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Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 20; May 25, 2011

The Edge

In conflict: Recruitment and Regulation in America.

Abroad Perspectives

Study Abroad: Brain Gain… Or Drain?

Over The Counter

When revolutions and universities mix.

Globe Tipping

Google for Travel, Part One: Taking the guess-work out of guessing

1) “THE EDGE” – In conflict: Recruitment and Regulation in America.

Two things to declare up front:
1. I first met Mitch Leventhal at NAFSA eight years ago and have pitched doing work for him to recruit international students. He is currently the Vice Chancellor for global affairs at the State University of New York.
2. As readers of “The Edge” will know, my own company, Higher-Edge, and its brand the Canadian University Application Centre (CUAC), is the leading global initiative recruiting students to Canadian universities.

So we are in the business which Mr. Leventhal writes about in “The Chronicle”, the well-known and respected publication on international education in the world.

As some commentaries on Leventhal’s column point out (found on-line and below the main article. The URL is at the bottom of this blog) his central thesis on how the US needs a concerted federal agenda to assist international student recruiting is really about his desire to have the US openly embrace a policy promoting the contracting of recruitment agencies.

“Policies discriminate against U.S. institutions that have engaged international-recruitment professionals abroad,” writes Leventhal, as well as going further. “In some cases, Education USA explicitly advises foreign students not to work with officially appointed in-country representatives of American institutions, effectively sabotaging efforts by those institutions. That seems wrong and misguided.”

I agree that it would be wiser for the US to be more open-minded when it comes to how to recruit international students. But I disagree with Mr. Leventhal on his soft approach to recognizing the widespread abuse by education agents around the world. Yes, I wrote “soft”.

Leventhal claims that the American International Recruitment Council, an organization he founded and established quality standards for international student recruitment, will and does, regulate against any abuse.

I heard that before in America. Regulations and regulators are supposed to prevent bankers, investment houses, energy companies, and others from taking advantage of the marketplace and the environment. And how well is that working out ?

As far as the American International Recruitment Council regulations, I surfed over to their list of accredited agencies and I spot several agencies I know of first hand as a long way from being honest brokers. One has to wonder how hard was it to get “accreditation” status?

As Mr. Leventhal’s own fine university system in the State of New York must be teaching now in its classes – regulation means nothing if its toothless, and sits in an obvious and undeclared conflict of interest.

Sources: “How the U.S. Can Stop Hindering Higher-Education Exports”. The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 22, 2011.


2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Study Abroad: Brain Gain… or Drain?

With an increasingly ‘global economy’, the many reasons for students to gain international experience by studying overseas are obvious… But what about the cons? Although it does seem a bit surprising to hear anyone speaking against the idea of study abroad, in Great Britain, the debate is on. Study abroad: brain gain or brain drain?

The British Council’s position, at least, is clear: students should pack up and go. As Simon Williams, the Council’s director of EU education programs, explains: “We would encourage people to study abroad because we can see the great benefits, both on a personal and on a professional level.”

Yet despite a number of British Councils surveys showing that employers do indeed value international experience, only 33,000 UK citizens are actually attending university overseas. That’s just 1.8% of all UK students in higher education – making it highly difficult to assess the actual benefits of international study to the UK as a whole.

Outward mobility, on the other hand, is on the rise, with 370,000 international students currently enrolled in UK higher education programs. These are highly precious imports, which allow many UK courses to stay open. For example, in biotechnology, 93% of students are international, and for computer science, it’s 82%.

“We know that the UK is a net importer of foreign students,” says Williams. “[So] an interesting question would be: could any brain drain among UK postgraduates [going abroad] be offset – or maybe more than offset – by the ‘brain gain’ of postgraduates from other countries who come to study here and stay?”

Additionally, according to a study commissioned by the now-named Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the number of UK students going abroad and themselves not returning home is actually quite small. Of the 560 UK students in the survey – each studying and living abroad at the time – 76% planned to return either immediately after they completed their course, or after a short period of working abroad.

“Interestingly,” adds Fiona Smith, a lecturer at the Centre for Applied Population Research who worked on the report, “those with the highest qualifications were the most likely to return to the UK.” Return to the UK, that is, along with their newly acquired, often specialized skills – which, explains Christina Yan Zhang, an International Officer at the National Union of Students, could help answer an urgent need from British industry.

