English Language Feeds

Chronicle of Higher Education: 50 Years Ago, the College Tried to Silence Them. Now Black Protesters Are Returning to Campus to Be Heard.

A gathering at the University of Mississippi offers a chance to heal the wounds left by mass arrests at a peaceful demonstration in 1970.

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Education Dept. Would Let Students Question Their Rape Accusers. At Some Colleges, That’s Already How It Works.

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor says a court ruling forced it to put the policy in place, but victim advocates say the process retraumatizes assault victims.

UCAS: record applicants & acceptances from outside UK, boosted by non-EU growth

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 09:29

Applications from non-UK students for higher education courses in the UK increased by 5.2% this cycle over 2018 to reach a record 140,955, according to the latest Universities and Colleges Admissions Service report. All in all, a total of 76,905 of those applications were accepted, marking an increase of 3.8% over the previous year.

According to the report, the government’s target of 600,000 international students studying in the UK by 2030  combined with the imminent arrival of a new post-study work visa may help stimulate growth in HE sector in the coming years.

“The changing exchange rate between the sterling and other currencies [may be] making the UK an attractive location for HE”

“Another factor which may have stimulated growth in the number of non-UK applicants is the changing exchange rate between the sterling and other currencies making the UK an attractive location for HE,” the authors explained.

According to the report, several countries in Africa have been identified as emerging markets for UK universities and colleges.

The number of students applying from Ghana grew by 25.5% (to reach 520 applicants) in 2019, South African applicants rose by 17.1% (685), and applicants from Egypt grew by 8.1% (860).

Applicant numbers from Nigeria have risen by 10.8% to 1,870, following a decline of 40.9% between 2010 and 2018.

The top ten countries in terms of percentage growth of applicants to the UK from 2018 to 2019 (minimum 500 applicants in 2019), excluding China and India. Graph: UCAS

The report noted that the Middle East as a source of applicants has also seen changes.

It showed that with applicants from Saudi Arabia there has been some signs of recovery – a fall of 35.2% from 2010 to 2018 has been followed by a 10.3% increase in 2019, to 1,390 applicants.

The largest numbers of international applicants continue to come from China and India, which account for 15.3% (21,505) and 4.8% (6,720) of non-UK applicants respectively.

China, in particular, has seen 25.7% growth in applications over the last cycle.

Meanwhile, the number of applications from both Kuwait and Thailand passed 1,000 for the first time. Taiwan also saw an increase of 11.6%, while traditional source countries such as Hong Kong saw a surprising decrease of 5.6% while Malaysia remained relatively stable.

The UK’s International Education Strategy, released last year, promotes the education sector focusing on “high-value regions” in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, a different approach compared to countries like Canada which are seeking greater diversification.

“It is a risky strategy for universities to target a limited number of countries to recruit international students, as we have seen with the health crisis in China in recent months,” Rachel Hewitt, director of policy and advocacy at HEPI, told The PIE News.

“However it is also right that their approach should be demand-driven and it is clear the strongest demand is currently from China and India.

“It is a risky strategy for universities to target a limited number of countries to recruit international students”

“It seems that already the post-study work visa has had a positive impact on the recruitment of international students, particularly those from India. This also demonstrates the significant impact that changes in government policy can have on recruitment,” Hewitt added.

Applicants from within the EU – whose major source countries include France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Ireland – have remained stable but numbers remain lower than before the 2016 EU referendum.

EU applicants accounted for 37.7% of all non-UK applicants in 2019, down from 39.3% in 2018.

Notably, 35.5% of EU applicants applied to study in Scotland, most likely due to the fact that the Scottish government currently subsidises the fees of Scottish and EU students.

As with previous years, non-UK applicants strongly preferred London over other regions, with international students nearly twice as likely to apply to at least one university or college in London compared to those applying from the UK.

According to the report, 54.1% of applicants from outside the UK used one of their five undergraduate application choices for a course based in London last year, compared to 27.8% of UK applicants.

However, the UK is not always the only place that international students apply to study.

“UCAS surveys applicants about their application choices, and is able therefore to provide insight into the range of destinations they may be considering,” explained the report.

Almost four out of 10 also apply to study in their own country, while 36% of EU students and 48% of non-EU ones apply to other countries, most commonly the US and Canada.

38% of Chinese applicants additionally apply to study in Hong Kong.

Those applying through agencies experienced higher acceptance rates (59.9%) than the 45.7% of applicants that applied independently (48% were accepted) or through overseas schools (53.8%).

“Our most detailed insight ever into international students’ choices further proves the high regard our higher education sector is held in around the world,” said Clare Marchant, UCAS’ chief executive.

“While the draw of studying in the capital is clear, our analysis of emerging markets and students’ subject preferences will be invaluable to universities across the country in planning their teaching and recruitment activities,” she added.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: A Prominent Activist Against Harassment in Science Is Facing Fresh Accusations of Harassment

Complainants say the same problems with the founder of MeTooSTEM, BethAnn McLaughlin, have cropped up publicly before.

Aus aims to be ELT “destination of choice”

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 08:02

Australia is striving to become the “destination of choice” for aspiring English learners within five years, with the government releasing a new strategy to grow the market.

The draft English Language Teaching – International Engagement Strategy 2025 outlines a broad plan to create more jobs and drive more economic growth, and was developed in conjunction with Australia’s peak body for English language, English Australia.

The strategy is based on four objectives:

  • Providing a welcoming, safe and world-leading student experience
  • Supporting the English language teaching sector to actively embrace new opportunities and adopt innovative practices and models
  • Australia’s English language teaching sector is flexible supporting both standalone and seamless transition in further studies
  • English language teaching is recognised as a valued and integral part of Australia’s international education sector

Australia’s minister for Education, Dan Tehan, said the strategy will build on the sector’s existing strengths and achievements with a view to further enhancing Australia’s competitive and comparative advantages in the global provision of English language teaching.

