International Education Pick of the Week – 6 December 2013

pick-of-the-weekComing out of a late Thanksgiving that leaves a very short window to Christmas, I’m sure many of you share the feeling that you can’t waste a minute for the next three weeks.  Holidays are wonderful, but they can be very stressful.  So for this International Education Pick of the Week, we start with a new app to help international students deal with stress and stay mentally healthy, and then focus a bit on some critique of the commercialization of international education.

New Mental Health App “AppHappy” Uses Gameplay to Teach Stress Relief

International students in the US suffer from mental health problems at an even higher rate than domestic students, according to research on the subject.  And for many students, particularly Asian students, mental health issues are not something openly discussed in their culture or country, for fear of stigmatization, lack of awareness or other reasons. “They come to this country, and they get immersed into an entirely different culture, and their culture says ‘don’t talk about anything that has to do with not doing well, stress or mental health issues,’” Nancy Hanrahan, an associate nursing professor and the project’s faculty advisor, said. “There is a great reluctance to get the help they need.”

So Matthew Lee and Linda Kang, international students and Hillman Scholars at UPenn, have designed an app specifically to make mental health help more accessible to Asian international students.  “We wanted to teach people how to manage stress and anxiety and other mental health issues in a fun kind of way,” Kang said.  Available in prototype now, the app will be focus-group tested and the pair intend to roll it out in a more robust way in the spring.   It sounds really interesting, read the full story in the Daily Pennsylvanian for some examples of the type of activity the app will promote.

Is International Ed Becoming Too Commercialized?

We’ve talked about the booming business of international education in this blog before.  But this article in the Vancouver Sun highlights the growing chorus of academic and philosophical opposition to the direction the internationalization of higher education is going.  Too much hype;  decreasing academic standards as numbers increase; isolation of students on campus; altruism and humanitarianism replaced by competition and marketing; loss of domestic higher ed access; focus on quantity over quality; fraud, cheating and soft-grading – these are just some of the issues raised by scholars in the field that think internationalization of higher ed needs to be reformed, now.   The article is worth reading, and then tell us – are these problems, of which we are all aware, issues that can be addressed, or do they point to a fundamental flaw in the direction of international higher education, as some of the quoted scholars seem to indicate?

As always, comments are welcome on this post, and we’ll answer them as quickly as we can. And if you have any suggestions for the pick of the week, please email or tweet us at @EnvisageIntl.

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