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Purdue to play key role in Infosys U.S. hiring and training push

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Purdue University unveiled another outside-the-box move Thursday, announcing a five-year deal with one of India’s largest technology outsourcing firms, Infosys, under which the university will perform joint research and provide training and classes for the company's employees.

The two parties cast the deal as a significant step in work-force development in both Indiana and the U.S. Given Purdue’s high profile as a public research university, it could also prove to be a notable step for higher education, moving four-year institutions further into job training more typically performed by community colleges and for-profits.

Purdue administrators hope the partnership addresses a feared talent gap in Indiana between the state’s available workers and the technically skilled candidates employers are seeking. Leaders at Infosys, which has traditionally relied heavily on importing foreign workers on visas to meet U.S. labor market needs, see the agreement as a linchpin in an effort to hire 10,000 American employees across the country over the next several years.

Leaders at Purdue are signing on to the agreement with Infosys just months after announcing the controversial acquisition of the online Kaplan University in April. The fruits of that pending acquisition, which will have Purdue taking the for-profit chain’s academic operations and turning it into a Purdue-branded nonprofit online university, could potentially be used for Infosys training.

Some Purdue faculty members are already unhappy with the new partnership, because they were not consulted about it beforehand. They were previously unsettled by not being brought to the table as the Kaplan acquisition was being formulated, and they see the Infosys deal as another infringement on their role of controlling curriculum.

But outside experts found a lot to like. They note that the agreement between Purdue and Infosys appears to approximate practices already in place at many community colleges and employers across the United States. Infosys also follows a similar training model in India, they said.

Purdue announced the partnership Thursday after Infosys earlier this year said it would locate a significant portion of its U.S. expansion efforts in Indianapolis. The company generates $9.5 billion in annual revenue and employs about 200,000 people worldwide, including a reported 27,000 in the United States.

It has said it could hire as many as 2,000 people in Indianapolis by 2021, spending millions to create what would essentially be a U.S. headquarters. State officials lured the company with an incentives package that could be worth as much as $31 million in training grants and conditional tax credits. The company plans to hire 10,000 American workers over two years at four U.S. hubs.

The U.S. hiring was seen as a concession to both changing demand for skilled workers and political realities in the United States. Infosys is one of the largest petitioners for H-1B visas for skilled workers in the country, hiring engineers from India and then outsourcing them to a wide range of companies in the United States for services like engineering and programming. That practice has sometimes been criticized as using foreign workers to undercut U.S. workers’ wages. President Trump has criticized the H-1B program, and his administration has said it will take measures against fraud and abuse in the system.

Infosys leaders have also said their U.S. clients want more locally based employees. Skilled labor is reportedly becoming harder to find in India.

“We have to create, organically, talent for the future,” said Ravi Kumar S., Infosys's president and deputy chief operating officer, in a telephone interview. “The company’s core DNA and culture is focused on training and learning and education.”

Infosys will be hiring employees who graduate from Purdue, so it made sense to work with the university for training, he said. The university’s Kaplan acquisition could also help it craft online training for employees.

Purdue released few details of its agreement with the company Thursday. The university will provide classes and training for “many” of the 10,000 American employees that the company plans to hire over the next two years. New employees will receive much of the training at the university’s campus in West Lafayette. “Lifelong learning” opportunities for existing Infosys employees will also become available online.

The university and company also plan to perform joint research and development of course materials. Those efforts will be focused on areas of strength at Purdue, like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, biopharma analytics, digital agriculture and data analytics. A center is also planned at Purdue that will seek interdisciplinary ways to solve problems faced by Infosys clients.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The partnership could mean “millions of dollars in joint research,” according to a press release.

Training of Infosys employees at Purdue has already started, according to Suresh Garimella, the university’s executive vice president for research and partnerships and a professor of mechanical engineering. About 75 employees began training last month under a program that is about eight weeks long.

Purdue is merely hosting the training right now -- Purdue faculty members are not teaching the courses, Garimella added. As the partnership evolves, the university will likely enrich training offerings and provide some training itself, potentially with faculty members. Infosys will pay Purdue for services the university provides.

“There is new employee training, but also, one of the exciting things is they would like us to co-develop training or lifelong continued education for their employees in specialist courses,” Garimella said. “Those would be both online and on-site. We’re planning them right now, and those would be in computer science and engineering management and so on.”