“80% of the world’s population doesn’t speak English and English is the most popular language to study, so the potential of this sector is enormous,” he said.

Data from English Australia shows that in 2018 nearly 180,000 students studied English in Australia, with two-thirds studying on a student visa.

“The strategy will identify opportunities for more students to study English in Australia and will map out opportunities to increase our English language teaching footprint in Australia, online and internationally,” Tehan continued.

“The development of a long-term strategy will help ensure the sustainable growth of the sector through to 2025 and beyond.”

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is seeking stakeholder comment on the suitability of the objectives, actions and measures of success before it finalises the strategy.

The deadline for submissions is April 3, 2020

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ELICOS 2019 visa grants show mixed results

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 06:36

Australia’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released a snapshot of international students who studied ELICOS as part of a study pathway, with figures showing mixed results for the sector in 2019.

While there was “incredible growth” in some key markets, a 9% decrease in pathway ELICOS students on 2018 figures was countered by growth (7%) in independent ELICOS visas.

Overall, visa grants associated with an ELICOS course declined by 2% in 2019, according to the report.

“We’ve seen incredible growth from Colombia and Chile in 2019″

Much of the overall decline can be attributed to a significant drop in numbers of pathway visas from China (-18%), the report explained, suggesting there is a declining interest from Chinese students to include ELICOS in a study pathway.

The figures showed a similar story for Indian students with a 34% decline in pathway visas.

“Like China, most visas with ELICOS granted to India in 2019 were pathway visas and their decline was in spite of a 17% growth in all primary student visa grants, which suggests there is also a declining interest from Indian students to include ELICOS in a study pathway,” highlighted the report.

Conversely Vietnam, which also predominantly has ELICOS pathway visas, saw strong growth in both all primary visa grants (24%) and in visas with ELICOS (31%) in 2019.

Speaking with The PIE News, English Australia CEO, Brett Blacker, said there is a number of other countries showing strong increases.

“We’ve seen incredible growth from Colombia and Chile in 2019, two key markets that we’ve focused on as part of our work under the International Council for Education and its LATAM Working Group,” he said.

Over half of the growth seen in independent ELICOS visas in 2019 can be attributed to Colombia according to the report, with countries such as Thailand, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Mexico also making a significant contribution.

“China’s downturn is significant but the growth in these markets, and new markets like Mongolia and Nepal, shows how our sector is diversifying and bringing a better experience for all ELICOS students,” continued Blacker.

Diversification of the sector is also a focus for the federal government, with Federal Education minister Dan Tehan reportedly set to release a draft road map towards making Australia the “destination of choice” for aspiring English learners by 2025.

The strategy will set out a guiding framework to secure access to new markets and maintain the nation’s reputation as one of the world’s leading English teaching providers.

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Settlement reached in Niagara lawsuit

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 05:07

A class action lawsuit brought against Niagara College in 2015 by international students who discovered they were prohibited from accessing the labour market was settled earlier this month at the cost of CAD $3 million to the southern Ontario institute.

Launched by former students Anish Goyal and Chintan Zankat, who were initially seeking CAD $50 million in damages, the lawsuit claimed that the college misled them into believing that a four-month general arts and science program, delivered mostly online, would qualify them for the Post Graduate Work Program in the country.

“This situation has affected my life in ways that are irreparable by money”

The PGWP is an open work permit for any type of job that allows graduates to work in Canada for up to a maximum of three years. However, the immigration department does not accept distance learning when it comes to meeting the application requirements.

Goyal, an Indian graduate with a BA in Engineering, completed the program with Niagara College in 2015, having taken five of the six courses in the program online.

Only some of those affected were able to remain in Canada after reapplying for the permit.

“This situation has affected my life in ways that are irreparable by money. We settled this lawsuit mostly to ensure that we don’t burden the already overburdened courts of Canada and its colleges,” the Toronto Star reported Goyal as having said.

“International students are here to be a positive part of Canada. I am sure every international student is here to work hard and be a better part of this society.”

Those involved in the case were unable to comment due to a gag order. Other international students who were denied work permits due to the program – which may be as many as five hundred – are still eligible to join the class action lawsuit until April 6.

“Differential fees and predatory recruiting practices have put international students in a vulnerable position”

“Differential fees and predatory recruiting practices have put international students in a vulnerable position,” a representative for the Canadian Federation of Students told The PIE News.

“We must treat international students with fairness and that includes being forthcoming about course offerings and immigration pathways (or lack thereof) as a result of education in Canada.

“In addition, we believe that a high-quality, fully publicly-funded system of postsecondary education would resolve this issue as universities and colleges wouldn’t be scrambling to balance their budgets by resorting to… charging astronomical differential fees and aggressively recruiting international students through sometimes misleading statements,” the representative added.

Niagara College declined to comment.

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Boston area “woefully short” of ESOL seats

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 04:28

Seats on English as a second language courses in the Greater Boston area fall “woefully short” for students that require English training to enhance professional skills and further investment is an “economic necessity”, a report has suggested.

The ROI of ESOL: The Economic and Social Return on Investment for ESOL Programs in Greater Boston report found that there is a “serious shortage” of programs that focus on training for local professionals who have limited English abilities.

“ESOL programs are an affordable and crucial investment”

Annually, 116 programs have a capacity of around 11,600 students, while Greater Boston’s working-age adults with Limited English Proficiency stretches to 240,000 people, the report found.

More specialised ESOL courses for local professionals are needed, it maintained.

Programs that focus on work-related English language education represent just 7%, researchers found, as the majority were classified as general-purpose, or more directly targeted toward citizenship.

The report, published by the Boston Foundation and the Latino Legacy Fund, suggested an increase in vocational and workplace programs would benefit both students and the local economy.

