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Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Volume 10, Issue 39; November 10, 2011

The Playing Field

B-School accreditation: Long on excuses. Short on ethics.

Abroad Perspectives

New commitments and developments in East Africa.

Over The Counter

UK visa clampdown. Rediscovering integrity.

Globe Tipping

Packing disasters… solved.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD – B-School accreditation: Long on excuses. Short on ethics.

No one has been abused. No one has their money stolen. But when you read the excuses from some Business Schools about their accreditation assessments, you don’t have to wonder why ethics are in such a sorry state on campuses in America (and that goes for the entire planet).

A debate surrounding the accreditation of business schools is growing in the US, with academics and some members of Congress calling for reform. Critics contend that the system relies too much on self-regulation by universities, and that an overall lack of transparency is hiding realities from the public.

Take the case of Baruch College in New York, for example. Although it proudly boasts it is the largest accredited business school in the U.S., with more than 18,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled this fall, it was only a few years ago that the school’s accounting department was put on probation for not having enough qualified professors – yet this was a fact that was kept quiet by both the school and the organization which accredits it, called AACSB.

The AACSB, or Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, reviews schools such as Baruch based on a number of elements, including faculty numbers and credentials, and effectiveness of curriculum. Although AACSB accreditation is optional and therefore does not affect schools’ eligibility for federal aid, many schools still seek AACSB approval as a badge of quality. And each year, roughly one-fifth of the 500 U.S. business schools reviewed – accounting for more than 1.2 million students – are put on probation by the organization for problems with faculty, insufficient funding, or other academic issues… yet rarely does this information become public, and students are largely kept in the dark over such probations.

It is this lack of disclosure that has many critics – including federal education officials and consumer advocates – calling for increased transparency. “The call for consumer protection is getting stronger and stronger as tuition costs climb higher and higher,” says Margaret Miller, an education professor at the University of Virginia. Though most accreditation agencies for universities are required to disclose all their decisions, good and bad, to the public, some organizations, like AASCB, are currently not required to do so. This, Miller says, needs to change. She argues that business school applicants have the right to read key findings from accreditation reports and see a list of schools on probation.

But AASCB officials disagree. Rather than disclosing all its decisions, the organization issues news releases only about school earning accreditation or passing their five-year renewal.

“When we find shortcomings, we don’t think it’s important to publicize that,” says Andrew J. Policano, dean of the University of California at Irvine School of Business and an AACSB board member. “We are trying to help the school through a rough patch, and that’s not something we want to draw a lot of attention to.” Policano says students can find already find a wealth of information on business schools elsewhere through various rankings and guidebooks – while AACSB reviews serve a different purpose.

Jerry Trapnell, the group’s chief accreditation officer, agrees, explaining that disclosing a school’s shortcomings only puts that institution at a competitive disadvantage and can actually exacerbate the problem: “All of a sudden students don’t want to go to that school because of a blip on the screen… People can blow things out of context and we think it’s fair to give schools a chance to resolve these problems without blabbing about it all over the world.” Making findings public, he says, would only cause schools to be less candid in self-assessments under the review – making it harder to pinpoint (and fix) weaknesses.

Source: “B-School Confidential: The Hidden Problems”. The Fiscal Times, November 2, 2011.

2) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – New commitments and developments in East Africa.

In Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete has made a point of inviting the private sector to team up with his government in exploring innovative ways to advance implementation of its newly-unveiled higher education program. Speaking at a recent 50th anniversary event for the country’s oldest university, University of Dar es Salaam, Kikwete highlighted the sector advancements that have been made since the country’s independence in 1961.

“At independence, this was the only university in the country with 13 students… Today there are 40 universities and constituent colleges,” Kikwete said, adding that the total number of students enrolled at universities across the country is now up to 135,376. “[But] we have a lot more work to do. We need to continue to expand access to education at all levels for our young men and women in order to cope with the demand for our fast growing population. We also have to keep abreast with the levels reached by other countries in our region.”

