W7: Following Finland’s Examples

This weeks reading from OECD about making education reforms happen highlighted different approaches from around the world. One country that showed up in multiple examples of policy reform is Finland. Being of Finnish decent, I have long had a personal interest in learning of the areas in which Finland excels, including art & design, environmentalism and education. I wanted to further look into some of the policies cited by OECD.

OECD provides an in depth profile of the country in their publication Education Policy Outlook: Finland. The educational system is notable for high student achievement in math and science, with minimal outcome difference based on student background. Day care and Pre-K are available to all. The teaching profession is highly respected, with higher than average salaries. Higher education is tuition free. Finnish educational initiatives highlighting by OECD include equal educational opportunities; with programs targets to boys and immigrants who tend to perform lower, development of general and vocational education programs, proficiency of school leaders and teachers, assessment, governance and autonomy, and public funding.  On a political and social level Finns believe in the value of education, which has provided the stability needed to maintain a successful government funded system.

A publication by the Finnish Ministry of Education, Strategy for the Internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions in Finland 2009-2015, gives five primary goals for internationalization:

‘A Genuinely International Higher Education Community’, ‘Increasing the Quality and Attractiveness of Higher Education Institutions’, ‘Promoting the Export of Expertise’, ‘Supporting a Multicultural Society’, and ‘Promoting Global Responsibility’. They seek to increase the number of international faculty, researchers and students, and offer programs taught in other languages. The internationalization of higher education is seen as a path to provide national competence in a global workplace.

What stood out to me in the publications, was that among the impressive facts and statistics was the presence of self critique about shortfalls and room for improvement. Concerns include lack of  awareness of the system outside of Finland, non-fluent Finnish speakers feeling out of place in the higher ed community, and their (comparatively low) unemployment rate.

Finland, a country with a population of only 5.4 million and a wide reaching welfare system, has an educational system that may not be realistically replicated elsewhere. However, the presence of its policies in the OECD readings on education reform show that it can be looked to as an example of what a successful system can be.

Allison Olly






W6: Stellar International Partnerships

This weeks ACE reading includes the challenges faced by higher ed institutions pursuing  international partnerships. Among the issues are cultural awareness.  ACE provided examples of institutions with programs that can act as a blueprint for others wishing to pursue partnerships abroad. I wanted to further investigate these programs and the strategies that make them successful.

Kennesaw State University’s ‘Year Of’ program is an immersive annual program designed to increase cultural competence and build international partnerships. Georgia’s KSU started the program in 1984, focusing each year on a specific country or geographic region. The chosen area is a result of strategic planning by KSU faculty and staff, with international partnership as a key goal. Select faculty travel to the chosen area to develop cultural knowledge and perspectives. Program activities for the year are developed students, faculty and staff, which include lectures, films, performances and special courses. Leaders from the selected region are heavily involved and events are open to the public. This current academic year focuses on the Portuguese speaking world. Events center around nine Portuguese speaking countries and include a panel from the Centers for Disease Control on health issues in Africa and roundtable on business in Brazil.  Through the Year Of program, a bachelors student at KSU will have an immersive experience in four different countries/regions and gain a multicultural awareness without having studied abroad. Year Of is presented as an example of a successful higher ed partnership due to KSU’s engagement with members from the country being studied. However, it can also be viewed as a way to approach internationalization at home, bringing a global perspective to the campus as a whole.

The University of Alaska Anchorage has developed worldwide partnerships through the ‘Sister Cities’ of Anchorage. With a goal to develop cultural and educational exchange, international students who are residents of Anchorages sister cities pay in-state tuition at UAA. The 33 sister cities are located in twelve different countries, including China, Russia, Norway, and the Philippines. The UAA international student population is small, numbering just 223 in Fall 2014. Of this population, 52% were from sister cities or other special agreements. Offering resident tuition to international students could be seen as a politically controversial move. However, for an institution like UAA which attracts so few students from abroad, it is a way to increase internationalization on campus. The agreement has also led to dual degree and study abroad programs with institutions located in sister cities.

International partnerships require a high level of organization, transparency, planning and cultural awareness. The programs at Kennesaw and University of Alaska Anchorage can serve as an example of how to achieve these goals.

Allison Olly


Kennesaw State University http://dga.kennesaw.edu/yearof/index.php

University of Alaska Anchorage https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/

W5: Internationalization, Ethics and Off Shore Campuses

This weeks Henard reading  included two subjects that go hand in hand, internationalization and off shore campuses, and internationalization and ethics and values. This topic was touched on this weekend in a New York Times profile of the newly appointed president of NYU, Andrew Hamilton. The Times notes recent controversies faced by NYU, including the issue of poor labor conditions during the construction of the NYU Abu Dhabi campus and the challenge of running an off shore branch in nations with authoritarian regimes.

Henards section on off shore campuses notes that the political, legal and cultural environment will differ from that of the home institution. Regarding ethics, Henard notes that attitude on ethical issues will differ across societies and that national regulations may pose ethical challenges.

We can see the difficulties of maintaining ethics and values when establishing an off shore campus in NYU Abu Dhabi.  NYU made efforts to ensure labor guidelines that met US standards, to ensure fair wages, hours and living conditions of construction workers. In spite of this, the guidelines cover only two thirds of workers, with a loophole that allowed for different standards for subcontractors, which were mostly foreign workers from South Asia. An NYU professor who critized such conditions was barred from traveling to the United Arab Emirates.

Henard points out that ethical behavior in other countries and cultures may differ from behavior at home, institutions face a challenge in defining and maintaining ethical standards on their off shore campuses. Is it ethical for institutions to establish branch campuses in nations with ethical standards starkly different from our own? Complicating matters is that many global business hubs are in countries with questionable human rights records. Last month US Congressman Chris Smith spoke at NYU Shanghai, following a June congressional hearing he chaired on issues of academic freedom with partnerships between China and American Universities.  Smith also raised concerns about human rights, labor rights, and treatment of ethnic minorities in China.

