2021 in focus: Emerging priorities spell shifting pursuits for international students

In the competitive career landscape of COVID-19, international students deserve real returns on the resources and time they invest in studying abroad.  As the pandemic continues to impact on the jobs market in 2021, students face dual dilemmas: the financial feasibility of their study abroad aims and the security of their postgraduate ambitions.  As a result, they are not only starting to study in alternative destinations and virtual environments—they are choosing to pursue different subjects, trending toward programs like mathematics and computer science which offer growing opportunities for employment.  It is a pattern at U.S. institutions that preceded the pandemic, and it will play out in years to come as employability continues to dominate among the priorities of students everywhere.

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Orientation overhaul: INTO virtually welcomes 2020 cohort to US amidst COVID-19

INTO The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s new student cohort participates in the center’s first virtual orientation.

When the COVID-19 crisis pushed US universities to close campuses and move courses online six months ago, one could scarcely imagine that the fall 2020 semester would find new students starting classes from behind their computer screens.

Even so, the student experience teams at INTO’s US centers have quickly adapted to support students through the unimaginable since the start of the pandemic.  Earlier this month, they overhauled orientation to virtually welcome a new cohort of international students to their respective universities.

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Paradigm shift: The rise of math and computer science among international students

To kick off International Education Week, the Institute of International Education (IIE) released its 70th Open Doors Report, which outlines international student mobility trends in the United States during the 2018/19 academic year.  The report indicates that there was a 0.05% increase in the total number of international students in the U.S. in 2018/19, 52% of which pursued degrees or completed optional practical training (OPT) in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). 

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Forecasting is a precarious business, but how bright is the future for international education?

In 1964, the science fiction author and Boston University academic Isaac Asimov (pictured, right) imagined the world the world 50 years ahead (2014), in an article published in the New York Times. Surprisingly, he did quite well. He forecasted the advent of Skype and Face Time. He hinted at the wireless world and flat screen televisions. But he was wide of the mark on a range of other areas – that routine jobs would all but disappear; that we would live a life of enforced leisure.

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MOOCs – why bother?

INTO has just entered into an agreement with the University of East Anglia to produce jointly a massive open online course (MOOC) aimed at helping international students succeed in their transition to UK universities. So why is INTO, or indeed any institution, bothering to invest in creating a course that’s given away free? Continue reading “MOOCs – why bother?”

Shifting Sands – Digital Futures and the 21st century classroom

For those of you who missed his inspirational keynote address at the annual INTO Staff conference held at Newcastle University on 21st June 2013, we bring a blog from Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor at Plymouth University and one of Europe’s leading speakers and researchers on digital technology and higher education.

 You can follow Steve on Twitter at @timbuckteeth

 

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iTablet Teaching: the impact made on engagement and achievement.

It has been six months since Tim Powell-Jones, Diploma Learning Technologies Coordinator at INTO UEA London, introduced iPads as learning tools to his students on the International Business Diploma programme at INTO UEA London. His motivation: to develop new ways of helping students understand the content in their subject classes and engage with English language and culture.

Following on from Tim’s first blog in July of last year, what impact has this technology made on the classroom dynamic?

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Massification and Inspiration through online learning – Part two of two: Humans and computers; when galaxies collide!

Photo courtesy of Abigail Grant.

The closing session of the Sloan Consortium  18th international conference for online learning followed the two themes that I set out in my first post; Massification and Inspiration. The wittily delivered presentation, “Citizen Science- Authentic Participation in Research” was delivered to  an overwhelmingly US audience by fellow Brit Arfon Smith and left me feeling humbled, inspired and strangely proud.

Arfon Smith is Director of Citizen Science at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and Technical Lead of the web-based citizen science platform Zooniverse. He leads a team of developers, educators and scientists who build citizen science projects across a range of disciplines including solar physics, papyrology and biodiversity.

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Massification and Inspiration through online learning – Part one of two: Can you create an intimate learning environment through MOOCs?

Two weeks ago, I attended the Sloan Consortium’s 18th annual international conference for online learning in the US . Seeing that many of the over 1,500 attendees have been involved in online learning for many years, it’s not surprising that the current ‘MOOC mania,’ (massive open online courses) was viewed by many with scepticism.

Sebastian Thrun, founder of MOOC provider Udacity, had a hard pitch when he delivered the opening plenary session “Democratising Education” on day two of the conference. He is a Stanford professor and was the creator of the first MOOC. The famous A.I. open course that in September of last year attracted over 160,000 students to enrol in 7 days. “On the 8th day the University Administration asked me to drop by for a chat!” he told us. A story which won over a sizeable portion of the audience.

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It Ain’t What You Do

During a lull in a long meeting over the summer, a couple of colleagues at INTO were wrestling over our “elevator pitch” – what makes us distinctive. And we then broadened it out to think about ways in which universities can communicate their distinctiveness, a word appearing on many people’s lips across the sector. It’s difficult  when there is so much change and much analysis is unremittingly bleak.

The first years of this decade have brought us funding challenges on both sides of the Atlantic, the emergence of the discerning customer, disruptive market entrants to higher education, confusing and poorly executed government policy on student visas and so on.  It’s not easy being a traditional university in this environment. Moreover, after years of steady and quota-secured growth in tertiary enrolments, universities are facing serious structural challenges as various quasi-markets are created by government policy. The squeezed middle is very real.

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