Working with Education Agents: A View from Vietnam

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Image courtesy of NAFSA

Below are a couple of excerpts from a blog post I wrote at the invitation of NAFSA’s International Enrollment Management (IEM) Knowledge Community.  

While there are some indications that growing numbers of students, who are better informed and more empowered than ever, are applying directly to foreign educational institutions – a trend that we should all encourage because it enables colleagues from admitting institutions to exercise more control over the application process – Vietnam, like most sending countries, is still very much an agent-driven market.

Given this reality and the fact that competition is fiercer than ever, colleagues need to develop a long-term and diversified strategy that includes a variety of non-commission-based recruitment tools and techniques, both digital and offline, in addition to developing a quality and ethical agent network.  Working with education agents should be just one of many tools in an institution’s recruitment toolbox. If it’s the only one, your recruitment efforts are doomed to fail in competitive markets.

Here’s a link to the original post, if would like to read it in its entirety on the NAFSA website.  

Peace, MAA

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Lessons From the UT Tyler Scandal

The scandal concerning students from Nepal should prompt a long-overdue conversation about institutional priorities surrounding international students in higher education, write Laura A. Kaub and James Linville.

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Photo courtesy of IHE

A number of questions came to mind after reading this 16 July 2018 Inside Higher Ed article written by well-intentioned colleagues.  Below are the questions and my responses.  

What is the precise definition of  “high achieving, low income” (HALI) students?  This would be helpful in thinking about the type of student the authors are discussing in Nepal, the African countries that their organization serves, and elsewhere.  

Do the authors know how many of the 60 Nepali students offered scholarships by UT Tyler fall into this category?  Young people are one of Nepal’s major exports in the form of adopted children and students.  Needless to say, many from the latter category are drawn from that country’s upper classes.

How do institutions verify need?  Even if you trust, for whatever reason, you must always verify.  I know of a number of cases in which children from families of considerable means gamed the system and received need-based need.  I know one US colleague who wanted to give all Vietnamese applicants need-based aid, as if all Vietnamese students are poor.  Moral of the story:  even rich people want need-based aid.  It’s up to those who run the system to close any existing loopholes and not open any new ones.  

Instead of loans, why not guarantee on-campus jobs for these students?  Who would make the loans?  What would the interest rate be?  How would you guarantee repayment, e.g., withhold the diploma until the outstanding balance is paid?  What are the visa implications of these loans?  

Finally, the notion that scholarships are (or should be) taxed is absurd but something that is beyond the control of the authors.  

Peace, MAA

“Hyderabad techie shot in Kansas restaurant, dies”

Very sad incident. We should avoid USA for study and employment. -Sanjoy Pandey

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Sharath Koppu, 25, was shot and killed inside J’s Fish and Chicken Market Friday, July 6, 2018, according to Kansas City police.
Courtesy of Kansas City Police

Another international student, Sharath Koppu, who arrived in January in the US to begin his Master’s degree in computer science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has fallen victim to the USA’s endemic gun violence.  The above headline was the title of an article that appeared in The Times of India on 8 July 2018.  The quote, which was the first comment, sums the reaction of many, be it on a short- or long-term basis.  

While this shooting apparently received minimal coverage in the US media, with the exception of Kansas City, it was all over the Indian media. (Here is a 9 July editorial from The Kansas City Star editorial board:  Fatal shooting of UMKC student from India tells the world KC is dangerous.)  

More young Indians will think twice before choosing the USA as an overseas study destination.  The shift to Canada and other countries was already taking place and incidents like these only serve to hasten that process.  

Last year, two Garmin engineers, also originally from India, were shot by angry white man yelling “Get out of my country!”  One succumbed to his injuries.  It doesn’t matter that the latter was a hate crime while the former a murder committed during a robbery.  The end result is the same:  they’re both DEAD.  

Sharath Koppu’s cousin, Raghu Chowdavaram, set up a GoFundMe account that raised $50,832 in three (3) days, $25,000 of that within three (3) hours.  Here’s part of what he wrote:

Sharath Koppu is an Indian Computer Engineer who came to the USA in the month of Jan 2018. Sharath is known to his family and friends as full of dreams, cheerful, energetic and athletic. In the pursuit of his dreams, he moved to USA to do his Masters. He had the same dreams like everyone else to make it BIG in the land of opportunity. He had a great sense of humor, and always made people laugh and was always eager to lend a helping hand.

Little did anybody know that life is about to take a big unfortunate turn on a fateful day of July 6th 2018.

