February 2012  Volume 25, Issue 2
  International Education Intelligence   
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Americas

Brazil

U.S. For-Profit Acquires Fourth Brazil Campus

DeVry Inc., a global provider of educational services, announced in February that it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire Faculdade Boa Viagem (FBV), a three-campus private institution in the northeastern city of Recife. The acquisition is Devry’s fourth in Brazil and is expected to be completed by early March.

FBV currently enrolls approximately 5,800 students and offers undergraduate, graduate and master's degree programs in business, law, engineering, communication, culinary, hospitality, fashion design, and information technology. FBV will become a part of DeVry Brasil, which currently operates Faculdades Fanor located in Fortaleza, and AREA1 and Ruy Barbosa, both located in the city of Salvador. Together these three institutions currently enroll approximately 14,000 students, mainly in the fields of business, health, law and engineering.

- Market Watch
February 1, 2012

Canada

Tweak to Immigration System to Favor Skilled Immigrant Tradespeople

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in late January that the Canadian government is getting ready to introduce changes to its points-based immigration system that would make it more flexible in combating labor shortages in the trades.

The policy change, according to Kenney, would move the focus from Canada’s traditional immigration preference for university-educated migrants to those with skills that could be used to plug industry shortages, such as bricklayers, masons, iron and sheet-metal workers and construction-site managers.

“Skilled tradespeople have an almost impossible job of coming to Canada under our current system because the skilled worker program basically selects people with advanced university degrees,” said Kenney.

- Reuters
January 29, 2012

British Columbia Faces Challenges in Meeting Aggressive Overseas Enrollment Targets

Last fall, British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark announced an ambitious target of increasing the number of international students in the province by 50 percent over four years. International students were worth C$1.2 billion to the economy in 2010 and the province would like to build on that. However, some institutions are struggling to find the space.

At Langara College, a one-campus college with over 1,100 foreign students, director of international education Gordon McNeil is faced with just that conundrum. “We’re sort of scratching our heads: where are we going to put them? There’s only so much room here,” McNeil told Georgia Straight in a recent interview.

Although McNeil doesn’t know the exact capacity of other institutions, he said government planners need to consider another issue: how to attract more international students to areas outside Metro Vancouver. There were about 94,000 foreign students in B.C. in 2009-10, according to figures from the B.C. Council for International Education, and 83 percent, or 78,100, were concentrated in the Lower Mainland southwest region. The remaining 17 percent were spread out through the Vancouver Island, coastal, southern Interior, and northern regions. Of those students, 43,000 were in public and private language schools in 2010. Some 39,000 attended public and private postsecondary institutions, and about 12,000 went to public and independent elementary and secondary schools.

The B.C. Liberal government previously announced that it would release its international-education strategy before the end of 2011. It has yet to produce this document. When it does, it will need to address capacity issues and whether or not schools can grow quickly enough to accommodate the huge increase in foreign students within the short time being planned by the province, reports Georgia Straight.

Langara’s McNeil knows his school can’t do it soon enough. “There is no building-expansion plan that’s going to take place within the time period that the premier is talking about,” he said.

- Georgia Straight
February 2, 2012

Universities Want More of Their Students Studying Abroad

Canadian universities have hundreds of study-abroad programs, but there is a concern that most students are failing to take advantage of the opportunities. A survey released last year showed that more than a quarter of university students were considering studying abroad, saying that the experience could be an advantage in the job market. Canadian community colleges are also expanding their study- and work-abroad programs after a survey showed only a little more than 1 percent of college students went overseas.

Presidents from 25 universities met in early February in Ottawa to discuss Canada’s innovation agenda with parliamentarians on Tuesday, and several of them cautioned that more Canadian students need to study outside their country to develop strong worldwide connections and an instinct to innovate.

Only 12 percent of undergraduates currently undertake an international placement or exchange experience, according to a 2009 survey, despite 25 percent saying they were considering it. Most universities have dozens, even hundreds of partnerships with schools abroad, but only a fraction of students take advantage of them, especially early in their studies.