Should certain nations be considered off limits to American universites looking to establish branch campuses due to their human rights records? Is is possible to govern an off shore campus with our own ethics and values intact? The issues faced by the Abu Dhabi and Shanghai campuses of NYU bring up a lot of issues of maintaining the standards and institutional mission when a university expands abroad.


Allison Olly


Andrew Hamilton  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/nyregion/andrew-hamilton-new-york-university-president.html

NYU Abu Dhabi labor: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/nyregion/nyu-labor-rules-failed-to-protect-10000-workers-in-abu-dhabi.html?_r=0

NYU Shanghai: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/02/18/congressman-talks-human-rights-nyu-shanghai

W4: Decentralization, Mexico, and Funding

This weeks ACE reading on internationalization in the US discussed a variety of initiatives taking place. Some topics that stood out to me include decentralized policymaking, a US-Mexico exchange program and funding issues.

A striking detail was the chart on page 11 showing the numerous players involved in the creation/ implementation/ regulation of higher education internationalization policies and programs. This setup seems to be the result of the US being one of the few countries without a Ministry of Education. Two of the five players involved (Federal and State governments) have systems in which their leaders serve between 4-8 years. Does the potential of differing visions between a leader and their successor affect the ability to implement long term changes to the approach of internationalization?

I was interested in the US-Mexico higher ed exchange program (FOBESII) started in 2013 by President Obama and President Peña Nieto of Mexico, in part due to the contrast between this agreement and the anti Mexican sentiments voiced on the campaign trail.  Would the election of a particular candidate lead to the dissolution of this program? We should cross our fingers that FOBESII remains intact, as it has made some notable achievements in 2014, including: The travel of almost 27, 000 Mexican students and instructors to the US, doubling pre FOBESII numbers. 23 new educational agreements between the US and Mexico, resulting from visits of US university presidents. The groundbreaking of a US public university (Arkansas State U), and a US research center (Colorado State U) in Mexico.  Will our 45th president see the value in exchange agreements like FOBESII or find such relations with our southern neighbor problematic?

Funding is a vital topic when discussing internationalization, and it can be argued that it should be the first topic discussed. The charts on pgs 37-38 illustrate how far behind US funding is with the internationalization efforts of other countries such as Saudi Arabia, with our total funding amounts to less than the funding for individual programs elsewhere. However, it will be interesting to see if the current low oil prices affect funding for international education programs. Also notable is the difference between American and Canadian government funding for institutional internationalization programs. The most significant fact from the ACE funding section was that US federal internationalization programs often do not provide federal funding. Among the multiple outside sources they use to fund their programs are foreign governments. ACE notes that this setup is unbalanced and puts our relationships with these governments at risk. However, in spite of the arguments that can be made in favor of increased funding for internationalization initiatives in the US, this seems unlikely seeing that federal and state funding for higher education continuously faces cuts.

Allison Olly

FOBESII resource: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/01/235641.htm

W3: Internationalization at Home- The US and CUNY

Of the policies covered in Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide: National Policies and Programs, the type I found to have the potentially broadest reach and best chance of implementation is Internationalization at Home (IaH).  Adopting an IaH approach to higher education could affect the student body as a whole, rather than the smaller population who study abroad.  The chapter focuses on two aspects of an IaH approach, internationalization of the curriculum and broad institutional engagement of internationalization.  Because the US was listed among the policy examples, I decided to look further into what is being done at home.

Here in the United States, IaH policy is put into practice by the Department of Education through grant programs to fund the development of foreign language  education. Among these is the Language Resource Centers Program. Started in 1990 as part of the International Education Programs Service, the LRC program provides 4 year grants to higher ed institutions to establish and operate resource centers to improve the country’s ability to teach and learn foreign languages. The LRC program  activities include a focus on less commonly taught languages, teacher training at the K-16 level, professional development and intensive summer institutes. The LRC emphasizes the importance of expanding the languages taught in the US, noting that some of the least taught languages are among some of those most widely spoken throughout the world. They reference business and political ‘hot spots’ in which Arabic, Chinese and Korean are spoken.  In 2014, nearly $2.8 million was awarded to 16 higher education institutions, including the CUNY Graduate Center.

What is happening to enhance IaH within the higher ed system we are attending? The grant was used by the Graduate Center to establish a National Language Resource Center as part of their Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILTEC). Started in 2012, ILTEC is a research and resource center for language education at CUNY.  On the research side, they support projects from language scholars and instructors.  On the resource side, they work with CUNY faculty and language programs in professional development and circulate language education materials. The ILTEC site includes a ‘CUNY Language Map’ showing the languages each colleges is registered to teach, and which are being offered this semester. Here at Baruch the Spring ’16 courses include Arabic, Mandarin and Portuguese.

ILTEC provides a smaller scale, local example of how the broader goals of internationalizing higher education can be implemented. Indeed, New York City and the CUNY system are an ideal candidate to lead US internationalization efforts, with the diversity of nationalities and languages present at each campus.  The ACE readings note that while the world is increasingly connected and global in nature, higher education institutions and systems are still operating on a national level. The field of higher ed is often by nature slow to change, however the types of efforts taking place worldwide show that the isssue is considered vital.  It is exciting to see how the issues are being put into practice within our system and I encourage you to look at what is happening where you work!


Allison Olly



Dept of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/iegpslrc/index.html

ILTEC: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Centers-and-Institutes/Institute-for-Language-Education-in-Transcultural-Context