Investing in ESOL “not only gives students access to higher-paying jobs, but it also empowers them to contribute and strengthen the future of Greater Boston”, Aixa Beauchamp, co-chair of the Latino Legacy Fund added.

“ESOL programs are an affordable and crucial investment in building a more just and equitable city and region,” she said.

Paul S. Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, noted it was an “economic necessity” to invest in ESOL.

“Despite the fact that immigrants account for virtually all of the population increase powering Greater Boston’s renaissance, we are investing far too little in ESOL, particularly programs with a focus on English language skills for the workplace,” he said.

“This should not be seen as solely an education problem. It is an economic necessity.”

The report also recommends ESOL system areas be transformed. In addition to reducing the gap between capacity and demand, working conditions for ESOL teachers should be improved and student support, such as access to childcare, should be provided.

“Fragmented parts” of the system ought to be aligned to funding streams, data and reporting systems, and other institutional structures and processes, it added.

Beyond Boston, assistant director for Student Affairs at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Cindy Carr noted that US citizens, permanent residents, refugees and asylees have “always been an important part of our student body”.

Numbers ebb and flow, but on average they represent 10-15% of the student body, she highlighted.

“They add tremendously to the diversity of our program because they are most often originate from countries that do not typically send a lot of F-1 students to the U.S. to study,” she said.

However, Carr noted that specific ways to reach out to the immigrant community have not been identified until now, “but gradually – through word of mouth and our online presence – these folks are finding us”.

“One challenge for this cohort can be that our classes are weekdays during work hours, and many immigrants are already working,” she added.

“The Immigrant Welcome Center in our city hosts an excellent website that we can direct such prospective students to which lists all the English classes in the area and is searchable by the time of the class, cost and location.​”

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Serbian workshop welcomes regional agencies

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 04:17

A Serbian-based agent workshop opened up its attendee list to include agents from neighbouring countries earlier in 2020 as it seeks to cement its place as a regular ’boutique’ agency workshop in the region.

Held in Serbia’s capital Belgrade, the KUB EDUCO Workshop featured educators represented by KUB Travel Enterprises, including junior summer and adult year round language courses, independent and public schools, and universities.

“We decided to up the number of agents this year…and it was a wonderful success”

The 22nd iteration of the event was attended by 16 agencies, including three from both Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croatia, while one each from Slovenia, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro and Romania attended. Alongside KUB Travel Enterprises, four additional agencies from Serbia joined.

Executive director of KUB Travel Enterprises and event organiser, Magdalena Jugovic, explained that the success of the workshop was largely due to the opportunity to meet at a “smaller and friendlier venue” than larger events.

“In the last few years we have always had at least one or two agents from the region present at the workshop,” Jugovic said.

“As both the schools and the agents said this was a wonderful opportunity to meet at a smaller and friendlier venue, we decided to up the number of agents this year and see how it goes. And it was a wonderful success,” she added.

Smaller agencies from surrounding countries who do not attend big workshops benefitted from meeting schools face to face, Jugovic noted.

“The main benefit for both was meeting existing partners, but also quite a number of new potential partners.

“This year all the schools present were existing KUB partners, which was also an additional extra for the agents as the schools have already been our trusted partners for years,” she said.

Along with the growth in agencies attending, the number of educators joining also increased to a total of more than 40.

“Although the numbers have grown it has still remained small in comparison to other workshops and had the friendly and relaxed atmosphere for networking,” Jugovic said.

Despite the success of the larger event, KUB has “no plans in growing big”, she added.

In 2021 however, KUB hopes to include agencies from more countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy, Jugovic highlighted, but “would definitely like to keep it small and intimate – a “boutique” workshop, where schools and agents can cement their relations during the relaxing social events”.

The next KUB EDUCO event will take place in Belgrade on January 23, 2021.

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Germany: OIEG partners with Jacobs Uni

The PIE News - ven, 02/21/2020 - 02:00

Oxford International Educational Group has announced a new partnership deal with Jacobs University in Germany.  As part of the deal, OIEG will open a new international college with the Bremen-based university that will take its first students in September this year.

“With this new partnership, we will strengthen our position as a major provider in the pathways sector”

The college will seek to improve international students’ university study skills and English language level in order to prepare them for further study at Jacobs University on its undergraduate programs. 

Courses offered will focus on a variety of subjects, including international business, computer sciences, physics, chemistry, engineering and robotics.

According to OIEG, it is the first time that a pathway provider has opened an international college with a German institution. 

“With this new partnership, we will strengthen our position as a major provider in the pathways sector and drive economic growth for both our UK and European business communities,” said OIEG group CEO, Lil Bremermann-Richard. 

“Key to our success is to select and work with partners who share our mission to enable opportunities, build trusted partnerships and empower success for our students, our people, our partners, and communities around the world,” she added.

In 2018, OIEG partnered with the University of Greenwich, and created an embedded college to help prepare international students for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the UK. 

To date, the pathway provider has opened and operated three over embedded colleges across the UK. It has also launched an office in Portugal to increase EU student recruitment with the UK’s De Montfort University.

“This new venture for Oxford International reflects the ever-changing landscape in HE student mobility, with many international students continuing to choose to study in mainland Europe,” a statement from OIEG explained. 

“With Germany exceeding its own goals as a destination for inbound non-EU students, Jacobs University’s already strong international presence and Oxford International’s rapid growth in the University Partnership division, the partnership was a natural fit.”

Jacobs University is a private, fully English-speaking research-oriented campus university. Established in 2001, it has achieved top results in national and international university rankings and has more than 1,500 students that come from over 120 countries. 

“As a young and international top-ranked institution, this is an important milestone in our mission and commitment towards opening more chances for an excellent education,” said Bannour Hadroug, member of the management board and head of student marketing and recruitment at Jacobs University. 

