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Florida to Investigate Foreign Ties to Researchers

The Chronicle of Higher Education (Global) - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 11:23
It’s the first state to set up its own commission to examine such foreign influence. And more news of global higher education.

Wales: Celtic English Academy marks 15th year

The PIE News - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 10:49

Celtic English Academy in Cardiff, Wales, celebrated its 15th anniversary in December, as its CEO highlighted the importance of international education to the local economy.

Since opening in 2004, more than 10,000 students from over 50 countries have learned English with the organisation. Along with its second centre in North Wales, Celtic English Academy employs over 50 staff.

“There is huge potential to welcome international educational tourists”

“If we are able to increase the number of students that come to Wales to study, it would hugely benefit our local and national economy,” Celtic English Academy CEO Shoko Doherty said at the event on December 9.

The ELT sector supports 1,300 jobs in Wales alone. In 2017 the region benefited from an added gross value of £12 million from students’ expenditure on courses.

Another £40m was spent on suppliers, including homestay providers, ELT employees and leisure and tourism of students and visitors during their stay in the UK, according to a 2017 Capital Economics report.

“For Wales in this pre and post-Brexit period, we need to continue striving to maintain relationships with our European partners as well as partners from around the world, stressing that Wales is welcoming and a safe, friendly and exciting destination for educational tourists of all ages to discover,” Doherty continued.

There is huge potential to welcome international educational tourists, Doherty added, due to the fact that 90% of visitors to Wales are from the UK domestic market.

Lord Mayor of Cardiff, councillor Dan De’Ath, who also attended the event also noted the importance of the school’s work to the city.

“We have a strong sense of community in Wales and we hope that [the students] have felt at home in our community of Cardiff during your short or long-term stay here with us,” he told attendees.

“We are proud to hear that there is a network of over 100 families in Cardiff that open their homes to host students from Celtic English Academy.”

Other guests included Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Wales – Ruth Thomas-Lehhman, Honorary Consul of Japan in Wales – Keith Dunn OBE and Ifona Deeley, head of International Relations at the Welsh government.

Celtic English Academy was recently awarded a million-pound contract from the Swiss government to help its nationals improve their English for work.

The post Wales: Celtic English Academy marks 15th year appeared first on The PIE News.

Argentina’s new government gets to grips with the economy

Economist, North America - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 09:35

IT IS A MONTH now since Alberto Fernández took over from Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s president and, contrary to some forecasts, the sky over the Pampas has not yet fallen in. Having inherited a dire economic situation, including what Mr Fernández, a Peronist, called a “virtual default” on the country’s debts, his government has begun by doing more or less what he said it would. Adopting almost the opposite approach to its predecessor, it has laid out a tough fiscal policy and a loose monetary policy and has yet to say much about how it will handle the debt. Exchange and price controls, and the southern summer lull, have combined to buy the new team time. But will they use it wisely?

It was trying to buy time to reform a sick economy that got Mr Macri into trouble. A free-market conservative, he ran up debt to finance a gradual fiscal adjustment until investors took fright, prompting a run on the peso and forcing the government into the arms of the IMF. The economy slumped into recession, inflation surged to 54% last year and Mr Macri lost the presidential election. The new team’s first objective, according to Martin Guzmán, the economy minister, is “to halt the fall”.

They have swiftly pushed through an emergency package of mainly fiscal measures. These include tax increases on farm exports and travel abroad, and a...

Baseball-mad Andrés Manuel López Obrador throws money at the game

Economist, North America - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 09:35

“TRAITOR. YOU ARE A TRAITOR.” That is how Eduardo Galeano, a leftist writer from Uruguay, greeted Che Guevara in Havana in the early 1960s. The Argentine’s crime had been to abandon Latin America’s favourite pastime, football, for North America’s. A Cuban newspaper had published a photo of him playing baseball. Guevara, who said it was “the first time someone calls me a traitor and keeps living”, learned to play in a Mexican prison while jailed with Fidel Castro in the 1950s. 

He is not the only left-wing leader to have caught the baseball bug in Mexico. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the country’s president, has been a fanatic since childhood. He won the election in 2018 by pledging to go to bat for the poor and vows to “strike out” Mexico’s “mafia of power”.

Under his programme of “republican austerity”, the government has slashed spending on everything from child care to medicines. Baseball is an exception. In March Mr López Obrador opened an Office for the Promotion and Development of Baseball. It got 350m pesos ($19m) to spot and nurture talent. Bureaucrats at non-baseball agencies were enraged. 

Mexico’s constitution tells the government to “promote and stimulate” sport. It does not say which ones. Mr López Obrador has cut funding for Formula 1 and American-football events. Baseball, though, is “...