Garimella hopes Purdue can develop course materials to be used for Infosys across the U.S. and in India. The company plans three U.S. hubs outside Indiana in its U.S. hiring push where training will likely be required.

Infosys has already announced one of those hubs as being in North Carolina. It plans to hire 2,000 in Wake County over five years under a plan that includes state incentives of as much as $22.4 million. The company’s state incentives package in North Carolina also includes job training from the North Carolina Community College System.

The 58-college system does not yet have a concrete plan for Infosys, said Maureen Little, vice president of economic development. Because of the number of jobs involved, the effort will be a major project for the system. But much of the system’s activity is customized training for employers. It was founded around the concept of work-force development, she said.

“That’s how we got brought to the table,” she said. “Being able to work with a company, develop, design and deliver a training plan that is specific to that company’s needs.”

The Research University Role

The type of arrangements Infosys is setting up are more common at the community college level in the United States. But even elite four-year institutions have some element of work-force development.

“It does occur in research universities, it’s just more upscale,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce and a research professor at the university.

The term "training" can sound too vocational for many in higher education, he said. But many programs in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health care have elements of employer training. They just often have more highbrow names, like "internships."

What’s different about Purdue is that the university appears to be publicly contracting out the relationship and casting it as work-force development.

“It is a well-established market,” Carnevale said. “The question is, will this market spread at four-year institutions?”

Another unanswered question is on the financial end. Training can be a cash cow. And that can be helpful for universities like Purdue, which are operating in an environment of constrained state funding -- providing contract terms are generous enough.

“I think it’s smart,” Carnevale said. “I don’t know what comes of it. Clearly it’s a good contract to get. The question is, do you get full overhead? That’s always the issue, at least in my experience.”

Left Out

Some Purdue faculty members do not like the deal, however. They raised questions about the arrangement almost as soon as it was announced. Will Purdue be hiring new instructors? If so, where? Will some professors receive extra compensation?

The overriding issue is that faculty members cherish their traditional role as stewards of the curriculum. But the faculty’s governance body was not consulted about the deal, according to David Sanders, the immediate past chair of Purdue’s University Senate and an associate professor in its department of biological sciences.

“It seems that we’re going to be negotiating with an outside source about what is our curriculum,” he said. “The Senate leadership was not, a far as I know, involved.”

Faculty with relevant expertise took part in discussions with Infosys, said Garimella, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships. Many were excited about the coming possibilities, he said.

But for Sanders, the Infosys deal is one more blow against faculty governance at Purdue. He was unhappy when the university moved on the Kaplan acquisition without consulting the Faculty Senate.

Moreover, more and more Purdue research seems to be funded by corporations, Sanders said.

“I have long been concerned about the direction that our president and Board of Trustees are taking the university,” he said. “I believe they are just trying to make us a corporate training ground. That, I do not think, is the role of a place like Purdue University.”

Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels, is a Republican former governor of Indiana. He has been willing to try out new strategies since taking over at Purdue, not only with the Kaplan acquisition and the Infosys deal, but with income-sharing agreements and competency-based education. Daniels has also taken to speaking in soaring rhetoric about Purdue’s mission as a land-grant university for many state residents.

A partnership between Purdue and Infosys seems sensible, said Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and the director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania. Cappelli has researched skills gaps and shortages in the United States and is familiar with Infosys and other business services outsourcing companies based in India.

Infosys mainly operates by hiring people in India and training them in information technology, Cappelli said. There, they tend to be aggressive about rolling out curricula and bringing in teachers.

“They’re pretty used to this,” Cappelli said. “The interesting question is, why don’t U.S. companies do this?”

Editorial Tags: Job trainingResearch universitiesImage Source: Megan Huckaby, Purdue News ServiceImage Caption: Ravi Kumar S., Infosys president and deputy chief operating officer, and Suresh Garimella, Purdue University’s executive vice president for research and partnerships and a professor of mechanical engineering, sign an agreement Thursday.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Report questions whether elite colleges do enough to enroll low-income students

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and its leaders, with some regularity, draw attention to a disconcerting reality of American higher education: many academically talented low-income college students who could succeed at the most elite American colleges and universities don't apply and don't know about the availability of aid that would make enrolling possible. The foundation criticizes the way many colleges recruit (with insufficient attention to those in low-income neighborhoods) and policies such as the use of binding early decision. Because applicants who apply under binding early decision programs must commit to enroll if admitted, many low-income students feel excluded, as they need to compare multiple aid offers to decide where to enroll.