“In a dynamical and connected world, we are convinced that this partnership will empower our social and educational impact and help students to discover and achieve their full potential,” he added.

Admissions will open in March for courses starting in September 2020 with pre-sessional English courses beginning in June.

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Brigham Young removes policy on same-sex intimacy

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 02/21/2020 - 01:00

Brigham Young University's recent removal of “homosexual behavior” as a prohibited and punishable act under its honor code has caused both celebration and skepticism in the LGBTQ community.

On the surface, the removal of a passage in the honor code on Feb. 19 indicates that members of the university who display such physical intimacy will no longer be subjected to disciplinary measures, including removal from the university, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But in a series of tweets the next day, university representatives said “there may have been some miscommunication” about what the changes mean.

“We have removed the more prescriptive language and kept the focus on the principles of the honor code, which have not changed,” said Carri Jenkins, assistant to the president for university communications. “We will handle questions that arise on an individual, case-by-case basis.”

The response has left many LGBTQ students enrolled at the Utah institution in the dark about how they can express their sexual orientation, since the university did not make it explicitly clear.

looks like we may have been a little preemptive—it’s unclear if BYU is saying yes or no to same-sex dating. I’ve seen direct accounts of LGBTQ+ students asking the HCO point-blank if they can hold hands/kiss/date and the office said yes … https://t.co/Eyp2Ut1UL4 https://t.co/xFUk9CrfPw

— Matty Easton (@easton_matty) February 19, 2020

Before Wednesday's changes, the university said it would act on "behavior" rather than "feelings or attraction." The now-deleted paragraphs state that homosexual behavior, which "includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings" is in violation of the honor code.

A spokeswoman for the university declined to explain what the revision will mean for LGBTQ couples who kiss, hug, hold hands, date or otherwise express their sexual orientation in public.

“Students are free to go to the Honor Code Office to get clarification if that affects them,” she said.

Some students did just that ​and learned physical intimacy between LGBTQ people is permitted, “as long as it’s not serious and leads to marriage,” said Martha Harris, a junior who is a lesbian. Multiple students shared similar stories on Twitter.

"Now I think it’s just very unclear what could happen," Harris said. "I know people who have gotten kicked out, people who have been reported to the office for rumors of hugging or coming out … I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m waiting a few days to see where things lay, because of the very conflicting messages."

McKay Boyack, a senior at Brigham Young who is a lesbian, said the “principle-based approach” the university will now take on LGBTQ sexuality is more subjective than the passage it removed, which is concerning.

“I’m so excited I could cry, but I’m really scared that they’re going to draw back on that before we have the chance to do anything,” Boyack said. “Who’s to say that one honor code officer wouldn’t be like, ‘it’s fine for them to date,’ and another wouldn’t throw you out of the school? It’s giving us more ambiguity as students that we already deal with in the church.”

The language change occurred immediately after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released its updated general handbook, which outlines the church's mission and goals. The new handbook eased disciplinary measures for same-sex couples, but it continues to state that same-sex sexual activity is a sin and that gender is defined at birth, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. In addition to its removal of the behavior passage, the university expanded a section at the beginning of the Honor Code to define a “chaste and virtuous life” as “abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman,” according to the Tribune.

While removing the “homosexual behavior” passage from the Honor Code is a step in the right direction, the university has not implemented any nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBTQ students from bullying or harassment, said Paul Castillo, counsel and students’ rights strategist for Lambda Legal, a national organization focused on protecting the legal and civil rights of LGBTQ people. The burning question about the policy is what it will mean in practice, Castillo said.

“What does this mean for students who come out and are seeking to be supported by their peers, by school administrators, and what does that support look like?” Castillo said. “It’s one thing to remove language that targets LGBTQ students, but a whole different thing to show a wholesale commitment to the safety and well-being of all students.”

Culture changes take time, said Harris, who has been “selective” about whom she tells about her sexuality. She said when she first arrived at the campus, it was clear to her that she “wasn’t the type of person that [BYU] wanted.”

She questioned whether the university changed the Honor Code simply to improve its public image.

"I do fear it’s pressure from outside sources," Harris said. "Organizations not wanting to work with BYU, people from the outside thinking that’s a very toxic and homophobic school. I’m a little scared it’s for PR."

Bradley Talbot, a junior who runs an LGBTQ awareness and support organization called Color Campus, said he received threats to report him to the Honor Code Office when people learned that he was gay and was running the once-anonymous organization. He's now hopeful that the changes to the code will allow students to be open about their sexual orientation.

“I do feel like I can talk more openly about my dating life and what I hope to do in the future and not have to wait until I graduate to tell anyone,” Talbot said. “Dating has been going on for a while, just no one could talk about it. Because it was so secret, it put a lot of people into compromising situations and led to sexual harassment and rape. Now people can be more open … without fear of being disciplined on a scholarly level.”

Student opposition to the changes has been brewing, LGBTQ students said. Across campus, people have been posting copies of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” a church document that affirms “marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan” and warns against “those who fail to fulfill family responsibilities.”

Seventy percent of members of the church support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, public accommodations and the workplace, a 2019 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute survey.

“There is very strong support for nondiscrimination policies,” said Sharita Gruberg, policy director for the LGBT research and communications project for the Center for American Progress.

Talbot said he believes the church is “becoming more understanding and recognizing” of LGBTQ issues.

“Even though we hold truths and doctrines about the family as what the standard is, there’s no such thing as a perfect family and things are going to get messy,” Talbot said. “It’s not as black-and-white as it once was … We might need a little more time for things to work out.”

