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Chronicle of Higher Education: For South Carolina’s Board, a Tough-Love Workshop Feels Like an Intervention

In the wake of a presidential search beset with political meddling, a consultant tells trustees they “swung and missed in a very high-profile way.”

Chronicle of Higher Education: How 5 Experts Say Colleges Can Create a ‘Holistic’ Student Experience

Even small shifts can make a difference. Here are five suggestions for supporting students’ success academically and personally, in college and beyond.

Chronicle of Higher Education: What a ‘Holistic’ Approach Actually Means

The goal of integrating learning and personal growth has taken on new urgency. The Chronicle recently hosted a roundtable discussion on what it takes to help students thrive.

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UWC: “prepare students for global risks”

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 08:25

United World Colleges has called on the public and private sector to partner in education to increase leadership, encouragement and support for young students in order to prepare them for global risks, and create positive change.

Executive director, Jens Waltermann announced in a statement on January 20 that high-quality education needs to be available to not only the “financial elite”, but also to those of a lower socio-economic status.

“Only 23% of young refugees, for example, have any access to secondary education”

“Empowering education across social divides is needed to address the global risks spelt out in the WEF Global Risks Report 2020,” Waltermann said.

“The recently published report Schools of the Future by the WEF puts a strong emphasis on public-private partnerships and action in education, which are critical to preparing our young citizens for the new realities.”

UWC is a collective of international high schools across four continents that aims to unite “people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future” focusing on students between the ages of 16 to 19.

UWC’s Jens Waltermann calls for partnerships in public-private education. Photo: UWC

Having students across 18 schools, UWC greatly welcomes students from a vast diversity of backgrounds and aids students from lower socio-economic backgrounds by providing partial and full scholarships to those in need.

“Only when we have citizens who can work across boundaries to come up with shared solutions to shared problems are we on the path to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Waltermann stated.

UWC provides access to secondary education to young refugees from war-torn regions and prides itself on being one of the few international high schools to do so.

“Only 23% of young refugees, for example, have any access to secondary education. Yet at UWC you see what happens when local students, privileged and less privileged learn together with young refugees.”

Waltermann further stated that young refugees can often be examples to the “privileged” and by mixing students that are from diverse backgrounds they can learn from one another about conflict and come together to create a change to global risks.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: U. of South Carolina’s ‘Fundamentally Misguided’ Trustees Let Politics Intrude on Jobs, Consultants Say

After a presidential search that smacked of partisanship, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges blasts the board for its lack of independence.

Verto Education raises $6.3m in funding

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 07:38

US platform Verto Education raised US$6.3 million in seed round of funding late last year as it seeks to expand its pre-undergrad travel concept.

Verto Education, set up by study abroad entrepreneur Mitch Gordon, encourages Americans to travel overseas and earn college credit while doing so before embarking on their undergrad at home.

“This is transformative not only for their college experience but for the rest of their lives”

“We believe strongly that we need a fresh approach to college and that the current model prioritises wealthy students and has artificial barriers,” he commented.

“Through our innovative approach to a freshman year at college, we help our students mature, build emotional awareness, empathy, learn, and gain admission to a great four-year college.

Gordon told The PIE News that programs in South Pacific and Costa Rica are particularly popular, while newer ones in London, Madrid and Guam are also growing.

“This is transformative not only for their college experience but for the rest of their lives,” he added.

First Round Capital, GSV Ventures, 10xImpact and Box Group are among the new investors which participated in the round.

“We have been blown away by the Verto team’s passion and commitment to revolutionising how higher education can be experienced,” said Phineas Barnes, Partner at First Round Capital.

“Higher education has needed a new, innovative approach for a long time, and we are thrilled to be a part of accelerating Verto’s growth.”

Verto currently works with 31 partner institutions in the US, UK, Ireland and New Zealand which offer college credit for the Verto Education program undertaken.

The company, which was set up in 2019, offers a range of “campus semester” experiences and “field semester” experiences in a range of countries.

Going forward, Gordon told The PIE that the work being done by platforms such as Verto will be “more important than ever”.

“We need every student to have cross-cultural experiences and that’s our mission and our goal, to give students access to these types of opportunities and do it in a really affordable way.

“Access and affordability is really part of our mission,” he added.

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New Zealand universities report continued uptick in int’l enrolments

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 07:02

New Zealand’s eight universities have reported 9.8% growth in the number of international student enrolments in 2018 when compared with 2017, an analysis has shown. Overall in 2018, international students studying at university contributed an estimated NZ$1.2 billion to the economy.

As education minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged late last year, “This is the first time in the last six years that the university sector has become the largest sector for international students.”

