Wednesday, November 6th, 2002
LET’S GO CANADA!
Rumblings out of this past weekend’s conference of the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) in Ottawa are indicating a growing interest in international education from the Canadian government. At present, Canada has not articulated the federal level of interest shown by the major players in international education such as the British and Australians.
Three Canadian federal ministers spoke at the CBIE conference. Susan Whelan, Minister of International Cooperation, Denis Coderre, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and Allan Rock, Minister of Industry, all talked about the need for more international students in Canada and for more Canadians to study abroad. Of course, holding the conference in Ottawa in the shadow of the Parliament buildings facilitates the attendance of ministers at early morning sessions, and all three told the audience what it wanted to hear, as they echoed the recent Parliamentary Throne Speech calling for 50% more international students in Canada. Nevertheless, Coderre’s speech stating international students who study in Canada should be welcomed to stay in Canada as potential immigrants is a powerful message if it filters down to the visa officers in missions abroad.
Simon Williams, Deputy Director and Education Marketing Coordinator for the federal government (DFAIT), made the statement that “[he] senses we are on the cusp of recognition at the federal level [of international education] as a very valuable tool for Canada.” Williams’ office recent commitments to exhibitions promoting Canadian education at the World Education Market (WEM) in Lisbon, at NAFSA in San Antonio (and next year in Salt Lake City) and possibly this March in New Delhi, India, is further evidence. Recent DFAIT-organized and successful education fairs in Cairo and Dhaka also push this trend ahead.
Most Western international educators think of China as a source country for foreign students. However, in recent times China has become a significant draw for foreign students from other countries. By the end of 2001, a total of 460,000 overseas students from 170 foreign countries had come to study in China. It’s a stunning change from the 30-odd students from only five foreign countries who were in China 50 years ago. In 2001 alone, China accepted a total of over 61,000 overseas students, with the largest numbers of students coming from the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United States, Indonesia and Germany. “All institutions of higher learning in China are open to enroll students from overseas”, reported the Beijing Youth Daily last Thursday.
According to sources with the Chinese Ministry of Education, more than 400 colleges and universities in China have enrolled overseas students in the first half of this academic year. The sources also state the number of overseas students has been increasing by 5,000 each year. The Xinhua News Agency reports that traditionally, overseas students had come to learn Chinese, traditional Chinese medicine and operas, but now students can choose any area of study and more are branching out to new majors offering degrees.
Source: “All Chinese Universities Open to Overseas Students“,http://www.china.org.cn/english/2002/Nov/47399.htm, Xinhua News Agency, November 1, 2002
OVER THE COUNTER
Ms. Sandy Gault, associate director of international admissions at Kansas University, reports in the Chronicle for Higher Education (Nov 1) that she has seen more falsifications in the last semester than she had in the past two years. The Chronicle quotes Margit A. Schatzam, a professional evaluator of education credentials. “Admission officers are feeling overwhelmed, they didn’t go into this business to be police,” she said.
Verifying credentials is placing a staggering and uncomfortable burden on all academic institutions. The University of Texas at Austin, which doesn’t use outside credential-checking services, receives 10,000 international applications to its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. “We simply don’t have time to verify every document we receive,” says Robert Watkins, assistant director of the office of graduate and international admissions.
“Assuming that every transcript from China is suspect would slow down the admissions process and be unfair to legitimate students,” warns Kenneth Warren of Educational Perspectives, a credential- evaluating company in Chicago.
Unfortunately, the problem is affecting legitimate students and their institutions. By giving admission to non-bona fide students with bogus credentials, the academic integrity of an institution is at stake. Academic integrity is at the core of what a quality school has to offer, and the current trend points to potential scandals which will severely and publicly damage institutions. Those who are doubtful, only need to examine the recent meteoric fall of some very large companies when their integrity was questioned. Those companies collapsed and disappeared.
Malaria is a concern for travellers setting off to some tropical parts of the globe. However, there is a big difference between trekking in remote areas and business trips at 5-star hotels. In the case of the latter, concerns about malaria tend to be greatly exaggerated.
The disease is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. Transmission occurs only between dusk and dawn in tropical areas with altitudes below 1500 metres. The risk diminishes between 1500m and 2500m, and disappears above that height. While travellers to major urban centres usually pop malaria pills, chances of contracting the disease in big cities is actually very rare (with the exception of Africa). The best avoidance is to protect against mosquito bites. And as always, common sense prevails.
Depending on the risk level of the zone one travels to, the nature of the trip and its length, your physician may recommend oral prophylaxis, such as Lariam or Chloroquine. Check with your local Travel Clinic for more information.