Religious CollegesTies to Religious GroupsEditorial Tags: Gay rights/issuesReligionImage Source: Getty Images via George FreyImage Caption: Brigham Young University campusIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 

UCLA drops plan to use facial recognition security surveillance, but other colleges may be using technology

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 02/21/2020 - 01:00

The University of California, Los Angeles, was the first university to openly propose using facial recognition software for security surveillance. Now it's the first to openly drop that plan. But whether other colleges are using the technology behind closed doors remains to be seen.

UCLA first floated the plan last year as part of a larger policy about campus security. Students voiced concerns during a 30-day comment period in June and at a town hall on the issue in late January.

Fight for the Future, a national digital rights advocacy organization, launched its own public campaign against the UCLA administration's consideration early this year, in partnership with Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

“This victory at UCLA will send a pretty strong message to any other administration who is considering doing this,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of the organization. “It’s not going to be worth the backlash.”

As part of the effort, Fight for the Future ran its own experiment. The group ran over 400 photos of UCLA athletes and faculty members through Amazon’s facial recognition software. They found 58 of those photos were incorrectly matched with photos in a mug-shot database. The majority of those false positives, the organization said, were of people of color. Some images the software claimed were the same person with “100 percent confidence.”

Fight for the Future had planned to release the results of the experiment to a news outlet, Greer said, but when that publication contacted the university, the response was swift. Within 24 hours a UCLA administrator wrote Greer to say the university was no longer considering using the software.

“We determined that that the potential benefits of the technology were limited and vastly outweighed by the community’s concerns,” a spokesperson for UCLA said via email.

The university had not identified a specific software or made any concrete plans to deploy it, he said. The administration is now working to explicitly prohibit facial recognition software.

The Problem With Facial Recognition

The problems with the software are multifaceted, Greer said. It’s well documented that the current technology doesn’t always work as intended. It’s routinely bad at identifying women and nonwhite people.

That means those groups are more likely to face both the annoying aspects of being misidentified (like being locked out of a dorm) and the dangerous ones (like being wrongly accosted by police).

The technology is also susceptible to hacking.

“The scan of your face is a unique identifier, like your Social Security number,” Greer said. “But if your Social Security number gets breached, you can get a new Social Security number. If a scan of your face gets breached, you can’t get a new face.”

Amelia Vance, director of youth and education privacy at the Future of Privacy Forum, said concerns around facial recognition should be particularly troublesome for higher education institutions. The systems are often particularly bad at correctly identifying children and young adults, she said. The software can cost millions of dollars and -- given that many episodes of violence are committed by students who attend those colleges -- is ineffective against violence.

“We just don’t have that much training data on children and on young adults,” Vance said. “This technology right now is not ready for prime time.”

Her organization has proposed a moratorium on facial recognition in public schools.

UCLA said it would consider using facial recognition in a “limited" capacity. One draft of the policy shared online by the student group Campus Safety Alliance said the technology would only be used “to locate a known individual for legitimate, safety or security purposes related to individuals who have been issued an official campus stay away order, court ordered restraining order, law enforcement bulletin or who pose a threat to one or more members of the campus community.”

That draft said a human being would need to examine the match before an official determination of someone’s identity could be made.

But Greer said that "limited" capacity -- security surveillance -- is one of the more concerning uses of the software.

“We’ve seen a few other schools that were trying to dabble with this technology,” she said.

Two other institutions in the state -- Stanford University and the University of Southern California -- had floated using facial recognition as part of their food service or dorm security. Students there would have been able to scan their faces to get into a dorm or pay for a meal.

While those uses normalize facial recognition and should be stopped, Greer said, they don’t ring the same alarm bells that surveillance uses do.

It’s possible that in the future the technology will improve, becoming more accurate and more secure.

For Vance, that’s one reason why her organization has called for a moratorium instead of an outright ban.

But to Greer, the possibility that the technology could become 100 percent accurate is even more frightening.

“That’s a world where institutions of power have the ability to track and monitor their people everywhere they go, all the time. That is a world where there are zero spaces that are free from government or societal intrusion, which is basically a world where we can’t have new ideas,” she said. “We really need to think about this not just as an issue of privacy but as an issue of basic freedom.”

If facial recognition software had been ubiquitous a few decades ago, she said, social movements like the LGBTQ rights movement may never have occurred.

“In the end it’s not really about safety -- it’s about social control.”

What’s Already Happening

UCLA chose to be open about considering facial recognition and solicited comments from students. For that, the university should be applauded, Vance said.

But that’s not necessarily happening everywhere.

“I would be absolutely unsurprised if multiple universities had adopted it and we just don’t know about it,” Vance said. Safety and security offices often act independent of other university administrators and may not be transparent about a new security measure.

Fight for the Future currently has a campus scorecard for facial recognition, keeping track of which colleges have pledged not to use the software. Though about 50 universities have told the organization they will not implement the technology, Greer said, many have said nothing at all.

“It is absolutely possible that there are other schools in the country that are already using this technology, they just haven’t told anyone about it,” she said.

The software is already in use by numerous municipal police departments and airports as well as at least one public school district. The Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center found in 2016 that half of American adults are in a law enforcement facial recognition network.

Facial recognition software companies already are marketing to universities and K-12 schools.

“There are really no laws in place that would require private institutions, for example, to even disclose to their students that they’re doing this,” Greer said. “We really do need policies in place so that it’s not up to school administrators.”

Vance pointed out that university leaders and policy makers often bemoan that a younger generation doesn’t care about privacy.

“They clearly do care about privacy,” she said. “And this is a step too far.”

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Middle class heavily underrepresented at top private colleges, report finds

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 02/21/2020 - 01:00

Students with similar test scores but different household incomes attend selective colleges at different rates, according to the latest report from Opportunity Insights, a group that has published groundbreaking research on how colleges may affect students' income mobility.

But the results contained some surprises. For example, middle-class students attend elite institutions at rates lower than students from the lowest income quintile.