Jovenel Moïse tries to govern Haiti without a parliament

Economist, North America - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 09:35

PETER CONFIDENCE lounges against a broken lamppost in a park in Petionville, a prosperous suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, basking in the afternoon sun. As he rubs a tattooed St Peter on his neck he explains that Jovenel Moïse, Haiti’s president, is the only man strong enough to fix the country. Before he can finish, a passer-by selling food from a large metal pot that he lugs around interjects that the Americans should lock Mr Moïse up. Within seconds, a crowd assembles to discuss the state of the nation and the quality of its leader, nicknamed “Banana Man” because he once helped create a big banana plantation. The conversation pinballs between tirades and black humour.

Though such debate is a feature of Haitian life, the country’s parliament is silent. A new session should have begun on January 13th, the day after the tenth anniversary of a devastating earthquake. But a legislative election, due in October 2019, was never held. In the absence of a functioning legislature, the president will rule by decree. For a country with a history of brutal dictatorship, coups and dodgy elections, the prospect of one-man rule is ominous.

Even before it was dissolved, parliament was dysfunctional and its relationship with the president was broken. The 119-seat lower house was divided among 20-odd parties, which mostly...

Chronicle of Higher Education: Do Gateway Courses Foster Inequity?

The Gardner Institute sees fixing foundational courses as a social-justice issue. The reason: A disproportionate share of students who struggle in those classes come from disadvantaged groups.

Danish gov’t funds projects to address int’l graduate retention

The PIE News - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 08:48

Following a 2018 study that revealed 42% of international students in Denmark leave within two years of graduating, the Danish government has announced it is supporting five new projects to boost graduate retention.

Denmark has emerged as an attractive country to pursue higher-level education in recent times, and retaining international students is considered important as their studies are funded by taxpayers, with about half receiving additional grants.

“Employers have also not always… done enough to reach out to international students”

“Not enough [students] are using their education in the Danish labour market afterwards, and therefore represent a large cost to Danish society, as they are educated for the benefit of labour markets in other countries,” said the government at the time of the study.

Providing funding grants of between DKK 500,000 (£57,000) and DKK 1 million (£114,000), each of the newly announced projects will run for several years, with participants being required to share their findings with institutions across the country.

According to reports, the five selected projects were selected from 16 applications and will include instruction of the Danish language, use of mentor models, focusing on the relationship to the workforce and on practice while studying and in jobs alongside studies.

One of the successful bids, ‘biotech job preparations’ from University College Absalon, will prepare international students to live and work in Denmark through job-oriented activities such as mentorships and collaborations with local companies.

“In the first year, the students are offered a course ‘Danish with job hunting’ and access to a student job portal where Absalon can distribute student job listings from the local community,” project manager, Lene Beck Mikkelsen, told The PIE News.

“In the second and third year, a mentoring program will be established with mentors from the business environment in Kalundborg and the surrounding area.”

Retaining graduates in engineering and related fields – which are popular with international students – is particularly desirable.

At the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), for example, 40% of all MSc students are international.

“There’s a significant lack of engineering graduates in Denmark, and we are trying to bridge that gap,” Morten Overgaard, head of international education at DTU, told The PIE.

While Overgaard maintains that people “cannot expect all international graduates to remain in the country”, he added that “a majority of DTU’s international students wish to stay upon graduation”.

“So far we have not prepared them in an optimal way, and the employers have also not always been aware of the opportunity or done enough to reach out to international students,” he said.

“We think that as a university we should do more than just educate excellent graduates. We must facilitate their transition into employment, especially international students who need special preparation.”

A lack of Danish language skills, difficulty integrating into society and few local connections also play a role in the number of graduates leaving.

“Coming to a small language area like Danish, most students hesitate with [learning] the language until they know if they want to stay,” Helene Fast Seefeldt, a business consultant at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), told The PIE.

“Most students hesitate with [learning] the language until they know if they want to stay”

While jobs are available for those that don’t speak Danish, Fast Seefeldt believes it is important to emphasise learning the language as it is “key to the social part of being in Denmark”.

“It is during the lunch break and the small talk you establish relations, share informal knowledge and become aware of opportunities,” she explained.

Better integration can also help international students consider Denmark a place to stay long-term, whether this is done by joining associations and clubs, doing volunteer work or finding a Danish boyfriend or girlfriend, which Fast Seefeldt suggested is “by far the most efficient way of retaining people”.

“As one international student said about Danish society, [we] are like pineapples – stiff and rough on the outside, but once inside it is sweet,” she said.