To this end, Kikwete’s government has spent much of the past five years working to catch up with neighbouring Kenya and Uganda in terms of student population in secondary schools. In that period of time, Kikwete says that 3,337 new secondary schools have been built across Tanzania, bringing up the total number to 4,367 – which now serving a total enrolment of 1,638,399 boys and girls. This is compared to 1,380,212 secondary students in Kenya, and 1,088,744 in Uganda.

And it seems that institutions from these neighbouring countries are beginning to take note – both of the growth and the opportunities afforded by this new education push in Tanzania.

One such institution is Uganda’s Kampala International University (KIU), which is currently in the process of establishing a new campus in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. With presence already established in Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi, the university felt that Tanzania was the logical next step towards covering the East Africa region. And as KIU director of marketing, Nassara Peter, explains, the university is better set to serve students when it expands its campuses across the region.

“[W]e considered the fact that not all students came from wealthy families,” she explains, “which means, not everyone can afford an air or bus ticket to Kampala. We also wanted to cater for the student workers. These work in the morning and go to class in the afternoon.”

Additionally, the university is also setting itself up to offer distance learning options, for those students based outside the city. Boasting schools in Education, Health Science, Post Graduate Studies, and Research, the new campus truly fits in with President Kikwete’s plan to build more universities across his country.

Sources: “Uganda: Bringing Kampala to Dar es Salaam”., October 22, 2011.
& “Tanzania: Private sector participation in higher education programmes”. Afrique en ligne, October 21, 2011.

3) OVER THE COUNTER – UK visa clampdown. Rediscovering integrity.

Across Great Britain, effects of the recent visa clampdown are really “beginning to bite”, says Immigration Minister Damian Green. Already, more than 450 colleges have been banned from taking in future foreign students, and 11,000 fewer international students are being accepted into the UK.

Some of these institutions had their licenses revoked for not being able to produce lists of the students enrolled, timetables or records of attendance, while others failed to sign up to a new inspection system designed to reduce abuse. The Government has also blacklisted 2,500 foreign banks – including 1,977 in India, 792 in the Philippines, and three in Pakistan – declaring them untrustworthy for verifying the financial status of students.

(…You have to wonder about the SPP for Canadian colleges. Is there an accounting for students enrolled and in attendance? There is supposed to be…)

“Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education,” Minister Green explains, “and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members.” These new clampdowns, he says, help ensure that “only first-class education providers” are licensed to sponsor international students.

Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge of Universities UK warned, however, that although the attempts to stamp out abuse are admirable, the government needs to be careful to ensure the country still appears (and is) “open for business” to genuine international students. Alluding to her organization’s belief that the government’s aim of reducing net migration to below 100,000 a year was the main factor behind the curbs, she said the country must avoid making the same costly mistakes as the US and Australia – both of whom curbed overseas students numbers, then dropped policies when they realized this had seriously damaged the international competitiveness of their higher education sectors.

“Universities UK believes that the number of international students coming into the country should be accounted for separately and not included in the definition of net migration for the purposes of government policy,” Dandridge stated. “International students are not economic migrants. They come to the UK to study and then they leave.” They also, she added, contribute over £5bn to the UK economy through tuition fees and off-campus expenditure.

Matt Cavanagh, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, agrees – and warns that cutting numbers when universities are already under financial pressure is “particularly reckless”.

“The Government needs to get away from the numbers game on migration policy,” he says. “There is abuse of student visas – and the Government is right to take action against it – but cutting down on abuse and cutting down on numbers are fundamentally different objectives.”

Sources: “Immigration: Foreign Student Visa Clampdown Leads 450 Colleges To Lose Licences”. Sky News, November 3, 2011.
& “Student visa curbs are damaging our reputation, Universities UK warns”. The Guardian, November 2, 2011.
& “International student visa crack-down “beginning to bite” says Immigration Minister”. Re:locate, November 2, 2011.

4) GLOBE TIPPING – Packing disasters… solved.