A new analysis of the benchmark by education marketing consultants Studymove has revealed that of the 30,007 total international enrolments in 2018, 38% were undergraduate students, 26% were postgraduate students, 17% were study abroad students, 9% were research students and 10% were exchange students.

The analysis also revealed that the eight New Zealand universities generated aggregate revenue of $492.8 million from international student fees (on-campus) in 2018, with all universities reporting an increment in revenue against the previous year.

More Indian students have been choosing New Zealand for the availability of the three-year PSW visa

“In aggregate, universities reported an increase of 13.9% in revenue in comparison with 2017,” the analysis read.

“After combining the results in revenue, international student enrolments and cost of living we can estimate that the 30,007 international students studying at New Zealand universities contributed $1.2 billion to the New Zealand economy during 2018.

“This figure confirms that the university sector provides the largest amount of international student fee revenue within the New Zealand international education industry,” it concluded.

Education agents continue to play an important role in the recruitment cycle, with the average proportion of students via agents for this group of universities reaching 44.5%.

In terms of commission, the analysis showed that universities paid around 4.6% of revenue income in commission to agents, compared with 4.2% in 2017.

“In the last five years, New Zealand universities [have] increased their engagement with education agents,” managing director of Studymove, Keri Ramirez told The PIE News.

He noted that in the past five years, New Zealand universities have changed their recruitment efforts “significantly”.

“When we started this project the main focus among New Zealand universities was on attracting “semester abroad” students mainly from Europe and the US,” he said.

“But in the last few years, universities decided to expand this approach and showcase the benefits of their education programs to undergraduate and postgraduate international candidates from other traditional markets such as China and India.

“This shift has been well received and as a result, New Zealand universities – and New Zealand as a country – are welcoming a larger number of international student enrolments and have benefited from a more diverse composition of nationalities,” he added.

All universities reported the nationality of a total of 12,768 international students from more than 100 countries in 2018, with China representing 34.6% of the total.

The US, India, Malaysia and Vietnam followed, representing a combined 34.5% of the total.

Market manager (South Asia) at the University of Waikato, Ashish Suri, told The PIE that one of the key reasons more Indian students have been choosing New Zealand in recent years has been the availability of the three-year post-study work visa for eligible students.

Suri said that Waikato has seen growth due to it being part of New Zealand’s ‘Golden Triangle’, an area bound by Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga that makes up over half of the country’s GDP and fills more than 50% of all jobs in the country.

“Living cost in Hamilton are significantly lower compared to other cities such as Auckland & Wellington,” he added.

In addition to inbound figures, Studymove’s analysis assessed the international mobility strategies implemented by all New Zealand universities.

Combining New Zealand citizens and international students from all academic levels, the eight universities reported an aggregate of 2,993 students who participated in outbound mobility programs during 2018 in comparison with 2,789 students in 2017.

In aggregate, all universities reported that 7.2% of students in New Zealand participated in an outbound mobility program during their degree in 2018, compared with 6.4% in 2017.

The top five study destinations for students in undergraduate and graduate programs in 2018 were the US, Australia, China, UK and Japan.

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CAEL’s growth due to full spectrum test, says Paragon

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 05:47

Canadian test operator Paragon Testing has announced it is expecting “significant” further growth in the number of test takers sitting its computer edition of the Canadian Academic English Language, after a doubling of exams taken in its most recent financial year.

As well as growth in the volume of students considering Canada as a study destination, Juliana Ramza at Paragon claims it is the academic focus and spectrum of the test which is also fuelling growth.

“We have actually been approached by many Canadian universities and colleges because they are concerned with the inadequacy of the English language skills of students,” Ramza, manager of corporate relations, told The PIE News.

“They find that existing tests are not fully adequate as a screen. Paragon offers CAEL CE which is an integrated skills test which other tests do not do. The test prepares students for academic success at Canadian universities and colleges.”

More than 180 universities and colleges in Canada now accept the CAEL CE exam as evidence students have the necessary English proficiency to study at the institution – and the company is expanding its international locations where the test is available.

Along with 35 test centres in Canada offering the CAEL CE Test, locations in Hong Kong, India, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, United States, and mainland China also provide the exam.

In February 2020, the test will be available in several more cities in India, adding to its current test centre in Chandigarh, in the north of the country. Paragon is also working to open test centres in Vietnam during 2020, detailed Ramza.

“The number of CAEL CE test takers doubled in Canada in our last financial year, and in this current year, we expect the number of test takers in Canada to grow significantly again.”

By working closely with admissions officers, Paragon has continued to “deepen our relationships with recruiters at the Canadian universities and colleges as well”, Ramza added.