Full project list:

  1. Biotech work preparation (University College Absalon)
  2. Career management course for international full degree students (Copenhagen University)
  3. Career management skills for international students (University of Southern Denmark)
  4. Communication, student life and internationalisation: The road towards employment through early career encouragement of international students (VIA University College)
  5. From international students to value generation in Danish businesses (Technical University of Denmark)

The post Danish gov’t funds projects to address int’l graduate retention appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Colleges struggle to serve millions of dropouts. Have these men cracked the code?

College Unbound removes barriers and empowers students to drive the curriculum. But can it succeed on a larger scale?  

Nigeria’s HEI deficit discussed at UK conference

The PIE News - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 06:09

The issue of Nigerian students not having enough spaces at universities in their own country, as well as how UK boarding schools can establish, nurture and maintain relationships with families and schools in Nigeria was discussed at the “New Year…New Partnerships in Nigeria” conference held in London recently.

Delegates heard that as many as 900,000 students were unable to get places in Nigeria’s 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education-resulting in young people leaving the country in order to study.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37%”

In his opening remarks, event organiser Mark Brooks explained how Nigeria is one of the African continent’s top growth markets. 

“UNESCO estimates that 90,000 Nigerians study abroad today,” he said.  “Nigeria has a population of more than 200 million and 20% of the population are aged between 15 and 24.

“Something to remember is that youth unemployment is at 37% and one of the motivations of getting a fantastic education at British boarding schools or British run education in Nigeria is to provide students with opportunities and avoid problems with unemployment,” he added. 

The sheer size of Nigeria’s population has interesting consequences for the country’s education market, delegates heard. 

“The average family has four to five children and we expect the population to grow to around 400 million [by 2050],” explained Lami Adekola, deputy country director,  for the UK’s Department for International Trade, Nigeria.

“That shows massive potential in terms of the share numbers of students that we generate every year.”

Adekola also spoke about Nigeria’s infrastructure and education assets. 

“We have 300 combined public and private institutions of higher education, which is grossly below what is required for the population we have. 

“About 900,000 students could not get an education in Nigeria in 2018 and it shows the volume and numbers we are talking about,” Adekola continued.

“Most of these students sought alternative destinations to basically get into schools. And a lot of parents are even beginning to look for measures before university level; they send their children out of the country to schools at the secondary level, so it is easier for them to transition to universities.” 

Adekola identified the UK as one of the top destinations for Nigerian students because of the cultural ties between the two countries.

But according to Yemisi Akindele, founder of High Achiever’s Academy, cultural sensitivities still have the potential to cause issues for Nigerian students coming to the UK.

She spoke about the Nigerian approach to parenting and how some parents may be more nervous about letting their children visit other households during boarding school exeats.

She also told delegates that British schools had to make sure the dietary requirements in relation to the religious views of students are respected.

Top destinations for Nigerian students include the US with around 16,000 students as of March 2019; Malaysia, with roughly 13,000 in 2019; Canada, with 11,290 in 2018 according to IRCC data and the UK with 10,540 in 2017/18.

The post Nigeria’s HEI deficit discussed at UK conference appeared first on The PIE News.

US overtakes UK as “best in world” for education

The PIE News - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 04:07

The US is perceived as the top country in the world for education, having overtaken last year’s top spot holder the UK, according to a survey by U.S. News & World Report.

The 2020 ‘Best Countries’ rankings, which surveyed 20,000 people from across the globe, also rated the United Arab Emirates as the best country for study abroad.

“North American and European countries are seen to provide the best education in the world’s future leaders”

The “Best Country for Education” list is based on three factors – whether the countries provide top-quality education, having a well-developed public education system and if people would consider attending university there.

With the UK, Canada, Germany and France taking second to fifth places respectively, the report contends that “North American and European countries are seen to provide the best education in the world’s future leaders”.

The remaining top 10 countries perceived as best for education are all in Europe apart from Australia, which is ranked in the seventh position.

Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark ranked sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

The US, along with China, dominated the US News & World Report 2020 Best Global Universities Rankings, which was released in October last year.

The ranking also list the best countries to study abroad, with the United Arab Emirates taking the top position in 2020, with last year’s top country Malaysia sliding down to number 11.

The UAE is followed by South Korea, China, India and Turkey in 2020.

The best countries to study abroad section was based on answers from more than 8,500 adults under age 35.

They were asked to score countries based on their cultural accessibility, fun, number of cultural attractions, whether they would consider attending university there and whether it was a country that provides top-quality education.

“Despite historical trends that show the US and the UK to be the countries that attract the most international students each year, young adults’ perceptions ranked countries primarily in Asia with less established –but promising – economies as the best countries to study abroad,” the report concluded.

