Research Reading Rec: The Media in Latin America by Dr. Jairo Lugo-Ocando

“A book’s worth should be measured by what you can learn & carry away from it.”
— James Bryce

Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Media in Latin America ; Released April 2008
As Latin America media systems continue to study and utilize the latest trends/technology to build stronger digital networks across the entire region, at the same time both governments and corporations have been examining different ways this revolution will benefit their specific individual interests. In his latest manuscript, Dr. Jairo Lugo-Ocando approaches this exact subject with a country-by-country analysis that explores relevant aspects of the media in each society.

While analyzing the interrelationship of Latin America’s regional media to issues involving ownership, regulation policy, film, music, advertising and digital networks remains a Herculean task –Dr. Lugo-Ocando rises to the challenge and provides exceptional observations. Indeed, any student, professor, or researcher that’s pursuing research addressing international socioeconomic issues or foreign diplomatic relations needs to order this title post-haste.

And because Dr. Lugo-Ocando’s book provides such an extensive, comprehensive and critical overview of Latin America’s most important media systems, renown academic leaders were eager to voice their enthusiastic praise. Ramesh Jaura, Chairman of the Global Cooperation Council, has toted the book as a fascinating text which “provides a comprehensive insight into the modern Latin America media landscape.”  Additionally, University of Glasgow Professor Philip Schlesinger testifies that, “For those who want to understand the current realities that shape media performance from the Gulf of Mexico to the Tierra del Fuego, here is the ideal beginning.”

Other works written by Dr. Lugo-Ocando include such titles as: Statistics for Journalists (2011), ICTs, Democracy & Development (2009), and Glosario para Periodistas (2001).

About Dr. Jairo Lugo-Ocando ;
Lecturer in Journalism Studies @ The University of Sheffield
Although he practices as an internationally known faculty expert, teaching Journalism Philosophy and Practices at one of the UK’s leading communications programs, Dr. Lugo-Ocando formerly worked as a field correspondent for numerous newspapers, magazines and radio stations in Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and the United States. He received a MA degree from Lancaster University, then his PhD from the University of Sussex. His main research interests include examining ideas addressing South American Media Democratization and the interrelationship between the developing World and ‘Digital Technologies’.

Outside his academic work, Dr. Lugo-Ocando currently sits on the advisory board of OXFAM-GB’s ‘Asylum Positive Image Project’; serves as an Associate Editor to the Journal of Latin American Communication Research, and the academic journal Temas de Comunicacion.

In between research projects or teaching, Professor Lugo-Ocando travels frequently to speak at global conferences and has recently delivered guest lectures at various campuses including: Columbia University (New York), the Universidad de los Andes (Venezuela), and IQRA University (Pakistan). Keeping in trend to engage inquiring audiences both on and offline, one can connect with Dr. Lugo-Ocando via LinkedIn or follow his Twitter feed – @jairolugo.

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

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Student Spotlight: Camila Vallejo’s Commitment to reform Chilean Higher Education

“Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?”
— Anne Frank

Courtesy of K12.KN3.net

The first time one sees a picture of Camila Vallejo, it’s an easy mistake to think that she closely resembles Catherine Zeta-Jones, or perhaps she looks like a distant Chilean relation to newly-minted royal Kate Middleton.  The 24-year old, Universidad de Chile student looks poised, bright-eyed, conversational and mostly nonchalant despite a growing paparazzi following that began documenting Vallejo’s life ever since early 2011.  This spotlight attention which constantly exposes her leadership efforts to bring change to Chile’s higher education system, echoes a true-to-life reality that history’s most admired figures all learned intimately: for those who enjoy substantial privilege, there comes a great responsibility.

Last spring Chilean college students started organizing the demonstration in order to voice their discontent about the country’s universities shortcomings to policymakers, and quickly nominated Vallejo as the movement’s premier spokesperson. Aware that such a role required one to stifle their anxiety, maintain composure and act peacefully, she eagerly pledged a commitment to support the initiative. One year later, her involvement receives international media coverage whether she’s traveling to meet with other Latin America students or just grabbing a coffee while waiting to begin the next speaking engagement.  A interview feature for UK-based, The Guardian, reports that the events concerning Chile’s higher education carry big political implications, “Sebastian Piñera, Chile’s president, has just 22% public approval ratings, the lowest ever in Chilean history.” Apparently the girl from Ipanema needs to take the back seat, because the world’s attention recently shifted to studying a young reformer hailing from La Florida.

Courtesy of http://www.Lupa.Io

Comparatively, although the ‘@GurlFromIpanema‘ describes herself as a ‘world traveler/saleswoman,’ who loves art, cocktails, and salsa; @Camila_Vallejo’s credentials date back to 2008 when she began acting as a prominent counselor to ‘Fech’ – also known as the Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Chile.  Shortly after this, she was voted the organization’s November 2010 President.  It’s a shining testament to her character as the 105 year-old student union nominated only one other female president. Although her bid to win another presidential term failed, her growing web presence will certainly prepare one to endure a political career long term. In addition to building an extensive YouTube archive, her Twitter account alone connects with 590,000+ followers.