Paragon Testing has also launched two CAEL Scholarships for international students worth CAN$5,000 each – one to a student currently studying in Canada, and one to a student currently studying overseas.

Applications close in April 2020.

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EC awards €8.5m to mobility projects

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 04:40

The European Commission has made €8.5 million available for three pilot projects focusing on vocational education and training mobility in Africa, the Western Balkans and the rest of Europe.

The Intervet – Internationalisation of VET systems in Western Balkans – will receive €2m, as it aims to improve the mobility of VET learners and competence building of teachers and staff.

“Africa and the Western Balkans are a political and strategic priority for the EU”

Associations, schools and SMEs from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo are involved, as are eight EU member states.

In Africa, €2.5m has been awarded to Overstep, a joint alliance that aims to share best practice between African and European VET systems. Additionally, Supporting Alliance for African Mobility received €4m to coordinate 32 VET organisations across 8 EU member states and 13 African countries.

“Africa and the Western Balkans are a political and strategic priority for the EU,” said EU commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.

“We, therefore, have to ensure the full use of all our existing instruments and offer real opportunities to our partners.

“We must make sure to link vocational education and training to the needs of their labour markets, specifically in sectors with high potential for job creation, such as manufacturing and agriculture.”

Overstep aims to develop the technical and transferable skills that will aid learner employment, and promote collaboration between VET providers in 10 African countries and EU member states, Italy, France and Spain.

SAAM will use existing professional training centres, on-formal training organisations, NGOs and European umbrella organisations to support the mobility of VET teachers.

It will also develop new curricula, methodologies, technologies and management while supporting training job-shadowing.

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EWF 2020 highlights “crisis” in education

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 03:11

Speakers at the Education World Forum 2020 in London discussed a “crisis in education”, airing concerns that Sustainable Development Goal 4  – which includes universal primary and secondary schooling and universal literacy for children among its aims – will not be met by the 2030 deadline.

“I think what we need to recognise is that despite some improvements, we have two problems,” said Jaime Saavedra, senior director of education at the World Bank’s Education Global Practice.

“One is that millions of children are still not in school, so we still have not solved the quantity issue. But in addition to that, we have a huge quality [issue] in education.

“The budget of [our] government for the whole year is roughly equivalent to one high school in the UK”

“The one thing we were interested in at the World Bank is how we make sure that everyone understands that we don’t have a problem, but that we have a crisis, an extremely serious crisis,” he warned.

According to Saavedra, in lower and middle-income countries 53% of 10-year-olds cannot read and understand a simple story. This rises to an estimated 90% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Unfortunately we think that [SDG4] is not going to happen… If we continue [the current] trends, that number will go down from 53% to only 43%,” he added, noting that even to reduce rates by half would require countries doubling or tripling their rate of improvement.

However, for some countries, Saavedra continued, the money needed to implement changes and reforms that would help meet SDG4 simply isn’t there.

“We have a situation where only 23% of school-age children in the country are attending primary schools and 15% secondary schools,” said the Somali minister for Education, Abdullahi Godah Barre, during one session.

“The budget of the government for the whole year is roughly equivalent to one high school in the UK.”

The importance of pre-primary education was also highlighted, particularly with regards to how it can promote continuing education as children grow up.

Despite around a third of countries dedicating less than 2% of their budgets to it, places such as Bulgaria, Ecuador and Mongolia allocate more than 20% of their education budgets to pre-primary education.

In Mongolia, this has been credited with creating near-universal access to pre-primary education, tripling the rate between 2000 and 2017.

A lot of the recommendations for improving global education centred on a need to “work together” and “innovate”, as well as for leaders to “recognise the importance of collecting data”.

Developments in edtech were praised for improving education access for disabled children, though there appeared to remain some questions about how it can be best used in disadvantaged areas.

“I do think the glass is half full. If we look back in the 1950s, some 50% of primary school children were out of school,” said Robert Jenkins, chief of education at UNICEF.

“In Vietnam, primary school enrolment is now near-universal”

“Within countries, there have been notable successes. For example, in Vietnam, primary school enrolment is now near-universal, with lower and upper secondary school enrolment not far behind.

“However, we should not sit back and congratulate ourselves. Today 9% of primary school-aged children remain out of school and this has not changed since 2008.”

The OECD’s director of education and skills, Andreas Schleicher, explained that reforms in education are not just an issue for low and middle-income countries.

He advocated a greater focus on employability and a rethink of education and how it can be adapted for the digital era, emphasising that “the things that are easy to test and assess are also the things that are easy to automate”.

“We have employers not finding people with the right skills and young people with a good education not finding jobs,” he told the audience.

