Irony

Charlottesville & EducationUSA

Defined as:

a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

That and surreal are the words that best describe a situation I encountered while reading an online US newspaper article about the white supremacist “rally” in Charlottesville, VA.  (This was before the violence, including deaths and injuries, that occurred the following day.)

Scrolling down, I suddenly noticed a two-minute EducationUSA video with a link to learn more.  Below are two screenshots. 

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The irony became much thicker after Donald Trump failed to condemn the actions of the white supremacists in this Tweet:

trump and charlottesville

MAA

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You Don’t Have to Study Business to Do Business

book-45Forbes Vietnam published an article by me with the above title in its February 2017 (#45) issue.  An expanded English version, which focuses more on the value and advantages of a liberal arts education and includes more examples, will be published this spring.  Here’s a brief introduction:

Viet Nam currently ranks 6th among all countries sending students to the United States – with over 30,000 at all levels, mostly in higher education.  According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, 29.3% of all Vietnamese undergraduates in the US were studying business/management.  This was the second highest percentage of any sending country – after Indonesia.  (The popularity of business is not limited to these two countries.  Almost one in five bachelor’s degrees earned in the US is in business, per the US Department of Education.) 

maa-forbes-2-17-issue-45Why are so many young Vietnamese studying business in the US, among other countries?  Because parents – as the key decision-makers – have bought into the seemingly logical notion that their children have to major in business in order to work in the private sector.  In other words, they believe that their sons and daughters have to study business in order to do business.  This is in part because most Vietnamese are not yet familiar with the concept of a liberal arts education and its many benefits, both intrinsic and tangible.

Viet Nam has consistently ranked #1 in recent years in the percentage of its students who choose business/management as an undergraduate major.  (It was displaced in the 2015/16 academic year by Indonesia.  Still, nearly a third of all Vietnamese undergraduates are studying business.)  Meanwhile, there are many young Vietnamese who were liberal arts majors, and are now pursuing successful careers in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors in Viet Nam and elsewhere.

MAA

Latest Executive Order Undermines America’s Safety & Values (NAFSA)

To the students, scholars, doctors, refugees, family members and others who wonder if the United States has lost its commitment to its core values as a nation of freedom, opportunity and welcome, let me unequivocally state that American citizens will not tolerate policies such as these that undermine our values and endanger our safety. We understand that America is part of the global community, and we will raise our voices with Congress, with the White House, with the media and in our communities to continue to adhere to the principles that have always made us strongest.

nafsaI was very pleased and heartened to see this statement from Esther Brimmer, Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, about Donald Trump’s executive order banning US entry of “thoroughly-vetted refugees and citizens of seven nations in the Middle East and Africa, undermining the nation’s long-held values and making America less safe.”

In the past, NAFSA’s leadership has been hesitant to voice criticism of US government (USG) policies or actions not because the organization receives any funding from the USG but because of “relationship,” according to a reliable source.  This reflected the previous executive director’s/CEO’s management style.

For example, I don’t recall hearing an official peep from NAFSA after the US invaded and occupied Iraq based on the WMD lie.  In fact, NAFSA invited a senior State Department political appointee aka neocon to speak at its 2003 annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The gist of his speech was the one can no longer claim “to hate this government’s policies but love the country,” as if government and country were one.  I wrote a related radio commentary entitled Patriotism in Troubled Times that aired later that summer.  (It occurs to me that this applies to the current regime.  Just substitute government with president and administration.)

Follow this link to read the 30 January 2017 NAFSA press release in its entirety. Thanks to Esther Brimmer for speaking truth to power and saying what needs to be said in a forceful and eloquent manner.  The profession and the country need more people like her.

MAA

A Passage to America: University Funding and International Students

Attention US higher education colleagues!  Here’s an interesting research paper about the economic impact of international students at institutions that have taken hits in public funding for the past couple of decades. 

Here are the money sentences:  For the period between 1996 and 2012, we estimate that a 10% reduction in state appropriations is associated with an increase in foreign enrollment of 62% at public research universities and about 6.7% at the resource-intensive AAU public universities. Our results tell a compelling story about the link  between changes in state funding and foreign enrollment in recent years.

International students contributed more than $35 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

You can download a PDF version of this paper.   

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Abstract

Substantial subsidies to public higher education in the United States
have historically allowed in-state students at public colleges and universities to pay markedly lower tuition and fee levels than counterparts who are not state residents. Yet, state appropriations for higher education have declined markedly in recent years. For university leaders facing declines in funding, potential margins for adjustment include raising revenues through increases in tuition levels, reducing resources per student (and potentially quality) by cutting expenditures, or changing the mix of students admitted to include more students paying non-resident tuition. At the same time, with strong economic growth in countries like China and India in recent decades, the pool of students from abroad academically prepared for U.S. colleges and able to pay the tuition charges has increased markedly in the last decade.  In this paper, we examine whether “funding shocks” in state appropriations have led public universities to attract more foreign
students who are able to pay the full fare tuition. For the period between 1996 and 2012, we estimate that a 10% reduction in state appropriations is associated with an increase in foreign enrollment of 62% at public research universities and about 6.7% at the resource-
intensive AAU public universities.Our results tell a compelling story about the link  between changes in-state funding and foreign enrollment in recent years
.

An Open Letter to Vietnamese Parents & Students Interested in Study in the USA

thu-gui

This is an article I wrote for Vietnamese parents and students who are concerned about the possible impact of the US presidential election on international students, including those from Viet Nam.  There are a lot of bases to cover, and I hope I covered most of them.

