Les procédures d’achat de formations pour les chômeurs par Pôle emploi sont trop rigides pour être pleinement efficaces et les agents manquent d’un outil simple pour trouver une formation adaptée à chaque demandeur d’emploi. C’est le bilan que vient de faire l’inspection générale des Affaires sociales (Igas) dans un rapport (cliquez ici pour le consulter) portant précisément sur l’évaluation des achats de formations par Pôle emploi. Les formations, soumises aux règles de la concurrence, font l’objet de passations de marchés avec appels d’offres. Pour réduire les procédures et répondre plus rapidement aux besoins, les directions de Pôle emploi en régions achètent des formations par “paquets”. Suite de l'article.
On ne peut pas dire que les propositions du sénateur soient bien nouvelles. Cette situation semble bien normale compte tenu du fait que le M.Larcher n'a fait que recueillir les avis de ceux qui depuis des décennies ont fait ce que la formation professionnelle est actuellement un grand flou bien loin de répondre aux besoins des entreprises et encore moins des chômeurs.
L'idée de supprimer la contribution légale des entreprises de 10 salariés et plus au "plan de formation" (contribution de 0,9% de la masse salariale) serait à la rigueur la plus "innovante" et semble, depuis bien longtemps, la plus attendue.
Le sénateur propose par ailleurs de doubler le nombre de demandeurs d'emploi formés. Solution louable si la formation était créatrice d'emplois... ce qui, à notre connaissance, n'est pas le cas.
Enfin, Monsieur Larcher propose de ressusciter l'ancien, pour ne pas dire antédiluvien outil gouvernemental d'intervention et de traitement social de masse du chômage qu'était l'AFPA... Proposition étonnante, pour ne pas dire surréaliste, compte tenu de l'ardeur développée ces années passées pour la mettre au tapis. Télécharger le Rapport_Larcher.
Affaire à suivre... après les élections.
Extraits du Rapport_Larcher
CONCRETISER LE DROIT A LA FORMATION PROFESSIONNELLE TOUT AU LONG DE LA VIE
 Les restructurations de notre économie depuis quatre décennies ponctuées de quelques « embellies » ont conduit à faire évoluer l’approche des questions d’emploi et de formation: de la seule défense des emplois dans les entreprises, l’intervention publique est progressivement passée au maintien et au développement des compétences des individus afin de faciliter les transitions qui marquent de plus en plus la vie professionnelle.
 L’intitulé des accords interprofessionnels du 10 février 1969 et du 7 janvier 2009 sont à cet égard très illustratifs de ce changement de perspective : le premier porte sur « la sécurité de l’emploi»; le second sur « le développement de la formation tout au long de la vie, la professionnalisation et la sécurisation des parcours professionnels ».
 De nouveaux concepts sont apparus : droits transférables, mobilité protégée, contrat d’activité, et plus récemment : sécurisation des parcours, sécurité sociale professionnelle, gestion des transitions. Tous reposent sur l’idée qu’il faut responsabiliser les personnes dans la conduite de leur parcours professionnel et de leur mobilité.
 De fait et comme le montrent les statistiques, les outils aujourd’hui en place, qui devraient permettre aux salariés d’engager des parcours de formation à leur initiative, ne répondent que très imparfaitement à leur vocation:
 – le CIF bien que plébiscité reste à des niveaux d’utilisation assez faible du fait d’un manque de financement: en 2010, 35 285 CIF/CDI ont été financés (-10,5% par rapport à 2009) et 9499 CIF/CDD (-15,3%),
 – le DIF ne se développe pas et les durées de formation sont trop faibles pour permettre l’engagement d’une formation qualifiante. Il a concerné en 2010, 473 327 stagiaires (-6% part rapport à 2009), soit 6,4% des salariés dans 25,4% des entreprises pour une durée de formation de 22h.
Ces outils se révèlent insuffisants pour répondre aux grands objectifs de la promotion sociale :
o Permettre aux personnes sorties précocement du système de formation initiale l’accès à un premier niveau de qualification (formation initiale différée);
o Permettre aux entreprises et/ou aux salariés d’engager les actions de formation nécessaires à leur maintien dans l’emploi et à l’accroissement de leurs compétences;
o Favoriser la promotion sociale des actifs désireux d’évoluer professionnellement;
o Faciliter une reprise de l’activité professionnelle notamment après un temps consacré à l’éducation des enfants.
 Deux options se dégagent pour répondre à ces enjeux qui visent à redonner vitalité à la promotion sociale par la formation professionnelle. Elles n’ont pas la même dimension mais s’appuient sur la même philosophie: un accès à la formation plus permanent et indépendant du statut des personnes.
 L’une s’appuie sur la création d’un droit personnel à la formation par une fusion du CIF et du DIF; l’autre beaucoup plus « ambitieuse » et d’une portée sociétale vise à l’instauration d’un compte individuel de formation.
6.1 La création d’un droit personnel à la formation
 La fusion de ces deux instruments CIF et DIF, outre qu’elle simplifierait le paysage, permettrait de répondre tout à la fois aux besoins de formation pendant l’emploi ou pendant les périodes de chômage. Ce nouvel outil permettrait de maintenir les droits de chacun à la formation, quelle que soit sa situation- salarié ou demandeur d’emploi.
 Ce droit personnel à la formation serait mobilisable à l’initiative du salarié pour:
 - accroître ses compétences, en lien avec l’employeur si la formation se déroule pendant le temps de travail,
 - engager pendant une période de chômage et en lien avec Pôle emploi, une formation de reconversion,
 - accéder à une qualification supérieure pendant une période de chômage ou en cours de contrat.
 Le financement de ce nouveau droit serait assuré par une contribution unique rassemblant les contributions CIF/CDI et CIF/CDD. Pour lui permettre un réel développement notamment en appuyant des formations à visées qualifiantes et certifiantes, elle devrait être légèrement rehaussée, sans toutefois accroître le taux de contribution globale pesant sur les entreprises.
 La gestion des droits pourrait être encadrée pour prioriser les interventions en direction des publics les plus fragiles.
 L’accroissement du volume de formation pendant les périodes de chômage qu’on peut attendre d’un tel système ne devra pas conduire à substituer les financements les uns aux autres (Pôle emploi, Région, droit personnel), mais à instaurer une complémentarité pour allonger les durées totales de formation et permettre l’accès à une qualification.
 La collecte des fonds et la mise en oeuvre du droit seraient assurées par les FONGECIF, afin de garantir une proximité avec Pôle emploi et les Régions. Un soutien des Régions pourraient permettre d’abonder les fonds notamment en direction des personnes des niveaux de qualification les plus faibles, afin de faciliter l’engagement de formations qualifiantes.
6.2 Le Compte Individuel de Formation
 C’est principalement au milieu des années 1990 que la réflexion s’est développée autour de la notion de Compte Individuel de Formation. Ils font l’objet aujourd’hui, sous des dénominations variables, d’un portage politique assez large.
 Deux approches caractérisent la réflexion sur les comptes individuels: la première les positionne en lieu et place des modes collectifs d’accès à la formation; la seconde comme un dispositif complémentaire.
 Aussi intéressantes soient-elles, les expériences conduites dans quelques pays européens qui ont substitué ce type de dispositifs aux mécanismes collectifs d’accès à la formation (Royaume-Uni, Autriche, Suède, Allemagne, Etats-Unis…) ne semblent pas avoir donné jusqu’à présent des résultats très probants.