“[Bridging] this gap between what the world requires and what people know is easy to talk about and really, really hard to do.”

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Kings announces three US partnerships

The PIE News - ven, 01/24/2020 - 02:35

International education group Kings has announced new partnerships and collaborations with three US universities located in California, New York and Wisconsin.

Kings specialise in university pathways and English language teaching in the US and UK and the company’s Guaranteed Outcome programs also guarantee admission to a top 100 university.

“In launching not one, not two but three great new university options for our students, we are aiming to start 2020 with a bang,” said Jose Flores, managing director of Kings US.

“UW Oshkosh will be popular in Latin America as well as North and South East Asia”

In Wisconsin, Kings has extended its current relationship with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh by securing a new long-term partnership.

The partnership opens up both new campus and new program opportunities for students such as ‘GO: Madison’, which enables students to spend two years at either the UW Oshkosh Fond du Lac campus or Fox Cities campus before the guarantee of transfer to UW-Madison.

Kings has also announced a new agreement with California State University, Fullerton for students to study the first two years of their degree at CSUF before transferring to a top US university with Kings support on campus.

Programs available include ‘GO: 50’ and ‘GO: 100’, which guarantee transfer to a top 50 or 100 university after two to four semesters, depending on the aptitude and profile of the student.

Finally, Kings has also established a new partnership with the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York City.

The college is 30 minutes to Midtown and programs available include guaranteed transfer to the University of Rochester after three to four semesters, as well as ‘GO:50’ and ‘GO: 100’ programs.

Speaking with The PIE News, Kings’ marketing director Andrew Green said that one of the reasons behind the choice of partnerships is that along with Boston, New York and California represent the most popular destinations for international students seeking university education in the US.

“Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a case of expanding our current arrangement with UW to incorporate a full university campus at Oshkosh as well as other campuses at Fond du Lac and Fox Cities,” he added.

Green said he believes Cal State Fullerton will have strong appeal in China and all main source markets, where the brand name is already well regarded.

“UW Oshkosh will be popular in Latin America as well as North and South East Asia. India will also be a strong market for the graduate programs offered at UW Oshkosh,” he continued.

Green told The PIE that while the US pathway market has been under pressure as of late and that macro-political factors have had an impact, “as a relatively small boutique operator” he believes there is plenty of headroom for growth.

“With the right blend of product and destination, coupled with a demonstrable track record of securing elite top 50 / top 100 graduation outcomes, we are confident that we will grow numbers over the coming cycles even in challenging times,” he added.

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Catholic colleges develop apps for natural family planning

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 01/24/2020 - 01:00

Natural family planning has been having a bit of a moment.

Natural Cycles, a family planning app approved by the European Union as contraception, has been alternatively held up as both a savior and a scam. Research has rated the app 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, better than both condoms and the pill. The company raised $30 million in funding in 2017. But when a Stockholm hospital reported that nearly 6 percent of women seeking abortions there were using the app as their primary form of birth control, the company struggled with the resulting PR crisis.

Natural family planning methods, also called fertility awareness methods, involve tracking a woman’s fertile cycle and -- to prevent pregnancy -- abstaining from sex on days of high fertility (the process can be reversed for those trying to achieve pregnancy).

Both Marquette and Georgetown Universities have been, on a smaller scale, carving out their own part of that app space. The two Jesuit colleges have been involved in developing their own family planning methods, devices and phone apps. Roman Catholicism, like some other religions, eschews all other methods of birth control.

At Marquette, the Institute for Natural Family Planning created the Marquette Model in 1998. The method requires a woman to track her hormone levels with a urine monitor (it looks similar to a pregnancy test) and gives the option to input additional data, like body temperature and cervical mucus levels.

The institute now does research on the model’s efficacy and potential side effects and has also developed an app for couples. The Marquette Fertility app was launched in 2017 for both Apple and Android devices, though it will soon be taken down for redevelopment.

Georgetown's Institute for Reproductive Health has been involved in the development of iCycleBeads, another fertility awareness app. Staff at the institute developed both the Standard Days Method and the CycleBeads device that the app is based on. The Standard Days Method involves abstaining from sex on days eight through 19 of a woman’s cycle, and the CycleBeads, a ring of colored beads with a movable rubber marker, are a device to help keep track of those days. Georgetown owns the patent on the beads, which it has licensed to Cycle Technologies, the creator of the app.

Georgetown also developed the TwoDay Method, now being used in Cycle Technologies’ 2Day family planning app.

