Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Working in the US: Are the ways about to change?
Major Growth Hits Asian MBAs.
New deals at American institutions.
How to keep your digestive system happy while travelling.
1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Working in the USA: Are the ways about to change?
For years, any way to America (the ‘promised land,’ so-to-speak) – whether it be via student visa, work program, green card, etc. – has been viewed as somewhat of a ‘golden ticket’ for many around the world. But more and more, a number of these visitor and immigration programs, are slowly being brought up to question – even those that have been in place for decades.
Take the “J” visa scheme for example. Brought into existence during the height of the Cold War in 1961, this cultural and educational exchange program offered two forms of short-term visas to foreign applicants – a J1, designated for the student/worker, and a J2, for the foreign national’s spouse or dependents. It was intended to allow young people from around the world to absorb American values for a few months, and then return home to share their experiences, thereby increasing mutual understanding between the U.S. and participants’ homelands.
So what are the newest critiques coming to light? That the program has degenerated into nothing more than a pipeline for cheap labour, through which many of the workers are abused, made to work in menial jobs for extremely low wages. Daniel Costa, of the non-partisan Economic policy Institute, agrees with the characterization.
“You have 300,000 workers come to the US and they’re just lacking in protections,” Costa says. “Workplace protections, wage protections and we’ve seen complaints where employers have been threatening people who complain about their work conditions with deportation.”
Some of the biggest employers of J1 workers include top companies like Disney and Hershey’s – who, according to University of North Dakota law professor, Kit Jonson, take advantage of the situation, using it to “save on wages, state and federal taxes, healthcare, housing and pension plans.”
“For Disney those figures end up being really stunning,” he explains. “Disney’s saving in wages alone upwards of $18.2 million a year in hiring international workers. So international students are simply a lot cheaper than American labor.”
But it’s not just the “J” program that’s bringing up new debate when it comes to international workers and foreign student labour. Also under scrutiny is the issue of whether to encourage specialized foreign graduates to stick around post-degree – the specific question at hand being how to retain foreign-born, U.S.-educated technology talent without undermining job opportunities for Americans. The debate was brought up in a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee recently, titled “STEM the Tide: Should America Try to Prevent an Exodus of Foreign Graduates of U.S. Universities with Advanced Science Degrees?”
Weighing in on the pros and cons of a potential program that actively encourages and enables such graduates to stay and work in the states – providing in-demand expertise while at the same time taking jobs away from Americans – was House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Lamar Smith. Although he spoke of many plus-sides to such a scheme, he also pointed out the loopholes: “[A] visa “pot of gold” could create an incentive for schools to aim solely to attract tuition-paying foreign students with the lure of a green card,” he explained.
“As the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services at the State Department has warned, ‘A school in the United States can be found for even the poorest academic achiever … Unfortunately, schools that actively recruit foreign students for primarily economic reasons, and without regard to their qualifications or intentions, may encourage such high-risk underachievers to seek student visa status as a ticket into the United States.’”
For now, the debates are still unfolding – but if recent changes to student and work visa regulations in other countries around the world, such as the UK and Australia, are anything to go by, American amendments could very well be next in line….
Sources: “Alternatives to Stapling a Green Card to Foreigners’ STEM Diplomas”. ITBUsinessEdge.com, Octonber 6, 2011.
& “Student visas pipeline for cheap foreign labor, say critics”. PRI, October 7, 2011.
2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – Major Growth Hits Asian MBAs
In Asia, booming economic growth is leading to a growing wave of young aspirants, eager to pursue MBAs – as well as heightened interest amongst the rest of the world’s top business schools.
In 2010, business schools in Asia received almost 43,000 GMAT score reports from prospective students. According to the test administrators, that’s more than double the amount received in 2006, and across the continent, the effects are being felt.
With one-third of GMAT-takers last year from Asia (and a growing number of females contributing to that mix), Asian MBA programs are seizing the opportunity to expand. When Insead opened its Singapore campus in 2000, for example, it only had 53 MBA candidates. Today, that number is around 2,000, with applicants from the region itself surging up 71% in the past five years.
Likewise, the Indian School of Business has expanded its enrolment almost five-fold over the past eight years, to 560 candidates, and is now aspiring to become one of the world’s top MBA programs.
And it’s not just regional students who are answering the call. Drawn, no doubt, by the strong Asian economy, almost 900 U.S. residents sent GMAT scores to Asian institutions last year.
U.S. institutions, on the other hand, have been a bit slower to move in. Many American universities continue to offer limited offerings in Asia – though a few, such as Duke University, are beginning to take larger steps. With plans to open a new campus near Shanghai next year, it is far ahead of its stateside counterparts.