 Ces expériences semblent s’être heurtées à une double difficulté: d’une part l’instauration de ces comptes ne semble pas correspondre à un modèle économique viable et d’autre part le fait de disposer de ressources pour accéder à la formation ne déclenche pas nécessairement une appétence pour la formation.
 Aussi, ces comptes de formation doivent devoir plus trouver leur place comme dispositif complémentaire aux mécanismes actuels qui permettent l’accès à la formation pour les salariés et les demandeurs d’emploi, qu’en substitution de ceux-ci. Par contre, alimentés par les ressources des différents dispositifs existants et en les mutualisant, ces comptes pourraient créer des passerelles entre les différents moments de la vie professionnelle et donner un contenu au droit à la qualification et au droit à la progression professionnelle.
 Plusieurs schémas plus ou moins élaborés ont été tracés pour alimenter ces comptes. Plusieurs ressources sont ciblées : les DIF non utilisés et capitalisés (dans la limite de 120h comme actuellement ou au-delà), des congés RTT, de l’épargne salariale, un crédit d’impôt. Certains projets envisagent une cotisation sociale pesant sur les salariés et les employeurs et des contributions publiques de l’Etat et des Régions.
 Le compte serait à la disposition de la personne en cours de contrat de travail ou comme demandeur d’emploi pour le financement d’une formation, l’engagement d’une VAE, d’un bilan de compétence… Le compte individuel pourrait être complété par les outils collectifs (FONGECIF, Pôle emploi ou Région) en cas d’insuffisance des droits. Le compte serait géré par le FONGECIF.
 Je crois utile d’avancer dans la réflexion sur ces comptes individuels. Ils peuvent permettre d’outiller concrètement le droit à la formation tout au long de la vie et refonder une offre et des parcours de promotion sociale.
 Pour prendre forme, il pourrait être demandé au CNFPTLV d’engager une réflexion sur la faisabilité et les conditions de fonctionnement de ce compte et ensuite, l’inscrire à l’agenda social avant de faire l’objet d’un examen au Parlement.
 Quelle que soit à terme la forme qui sera retenue pour mettre en oeuvre un droit plus effectif et opérationnel à la formation tout au long de la vie, deux conditions préalables doivent être réunies que l’on retrouve dans plusieurs pages de ce rapport:
 – un accompagnement dans l’exercice du droit pour aider les moins formés;
 – la constitution d’une offre de formation souple, ouverte et modulaire qui permet une véritable individualisation des parcours et qui s’adapte aux conditions d’apprentissage des personnes.
Proposition n°4: Prévoir à l’agenda social le « Compte Individuel de Formation » après travaux préparatoires du CNFPTLV.
Voir aussi Les 26 Propositions du rapport Larcher, Alors, il vient ce rapport Larcher sur la nième réforme de la formation professionnelle, De la formation professionnelle continue à la formation tout au long de la vie, Réforme de la formation professionnelle: la mission de Gérard Larcher.
Vi kan ikke sige, at Senator forslag er gode nyheder. Dette synes normalt i betragtning af, at m.larcher kun har indhente udtalelser fra dem, der i årtier har gjort, hvad uddannelse er i øjeblikket/stort blur langt fra at opfylde behovet hos virksomheder og endnu færre af de arbejdsløse.
Ideen til at fjerne bidrag advokatfirmaer med 10 eller flere ansatte til "uddannelsesplan" (bidrog 0,9% af lønsummen) er stringens i den mest "nyskabende" og synes, længe siden, mere forventet. Mere...
Europe’s research ministers have already argued that social sciences and humanities should be given a more prominent role in Horizon 2020, the next European Union framework programme for 2014-20. Commission plans would make Horizon 2020 the world’s largest publicly financed research programme with a proposed budget of €80 billion (US$105 billion).
ALLEA, which comprises 53 national academies of sciences, social sciences and humanities in 40 European countries and aims to represent the voice of social sciences and humanities in Europe, met in Amsterdam on 27-28 March to discuss the EU Commission’s proposal to include social science and humanities in Horizon 2020 as 'horizontal' or 'transversal' elements in separate programmes. ALLEA said that this is not enough to meet the demands of the 25,000 scientists who have signed a petition for giving these disciplines a separate programme in Horizon 2020.
Rüdiger Klein, executive director of ALLEA, told University World News that Horizon 2020 had to include a clear budget commitment for the social sciences and humanities components in an extra ‘societal challenge’ – addressing specific research needs in social, economic and cultural domains – and a transparent mechanism for including social sciences and humanities expertise into the other scientific ‘challenges’.
Christina Bitterberg of the German Aerospace Centre, spokesperson for the Net4Society project team that produced the open letter and collected the signatures, said:
“The open letter, signed by the 25,000 supporters, calls for an independent social sciences and humanities-centred programme (‘Challenge’) within Horizon 2020, that focuses on important societal and economic transformations, in areas as diverse as education, gender, identity, intercultural dialogue, media, security, social innovation, to name but a few.
“In addition, the letter promotes the implementation of social sciences and humanities research in all other challenges of Horizon 2020. It is certainly not sufficient to treat social sciences and humanities research only as a horizontal or transversal element.”
Pekka Sulkunen, president of the European Sociological Association (ESA)and a professor at Helsinki University, told University World News: “The exclusion of social sciences and humanities from Horizon 2020 is not only bad for the scientists in this area. Most significantly, it indicates a basic mistake in the EU understanding of science in society in general.
“The ESA has stressed in its several communications on Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area that seeing science only as an instrument of innovation is fatal both to science and innovation policy.
“Knowledge society requires above all a sound and strong educational and research basis – innovations are only a part of this wider whole.”
In February EU research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn responded to ministers' concerns by pledging that the social sciences and humanities would have a “vitally important role in all challenges in Horizon 2020”.
She said. “They will be embedded as an integral part of all activities, working beyond ‘the silos of distinct discipline.”
However, Sulkunen warned that the narrow idea of a linear continuum from basic to applied research to innovation to development to market results from competition between national governments for research resources, where EU funding is seen as a cost, not as an instrument in itself, created excessive expectations of the "usefulness" and added value of EU research input.
He said it was wrong to believe that the social sciences and humanities operated on a small scale that did not require EU-level funding. Key issues in European societies require efficient and sufficient resources for comparative studies that can only be met by common funding sources. The reassurance that the disciplines will be included transversally means in practice that there will be no social sciences and humanities expertise to set priorities and design research programmes in the commission. This results in an immense need for lobbying on a daily basis, which would sap the resources of scientists, especially of scientific associations such as the ESA and similar learned societies, Sulkunen added.
“Europe is passing right now one of the most historic windows of what many believe to be its last opportunity to become a truly transnational society,” Sulkunen said. “Innovation policy based on a false idea of knowledge in society is not adequate to respond to this challenge.”
At a meeting at the British Academy in London on 10 November 2011, Geoghegan-Quinn confirmed that “future funding at the European level will provide significant space for social sciences and humanities research”.
She said Horizon 2020 would be structured around three pillars: "excellence in the science base", "creating industrial leadership and competitive frameworks" and "tackling societal challenges".
Klein said the Brussels meeting of the alliance agreed it was important to overcome the fragmentation of the social sciences and humanities communities and provide a collective voice.