Researchers Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner and Danny Yagan looked at how the fractions of students who attend these elite colleges varies based on parental income, using only students who scored exactly 1400 on the SAT. That is the median score for students at "Ivy-plus" colleges, which includes the Ivy League, Duke University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago.

The same researchers previously created mobility report cards for colleges to assess their students' upward income mobility. That report found great variability in low-income students' enrollment across colleges. But it also found that earnings outcomes are similar for students from low- and high-income families at any given college. And while some colleges had high mobility rates, access for low-income students at those colleges has fallen since 2000.

Building on their previous report, researchers found that students whose parents were from the lowest income bracket made up 7.3 percent of students with a test score of 1400 who attended Ivy-plus colleges. That was slightly below the average for all income groups. Students whose parents had the highest incomes made up a larger share, at about 10.8 percent, which was above the average for all groups.

But the students whose parents' incomes are in the middle attended Ivy-plus colleges at rates much lower than the average, between 4.4 percent and 4.7 percent. This means that middle-class students are underrepresented at elite colleges, and the report refers to them as the "missing middle."

Previous studies, such as one by the American Enterprise Institute, have also found that the share of students from the middle class at the most selective colleges in the nation has been declining over time.

It can be hard for middle-income families to afford higher education, particularly at private nonprofits, because their expected family contributions can be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, said Bill Hall, founder and president of Applied Policy Research Inc. Hall's company advises private nonprofit institutions on admissions and enrollment.

"There's not a lot of discretionary income for middle-income families," he said.

Older generations say that families today aren't willing to sacrifice for their children's education like they once were, Hall said. Whether it's possible for middle-income families to afford elite colleges or not, rising tuition costs are pushing them toward flagship public institutions.

Hall sees the new study as an alert about what private and more elite institutions will have to do to stop the middle-income population from going elsewhere. And, he said, everyone at those institutions is talking about this issue, not just admissions staff.

"Most of them will acknowledge, why did we ever get ourselves in a position where we have $50,000 tuition?" he said.

The movement toward tuition resets, where colleges slash sticker prices but not necessarily their net prices, is also a sign of colleges trying to make a change to help students who aren't high income, Hall said. Middle-income students stand to gain the most from those efforts, he said.

The report from Opportunity Insights analyzed what would happen if students with comparable test scores attended selective colleges at the same rate, regardless of their parents' incomes. Researchers found that economic diversity would "rise significantly" in this scenario. The fraction of students in the bottom income quintile who attend selective colleges would rise from 7.3 percent to 8.6 percent. Those in the middle would get a boost of about 10 percentage points at selective colleges, from 28 percent to 38 percent.

Providing low-income students with an admissions boost similar to what children of alumni receive at elite private colleges would increase the share of those students at those colleges as well.

At Ivy-plus institutions, this would push the share of low-income students up to 25.8 percent. The scenario used is similar to the preference legacy students, recruited athletes and students who are members of underrepresented minority groups receive during admissions at elite colleges.

If changes were made, it could have a large impact on income mobility, according to the researchers.

The gap in chances of reaching the top income quintile among college students from the bottom- versus the top-quintile families would decrease by 15 percent if all students with similar test scores attended elite colleges at the same rate, regardless of their families' incomes.

If lower-income students were given an advantage similar to legacy students, that gap would decrease by 25 percent.

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Author discusses book on institutional review boards

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 02/21/2020 - 01:00

Institutional review boards are a constant subject of complaints from scholars about delays or limits placed on research -- even if they understand that a given IRB may only be following the rules. Sarah Babb, a professor of sociology at Boston College, tells the story of IRBs in a new book, Regulating Human Research: IRBs From Peer Review to Compliance Bureaucracy (Stanford University Press). She responded to questions via email about her new book.

Q: How are IRBs different today from when they were first created?

A: When the first proto-IRBs emerged within National Institutes of Health in the 1950s, they looked a lot like peer-review committees: NIH researchers would sit on panels to consider the ethics of their colleagues’ research proposals. Even after the 1974 regulations and two rounds of revisions (in 1981 and 1992), most IRBs were mostly run pretty much as faculty committees, but with “nonscientist” members and some federal paperwork. The faculty volunteers weren’t very good with the paperwork, but since the feds hardly ever checked, it wasn’t a big issue.

Nowadays, most research is being reviewed by IRBs that look a lot more like “bureaucracies” in the Weberian sense. They have hierarchies, job ladders and an elaborate division of labor, kind of like an assembly line. And they are run by paid administrators with specialized regulatory expertise. The most bureaucratic of all are the for-profit “independent” IRBs, which compete for clients based on their ability to provide rigorous regulatory compliance with maximum speed. Independent IRBs don’t have faculty “volunteers” -- academics are paid per review to serve on particular boards. Everything else is handled by administrators. Today, most biomedical research is reviewed by these for-profit boards.

Q: You talk about how academic research is increasingly commercialized. Have IRBs responded to that change? How should they respond?

A: I would rather say that IRBs have been shaped and transformed by commercialization. Most biomedical research today is sponsored by private firms -- mostly (but not entirely) outside of academic institutions. Commercial studies mostly involve multiple research sites. Imagine 20 different clinics, all recruiting participants for the same study. But federal IRB regulations are set up around a local review model. This has always posed a problem for commercial sponsors, because clinics don’t have IRBs, and even if they did, you wouldn’t want 20 IRBs coming up with 20 different decisions.

Recognizing this problem, back in the 1980s the Food and Drug Administration put a loophole in its rules saying you could outsource IRB reviews instead of relying on a local board. In response, independent review boards were founded to serve commercial research sponsors. But more recently, even government-sponsored studies have started going over to the for-profit IRBs. This is because they are extremely efficient and very good at reviewing multisite research (which is now the dominant model throughout the biomedical field). Traditional IRBs have been losing staff positions. To get a competitive edge, many have emulated some of the practices of for-profit IRBs.

