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US: Trump looks to immigration suspension

The PIE News - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 09:34

US president Donald Trump is to sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration to the US due in a bid to curb the devastating impact of coronavirus on American jobs and the economy.

The latest in a string of moves cracking down on immigration, the president announced on Twitter that the move was necessary due to “the attack from the invisible enemy” Covid-19, which has so far resulted in more than 42,000 deaths in the US.

In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!

ÔÇö Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020

“It is disappointing but not surprising”

The Trump administration has gradually expanded travel restrictions and slowed visa processing in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

Since March 20, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all US embassies and consulates, cancelling all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.

However, it remains unclear as to what policy would be included in the latest announcement, as the president and the White House did not elaborate.

“Given that this was announced in a tweet as political posturing and provides no details, it is hard to know what exactly is being proposed,” said Fanta Aw, vice president of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence at American University in Washington.

“As of now, US consulates and embassies are not operating in most parts of the world, travel bans have been instituted for certain countries, issues related to immigration and the current administration abound with zero comprehensive approach or understanding of the role of immigration in the US economy,” she told The PIE News.

“It is disappointing but not surprising. Over the next days and months we should expect to learn more about the intentions and actions of the Trump administration.”

Higher education organisations in the US previously warned that overall enrolment for the next academic year will drop by 15%, while a projected decline of 25% of international students is expected.

The 25% decline in international student enrolment would lead to a loss of approximately $10 billion and 114,000 jobs to the US economy, NAFSA has said.

“While we are awaiting an official executive order and do not yet know how the announced immigration policy┬áwill┬áimpact international students and scholars, we can unequivocally state that they are vital to the US economy,” NAFSA executive director and CEO, Esther D. Brimmer said.

“International students create jobs, drive innovation, enrich our campuses and communities, strengthen national security, and become AmericaÔÇÖs greatest foreign policy assets.”

In 2019, international students contributed nearly $41 billion to the US economy, supporting more than 458,000 jobs, she added.

┬á“International education the fifth-largest US services export. Nearly one-quarter of the founders of the $1 billion US startup companies first came to America as international students.┬áIn times of┬áinternational┬ácrises such as this one, it is abundantly clear how our best efforts to address global challenges must draw on global talent,” Brimmer added.

Speaking with The PIE, assistant dean, International Strategy and Programs at San Diego State University World Campus, Eddie West, said the message the president gave will likely be more impactful than the policy.

“Students around the world who have been looking to come to the US to start their studies this summer or fall are to varying extents looking for signs of the likelihood of that being possible, like the rest of us in the field, and that tweet isn’t the most encouraging sign,” he suggested.

West added that visiting students are on F1 non-immigrant visas meaning the “suspension of immigration shouldn’t itself have any material impact on student mobility because students aren’t considered immigrants”.

“But there’s likely to be an adverse impact in this being another indirect signal that the US isn’t close to throwing open its borders to any type of international mobility as yet.”

“That tweet isn’t the most encouraging sign”

West said that the universities and other organisations that will best weather this unprecedented situation are those “able, financially and strategically, to take the long view in terms of planning.”

US exchange organisations are also helping exchange visitors remaining in the US who have been left in limbo due to the swift escalation of the crisis.

On April 20, the US, Mexico, and Canada agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for 30 additional days.

“As president Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread and allowing the phased opening of the country,” explained acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf.

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Australia: Regional state funding and jobs support plan ÔÇ£welcome reliefÔÇØ

The PIE News - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 05:34

Sector stakeholders have welcomed the South Australian governmentÔÇÖs AU$13.8 million funding plan to assist the stateÔÇÖs international students facing hardship in the wake of the coronavirus crisis ÔÇô and a $20m ÔÇÿJobs for CanberransÔÇÖ plan in the Australian Capital Territory that will throw a “lifeline” to struggling students.

The funding announced in South Australia will be distributed via schemes run by the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia, with applications determined against a careful set of rules to assess need.

“[International students] are very much a part of our community and we are keen to ensure they are supported”

The cash injection is designed to provide an economic boost to the sector which has suffered as a result of coronavirus restrictions; international education is AustraliaÔÇÖs fourth-biggest export but in South Australia, it is the largest.

The International Student Support Package will include:

  • $10 million fund for university students significantly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions at the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia to distribute to their pathway and international students.
  • A $500 emergency cash grant to other international students significantly impacted by the restrictions, currently enrolled in a course, living in South Australia and who meet the criteria
  • And a one-off $200 assistance payment per student living with South Australian families provided to homestay families.

Trade minister David Ridgway said it was important to keep the sector strong as it underpins many thousands of South Australian jobs, with international students bringing in almost $2 billion to the state last year.

ÔÇ£International education plays an important role in South AustraliaÔÇÖs economy… and we know students are having a tough time at the moment as they donÔÇÖt qualify for Commonwealth Government income support in response to the Covid-19 impacts,” he said.

He said that every four international student enrolments creates one new job and 2018-19 saw international students contribute $1.92 billion to South AustraliaÔÇÖs economy ÔÇô with more than half of this usually spent in the community on living expenses.

“They are very much a part of our community and we are keen to ensure they are supported at this difficult and uncertain time,” Ridgeway added.

ÔÇ£Ensuring international students are supported as much as possible will assist in maintaining South AustraliaÔÇÖs global reputation for international education and will provide peace of mind for the families of these students living thousands of kilometres away from them as we face such an uncertain time.ÔÇØ

StudyAdelaide chief executive Karyn Kent added that international students have been finding it tough during Covid-19.

ÔÇ£The number one concern expressed by all of our education providers has been for the welfare of their international students, and we expect this announcement to be a welcome relief for students and providers alike,ÔÇØ Kent said.

Eligible international students will be able to apply for support through the Department of Human Services, with information including eligibility criteria now available on the StudyAdelaide website.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said she also welcomed the support package.

ÔÇ£It is heartening to see more State and Territory governments supporting international students that add so much culturally and economically wherever they study,” she noted.

The support package comes a day after the Australian Capital Territory government announced a $20m ÔÇÿJobs for CanberransÔÇÖ fund that will provide employment opportunities with the ACT Public Service. It will give priority to those ineligible for existing Federal government support.