By Sophia Kishkovsky. After it was reported this month that not a single Russian university had cracked The Times Higher Education’s ranking of top 100 schools by academic reputation, Education Minister Andrei Fursenko said that Russia was in the process of creating its own rating system. A brain drain from Russia has been funneling its brightest minds to the West, while the nation’s embattled higher education system struggles to find its place in the post-Soviet world. Each new rating announcement sets off hand-wringing about the predominance of the United States and the rise of China, both sore points and models for Russia.
“Russia has had some internal debate about their academic community,” Phil Baty, the editor of the Times Higher Education rankings, said by telephone from London. “They have suffered from appalling brain drain, and there is also concern that their scholastic community is isolated.
“There are some schools that are extremely impressive, but it is also struggling, and it’s all down to resources,” Mr. Baty added.
Dr. Fursenko told the Interfax news agency that ratings were an “instrument of competitive battle and influence” and should not be monopolized. He said that Russia was working with international specialists to create its own “international and universally recognized” university rating, Interfax reported this month.
Two days earlier, the Kremlin chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, said Russia should create its own corruption rating. The Times’s reputation rankings are based on responses by more than 17,000 academics, chosen in part according to Unesco data on the geographic spread of professors around the world. As early as February 2011, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was calling on Dr. Fursenko and his ministry to work out its own ranking of foreign universities.
“You must know that certain experts think that these Western ratings are, in fact, an instrument for raising their competitiveness on the labor market,” Mr. Putin said at their meeting, where they discussed a law that would recognize foreign university diplomas in Russia. “That’s why we need to be very cautious about them, and work out our own objective method of evaluating the quality of education that graduates of these universities receive.”
Last August, Mr. Putin promised 70 billion rubles, or $2.38 billion, for higher education innovation in Russia over the next five years. Dr. Fursenko told Interfax that he would investigate why Russia had fallen on the Times Higher Education lists. Lomonosov Moscow State University, which is known for its mathematics and physical sciences programs, had been ranked 33rd by the Times last year, the first year it compiled a reputation ranking. Only two Russian universities — Moscow State and Saint Petersburg State University — made it onto The Times’s regular Top 400 ranking, placing in the 276-300 and 351-400 bands.
Russians take any blow against Moscow State very personally. It was founded in the 18th century by Mikhail Lomonosov, who is regarded as a Russian Leonardo da Vinci. The Stalin-era skyscraper that serves as its main building is one of the Russian capital’s landmarks, visible for kilometers around, and the vast university serves the function of Harvard, Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all rolled into one. Viktor Sadovnichy, the rector of Moscow State, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a Moscow newspaper, that the university had suffered in the rankings because the quality of research at universities was weighted over teaching, but that such a year-on-year drop was too precipitous.
It was most likely set off, he said, by respondents being asked a new set of questions. Mr. Sadovnichy told the newspaper that the only question mentioned in the methodology described on The Times Higher Education’s Web site is “Which university would you send your most talented graduates to for the best postgraduate supervision?” which places Russian universities at an immediate disadvantage since there is no official “postgraduate” category in Russia.
In 2009, the Russian government designated a group of research universities for an influx of funds and development, something that China did years ago, said Martin Gilman, who was director of the International Monetary Fund’s Moscow office in the 1990s and has been director of the Higher School of Economics’ Center for Advanced Studies since 2006. The Higher School of Economics, one of the designated research universities and widely regarded as Russia’s most Western-style school, has lured 25 new faculty from the international academic job market — both overseas Russians and foreign-born nationals — with the promise of research opportunities and a smaller teaching burden than they would most likely encounter in the United States.
New hires are offered tenure-track positions and the resources to publish and to travel to conferences, which, in turn, raises the university’s international profile, said Dr. Gilman. The university has been transitioning to teaching and publishing in English, as well as introducing practices like blind peer-reviewed publications that are not yet the norm in Russia.
“We know that this is not going to have big payoffs in the short term in terms of international rankings, but we are hopeful that given our strategy of 2020” — by which time H.S.E. aims to be a world-class research university — “that over the longer term, this will be a much more solid basis in creating the kind of critical mass of faculty in certain disciplines,” Dr. Gilman said.
Russia has been faced with revamping its primary and secondary education systems as well in the wake of the collapse of Communism. The introduction of a standardized college entrance exam similar to the SAT in the United States, has been controversial, but is an important step to introducing national standards in Russia, Dr. Gilman said. On the university level, the social sciences were devastated during the Soviet era and are being built virtually from scratch.
“Those involved in higher education have a formidable challenge in this country because the dead weight of the past is enormous,” Dr. Gilman said.
Yefim Pivovar, rector of the Russian State University for the Humanities, one of the most prestigious liberal arts universities, known as R.G.G.U., said that Russian universities were still far behind in physical infrastructure, which, he said, also affected rankings. He said that R.G.G.U. had been exchanging students with Laval University in Canada for 20 years.
“They have kilometers of underground passageways between buildings,” he said. “We don’t have a single university with such passageways. I’m talking about the material base. I think they have seven rinks for Canadian hockey. That’s what we need to be doing. It’s not a question of ratings, but of the quality of our material base,” he said.
Dr. Pivovar said that Russia could not ignore rankings, but that R.G.G.U.’s 200 exchanges and agreements with schools like the University of California, Berkeley, and the universities of Bochum and Freiburg in Germany also proved its connection to international academia. Joyce Hor-Chung Lau contributed reporting.
But once comprehensively surveyed, the magnitude and reach of fraud is becoming clear. For example, research suggests that the majority of applications from a number of large student-sending countries are either significantly embellished or outright fraudulent. As a result, tens of thousands of international students, having passed through visa and admissions systems, are enrolled all over the world based on school transcripts, financial support statements, recommendation letters or test scores that are untrue.
Given the gatekeeper function of higher education in general and the attractions of attaining a degree from a Western, ideally ranked university in particular, the pressure to compete on illegitimate terms has increased markedly. As a result, Australia and then the UK experienced waves of fraud and reacted strongly to these in recent years. At the moment, Canada and the US are experiencing a surge of fraud issues.
A sensible yet impossible to answer question is: ‘What is the actual rate of fraud among international applicants and students?’
To answer this question, test providers would have to open their books, education providers would have to systematically share data on fraudulent behaviour and governments would have to provide in-depth reporting on visa denials. There has been a great degree of reluctance to do so, sometimes for understandable reasons such as national security. As a result, gauging the pervasiveness of fraud has to rely on the broad gathering of evidence, which ranges from visa denial data and research such as a report on admissions fraud by Chinese students conducted by Zinch, to interviews with dozens of faculty members and administrators around the world.
Another data point is the growing realisation that English language test scores have become increasingly unreliable and, in some instances, effectively useless. The data suggests that students are willing to pay large amounts to obtain high-scoring test results. Amounts reported range from US$20,000 for an LSAT (US law school admissions test), to US$60,000 for the entrance exam at a leading Indian medical school, or US$1,000 to supply fake financial capability documentation for student visa applications to Canada or Australia.
Drivers of fraud
The surge in fraud that has taken place over the last decade can be attributed to four key drivers. First, the imbalance between quality higher education study places relative to applicants provides an imperative for students to improve their admissions chances through illegitimate means. This behaviour is simply more visible in the case of international students, given the added testing and validation layers they face, amplified by the desirability of the ‘prize’.
Second, the economic rise of Asia and recently parts of Africa has resulted in a surge of applicants from countries with large populations as well as historically high rates of fraudulent testing and admissions behaviour. In this sense, fraud moved from a manageable volume into the mainstream of international education.
