01:00

Arkansas State University is exploring a partnership with a for-profit company to build a veterinary medicine school.

While it would be the first such school in the state, it's unclear whether it's necessary, and some question if partnering with a for-profit is a good move for a public institution.

"By arranging for the for-profit to operate on campus, the public university is lending its credibility to a for-profit college," said Robert Shireman, director of higher education excellence and a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. "For-profit colleges have a sketchy reputation because of disproportionate consumer abuses."

The company in question is Adtalem Global Education, the parent company of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, and formerly known as DeVry Education Group. Ross University is a for-profit college based on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. While it's accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, it's been criticized for saddling graduates with large amounts of debt. The average debt for U.S. graduates of Ross and another veterinary school in the Caribbean is nearly $275,000, which is about $90,000 more than nonresident graduates for veterinary colleges based in the United States.

Starting salaries for vets can be less than $35,000 for internships, according to data from the association, making debt repayment a struggle.

While the state doesn't have its own veterinary school, it does have partnerships with other public institutions to address that. Paul Jenkins, president of the Arkansas Veterinary Medicine Association and a partner in Vilonia Animal Clinic, said Arkansas State has built relationships with public institutions in neighboring states, like Louisiana, to offer spots to Arkansas vet students with in-state tuition rates. But the number of spots at some of those colleges has decreased over time as state funding for the partnerships has shrunk.

While some legislators are concerned that those students don't return to Arkansas, Jenkins said that more than half usually do eventually. They just might do an internship elsewhere before returning home.

"We have a mechanism that has worked really well and can work even better if the state would fund those," he said.

Donald Kennedy, the interim dean of the College of Agriculture at Arkansas State, said student loan debt is a "very big concern of mine and others'."

The college will have an 180-day exploration period before making a decision on the partnership. During this time, Kennedy hopes the task force examining the deal will explore "creative ways to lower student debt."

Elizabeth Story, director of external communications at Adtalem, said the company isn't speculating on the details of the potential partnership, but she said it is "committed to addressing the critical shortage of veterinarians in the United States, and we are excited to be engaging in conversations with Arkansas State University."

When asked about Ross University specifically, Story said its tuition costs are competitive with other private colleges and that its students have a cohort default rate of 1.2 percent. Most veterinary medical schools are public.

"RUSVM’s more than 5,000 graduates practice in almost every state and many foreign countries, providing veterinary workforce solutions with highly respected hospitals and partners like Banfield Pet Hospital, VCA Inc., National Veterinary Associates and Compassion First," she added.

Partnerships between public colleges and private for-profits are a growing trend, according to Noah Black, spokesman for Career Education Colleges and Universities, or CECU. The partnerships can combine the training experiences and employer connections of the for-profits with the larger profiles and student base of public colleges.

One example is a partnership between Louisiana State University and Fullstack Academy, a Zovio subsidiary, to offer coding programs.

CECU supports these partnerships if they can help improve student access and outcomes, Black said.

"What’s important is making sure students are aware of what the full program costs will be and what the expected earnings are," he said.

But some at Arkansas State are nervous about the deal. Erik Gilbert, a professor of history, is concerned there could be pitfalls to the partnership that the college wouldn't foresee, and that it could suck up too much of administrators' time just as higher education faces an enrollment crisis.

"Given the successes of our previous public-private endeavors, it’s not hard to imagine it going wrong in predictable or unpredictable ways," Gilbert said. The chancellor of Arkansas State has acknowledged that the college's recent partnerships with private entities, like the New York Institute of Technology, have yet to yield any revenue.

"We are in an enrollment crisis now. It needs our undivided attention," Gilbert added. "Making a priority of the vet school will mean taking the institutional eye off the enrollment ball."

However, Kennedy said there's been interest in starting a veterinary medicine college for "quite some time."

"What sparked the idea is the need in our region for more veterinarians," he said. "Not only is there no vet medicine college in our state, we are located where we could help neighboring regions."

The task force will be collecting data specific to Arkansas about the demand for more vets in the state during the exploration period, he said.

There is at least one county in the state that is reporting a shortage of vets for food animal medicine, according to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for veterinarians in the state will increase by 15.3 percent by 2026.