The institute now has been conducting research on the efficacy of the apps and other Cycle Technologies products. It also has highlighted work to bring related technology to India and other countries with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the Marquette Method has a failure rate of 11 to 14 percent with typical use, factoring in human error. Georgetown’s Standard Days Method has a 8 to 25 percent failure rate, and its TwoDay Method has a 14 percent failure rate. For comparison, birth control pills fail about 9 percent of the time, and condoms 13 percent. The most effective forms of birth control are hormonal implants, sterilization and abstinence.

Though neither university appears to be officially encouraging natural family planning by students, both have strict regulations regarding most other contraception.

At Georgetown, all businesses on main campus property are prohibited from selling condoms. Doctors at the student health center cannot prescribe hormonal birth control except for a medical reason, such as migraines or cramps. When the pill is prescribed, it is not sold at the Georgetown Medical Center pharmacy.

H*yas for Choice, the university’s pro-choice group, has been unrecognized by the administration since 1992. (In the 14 months the university did fund the group, a petition was created and sent to Pope John Paul II, with over 1,500 signatories asking that the Vatican revoke the university’s Catholic status.)

Marquette Medical Clinic will similarly not dispense condoms or prescribe birth control for nonmedical reasons.

Richard Fehring, director of the institute at Marquette, said natural family planning has been unjustly mocked and maligned by people who haven’t recognized that the model has moved far beyond the rhythm method to become much more effective.

“Natural family planning will maybe get a little paragraph in a textbook,” he said. “It’s sort of laughed upon.”

Fehring emphasized that while some women may be motivated by religion to use the methods, many are simply concerned about the pill and associated health risks.

“They don’t want to use artificial things to put into their bodies,” he said.

While the scientific consensus is that the majority of women do not experience adverse effects on hormonal birth control, google “going off the pill” and you’ll find a litany of articles from women who report that long-term contraceptive use gave them depression, decreased libido or a different personality. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has classified birth control pills as carcinogenic.

While some other apps suggest the user employ condoms on her high-fertility days, the Marquette Fertility app, in line with Catholic teaching, suggests abstaining from intercourse on during those days.

“It is healthy for couples to integrate and learn to live with their fertility,” Fehring said. “For couples who are on natural family planning, the act of intercourse remains new and exciting because of that periodic abstaining.”

The Marquette institute also educates health professionals on how to help patients who want to use the method. Natural family planning often is helped by the guidance of a medical professional, because the process tends to require more commitment and discipline on the part of the patient than other methods.

While Catholicism may not be a part of every woman's decision to use natural family planning, the Church, Fehring said, is definitely supportive.

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Swiss bring apprenticeships to Salt Lake Community College

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 01/24/2020 - 01:00

A Swiss company is bringing its apprenticeship model to Utah to build a skilled workforce for its new facility in this country.

The Swiss model, applauded by the Trump administration and broadly supported by the public, has students split time between classes and paid, on-the-job training to get skills for a specific industry.

Stadler Rail, a Swiss manufacturing company that has contracts to build trains in California and Texas, decided to replicate the apprenticeship system after finding a dearth of employees with the correct skills for its U.S. facility in Salt Lake City.

“A lot of our leadership are from Switzerland and went through those programs,” said Charlotte Thalhammer, a spokeswoman for Stadler Rail. “It just made sense.”

And while Stadler doesn't expect the program to fix its employee shortage problem, which is fueled in part by Utah's record low unemployment rates, Thalhammer said it will help them recruit a more skilled workforce. When the company opened up in Utah, little local training existed for the manufacturing skills they needed.

"It was difficult for us to find the kind of workforce that we needed," she said.

Students who are enrolled in the Salt Lake City school districts can apply for the program, called Talent Ready Apprenticeship Connection, in their junior year of high school. The application doesn't rely much on grades, Thalhammer said, but instead requires a résumé, letters of recommendation and a cover letter, as well as an interview.

"We're looking for students that are interested and that are willing to learn," she said.

Once accepted, students start the program in their senior year of high school. After graduating high school, they take classes at Salt Lake Community College while continuing to get on-the-job training from Stadler employees. While apprenticing, students will be paid up to $13 per hour.

Once they finish the apprenticeship, students will have an associate degree of applied science in advanced manufacturing, which will be recognized throughout the state of Utah. Everyone who finishes will also be eligible for full-time jobs at Stadler, Thalhammer said. Those positions would start at $22 per hour.

The pilot program currently enrolls 15 students, and student feedback is so far great, Thalhammer said.

"It’s really important to expose students to what high-tech manufacturing really looks like and what it entails," said Rick Bouillon, associate vice president of workforce and economic development at Salt Lake Community College. "This opportunity is for any student who is interested in starting their career with an advanced manufacturer like Stadler."