Jackson said the initiative was a potential “lifeline” to international students studying in the capital, who are able to work up to 40 hours per fortnight to supplement their living and studying costs.

ÔÇ£Many international students, just like their Australian friends, have seen their part-time jobs disappear overnight through no fault of their own. They continue to live and study here, despite losing their income and not being eligible for the Government’s JobKeeper support package,ÔÇØ she added.

ÔÇ£Many international students… have seen their part-time jobs disappear overnight through no fault of their own”

ÔÇ£The ACT government will benefit from having some very talented, industrious and appreciative international students working for them, and international students have the chance to earn some much-needed income.ÔÇØ

Currently, there are around 267,000 international students still living and studying at Australian universities said Jackson, adding that “every Australian university is offering hardship support for international students”.

In the state of Queensland, the government has announced the launch of a Queensland Student Hub ÔÇô a new online platform providing free student support services to students across the state, while many universities across the country are offering assistance such as emergency financial grants, accommodation, food vouchers and academic support.

So proud of our #CQUni team who are working around the clock to support our international students – even delivering @CQUni care packages! #Ourstudents are our priority & we are committed to supporting them as they continue their studies with us online during this time.

ÔÇö Nick Klomp (@CQUniversityVC) March 26, 2020

In contrast to sentiments shared by the Australian prime minister on April 3 and echoed by the acting minister for Immigration, minister for Education Dan Tehan has posted a welcoming message of support for international students currently in Australia.

All students who come to Australia are welcome. They have the right to live in a safe, supporting environment, just like everyone else. We are all dealing with COVID-19 together. My message to our international students is: you are our friends. #InThisTogether

ÔÇö Dan Tehan (@DanTehanWannon) April 20, 2020

A number of calls for further international student support in Australia have been made in recent weeks, with IEAA calling for a national hardship fund, Melbourne city council talking about hardship support and a No Worker Left Behind campaign taking off.

“Universities Australia continues to discuss with Federal, State and Territory governments the need to support those students who are facing hardships as a result of this global pandemic,” added Jackson.

The latest announcements follow a federal government guarantee of AU$18 billion in funding to help Australia’s higher education see out the Covid-19 crisis, which was criticised as being ÔÇ£nowhere near enoughÔÇØ to address the billions of dollars in lost revenue from international students.

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US exchange orgs unite in support of students

The PIE News - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 04:35

Alliance for International Exchange members are helping to coordinate exchange program responses as up to 5,000 exchange visitors remaining in the US have been left in limbo due to the swift escalation of the Covid-19 crisis.

By the end of March, Alliance members were flagging a looming humanitarian crisis. Exchange visitors typically reside in the US for a short time and work in seasonal jobs while undertaking cultural exchanges.

However, as seasonal businesses such as ski resorts shuttered due to the pandemic, many participants found themselves without employment and lodging.

ÔÇ£We were watching what could have become a major crisis were it not for the collective actions of participants, sponsors, and government agencies,ÔÇØ explained Ilir Zherka, executive director of the Alliance for International Exchange.

ÔÇ£There has been a remarkable ability to adapt and support each other. Organisations have had to move quickly under enormous pressure to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants.ÔÇØ

Alliance members report committing over $2.1 million combined just in the past few weeks

Alliance members report committing over $2.1 million combined just in the past few weeks to support those caught in a foreign country when the pandemic hit.

At the beginning of the crisis, after assessing the situation, the majority of sponsor organisations decided that repatriation was the best course of action for exchange visitors in the US.

However, in a matter of days, countries around the world began temporarily closing their borders to travellers, including their own nationals. Alliance members reported over 5,000 exchange visitors seeking to return home.

The repatriation effort has been a full-time job for sponsors, according to the Alliance.

“When needed, AFS-USA provided repatriation flights at no extra cost to the participants and chartered flights when commercial flights were unavailable,” explained AFS-USA president Tara Hofman.

“Additional sponsors liaised with the US federal government, regional embassies, and consulates to provide humanitarian flights home.”

Hofman noted that AFS-USA also provided mental health resources, virtual intercultural activities, and online learning for program participants, tailoring these resources to those sheltering with host families as well as repatriated participants.

Another priority was ensuring that exchange visitors were in compliance with immigration laws. The Alliance, together with sponsors, implored the federal government to assist the US State DepartmentÔÇÖs Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in responding quickly by automatically extending these visas by two months.

Another sponsor organisation helped participants secure other employment when their host employer ceased operations. They also paid the remaining rent for visitors who relocated within the US or returned home.

ÔÇ£They never let us feel that we are fighting this battle alone. Even though we [cannot] continue our training,ÔÇØ said Joyselle, an intern from the Philippines.

ÔÇ£[Our work place] is paying us [for] 36 hours per week so we can support ourselves here financially. Being away from our family in times like this is very hard, but there has been a tremendous amount of support [from our sponsor, who] has treated us like family.ÔÇØ

In addition, the International Institute of Education has created a new scholarship program after learning that many international visitors found themselves with no means to pay for food, shelter, or other basic living expenses.

They allocated $1 million from previous gifts to support stranded international students and aim to double that amount through fundraising.

Hostelling International USA has offered free accommodation for stranded visitors in seven major gateway cities. Host employers, schools, churches, and other local organisations are providing food, shelter, and support.

Study abroad sponsors also paid to get thousands of participants back to the US. Throughout this period, exchange visitors and study abroad participants supported each other and demonstrated considerable resilience.

However, Zherka noted that the process is not over yet, with some people still working to get home and sponsors and program supporters still working to help them.

ÔÇ£The spirit of cross-cultural collaboration seems to be alive and well in the United States, with sponsors, supporters, government officials, and participants demonstrating that spirit every day during this very chaotic and difficult time,ÔÇØ he added.

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Work limits are off for health students in UK

The PIE News - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 02:00

In a move similar to Australia, the UK has confirmed that international students who are employed by an NHS trust are not confined to usual working hours caps of 20 hours per week.

This follows the previous announcement from government that any overseas-registered health professionals whose visa was due to expire by 1 October received an automatic one-year extension.

“Tier 4 students who have work rights and are employed by an NHS trust as a doctor, nurse or paramedic will not be restricted to 20 hours work per week during term time and may work without limit on the number of hours permitted,” states the latest T4 guidance.