- The Globe and Mail
February 2, 2012 

University Changes Name in Rebranding Effort

The University of Western Ontario has changed its name for a shorter, catchier one: Western University. The name change is the result of a rebranding strategy designed to make it more appealing across international borders.

"This is our way of declaring our intention that we are way past a regional school or a national school and we want to be international," the university's president, Amit Chakma, told The Globe & Mail.  

The school has also launched a new purple logo that features part of Western's coat of arms instead of a tower. According to Maclean's magazine, the rebranding effort cost C$200,000. Legally, the school will still be known by as the University of Western Ontario and degrees will continue to be conferred under that name. The university has said that it will only use the new name for communication and marketing purposes.

- The Globe and Mail
January 27, 2012

B.C. College to Undertake Audit of China Programs

One of British Columbia's largest colleges has ordered an independent review of its China programs after their integrity was called into question.  Douglas College has hired Deloitte & Touche to review partnership programs at the Heilongjiang Institute of Science and Technology in Harbin and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, which offer finance and business credentials that are recognized in both Canada and China.

In announcing the decision, the college said the external review followed an internal one that identified issues with English-language proficiency among students and on supplemental exams. But a Global TV investigation suggests there is more at play. In a recent documentary, three former Douglas College teachers say credentials have been awarded to unqualified students, including some who barely understood English, even after graduating. One former Douglas academic suggested ‘outright fraud,’ while others referred to a Chinese partner mentality whereby ‘every student passes.’

- Vancouver Sun
January 27, 2012   

Chile

Universities Lower Admissions Standards

Universities in Chile this year have received fewer applicants and lower national averages on test scores, so have been forced to lower their admission standards for the 2012 academic year, according to a report from DEMRE, the government body that manages tertiary admissions.

Last year, high school and university students throughout Chile participated in strikes and school takeovers in demand of reform to the country’s education system. The resulting chaos caused many students to lose their academic year and disqualified around 19,000 high school seniors from taking the PSU (Pruebas de Selección Universitaria), Chile’s standardized university entrance exam, in 2011.

Thirty-three universities currently use the PSU system, comprising a total of 1,335 academic departments. Of these, over 300 were unable to fill their quotas for the 2012 school year. The average PSU scores (on a scale of 150 to 850) of accepted students to public research universities fell by an average of 7.5 points for the 2012 academic year.

Despite the general decrease in applications and average scores, Chile’s two most prestigious universities, the Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica, alone received applications from 73.4 percent of the country’s highest-scoring students on the PSU.

- The Santiago Times
January 17, 2012

Interest Rates on Student Loans to be Slashed

Interest rates on student loans will be cut from 6 percent to 2 percent following a vote in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies in February; the bill is now under review in the Senate. The interest rate on state-guaranteed loans has been one of the issues championed by Chile’s student movement, but the latest measure to cut rates is widely regarded as insufficient. The education movement wants an overhaul of the entire university system, targeting for-profit institutions and high tuition costs in Chile.

The cuts to the interest rate in the state-backed loan system will apply retroactively so that any student currently paying higher rates will, assuming approval from the Senate, pay the new rate.

Student leaders have come out against the move, saying it will do nothing but benefit private providers whose programs will become more affordable under cheaper rates. The injection of money does not, however, change the private for-profit nature of the system, they argue. Other opponents criticize the lack of regulation of tuition costs in place for the new loan rates, the inability to ensure the quality of degrees that are financed by state funding, and the system’s dependency on privately run banks to finance higher education.

- Santiago Times
January 24, 2012

United States of America

President Moves to Speed Visa Application Process

International students should be able to deal more quickly with the red tape of applying to study in the United States after a recent effort by President Barack Obama to speed the visa application process.