The program gave the college the opportunity to venture into youth apprenticeships and to work with the local school district, Bouillon said. He thinks it's important to expose students, and their parents, to these types of careers, as there's often a misperception about what modern manufacturing is.

"We’ve gone so long with an emphasis on other types of education," he said. "But this is very high-tech."

Already, the college is considering expanding the model to other industries.

Taylor White, senior policy analyst at New America, said the Utah apprenticeships are a promising development.

"What’s most exciting for me is they’re trying to smooth the pathway from high school to postsecondary education to the workforce," White said.

Americans tend to view the process of moving from school to college to work as linear, she said, which is "increasingly tenuous for lots of reasons." This model has better handoffs for students during each step along the way to a job.

Katie Spiker, director of government relations at the National Skills Coalition, said the reason the U.S. hasn't "embraced" apprenticeships is because they require robust collaboration between industry and educational institutions.

"It's something that we don't have as much support for across our country," she said.

White said that investing in an intermediary to organize the operational and strategic tasks is an important part of building a program that will succeed.

As these programs proliferate, Spiker said it will be important to provide supports so that a diverse set of students can access them. For example, if students need to move between a classroom and a work site, they will need reliable transportation.

Both Spiker and White believe this model is scalable, but Spiker pointed out that industries will have to engage adults and those not in school to truly reach out broadly. Even if every high school student in every state stayed in place and worked at a job that didn't require a four-year degree, she said, there still wouldn't be enough people to fill the demand for jobs that fall in the middle, requiring some skills but not a full bachelor's degree.

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Coursera launches college completion pathway

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 01/24/2020 - 01:00

Online learning provider Coursera took another step into the undergraduate education market yesterday with the launch of its first bachelor’s degree program at a university in the United States.

The University of North Texas, a public research institution in Denton, Tex., will offer its bachelor of applied arts and sciences (B.A.A.S.) program through Coursera beginning in fall 2020.

The bachelor’s degree program is aimed at working adults with some college education and course credits but no degree, said Adam Fein, vice president for digital strategy and innovation at UNT. He hopes the degree will also attract community college students, veterans and students based overseas.

Fein previously worked with Coursera to launch the online master of business administration (iMBA) at the University of Illinois. When he moved to UNT, he saw an opportunity to partner with Coursera again by opening up online education to a very different demographic.

“We have a lot of first-generation students at UNT,” said Fein. “I thought, ‘This is an area where we can really make an impact.’”

UNT currently has around 1,200 students studying towards B.A.A.S. degrees on campus, said Fein. Students can gain a concentration (the equivalent of 12 credit hours) in dozens of topics, he said. They can also transfer up to 84 credits earned at other accredited institutions. At least 34 of the total 120 credit hours required for the online B.A.A.S. degree must be completed at UNT.

“While the program is already pretty popular on campus, as it is flexible and allows students to build a customized path, we think it will translate well online,” said Fein. “The figure of 36 million Americans with some college but no degree is very disturbing to me. We want to reverse that trend.”

The online B.A.A.S. program looks a lot like the on-campus program, except the number of concentrations has been limited to six initially, said Fein. Through Coursera, UNT students can obtain concentrations in administration, organizational supervision, social services, hospitality, media innovation and consumer behavior. A seventh concentration in information technology is available to students who complete a Google IT support certificate, which is also offered through Coursera.

The number of concentrations will likely be expanded in the future, said Fein.

“We didn’t want it to be too complicated,” he said. Students interested in pursuing the B.A.A.S. degree online will be assisted by UNT advisers who can help them transfer their credits and select the right degree path. The cost of the online B.A.A.S. is $330 per credit hour. The university charges $470 per credit hour for non-Texas or Oklahoma residents for on-campus undergraduate degrees.

Dil Sidhu, chief content officer at Coursera, noted that this is not the company’s first foray into undergraduate degrees. Goldsmiths, University of London, launched a bachelor’s degree in computer science through Coursera in 2018.

Undergraduate degrees have long been seen as a “heavier lift” than graduate degrees by online learning providers, but there is no denying that the market for undergraduate degrees is much bigger, said Sidhu. The success of Coursera's computer science degree with Goldsmiths, which now has more than 1,000 students, shows that there is room to do more in this space, he said. EdX, another online learning platform, launched a program called MicroBachelors earlier this month that will allow students to gain credit toward a full bachelor’s degree online.

“When we start something, we want to learn what is working well and make sure that it is sustainable before we grow,” said Sidhu.

Sean Gallagher, founder and executive director of Northeastern University's Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, said it makes sense to try to scale UNT's B.A.A.S. degree program with Coursera. "As much energy as there is around nondegree credentials, bachelor's degrees are still highly demanded in the job market," he said in an email.

