Category: Internationalisation

This too shall pass – reflections on international education crises

“At some point during each crisis, we worry about the long-term impact on international education”

I remember the feeling, writes Kerry Geffert, product evangelist for Terra Dotta. Restless, hard to focus, antsy, anxious, neither depressed nor positive. It was right after 9/11. Our world had turned upside down and, when we got past the immediate personal implications, those of us in international education wondered what the future held for the work that was near and dear to our hearts.

At that time I was also Conference Chair for the 2002 NAFSA Annual Conference. When we held our first meeting of the planning committee following 9/11, I started by admitting that I had had trouble focusing on our tasks. There was an immediate collective sigh of relief. Turns out I was not alone.

Two lessons from that experience: We are not alone in our feelings of uncertainty. And our professional/industry peers and colleagues are an important part of self-care and mutual support.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread, international educators are in month three of the crisis. First, dealing with the impacts in China, then fear and impacts as the virus spread abroad and now, here at home.

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What makes the Middle East attractive to international students?

“The university culture in the Middle East is vastly different from that of the western world…but students are eager to experience new cultures”

When thinking of the Middle East, ‘Education’ may not be the first thing you think of, writes Fazreen Razeek of Middle East education guide Edarabia. However, the last decade has seen a major shift, with the building of world-class universities, and in attracting international students from all over the world.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates have continuously led the development of private schools in the region, with enrolment growth at 5% in Abu Dhabi and 4% in Dubai. Both cities account for 60% of the private K-12 market with ongoing year over year growth.

The Middle East is considered to be one of the fastest-growing regions for international education; the diverse cultures in each country expose students to experiences they would not be able to encounter anywhere else.

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What’s heating up in international higher education for 2020?

“In 2020, we see campuses adapting to new norms by putting processes in place to proactively help international students feel welcome”

Anthony Rotoli, CEO of Terra Dotta – specialists in enrollment, mobility, and risk management software for higher education –  explores some trends that are likely to heat up in international education in 2020.

The world of international higher education is continually changing – whether due to recent shifts in global dynamics, diversifying student populations or international education-focused priorities evolving across institutions.

Also, many colleges are responding to dropping international enrollment numbers among first-year international students, causing them to modify their own recruitment efforts and programs supporting international education. Let’s explore some trends that we see heating up in international education in 2020.

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Modernising versus Globalising Education

“Interaction with the broader world including foreign economies, people, information, and major global challenges is becoming more inevitable”

A common discussion taking place in many modernising countries is how to adapt education systems so that they are more responsive to the rapidly changing economic realities of the future.

A key component in updating the status quo is how educational institutions support students conceptually in adapting to a rapidly globalising world. As a product of the liberal arts tradition in the United States, I have often thought about the potential impact of widespread, multi-perspective learning for all students, but also have reflected on the current gaps that cause systems to fall short of this.

What do I mean by multi-perspective learning? One that reflects the breadth and diversity of the world students live in. Regardless of job or industry, interaction with the broader world including foreign economies, people, information, and major global challenges is becoming more inevitable.

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Three things I’ve learned about intercultural learning communities

“The cafeteria at the United Nations would hardly feature more nationalities than ours”

I spent 25 years at St. John’s College which is an international community of learners.
Four years ago I came to UWC-USA which is a very international community of learners. We have students every year from over 90 countries, 125 languages are spoken on our high school campus, and the cafeteria at the United Nations would hardly feature more nationalities than ours.

The transition from higher education to secondary had few major surprises – a school year has highs and lows no matter where the school is and what its focus may be.

But I did learn – or relearn – three things about intercultural learning communities:
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Looking for a Pathway Partner? Maybe Check in the Mirror

“Even without a partner, you can still benefit from emulating the best elements of outside pathway providers”

If you are looking for a pathway partner, it is probably also true that you are looking for some kind of overarching structure to guide your international student management on campus.

You’re also not alone; in 2009, only two outside pathway partnerships existed in the US, while seven years later, there were 55*. Why such interest in partnering? Pathway Providers are most often selected by universities because they bring added value to a university’s international student lifecycle, from student recruiting to student support and career success.

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The most important job in the world

“Collectively, we need to tackle the learning crisis for the one in two children being failed as they never even learn the basics”

Teaching is the most important job in the world. The quality of any nation’s education cannot exceed the quality of its educators. Each teacher has the opportunity to shape and impact tens of thousands of young lives over the course of their career. It is not unusual to hear someone reflect on a favourite teacher from their school days or to ascribe their success in life to the advice or guidance given by a teacher.

Yet, in many low and middle-income countries teaching is an extremely difficult profession. Once trained, teachers can find themselves teaching in a range of challenging situations; days away from the nearest town; with little or no support or guidance; textbooks that aren’t aligned to the material or the age of the children they are attempting to teach and overcrowded classrooms with children sitting on the floor.

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Bringing the world home to Missouri

“We want to expose students to the world to enhance their comfort with cultural differences and to prepare them for successful careers in a global economy”

Since its founding in 1996, Cenet, a nonprofit in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, has provided affordable study abroad experiences for American and international students, and work-based exchange opportunities in the US for young adults around the world, the organisation’s executive director Robyn Walker writes.

Having grown up in nearby southern Illinois, I was Cenet’s first study abroad student (to the sunny island of Malta), and now have the privilege of serving as the organization’s executive director.  Cenet recently revised its mission – “to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration” – and with that in mind, I want us to have more impact in our local area.

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What should universities do now a no-deal Brexit seems likely?

“Few academics believe a no-deal Brexit will be good for the education system”

Regardless of how you feel about Britain leaving the European Union, there was a time when not securing a deal seemed farcical. Yet, with the new deadline of October 31st now imminent, this unfortunately now looks almost certain.

This would have dramatic implications for the UK, but one of the greatest could be in the education sector. From universities to student accommodation, there are measures which should be considered – and planned for – in the event of a no-deal.

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Universities, like Oxbridge, fail to represent Britain’s ethnic diversity

“Educational success by BAME individuals is fundamental in ensuring the future of a diverse British society”

If one were to envisage the Oxbridge stereotype, a white, wealthy student fed by Eton would most likely come to mind. Whilst the UK’s top two universities have claimed to be erasing this reputation by promoting ethnic diversity, it seems reality continues to tell a very different story. 

Statistics show that successful admissions for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals remains significantly lower than that of their white counterparts. According to UCAS, 2016 saw Oxford accepting 2180 white students in comparison to a mere 35 black individuals.  Similarly, the statistics for Cambridge revealed only 40 black students were granted a place compared to 2025 white students.

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