A report issued Thursday -- "Opening Doors: How Selective Colleges and Universities Are Expanding Access for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students" -- praises some colleges for doing more to recruit these students, and suggests that there is much more to be done. The report recommends eliminating early decision, ending admissions preferences for athletes and alumni children, and limiting the use of standardized admissions tests.

But the report also gets a bit more granular and calls out colleges by name for some of their admissions and aid policies -- for the way they describe fee-waiver rules, how they introduce tools to let potential students figure out aid eligibility, and for the practice of many top institutions of blocking the use of a tool that the foundation says could help many prospective students and families.

The foundation starts off with evidence of why there is a problem in admissions -- based on a survey of the kind of high school students most colleges say they very much want to recruit: those from low-income families who have a grade point average of 3.8 and SAT or ACT scores in the top 15th percentile nationally.

The survey results show that concerns about college costs discourage one in three high-achieving low-income students from applying to any college. Further, 44 percent of these students never visit their top-choice college and 23 percent apply with no help from parents, teachers or counselors. These types of statistics point to all kinds of lost opportunities, the report says, and other research backs up. For instance, not visiting a top college means that these potential students don't know their opportunities there, but also -- as a recent study illustrated -- that their chances of admission may be diminished.

Fee Waivers, Beyond Just Offering Them

Most colleges and universities charge application fees ($65 is common, and some fees are higher). While the fees may seem small in the context of the total price of attending a private college, many low-income students report that they don't have the money. Colleges that have dropped application fees or made waivers automatic for many applicants have reported significant gains in the number of low-income students who apply, and who enroll.

Almost all colleges participate in programs that allow applicants to seek a waiver for application fees. But the foundation's survey suggests that this isn't working as well as it could.

Thirty-five percent of those in the group of low-income students never applied for a fee waiver, with most of them saying that they didn't know they would qualify. The report recommends that colleges do a better job of publicizing the availability of waivers and make waivers simple and easy to get. And to drive home its point, the report cites language on some college websites that it says illustrates the problem, not the solution.

For example, here is the policy the foundation found at the University of Miami: "The University of Miami accepts fee waivers from the College Board, NACAC or ACT. UM does not grant fee waivers for applicants. University of Miami employees or dependents of employees may apply using the option 'School-specific fee waiver.' If you have questions about receiving a fee waiver, you should speak to your guidance counselor."

The foundation's analysis: "The University of Miami does not grant fee waivers across the board. It appears that each waiver must be sought separately. This is especially burdensome."

The university issued this statement: "The University of Miami grants application fee waivers for all students who demonstrate financial hardship. Students can work with their high school counselor to obtain a fee waiver from College Board, NACAC, or ACT. One of the University's roadmap initiatives is to meet 100 percent of students' demonstrated financial need by our centennial in 2025, so it is evident that socioeconomic diversity in the student body is a priority."

Net Price Calculators

The report reviews net price calculators -- which in theory let a potential applicant know roughly how much aid they should receive -- at many college websites. Reviewing the calculators of Yale University and Wellesley College, the report finds the latter much more friendly to low-income students. (The Yale site is here and Wellesley's is here.)

The foundation's critique: "Observe that the first example from Yale makes certain assumptions about students that may not be true for those from low-income families: that students have access to their parent’s tax returns; that families have savings, checking, investment and retirement accounts; that family assets may exceed $200,000. Contrast these assumptions with the simpler, more welcoming language of Wellesley’s."

Yale did not respond to a request for comment.

The report also strongly endorses use of the Pell Abacus, a tool that allows low-income students, without much detail about their family finances, to get a sense of aid eligibility at various colleges. The simplicity of the tool, and its ability to allow for comparisons, makes it ideal for many students, the report says.

But 31 elite colleges, the report says, block use of the tool (which requires some connection to a college's website). The New York Times reported last year on the trend of blocking Pell Abacus, and also noted that few colleges doing so provide detailed information on their rationales.

Many of these colleges still aren't anxious to provide detail.

A spokesman for Princeton University said via email, "Princeton has its own financial aid calculator, which is available to the public and is more accurate in presenting cost and aid calculations for prospective students. Therefore, we do not see the need for an external tool."