MOOC providers such as Coursera have had an important impact on graduate education, and moves into the undergraduate market will be important to watch, said Gallagher. He said he is interested to see how much support is available to students who pursue these degrees. Often students in the degree-completion space are "more difficult to recruit and retain compared to graduate students, where the MOOC entities have classically focused," he said.

The $330 cost per credit hour is comparable to that offered by institutions such as Southern New Hampshire University, said Gallagher.

"In the online bachelor's degree completion market, competition has been driven more by price at times than prestige. I wonder if in the future we will see $150- or $250-per-credit-hour programs based on new models and technological developments -- just as we've seen with $10-20,000 master's degrees."

Phil Hill, a partner at MindWires Consulting and publisher of the blog Phil on Ed Tech, said Coursera’s partnership with UNT reminded him of Cal State Online’s partnership with online program management company and publisher Pearson. Both programs accepted transfer credit and focused on degree completion at the undergraduate level. But the Cal State Online degree-completion program was abandoned months after it officially launched in 2013 after failing to achieve a sufficient scale.

“There are a lot of similarities between the programs, but acceptance of online ed is greater now, and the OPM market has progressed quite a bit,” said Hill. If Coursera and UNT are willing to learn and adjust as they progress, they are more likely to succeed, he said.

“With Cal State, a lot of the problem was hubris, an attitude of ‘we know better than you,’” he said.

Coursera has a pool of more than 47 million users, 75 percent of which are based outside the U.S. But whether these users will be interested in bachelor's degrees remains to be seen, said Hill. Coursera acknowledged that the majority of its users already hold bachelor's degrees.

“UNT is making two really big bets in partnering with Coursera,” said Hill. “One, that the MOOC funnel will be sufficient to allow them to lower tuition. And two, that leveraging the Coursera brand will make this offering distinctive in an increasingly crowded market.”

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French business schools attract Chinese students to learn about luxury brands

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 01/24/2020 - 01:00

The French way of living, typically seen as one filled with fine wine, high fashion and good food, has a special allure. And French business schools have found a way to tap into this perspective by offering degrees in the art de vivre, offering international students the chance to live and learn that famous French attitude.

The shift is particularly aimed at Chinese students, who represent an increasingly large and mobile proportion of business school recruits, and who typically hold French luxury brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dior in high regard.

Among the institutions seeking to capitalize on this is Audencia Business School, a grande école based in Nantes, which this year will launch master’s degrees in cognac and spirits management, and French art de vivre, focused on the country’s luxury sector.

Christophe Germain, the school’s dean, made no secret of the motivation behind setting up the courses, which are taught in English. “We set [the programs] up because we thought that they would be very attractive, particularly to Chinese students,” he told Times Higher Education. Cognac, too, was “part of the art de vivre, because the spirit industry is linked to the luxury sector. Chinese students are very interested in the luxury industry,” he said.

However, Germain also stressed that the courses offered strong opportunities for students and for industry, too. Collaborations with cognac producers have allowed Audencia to tailor its teaching and internships to prepare students to meet the demands of employers, who wanted to recruit young people with the “right competencies in management but who also know the industry really well,” he said.

Cognac was “a big industry for France -- 95 percent of the production goes to China or the U.S.,” Germain added.

Audencia is not the only institution to jump on the bandwagon. HEC Paris has introduced a series of M.B.A. tracks with a “strong French flair,” said Associate Dean Eloic Peyrache, which include student trips to the Burgundy and Champagne regions to give students a taste of the wine sector, sparkling or otherwise.

Peyrache said that luxury brands were “excited” to see more Chinese studying bespoke courses in France. “[China] is a huge market for them,” he said. “They want to recruit students who have been exposed to the content, spent time in Paris, have spent time in headquarters -- perhaps through an internship -- who can then go back and develop the brand in their countries.”

The opportunity for French business schools is significant. A third of applications to programs accredited by the Association of M.B.A.s globally are from outside the country in which the program is delivered, according to latest data, and for schools in Europe, that figure is 57 percent.

With American universities finding it harder to attract international students, French providers see a chance to make major gains.

“The big question is why would a great international applicant come here? Yes, the brand is important, but it’s also what we offer and how we are different from other international business schools that is important,” Peyrache said. “Chinese students are super-interested in luxury.”

HEC Paris has also partnered with cookery school L’Atelier des Chefs to launch the first course in French cooking for its master’s in management students, in which students learn to cook in a restaurant opened on campus last year.