“People who worry that we’ll lose some of our best talent need to stop thinking about how we stop our talent seeking an international education, and instead focus on how the Government can incentivise those students to bring their skills and expertise back to the UK after they have gained their qualifications, so that we benefit as a nation.”

“I think the idea of brain drain is not the right way of looking at postgraduate migration – it’s much more a case of ‘brain exchange’, agrees Will Archer, CEO of the International Graduate Insight Group (igraduate), an independent, global consultancy service. “The whole idea of education is that it’s a circulation of brains… I’m absolutely clear that we would have a weaker economy and a weaker graduate population by having a purely domestic sense of context.”

Source: “Gain or drain? How study abroad affects our economy.” The Independent, May 12, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – When revolutions and universities mix.

Finding itself particularly enlivened in the aftermath of this year’s Egyptian revolution is the American University in Cairo (AUC). Long considered a stomping ground for the country’s elite – mostly upper-class families who have provided the country with many of its government and business leaders, including the Mubaraks (both of the recently ousted president’s sons attended AUC, as well as his wife) – the university and its students played a considerable role in the recent uprisings, with current students and prominent alumni speckled all over both sides of the struggle.

For example: Wael Ghonim, the former Google executive who became the face of the youth-driven protests, has an MBA from AUC. The new, reformist foreign minister, Nabil Elaraby, has served as an AUC trustee; as has another of the protesters’ older heroes, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate for his work with the International Atomic Energy Agency. All of these in direct opposition with many of the university’s older alumni families and supporters.

But despite struggling to deal with the politics (and ethics) of the events – including a rather hastily changed building name (what was once the Suzanne Mubarak Conference Hall is now called the Waleed Building) – the university’s new President, Lisa Anderson, says there’s a genuine excitement on campus. Besides incorporating the revolution into classroom discussions and public symposiums, the school is also launching a project to collect images, artifacts and documents chronicling how members of the AUC community experienced the revolt. Additionally, the school’s policies regarding politics have changed (with political figures now allowed to address students on campus), and, in a sign of respect, Anderson has launched a review looking into students’ complaints about AUC staff members who, before the revolution, allegedly monitored their political activities and informed on them to government authorities. All of this Anderson sees as part of a new, broader AUC outlook.

“This is a community accustomed to debate and tolerant of differences, which is unusual in Egypt,” she says. “It’s one of the assets that graduates take with them for the rest of their lives.”

Sources: “Egypt revolt poses a test for American University”. The Associated Press, May 16, 2011.

& “Libya ends college funding for 2,000 US students”. The Associated Press, May 13, 2011.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Google for Travel, Part One: Taking the guess-work out of guessing

Planning a trip from your computer? Check out the first half of our top Google search tips for travellers, designed to help make your trip planning simpler and more efficient:

1. Google Maps – not just for locations. Now, for several major cities, you can also see nightly hotel rates when you do a general search for hotels in Google Maps – meaning no more cutting and pasting addresses from hotel websites to look them up on a map. Try it now: Search “hotel in London”.

2. Looking for airline tickets? Type in the airport codes where you want to depart and arrive, then enter your travel dates and simply select which ticket vendor site you’d like to visit.

3. Preview your destination using Google Street View: Check out the views near your hotel with Google’s 360º ground-level photos; available for 27 countries around the world.

4. Weather: Check out current forecasts around the world by typing “weather”, followed by the name of the city you’re interested in. Try it now: Search “weather in Delhi”.

5. Google Translate can translate words from English to French and back, as well as translate words in Spanish, German, Chinese, Hindi, and many other languages. You can also use this free service to translate entire documents and/or web pages to and from different languages by typing any website address into – Google will automatically detect the original language and translate it into English. And if you just want one phrase? Type it straight into Google’s search box! Try it now: Translate “Parlez-vous Francais?”

… Be sure to catch next week’s Globe Tipping for our second instalment of Google travel tips!

Source: “Google search tips and tricks”. IOL Travel, May 17, 2011.


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