In Australia, a similar rule was amended on 18 March

In fact, if their studies are suspended because of coronavirus-related issues, these students can work full-time.

“Tier 4 students with work rights whose sponsor suspends all study as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak will be considered to be in vacation time and so will be permitted to work full-time during this period.”

The rule clarification is part of a wider, flexible policy shift, a temporary concession on Tier 4 rules as universities struggle to adapt to international student populations which are spread around the globe ÔÇô and severe uncertainty around future admissions protocol.

In Australia, a similar rule was amended on 18 March relating to international students working in “aged care”.

“As more workers take leave to quarantine or because of health concerns, we need to make sure there are enough staff to look after our older Australians who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus,” Alan Tudge. acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, said.

“Many international students already work in the aged care sector but are restricted to 40 hours a fortnight. We’re relaxing those limits to help fill the temporary staff shortages.”

According to UCAS, a record high of 30,390 people were accepted onto nursing courses in the UK in 2019. Applicants from outside the EU rose by almost a third.

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College groups tell Congress to put off debt cancellation

Inside Higher Ed - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 00:00

Associations representing the nation’s colleges and universities told congressional leaders on Monday they should put off considering canceling student debt until later.

Instead, the American Council on Education, and other associations representing four-year institutions as well as community colleges, in a letter said Congress should focus right now on providing short-term help for borrowers as it considers at least one additional stimulus package. The groups proposed, for example, extending the moratorium on making loan repayments that Congress approved in its last stimulus package, until the nation recovers from the recession being caused by the pandemic.

But on broader proposals such as canceling student debt, the associations wrote, “we believe that should more appropriately occur as part of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”

However, many who signed the letter are skeptical that Congress will get to the update of the nation’s main higher education law this year.

Kyle Southern, policy and advocacy director for higher education and workforce for the Young Invincibles, an advocacy group focused on millenials, responded, “Young people can't wait for Congress to act on HEA to deal with the crisis that they were facing even before COVID-19.”

The stance by college leaders, as well as other higher education groups like the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, comes after calls by congressional Democrats to cancel student debt in stimulus packages.

Democrats in both the House and Senate proposed during the negotiations over the last package, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, that the federal government make monthly loan repayments on behalf of borrowers and guarantee that at least $10,000 be paid toward balances of each borrower.

Progressive Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, also have called for student debt cancellation as part of any stimulus package.

Student loan debt cancellation MUST be a part of the next emergency coronavirus package to deliver relief immediately to millions of families and remove a giant weight that’s dragging down our economy. Senate and House progressives are in this fight all the way.

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 17, 2020

And just last week, Young Invincibles and 65 other progressive groups wrote congressional leaders, calling for some form of debt cancellation -- like the Democrats’ proposals in the CARES Act -- to be included as part of the stimulus.

Not including cancellation in a stimulus package “sets up millions of federal student loan borrowers to face the daunting prospect of trying to find the means to pay their student loans in the middle of economic devastation,” the groups said.

The new letter by the higher ed groups, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, comes at a time when higher education institutions are vying for more federal dollars in one of the upcoming packages Congress is expected to consider.

Higher ed organizations also wrote congressional leaders two weeks ago to seek an additional $46.6 billion in aid for colleges, saying the $14 billion Congress put in the CARES Act for higher education “does not come close to filling the gap.” Instead, the associations wrote that they expect to lose $23 billion from a 15 percent projected decline in enrollment this fall.

Focus on Immediate Relief

In an interview, however, Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government relations and public affairs (and an occasional opinion contributor to Inside Higher Ed), denied that institutions were worried debt cancellation would siphon away money the colleges are desperate to get.

Instead, Hartle said the stance reflected what he said congressional staff working on stimulus packages have been telling advocates -- to focus on immediate relief to get people through the public health and economic crisis.

In the letter, the associations acknowledged that student loan borrowers need help. “The pandemic will greatly hamper the ability of many of these individuals to repay their loans, and this in turn will strain the economy unless Congress moves quickly to provide needed, targeted relief to student loan borrowers,” they wrote.

But, in part, the call to take up debt cancellation later appeared to reflect the division even among progressives about the idea.

“Any large-scale debt relief initiative would prove very expensive, and may benefit high-income and other borrowers who do not require assistance in meeting their obligations,” the letter said. If Congress does take up debt cancellation, the associations wrote, “any debt relief program should be targeted to borrowers who are financially distressed and face the greatest difficulty repaying their loans.”

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of NASFAA, worried bringing up the debt cancellation idea would lead to political gridlock and hold up help for borrowers now.

“How to expand and equitably distribute loan forgiveness, not to mention implementing something so complicated, is a much larger conversation that threatens to derail tangible steps Congress could and should take now,” he said.

And indeed, a Republican aide on the Senate education committee told Inside Higher Ed last week that at least among Republicans, “I don’t think there’s any appetite for debt forgiveness or cancellation because it has nothing to do with COVID.”

A higher priority, representatives of the associations said, is for Congress to take immediate steps, like excusing borrowers from having to make loan payments until the economy recovers -- at least through June 30, 2021, or until the unemployment rate falls below 8 percent for three consecutive months. That would extend the 60-day moratorium included in the CARES Act.

The associations also proposed extending for a year the six- to nine-month grace period for making federal loan payments after graduation. “Students who complete their programs in the near future will be graduating into the worst employment market since the federal student loan programs were created,” the letter said. “Extending the post-graduation grace period for one year for students leaving school will help them gain their post-graduation financial footing.”

In addition, the letter recommended borrowers taking out federal student loans only be charged a 1.5 percent interest rate, instead of the current rates of between 4.53 percent for Stafford loans and 7.08 percent for Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loans.

The associations also proposed making it easier for borrowers to escape student debt when filing for bankruptcy.

“With the increased economic insecurity America faces, more citizens will declare bankruptcy,” the letter said. "When they do, all debts, including student loans, should be eliminated. This will help those whose investment in higher education was significantly curtailed by the current crisis and would be an important step in their own economic recovery.”

Southern responded, “They also should not have to depend on bankruptcy as an escape valve from the debt levels caused by skyrocketing higher education costs and declining public financial support. Broad cancellation of student debt now would provide direct relief to millions of borrowers at a time they need it most.”