An executive order issued in January is designed to encourage travel and tourism in the U.S. and spark economic growth for American businesses, by cutting backend waiting time for visa applicants among other things. The executive order tasked the Departments of State and Homeland Security immigration departments with interviewing 80 percent of all non-immigrant visa applicants within three weeks of submission. If achieved, this would significantly expedite the overall process.

- The Economist
January 21, 2012

CU Boulder Drops SAT Requirement for Foreign Students

The University of Colorado (CU) announced in January that from next year it will no longer require foreign applicants to submit standardized SAT or ACT test scores when applying for admissions.

Officials from CU have explained that the decision was made because students in too many countries have limited access to the materials necessary to study for and take the test. According to CU admissions director Kevin MacLellan, students faced particular problems in accessing official SAT test sites in regions such as eastern Africa and China.

International applicants to CU will be required to score higher marks on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (from 61 to 75, on a scale of 120) to be considered for admission. In addition, any students applying for merit-based scholarship will still need to submit SAT or ACT test scores. CU joins a list of other U.S. universities that have dropped SAT requirements for foreign students, including Purdue University, Michigan State University, and the University of Oregon.

- Daily Camera
January 30, 2012

Number of International GRE Test Takers Increases Significantly

The number of people taking the Graduate Record Examination last year hit record highs, with particular increase in volume from potential students in China and India, according to official figures released by Educational Testing Services (ETS) in early February.

More than 800,000 students took GRE tests in 2011, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. From overseas, there was an overall increase of about 25 percent in test-taking volume, with China and India seeing growth of 28 percent and 43 percent, respectively. In addition, ETS reported that the number of GRE score reports sent to international institutions rose by 17 percent. American students took 10 percent more GRE exams in 2011 than they did in 2010.

ETS officials said in a statement that they attribute the rise in test volume in part to excitement over a new version of the exam, which the organization introduced in August. Additionally, there was a significant rise in the number of institutions accepting the GRE. The number of M.B.A. programs accepting GRE scores, for example, more than doubled in 2010. At the same time, about 10 percent more international colleges agreed to start using GRE scores.

- ETS News Release
February 8, 2012

State Department Bans Visa-Sponsor Company in Bid to Protect Foreign Students

The State Department has banned a leading sponsor company from bringing foreign students to the United States for summer jobs under the J-1 visa program and will add new restrictions to protect students from labor abuse, officials said in February. The move is seen as a signal that the government is changing course on the country’s largest international cultural exchange program.

The removal of the sponsor, the Council for Educational Travel, USA (Cetusa), was reportedly done to send a message to the dozens of private companies participating in the State Department’s summer work program. Cetusa was responsible for placing approximately 400 students in a Pennsylvania plant packing Hershey’s chocolates, where they worked for low pay under dangerous conditions, the New York Times reports.

The State Department has said it will beef up its oversight capabilities of the program with 15 additional employees this year. Other sponsors are on warning that they will have to monitor foreign students far more closely and ensure that participants are not exploited as cheap workers by employers.

The J-1 program is designed to offer positive cultural exposure to the United States for foreign university students. However, critics on many sides said the program had become a vast source of temporary foreign workers. A new list of banned occupations for foreign summer workers is to be issued in coming months with other new regulations designed to protect the health and safety of students and to prevent too many of them from working in the same place. Over the past decade, about one million foreign university students have come to the United States through the popular Summer Work Travel program.

- The New York Times
February 1, 2012

The 10 Most International M.B.A Programs in the U.S.

According to a fall 2011 study from the Graduate Management Admissions Council, international students made up 45 percent of the applicant pool to full-time M.B.A. programs in the United States, up from 39 percent in 2010.

Among the 142 ranked business schools that reported international enrollment statistics to U.S. News and World Report, international student enrollment accounted for, on average, 28.7 percent of full-time students in 2010. The following table shows the 10 schools with the highest proportion of international students, based on school-supplied data for full-time M.B.A. programs for fall 2010.