R.I.P. Sharath Koppu

Peace, MAA

 

 

“International Students Are Key To Continued American Economic Leadership”

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Protestors gather to demonstrate against the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban against five Muslim nations on June 26, 2018 in Foley Square, New York City. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The story has been told time and time again. As of two years ago, approximately half of U.S. private companies valued at $1 billion or more (so-called “unicorns”) had founders who came to the U.S. as international students.

Yes, it’s true and I agree 100% BUT my guess is that this and similar arguments fall on deaf ears among the current powers that be because ideologues generally don’t care about logic and facts.  The anti-immigrant, nativist crowd only cares about its narrowly-focused agenda, the long-term well-being of their country be damned.  

This is a sad reality that the author points out when he mentions the obvious:  …this Administration doesn’t seem to care. What’s really scary is that the worst is yet to come. The Administration’s recent actions have led to awful images of immigrant children in cages that have gone viral and global.  Before Trump was elected, I predicted that his administration would hasten the decline of the US, as did other much more astute observers of the US political scene.  (One important bit of silver lining in all of this – knock on wood – is that the US has yet to invade, occupy, or destroy any other country, aside from the bomb that is dropped every 12 minutes.)  

NAFSA:  Association of International Educators, which bills itself as “the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange, working to advance policies and practices that ensure a more interconnected, peaceful world today and for generations to come,” is fond of trotting out the old economic contribution argument.  In addition to all of the other myriad benefits, both tangible and intrinsic, international students contribute $37 billion to the US economy.  What’s not to like and support, right?  Most of those in the America First crowd simply don’t care.  International students are perceived by some as potential national security risks who will be able to steal economic and other secrets – to the strategic disadvantage of the US.  Yeah, right.  

It doesn’t matter that previous presidents, e.g., Barack Obama, and presidential candidates, including Donald Trump himself, have spoken out in favor of encouraging a certain percentage of international students to remain in the US for the long term and contribute to its economy and society.  (For example, Mitt Romney campaigned six years ago on stapling a green card to the diploma of every international students with a degree in math or one of the sciences.)  

Follow the link to read this 28 June 2018 Forbes article in its entirety.  The concluding paragraph should whet your appetite:

As we celebrate America’s birthday next week, this issue deserves our full attention, starting with all of us in higher education, and everyone who first came to this country as an international student (of which group I’m a proud member). President Trump has already trashed America’s moral leadership, ostensibly in the name of economic gain. But these developments – both rivals pushing ahead and a reckless disregard of the impact of an isolationist approach to immigration on American higher education and talent – demonstrate that he’s also intent on trashing America’s economic leadership.

The United States’ loss is a gain for Australia, Canada, the UK, and other countries, as I upload this post.  

Peace, MAA

Postscript:  Forget about US economic leadership.  The USA is, after all, a mortal nation among other nations, in the words of Anatol Lieven.  What about remaining economically competitive?  What about meeting the basic needs of all of its citizens?  Obviously, there’s more to all of this than economic growth.  Here’s what happens in a society in which three (3) people own more wealth than 50% of the population:  Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food (18.5.18)

Viet Nam Ranks 5th in International Enrollment in 3 Countries

…including Australia, Canada, and the USA!  Those countries also happen to be the world’s leading hosts of international students, albeit in this order:  1)  USA; 2) Australia; and 3) Canada, followed by the UK and Germany.  

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Of the estimated 200,000 Vietnamese students studying overseas, 23,000 are in Australia (PDF download), about 15,000 are in Canada, and 31,613 are in the US.   Japan is the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students with 61,671 in 2017.  This means 131,284, or two-thirds, of all Vietnamese studying overseas are in the top four (4) host countries. 

Peace, MAA

 

 

“International Students Contribute to Our Economy & American Innovation”

This image, created by NAFSA:  Association of International Educators, a “non-profit professional organization for professionals in all areas of international education including education abroad advising and administration,” was recently posted on Facebook by a US higher education colleague. 

All compelling points with which I agree 100%.  In fact, they could create another graphic that lists more reasons for hosting international students and encouraging a certain percentage to remain, if they so desire.   

Here’s the problem though:  while this information appeals to reasonable and rational US Americans who either already have somewhat of a global outlook, or at least “get it” when it comes to the economics of hosting large numbers of international students, it falls on blind eyes and deaf ears when it comes to people like President Trump and many (most?) of his supporters. America First, remember?  Their words and actions, rather than making the US better than it is for all people, are accelerating its decline.

Why? Nativism and nationalism – in that order.  If you’re not sure what these words mean, don’t worry you’re in good company.  Many people with a Ph.D. after their name don’t know either.  Just read the articles linked from one or both of the words. 

MAA

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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:

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MAA