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There have been several articles about the failure of higher education in China to guarantee jobs to graduates. The Voluntary Institutional Metrics Project also emphasizes post-graduate employment among the items below to be evaluated that include:. Four of five items above are primarily quantitative measures. Quantitative data are relatively easy to collect and very simple to compare. This feeds into the attraction of rankings—gather data, create mechanisms for quantifying the information, and compare.
Rankings, like the information that will be collected by the Voluntary Institutional Metric Project, will supposedly help us know which institution is better than which other institution. But most anyone who has collected data knows that you can neatly summarize the results but that those results often hide a fair amount of messiness. Are all data from all institutions collected and reported in the same way?
Are they truly comparable? Which variables were factored into the analysis and which were overlooked? We have read over and over again that there are serious methodological problems with the way rankings are constructed. I suggest that there are good reasons to doubt most comparative data collected from the diverse array of institutions that make up higher education in any country today.
We are rarely comparing apples to apples. In fact, we are generally comparing apples to kumquats so if we resort to measuring common characteristics number of seeds, for example just to have something to compare, how useful is it? Quantitative measures are appealing at so many levels but they limit what we can measure as well as how accurately we can measure something as elusive as education.
I once read I think it was Martin Trow that to truly measure the quality and impact of higher education, we would have to monitor someone throughout their post-graduate lifetime. This makes sense to me. Now, how could I document that? I recognize that in most modern societies, most of us need to work to survive, but I do wonder if the purpose of a college education is to guarantee employment. Perhaps it is time to separate the two. Perhaps we should be getting an education at college and job training somewhere else.
What do employment statistics, or loan repayment data, or institutional costs really tell us about the education someone has experienced? Institutions of all kinds need to be accountable but we should be careful about what conclusions we draw from the things that we can measure. After three years, Waterloo had only students of the needed to make their Dubai engineering program viable. Still, many other institutions are soldiering on despite the enormous cost.
I remember hearing once that it cost the same to operate a university with students as one with 2, because the basic infrastructure and personnel required to support an acceptable standard of higher education is the same.
It is not surprising that these small western institutions in the Gulf can continue only with massive subsidies from the home campus or host government. What struck me this week was not another failed venture but the fact that George Mason was going at it again. And is this really the best international strategy for institutions to pursue?
One possible answer to the first question is perhaps the hope of a new income stream in the long term. Yet evidence so far makes it appear unlikely that the return on investment of these ventures will be better than simply investing in the stock market. Another plausible answer is that institutions wish to increase their international visibility and prestige by being present in other geographic regions. This thought leads into my second question of whether this is the best international strategy.
You get the idea. Bringing students to the home campus provides them with the opportunity to live in a foreign culture, not in an artificially constructed one. Hundreds of foreign alumni who have had successful and enjoyable experiences abroad return home as ambassadors for their alma mater. Or alternatively, consider the research collaborations that might have been funded between the foreign institution and the host country.
And provide comparable, if not greater, long-term benefits? Finally I struggle to understand the mission and objective of an international campus.
Is the purpose to offer a foreign education closer to home to students in the host country? To accommodate third party nationals in the host country? To be a regional educational center to integrate students from neighboring countries into a shared academic experience? To adapt the curriculum of the home campus to make it locally relevant? To date, these programs seem to do none of these very effectively according to critics. They teach in English, creating a cultural gap between the institution and the host country.
Furthermore programs offered at branch campuses often provoke conflict by following customs such as coeducation that are often at odds with a significant segment of the host culture. Cultures do not always blend easily and it is not clear that the branch campuses have fully embraced this reality.
What benefits, if any, do these branch campuses bring back to the home campus? These ventures seem to stretch resources faculty in particular without clear evidence that the home campus is enriched in ways that could not be achieved by other means with less stress on finances and personnel. As George Mason launches a new venture in Korea, I wonder what lessons they take with them from their experience in the Gulf. And what new faulty assumptions will be made. So, the University of Tokyo has announced a new program that makes it possible for students to take all of their classes in English.
Degree programs taught entirely in English are not a new phenomenon but the trend is growing. But there are more undergraduate programs being taught in English, particularly in Europe and increasingly in Asia. Is this a good thing?
This is a good thing in the sense that English, like US dollars and Euros, is a kind of common currency that facilitates movement across borders. English-language instruction allows universities to increase international participation in classrooms throughout the world. After all, more potentially mobile students are likely to speak English than Arabic or Chinese. So if you are a university in Qatar and you want to increase international enrollment to create a more global environment, you increase your likely applicant pool by offering degree programs taught in English rather than Arabic.
If you are the University of Tokyo, teaching in English significantly expands the potential to recruit internationally as there are many more qualified candidates who are fluent in their first language plus English than their first language and Japanese. But is this trend ultimately a good thing? Although I believe that anything that improves global communication is an important advance towards a more promising future, there are caveats.
It is too easy to forget that communicating is much more than words and that language is anchored in culture. There are many words and phrases that simply do not translate and when people attempt to convey cultural concepts in a foreign language, meaning is often lost, or at least changed.
I find I communicate best with people who speak Spanish and English. That way I can pull from both languages to make my intentions much clearer than when I am limited to one language. This is why I favor bilingual programs that develop both languages in all students as opposed to language programs developed to integrate students into the language of the host country.
And why I am concerned about teaching everyone in English. Furthermore, English-only instruction generally uses books and articles published in English that unavoidably skew the syllabus and limit the perspectives included. My other concern about teaching university courses everywhere in English is the potential impact on intellectual development.
Although this is not my research area, I do know that how we think and reason is tied to culture and language. We also know that the university years are a critical period of intellectual development that will shape the way individuals function as adults. Academic publications already reflect the degree to which research is conducted in English today. If more and more learning is also done in English will that limit the way ideas are explored and discussed in the future?
If we depend more and more on English-language scholarship could this hinder the development of different kinds of intellectual thought and reasoning? I recognize the expediency and inevitability of the growing dominance of English in a globalized world, but I hope that as we move towards more teaching in English that we will insure that communication in other languages is also cultivated along the way.
Immigration regulations for international students seem to have been changing somewhat unpredictably of late in major receiving countries. In several English-speaking nations, immigration regulation has become a significant policy issue, and international students have been the frequent focus of recent crackdowns.
These changes have the potential to alter the landscape of global student flows and might even slow the increases in international student numbers of the past two decades. Recent scandals The latest crisis involved London Metropolitan University, an institution with one of the largest enrolments of international students in the United Kingdom.
Some of these students may need to return to their home countries. Other international students, legitimately enrolled, are panicked. As explained by the manager of a firm that places students at UK universities, quoted recently in the Guardian: Many observers see the London Met case as the tip of the iceberg of questionable admissions and recruiting practices in the UK.
Scandals have made national headlines in the United States as well. In August , the head of Herguan University in California was arrested on charges of visa fraud. This followed the similar case of Tri-Valley University.I discovered your blog by way of Google whilst searching for a comparable topic, your web site got here up. This post truly made my day. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. Your writing taste has been surprised me. I am a normal visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site.