Third, the by now near-universal availability of internet-based tools and content as well as mobile technology has negated transactional constraints on fraudulent behaviour. From Photoshop to papers being sold online to smartphones being used for test fraud, the usage of technology by applicants and students committing fraud has recently outpaced awareness and eventual countermeasures by education providers and testing agencies.
The fourth driver is based on the tacit and sometimes even explicit collusion of stakeholders who place the economic contributions from international students above the integrity of a test regime, admissions system or institutional brand. The motivation is fairly obvious – money. In 2010, in-country direct revenues from international higher education students amounted to an estimated US$80 to US$90 billion globally, according to an ICG estimate. It bears noting that there is hardly a – legitimate – global industry of this size that operates with the lack of unified standards and quality control mechanisms that international education has.
Fraudulent behaviour in international education manifests itself in a wide range of actions and activities. Plagiarism is one of the two most often identified instances of academic fraud, which is by no means specific to international students. Over the past decade, plagiarism has become a rampant problem across campuses worldwide, driven by the emergence of websites selling papers or ghostwriting services or the by now common ‘classroom presentation by courtesy of Wikipedia’.
As a result, some students in recently graduated cohorts have become arguably better at misappropriating intellectual property than at formulating their own thoughts. Testing fraud has rapidly become another major problem. One has to marvel at the creativity of test-takers (or those hired to take a test) who deploy James Bond-like gadgets or are involved in the large-scale memorisation of illegally obtained test documents. Other well-reported issues include identity fraud or the breach of the integrity of test companies’ operations from within.
As a result, especially language test results from some Asian countries are now often deemed so unreliable that some universities have begun systematically retesting students after they arrive on campus. This list could go on and cover everything from classroom-based fraud to students abusing study permits to enter a country for the sole purpose of finding work. The point is that the benefits from fraudulent behaviour typically outweigh potential penalties and, in some instances, fraud is an essential act required to reach the desired goal, that is, admission to a specific institution or a study permit for a certain country.
Like water flowing to the lowest point, fraudulent behaviour will continue to penetrate every layer of international education.
With fraud becoming a pervasive problem, the broad impact of this trend needs to be stressed because, in the end, the unpleasant reality is that everyone loses. Why is that?
For one, students who cheat their way into programmes, which subsequently often overtax their abilities, or commit substantial fraud to complete a degree, will not be properly educated. This hurts eventual employers as well as societies that put their faith in the quality of a supposed education. Education providers face a multitude of problems, ranging from a loss of brand integrity to effectively treating students unequally.
The latter has already resulted in spats in the media and unease among faculty members, with the potential for more conflict. The former is coming to light through anecdotal evidence that employers are negatively responding to a lack of quality among international graduates. Universities that do not properly address fraud risk the real danger of damaging their brands with employers for many years to come. Testing providers, especially those who seem to pay more lip service to combating fraud than others, will find the validity of their tests increasingly challenged – to the point at which education institutions will move on to new and different verification regimes, negating the services of these providers. There are first indications that this ‘tipping point’ is being reached.
National education systems will lose in terms of brand and integrity, if they have not already done so. By now, a good number of student-sending countries, ranging from Nigeria to China, evoke little trust in the credentials of their students. At the receiving end, Australia and the UK were among the earlier countries taking a hard policy line against visa and immigration fraud. The spotlight is now on policy and institutional responses from Canada and the United States.
No easy solutions
There are, unfortunately, no easy solutions to combating fraud in international education. Powerful economic imperatives on behalf of a series of stakeholders, the technical ease of committing fraud, and a lack of tools with which to map and measure fraud activities provide plenty of incentives to cheat or circumvent assurance and control mechanisms. What might help are the following four actions:
First, stakeholders need to acknowledge the fact that fraud is not just more widespread than assumed or hoped for, but that a lack of action will do lasting damage to brands and reputation. This applies especially to higher education institutions that face the prospect of lasting damage to their brands with employers and existing alumni. While cultures and economic rationales differ from campus to campus, a general initial measure would be to commence a cross-campus dialogue about the presence and impact of fraud.
Second, educational institutions and testing providers need to take a more open approach to mapping and measuring fraud in order to design effective countermeasures. The best way to respond to immediate fraudulent behaviour in this regard is not to hit at a single instance – such as banning a specific test provider – but to connect the dots between testing, admissions and classroom behaviour. By combating fraud with a comprehensive feedback loop approach, deep pattern detection can be applied and mapped to the underlying economic and behavioural drivers of fraud.
Third, stakeholders need to adjust, newly create and – critically – enforce policies aimed at maintaining institutional integrity and the quality of teaching and research. An initial step should be updating policies such as honour codes to today’s realities. Another step is to ensure that policies are well communicated across an organisation, incoming international students and other stakeholders in the recruiting and admissions process.
Fourth, the above actions need to be pursued with an integrated approach, involving employers as much as visa-granting agencies and test providers. While fraud can never be entirely eliminated, mitigating, if not minimising, its effects is critically dependent on raising both the integrity of the overall quality assurance landscape as well as specifically that of the weakest link in a given landscape.
* Dr Daniel J Guhr is managing director of the Illuminate Consulting Group, an international science, research and academic strategy consulting firm advising the leadership of teaching and research institutions, foundations, governments and public agencies on policy, development and competition issues. Illuminate has just been retained by a government to write a full-scale assessment of many of the issues raised in the article.
“In an increasingly international labour market, it’s good to offer strong compensation,” noted education professor Glen Jones of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at U of T and who is part of the Canadian team of researchers on the study.
The research, released Thursday, was led by the Boston College Center for International Higher Education and the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
The study adjusted the dollar-value of full-time salaries to the cost of living in each country to allow a true comparison of the value of the pay. In adjusted dollars, Canada’s average full-time professor earns $7,196 per month, compared to $6,054 in the United States and $5,943 in the United Kingdom.
And while the study excluded private institutions, including ivy league names such as Harvard and Princeton, these are relatively small schools that likely would not have changed the U.S. average by much, noted Jones.
“Canadian professors work hard, they’re productive and they’re one of the reasons our universities are relatively well ranked,” said Jones, “and unlike other jurisdictions, their full-time tenure stream is still strong.”
But there’s a cost to those heady salaries, he noted: Canadian universities are increasingly turning to part-time, contract, lower-paid instructors who can be excellent, but who often say they are underpaid, overworked and unconnected to campus life.
And there are too many of these part-timers these days to ignore in any study of salary, warned Constance Adamson, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
“This study focussed on full-time tenured faculty but as we know, almost half of teaching is being done by non-tenured, contract academics staff,” she said. Still, high salaries are not out of line for a profession so highly educated that “most of them don’t get to start their careers until their early 30s.”
What else drives up these Canadian pay cheques? Almost all Canadian campuses are unionized, said Jones, and far more of our professors are full-time, tenured staff than other countries such as the United States.
Canada’s university professors saw their salaries climb by 46 per cent between 2001 and 2009 — nearly three times the rate of inflation, which was 16 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
“A lot of it has to do with the way that pay levels were set when new money came into the sector at the turn of the century (2000) and we were trying to compete with American institutions,” said education analyst Alex Usher of Higher Education Strategy Associates. “And then the dollar rose by 65 per cent. And an extraordinary number of our institutions are trying to compete with the top tier of American universities.”
Physics professor George Luste is president of the University of Toronto’s faculty association, and he admits there are some blue-ribbon names on the U of T payroll.