One institution among the 31 is considering a possible change. A spokesman for Bowdoin College said via email, "The topic of whether to provide access to [Pell] Abacus is on the table and we are certainly willing to consider it. Our goal here is transparency. We want to encourage families to use our [net-price calculator] and to contact us directly if they have questions or concerns about the results. As you know, Bowdoin is need-blind. We meet 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated need for all four years with grant aid and a small work award (no loans), and we’ll talk with anyone about their situation, but we also want to be careful to protect their data. If we open the door to [Pell] Abacus -- which says it does not sell data -- what prevents another less scrupulous company from offering another tool that is not as safe? So, we’ll talk about this, and I would be happy to let you know if we make a change."

Jennifer Glynn, director of research and evaluation at the foundation and author of the report, acknowledged in an interview that calling out colleges was a new approach for the organization. She noted that much of the report is a positive look at policies working at various colleges.

"I think the focus is on what colleges should be doing and highlighting examples that highlight specific schools," she said. But the critiques were also important, and were not designed to pick on any college.

"Every school has something that it can change," she said.

 

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San Jose State criticized for return to campus of professor found to have harassed a student

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

More and more institutions are taking a zero-tolerance approach to harassment by faculty members. So some at San Jose State University are wondering why the university is welcoming back to campus a professor found guilty of repeatedly asking a graduate student to date him. An additional complaint was lodged against the professor in 2014.

The professor, Lewis Aptekar, is scheduled to teach two classes this fall in the graduate program in counseling education: one on research methods and -- ironically, say his critics -- one on trauma counseling and crisis intervention. He’s also slated for advising, admissions and curricular duties.

An earlier investigation by The Mercury News found that Aptekar remained chair of his department for five months after he was found to have harassed his student, by asking her repeatedly in class whether she was single and inviting her on dates (the investigation reportedly turned up allegations that he’d done the same to another student, in 2013, asking her to come to his office for “personal counseling”). Aptekar was put on paid leave in 2016, after the newspaper began its investigation.

Aptekar did not respond to a request for comment. The university said in a statement this week that it “thoroughly investigates allegations of employee misconduct” and takes action based on “what the facts tell us.”

San Jose State said it investigated two separate complaints, from 2014 and 2015, respectively, of sexual harassment against Aptekar. The more recent case came to light first, it said, and the allegations were substantiated -- resulting in a two-week suspension without pay and mandatory diversity training for Aptekar. He also stepped down as chair, the university said.

Aptekar was later placed on leave as the 2014 complaint was investigated, but the allegations were not substantiated and no appeals were filed, according to San Jose State. Thus, “Aptekar’s administrative leave has been lifted,” the university said, though he will not be serving as an adviser to students and has “elected a reduced workload as a first step toward retirement.” (He’ll still be involved in advising efforts, including an all-student advising meeting, according to a department memo, however.)

Elisa Stewart, Aptekar’s lawyer, previously told The Mercury News that Aptekar “has based his career on educating students to be excellent education counselors” and that he felt “vindicated" by the university’s investigation.

Others on campus aren’t so happy about Aptekar's return. Valerie Lamb, a student in the department, said via email that "we are all very infuriated with the situation." A protest is being planned.

One of Aptekar's department colleagues, Jason Laker, has sued San Jose State, alleging a cover-up of claims against Aptekar.

“They should not have allowed him back on campus,” Laker said in an interview. “And the irony is that now he’s teaching a counselor-education course in trauma counseling -- is this comedy?”

Laker said he was approached by a student in 2015 who alleged that Aptekar had harassed her, and he helped her launch a complaint. He says he was called a liar and otherwise retaliated against by colleagues involved in the case for his efforts, and so filed his own lawsuit -- but only after trying to resolve the issue internally, he said.

“I’ve spent 25 years in higher ed and never sued anybody,” Laker said. “I tried to meet with the president and provost, and at this point, excuse my French, I’m sort of out of fucks.”

Laker’s suit alleges that the university knew about the 2014 complaint prior to the 2015 case, but failed to investigate it -- or use it as evidence in the later case. The university has said administrators did not know about an earlier complaint by students. But a complaint was in fact filed by an associate dean on behalf of two students who wished to remain anonymous.

The university said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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Paper looks at gender norms' role in disparities in majors

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Women and men are, in theory, free to choose their college majors without any interference. So why do majors -- and in turn, certain jobs and roles in society -- remain segregated?