My essay is a heartfelt way to reassure worried students and parents using a mass circulation medium.  Since perception can trump reality, I feel an obligation, as an international educator who promotes legitimate (read regionally accredited) US higher education, to address people’s concerns.  Think of this open letter as truthful PR, a way to jam the transmission of rumormongers, and a reality check for those who lack reliable information.

While most of you are well aware of the effect of this election on international students in the US and around the world, real and imagined, there are some colleagues who seemed to have their heads buried in the sand, at least in the days leading up to the election and shortly thereafter.  Whether you want to believe it or not, for whatever reason(s), I can assure you that this concern, at least in Viet Nam, is palpable, and something we should all take seriously.

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Follow these links to read (and share) the article in English and Vietnamese.  The latter version received over 10,000 views within a day of its publication and posting on Facebook, which gives you an idea of how hot this topic is.

MAA

Viet Nam Ranks 6th Among Countries Sending Students to the US

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According to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update (PDF download), prepared by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), there are 1.23 million international students with F (academic) or M (vocational) status studying in the US.  (Note:  Unlike the IIE annual Open Doors report, the SEVIS data encompass all levels of education.

Based on data extracted from SEVIS on 7 November 2016, one day before the US presidential election, the international student population in the US increased 2.9% compared to November 2015.  Viet Nam was one of three major sending countries in Asia with a YoY increase (4.5%) – after  China (5.2%) and India (14.1%). 

The top ten countries are as follows: 

1.  China:  387,987
2.  India:  206,584
3.  South Korea:  74,818
4.  Saudi Arabia:  62,075
5.  Canada:  31,151
6.  Viet Nam: 30,180
7.  Japan:  26,502
8.  Taiwan:  24,096
9.  Brazil:  20,989
10. Mexico:  18,996

Spotlight on Viet Nam

Viet Nam continues to distance itself from Japan and Taiwan and will likely surpass Canada in the coming year.  There are Vietnamese students in all 50 states, ranging from 6 in Alaska (#50) to 6,212 in California (#1).  There is even one (1) studying in Puerto Rico.  

As you can see from the graph below, 83.1% are enrolled in higher education, including 10.1% in English language programs, 60.3% undergraduates (slightly more at four-year institutions, a recent trend), and 12.7% in graduate programs.  The secondary enrollment, i.e., boarding and day schools, continues to increase. It now stands at 3756, 12.4% of total Vietnamese enrollment. 

11-16-educ-level-breakdown

The gender is virtually unchanged with about 10% more females than males.  This breakdown is noticeable in advising and student participation in various activities related to study in the USA. 

11-16-gender-breakdown

This clickable map for every sending country (see link to Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers below) provides information about the number of students in every state, plus Guam and Puerto Rico.  The bluer the state, the more students from that particular country.  As you can see below, the bluest states for Vietnamese students are California, Texas, and Washington, which rank #1, #2, and #3, respectively. 

11-16-vn-students-by-state

For more detailed information by country, including gender breakdown, education breakdown by level, and student population by state, check out Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers.  It features an interactive map that illustrates trends and information on international students studying in the US, which can be viewed at the continent, region, and country level.

For those keeping a close watch on the possible negative impact of a Trump presidency on international enrollments, the SEVIS quarterly updates are the most useful and timely source of information. Stay tuned for the spring term update!

MAA

Open Doors 2016: Viet Nam Ranks 6th

According to the latest Open Doors (OD) report on international educational exchange, released today by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to kick off International Education Week (IEW), there were over 1 million international students studying in the US in 2015/16.  NOTE:  In contrast to the SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly updates, the OD data are always one-year old and limited to institutions of higher education. 

Viet Nam ranks 6th with the second highest percentage increase (14.3%) – after India (24.9%). 

Among the top 10 places of origin, only three (3) recorded substantial increases, including India, Viet Nam, and China (8.1%).  Japan remained the same and Taiwan increased by less than 1% while four(4) countries sent fewer students to the US:  Brazil (-18.2%), South Korea (-4.2%), Mexico (-1.9%) and Canada (-1%).  Declining enrollment among a number of the top 20 sending countries could very well continue and, in some cases, accelerate, during a Trump administration.

TOP 10 PLACES OF ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, 2014/15 & 2015/16
Rank Place of Origin 2014/15 2015/16 % of Total % Change
  WORLD TOTAL 974,926 1,043,839 100.0 7.1
1 China 304,040 328,547 31.5 8.1
2 India 132,888 165,918 15.9 24.9
3 Saudi Arabia 59,945 61,287 5.9 2.2
4 South Korea 63,710 61,007 5.8 -4.2
5 Canada 27,240 26,973 2.6 -1.0
6 Viet Nam 18,722 21,403 2.1 14.3
7 Taiwan 20,993 21,127 2.0 0.6
8 Brazil 23,675 19,370 1.9 -18.2
9 Japan 19,064 19,060 1.8 0.0
10 Mexico 17,052 16,733 1.6 -1.9

Not surprisingly, Viet Nam remains a solid undergraduate market.  The breakdown by category is as follows: 

Undergraduate – 67.23%
Graduate – 15.09%
Non-Degree – 9.8%
OPT (Optional Practical Training) – 7.8%

The top fields of study among Vietnamese students are – in descending order:

  • Business/Management:  29.8%
  • Social Sciences:  10.6%
  • Intensive English:  9.8%
  • Engineering:  9.6%
  • Math/Computer Science:  8.8%
  • Other/Undecided:  8.4%
  • Physical/Life Sciences:  5.1%
  • Fine/Applied Arts:  3.9%
  • Health Professions:  3.8%
  • Education:  1.2%
  • Humanities:  1.1%

MAA