“But they’re not typical,” he said. “It’s like having Bill Gates walk into a poor village and immediately raise the average income. There may be some professors who are making $300,000 — but they also work in an area where houses can cost more than $1 million.”
By Richard Kahlenberg. With the nation focused on the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of President Obama’s health-care legislation this spring, many in higher education are talking about another blockbuster case: the challenge to a racial affirmative-action program at the University of Texas, to be considered this fall. Some of the early commentary, however, is creating misconceptions about what is at stake in the Fisher v. Texas litigation. Here are three recent myths that have surfaced.
Affirmative action in higher education is about white women.
Many suggest that while the media focus on race, white women are in fact the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action. Over at the Chronicle‘s Brainstorm blog, for example, Michele Goodwin argues that it is ironic that white women such as Jennifer Gratz, Barbara Grutter, and now Amanda Fisher have “lead the charge against affirmative action,” given that “women were (and continue to be) primary beneficiaries of affirmative action and civil rights laws, particularly in education (and business).”
It is true, of course, that white women have benefited tremendously from civil-rights laws, but Gratz, Grutter, and Fisher have not challenged laws that prevent discrimination; they have challenged preferences in college admissions. And while women have benefited from some affirmative-action programs in higher education, particularly in the sciences, it has long been established that in undergraduate admissions (the issue at stake in Fisher), it is men who are more likely to receive affirmative action. At the College of William & Mary, for example, 43% of male applicants and 29% of female applicants were admitted in the fall of 2008. A Kenyon College admissions officer acknowledged in a New York Times op-ed in 2006 that “the standards for admission to today’s most selective colleges are stiffer for women than men.”
Affirmative action helps address economic inequalities.
Some supporters of affirmative action conflate race and class to suggest that affirmative-action policies can address economic inequalities. In a second Brainstorm post on affirmative action, for example, Goodwin argues, “Access to a ‘good’ education is treated as a luxury if one is poor, and an entitlement for the wealthy.” She goes on to say, “Americans born into poverty or the working class have huge obstacles to overcome.” Both points are well grounded in a wide body of research, but today’s racial affirmative action programs in higher education rarely reach poor and working-class students of any race.
Research finds that 86% of African-Americans at selective colleges and universities are middle or upper-middle class. (The whites are marginally wealthier). While race-based affirmative action roughly triples the proportion of African-American and Latino students in selective colleges compared to their likely representation based on grades and test scores, research finds that low-income and working-class students are represented at roughly the same rate as they would be were grades and test scores the basis for admission. Even with strong race-based affirmative-action programs in place, 74% of students at the most selective colleges come from the richest quarter of the population, and just 10% from the bottom economic half. If we want to address class inequality, we should not rely on race as an imperfect proxy for economic status.
The attack on affirmative action in Fisher goes beyond race.
Some have confusingly suggested that the Fisher challenge to the University of Texas policy goes after all types of affirmative action, including efforts to give a leg up to socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Texas gives a preference not only to under-represented minorities, but also considers a student’s academic records in the context of her “socio-economic status, whether the applicant is from a single-parent home, language spoken at home, family responsibilities, socio-economic status of the school attended, and average SAT or ACT score of the school attended in relation to the student’s test scores.”
A March 4 Washington Post editorial, for example, suggested that the Fisher case is challenging the “use of race-based factors – or factors that serve as proxies for race,” such as “whether an applicant came from a one-parent household or where more than one language is spoken.” But, in fact, Fisher doesn’t attack class-based affirmative action programs but points to them – and the Top 10% plan admitting students at the top of every high school class – as the types of policies that can produce racial diversity without resorting to race. To its credit, on March 22, the Post issued a correction, acknowledging, “The March 4 editorial, ‘Revisiting race-based admissions’ mischaracterized the legal challenge to the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policy. Petitioner Abigail Fisher argues that the policy is unconstitutional because it explicitly permits consideration of race during the admissions process.”
The issue of affirmative action is complex and there are very strong arguments on both sides of the equation. But as the debate moves forward, it’s important to correct the myths and wrestle with the significant issues at stake on the merits.
By Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser. Two weeks ago, Jason and one of our graduate students, Christine Farrugia, were in the United Arab Emirates working on a survey of the country’s educational system. Jason’s been to the country several times over the past few years, and Christine has been there since January on a fellowship to study the legitimacy of branch-campus policies. For obvious reasons of wealth and an existing international reputation, Abu Dhabi and Dubai tend to capture most of the attention of those interested in the exciting developments in UAE education. However, those are only two of the seven emirates that comprise this small nation. In other regions of the country, things can look very different. According to most estimates, 80 percent of the UAE’s population is expatriates. Some of these are wealthy westerners, but the vast majority represents lower socioeconomic classes from Africa and the Asian subcontinent. Many have resided in the area for two or three generations, but because of very strict laws about who is considered a “national,” they remain expatriates and are excluded from many public services. For example, public schools and universities enrollments are mostly restricted to nationals, forcing all others into private education. This has resulted in an interesting patchwork of educational offerings that includes, by some estimates, about a dozen different national curricula being offered at both the k-12 and postsecondary levels. The impact of branch campuses, then, is directly related to this private sector demand for access; particularly in the smaller emirates where branch campuses tend to serve a local population that has few other options.
As an example, while doing site visits in the Emirate of Ajman, Jason and Christine encountered Preston University. Preston is in the UAE as a branch campus of a Pakistani institution (they were also once associated with the diploma mill Preston University in Wyoming; but that’s for another posting). The facilities were plain and basic, but it was obviously an educational institution. The halls were full of students. Bulletin boards were covered with flyers announcing student activities. The trophy case was full of awards for both athletic and academic merit. Even during Jason and Christine’s meeting with the director of the institution, students were coming in asking about grades and course schedules. It was not clear how the institution compared in terms of size or quality of academic offerings with the home campus, which remains an important issue in assessing such institutions. But the director emphasized that this institution’s mission was to provide access to higher education to those students with no other opportunities. From that respect, it does a better job than the much higher profile—and better financed—New York University campus in Abu Dhabi, which is designed to provide a liberal-arts education to a highly selective group of students from around the world.
While much attention is often paid to the economic and reputational effect of branch campuses, we often fail to account for the much more important consideration about how these institutions integrate with and serve the local environment. The prestigious institutions from Western countries garner most of the press and are the focal point for critics, but these are not typically the ones that serve important societal functions such as providing access to those who don’t otherwise have it.
Not all international branch campuses are alike. What consideration should be given to those institutions that serve a valuable local purpose? What metric should we use to evaluate their academic worth?
Universities in the United States appear eager to enroll more Africans in their graduate programs. Last month a group of administrators from American institutions, including Ohio University and University of Cincinnati, visited Botswana to explore partnerships, which could bring students from the sub-Saharan country to their campuses. In general, universities see African students as a way to diversify their classrooms and, at the same time, help fix Africa’s massive shortage of locals with graduate degrees.
While most Africans are too financially strapped to study abroad, a number of African economies are starting to take off. As a result, an increasing number of families in countries such as Botswana, the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa can afford an education in the United States, without the need of scholarships. However, according to the latest figures from the Council of Graduate Schools, applications to American graduate programs from African students for the fall of 2012 declined 5 percent. While Africans consider an American education one of the best in the world, there are several obstacles that keep them from applying. In particular, two policies are part of the problem–using GRE scores for admission evaluation and that American institutions require much more classroom time than universities elsewhere. Thus, Africans heading to graduate school often see Australia, Britain, Canada, and France as more attractive.