Business school (Name) (State) Fall 2010
full-time
enrollment
Percentage
international
students
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA) 106 87.7
Illinois Institute of Technology (Stuart) 122 85.2
Emporia State University (KS) 99 71.7
Drexel University (LeBow) (PA) 269 71.4
Hofstra University (Zarb) (NY) 121 71.1
Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders) (NY) 240 64.2
University of California-Riverside (Anderson) 143 59.4
University of Rochester (Simon) (NY) 483 55.3
St. John's University (Tobin) (NY) 629 53.9
Syracuse University (Whitman) (NY) 98 53.1

- U.S. News & World Report
January 31, 2012

Colorado State Inks Deal with Third Party International Recruiter

Colorado State University has signed a 30-year deal to bring thousands of additional international students to its Fort Collins campus, a move administrators say will internationalize the college experience for Colorado students while providing millions in extra tuition dollars.

Colorado State University hopes the program will bring an additional 1,000 international students onto campus within five years, essentially doubling the current enrollment of 1,100 international students. According to President Tony Frank, CSU can collect more than $10 million annually in additional tuition revenue for every 500 non-Colorado residents who enroll. Frank said CSU must enroll more students from outside Colorado in order to survive continued cuts to state funding.

In a statement announcing the partnership with UK-based INTO, CSU also promoted the benefits of exposing Colorado students to their international peers, and of increasing CSU's global reputation. International students who enroll in CSU through INTO will spend their first year in a special one-year program to polish their English and ensure their classroom skills are on par with their American peers. CSU joins 13 other universities that have partnered with INTO, including eight in the UK, two in the U.S. and three in Asia, the university said in a statement.

- The Coloradoan
February 10, 2012

Dickinson Audit Reveals Highly Questionable International Documentation and Credential Evaluation Practices

An audit released in February by the state of North Dakota found that hundreds of foreign students, a majority from China, were issued Dickinson State University degrees before they had completed all their required coursework. At fault, according to the audit, were poor record-keeping standards and a lack of oversight. The university was accused of ignoring basic standards when evaluating applications and credentials, making false promises to applicants and prospective students, and failing to monitor the progress of students while still in the program.

The program in question offered Dickinson State degrees to international students after they had typically undertaken coursework in their home countries, spent a year at Dickinson, and then returned to their home countries to complete their degrees. The audit found that the university did not correctly evaluate the transcripts of many students, before, during and after they were at the North Dakota campus.

Students in collusion with agents were submitting their own versions of transcripts. The report notes, "transcripts are a basic excel spreadsheet where the student can enter any class or grade they desire. Some students have submitted transcripts from two different universities as either they just used the template and forgot to change the name or they simply copied another student’s transcript. These transcripts also have the official stamp from the university which can easily be a “cut and paste” which has been proven by a DSU professor. Additionally, these university stamps are sold in the markets in China and on the internet, thus anyone can buy one. DSU accepts these as official."

In addition, agents were found to have been misrepresenting and overpromising to students themselves. "From 2008 onward there is a noticeably rapid decline in the level of documentation in the students’ files ... through interviews with current Chinese students, the recruiters told them and several other students, they work for DSU and not a recruiting agency ... The recruiters promised the potential students they will get their DSU degree before they finish their required classes at their home university.” The report asserts that agents in China were not performing according to their contracts. "They [Agents] admittedly are driven by quantity of student and not quality as was communicated in an email from one of the agents in China."

 Recommended solutions in the report:

  • Terminate all agreements with the agents. Use DSU recruiters to do your recruiting at the approved partner schools. 
  • Require all international students to send official, sealed transcripts directly from their institution to World Education Services (WES) for authentication and a course by course evaluation within their first term of enrollment. 
  • Require a bank statement in the form of a letter directly from the bank. 
  • Require all students from non-English speaking countries to take and pass only the TOEFL or IELTS test prior to admission.

- North Dakota University System
February 9, 2012

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