The post US overtakes UK as “best in world” for education appeared first on The PIE News.

For-profit programs not the only ones that would fail gainful-employment test

Inside Higher Ed - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00

Only about 60 percent of programs at private nonprofit institutions, and 70 percent of those at public colleges and universities, would pass the Obama administration’s gainful-employment test, if it were in place and applied to them, according to an online tool developed by a conservative Texas policy group.

Coming amid a stalemate over how to proceed with college accountability after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos repealed the gainful-employment rule in July, the tool made public by the Texas Public Policy Foundation was aimed in part to further the idea that public and nonprofit institutions -- and not just for-profit colleges -- should face scrutiny for how well graduates do financially.

The Obama administration rule subjected colleges and universities to a loss of financial aid funding if too large a share of their graduates do not make enough to repay their student debt. While nondegree programs at public and private nonprofit colleges were subject to the rule, it was controversial for being aimed primarily at for-profit institutions. In repealing the measure, DeVos said it unfairly targeted colleges and universities based on their tax status.

“As a country, we’ve only really applied the accountability metrics once, during the Obama administration,” Andrew Gillen, senior policy analyst in the foundation’s Center for Innovation in Education, said in a telephone interview. “What would happen if we applied the exact income and debt measures to other institutions?”

“What was shocking [was] how many programs are failing and how many students are attending those programs,” he said.

Based on the Department of Education’s College Scorecard data, the tool allows a search for the median income and debt of graduates at 40,000 college programs. Using similar standards to those in the gainful-employment rule -- based on the percentage of graduates’ income compared to their debt -- it judges whether programs would pass or fail the test or be on probation.

According to the web tool, private for-profit programs indeed do worse than public and private nonprofit programs in getting graduates jobs that pay enough so they are not overwhelmed by their student loans.

Only 5,646 of 10,147, or 55.6 percent, of private, for-profit programs for which income and debt data were available would have passed the standard. Another 2,071, or a fifth, would have failed. And 2,430, or 24 percent, of the programs would have been on probation. As with other types of institutions, data were not available for a large number of programs -- 10,633.

But private nonprofits didn’t do much better. Only 6,262 of 10,585 programs, or 59 percent, would have passed. Another 1,916, or 18 percent, would have failed. And 2,407, or 22.7 percent, would have been on probation. No information was available for 56,965 others.

Public institutions fared the best, with 14,234 of 20,216, or 70 percent, passing. Only 1,463, or 7.2 percent, of the programs failed. Another 4,519, or 22.3 percent, would have been on probation. Data were not available for 103,283 programs.

This indicates that a lot of the people asserting that for-profits are uniquely bad actors are wrong -- as a group, their performance is quite similar to that of nonprofits. Publics do noticeably better than either nonprofit private or for-profit colleges, no doubt because they generally cost less to attend and therefore their graduates have less debt.

In part, the tool is designed to make the Scorecard data accessible enough to let parents and high school students choose what programs to go to, Gillen said.

“If someone were to say they got into Harvard, should they go? People would say they should,” Gillen said. But according to the tool, Harvard’s dentistry program failed the test. A Harvard spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

But the Harvard School of Dental Medicine said in a statement, "Tools like this can be misleading when looking at gainful employment in the field of dentistry. It’s concerning that the data does not provide a comprehensive comparison of programs or take into account the career paths of graduates. Harvard School of Dental Medicine graduates go on to highly successful careers and residencies in competitive dental specialty programs, achieving earnings well beyond gainful employment requirements."

To Gillen, the tool would also help college administrators see how well programs are preparing students to get adequately paying jobs. But he said it could guide policy makers as well in withholding funding from underperforming programs.

It’s also intended to guide policy makers to restore but expand the idea of penalizing programs that leave students with too much debt, an idea nonprofit colleges generally oppose.

Differences by Discipline

Some programs were particularly problematic. Only 14 percent of law students graduated from programs that would pass, while almost 70 percent graduated from programs that would fail.

Because the College Scorecard data differ from what was used by the Education Department in implementing the gainful-employment rule, Gillen acknowledged making a number of technical adjustments.

Douglas Webber, director of graduate studies and an associate professor at Temple University department of economics and Institute for Labor Economics, and Robert Kelchen, an associate professor in Seton Hall University’s department of education leadership, management and policy, said in emails that Gillen’s methodology seemed “reasonable.”

For-profit colleges said the data showed they should not be singled out. “There are problematic programs in all sectors,” Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the association representing private for-profit institutions, said in a phone interview. However, he didn’t expect a break in the stalemate.