As director of international education for four years at the University of Botswana, I was keenly aware of these two concerns. The university paid for staff development fellows to go overseas for their advanced degrees, but they frequently avoided going to America–and that trend continues today. One barrier is the mandatory use of Graduate Record Exam for admission evaluation. Most of the rest of the world evaluates students for graduate school on their undergraduate academic record (usually transcripts). The GRE by contrast is a one-time test of a student’s overall verbal, mathematical, and analytical reasoning. Africans perceive quite rightly that they will need considerable coaching and study to do well on this type of exam since it is foreign to their previous academic experiences. Those who already have a good record, not surprisingly, are reluctant to take on the extra effort required to do well on the GRE.
Further compounding the problem is that in parts of Africa the math section of the GRE is intimidating. Some African cultures do not value the mathematical thinking found on the test (i.e. algebra and geometry) and many school systems have not rigorously countered this problem. As a result, a considerable number of Africans score low on the math section. A second deterrent to African interest in American graduate programs is that our degrees take longer to complete than ones in Europe and elsewhere. Many more classes are required, and then students must pass comprehensive exams, some sections of which may have to be retaken in case of failure. Thus, a master’s degree with thesis can end up being two years rather than the one year as is the case in the rest of the world. The doctorate can be even longer.
American graduate schools wanting to recruit Africans need to confront both of these concerns. For one, they should find alternative assessments to the GRE. Two options are likely to be helpful, especially in combination. One is to require that applicants who have not taken the GRE submit a scholarly paper which demonstrates verbal and analytical skills and, where appropriate, mathematical abilities. The applicant’s instructor would need to certify that the paper was his or her work. The other option is for a university to encourage their faculty members doing research or teaching in Africa to be on the lookout for potential graduate students. Faculty members can solicit recommendations from their African colleagues, enlist potential African graduate students on research projects, and explore the possibility that a local university’s staff development fellows might have an interest in furthering their education in the United States. In short, American universities need to become proactive in recruiting African students.
American universities must also confront the length of time required for graduate degrees. Probably the most significant step would be to allow African graduate students to return to their home countries for thesis research and writing after finishing their comprehensive exams. With Skype and e-mail now widely available in African countries, adequate communication with thesis advisers is feasible—and with some special training before they return home, doable. Such an approach would also insure that African graduate students are working on problems relevant to their countries.
African universities themselves could advertise their graduates by publishing a list of a small number who are the best prepared for advanced work. They could send these lists of potential graduate students to institutions that have a special interest in recruiting Africans.
Such efforts, of course, will not reduce all the barriers facing Africans who want to earn an American degree. But a better understanding by American university officials of the two obstacles discussed here can help increase the number of Africans studying on their campuses.
By Mark Hay. In mid-2006, the Emirate of Dubai broke ground on a new development located 12 miles outside of the city proper and cordoned off by a series of major roads. Dubai International Academic City, as developers dubbed the project, sought to establish a site in the emirate dedicated to the foundation and free operation of international university centers, branches, and satellites. Within less than six years, DIAC has grown from a few shovels in the ground to a massive complex of 27 universities, 26 of which are non-Emirati—six British, five American, and four Australian. In 2012, construction will cease at DIAC, already the center of study for 20,000 students from 137 nations (only a minority hail from Dubai). And by 2015, DIAC plans to accommodate 40,000 students while deepening and broadening its ties to international higher education.
But DIAC is not the only international academic hub in Dubai. Three years prior to DIAC, the emirate built Knowledge Village, which quickly reached capacity and necessitated rapid expansion. Projects of equal or greater scale are simultaneously under way in nearby Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Qatar. Singapore and Hong Kong are also proving to be hotbeds of international educational expansion.
Students at Columbia look to our Global Centers project and wonder at the enthusiasm with which we have erected seven centers—in Amman, Jordan; Beijing, China; Istanbul, Turkey; Mumbai, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Paris, France; and Santiago, Chile—from 2009 to the present day. (That’s not to mention a potential center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and a scuttled center once intended for Kazakhstan.) Compared to our peers’ growth, however, Columbia’s has been mild. New York University famously opened a large “portal campus” in Abu Dhabi in 2010,but also operates 12 other centers (in Accra, Ghana; Berlin, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Florence, Italy; London, England; Madrid, Spain; Paris, France; Prague, Czech Republic; Shanghai, China; Sydney, Australia; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Washington, D.C.), and further expansion is planned for the future.
Columbia’s international expansion, and even the activities of host city Dubai, constitute just one placid chapter in a rapid churn of international higher education expansion by American, Australian, and British universities within the last 10 years. The expansion has been carried out suddenly and swiftly and has not yet been fully digested by academics, policy makers, or students. American universities explain the process through vague and mollifying rhetoric that relied on terms like “global citizenship” and images of utopian academic missions leading the charge toward a fully globalized, integrated world.
While there’s a strong flavor of truth to the rhetoric, international educational expansion is hardly the product of a benevolent global mindset. Yet neither is it a clever form of neocolonialism. Universities pursue this course out of a keen sense of business acumen and awareness of a changing educational economic landscape. They pursue it hotly, with little knowledge of how to go about it, flitting through starts and failures, taking large and small gambles on various forms of international campuses. But it is not irrationality that drives this mad rush. It is the knowledge, held by both universities and their host countries, that international education must flourish by some means, or else both partners face a future with few certainties. And those that do exist are grim.
A Brave Rhetoric for a Global Society
Despite the concentrated and far-reaching push for global education, one cannot easily tease out a single sound bite or causal link that sums up the phenomenon. Part of that fact is the result of an urge for differentiation among universities, with each branding its expansion efforts in separate terms. Michigan State University speaks of its expansion in terms of international centers, while NYU aims to create a cohesive “global network university,” and many British universities speak of branch campuses, satellite campuses, or other related but slightly different projects. With each name comes a slightly different rhetoric, spreading across a wide spectrum.
A reflection published at the end of 2010 by NYU President John Sexton best captures the rhetoric used to describe international educational expansion by American universities. The lengthy document mixes cultural critique, academic analysis, philosophical musing, and pragmatic reasoning into a colossal justification and explanation of NYU’s plans for rapid expansion.
In his opening, Sexton harks back to the Greek academy with references to Herodotus and the Nile, fitting the modern global expansion into a natural impetus of scholars and mankind to expand to new worlds and unravel the mysteries of the earth. He interprets universities as long-standing and latent transnational institutions, apt at bridging the gaps between worlds, although currently trapped and at least partly defined by the cities and cultures in which they reside. For Sexton, it thus becomes not just enjoyable and possible but logically necessary for universities to slip loose of their local bounds and take up their position as truly international institutions in an age of increasing globalization.
NYU Abu Dhabi spokesperson Josh Taylor echoes his president’s sentiments, claiming that “the architecture of the [Global] University incarnates in the free flow of its community, the free flow of ideas that has long characterized the academic disciplines and the advancement of thought.”
Columbia’s Vice President for the Office of Global Centers Kenneth Prewitt, describing our university’s distinct system, distances himself from the architecture, scale, and realization of NYU’s program. However, he still voices the same rhetoric in more staid terms. In one view, the University’s Global Centers are the natural and logical deepening and broadening of age-old partnerships between international institutions into more solid and perpetual relationships, linking a mutual but sporadic flow of information into a permanent and transnational link.