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Feds deny state requests to waive student requirements for SNAP

Inside Higher Ed - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 00:00

Advocates have long argued against requirements college students must meet to be eligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Dozens of states pleaded the same case as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the country. The federal assistance program requires students who attend college at least half-time to work 20 hours per week to qualify. As the pandemic causes a recession and unemployment skyrockets, state officials said students are being left in the lurch.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service agency denied the states' request.

It's unclear how many students are affected by this decision because there isn't much data on it, according to Lauren Walizer, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). But some of the states provided estimates for how many students currently receive SNAP benefits, or estimates for how many additional students would gain eligibility, in their waiver requests. For example, Illinois said about 11,000 people who currently receive SNAP are college students. New Hampshire estimates another 6,800 people would become eligible for SNAP, in addition to the students who are currently eligible.

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office also found that nearly half of the students who would be eligible for SNAP do not receive the assistance. It's likely, given the current crises, that even more students will need assistance. But many will not be able to meet the work requirements.

CLASP is disappointed in the agency's decision, said Ashley Burnside, a policy analyst there.

"The COVID-19 pandemic will make it harder for students to work, to earn a living wage and to access food for themselves and their families. Students shouldn’t have to choose between feeding themselves and breaking social distance in a public health crisis. Now more than ever, students need access to SNAP food assistance benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 medical emergency," she said via email.

"Even during normal times, student eligibility rules for SNAP are complicated and prevent many students who are eligible from getting food assistance that would help them do better in school and remain economically secure," Burnside said. "During the COVID-19 crisis, students have been forced to leave their campuses and many now need to self-quarantine to protect themselves, their families and their communities."

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 40 percent of students reported being food insecure to some extent, Burnside said. It's possible more students will need SNAP now, and that students who are currently eligible will lose that eligibility as they lose their jobs or work hours.

Burnside recommends states help students enroll in SNAP through other exemptions, such as students who have caregiving responsibilities. States can also use their authority to provide good-cause exemptions, she said.

While much of the data is unknown, Walizer said it's safe to say people need more help now, not less.

"Given what is known about widespread struggle in the country right now, I think it's reasonable to assume students are more likely to be struggling than safe," she said. "That's why the waivers matter, because it allows states to adopt a 'better safe than sorry' approach that focuses on protecting people's benefits and accounts for the reality of our worldwide circumstances."

The widespread requests to waive the student rules for SNAP also prove many advocates' points, she said.

"Clearly, [states] don't think they are sensible, particularly in a time like this."

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Early journal submission data suggest COVID-19 is tanking women's research productivity

Inside Higher Ed - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 00:00

It’s was easy to foresee: within academe, female professors would bear the professional brunt of social distancing during COVID-19, in the form of decreased research productivity.

Now the evidence is starting to emerge. Editors of two journals say that they’re observing unusual, gendered patterns in submissions. In each case, women are losing out.

Editors of a third journal have said that overall submissions by women are up right now, but that solo-authored articles by women are down substantially.

In the most obvious example of the effects of social distancing carving into women's research time, Elizabeth Hannon, deputy editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, wrote on Twitter that she’d received “negligible” submissions from women within the last month. “Never seen anything like it,” she added.

David Samuels, co-editor of Comparative Political Studies, in response shared that submissions to his journal are up 25 percent so far in April, compared to last year. That increase was driven entirely by men, however, he said. Women’s submissions stayed flat.

The American Journal of Political Science on Monday published a longer-term analysis of submissions and publications by men and women over the last three years, as part of a larger effort to understand publication patterns for authors from underrepresented groups. Co-editors Kathleen Dolan and Jennifer L. Lawless also examined the last few weeks, in particular, and found that submissions have picked up. To their surprise, 33 percent of submitting authors since March 15 were women, compared to 25 percent of authors over the three years studied. Looking at these recent submissions another way, 41 percent of the 108 papers had at least one female author -- slightly more than usual.

This doesn’t mean that Covid-19 "hasn’t taken a toll on female authors, though,” Dolan and Lawless wrote, as women submitted just eight of the 46 solo-authored papers during this time. That’s 17 percent, compared to 22 percent of solo-authored papers in the larger data set.

 "As a percentage change, that’s substantial," the editors said. "Even if women’s overall submission rates are up, they seem to have less time to submit their own work than men do amid the crisis.” 

The revelations generated much chatter, including from gender studies scholars and women in all fields who are desperately trying to balance teaching and otherwise working from home with increased caregiving responsibilities. Those responsibilities include all-day minding of children due to school and daycare closures, homeschooling, and the cooking and cleaning associated with having one’s family at home all day, every day. Women are also spending time checking in with friends, relatives and neighbors.

SOS, Different Circumstances

It’s not that men don’t help with all this, or that they’re not also individually overwhelmed by work and family life. But women already juggled more domestic and affective, or emotional, labor with their actual work prior to the pandemic.

Female academics, as a group, also struggled more with work-work balance, as well: numerous studies show they take on more service work than men and are less protective of their research time, to their detriment.

The coronavirus has simply exacerbated these inequities by stripping away what supports women had in place to walk this tightrope, including childcare.

“My productivity is definitely taking a huge hit having both my 2- and 5-year-old at home full-time,” said Vanessa LoBue, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University at Newark and author of 9 Months In, 9 Months Out: A Scientist’s Tale of Pregnancy and Parenthood. “My husband is working full-time at home, as am I, and what I’m finding is for men, there is more of an expectation that he can be working all the time than there is for me.”

That leaves LoBue with the kids more of the time -- and less time for her own work.

“COVID-19 restrictions are just exacerbating gender inequalities that already exist,” she said.

No Protected Time

Anecdotes such as LoBue’s aren’t hard to find. Case in point: a recent Nature op-ed by Alessandra Minello, a social demographer at the University of Florence in Italy with a 2-year-old son and colleagues around the globe who expect her to be able to videoconference at all hours.

“Silence and concentration are pivotal for my thinking and teaching,” she wrote. “This means I have less time for writing scientific articles.”

While she and her colleagues know they’re lucky to be employed and healthy at this time, it still feels “as if I am my own subject” in some work-life balance study.

Minello also expressed concern about when the crisis is over, both parents and nonparents “will participate together in open competition for promotion and positions, parents and nonparents alike.”

