San Juan, Puerto Rico
Administrators at the University of Puerto Rico are scrambling to find $300 million in savings as their main financier, the Puerto Rican government, approaches “financial reckoning,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Puerto Rico is facing a $55.2 billion budget gap over the next decade, according to a new fiscal plan issued by the governor, who is negotiating with creditors to restructure about $70 billion in public debt.
The public university system, which enrolls about 63,000 students across 11 campuses, gets 65 percent of its $1.5 billion budget from the central government. Because of that massive public investment, many see the university system as a prime target for restructuring. “Cutting $300 million would be akin to shooting yourself in the foot if what you’re looking for is long-term economic growth,” said Deepak Lamba-Nieves, research director of the Center for a New Economy, a Puerto Rican think tank.
At the beginning of March, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Lyudmila Ogorodova, announced plans to increase the country’s international student quota for universities. By increasing the number of foreign students from 150,000 to 200,000, the Russian government hopes to boost the global profile of Russian higher education. It was also announced that plans to simplify visas for students completing a foundation year were also underway so that they only have to apply for one visa for their entire course of study. At the moment, students who complete a foundation course before progressing to university must apply for separate visas for each course.
The highest internal-control institution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) recently announced plans to investigate leadership from 29 of China’s top universities. The investigation is part of the country’s anti-corruption campaign that not only seeks to root out malpractice in colleges, but also looks to tighten ideological control of universities. “In some ways, this is the next step in a broad-spectrum effort to tighten restrictions over the Bar and media, and this is beginning to roll now into higher education,” said Carl Minzner, a professor of law at Fordham University in New York, and an expert on Chinese law and governance.
The commission called for officials to adhere to the principles mentioned by President Xi Jinping during a speech in December, in which he asked government-funded universities to comply with party’s leadership, who require higher education to be “guided by the principles of Marxism,” said Jinping.
Mexico City, Mexico
The Trump administration’s mounting effort to send undocumented immigrants back to Mexico has led to complications for students looking to continue their education. Jill Anderson is the director of Other Dreams in Action, an advocacy group for former undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States. Anderson said the system for transferring U.S. school credits into Mexican schools is “rife with red tape requiring translated transcripts and other proof, which can take more than a year,” she told the Washington Post.
José Manuel Torres, 23, followed his deported father back from Georgia and was denied admission to Mexico City’s public university system because he lacked proof of graduating from his middle school outside Atlanta — despite having his high school diploma, he told the Washington Post.
Anderson notes that there is resistance to accommodating a population of returning compatriots who rub many the wrong way with their American manner. “It really interrupts the economic and social norms of Mexico,” she said. Mexican economist Luis de la Calle predicts that the overall economy is likely to expand in the long run when those people start to succeed. “When they come back to Mexico and they are properly trained, they will make more than a proportional contribution to Mexico,” said de la Calle.