But Jenkins said the demand for more vets in the state depends on where people go. Small animal practices have many job openings, he said, but it's difficult to determine whether there's a need for more large animal vets.

While those who own large animals, like cattle ranchers or other farmers, might say there's a need, Jenkins said his colleagues see economics as the real issue.

"The fact of the matter is, those people that are consumers of large animal practice sometimes don’t really want to pay for large animal practice," he said.

The proposed partnership would also go after students outside Arkansas, which Jenkins fears could affect the spots saved for Arkansas students elsewhere.

The association is most concerned about whether the for-profit would offer competitive tuition and a quality education, he said. As of right now, the program also wouldn't include clinical training, which is a concern.

"We have to recognize that student debt for veterinary graduates is very high," he said, adding that it's important for students to graduate with as little debt as possible, not only so they can eventually open up their own practices, but also so they can buy homes and start families to contribute to the state's economy.

Shireman cautioned that, while "Arkansas State may require that the for-profit school include language in its materials declaring that they are separate institutions," it could still be liable for "anything that goes wrong, because it is in a business relationship that unavoidably implies an endorsement of whatever the for-profit school does in the future."

Kennedy said the college is looking into partnering with a for-profit because veterinary schools are expensive to start and run, and this model could help the college overcome those costs. When asked how the college would contribute to supporting the program, Kennedy said that is something the task force will work out with Adtalem.

At a Faculty Senate meeting where the proposal was announced, Gilbert said a faculty member asked why the college didn't expand existing popular programs, like the professional graduate programs in the College of Nursing that have to turn applicants away.

Gilbert has two theories as to why the college doesn't pursue this strategy.

"One is that we are so broke that we can’t round up the resources to accommodate an increase in the number of faculty in these programs, even if it were sure to bring enrollment growth and yield revenue. The second possibility is that starting the state’s first vet school through a public-private partnership (no money down!) looks a lot better on your CV than saying that existing programs grew on your watch, even if the more boring accomplishment does more for the financial health of the university," he said, adding, "So my money is on a new vet school and another private investor to which the university has conceded some of its autonomy and to which we are financially obligated."

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Pulse podcast features conversation with Bryan Alexander about his book 'Academia Next'

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 02/18/2020 - 01:00

This month's episode of the Pulse podcast features a conversation with Bryan Alexander, author of Academia Next (Johns Hopkins University Press), about the future(s) of higher education.

In a wide-ranging talk with The Pulse's host, Rodney B. Murray, Alexander discusses his new book, long-term higher education scenarios and high-impact technologies, among other topics.

Alexander is a futurist and author.

The Pulse is Inside Higher Ed's monthly technology podcast, produced by Murray, executive director of the office of academic technology at University of the Sciences.

Find out more, and listen to past Pulse podcasts, here.

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Sri Lankan student deaths in Azerbaijan puts agents under scrutiny

The PIE News - Mon, 02/17/2020 - 09:22

The death of three Sri Lankan nationals in Azerbaijan – two of which were international students – last month has prompted the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education to look into shoring up regulations around education agents and studying abroad. This, in turn, has prompted confusion from agents in the country who see little linking the tragedy and their work.

The students who had been attending Western Caspian University in Baku were named as Malsha Sandeepani and Tharuki Amaya, while the third victim, Amodya Maduhansi, had attended the university some years ago and was working in the country.

One agent said “didn’t make sense” to regulate agents as a result of what happened

The three rented an apartment together in the country’s capital, where an electric stove was left on overnight on top of a plastic suitcase. The three women suffocated in the resulting smoke.

Sri Lankan officials told local media last month that the MoE was planning to create a “regulatory framework” for agents in response to the incident.

Further details are yet to be released, but one agent told The PIE News it “didn’t make sense” to regulate agents as a result of what happened.

As a destination for Sri Lankan students, Azerbaijan is a newcomer to the market and conflicting statistics make it difficult to ascertain just how many students study there.

With no Sri Lankan embassy in the country, UNESCO data suggests six Sri Lankans are currently studying in the country, the Azerbaijan government lists just one in the previous academic year.

However, Western Caspian University told The PIE it has 68 Sri Lankan students.

Overall, fewer than 5,000 international students study in the country annually but, according to agents, Azerbaijan is a study destination with affordable tuition and the possibility of finding work upon graduating.