Many women in STEM fields, for example, have cited discrimination and discriminatory attitudes as hardships they face in academia and in the private sector, and a new paper adds another factor to the mix: feminine norms, and how women perceive and adhere to femininity.

“Cultural perspectives on college major choice posit that the gender norms, stereotypes and beliefs individuals internalize contribute to persistent gender segregation in college majors,” the paper, authored by Oklahoma sociologists Ann Beutel, Stephanie W. Burge, and B. Ann Borden and published in the journal Gender Studies, reads. “Yet relatively little attention has been paid to how young women’s adherence to feminine norms may be associated with college major choice.”

The researchers found that conformity to feminine norms was associated negatively with a woman’s odds of choosing STEM and common pre-med majors, as well as arts and humanities majors. Conformity had a positive relationship with a woman’s odds of choosing majors in the social sciences, education and social services.

And while the study sampled 1,100 women enrolled at an unnamed four-year public university in the south-central U.S., its implications go far beyond just the male-to-female ratio of a classroom, department or college.

“In sum, although women’s participation in higher education has increased, persistent gender stratification in college majors contributes to gender stratification in the contemporary labor market, with women generally faring worse than men in terms of employment and earnings,” the paper reads.

The paper argues that because culture, media and literature emphasize women’s role in caregiving, for example, they also affect women’s preferences.

“Through socialization processes, children and adolescents learn and internalize these gender norms, stereotypes and beliefs, and in turn develop their own gendered preferences,” the paper reads. Additionally, women’s gendered expectations about their futures -- having roles as a wife and a mother -- might influence them to choose majors that would lead to occupations that would be more compatible for caring for a family.

That being said, the paper argues, it would follow that how women perceive their femininity can change how they view what major they should choose. The researchers measured how much their sample group adhered to norms associated with women’s role in U.S. society, among eight subsections:

  • Being nice in relationships
  • Caring for children
  • Thinness
  • Sexual fidelity
  • Modesty
  • Romantic relationships
  • Domesticity
  • Investing in appearances

Factors such as respondents’ race and ethnicity, year in college, as well as their parents’ education, were controlled.

The more that women perceived themselves as adhering to feminine norms, the more likely they were to avoid majors such as STEM or common pre-med majors. However, there were also variations in which subsections were associated with which majors.

For example, while one of the feminine norms was niceness in relationships, higher scores for adhering to that norm were associated with higher odds of choosing a major from the arts and humanities -- a section of majors that women who adhere to the norms had less odds of choosing overall.

“We found that, with background factors controlled, general (overall) conformity to feminine norms, as measured by the total [Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory] scale score, was associated negatively with women’s odds of choosing STEM and doctoral-track medicine majors, as well as arts and humanities majors, relative to choosing majors in social sciences, education and social services,” the paper reads. “Total CFNI scale scores had no significant associations with choosing a major from clinical and health sciences, business, and communication and journalism relative to choosing a major from social sciences, education and social services.”

The authors note that the study does face some limitations -- namely, that the data can only point to associations, not causations. Additionally, the authors posit what data could be gleaned from measuring women’s conformity to masculine norms, using the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory as a complement to the CFNI.

“Yet, as the results of our study suggest for feminine norms, associations between specific masculine norms and majoring in a specific field of study could be complex … Clearly, our understanding of the role of gender norms in the lives of contemporary young women and young men would be enhanced if we could examine how specific feminine and masculine norms are associated with their choice of college major.”

Despite these limitations, however, the paper could be a jumping-off point for further study of gender disparities among majors and in employment.

“Though young women have made tremendous strides in their overall level of educational attainment, gender segregation of college majors has persisted,” the paper concludes. “Our results suggest that at least some of the barriers to increased gender integration of academic fields of study may come from cultural norms about gender, and in particular femininity, which have been durable in spite of increases in gender egalitarian ideology and women’s educational attainment and labor force participation.”

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Eastern Michigan and other universities tell international students '#YouAreWelcomeHere'

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Eastern Michigan University is going all out to recognize its international students.

The university is installing 108 banners featuring 108 students from more than 40 countries. The banners, which are being installed on light posts across the campus and into the surrounding city of Ypsilanti, include the hashtag “#YouAreWelcomeHere” and are one manifestation of a national campaign by that name to communicate American universities’ openness to international students.