“I think a lot of [U.S.] schools are sort of dipping their toe in the water,” says Paula Greeno, assistant dean for global business development at Duke. “I imagine that they are watching what we’re doing and if they see our efforts there as successful, you might see them come in.”
Meanwhile, the demand for advanced business education amongst Asians is also pushing well beyond the regional boundaries. While Asian business schools saw a bump in the number of GMAT scores last year, Asian citizens also sent out an additional 277,000+ score reports to MBA programs on other continents – including almost 188,000 to U.S. schools.
Source: “Business Degrees Skyrocket in Popularity in Asia”. FINS Jobs News and Advice, October 7, 2011.
3) OVER THE COUNTER – New deals at American institutions.
With private college tuitions in the U.S. adding up well into the six-figure range, as well as a high national unemployment rate, and large student debts common, American students and parents are becoming far more cost-conscious, particularly in recent years. Which makes sense why, taking into account the current economic climate across the U.S., a growing number of these private colleges are taking a page out of the retail playbook – cutting their prices to up their attraction.
Most recently, New Jersey-based Seton Hall University announced it would offer tuition discounts of up to 66% for qualified students – specifically, those who apply early, graduate in the top 10% of their high school class, and score at least 550 on both the math and reading portions of their SATs, or earn an ACT score of 27 or higher. This offer adds Seton Hall to a list of more than a dozen other schools across the US who have announced similar cost-saving initiatives over the past few months.
While some of these institutions – Grace College (Winona Lake, Ind.), Lesley University (Cambridge, Mass.), and St John’s University (Staten Island, N.Y.) – are offering accelerated programs that allow students to graduate in three years, effectively cutting their bills by 25%, others – such as Columbia College (Columbia, Mo.) and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (Terre Haute, Ind.) – are opting to put in place a tuition freeze for incoming freshmen, meaning that whatever they pay for fourth year tuition will be no more than they paid in first year. Others yet are dropping prices for locals, and/or waiving tuition costs for any students needing more than four years to graduate. The most generous of the program schemes can whittle down the price of private college from $27,000 a year to less than $10,000.
It’s not just ‘more applicants’ that these institutions are looking for. By upping the number of applications they attract, these colleges are aiming to creep up the ladder of national rankings. As selectivity and acceptance rates are an important part of college rankings, the idea is that the more students who apply, the lower the acceptance rate, and the better the ranking. And with many of the schools pegging the new discounts to academic performance, the potential is there to simultaneously up the quality of incoming freshman classes as well – another factor on the rankings list.
Of course, these discounts still don’t make private colleges particularly affordable – at least not compared to in-state public tuitions, which average out at around only $7,600 per year. But still, for those students opting for private educations, the new offers could mean huge savings over the next few years.
Source: “15 Colleges Offering Tuition Discounts”. SmartMoney.com, September 30, 2011.
4) GLOBE TIPPING – How to keep your digestive system happy while travelling.
Any time you make a change to your diet, you risk upsetting your digestive system – so add on top of that travel’s inevitable new time zones, new cuisine, and lots of stress, and it’s no wonder why many people face a bit (or a lot) of upset stomach while out on the road! But be aware – there are a few simple ways to help limit the problems – read on to find out how.
1. Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is important in helping your body manage stress, as well as prevent diarrhea and/or constipation. Avoid local tap and well water (even if it’s technically ‘safe’, different make-ups and/or treatments than you’re used to can still throw your body for a loop), and make sure the seals on any bottled drinks are intact. Make sure any tea or coffee water is thoroughly boiled, avoid ice cubes, and use bottled water when brushing your teeth.
2. Avoid raw foods. This means leafy green salads, any unpeeled fruits or vegetables, and definitely any unpasteurized dairy products. Especially if you can’t afford any ‘lost days’, this can save you from some potentially nasty – and time-killing – stomach bugs.
3. Wash your hands with soap. This is especially important just before meals. Even if the water you use is questionable, a good soaping will still wash away the germs – or, if a good wash isn’t really an option, pack antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer to use.
4. Take probiotics. Probiotic supplements come in easy-to-transport capsule form and contain beneficial bacteria to keep your digestive system balanced. Taking one capsule a day is a good preventative measure while travelling.
5. Snack healthy. Be sure to pack a stash of items such as dried fruit, nuts, or granola bars – anything high in fibre is a great option to keep you healthy and ‘regular’ while on the road. Also handy when you need a quick pick-me-up or want to avoid the sometimes questionable street-side cuisine.
Source: “How to Avoid Digestive Problems While Traveling”. USAToday.com.