Just like academic fathers, nonparents don’t have it easy right now -- no one does. But, again, there are well-documented challenges that academic mothers, in particular, face. Those challenges, together, have been dubbed the motherhood penalty. And they’re laid bare right now.

Hannon of the British journal, who is also associate director of the Forum for European Philosophy, said Monday that her sample size is still too small for anything “particularly meaningful” to be gleaned. This could be a “blip,” for example, and submissions numbers could soon normalize as women find ways to cope.

This could also be “an age thing,” Hannon added, in that in fields that have been slow to admit women, such as philosophy, women are more likely than men to have young children. That would skew the gender balance, even where childcare duties are evenly spread within families, she said.

Following the Numbers

In any case, Hannon’s following the numbers. She and her co-editors have also partnered with other journals and agreed to share patterns, across publications, as they reveal themselves.

Her own hypothesis about the early stats includes increased caring duties, including of friends and parents, and increased domestic labor: shopping, cooking, cleaning.

Samuels also said it’s too early to discern anything definitive. March and April brought an increase in submissions from non-U.S. scholars, as well, he said, which have been desk-rejected at a higher rate than U.S. submissions. So there are other things happening, beyond gender. In any case, Samuels guessed that the gender dynamic won’t matter much in the end, in terms of productivity as measured as successful publications -- at least in his journal. That's because it has too few willing reviewers right now.

“The reason we're seeing less from U.S.-based scholars is pretty clear,” he said via email. “Anyone with kids or family needing care is just not getting any research/writing done, and it's just a stressful time for everybody.”

In response to discussions about gender imbalances in submissions, some have suggested that journals shut down during COVID-19. That’s perhaps palatable to editors who, like Samuels, are having trouble finding reviewers, and to reviewers who don’t have time to read articles.

Hannon, however, said it’s not clear that a moratorium on submission would help, and said it might even make things worse. Women who are still writing but taking longer to do so would find it impossible to finally submit, while their less burdened male colleagues would have made it in under the wire. “Unburdened” academics could also continue to write and “stockpile” papers to submit later, she added.

“It just kicks the can down the road.”

Taking Care of the ‘Family’

Victor Borden, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, co-wrote a 2017 study finding that women “take care of the academic family” more than men by picking up more service duties. The paper warned that this is problematic for women because service isn’t rewarded in the ways that research is, even when the service is essential.

Of journal submissions and gender during the pandemic, Borden said that men and women both seem to expect women to do more “housekeeping,” based on existing research. From that point of view, “men would be more likely to see this as an opportunity to focus their time and attention on finishing articles, research projects, revising manuscripts, etc., while women faculty would have a tendency to focus on activities related to making sure that family, colleagues, students, etc., are doing OK.”

There is a lot of variation even within groups, Borden cautioned, meaning that one man and one woman plucked at random wouldn’t necessarily behave this way. But, in general, if men aren’t “stepping up” to tend to group and family cohesion, “women step in.”

Joya Misra, professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has also studied the gendered dynamics of academic labor. She said her institution has been flexible with and supportive of faculty members this spring, assuring them that their performance during the disruption will not negatively affect their careers.

Even so, she said, “some faculty don't believe that this won't be held against them, due to the culture of their department or college.” Some female colleagues in the sciences and engineering with young children have even doubled down on research, “putting in proposals for studying this particular moment" or writing regular grant proposals because they can't be in their labs. 

Then there are other professors, both with and without caregiving responsibilities, “who feel paralyzed.” Misra said she'd observed that colleagues who are performing more emotional labor with their students tend to be part this latter group. And in general, women experience “higher levels of expectations from others for emotional labor, and even from themselves.”

Colleen Derkatch, associate professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto, said she’s definitely doing more affective labor than before -- and perhaps more than her colleagues. She’s deeply worried about students who have lost jobs or family income due to the pandemic, or who are facing increased caregiving responsibilities within their own families. So she’s checking in with her students and making accommodations for them, but she has heard repeatedly that she’s one of the few professors doing so. That in itself is overwhelming, she said.

“I have half a brain right now and my students have half a brain, and just trying to make it through this is consuming a lot of energy,” she said. “My research was on pause. I didn’t even give it a thought for three weeks.”

Derkatch is trying to get her writing back on track now. But she’ll still have to balance it with the rest of her work, needier students and raising her 13-year-old daughter. Derkatch’s husband has a flexible schedule and does a lot of the household labor, but Derkatch is still doing most of the hour-to-hour parenting.

Quoting other professors who have said the same, Derkatch said that children perceive their parents are always available now that they are always home. The reality, of course, is that with the challenges of remote teaching during a pandemic, they may be less available than before. Derkatch said she feels as if she's constantly "shooing" her daughter out of her home office.

"It's kind of like if I'm a pilot," Derkatch said. "I can do an emergency landing and land the plane, but there's a lot of banging and luggage is flying around and there are probably some injuries. I don't like being bad at my job and I don't like being a bad parent, either." 

Setting Boundaries and Making Accommodations

As for advice, Misra said that it’s “completely normal” to want to be as responsive as possible to everyone around you during a crisis.

Yet “taking care of your mental health and family is critical,” she said. And so academics “need to set reasonable schedules,” that entail checking email, say, twice a day, working until 5 p.m. and then shutting off their computers.

Misra said her own chronic health issues forced her to create these kinds of boundaries long before to the pandemic. They’ve been helpful. “But I also know that this is hard for everyone. There is no-one-size-fits-all.”

Kiernan Mathews, executive director of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education at Harvard University, said that “anyone familiar with the productivity literature in higher ed wouldn’t be surprised” by the new journal submission figures. Still, the “magnitude of effect suggested by these early reports is what is really, freshly disheartening.”

Mathews said he hoped journal editors will get these data into scholars’ hands as soon as possible -- and noted the twin ironies in saying so. Some men might be able to write up these studies faster than women, he said, and the peer-review process for any such papers could take too long to influence relevant tenure and promotion decisions.

Beyond data, Mathews suggested disciplinary societies might play a role in advocating for a leveling of the playing field for women during COVID-19. Referring to backlash against so-called manels, or all-male panels of experts at disciplinary conferences, Mathews also wondered if journals that don't take demographic balance into account right now might expect to face similar criticism. 

