Thursday, March 22, 2012

Comparing International and Domestic Students

International students tend to report less satisfaction and report less learning has taken place when compared to (US) domestic students. Furthermore, international students respond in a similar fashion as visible minority students when asked to report their feelings about campus climate (at US schools). These were two points two colleagues and I made in a presentation at the NASPA 2012 conference earlier this month.

Comparing International & Domestic Students: Understanding Key Differences was a presentation that Darlena Jones, Deb Boykin and I gave at the conference. The session had four parts: overview of international students studying around the globe, then data gathered by EBI was shared, then stories were shared from an ACUHO-I study tour of China and finally Ryerson International Student Services' history book was shared. Here is the presentation:

Some of the key points to take away from the session includes:
  • More students are studying abroad and more institutions from more countries are trying to attract international students. 
  • International students are, typically, less satisfied and report less learning has taken place than US domestic students
  • Minority and International students perceive their environments similarly
  • All institutions will continue to see an increase in International student enrollment; especially from China

[Correction: For those of you who attended our session at the NASPA conference I want to correct one comment I made regarding retention rates. I indicated that the retention rate for international students at my school was higher than the general student population. I was mistaken. The reverse is true. Sorry for any misunderstanding this may have caused.]

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is it worth being linked in on LinkedIn?

You might think it would not be wise to take action that one of the top five most influential people in a field "doesn't get." I did it anyway. 

A few weeks ago Scott Stratten was invited to speak at Ryerson. Scott goes by @unmarketing on Twitter where he has nearly 120,000 followers, he has a best selling book and was recently identified as one of the top five most influential people in social media by Forbes. One comment he made in his talk was that he "didn't get" LinkedIn. It did not have have a simple and clear purpose in his mind whereas tools like Twitter or more recently Pinterest do. As a result, he felt LinkedIn will simply not be as successful and will not attract the rabid following of other tools.
Despite this anti-endorsement by an expert I decided my LinkedIn profile needed some attention (and had thought that for a while which won't surprise Scott). I had decided to put my name forward for staff representative of my institution's board and updating my LinkedIn profile was one way to convey my experience.
After less than an hour of internet searching I found a few suggestions (listed below) on how to improve my LinkedIn profile. Actions that I took which were not obvious to me before reading these tips included: making a powerful headline statement that was more than just my current job title, adding in as many specialties as well as skills and expertise to when others searching for qualified people and cleaning up the url that would direct others to my profile.
The basic LinkedIn stats show a significant increase in people viewing my profile over the past couple of weeks and some people outside of my network have discovered me as well. Furthermore, my profile has appeared in many more searches once the changes were made.
While it is too early to determine the overall effectiveness of these changes the initial feedback is encouraging. Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

Sources Used:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Traveling Through Time to See the Differences in Student Housing

A student housing professional who traveled back in time 20 years would find a different set of circumstance affecting the profession. To examine the changes that have taken place the most senior Canadian student housing officers gathered in Toronto in late November. This was the first time such a gathering was held with chief housing officers from across Canada.

To set the stage at the gathering I had an opportunity to share the following points with the group:
  • Student housing looks very different today than 20 years ago. Today public-private-partnerships is an established option, real estate developers are actively targeting student housing and several Canadian schools have adopted a "first year guarantee" to assist recruitment efforts.
  • The campus housing model is being scrutinized. For instance, CAUBO launched a study into the student housing business model which will culminate in a two day workshop this April.
  • The rise of the public sector debt paints an uncertain future for publicly funded colleges and universities. The federal debt and most provincial debts are at their highest levels ever and post-secondary education funding continues its downward trend
  • Canada enjoys some of the highest post-secondary education participation rates in the world, but when this fact is combined with enrollment pattern fluctuations the impact will affect institutions differently across Canada. For instance, institutions in urban centres, such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, will benefit from larger populations in close proximity when it comes to enrollment but students who live nearby should have less of a demand for student housing. Conversely, institutions outside major cities may need to rely on student housing even more to help with recruitment. 
  • The increasing focus on accountability has meant resource allocation and outcomes are monitored much more closely and work must be justified much more frequently. The introduction of the NSSE in the past decade demonstrates the new tools now in use to measure effectiveness in higher education. 
The changing landscape certainly presents new challenges for student housing professionals, but opportunities abound as well. Revenue generated from residence fees represent a significant revenue source at a time when traditional revenue sources are dwindling. Moreover, institution owned student housing has credibility with student and parents and there is a long history, especially in the US, of research that shows the benefits of living in a residence on-campus. It will be important for student housing professionals to work together to understand the changes taking place and leverage the opportunities that are presenting themselves now. Doing so will make for some great stories for the time traveler who visits from 20 years in the future.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Navigating higher ed through Ontario's financial labyrinth

Ontario's financial fate could mirror that of Greece according to articles in both the Globe & Mail and Macleans. Hardly an enviable comparison! With a debt of $230 billion now in place the government sought advice through the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services. The Drummond Report, as its become known because Don Drummond was chairperson, was made public last month.

One of the 20 chapters in the extensive report was dedicated to post-secondary education (PSE). A total of 30 recommendations for PSE are made which are grouped into the following seven categories:

  1. Contain government funding and institutional expenses;
  2. Use differentiation to improve post-secondary quality and achieve financial sustainability;
  3. Encourage and reward quality;
  4. Revise research funding structures;
  5. Maintain the current overall cap on tuition-fee increases, but simplify the framework;
  6. Re-evaluate student financial assistance; and
  7. Generate cost efficiencies through measures such as integrating administrative and back-office functions.
It is encouraging to see the report acknowledge the important role PSE plays in Ontario and that resources are required to address five critical challenges that lie ahead, such as the need to "educate a rising share of the population; help equalize economic and social outcomes across the population; provide an important component of lifelong learning; be an engine of innovation; and deliver quality education in an efficient manner."   

Responses to the report continue to be published. Here are links to responses to four prominent PSE related groups:

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