History November 27, 2017: British Historian Daniel Beer wins McGill University’s Cundill History Prize for book on Siberian exiles




British Historian Daniel Beer wins McGill University’s Cundill History Prize for book on Siberian exiles

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

British Historian Daniel Beer accepting the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature for his book The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Nov. 16, 2017 (PubPerspectives, Twitter)

British historian Daniel Beer is the winner of the richest history book prize in the world. Canada’s McGill University announced Beer and his book The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars (Allen Lane) the winner of the $75,000 USD annual international Cundill Prize in Historical Literature on Nov. 16, 2017, at the prize’s gala at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The annual prize honors history non-fiction books published in the last year. Beer is a lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, and his prize-winning book about Siberian prison exiles during the Russian tsarist regime has been lauded throughout the year before winning the ultimate history prize.

Chair of the prize jury Margaret MacMillan feted Beer’s book in announcing him the winner. MacMillan expressed at the gala, “Daniel Beer has done extraordinary research, using underappreciated and unexamined sources, to show what exile meant to generations of Russians and other nationalities within the Russian Empire. He gives a moving and heart-rending account of what happened to these people, most of whom never returned from Siberia. The House of the Dead is a haunting and important contribution to Russian history and hugely deserving winner of the 2017 Cundill History Prize.”

McGill Dean of Arts Antonia Maioni also spoke at the Cundill History Prize Gala before the announcement. The Dean of Arts expressed, “We are so very proud to celebrate this important prize at McGill University and in Canada.” Maioni also commented, “At McGill, we value research-intensive history and, at the same time, the ability to communicate to the rest of the world the importance of history writing and an understanding of Canada’s role in the global setting. The Cundill History Prize plays a hugely important role — championing the highest quality historical scholarship from around the world, and rewarding books that can reach out to appeal to a wide audience, ignite conversation, and evoke a better understanding of ourselves and others.”

The Cundill prize is open to any authored history book across the globe. For the tenth anniversary, the university “rebranded” the prize to “illuminate the truth at a time in world affairs when informed, factual debate is increasingly losing out to populism and retrenchment is on the rise.” This year’s long list was shortened from a record 330 submissions, double the amount McGill received for their 2016 prize.

jury of five historians determined who wins the book prize. Canadian historian and Oxford University professor Margaret MacMillan chaired this year’s jury. The jury was predominantly British, with Oxford University professors Roy Foster and Rana Mitter, but included one American British-American historian and columnist Amanda Foreman and one Canadian, journalist Jeffrey Simpson. The Cundill Prize also had a committee of McGill faculty members.

Beer beat out his two competitors, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) professor, Christopher Goscha and “Austrian-born, US-based historian” Walter Scheidel. All three historians’ books were shortlisted for the prize down from the list of ten finalists announced on Sept. 26. On Oct. 26, jury chair MacMillan announced the shortlist finalists at a “press conference at Canada House in London.”

Despite Beer, claiming the grand prize both Goscha and Scheidel were both winners of the Recognition of Excellence Award and $10,000 USD. As the McGill Reporter notes, “Goscha was awarded for Vietnam: A New History(Basic Books),” and Scheidel was awarded “for his controversial economic thesis The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (Princeton University Press).”

When the finalists were announced MacMillan praised the three books equally. MacMillan said, “The three finalists for the 2017 Cundill History Prize are extraordinary works of history: beautifully crafted, well-researched, and ambitious. They tackle big issues and help us to know ourselves and our world better. We live in complicated times and the work of historians such as these provides us with the necessary background, understanding, and insights to enable us to formulate the sorts of questions we ought to be asking.”

The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature was “founded by McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill,” with the first prize was announced in 2008. Qualifying and winning books have to include “historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal.” Beer’s award-winning book “The House of the Dead has also been shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize, the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize and the Longman History Today Prize.” The House of the Dead was also “The Times, BBC History and TLS Books of the year for 2016.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education November 23, 2017: Will American universities continue losing international students to Canada?




Will American universities continue losing international students to Canada?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The University of Toronto in Canada saw the largest increase in international student enrollment this academic year, benefiting the most from the decline to American schools.