So in a way, the whole IRB world has become commercialized. In my book, I argue that this is an American pattern, where our inability to rationalize public systems leads to the emergence of markets and private “workarounds.” It’s interesting to contrast this with how they do it in the U.K., where they decided decades ago that the best way to deal with multisite studies was to have a single government-sponsored portal that everybody goes through. The British don’t have for-profit ethics review because it isn’t needed.

Q: Your book talks about how IRBs have become “compliance bureaucracies.” Was this inevitable?

A: The reason IRBs became compliance bureaucracies is that compliance is a lot of work. The regulations are complicated and confusing. There are actually two sets of IRB regulations, run out of two different federal offices, and [they are] not entirely consistent. Over time there have been a bunch of other ancillary regulations to keep track of -- HIPAA, conflict of interest and so on. The regulations are ambiguous, and federal offices don’t have the mandate or the resources to set precedents by ruling in particular cases. What regulators do (although less lately) is audit IRBs to make sure they have meticulously followed and documented mandated procedures -- for example, that they considered each of the criteria for waiver of documentation of informed consent. This means that IRBs have to generate and store mountains of procedural paperwork. Over all, it’s a big job -- one that calls for the attention of full-time specialists.

I found that there was a turning point at the end of the 1990s, when Senator [Edward] Kennedy and others were calling for a comprehensive rationalization and centralization of the federal system. Unfortunately, there was too much opposition from Congress and vested interest groups. But I suspect that if Kennedy’s plan had gone forward, you wouldn’t have seen the same growth in compliance bureaucracy: it would have centralized a lot of the interpretive and administrative work, similarly to the way you see in the U.K. today.

Q: Some argue that IRBs cannot simultaneously review the biological sciences and the social sciences. Should universities have separate IRBs?

A: This is a really great question. My impression is that it is really common to have separate IRBs for social and biomedical research, but that this doesn’t necessarily address the problems social researchers encounter with the IRB process.

Our problem is twofold: first, the regulations were designed around the routines of experimental research; and second, academic administrators tend to respond to risk and uncertainty with “hypercompliance” -- going beyond what the regulations require or intend. Imagine an anthropologist doing ethnography somewhere in an Indian village, trying to go through a three-page informed consent form (including all kinds of legalistic and regulatory language) with each person he interacts with. And then imagine that every time he slightly changes his research design, he needs to wait for his IRB at home to reapprove the changes. It sounds absurd, but this was a common experience at the beginning of the 2000s -- and I suspect that it still happens today.

What really has helped social researchers like me is something called the “flexibility movement,” a recent initiative among some IRB administrators to move away from hypercompliance. If you’ve noticed your IRB getting a lot more social research-friendly recently, you probably should be thanking the flexibility movement.

Q: What can universities do to improve the functioning of IRBs?

A: There’s a whole industry of IRB consultants and accreditors that are better qualified than I am to answer that question. But as a sociologist, I have the luxury of thinking about the big picture. What we have in the United States today is a highly decentralized and commercialized ethics-review system; recent revisions to the IRB regulations reinforce this. Because it generates high administrative costs, our system has created a sort of marketplace in ethics review, in which a small number of for-profit boards compete for clients based on their efficiency. This is a very weird way of handling ethics review, and very different from the way they do it in other wealthy democracies.

The advantage of our American system is that it can’t be easily dismantled by anti-regulatory politicians. But one disadvantage is that it creates potential conflicts of interests: you have researchers and sponsors shopping in a marketplace of IRB services and paying the board they select to regulate them. We haven’t had an outbreak of research scandals since the 1990s. I really hope that we don’t look back on this time as the calm before the storm.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 02/21/2020 - 01:00
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Texas Southern Board Nixes a Far-Reaching Power to Fire After Chronicle Reporting

The change follows alerts that the board’s new bylaws, which were passed in October, posed a “grave risk.” But the regents kept a similar authority on the books.

UK private sector accommodation heats up

The PIE News - jeu, 02/20/2020 - 11:06

Students in the UK are increasingly living in private sector halls of residence. Numbers rose by around 10,000 in 2018/19 – to a total of almost 160,700 – up 7% from 2017/18 figures. It’s a result of student demand, enrolment increases and educators wanting to focus on education – and private accommodation providers anticipate further growth, they say.

Annual HESA statistics showed that the latest total of students in private sector halls of residence marked a 36% increase from 2014/15 numbers.

“Amenities and communal spaces are key things students consider when choosing university accommodation”

Investors seem to be taking note – a report has suggested transaction values in student housing could exceed £7.5 billion over the next 12 months.

While figures include both domestic and international students, providers have indicated they are buoyed by an increase in international student numbers in the UK, with students opting for better amenities and comfort over traditional university accommodation.

Founder and director of student accommodation search engine www.Mystudenthalls.com, Dan Roberts, explains that the purpose-built student accommodation demand surge is due to changing priorities for students.

“In the past few years, we have seen a surge in demand for PBSA – particularly when it comes to international students studying in the UK,” he notes.

“[Students] are now looking for more than just a place to sleep and instead want a home away from home, where they can accommodate their wider lifestyle with amenities that suit them,” Roberts tells The PIE News – adding that services include on-site eateries, gyms, dedicated study areas and cinemas.

“Providers are now creating unique and vibrant student communities, not just “student accommodation”,” he says.

Students hold those high-quality facilities in high regard, according to CEO of Student Roost Nathan Goddard.

Aiming to create a “united community” for all students, Student Roost hosts regular events to celebrate cultural days to give “international students an opportunity to share their traditions, but for them to learn and experience local celebrations too”.

“This is something we pride ourselves on and students appreciate experiencing different cultures and customers – which enriches their time at university,” he says.

“Amenities and communal spaces are key things students consider when choosing university accommodation so they can enjoy and make full use of where they live.