This talk of the natural academic pathway and impulse is firmly rooted in current realities. Alessia Lefebure, who teaches a class on Asian higher education policies and directs the Alliance Program, which links Columbia to top French universities, says universities recognize that training responsible citizens and leaders is part of their job. A big part of realizing that goal is the demand that students and academics engage with global issues and challenges. In increasing the size and mobility of the global elite and the chance that graduates will need global skill sets to engage in almost any college graduate occupations, globalization certainly directs the mission of the university.
Lefebure notes, however, that international expansion is not necessarily the most logical way to meet the need for global academic engagement. Universities could train faculty differently, teach differently, or develop stronger relationships with native institutions of education.
The focus on boots and bricks on the ground, on nameplates and foreign students receiving American degrees, does not arise as logically and naturally as Sexton might have one believe from the cognitive legacy of Herodotus. Universities choose global academic centers as a means of engaging with a new world and a new demand on higher education largely because they are a potentially smart and necessary business decision for universities operating in America, Australia, and Britain in the modern era.
The Win-Win Scenario
The age of global options and travel has measurably changed students in the Western world, according to Lefebure. Students want to travel and are increasingly choosing colleges based on their global reach. Not to mention the fact that nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development region are hemorrhaging domestic students, especially graduate students. According to Spencer Witte, an associate with Ishtirak, a Middle Eastern and African business consultancy with ties to Gulf State international education projects, Western nations see it as imperative to attract pools of talented students to their domestic universities, to snap up academic markets in nations with little tradition of local higher education, and to build a presence and identity as an international university.
Philip Altbach, the director of Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education, simplifies the equation: Colleges choose to develop a physical presence abroad “to make money. That’s largely it.”
American, Australian, and British universities want to make sure that their enrollment numbers stay high and that they can continue to bring in students and tuition fees to help them expand and remain competitive with other institutions. Part of that competitive edge now involves making sure that one’s university has established global outposts and has a strong brand name around the world, attracting students, prestige, patronage, and wads of cash into the coffers of their institutions in the long run.
British universities embrace global expansion precisely for these reasons. According to Vanderbilt University Professor of International Education Policy Stephen Heyneman, local regulations and restrictions on tuition, enrollment, and other administrative matters within the nation’s borders drive British universities to take more risks and establish more aggressive presences in foreign nations to assure their continued economic viability, competitive brand, and top status by limited indicators.
Select foreign nations gladly embrace the profit- and security-seeking universities based in Anglo countries. “For each country there is a different reason,” Lefebure says. But “encouraging branches or other forms of presence is part of larger policies, not disconnected from the whole economic development of a city, country, region.”
Broadly speaking, cities like Singapore and those on the Chinese coast wish to move part of their economy to the knowledge sector by creating poles and cities that can become more attractive to economic investment. Attracting foreign universities allows for the development of local educated human capital, research and development, and attraction of families of high-skill individuals who will stay in and enrich the region. Foreign universities can develop faster and require less investment than the long process of developing local institutions and educational systems. Additionally, the matter of building a brand that businesses and students will trust is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.
It is better and easier for places like Dubai to draw in Anglo universities, which have the cachet of high international rankings, recognizable names, well-established educational models, and strong support networks for local centers and which use a generally accepted academic language—English—that allows Dubai and similar cities to attract students from expat, diaspora, international, and local populations. The centers ultimately provide students and funds to American universities and reap returns for the host in innovators who remain in the country, attractiveness to diversifying businesses, and strong connections to the resources of American universities. Thomas Trebat, executive director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia and a party involved in the development of our Rio de Janeiro center, claims this latter incentive is a large motivator for local actors supporting the center’s development.
Lefebure stresses that global educational hubs are a point of converging interests in complex systems. If, for instance, Singapore wishes to become a global economic hub, it must also become a global educational hub. Like Hong Kong, Singapore has less interest in research and development and thus eschews importing all the bricks and mortar, but it still reaches out to Yale, among other prestigious universities, to draw upon its name, educational model, and partnership to create institutions carrying Yale’s DNA, periodically examined and approved by Yale. Singapore gains legitimacy, an attractive educational model, and a strong selling point for its city, while Yale gains a strong brand in Singapore. Yale builds relationships that pour immediate money into its coffers while guaranteeing a familiarity in Singapore with its name and model of education and thus encouraging graduates and later undergraduates to direct their energies and applications toward Yale as opposed to Harvard or MIT. And those students Singapore loses to graduate school and the diaspora, it replaces by attracting students from Southeast Asia at large into its academic system. Singapore and Yale realize that their interests converge, strike up a deal, and benefit mutually.
This system carries risks and limitations. Take South Korea, which, Altbach and Lefebure note, has been trying to attract international educational expansion because of its economic benefit. However, many young Koreans go abroad for higher education, and they have developed a strong taste for “the real thing,” Altbach says. This creates less of a demand for a local equivalent of Yale or Columbia. Likewise, because American schools already have a strong tie to the academic market of Korea, the investment of time and money, even with sweet financial incentives from Seoul, does not make sense to American universities. Even in places such as India or Pakistan where the market of students seeking international education is larger, the corruption, fractiousness, or bureaucratic structure of local government makes it harder to accommodate international universities. In general, Heyneman says, it pays best when universities open small campuses that promote high specialization.
Universities usually only step in when they see the possibility of high enrollment at low costs, with heavy subsidies from the local government. NYU received $50 million up front for its Abu Dhabi campus and turned down Dubai when it could not front the money, according to Witte. Still, Altbach and Heyneman stress that the uncertainty and governments’ conflicting interests in international campuses make failure a real possibility. Even small projects with low costs, if they fail, can stain the brand names of universities. Hence, Heyneman explains that universities with less recognized names are willing to take greater risks than previously well-established schools like Harvard, which is secure enough in the strength of its name to attract money.
The international arena is littered with failed models that ought to give pause to universities with much to lose. Ben Wildavsky, a scholar of education policy at the Kauffman Foundation and author of The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World, stresses that no university has ever successfully globalized. There is no road map, and as such, there is no predictor for success, even when interests align and the arrangement promises economic success. But the needs of universities drive them to create dozens of models of international engagement. “We’re going to see lots of experimentation,” Wildavsky says. “We’re letting a thousand flowers bloom,” waiting to see which one will prove stable and profitable.
Michigan State University and the Failure of Brick and Mortar
In 2007, just after the birth of DIAC, officials from Dubai approached Michigan State University with an early offer for involvement. It seemed like a good idea: MSU has a strong tradition of international engagement but virtually no partnerships or research in the greater Middle East. But when the board of trustees signed off on the deal, they had little reason to suspect that MSU’s Dubai campus would turn out to be an utter disappointment, a financial drain, and, largely, an overall failure within three years.
MSU Dubai was not the first international university facility to close down, nor the most devastating closure. The failure of George Mason University in the Persian Gulf and Johns Hopkins University in Singapore were more damaging to the brand names of their institutions and more financially dire failures. However, MSU Dubai’s failure drew attention mainly because the university had chosen to pursue an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar project in the Emirates. The failure of this archetypal form of international expansion played a major part in the disenchantment of the concept of a “satellite” campus.
“Satellite campus” is a confusing term that does not accurately capture the early models of foreign engagement. This term often conjures the image of a carbon copy American university transplanted with full facilities and programs into a foreign nation. In truth, MSU’s model was not a mirror image of its American counterpart. Its administration consisted of one full time faculty member, its student body reached around 400, and it offered less than a tenth of the majors available at their East Lansing campus. This early model sought to copy as much of MSU as it could in a Dubai context. Many who study the phenomenon refer to such establishments as “brick and mortar” centers.