“The partisanship that has divided the country has entered higher education,” Gunderson said.

The College Affordability Act passed by Democrats on the House education and labor committee in October would restore the gainful-employment rule -- but only for for-profit institutions.

Advocacy groups lamented that DeVos’s repeal of the gainful-employment rule removed accountability from low-performing for-profit institutions. "The gainful employment rule was a commonsense regulation that held schools accountable for delivering value to federal student loan borrowers. It applied to all career education programs, including those at public and nonprofit schools, as well as to for-profit degree programs where evidence demonstrated students had been suffering from terrible loan outcomes while owners and shareholders got rich on student loan dollars," Abby Shafroth, a National Consumer Law Center lawyer, said in a statement.

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said in a phone interview she’d be opposed to extending a gainful-employment rule to public institutions. The focus of the rule was on for-profit institutions because some misled students about being able to get high-paying jobs. Other accountability regimes, including boards of trustees and accreditors, at public and private nonprofit institutions, already protect students, she said.

Placing rules on public institutions “would further exacerbate the false narrative that the value of college relates only to employment,” she said.

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American University of Afghanistan faces uncertainty over future U.S. government funding

Inside Higher Ed - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00

The American University of Afghanistan opened its doors in 2006, in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of the country three years earlier. In a country still marked by conflict and stark gender inequalities in educational opportunities, the private, coed, nonprofit institution stands out as an outpost for American-style education.

The​ university currently enrolls about 850 students -- 42 percent of whom are women -- across its undergraduate and graduate programs. It offers undergraduate degrees in law, business, political science, public administration and information technology, as well as a master's program in business. It also offers professional development programs.​ It has more than 1,000 graduates and has produced 97 Fulbright scholars to date.

Despite such successes, the future of the university may be at stake.

AUAF is highly dependent on U.S. tax dollars, which, according to the university's president, David Sedney, account for about 70 percent of its budget. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed more than $110 million to the university since its inception, and additional funding has come from the Departments of Defense and State. It's unclear whether USAID funding for the university will continue after the current funding term ends May 31, as was initially reported by CNN.

The uncertainty over future funding comes after officials at USAID raised serious concerns about AUAF’s governance and fiscal controls. A joint investigation by USAID's Office of Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) concluded that AUAF could not account for more than $63 million in U.S. government funds, according to SIGAR’s Oct. 30 report to Congress.

A separate SIGAR report, from April, faulted AUAF for "a history of mismanagement, lack of controls, and financial instability." The report said that examinations of financial documents found that the "university was not sustainable in its present form, financially or programmatically, due to poor governance and management." It also alleged failures of oversight and conflicts of interest on the part of the university's board.

Details about the alleged conflicts of interest by university board members were not disclosed in the SIGAR report to Congress. SIGAR denied a Freedom of Information Act request by Inside Higher Ed for specific documents relating to SIGAR and USAID's investigations of AUAF.

Sedney disputes the allegation of missing or unaccounted-for funds and described SIGAR's characterizations of AUAF as "inaccurate and misleading."

“Every dollar that we’ve spent from the U.S. government has been fully accounted for in our monthly, quarterly and yearly reports,” he said. “In cases where the contracts are over, we have done final reports that have been approved by the issuing agencies. All of those documents are available to SIGAR and the U.S. government.”

Sedney said U.S. government funding is necessary for the security of the university, which in August 2016 sustained an attack by the Taliban that killed 15 people. Several weeks before that attack, two AUAF professors were kidnapped. The professors -- Kevin King, an American, and Timothy Weeks, an Australian -- were freed from Taliban custody just this past November, after more than three years in captivity.

Sedney said the attacks on the AUAF campus and the abductions of its professors compelled the university to increase spending on security, which accounts for about $7 million out of the university’s overall $28 million budget.

“All of that security spending is paid for by the U.S. government,” Sedney said. “Unfortunately, given the security situation in Afghanistan and the very clear intent of the Taliban to continue attacking us, we have to spend that money on security. Continued U.S. government funding is vital to our continued operation, because there’s no one else besides the U.S. government that will pay for security. Various donors we've talked to are not in a position to pay for security, because it brings with it a range of potential legal liability issues that only a sovereign government can accept.”

Future of Federal Funding

A USAID spokesperson said that additional funding for AUAF past May “is subject to a competitive process and contingent upon the university’s continued compliance with the terms of the Administrative Agreement (AA) that AUAF signed with USAID’s Suspending and Debarring Official in 2018.”

The spokesperson said the administrative agreement "was the result of a referral from the Office of the USAID Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, which found significant weaknesses in the university’s operations, fiduciary oversight, and internal controls."