A quick search on social media reveals several companies offering packages for Sri Lankan students to study in the country advertising “departure within three days”, “no IELTs”, “no visa interview”, “no bank balance” and “no refusal”.

But agents also offer another unique selling point: studying in Azerbaijan, they say, is a route towards obtaining a Schengen visa or transferring to a university in Europe.

One agency advertises a “transfer degree program to European countries”. For a little over £2,000, another offers the chance to “study in Baku, Azerbaijan and move to Schengen countries” and to “build your future career, your gateway to Europe, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland”.

“Azerbaijan is a secular country, that’s why it’s easier to get a Schengen visa for Sri Lanka citizens, but to get it they must stay in our country legally, and the best option for legally staying in Azerbaijan is a study visa,” one such agent told The PIE.

“We can send students to Germany with the possibility of a scholarship if they pass their B1 exams in German. They will be provided with a job and scholarship in Germany. It’s a good option for Sri Lanka students.”

But getting to Europe through Azerbaijan may not be as easy as some agents are making out.

While the denial rate for Schengen visas applied for in Sri Lanka was almost double that of Azerbaijan in 2018, the Swiss Embassy in Baku told The PIE that three Sri Lankans had applied for visas through it last year, and all were subsequently rejected.

Western Caspian University said that most of their Sri Lankan students ultimately stay on in the country after completing their education.

“It’s difficult to talk about the intention and behaviour of Sri Lankan students since they are new to our country,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s quite difficult to use Azerbaijan as a transit country”

“As a matter of fact, it’s quite difficult to use Azerbaijan as a transit country. Nevertheless, to secure a job in the local job market isn’t difficult.”

Sri Lanka has previously expressed a desire to establish itself as a regional education hub but studying abroad remains popular among those who can afford it.

According to the Sri Lankan MoE, around 20,000 students leave the island to pursue educational opportunities abroad each year.

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UK HEIs can “shape a new national identity”

The PIE News - Mon, 02/17/2020 - 08:50

UK higher education institutions have an opportunity to shape national identity by focusing on sustainability research and furthering partnerships with Asia, according to HE experts speaking at a recent Higher Education Policy Institute seminar in London.

With Brexit, the UK has “new ordered itself”, professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford Simon Marginson said at the event, while he proposed UK institutions look to Latin America and central Asia for future collaboration.

“The possibilities are genuinely open to the HE sector”

For a nation whose universities “normally manage our futures with all the due diligence we can muster”,  not being within Europe will be a shock for some and universities will not view global strategic partnerships as a “substitute for embeddedness in Europe”, he indicated.

“It’s alarming, it’s also exciting. When that dependency falls away there is a unique moment of freedom before new patterns become set. The possibilities are genuinely open to the HE sector.”

Despite exceptions such as Nottingham Ningbo and Liverpool Xi’an, UK-China research collaboration intensity is “well below” the level of US-China and Australia-China cooperation, Marginson maintained.

“There is not the same interest or knowledge in the UK,” he explained.

The US strategy of accord with the Asian powerhouse since 1978, assuming China’s politics and economy would become more western as the country became more open, has been “notably unsuccessful”, while China has benefited from global integration, Marginson said.

The US-China breakdown may create openings for UK institutions, he added, “but we need to understand what we are in for”.

“I have no doubt that forging fulsome relationships in East Asia is the most pressing strategic need for British universities,” Marginson continued, while the UK can also maintain solidarity in Europe by exercising leadership on sustainability.

“British science sustains a stronger domestic authority than does American science. Higher education agrees with the government about the value of science. Here the sector can advance both its global role and its domestic position,” he said.

“What happens when the lacuna in the national strategy persists for a time after Brexit?” he asked.

“I think this provides the sector with the opportunity to make its own rules. Take initiatives, define the framework, build the alliances, build a global position of its own, and in doing so help shape a new national identity.”

Speakers also explained that UK institutions can look to an example in Australia, a country that had 162,000 Chinese enrolments in 2019.

The foreign interference guidelines, released in Australia in November 2019, was a way for the Group of Eight to ensure members were not left out of the conversation, according to Group of Eight chief executive, Vicki Thomson.

“We were very concerned that our government would impose guidelines upon us and they wouldn’t be guidelines, they’d be regulation or legislation if we didn’t actually come to the table,” she said.