“The overall message of being a welcoming environment for international students has just been received very positively,” said Walter Kraft, Eastern Michigan’s vice president for communications.

Banner on Eastern Michigan campus with "That's true, you are welcome here" and photo of an international student from India.Eastern Michigan changes out its light-post banners annually to recognize various groups on campus. Last year the banners featured the university’s Honors College students, and in past years they’ve featured faculty members and alumni. This is the first time the university has recognized its international students in this way.

Eastern Michigan, which is in the greater Detroit area, enrolls nearly 1,000 students from more than 80 countries, with the largest groups coming from India, China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Iran, Brazil, France, Taiwan and Turkey.

In addition to the banners, Eastern Michigan is promoting the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign on its social media channels, with a typical post featuring the picture, name and major of one of the 108 students featured on the banners and a quote about why they chose Eastern Michigan. The university also plans to install a 23-foot-tall, 80-foot-wide banner featuring all 108 images on the wall of a parking garage in the center of campus.

The university has also created a video as part of the campaign (below).

“We had kind of an open casting call or whatever you might want to call it late last spring while students were still on campus,” Kraft said. “We just invited anyone who wanted to participate to come out for a video shoot and these photographs.”

“We ended up with 100, 200 people who came out,” he said. “Many students who were not international students wanted to come out and have themselves videoed saying, ‘You are welcome here.’”

Eastern Michigan banner showing Veronica Konglim, an international student from Cameroon.One of the students featured in the campaign is Veronica Konglim (right), a Ph.D. student from Cameroon who is studying education. Konglim first came to Eastern Michigan on a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages in 2009. After graduating in 2011, she returned to Cameroon, only to come back to Eastern Michigan to take up a Ph.D. two years later.

“I came back because I loved it here and I wanted to do a Ph.D.,” she said. “I had built a community here and I love the campus and the city of Ypsilanti, and besides studying I also did a lot of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. It’s something that I really enjoyed. When I had the opportunity to come back, I did not hesitate.”

“I truly do feel welcome here, so I thought maybe this is something I should really be a part of,” she said. “It was an opportunity for me to say thank you and to confirm, that yes, this is really true, I really do feel welcome here, and if anyone out there is thinking about coming here and is hesitant, my story should be a testimony that this campus is really welcoming.”

More than 250 colleges and universities have joined the national #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, which is being coordinated out of Temple University and has received the support of organizations including the National Association for College Admission Counseling and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The State Department's Bureau of International and Cultural Affairs has also promoted the hashtag on its Twitter feed.

A similar campaign in the U.K., #WeAreInternational, has the support of more than 160 universities there. That campaign started in 2013 after international students expressed concerns about negative media coverage and certain political statements about immigration, according to the #WeAreInternational website.

Many colleges participating in the U.S. campaign have created videos like Eastern Michigan's conveying the YouAreWelcomeHere message. The first such video -- and the first use of the hashtag for this purpose -- came from the international education company Study Group, which published a video last November featuring some of its partner universities.

The #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign developed in the wake of last year’s presidential election and gained steam after President Trump’s executive order barring travel to the U.S. by nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries (after the ban was halted by the courts, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this summer to allow a modified version of the travel ban to go into effect). Many in international education have reported hearing concerns from international students about feeling unwelcome in the U.S., as well as concerns about their physical safety and ability to secure a visa.

"The reason this struck me as an important message is that it's simple and it’s positive and it’s kind of a countervailing message to a lot of the other negative images and messages that are out there," said Jessica Sandberg, the director of international admissions at Temple and the person leading the campaign.

“At the time that this idea came to light, we were facing a flurry of concerns form students, prospective and current international students, and also there was an awareness, I think, among international educators that a lot of the stories and the news and the images that were coming out of the United States at that time and unfortunately have continued until now have been very negative,” said Sandberg.

She continued, “If you work in international student admissions, then talking about safety is not new -- that’s always been a concern for international families -- but it’s escalated this year. They see that there’s a lot of internal disagreement in the United States, and concerns about xenophobia and general unrest.”

Sandberg said the videos that many universities have created as part of the campaign “show what daily life is like. If you watch the news and you see this unrest, you forget the fact that people are just going to work and school and studying in classes and going to social gatherings. We wanted to show this is what it really looks like on a day-to-day basis.”