Such courses represented a more focused offering while still providing general teaching in marketing, finance and management, said Peyrache. “You need to be able to speak different languages: you will be a better manager if you understand the reality of your chef’s job,” he said.

Among the institutions adopting similar tactics, the Burgundy School of Business has set up a whole School of Wines and Spirits Business, boasting a laboratory for behavioral studies, a tasting room and a large cellar for its extensive wine collection. It launched its inaugural M.B.A. in 2018, charging fees of 25,000 euros ($27,700).

Paris-based Sciences Po launched a master’s in new luxury and art de vivre last year, offering students work experience in top French houses such as Chanel and LVMH -- home of fashion brand Louis Vuitton and champagne and cognac producer Moët Hennessy -- as well as Swiss conglomerate Richemont, which owns brands such as Cartier, Montblanc and Vacheron Constantin.

“When students are interested in luxury, they immediately think of French brands. The big houses, with the interesting histories, are here,” said Eva Bellinghausen, program manager in Sciences Po’s School of Management and Innovation.

“It made sense [to set up the program] because we had the expertise, we had the links to the companies and we are at a time where the French luxury sector -- or all luxury sectors -- are really examining the future of the industry.”

In particular, there is a focus on changing shopping habits and a desire among consumers and students for top brands to adopt more ethical and sustainable practices.

“With couture, if the seam is one millimeter on the wrong side, the product doesn’t go on the market,” Bellinghausen said. “Personally I believe we should be as demanding in the ethical aspects of our products … I want our students, wherever they go, to ask these questions.”

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Colleges start and finish fundraising campaigns

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 01/24/2020 - 01:00

Starting Out

  • Goddard College is starting a campaign to raise $4 million by June 2020.

Finishing Up

  • Husson University has finished its first-ever fundraising campaign, bringing in just under $38 million. When the campaign started in 2015, the goal was $30 million. The campaign included 51 endowed scholarships.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Soros Urges World Leaders to Back His $1-Billion Global Education Network

The philanthropist cited climate change, authoritarianism, and displaced people as among the growing problems the project aims to address.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Look Who’s Talking About Canceling Debt

Powerful forces were at work: the rising cost of college, the explosion and spread of student debt to the middle class. But don’t discount the role of grass-roots activists.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Cheat on Your Homework? In This Harvard Class, Just Say You’re Sorry

One professor’s policy has provided a window into why students cheat. Others are adopting it, too.

Merger of iae China & GEA via acquisition

The PIE News - jeu, 01/23/2020 - 09:26

A Chinese investment company, Global Education Technologies, has acquired a majority stake in two sizable education agency businesses – iae China and the Global Education Alliance, both international student recruitment companies with significant presences in China.

iae China was previously part of iae Holdings, Inc. is a global student recruitment and marketing consultancy consulting students from China, India, Korea and other countries around the world on education provision overseas.

“The two companies are currently operating separate businesses, but later on will be merging the missions”

Hong Kong-based GEA likewise provides overseas study counselling to students, placement and visa services, among other benefits to students.

According to Mark Lucas, director of group administration and business development at iae Holdings, at the time of the merger, both companies were sending approximately 6,000 students overseas.

Global Education Technologies will now be combining the business of GEA – focused in the south – and iae China – focused in the north – although both overlap in terms of operations in central China.

“Under the new holding company, the two companies are currently operating separate businesses, but later on will be merging the missions, marketing support and training,” Lucas told The PIE News.

“We are now full partners in [a] Taiwan and Toronto office,” he added, “and have added Mongolia and Hong Kong to our active offices via GET.”

He explained that GEA CEO, Freeman Yeung, has been involved with iae Global since 2008. He operated iae Hong Kong for several years before setting up GEA.

“GET will be heard more of over the next year or two,” Lucas added, explaining that GET plans to target student markets in China, Taiwan, Mongolia and Hong Kong.

Lucas said that currently, iae China sends about 40% of its students to Australia and another 25-30% to the UK. The US, Canada and other European nations make up the rest.

“Our numbers to Australia are still very strong… directly from GET and via our Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland offices,” Lucas noted.

“UK was very good from China in 2019. [There were] 3,000 [students] from GET out of a combined 15,000 from iae China and GEA. We are focusing more on Canada higher education this year as well.”

Though the number of Chinese students choosing to study in the US has more or less stagnated, according to the most recent Open Doors report, Lucas said he sees the greatest potential for growth in the US and Canada.

Lucas also brushed off qualms about the cost of higher education in the US, saying that while universities in Australia might be cheaper, the cost of living in cities like Sydney can make that difference negligible overall.

“The lesser-known schools [in the US] are also more likely to offer scholarships and discounts,” he added.

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