“PBSAs offer students everything they need under one roof… so their homes are spaces to live, work and socialise in,” Goddard says.

Photo: Student Roost

PBSAs offer much more flexibility, Goddard continues. “Student Roost pioneers a customer-centric approach which allows students to choose their contract length, room type, and tailor their payment plan.”

Additionally, international students are attracted to Student Roost’s offering due to the steps it has taken to make the moving in process as “smooth as possible”, he adds.

International students are not required to have a UK-based guarantor and by working with international agents, the booking process for Student Roost properties is simplified, he notes.

“We cater to international students by allowing them to move in earlier or extend their tenancy as required. There is also a flexible cancellation policy for students whose studies are dependent on successful visa applications.”

Additionally, Student Roost has multi-lingual speakers to “help integrate international and domestic students”.

“International student flows show no signs of slowing, so we confidently predict an increase in the numbers of international students as our number of Roosts increase across the UK,” Goddard adds.

With non-EU international students representing 69% of its residents, GCP Student is also seeing increased demand from overseas students.

Gravis Capital Management Limited director, Nick Barker, has previously noted that the company is “well-positioned to benefit from the severe shortage of supply for private student accommodation coupled with increasing numbers of international students choosing to study in London”.

“One thing we’ve noticed is the growth in applicants from China and India has been propelled lately,” Barker notes.

“The two year post study visa news helps and puts the UK on an equal footing to other top English taught university destinations,” he says, adding that current US-China relations have also “made the UK more attractive” for international students.

CRM Students – with 25,000+ beds across 60+ UK sites – sees PBSA as a “more simple option and one which provides more safety and security, as well as more facilities than traditional off-street housing”.

The company says the increase in the “proportion of international students choosing PBSA has coincided with an increase in international students seeking a UK degree”.

This rise has also occurred at the same time as more PBSA stock is being delivered into the market, hence the dramatic 7% increase as seen in the recent HESA data, the company notes.

CRM is more demand from both domestic and international students, according to its CEO Stewart Moore.

“Over 50% of CRM’s students are from overseas and we see no end to this,” he tells The PIE.

“The UK’s universities continue to be amongst the best in the world, the experience of being a student in the UK is second-to-none and the recent changes to the immigration status of recent graduates mean that the UK will continue to attract students from beyond our own shores,” Moore adds.

“We remain positive that the number of internationals choosing to live with us will rise over the foreseeable”

He also states “PBSA in the UK is a well-established market and one which provides international students with a wide-range of price points, offered in a safe and secure environment”.

“Brexit and other global factors can still cause some ripples to the number of students entering the UK, but with PBSA being the accommodation of choice for this group, we remain positive that the number of internationals choosing to live with us will rise over the foreseeable future.”

Managing director of Britannia Student Services, Michele da Silva, says there is a “definite upward trend in international students, at the point of the first enquiry, requesting private halls of residence over the traditional homestay”.

Britannia provides halls of residence, homestays, shared apartments and houses. The increase is “borne out in the industry by a large number of new PBSA, which have been built in the last two-three years”, da Silva suggests.

“Developers are responding to student expectation and demand by constructing private halls that compete with each other on high standards, choice of room types and additional facilities offered,” she says.

The UK student housing market reached £5.2 billion in 2019 – the second-highest year on record after 2015 – according to the JLL UK Living Capital Markets Q4 Report.

Transactions in 2019 were however bolstered by two key deals – the £2.2bn Unite acquisition of Liberty Living and the potential IPO sale of iQ, with an expected price of in excess of £4 billion, the report reveals.

“Student housing is the big Living investment story of 2019, and with some significant new opportunities about to break into the market, we don’t expect a slowdown any time soon,” Simon Scott, lead director, UK Living Capital Markets, JLL says.

While da Silva notes that homestays are still a popular choice of accommodation, international students are also showing a marked preference for private halls.

“They are likely to be more centrally located and many offer a private bathroom (rare in homestays) and self-catering cooking facilities,” she said, adding students enjoy “the independence of living in a private hall”.

Demand for group accommodation for under 18s during summer months in private halls of residence is also increasing, she adds.

Lack of capacity means that universities tend “only to be able to provide housing for first-year students”, while private options are more flexible.

“We have always been in a position to offer a choice of year-round accommodation to international students – through our own inventory in private halls and our own residences such as Britannia South Bank in Southwark and a 134-bedroom student hotel, Britannia Study Hotel, in Brighton,” da Silva explains.

According to Chief Relationship Officer at Unilodgers, Vincenzo Raimo, it is clear more students are demanding better accommodation than the Houses of Multiple Occupancy sector has provided.

However, the proportion of students in private sector halls remains small compared with those in HMOs, he highlights.

“With the expected growth in the university sector over the coming decade more private halls are going to be needed to keep pace with demand,” he says.

“The uncertainty that universities face in terms of future income and the desire to increasingly focus on core academic services means that most don’t have access to the resources to build their own accommodation to meet growing demand.”

“More private halls are going to be needed to keep pace with demand”

Partnerships which PBSA and universities are developing are “vital if universities are to meet future demand in terms of both volume and quality”, Raimo adds.

Raimo says that the number of users of the Unilodgers site has “grown massively over the past few months” , with growth driven in part by the “increasing attractiveness of the UK compared to other destinations”.

“Last month users searching for private halls on Unilodgers web site increased by more than double over the same period last year with particularly large increases seen from India growing almost three times in January 2020 compared to January 2019,” Raimo adds.

The post UK private sector accommodation heats up appeared first on The PIE News.

ETS announces instant access TOEFL iBT scores

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post ETS announces instant access TOEFL iBT scores appeared first on The PIE News.

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

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

A pipeline through historically native land has sparked protests in Canada

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

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

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

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

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