“The other piece that I think is important is, generally, international prospective students are hearing from people like me who work in international admissions,” she said. “We wanted the campaign messages and videos to show that the support for international students isn’t just isolated to people who work in this profession, but it’s university presidents, the cheerleader and the football player and the faculty members.”

A list of participating universities -- and links to the videos they've produced -- is available here.

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Virginia students "take back" their campus with march for unity and inclusiveness

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 03:10

Thousands marched at the University of Virginia Wednesday night, retracing the route white supremacists took Friday but with a very different message.

Students, joined by faculty members, employees, alumni and local residents, spoke about their outrage at the hateful ideas of those who marched Friday. That march included Nazi chants.

During the march on Wednesday night, participants sang “We Shall Overcome,” “Amazing Grace,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “This Land Is Your Land” and “Lean on Me” -- as well as University of Virginia songs.

One of the speakers was Ryan Keen, who is starting his senior year.

“The greatest power we have to heal is our ability to support each other,” he said. “We have to show what we stand for and what it means to be inclusive. We will not stand for the hate that has been shown here.”

The event included a moment of silence for Heather Heyer, a local resident who was killed when a car slammed into anti-supremacist protesters on Saturday, and for state troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates. They were helping to monitor the events organized by supremacists on Saturday when their helicopter crashed and they were killed.

Some at the event spoke about how angry they were to see white supremacists at the center of the UVA campus, and how they wanted to make a statement and to "take back the lawn," as the space on campus is known.

The university has a full account of Wednesday night's march here.

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New data explain Republican loss of confidence in higher education

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Not only do Republicans and Democrats have different levels of confidence in higher education, but they are coming at the issue by focusing on different issues, a new poll by Gallup shows. Republicans who distrust higher education focus on campus politics, while the smaller share of Democrats who distrust higher education tend to focus on rising college prices, the pollster found.

The data were released a month after a report from the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Republicans say colleges have a negative impact on the direction of the United States. The shift was dramatic. Two years ago, Pew found that 54 percent of Republicans said colleges had a positive impact on the direction of the United States, while this year 58 percent said colleges had a negative effect. Among Democrats, 72 percent this year viewed colleges as having a positive impact on the direction of the country.

Gallup set out to see if it would find similar partisan shifts in the view of higher education, and -- if so -- why members of the two major parties were splitting in this way. Gallup's findings largely confirm those of Pew -- a growing partisan divide on higher education.

First Gallup asked people if they have confidence in colleges and universities. (The question did not specify two-year vs. four-year, public vs. private, etc.)

How Much Confidence Do You Have in Higher Education?

  Great Deal/Quite a Lot Some or Very Little All 44% 56% Republicans (or leaning) 33% 67% Democrats (or leaning) 56% 43%

Then Gallup asked those with little or no confidence in higher education to identify reasons for their lack of confidence. Here Republicans focused on political issues and Democrats focused on more practical issues (such as paying for college). The question here was open-ended and Gallup grouped similar responses and provided the top answers.

What Are Some of the Reasons You Do Not Have a Lot of Confidence in Higher Education?

  Republicans (or leaning) Democrats (or leaning) Too expensive 11% 36% Too liberal/political 32% 1% Not allowing students to think for themselves, pushing an agenda 21% 6% Students not properly educated/education not relevant 13% 9% Poor leadership/not well run 9% 14% Graduates unable to find jobs 7% 10% Overall quality is going down 4% 11% Not focused on education/too much focus on sports 2% 5% Poor quality of professors or other employees 4% 2% Too easy to get an education/students don't take it seriously 3% 2%

Gallup also asked those with high confidence levels in higher education why they felt that way, again grouping together open-ended responses. The answers show that many Republicans seem to feel good about their own or their relatives' experiences in higher education, and that they are more likely than Democrats to believe that earning a college degree is essential for career success.

What Are Some Reasons Why You Have a Lot of Confidence in Colleges and Universities?