“forging fulsome relationships in East Asia is the most pressing strategic need for British universities”

“Just as you are working your way through Brexit and what it means to your many relationships and testing how they can evolve, there’s the analogy of Australia where we’re working our way as a nation through how to deal with a much stronger China and having national security as a focus,” Thomson said.

Positive dialogue with Australian security agencies means that “now there is an appreciation and understanding amongst our security agencies of our value to our economy through our research and our education”.

UK institutions need to “get to know China, draw lines in the sand when we must, and watch this space”, Marginson added.

“It’s tricky to engage but I think abstention would be the larger error, given the stakes for us.

“We should not sit on our hands as we had to do during the long Brexit debate. The window will not stay open for very long,” Marginson concluded.

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Cohort Go partners with North Loop

The PIE News - Mon, 02/17/2020 - 05:30

Australia-based edtech company Cohort Go has announced a partnership with North Loop, a new bank for international students headed to the US.

Through the partnership, North Loop customers can now send funds from over 100 countries to the US with access to competitive exchange rates and no fees.

“We’re delighted that this partnership…will make the financial side easier for students travelling to the US”

North Loop was created as a no-fee bank account for students with online applications; saving students time by not having to travel to a physical bank to open an account while ensuring their money is secure.

The partnership further propels the successful startup Cohort Go, which has seen significant growth over the past 12 months.

Mark Fletcher, co-founder and CEO of Cohort Go said the partnership will save students money and provide peace of mind knowing their finances are secure as they embark on their international education journey.

“Studying overseas can be expensive and complex, so we’re delighted that this partnership with North Loop will make the financial side easier for students travelling to the US from particular source countries,” said Fletcher.

“Students can also expect to save on their study expenses with low foreign exchange rates and no-fee transfers, along with their no-fee bank account.

“We are proud to partner with North Loop, a company that is aligned to our vision of reducing barriers for the international education community,” he added.

Tahem Veer Verma, founder and CEO of North Loop said Cohort Go was the most affordable option for students to send money overseas, so it was the ideal partnership.

“The Cohort Go team are fantastic and align with North Loop’s mission really well. With this partnership, North Loop continues to eliminate the borders that divide us,” he added.

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AMBA holds Excellence Awards in London

The PIE News - Mon, 02/17/2020 - 05:21

Imperial College Business School was among the award winners at the Association of MBAs and its sister brand the Business Graduates Association’s annual Excellence Awards for being the “first university to deliver a live lecture via holographic telepresence technology”.

“We are proud to celebrate the achievements and innovation so clearly evident in AMBA and BGA’s network”

“On behalf of the AMBA and BGA team, I would like to congratulate the finalists and winners of this year’s Excellence Awards,” said Andrew Main Wilson, chief executive of AMBA and BGA.

“The quality of award entries was once again very high this year and we are proud to celebrate the achievements and innovation so clearly evident in AMBA and BGA’s network of schools and their students.”

The MBA Entrepreneurial Venture (Third Sector) award went to César Coasaca of CENTRUM PUCP Business School in Peru for Inventum, which has developed an invention that turns air into water.

A former national rugby player with degrees in molecular biology and immunology, Udochuku Richson of IE Business school in Spain, won the MBA Student of the Year Award.

Richson has spent four years building a charity focused on the integration of refugees and is now turning his attention to transforming the healthcare system.

Held on February 7 at the Sheraton in London, UK, over 200 business schools leaders from across the global postgraduate business education sector representing 46 schools attended along with category finalists, judges and media.

Finalists were shortlisted by the associations and then reviewed by a judging panel made up of AMBA board members, business experts, deans and management leaders.

Full list of winners:

Business school career strategy award – Hult International Business School, US

Business School Impact on Community and Society Award – Mannheim Business School, University of Mannheim, Germany

Business School Innovation Award – Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London, UK

MBA Entrepreneurial Venture (Private Sector) – Sharon Cunningham, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin, Ireland, for Shorla Pharma

MBA Entrepreneurial Venture (Third Sector) – César Coasaca, CENTRUM PUCP Business School, Peru, for Inventum

MBA Student of the Year Award – Udochuku Richson, IE Business School, Spain

Photos from the event are available here.

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