The spokesperson said USAID's leadership has "strongly encouraged the university to diversify its funding sources" and to apply for competitive grant funding through the Advancing Higher Education for Afghanistan's Development (AHEAD) program, which is administered by USAID. Sedney said the university has applied for the funding.

“AUAF’s Board, not USAID, has the fiduciary responsibility to make decisions regarding the future of the university, which is an independent entity,” the USAID spokesperson said. “The U.S. government has emphasized regularly to the management of AUAF and its Board of Trustees that they must exercise this responsibility, to ensure the university’s overall financial health and sustainability, as is the case with any other nonprofit organization.”

Thomas Barfield, the president of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, a scholarly group that has its Kabul headquarters at the AUAF campus, discounted the talk of competitive funding.

"It's hardly that they’re waiting to see if there another great university that also has a large campus and program and they’ll decide between the two," said Barfield. "This is an American flagship project, and they either fund it or they don't."

Barfield, who is also a professor of anthropology at Boston University, said AUAF, which was backed by First Lady Laura Bush in its early years, "probably lost much of the political clout it had earlier on, and it became one of [US]AID's projects. If you have the first lady behind you, that’s really different than if you are just one of [US]AID'S educational projects."

Barfield said the accounting problems at AUAF described by SIGAR are common for American projects in Afghanistan. But unlike with many other projects, he said he has not seen evidence of waste, abuse or fraud at AUAF. He thinks it would be a mistake if funding for AUAF were allowed to lapse.

“This has been one of the major projects of the U.S. government on the soft side, the largest and most visible project,” he said. “If you're willing to pull the plug on that, is that an indication that you’re willing to pull the plug on Afghanistan, too? That has implications that go well beyond a year’s funding for a particular aid project.”

Ahmadullah Azadani, a member of AUAF's student government association, has called for the U.S. government to continue funding AUAF.

"Many think the university is being politicized, linking the recent news regarding funding troubles with the Trump administration’s efforts to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and shrink the financial expense called for by involvement in Afghanistan," Azadani wrote in an opinion article in The Diplomat. "But cutting money without providing alternatives for educational purposes will damage the United States’ reputation gravely. It will demonstrate U.S. irresponsibility and faithlessness, leaving AUAF dangling."

Sedney said AUAF administrators and board members are actively working to ensure funding is in place for 2020 and beyond.

“We continue to reach out to a wide range of funders, and we continue to get support both from the U.S. and internationally, as well as Afghans,” Sedney said. "We do get support, but it’s unfortunately not at the scale that is necessary to cover the cost of operations and security."

He said university administrators were continuing discussions with American government officials.

"We remain optimistic that we will get the funding that we need to continue, as we have for the last 13 years," Sedney said.

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Arbitrator says UC Berkeley owes its computer science TAs $5 million

Inside Higher Ed - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00

The University of California, Berkeley, must pay $5 million to teaching assistants it improperly denied tuition remission and other benefits, an arbitrator said this week after reviewing a union grievance.

Berkeley says it’s disappointed with the decision but that it will cooperate.

The case concerns about 1,000 students, including many undergraduate teaching assistants in the department of electrical engineering and computer science. Enrollment in these kinds of courses has swelled nationally in recent years, contributing to a major computer science faculty shortage. At Berkeley, for instance, an introductory computer science course now attracts 1,800 students, compared to about half that in 2014. Berkeley, which also has too few graduate student instructors to meet that need, has responded by appointing more and more undergraduate TAs to lead discussion sections and perform other teaching-related tasks.

That’s not necessarily a problem for the United Auto Workers-affiliated student employees' union, as these TAs are covered by the contract and receive pay of around $30 an hour, depending on appointment type, not considering tuition remission. But the union says that the university is putting far too many students on eight-hour appointments, which do not qualify them for tuition remission, and too few on 10-hour appointments, which do qualify them for a big break on tuition and childcare benefits. Graduate students on these 10-hour appointments are also entitled to health-care benefits.

In negotiating the 10-hour threshold for tuition remission during contract negotiations, the union says it understood that eight-hour appointments would be used only sparingly. And they were used that way for about a decade. Since 2015, however, non-remission-eligible appointments have surged from about 2 percent of assistantships to 12 percent.

The allegation here is that Berkeley is deliberately trying to keep students under the 10-hour threshold to avoid having to remit their tuition, thereby dramatically decreasing their potential compensation. It’s akin to employees accusing an employer of keeping them just below the threshold of full-time work in order to avoid having to give them full-time benefits.