“We made the decision that we were not going to devalue the quality of our brand by diluting academic expectations,” says Eric Freedman, Michigan State University’s associate dean of international studies and programs. They required applicants to fill out the same form as if they were applying to the East Lansing campus, meet the same academic requirements, and undergo the same modes of instruction. The campus hired few local instructors, favoring the option of periodically flying out MSU academics from America. The Dubai campus also set its price tag close to American tuition, which made it more expensive than other American education in the region, including schools with stronger brand names—MSU wound up with a student body less than one-fourth the size it expected and was funding majors no one was pursuing. These shortcomings, exacerbated by the financial collapse and the failure of private construction firms to provide promised infrastructure, led to the center’s closure in 2010.
Freedman now admits that the MSU Dubai center in DIAC was not a sustainable or attractive model. But MSU did not totally pull out of Dubai. When Freedman’s office was given control of MSU’s operations, its masters programs still remained in the city.
MSU dropped all pretenses of copying its academic standards and campus model in Dubai by 2011. It shifted from a brick-and-mortar structure to a network structure based in Knowledge Village with less infrastructure, allowing the fluid establishment of programs that proved they had local demand and could sustain themselves. These programs gained access to students while making sure not to encounter significant risk or feed financially off of the central university. Although these programs became narrower and the model less a carbon copy of MSU, the programs achieved success by working with the local dictates of Dubai and its students’ demands.
The Success of Flexible, Situational Models
While the story of MSU in Dubai may make the International Academic City seem like an inhospitable location to foster growth, in the hands of the right model it has proven to be an ideal hosting facility. In fact, the first facility to establish a presence at DIAC is Heriot-Watt University, a medium-sized Scottish institution based in Edinburgh. Its model has not only proved successful at DIAC, but has become one of the most successful examples of international expansion in the world.
Heriot-Watt shared MSU’s background as a school with a strong international profile, although its initial reasons for entering Dubai were more pressing. The vice-principal of Heriot-Watt, Andrew Walker, says that because Britain places caps on tuition and growth in the United Kingdom, international expansion is the best way for them to grow overall. They already worked with approximately 50 learning partners—universities allowed to use the Heriot-Watt name and model and monitored for quality—incorporating some 10,000 students.
Its facility, also at DIAC, cut down on costs and instruction barriers by employing its own academic staff and handling its own infrastructure while maintaining strong communication with the Edinburgh staff. While Heriot-Watt wanted to maintain its educational quality, it did adjust its admissions process, tuition, and educational model to fit Dubai. Heriot-Watt created a measured education targeted at a small group of local Emiratis, a larger community of expats, and large communities of foreign students from protectionist educational environments like India. The university attracted 2,700 students in total, effectively selling to other Muslims the ability to get a Western education that acknowledges and refers to Muslim traditions.
This flexible, site-specific programming that focuses on the interests of students and host governments while maintaining a baseline of quality and continuity, allowed Heriot-Watt to develop a low-impact presence. Walker acknowledges that these regional accommodations mean that the global campuses are not totally academically free, but as an interconnected network, they retain their holistic academic integrity. Heriot-Watt’s model accomplishes all that international education seeks to accomplish in terms of expanding student pools and brand names while avoiding any harm or potential cost to the university. This type of limited-engagement, targeted, interconnected campus that stresses the ability to pursue research without imposing on or angering host nations has proven wildly successful for Heriot-Watt.
Success in Dubai has led to nuanced emulations (and independent recreations) of this networked-centers model. NYU’s Abu Dhabi portal campus represents a similar goal of targeted and limited engagement. It is able to justify its $50 million in infrastructure costs because of its grant from the local government. It contributes positively to brand growth, student growth, depth of research, and interconnection with centers tailored to local consumers all over the world.
American universities, though, do not face the same pressures in most cases as Heriot-Watt. The desire for a competitive international presence and access to the research and academic talent pools still drive these universities, but the risks of even minimal physical campuses with degree-granting capabilities like the current MSU incarnation or Heriot-Watt can seem too high for players with comparatively less to gain and more to lose in terms of their brand’s value. The trend in America, Witte observes, is moving away from any remains of the brick-and-mortar model and toward low-risk, lower-impact, low-footprint centers, typified by Columbia’s Global Centers.
“Columbia centers have no infrastructure other than a name,” Heyneman says, summarizing the Global Centers model succinctly. Although this is a bit of an overstatement, Columbia has indeed focused more on name building, research facilitation, and the creation of a network than on the building of physical structures that grant degrees. The Global Centers have grafted themselves onto pre-existing locations where Columbia research was already well established. Urban planning projects in Mumbai and the Reid Hall programs in Paris were both used as foundations for Global Centers. The university merely raised $250,000 to $1 million per center, usually from local donors (in Santiago, local businessmen paid for almost the entire center, while Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan heavily funded the center in Amman), to pay for minimal office space and administration to help strengthen local projects. “Very little of what the centers will do could not have been done without them,” Prewitt admits, “but maybe without the value added of a place to land in every world region,” which does ease and facilitate research.
Prewitt elaborates that Columbia’s idea is to establish a situation in which the university can strengthen its presence and that makes it easier to undertake research within different nations and in conjunction with foreign colleagues. This develops a network wherein limitations to the freedom of research in Amman will ideally lead to cooperation with Nairobi and Beijing to complete large-scale projects. Prewitt admits that the centers are a long way from that level of fluidity, but at the very least the centers allow Columbia to develop strong ties with local academic communities, giving access to education markets abroad.
A willingness to cooperate with local restrictions, as well as a low-impact model, allows Columbia to be involved in countries with less money to offset establishment costs or with more protectionist or hesitant governments. Columbia is embracing the open nature of its Global Centers, letting them develop as they may. As President Lee Bollinger once said, “Part of my whole theory here is, ‘Do not plan this—do not overplan this.’”
Columbia’s model represents the opposite impetus from MSU’s initial Dubai campus. Small and compact, appealing directly to brand growth and presence, the Global Centers can flourish almost anywhere. They are much less likely to be financially successful, but the damage if one fails and the risks tied to Columbia’s brand and position are much lower than even Heriot-Watt faces. It represents an increasingly favorable model for the economic concerns of big American universities.
What Campuses May Come
Everyone interviewed for this piece agrees that no one can know what the future holds for international educational expansion. Some believe we will know which models work best within five years, and others believe it will take 25. But, as Wildavsky stresses, the modern era is one of experimentation and risk taking. Universities will continue to develop new models of their own, differentiating themselves from their peers while reacting to the successes and failures they witness.
Thus far, Witte believes, universities have learned a few basic lessons from pre-existing models: Almost every model now focuses on thoroughly vetting potential partners. Anglo universities check to see if the nations they choose have the funds to facilitate their model, the leeway and freedoms to establish the brand the university desires, and the ability to attract the student population universities need. Whether in the form of Heriot-Watt-style networks or Columbia’s minimalist centers, the trend favors tailored and small institutions.
However, even this model remains uncertain. “I think this is a bit of a bubble,” Altbach says of the massive expansion of universities abroad. Someday that bubble may pop and destroy dozens of the hundreds of models acting and reacting abroad. Even then, if MSU’s failure is any indication, universities will simply rebound and reinvent their models. They have to, Witte says. Some just need to stay on top. For others, building a competitive brand and presence abroad is a matter of survival for the institution as a whole.