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Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 37, October 26, 2011

The Playing Field

Academic integrity takes a breath in the thin air of rising revenue requirements

Abroad Perspectives

UK landscape. Fees: where they are coming from and going.

Over The Counter

Indians in the Ivy Leagues, spinning the story.

Globe Tipping

Eco-friendly travel.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – Academic integrity takes a breath in the thin air of rising revenue requirements.

At Colorado State University (CSU), officials are considering a new deal that could bring hundreds of extra international students – and tens of millions of extra tuition dollars – to its Fort Collins campus. But it is a deal being highly criticized as greed-driven.

Working towards the CSU deal is British-based INTO University Partnerships – which, If the deal goes through, will be directly in charge of recruiting international students to study at Fort Collins. These students would then spend their first year of studies at a joint CSU-INTO academy, before merging with the rest of the campus community.

While supporters of the initiative are calling it a great way to help “internationalize” the campus – while at the same time generating much needed funds – critics, including a number of CSU faculty members, worry the university is ill-prepared to handle the massive influx of students that such an agreement would generate.

Today, CSU has about 900 international students, the bulk of whom originate from Saudi Arabia and China. With international students paying almost three times that of Colorado residents, adding an extra 500 international newcomers could mean $12 million more in revenue for the university. According to some CSU professors, a price tag perhaps overpowering the better judgment of administration. With complaints over already-full classrooms, and worries that some international students may not be prepared for classes conducted entirely in English, these professors are voicing serious concerns over the deal.

“I see globalization as a positive influence on all of us, but at what cost?” says Charles Miller, a professor of biomedical sciences. “The fear is that you just get a body that’s got the money, but they aren’t ready…. If they’re prepared, I see no problem whatsoever, [but] I worry that we’re just going after the money.”

Miller’s colleague, Mary Van Buren, agrees with his worries. An associate anthropology professor, Van Buren says that if the university is serious about properly internationalizing the campus, it should build slowly on existing programs – not jump into a quick partnership with INTO.

So far, INTO has already agreed on partnerships with both Oregon State and the University of South Florida, while CSU officials have signed a memorandum of understanding with the organization. If a partnership is agreed upon, INTO could begin recruiting students for CSU as early as next fall.

One institution not jumping onto the INTO bandwagon, however, is the University of Colorado-Boulder. Although they originally investigated a partnership with the organization and “found it compelling”, the university’s spokesman, Bronson Hilliard, says they decided to try to increase international enrollment on their own.

“We underperform in recruiting international students. We’re not where most of our peers are,” he admits. “But going too fast and not doing it well is worse than not doing it.”

Source: “International enrollment deal studied at CSU”. The Coloradoan, October 17, 2011.
http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20111017/NEWS01/110170323/International-enrollment-deal-studied-CSU

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – UK landscape. Fees: where they are coming from and going.

According to the new Universities UK report, a record 125,000 E.U. students claimed places at UK higher education institutions last year. That’s around 35,000 more than compared with only a decade ago, and it’s an increase moving about twice as fast as the number of actual British student admissions.

Undergraduates from the EU are not only eligible for the same low-interest Government loans as British students are (all subsidized by the British taxpayer), they’re also included in the strict cap on university places – putting them in direct competition with ‘home student’ applications from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Still, it was found that EU applications are far from the leading growth area – that nod goes towards foreign students from outside of Europe. Charged in some cases up to eight times as much as those students from Britain or the E.U., over 280,000 international students were admitted to British universities last year – more than double the number from a decade ago.

Particularly considering the fact that student fees now account for almost a third of universities’ incomes (compared to less than a quarter ten years ago), these findings suggest that British institutes are becoming more and more dependent on foreign fees to plug holes caused by dwindling state funding.

Additionally, the same report, which studied data from more than 130 universities and higher education colleges across Britain, found that the while the total number of students at the institutions – both postgraduate and undergraduate – has increased by 28% over the past decade, British students have only increased by 20.6%. Also, due to the economic downtown, there has been a recent decline in the number of students graduating with decent jobs, and students have become far more likely to study ‘practical’, career-related subjects, such as architecture, vet science, maths, etc.

With next year’s tuition rise of up to £9,000 in fees, experts have already warned that a “hemorrhaging” of even more taxpayers’ money to Europe is likely – and fears are strong that even more losses will be caused by the rise in the number of students forced to borrow money to cover their degrees.

Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, has already declared it “likely that many EU students will never pay back their loans”.

Source: “Number of European students soars by a third in a decade”. The Telegraph, October 17, 2011.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/8829069/Number-of-European-students-soars-by-a-third-in-a-decade.html

3) OVER THE COUNTER – Indians in the Ivy Leagues, spinning the story. “>3) OVER THE COUNTER – Indians in the Ivy Leagues, spinning the story.