Nathan Kenshur, an undergraduate math tutor and head steward for the union, said Wednesday that the electrical engineering and computer science department's practice now is to employ hundreds of workers per semester as eight-hour TAs, in "a transparent attempt to dodge the contractually negotiated tuition benefit."

Not everyone who's served as an undergraduate TA in the department thought their terms were unfair. Barak Gila, who has since graduated, held that position in 2015 and 2016. He taught discussion sections, wrote and graded midterms, helped monitor online discussions, and, as head TA in his final semester, helped lead the TA program. He did receive tuition remission.

In Gila's experience, pay was good, and even it it hadn't been, he said, “undergrads were freely choosing to accept jobs.”

"I’m not sure why it's illegal for professors to choose to hire more eight-hour TAs, rather than cut their class sizes almost in half," Gila added. By that, he meant that departments with given budgets for a course may either hire more TAs on smaller appointments and offer more sections, or have bigger sections with fewer TAs on 10- to 20-hour appointments.

The arbitrator’s decision was not immediately made public. Information that the department shared at a town hall around 2016 show that undergraduate TAs on eight-hour appointments cost $4,000 per term, while 10-hour appointees cost $11,000. In-state tuition remission accounts for most of the difference between the two figures. 

Kenshur said he understands that some TAs don’t feel the grievance was necessary, but that this is about even more than the 1,000 students affected.

“Undermining the collectively bargained labor contract between student workers and the university threatens the benefits and rights of every worker on this campus,” he said. The TA practice could have spread and “eroded tuition waiver rights across the board.”

Jobs, Kenshur noted, “can still be exploitative even if workers are willing to do them.”

Janet Gilmore, a university spokesperson, said the university and the department “believed that appointments should be kept at 20 percent,” or eight hours per week or less, “in order not to interfere with student academic performance.”

The union, of course, argued that the university's reasoning was mostly financial, not pedagogical. And the arbitrator agreed with the union, directing the electrical engineering and computer science department to “cease and desist making both graduate and undergraduate appointments below 25 percent,” or the 10 hour-per-week, benefits-eligible level.

Berkeley is now required to provide retroactive fee remission benefits to students who were not provided them around the time the grievance was filed, in 2017, Gilmore said.

The union has said that each affected student who taught in the department in 2017 or later is entitled to $7,500 per term taught. The university, however, says that it’s not yet clear how many students will get how much.

“Identifying which group of students qualify for lost compensation, which could include partial fee remission, childcare assistance and health benefits, will take some time,” Gilmore said.

FacultyEditorial Tags: FacultyGraduate studentsUnions/unionizationImage Source: Wikimedia CommonsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of California, BerkeleyDisplay Promo Box: 

New presidents or provosts: Atlanta Metropolitan Ave Maria CNMCC Concordia Eckerd HWS Minnesota Moody Western Nebraska Yale

Inside Higher Ed - jeu, 01/16/2020 - 01:00
  • Mary L. Coffey, senior associate dean at Pomona College, in California, has been selected as provost and dean of faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in New York.
  • Rachel Croson, dean of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University, has been chosen as executive vice president and provost at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
  • Damian J. Fernandez, chancellor of Pennsylvania State University's Abington College, has been named president of Eckerd College, in Florida.
  • Tracy Hartzler, vice president for finance and operations at Central New Mexico Community College, has been appointed president there.
  • Christopher P. Ice, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, in Missouri, has been chosen as president of Ave Maria University, in Florida.
  • Georj Lewis, interim president of Atlanta Metropolitan State College, in Georgia, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Dwight Perry, dean of faculty at North Park Theological Seminary, in Illinois, has been appointed as Moody Bible Institute, also in Illinois.
  • Carmen Simone, vice president and dean at the University of South Dakota Community College for Sioux Falls, has been chosen as president of Western Nebraska Community College.
  • Scott A. Strobel, vice provost for science initiatives and Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, in Connecticut, has been appointed provost there.
  • Michael A. Thomas, executive director of the Lutheran Institute for Theology and Culture and professor of religion at Concordia University Portland, in Oregon, has been  selected as president of Concordia University Irvine, in California.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: This Public College Wants to Punish 2 Students for Hate Speech. Is That Legal?

A lawsuit against UConn pits tolerance against freedom of speech. Some say the university overstepped its authority.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Berkeley TAs Are Awarded Millions in Back Pay

The ruling applies to only one department at Berkeley, but the whole University of California system is likely to take note, an expert says.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions: Clark U. Names Next President, New Student Affairs Chief at Tuskegee U.

David B. Fithian will take the helm at Clark in July. Tuskegee's new vice president for student affairts comes from Southern University.