With the application period in full swing for the 2018–19 academic year and incoming Class of 2022 freshman class, the question remains if American universities will continue the trend of losing international students. Last year the drop in applications and enrollment was attributed to Donald Trump’s election as president and his immigration policies. Canadian universities benefited from the American loss and received a bump in international applications and enrollments for the 2017–18 academic years. New surveys and reports released by IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact on Nov. 13, 2017, and Universities Canada on Nov. 22 indicate American universities loss seven percent of their international students, while Canadian schools saw an increase in the double digits. The two studies remained on the opposite ends when came to blaming Trump’s presidency for the differing numbers, with American reports downplaying the factor, while Canadian surveys saw a direct correlation.

A new report by the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairsreleased on Monday, Nov. 13, entitled the “2017 Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange” examined at the changing international student rates. The report indicated that just the year prior, the 2016–17 academic year, American universities saw an increase in the peak of total international student enrollment, but a decrease in new international students coming to the US to study.

The 2017 Open Doors report indicates that the US saw a “record” number of international students with 1.08 million studying, the second academic year with over a million students. Open Doors claimed, “This also marks the eleventh consecutive year of continued expansion of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education.” Despite the good news, there were plenty of negatives when looking at the number of new students enrolling; there was a three percent drop from the previous academic year, 10,000 students less to 281,000 new enrollees.

The 2016–17 academic years had only a three percent increase in international students compared to the previous year, the smallest increase since the 2009–10 academic years. Open Door pointed out, “This is the first time that these numbers have declined in the twelve years since Open Doors has reported new enrollments.” The decreases primarily come from two countries Saudi Arabia and Brazil because of the decrease of scholarships. Although the report claims, economic factors trump any political reasons for the decline.

The Open Door gave a glimpse at the present academic year, which shows that the trend is continuing with an additional seven percent loss in new international student enrollees. Although this is the national trend, the results are much different at different universities and colleges. According to IIE, “45 percent of the campuses reported declines in new enrollments for fall 2017, while 31 percent reported increases in new enrollments and 24 percent reported no change from last year.”

International students contribute the most in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, serving as support faculty as research and teaching assistants. IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman commented on the decline, “Students continue to be attracted to the high quality and diverse opportunities offered by U.S. colleges and universities. But it is critical for U.S. institutions to set strategic goals and be proactive in reaching out to students and families in a wide range of countries in the coming year, and for the United States to keep its academic doors open to students from all over the world.”

IIE released another report at the start of the academic year entitled “Shifting Tides: Understanding International Student Yield for Fall 2017.” The study conducted in March 2017, was created in collaboration with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO). The study examined the international enrollment rates at 165 colleges and universities in the different regions of the country.

The results proved that President Trump’s policies had little effect on attracting international undergraduate students going from 26 percent in 2016 to just a two percent drop and 24 percent in 2017. Graduate students, however, were more deterred from studying in the US. Colleges and universities saw a 7 percent drop in international students for Masters’ degrees. Last year the number was 26 percent down to 19 percent of graduate student population this year. According to IIE “38 percent of surveyed institutions indicating a decrease in international student applications, 36 percent seeing an increase and 26 percent seeing no change compared to the prior year.”

The decline happened at 46 percent of the schools that participated, but the results varied in the four regions of the country. The South saw the largest drop in international students, with 5 percent from 35 to 30 percent; however, the Northeast did not see any difference remaining at 24 percent. Regional differences have to do with the politics of the areas and schools. The South is the country’s most conservative area, while the Northeast is the most liberal and home of the Ivy League universities that continually attract international students. Four states attract the most international students, California, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts, but only Texas deep in Trump country saw a decline. Texas’ decline was a huge 18 percent loss in international students this year from the 2016 year, 44 percent down to 35 percent.