"Without national or global leadership reaching across institutions," he said, "you just have this loosely coupled system of committees, each acting in its parochial self-interest and not in society’s, reviewing faculty primarily for what’s quantifiable and not for what’s equitable, ethical or humane."

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Author discusses his book on Shakespeare and the state of education

Inside Higher Ed - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 00:00

Scott Newstok's new book, How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons From a Renaissance Education (Princeton University Press), is about more than the Bard. It's a challenge to the ideas that education is strictly about what you can assess or data that will lead to jobs. Newstok clearly believes, though, that an education on Shakespeare will help many people -- and not just English majors -- with their careers.

Newstok, a professor of English at Rhodes College, responded via email to questions about his book.

Q: What was your goal in writing this book?

A: As both a teacher and a parent of school-age children, I’d become dismayed by the way we think of thinking. Many of our educational assumptions are just plain false. Yet I hope that recalling enduring practices can help us -- maybe our institutions, but at least those individuals still interested in thinking. My book explores the educational assumptions that shaped a mind like Shakespeare’s: play emerges through work, creativity through imitation, autonomy through tradition, innovation through constraints, freedom through discipline.

A more basic goal was simply to harvest as many of my favorite thinkers on thinking as possible. As we know from the fight to preserve biodiversity, precious “seeds of time” (Macbeth) enrich the present -- call this “heirloom education”:

For out of old fields, as people say,
Comes all this new grain from year to year;
And out of old books, in good faith,
Comes all this new knowledge that people learn.

Q: Do you fear that the trends in higher education -- an emphasis on training for jobs and skills -- run against the themes in your book?

A:What is the end of study?” asks one of Shakespeare’s characters. The endless call for shortsighted “targets” in today’s educational jargon makes me feel as if we adults have become William Tell, aiming arrows at our own children. Our means (passing the test) have overtaken our ends (human flourishing). And if you talk to any archer, you might be surprised to discover that to hit a target, “aiming is way overrated.” If you create an incentive to hit the target, it’s all the less likely that you will be able to do so. The best way to pass a test is … by not fixating on the test. Instead, you must find ways to become immersed in activity for its own sake, in the company of skilled practitioners.

I believe we can we achieve short-term ends (skills, jobs) by aiming for the long-term end: cultivating an articulate citizen to act in the world, both “a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.”

Our word “school” derives from the Greek word for leisure, which in turn goes back to an older root meaning pause. “Pause” and “leisure” both sound a bit odd to us; we tend to associate school with work. But “school” was a particular kind of activity, one that demanded a respite from necessity -- a place to pursue thoughts in common alongside other people.

Never have I felt this to be truer than in the past months when we’ve all been exiled from that common place.

Q: I was surprised in your book to find a chapter on technology. What does "thinking like Shakespeare" have to do with technology?

A: Our era’s recurrent fable? Presuming that the only kind of technology is digital technology -- and that digital technology invariably improves upon anything that preceded it. This fable amounts to a creed, unshakable in the face of mounting evidence that computers don’t automatically improve learning. Instead, they exacerbate (not mitigate) inequality, as recent weeks have catastrophically confirmed.

When confronted by such dismal results, the “technological bluff” is always “The next version will be better!” I don’t know a single person who’s happy with the shift to remote learning. While all of us, students and teachers alike, are trying our best, it’s become starkly clear how sterile an alternative this is. As one of my own kids quipped the other day, “I even miss my classmates I don’t like!”

Naïve enthusiasm for digital technology often derives from an unspoken hostility toward teachers -- a hostility that seeks to eliminate the human element from education by automating it. If we were content with just “content delivery,” libraries and textbooks would have already made schools defunct. Carter G. Woodson had it right: “The mere imparting of information is not education.” People (and institutions) help guide us (and chide us) to confront demanding material.

Thinkers have always employed “technology” -- like the book, one of the most marvelous devices ever created, or even something as deceptively simple as the practice of sitting together around a seminar table. But it’s technology in the guiding hands of the learned teacher that helps situate us toward meaningful ends.

Q: And on freedom?

A: When Caliban cries out for freedom, he falls for a drunk Stephano, who sings, “Thought is free.” Yet at this moment, Caliban’s not free -- he’s just transferred his bondage to “a new master.” Real freedom would demand not only being slave to no one, but being his own master.

I’ve come to believe that a better translation of the emancipatory artes liberales would be the “crafts of freedom.” These practices cultivate a thinking citizen -- the bane of every despot. Such an educational program presumes that freedom is fragile, demanding endless exertion: “there is nothing more arduous than the apprenticeship of liberty.”

I end the book with the fantastic James Baldwin essay “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare,” which concludes, “My relationship, then, to the language of Shakespeare revealed itself as nothing less than my relationship to myself and my past.” At first, Baldwin sought freedom from having to read Shakespeare, yet he came to relish the freedom to make Shakespeare his own. In doing so, Baldwin achieved a mutual recognition in Shakespeare that few of us ever reach -- “an inner freedom which cannot be attained in any other way” than by inhabiting other minds through art.

Q: What do you think your book can offer today, when we are focused on the coronavirus?

A: That’s kind of an up-to-the-minute version of the utility question, isn’t it? We quickly exhausted the “What Shakespeare Did During the Plague” takes. The plaintive cry of Sonnet 65 comes to mind:

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?

I’m starting to feel like the crisis has given us a kind of X-ray into everyone’s souls. To cite one of countless examples I’d never thought I’d see laid so bare: Do you think the postal service should be privatized, or are you grateful for its countless daily decencies? In terms of education, would you cheer if half of all universities went bankrupt, or do you cherish close learning? Should we only read contemporary prose, or might poets from the past have something to offer us?

On a more mundane level: my chapters are mercifully short, well suited to “this distracted globe”! And the book’s packed with apt quotations. At the least, they might provide a momentary stay against confusion, at best, an inspiration to seek out “the treasures that prevail,” a handbook for what matters once we emerge from the wreckage.

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April 21 COVID-19 roundup: Revenue losses, summer enrollment and cannabutter

Inside Higher Ed - Mar, 04/21/2020 - 00:00

Happy Tuesday. I hope you all had as great a start to the week as I, surprisingly, did, although I'm kicking myself for neglecting to include a 4/20 joke of some sort in yesterday's roundup.