Agency behind Learn and Earn scandal charged

The PIE News - mer, 01/15/2020 - 10:47

The owners of a Bhutanese education agency were charged with 2,887 counts of forgery and 730 counts of larceny by deception in the country’s capital, Thimphu, in December.

Bhutan Employment Overseas was the company at the centre of a scandal where participants in a work program to Japan were forced to work over the legal number of hours and live in unsanitary conditions.

The Learn and Earn program allowed Bhutanese to work in Japan for up to 28 hours a week while taking Japanese language classes, and was described as a “win-win” during its inception, offering opportunities to young people in Bhutan while also helping to tackle Japan’s labour shortage.

“Students described experiencing indicators of forced labour”

With the Himalayan kingdom suffering from high unemployment and a lack of opportunities for its youth, working abroad through government-approved agencies and schemes is a popular way to earn money. Common destinations include Japan, Kuwait and Malaysia.

According to a US report on people trafficking, around 200 of the students said that the jobs in Japan didn’t provide them with “sufficient income” and that they were “facing difficulties”.

“Media reported some of the students described experiencing indicators of forced labour, including passport retention and illegal wage deductions, although the government reported all students were in possession of their passports,” the paper noted.

Debt was incurred from visa costs and tuition fees for the language schools, as well as the costs paid to BEO for which the owners are now being charged.

As the case moves forward in Bhutan, those still working and studying in Japan have been taking steps to better protect their rights, including by setting up the International Labor Union of Bhutan with assistance from local unions to represent Bhutanese workers in the country.

“Many young Bhutanese were cheated and trapped into financial debt. As ILUB, we will work hard to protect the rights of vulnerable people and low-skilled workers,” Jaganath Koirala, ILUB’s president, said.

“We will work hard to find stable and decent jobs for our young friends so that they can start a decent and normal life.”

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IIE Hawaii announces “aloha” scholarships

The PIE News - mer, 01/15/2020 - 09:22

Hawaii-based private English language school, the Institute of Intensive English, has launched an international scholarship targeting students from under-represented countries. The value of the scholarship will exceed US$100,000 yearly.

Based on financial need and/or purpose of studying English, the IIE Aloha Scholarship targets students whose plan is to use English to benefit the student’s local community or world at large.

“We are committed to spreading aloha around the world for a healthier, happier planet”

The scholarship will cover tuition only, and subsidised housing may also be available for students.

“We are committed to spreading aloha around the world for a healthier, happier planet,” said school director, Ed Lee.

He explained that IIE Hawaii’s guiding principle is the Aloha Spirit, reflected in the school’s social responsibility efforts of which the IIE Aloha Scholarship is part.

“Through the scholarship, we will provide students with the chance to learn about the meaning of the aloha spirit, whose essential meaning is love, and empower them with improved English skills, the international language of communication,” Lee added.

Founded in 1984, IIE Hawaii is one of the oldest English schools in Hawaii. The school is recognised for its unique IIE Nationality Mix Policy which guarantees that no nationality exceeds 50% of the student population.

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Swedish uni to offer pathway to NPU in US

The PIE News - mer, 01/15/2020 - 05:41

Jönköping University in Sweden has entered into a partnership with US institution North Park University to prepare students for studies in Chicago via its pathway program.

The Swedish institution’s pathway program, Jönköping University Enterprise, will provide international students with English language training.

“This collaboration gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop the pathway programs”

NPU and JU have engaged in bilateral student exchanges for many years, and this collaboration is a new extension of the rich partnership already in existence, according to NPU director of international recruitment Michael Drake.

“JU is allowing NPU to utilize their English training resources for students who intend to matriculate to NPU to enroll in an academic program,” Drake said in a statement.

“This is a new and unique partnership where an international student will benefit from a third culture, well preparing them for the rich diversity that they will experience at NPU and in the city of Chicago.”

Based at Campus Gränna 40km north of Jönköping in central Sweden, JUE will serve as a bridge for students failing to meet the English proficiency requirement for NPU.

International students will also be trained to adjust to differences in pedagogy between their home country, Sweden and the US. After successful completion of the program, students will be admitted into a pre-selected program at NPU.

With no English as a Second Language program, NPU has previously been unable to enrol academically qualified students requiring additional English training.

JUE’s Campus Gränna has also provided a Pathway Year Program for prospective BI Norwegian Business School students in Oslo since 2018.

“We at JUE are very proud of this agreement with North Park,” Jenny Dahlkild acting managing director at JUE added.

“This collaboration gives us a wonderful opportunity to develop the pathway programs and expand our collaborations with a new, strong partner university.”

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