If you’ve ever travelled, you’ve likely faced one – a packing dilemma, that is. This week, O.O brings you a list of five top ‘packing problems’, along with tips on what to do if they happen to you.

1. Airport security confiscates a prized possession. So long as you check to make sure that everything in your carry-on is TSA approved, this shouldn’t be a problem. But for anyone who throws things together at the last minute or let’s one of the many ‘rules’ slip their mind, there are a number of options. One being that, IF you have the time, to go back to the check-in counter and either check the carry-on bag along with your item (the faster of the two options), or request to include the item in your already-checked bag (which may take longer to find). Note, however, that this requires two more line waits (for the check-in and the security lines), in addition to any delay to find your bag, so unless you have one to two hours to spare, this might not be the best idea. Alternatively, many airports do have post offices in them – so if you do have a bit of time and don’t mind posting the item (and assuming you run into the problem during regular daytime working hours), this may be possible. Or, finally, if your car has been left in the parking lot, or if a friend who dropped you off may still be nearby, the other (probably most obvious) option is simply to leave the item behind.

2. Too many souvenirs. Besides the option of ‘packing less’ to leave room in your bag for extra souvenirs (which, really, who wants to do that?), there are a number of other solutions to this problem. For starters, many travelers ship souvenirs back home – particularly large or fragile items like rugs or furniture. Any reputable shop that caters largely to tourists will likely ship your goods back home right from the store – just realize that without shipping insurance or a tracking number, you have little control over what happens to your item. Also, if you do choose this option – be sure to take a photo of the item next to your receipt (a common scam is for some shops to ship a smaller or less expensive instead of the one you bought). Alternatively, you can also mail the item yourself – either via mail or a major shipping company like UPS or FedEx. Though pricey, they are reliable. Or, easiest yet – pack a second, squashy bag into your suitcase in order to use take the souvenirs back on the plane with you. Even if you have to pay for excess luggage, this may still be cheaper than any shipping option.

3. You left (insert essential item) at home. If it’s a replaceable item – check out the airport stores. But if it’s something more essential, like, say, a passport, this is clearly a more serious problem. And, yes, may cause you to miss your flight. However, if this is the case, first thing’s first – go to the airline desk, explain the situation, and try to get on the next flight. Airline policies vary on missed flights, so you may find a sympathetic ear… or you may have to pay full price for a new ticket.

4. Your Luggage Breaks. Although this is an extremely unlikely scenario, if you’re travelling with an older suitcase, or have sharp things inside it, it becomes more likely… In any case, if you want to be prepared for such a scenario, just travel with some duct tape. Instead of packing the whole big roll, just wrap a suitable amount around a pen in order to save on space. Also, it might be worth having some spare paper clips (for quick zipper replacements) and/or safety pins around as well, just in case. Additionally, in order to ensure against mishaps, try to go for quality from the start. Look for luggage with seams that are double stitched, with sturdy, built-in wheels (wheels which stick out are that much more likely to get ripped off), and if you have loose straps, either detach them and put them inside your bag, or consider having your bag ‘wrapped’ at the airport to further protect it.

5. Something Spills All Over Your Stuff. Even if you’re extra careful and put all your liquids in Ziploc bags, accidents can still happen – and leaks and stains can easily ruin a travel wardrobe. If you’re in a big city, then it’s probably going to be easy to find a quick, professional cleaners nearby – they’re often available through hotels. But if you’re in a more remote area, or in a developing country, consider the following. Heat sets stains, so whatever you do, don’t dry the stained clothes with a hair dryer or use hot water on them. Instead, act as soon as possible – first dabbing any stains with white vinegar (if you can get your hands on some), then use dishwashing soap diluted with water, which effectively removes most stains. Before you submerge any clothes, be sure to press a towel against the stain to see whether any of the colour easily ‘comes up’. If it does, it could colour the water and stain more of the item, so spot washing is best.

Top 5 “packing disasters” – and what to do if it happens to you.
Source: “Five Worst Packing Problems”. Independent


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