The United Kingdom’s Times Higher Education sees the decline in international students enrolling at American schools a trend that is longtime in the making and independent of Trump. Analyst Marguerite Dennis wrote an op-ed last January 2017 entitled, “Dwindling US international student numbers? Don’t blame Trump!” On the eve of Trump inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, 60 percent of international students from 118 countries said a Trump presidency would deter their enrollment in US schools a number that never materialized. Canadian saw a surge in American students visiting their perspective and future student websites. The University of Toronto saw 10,000 visitors the day after Trump’s election, up from only 1,000 the day before when the news predicted democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win the election.

Dennis looked at historical data and found that the decline is a trend 17-year trend in the making commencing in 2001. At that point, the year of the terror attack on the World Trade Center “28 per cent of all international students enrolled” in American schools, by 2014 that number decreased to 22 percent. Dennis attributes two reasons for the decline, less Chinese students enrolling and rising tuition costs. Dennis claims, “In 2014–15, there were 304,040 Chinese studying in the US, 10.8 per cent more than the previous year. However, in 2013–14 the increase was 21.4 per cent.” Additionally, since 2008 tuition at American schools has increased by 28 percent.

IIE claimed that students from the Middle East and India were the most reluctant to enroll in the US because of Trump’s travel ban and were the most concerned about their ability to obtain a student visa. Indian students are fearful of enrolling because an Indian engineering student studying in the Midwest was killed in a hate crime. IIE agrees with Dennis that affordability is a major concern for students coming from “sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Canada, Oceania, Latin America and Asia,” except China.

Canadian universities are benefitting the most from international students’ reluctance to study in the US and a lesser extent in Great Britain. This academic year, Canadian universities saw a “record number” of international students enrolled in their institutions. In Canada, they attribute to the growing number of international applicants directly to Trump’s election and his presidency, and Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union, but they are not certain how to maintain their growing student population and translate it into permanent Canadian residents. The major wave of applications commenced with Trump election, with Canadian schools seeing a bump of 20 percent more international applicants.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, IRCC claims there was a 17.5 percent increase in international students from the fall of 2015 to the fall of 2016. According to the Pie News, “the number of new students entering Canada for the first time reached nearly 270,000 — up 22% from 2015 figures.” Universities Canada released data for the fall 2017 enrollment on Nov. 22, calculating only the number of overseas international students. They determined that there was an 11 percent increase of overseas students in 2017 from 2016. As The Times Higher Education reports “the total number of full- and part-time overseas university students in the country to 192,000.”

Universities Canada took their information from Regional university associations, which include, “The Association of Atlantic Universities, the Bureau de Coopération Interuniversitaire (representing Quebec universities), the Council of Ontario Universities and Universities Canada.” In total 96 institutions shared their data for the survey. British Columbia is the province attracting the most international students with a 15.6 percent increase; the province is the home of one of the country’s top three schools, the University of British Columbia. The Canadian government wants to continue to capitalize on the trend and increase the number of international students to 450,000 by 2022.

Canada’s top schools The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill University are attracting the brunt of the students. This year the U of Toronto had 17,452 international students at the undergraduate and graduate level representing 20 percent of the student population. The numbers are double than those of ten years ago, wherein 2007 they had 7,380 international students compromising only 10 percent of the student population.

The University of Toronto has the most international students on the continent, followed by the US’ New York University, while the UBC is third. UBC had 14,433 international students in 2016 up from 9,144 in 2012. McGill’s numbers are equally impressive, this academic year their international student population hit 30 percent and is over 12,000 out of 41,000 students. McGill noted that the number represents an “over 10 percent increase from last year and 45 percent from 5 years ago.”

The students are coming from 150 countries, the majority from China, India, South Korea, France, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Japan, Brazil, to a lesser extent Turkey. There is also an increase in American students enrolling in Canadian schools. China has the most students in Canada representing 34 percent of the international student population 57,000 students in 2014, followed by India with 14 percent; only three percent of American students come to Canada for a university education.

Applications to Canadian schools surged last fall and winter from American students distraught by Trump’s electoral victory, but those numbers never materialized in enrollments. The U of Toronto saw an increase of 70 percent from American students, McGill had a 30 percent increase from the US and 16 percent internationally, while UBC saw a 26 percent increase in applications from American students. In 2014, Canada hosted 9,000 American students in their universities.