  Republicans (or leaning) Democrats (or leaning) Personal experience/family member/myself enrolled or graduated/college employee 32% 24% Higher education is essential to the country 16% 17% Students are well trained/educated and doing a good job 12% 20% U.S. colleges are advanced and among the best in the world 9% 10% Need a degree to get better jobs/opportunities 15% 6% Prepares students for real life/to get ahead 7% 9% Teaches students to have an open mind/to appreciate other ideas/diversity 5% 7% Good professors/instructors/administrators 2% 6% Trains students to think for themselves 2% 5%

To be sure, some Republicans have long criticized higher education for being too liberal. Jesse Helms, the late senator who was long a hero to the far right, once said of plans for a zoo in North Carolina, "Why build a zoo when we can just put up a fence around Chapel Hill?" And bashing universities -- the University of California, Berkeley, or Harvard University, or the Ivy League generally -- has long been a part of Republican rhetoric.

But perhaps more quietly, support for much of higher education -- public and private -- has been bipartisan. Democrats might have been more generous with funding in some years, or more focused on low-income students. But Republicans have been strong proponents over time of building up universities' research capabilities. And support for community colleges and many regional institutions comes from lawmakers of both parties working to support local colleges.

In this context, the Pew and Gallup findings suggest a shift in attitudes in which Republicans have a much stronger aversion to the direction of higher education, which they see as too liberal. The questions asked in the Gallup study were so general (without any definition of "college") that many may not have thought of parts of higher education (community colleges, evangelical colleges or professionally oriented online programs) that look nothing like the residential liberal arts colleges that are mocked -- many times inaccurately -- in the conservative blogosphere on a daily basis.

An analysis released by Gallup, while not endorsing the views of the Republicans surveyed, says that their attitudes could have a significant impact on higher education.

"The effect of this divide on views of higher education -- a pivotal element of the American dream for so many -- raises questions about the future of higher education in this country," the Gallup analysis says. "To what degree will diminished confidence in higher education among Republicans lead to decreased public support and funding for colleges and universities? Or, will Republican families be less likely to send their children to traditional colleges and universities, and instead seek other ways to educate them? Will various colleges and universities begin to align their brands and curricula increasingly along party lines? Is there any hope that this partisan divide on views of higher education will diminish -- and if so, what would bring that about?"

Indeed, regardless of what one thinks of Republican attitudes, Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Of particular relevance to public higher education, 34 of the nation's governors are Republicans.

Brandon H. Busteed, executive director for education and work-force development at Gallup, said in an interview that he thought it was important for colleges to think about their "marketing and communication messages" on a range of issues. For example, many competitive colleges consider race and ethnicity in admissions -- and polls suggest majorities of white voters favor the end of such forms of affirmative action.

Busteed said that colleges need to think about the way many critics of affirmative action believe that admissions are based on a pure academic meritocracy, except for minority students. He said colleges should talk about the edge in admissions enjoyed by athletes, children of alumni, people from some parts of the country, and many other groups. This information might change attitudes about affirmative action, he said.

He also said it's not likely to be enough for colleges to just assume that Republican attitudes are incorrect. Rather, colleges need to engage the discussion, he said. For example, many colleges bemoan that some prospective students and their families judge colleges by "sticker price" and don't take into account the aid offered by institutions. Colleges are relentless in encouraging people to think about college prices beyond sticker prices, he said. They need to be equally active on qualities -- real or not -- that make many Republicans think they are liberal.

On the theme of rebranding, Busteed published an essay Wednesday urging colleges to stop using the term "liberal arts."

"Putting the words liberal and arts together is a branding disaster, and the most effective way to save or defend the liberal arts may be to change what we call them. Note, the problem isn't with the substance of a liberal arts education but with the words we use to describe it," he wrote.

"Although there is certainly a difference between the meaning of a liberal arts education and being 'liberal' politically, it helps no one to fight to the death defending the term 'liberal arts' in the context of today's climate. Let's face it: other than people in higher education or liberal arts graduates themselves, who understands what the liberal arts are anyhow?" he added.

Busteed's essay will probably rankle more than a few liberal arts professors. But it may be worth considering that Republicans are not the only ones who are challenged by the term "liberal arts."

A 2015 study by Caroline Hoxby and Sarah Turner, professors of economics at Stanford University and the University of Virginia, respectively, asked academically talented, low-income high school students why they didn't apply to certain kinds of institutions. With regard to liberal arts colleges, the answers suggested a lack of knowledge of what they are. Among the responses they heard from students about why they weren't applying to liberal arts colleges:

  • “What is a private liberal arts college?”
  • “I don't know what this is.”
  • “I don't like learning useless things.”
  • “I am not liberal.”
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