There's a lot going on right now. Georgia is letting businesses reopen on Friday. People are protesting stay-at-home orders, although largely by car because, you know, there's a nasty, fast-spreading virus out there. The oil market is suffering large declines as people stop going anywhere.

Before we get to more of the sad stuff, here are some palate cleansers to remind you it's not all terrible.

Because I messed up on Monday's roundup, here's a tale of cannabutter gone wrong. To be honest, the effects seem like something I would welcome right now.

Campy, over-the-top teen dramas are honestly my favorite guilty pleasure. Here is a nice list of where to stream them if you ever need to turn off your brain and binge for a few hours.

And you can count on Maine for a feel-good story about the weird stuff people are cooking as they run low on pantry supplies.

Let’s get to the news.

Judging from how today went, it seems this is the week institutions will announce how big a hit they're taking because of the coronavirus pandemic. The University of Arizona predicts a $250 million loss, spurring pay cuts and a hiring freeze.

The University of Michigan announced its losses could grow as high as $1 billion -- yes, billion -- by the end of 2020. Leaders are taking pay cuts, a hiring freeze is in place and staff have the option to volunteer for furloughs. (There's some more info in this Twitter thread.)

Michigan's community colleges don't seem to be doing much better. One has already seen a double-digit percentage drop in enrollment numbers for summer courses compared to the same time last year.

Meanwhile, several higher ed associations are asking Congress to consider other stimulus proposals, like extending the suspension of loan collection, before considering student debt cancellation.

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

Law firms are capitalizing on students' growing anger over their thwarted spring semester. More and more student groups are suing their institutions for tuition refunds, Greta Anderson reports.

Students are also upset about who was, and wasn't, allowed to stay on campus during the pandemic. Most were denied, they say. And those who did get to stay are feeling the isolation, Lilah Burke writes.

Remember all the talk of rethinking the academic calendar? Well, Beloit College in Wisconsin is doing it. Elizabeth Redden has the story on the changes it's making.

Virtual tours are now bigger, and more necessary, than ever. But are they as effective? Scott Jaschik has this article in "Admissions Insider."

News From Elsewhere

Some researchers are calling out as unqualified an epidemiologist who's gained social media popularity due to COVID-19, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The Associated Press has a story on how for-profit colleges are ramping up marketing efforts during this crisis.

DC Metro Theater Arts wrote about how colleges that teach performance arts are pivoting right now.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. While I can't espouse any myself, I've gathered some interesting ones from others.

Reporter Karin Fischer ponders whether international students will pay for "Zoom U" as the pandemic continues in her newsletter.

Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education praises today's medical students, who are the opposite of the coronavirus-flouting spring breakers who made headlines last month.

A contributor to The Atlantic says we aren't yet all working together, though that's what we'll need to do to beat the virus.

Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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Self-assess for HE progression: T4 sponsor update

The PIE News - Lun, 04/20/2020 - 10:55

New Tier 4 guidance issued on April 20 from the UK government includes concessions allowing a more flexible approach to the language testing of international students applying for courses below degree level. 

The latest guidance says that sponsors who are universities with a ÔÇ£track record of complianceÔÇØ will be allowed to self-assess students as having a B1 level of English, where progression on to the main course is dependent upon passing their pre-sessional course.

This applies for students who are required to take a SELT overseas but who cannot access a test centre – and also applies to institutions/sponsors who were not able to maintain a “track record of compliance” due to pending registration with the OfS.

This is a temporary concession and institutions must keep records of how they undertook the language level assessment.

The directive ÔÇô with attendance monitoring rule updates and other detail ÔÇô was welcomed by members of the UKÔÇÖs HE sector, including UKCISA and think tank, the Higher Education Policy Institute.┬á

ÔÇ£It provides important temporary concessions for English Language testingÔÇØ

ÔÇ£The education sector is highly compliant, and Tier 4 sponsors take their obligations very seriously,ÔÇØ said Anne Marie Graham, chief executive of UKCISA.┬á

ÔÇ£We have been calling for clearer guidance for both students and sponsors, and this does address many (if not all) of the queries our members and international students have raised with us.┬á

ÔÇ£It provides welcome clarity on sponsor obligations, and on important temporary concessions for English Language testing.ÔÇØ

The Home Office will also not take enforcement action against Tier 4 visa sponsors whose students are long-term absent because of the coronavirus, the government confirmed in the new guidance.

In fact, Covid-19 related absences do not need to be reported and sponsors will not be forced to withdraw sponsorship if a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days.

This absence needs to be the result of Covid-19, and the student must intend to resume their studies.

HEPI director Nick Hillman told The PIE News,┬áÔÇ£At first glance, this looks sensible and welcome.”┬á

ÔÇ£The Home Office has shifted to a much more flexible approach in recent weeks and these are the sorts of changes that are essential in these odd times if we are to support our education sector and the students it serves.”┬á

Hillman said he doesn’t regard temporary concessions as “excessively lenient”.

“I also hope they will ease the way to a recalibrated future migration regime that better balances the encouragement of educational exports against the need for security than, as a country, we have generally managed to do over the past decade,” he added.

Other details in the guidance include a note that Tier 4 visa applications can still be made using CAS [Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies unique numbers] that may have expired.

“The start date for the course may now be later than that stated on the CAS for the original course or the CAS may have expired. The Home Office will take a pragmatic approach to considering applications to study courses with significantly different start dates to those stated on CAS or expired CAS,” stated the document.

The start date for the course may now be later than that stated on the CAS for the original course

In terms of visa extension, students whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, who would otherwise be unable to extend in-country, will be able to exceptionally apply for further leave within the UK.

This includes students studying at providers who would otherwise be required to apply from their home country for further leave, such as students at non Higher Education Providers with a track record of compliance.

To be granted further leave to complete an existing course, or to begin a new course, students must still meet all other requirements of Tier 4, including academic progression and maintenance requirements.

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Double-dipping in Brazil sparks wider commission-based operations concern

The PIE News - Lun, 04/20/2020 - 09:34

Agencies ‘double-dipping’ ÔÇô┬á charging both students and educators for their services ÔÇô is a “huge problem” in Brazil that threatens the sustainability of the sector, whistleblowers in the country have revealed.