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada claims the increase in international students can be attributed to the country being “known worldwide as a nation that values diversity and inclusion, and our universities are a big part of that.” Davison continued praising the country to the THE, saying, “Students around the globe are increasingly choosing the internationally recognised quality of a Canadian university education, and the benefits for Canada are tremendous.”

In contrast, Richard Levin, executive director of enrolment services and university registrar at the University of Toronto see the enrollment bump being because of the backlash in the US and the UK. Levin told CBC News “Clearly there are things about the international situation — worries about stability, Brexit and the U.S. political environment — that have changed or increased international students’ interest in looking beyond their own countries and beyond the U.S..” Continuing Levin expressed, “Now in places like that, students are looking for alternatives and Canada is presenting as a good one in terms of stability, safety, and inclusiveness.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.


Education November 5, 2017: Harvard to lower admission rates for class of 2022




Harvard to lower admission rates for class of 2022

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Harvard Colleges intends to admit fewer students to the Class of 2022. Harvard College

Every year the admission process becomes more difficult, and the admission rate at the Ivy League and elite top-tier universities shrink. For high school seniors applying for the Class of 2022, this year will even be more difficult to secure an acceptance letter from the school of the dreams. This year Harvard intends to admit fewer students, and the college will extend the deadline for early admissions for students from locations hit by the string of hurricanes and natural disasters in late August and September. The Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons made the twin announcements in a September 2017 interview with college student paper the Harvard Crimson.

Fitzsimmons cites overcrowding in the Class of 2021 freshman as the reason for accepting fewer students this upcoming year. This year much more students accepted admission offers, leading to “twenty-eight freshmen living in DeWolfe, overflow housing typically reserved for upperclassmen.” The Dean of Admissions wants to admit also students off the waitlist this year. Last year they were unable to able to accept any student of the list. Fitzsimmons says his goal is “40 to 50 to maybe 100 people.”

Harvard’s Class of 2021 acceptance rate was 5.2 percent, the second lowest in the country only after Stanford University. Harvard admitted 2,056 students out of a record of 39,506 applicants. The acceptance rate is almost the same as the Class of 2020 when 5.22 percent or 2,037 students were admitted out a historic high amount of 39,044 applications. For the regular admission cycle, Harvard accepted 1,118 students. In December 2016, as part of their early action program, Harvard accepted 938 applicants out of 6,473 applications for an acceptance rate of 14.5 percent.

The problem was a record number of students accepted their offers of admissions. Close to 84 percent of students accepted their admission offer to the Class of 2021, for the class of 2020, only 80 percent accepted. In May Fitzsimmons commented, “It was the largest number of applications in our history, it was a great yield on admitted students. Everything we could possibly hope for happened in this class.” Changes to the financial aid program led to a more a “socioeconomically diverse” freshman class where “approximately 24 percent were classified as low-income and 17 percent were eligible for Pell Grants.” More financial aid has made Harvard in reach for talented students from economically challenged backgrounds.

Additionally, students in regions hard hit by hurricanes and wildfires in the country, and other natural disasters worldwide will see some leniency in the early admissions applications. Fitzsimmons said, “His office will grant extensions for some early applications and take more time to deliberate on acceptances.” The majority of students will still hear back about early admissions on Dec. 12, but applications will be accepted after the Nov. 1 deadline and considerations will continue through January. The Dean of Admissions told the Crimson, “We could be in for a very different kind of calendar sitting in front of us this year because we want to be fair to these students and give them a complete hearing we can give them.”

Usually, students who applied for early admissions had to submit all documents including “letters of recommendation, transcripts, and secondary school reports” by the Nov. 1 deadline. This year there will be extensions on those documents, additionally, there will be the possibility of application fee waivers and students can take their SAT and ACTs in November and then submit results. The college expects students applying from Texas, Florida and Georgia will be most affected. Texas sends the fourth most applicants and students to Harvard of all states; Hurricane Harvey along with severe flooding in late August hit the state badly. Meanwhile, Florida, which sends the sixth largest amount of students to the college, and Georgia were affected by Hurricane Irma in September.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.