It’s been a tradition for decades and gathering momentum. Indian students turned down by their own country’s top-choice universities, go for the ‘back-up’ option of attending universities abroad – especially those in the U.S.

With about half of India’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 25, and a quickly growing middle class, competition for the country’s handful of already highly selective and high quality universities has become incredibly overwhelming for almost all students. This summer, for example, the well-respected Delhi University issued cutoff scores at a number of its top colleges reached near 100% in some cases. The Indian Institutes of Technology, which are scattered across the country, have an acceptance rate of less than 2% – and that’s only looking at the 500,000 or so applicants who actually qualify to sit the very intimidating entrance exams, a feat which requires at least two years of specialized after-school tutoring.

“The problem is clear,” says Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal, who himself studied law at Harvard. “There is a demand and supply issue. You don’t have enough quality institutions and there are enough quality young people who want to go to only quality institutions.”

The answer to the problem? To attend university overseas, it seems. And with representatives from schools around the world, including many American Ivy League institutions, already making recruiting trips to India and exploring partnerships with Indian schools, it seems the rest of the world is happy to step in and fill the gap. After all, what university wouldn’t be interested in top-quality, English speaking students paying large international tuition rates? Some universities have even set up offices in India, partly aimed at a attracting a wider base of students.

“It’s the easy media spin,” says Mel Broitman, Director of the Canadian University Application Centre’s five offices in India. “The New York Times runs its story about all these kids going to Ivy League schools and it makes it seem that it’s all high-end crowd. Totally false. The vast majority of Indians going to the USA are average to mediocre students (same as those going to the UK and Australia). They pay for an education abroad. In many cases it’s still better than 90% of what’s available in India, but don’t get fooled by that talk it’s an all Ivy League crowd.”

Sources: “Squeezed Out in India, Students Turn to United States”. New York Times, October 13, 2011.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/14/world/asia/squeezed-out-in-india-students-turn-to-united-states.html?_r=1&hpw

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Eco-friendly travel.

This week, Globe Tipping has taken the opportunity to compile a list of simple, eco-friendly tips to help you limit your carbon footprint while out on the go:

Before you leave – As all transport requires the combustion of fuel, the greenest thing you can do is travel via public transport whenever possible. Ie: try to take the train or bus whenever you can, versus flying. Or, if you have to fly, then book direct.

“Taking off and landing requires a tremendous amount of fuel, so flying direct is greener than making stop-overs,” explained TreeHugger and PlanetGreen.com editor, Meaghan O’Neill.

On your way out the door – Be sure to adjust your heating and cooling systems, and unplug all your appliances and chargers – many of which still use a considerable amount of energy, even if only on standby.

Watch what you pack – Though travel-size products may be quick and convenient, all that extra packaging takes a heavy toll on the environment. O’Neill recommends filling re-usable containers with your favourite products, rather than buying additional smaller sizes. Also, be sure to take a re-usable water bottle with you.

Choose carefully what you eat – Try to mix it up by buying locally produced food ingredients and cooking some of your own meals – not only will this save you money, its also a far more eco-friendly option than eating out. A restaurant meal produced around 8kg of CO2 per dinner, versus a home cooked meal at only around 400 grams (http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/dec2006/carbon_footprint.html).

Where to stay – Besides the great option of staying with a friend or family member when possible (cutting down on the amount of electricity, gas, etc you’ll be using), you can also make an effort to choose environmentally-friendly accommodations. And with green hotel options, from bare bones to eco-luxury, popping up all the time, this is getting easier and easier to do – check out http://www.greenhotels.com/ to find out more. Also, be sure to check out your room for any special ‘eco-friendly’ options (ie: re-hang your towels in order to re-use them for a multiple day stay, etc), and continue to practise eco-friendly habits from home – just because you’re at a hotel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t turn off the lights or AC when you walk out of the room.

Stay longer, and smarter – Rather than hitting up as many spots as you can on each trip, try to slow down and invest in a single destination whenever possible – experiencing it more fully, while at the same time limiting your carbon footprint. Additionally, by supporting smaller, locally-based establishments (ie: a small mom-and-pop style restaurant rather than large chains), you’re helping to support the local economy.

Sources: “Green Ideas: Tips For Eco-Friendly Travel”. ABC News. March 6, 2008.

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/BusinessTravel/story?id=4454257&page=1
& “Five eco-friendly travel habits”. Eyeflare.com, December 18, 2007.
http://www.eyeflare.com/article/five-eco-friendly-travel-habits/

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