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COUNCIL:

2002-2003 Year-end Report and Recommendations of the Committee on International Programs

1. Charge to the Committee

Standing Charge from the Council Bylaws: The Committee on International Programs shall review and monitor issues related to the international programs and other international activities of the University. The International Programs Committee shall advise and make policy recommendations in such areas as services for international students and scholars, foreign fellowships and studies abroad, faculty, staff and student exchange programs, and cooperative undertakings with foreign universities.  The Committee shall consist of eight faculty members, one A-1 staff member, one A-3 staff member, three undergraduates, and three graduate/professional students.  The Executive Director of International Programs shall be a non-voting ex officio member of the Committee.

Specific Charges for 2002-2003:

(1) Continue to explore ways to make the Penn environment more inviting for international visitors, in particular visiting scholars, post doctoral fellows, etc.

(2) Evaluate the impact of recent changes in federal policies on international visitors and students and explore steps the University might take to ameliorate negative effects.

(3) Continue low level oversight over international programs.

2. Number of times the committee met

Twice, December 5, 2002, and March 7, 2003. The composition of the committee was not known until late October, thus making it impossible for it to meet until early December. The committee was planning to meet in early February, but the snow emergency forced a cancellation of the meeting.

3. Major Points Addressed by the Committee 

Concerning Charge 1, the committee discussed the main problems afflicting short-term visitors to the University, especially in terms of housing. This issue had been discussed in 2001-2002 (Almanac, April 23, 2002, pages 7-8).  This year's Committee made several additional suggestions, but they were not voted on. These included establishing a small committee of students to find short-term housing for visitors, identifying people who would be willing to house visitors on a short-term basis, meeting with the Director of Off-Campus Living to get her perspective, and seeing if the administration would be willing to subsidize short-term housing. The committee also discussed the possibility of creating a database in which people could post available short-term housing for visitors.

Recommendation for action by next year's committee: To continue exploring ways in which the Penn environment can be made more inviting for international visitors, in particular visiting scholars, post doctoral fellows, etc., including some of those discussed by this year's committee.

Concerning Charge 2, the committee listened to a detailed presentation by Dr. Joyce M. Randolph, Executive Director, Office of International Programs, especially on the effort to implement the new government-mandated Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The committee discussed ways in which the University could help avoid delays in the processing of visas for students, especially if they force the students to defer matriculation for one or two semesters. Privacy issues were also discussed as new, more demanding information sharing requirements with Federal agencies come into effect. The committee also assessed the resources that the OIP will need to cope with increased federal requirements.

Recommendation for Action by the University: The members of the committee present voted to encourage the Provost's Office to approve OIP's request for two new staff positions as well as appropriate additional resources so that the University's educational and research programs can function appropriately.

Concerning Charge 3, it was noted that the 2001-2002 year-end report of this committee suggested that three matters be considered by the 2002-2003 committee:  dual-site graduate training, competence in English language training for non-native speakers, and the Global Perspectives Subcommittee Report regarding the University's new strategic plan.  It was agreed that the first two matters would be placed on this year's agenda, whereas no action will be taken concerning the Global Perspectives Subcommittee Report.  Unfortunately, time constraints prevented full discussion of the first two matters.

Professor Rabii also suggested that the year's agenda include consideration of the integrity of student application materials from China, a topic that was discussed at length during the committee's second meeting.

In his initial presentation to the committee, Professor Rabii noted that some universities have been able to show that foreign applicants to their science programs had submitted fraudulent transcripts, GRE scores and letters of recommendation. He added that it is becoming a big problem in SEAS where economic incentives (stipends and fees) invite dishonesty.  He added that SEAS would like to develop a mechanism for verifying the authenticity of documents. Committee members were asked for and offered a number of suggestions. Among them:

  • Assess magnitude of the abuses and see how the problem is being handled
  • Bring problem to the attention of the administration
  • Conduct in-person interviews
  • Conduct telephone interviews. (Nursing has a pilot program where a member of the ELP sits in on interviews)
  • Contact the Educational Testing Service, Princeton
  • Have a faculty member at the foreign university vouch for the student
  • Make first three months of study probationary
  • Share data with Peter Conn, chair of the Graduate Council, as well as with a few graduate deans and graduate group chairs 

Recommendation for action by next year's committee: To gather more information and conduct further discussions of the issues surrounding the integrity of student applications, especially from certain parts of the world. The Chair emphasized the need to conduct a more thorough inquiry into this matter, and to avoid stereotyping applicants from certain countries until more information is available.

--Mauro Guillen, Chair

 

2002-2003 International Programs Committee Members

Mauro Guillen (mgmt) Faculty: Abass Alavi (radiol/med), Carlos Alonso (Romance lang), Paul DeWeer (physiol/med), Mauro Guillen (mgmt), Norma Lang (nursing), Sohrab Rabii (electrical engr), Jerry Wind (mrktg); Graduate students: Jordan Inselmann, Natalie Kulik, Jun-Min Tang; Undergraduate students: Charles Darkon (WH'05), Fernanda de Azevedo (WH'03), Ian Lin (WH'04); PPSA: Thomas Adams (ELP); WPSA: Bonnie Crosfield (Museum); Ex officio: Joyce Randolph (exec dir, intl prog).

Back to Council Reports


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 30, April 22, 2003

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