Agencies are acting as headhunters for institutions abroad and at the same time charging student clients, meaning they can earn huge amounts of money. But stakeholders have suggested the use of commission-based agents needs to be made more transparent.

“Most people don’t know that [agents are] double-dipping, and I think that is very concerning,” explained Nicole Ribeiro, who has several years of experience in the Brazilian sector and is founder and executive director of Pico Educacional.

“Students and families have no idea that [agents are] getting paid headhunter fees”

Even some of the best known and most expensive agencies that “sell themselves as ‘I will help your kid succeed on his path'” don’t necessarily say they are getting kick-backs from the schools, she said.

“In Brazil, there is sometimes a kind of commoditising of students in education without the students knowing,” Ribeiro added.

“Students and families have no idea that [agents are] getting paid headhunter fees. They think that the money they’re paying is everything that this company is getting,” she indicated.

Now in a country that is increasingly being seen as a good source of international students, more untrained agents are advising students to study abroad, principal CEO of EDGE College Counseling, Emily Dobson warned.

“What has sped up is people coming in and saying, ‘I know how to help these kids’, and charging fortunes…but not having any credentials at all to do so.

“[Agencies] double dip, which is ÔÇô if you know your credentials ÔÇô against the rules,” she said.

However, students are not always accepted in all schools they apply for and even when they are accepted, sometimes they decide not to take the offer.

“When this happens there will be no commission paid,” one agent in Brazil told The PIE.

The majority of schools pay commissions only after the students have been studying for one to two months ÔÇô if the student withdraws early after arrival, no commission will be paid, they added.

“A good consultant will motivate students to apply for universities that do not offer representation agreements, so the agency would [be] compensated for their service because the university will not pay any commission,” the agent said.

“Brazilian consumers research a lot.┬áAnd during these periods, they request a lot of [information],” Cris Zanin of Yonder Education explained.

“It’s very common that the agent gives great service for months, and afterwards they discover that the student closed the deal with another organisation.”

But even more concerning is schools getting “kick-backs” from universities, Ribeiro at Pico Educacional said.

“Some private Brazilian national curriculum schools are frequently being approached by American universities to create partnerships for easy access where the school receives a finder’s fee from the university.

“It’s not just the agents. It’s very hard to know who to trust for advice,” she noted.

Students pay for, and expect, a list of their best-fit schools. “They’re not aware that universities are paying to end up on that list. They think the agent is giving them a list based on experience, their personality, on several things,” Ribeiro said.

There is a growing number of agencies in Brazil that help to access student visas in order to work in the US “semi-legally”, she added.

“These agents know which community colleges and which language programs don’t check attendance, and will basically rubber stamp to say you’re a student.”

Another issue is that parents who have put their own children through college have decided they’re ready to become college counsellors, Dobson at EDGE warned.

“It’s particularly saturated in S├úo Paulo. People are doing jobs they shouldn’t be doing because they don’t know what it takes in different countries.”

Clients need to know what to check before hiring somebody, she added. Without credentials from organisations like International ACAC, HECA, IAEA or TABS, “we think that you shouldn’t be able to work with kids”.

“The use of commission-based agents is too embedded. They don’t think about some of the poor ethics that can come with that”

In the US, the Common App should introduce a question asking whether applicants have worked with an outside consultant or counsellor, she suggested.

“We want people to start being accountable,” Dobson stated.

Founder of┬áThe University Guys David Hawkins said that, as an independent university adviser, charging families ÔÇô and not taking commissions from institutions ÔÇô was “the only ethical way” of operating.

“It gets very murky, this area of double-dipping,” Hawkins added.

He said that particularly in the British context, the sector is very used to working in a model that focuses on commission.

“The use of commission-based agents is too embedded. They don’t think about some of the poor ethics that can come with that. I find it quite worrying. I think the trend [in Brazil] is replicated worldwide really.”

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Chronicle of Higher Education: 43% of College Fund Raisers DonÔÇÖt Expect to Meet Goals

Just 22 percent think they will achieve those targets, according to a new survey of 415 advancement professionals at 48 higher-education institutions.

Chronicle of Higher Education: A Side Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic? Reading Got a Lot Harder.

That’s made professors more empathetic to what their students are going through.

UK schools must assure intÔÇÖl parents

The PIE News - Lun, 04/20/2020 - 04:19

UK boarding schools must show a united front when they are dealing with coronavirus and be more vocal about options they will offer prospective international students or risk harming enrolment numbers in 2020, a stakeholder has warned.

If schools do not improve their strategies and assure parents of international students, those heavily reliant on income from international student fees could risk closing altogether, one agent has suggested.

“Schools are braced for a dose of tough reality”

Samuel Chan, managing director of Britannia StudyLink said schools concerned over low international numbers starting in autumn “will close down” if assurances to parents are not resolved.

“Schools in the UK need to act because the general feeling towards the UK, in general, is not very good over here in Asia,” he told The PIE News.

Particularly in Hong Kong ÔÇô where Chan is based ÔÇô local media reporting on the coronavirus situation in the UK has been met with concern by parents, while reports on an under-pressure NHS with insufficient protective equipment have been met with disdain.

“The one message that’s spreading in Hong Kong is pupils in the UK once they’re ill, they are asked to stay home, sleep, take rest, have a slight fever, that’s fine. And Hong Kong parents 100% hate it.”

Parents in Hong Kong need assurances that if they were to send children to the UK, that they would be safe. One option could be that they have access to private health care, Chan suggested.

Peter Woodroffe, deputy chief executive officer of the Independent Schools Association, has said that 15-20% of UK independent schools could close as a result of the pandemic.

The association’s chief executive Neil Roskilly has said schools are “desperate”.

“WeÔÇÖve been operating for 147 years, and weÔÇÖve never seen anything like this,” he told The Financial Times, while chief executive of the Independent SchoolsÔÇÖ Bursars Association, David Woodgate, said schools are planning to shut unless they can find new owners or funding.

“ItÔÇÖs not coronavirus alone but it was almost a final straw on top of other financial threats. Schools are braced for a dose of tough reality,” he said.

“We know that British education for younger years is the most highly sought after and of very high quality compared to the rest of the world.

“The demand for Australia or America would never match, but it’s which country fights the virus quicker and better that will define the demand,” Chan concluded.

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