Moreover, Vallejo’s online presence also expresses the empathy she feels toward similar movements taking place all over Latin America. This past summer when Mexican university students kicked off the ‘#YoSoy132′ movement to contest recent Presidential election results, Vallejo made a trip to the capital, ready and willing to lend assistance wherever possible. These collaborative moments reassure the lingering doubts she maintains about creating truly sustainable changes.  She frequently points out how “in Chile we are constantly hearing the message that our goals are impossible and that we are unrealistic, but the rest of the world, especially the youth, are sending us so much support. We are at a crucial moment in this struggle and international support is key.” Indeed, such efforts to band together as Latin America students proves an advantageous strategy as they try to overcome every new challenge involving higher education reformation.

So how will a University of Chile alum turned ‘media powerhouse’, with such an extensive, international reputation play her next move? A book deal seems more rewarding than a reality TV show, so that’s exactly what Vallejo set to accomplish right before the year’s end. In Janurary 2013, Vallejo’s new book entitled Podemos Cambiar el Mundo (We Can Change the World) will come out highlighting a collection of op-ed pieces she’s written, that outline the many problems plaguing Chile’s incredibly dysfunctional higher education system.  The book also discusses what Vallejo predicts will need to happen if South American countries want to adequately prepare future students to enter an increasingly, competitive, global financial market.  Not including the book pre-orders from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. the title already pre-sold 3,000 copies when launched earlier this fall.

Fortunately, modern emerging media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogs allow a person to track the spotlight highlighting innovative education student leaders like Camila Vallejo, and support their efforts despite one’s physical address. And in watching Vallejo’s influence gain recognition more and more every day, it’s encouraging to know that her digital footprint serves as a positive reminder… any great change starts with a single, small action.

Buena Suerta mi Amiga y Continuarse!

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Be Sure to Bookmark: youngdigitallab.net

  “Formal education will no doubt make you a decent living;
But it’s self education that makes you a fortune.”
–Jim Rohn

Courtesy of YoungDigitalLab.net

Try to name one person not smitten by Italy’s charms … go ahead … no rush.

To quote Shrek’s endearing pal Donkey, think about it …
“Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s go to Italy,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no Italy?” Italy is delicious!”

You had me at delizioso Donkey; you’re preaching to the Convert.

Ah Italia!  Of course the fashion, food, and fascinating art scene emit such intellectual stimulation that it manages to seduce the world’s most prominent academics using barely any effort.  It’s a long revered home-town stomping ground to the legendary Innovative Entourage members: Galileo, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and one impressive Dodge dynasty. But when I came across the Padua-based (or Padova as the Italian language spells it) website … YoungDigitalLab.net … well only two words came to mind: Così Impressionante.  Translation: YDL features such amazing contentcentric media discussions, that it’s now Safari marked as an ‘official’ new friend.

Chris Andersen’s new book (Oh, need his credentials?  He’s Wired magazine’s current Editor-in-Chief; but it’s not yet public knowledge if he also prefers to go by the Godfather, I’ll make a fact check note.) Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, he speaks to three specific characteristics that ‘true Makers’ exhibit unlike the majority societal public.  Anderson acknowledges with confident authority how “[Real Makers instinctively] default to thinking in public…sharing…and collaborating with people they don’t know.”  YoungDigitalLab.net isn’t a spotlight textbook case study, but at the very least it deserves an Honorable Mention medal.

Most importantly, the YoungDigitalLab.net project demonstrates that when discerning, expressive minds come together to build an online community that fosters a celebratory spirit supporting collaborative learning – I think a fairy procures their wings.  Well, something magical happens because this renaissance continues to unfold both on and offline, in HD, 3D, BluRay, and flatD to the North, South, East and West -worldwide.  It’s truly admirable that YoungDigitalLab.net refuses to tolerate geographic borders; and the resulting content they publish justifies why they stick to this decision.

It’s never only about ‘the numbers’ (Connection, Fan, Follower, Tumbles, Pin counts, etc) when one analyzes what really makes a brand’s emerging media campaign successful.  That said, YDL’s numbers highlight a reputation that already includes a lengthly achievement list including: supporting 19 speakers under 30, across an eight-city Italian tour, adding to a blog archive that currently stores 289+ articles posted by 25 unique authors.  Data drives everything a communications practionier does; to live by data is to die by data.  Thankfully, ever since graphic designers began popping out data visualization charts, (R/GA’s Bob Greenberg deserves a huge thanks here), marketing professionals now look forward to reviewing significant data collections meditatively not anxiously – no Valium necessary.  To celebrate turning 2, check out the below visual summary YDL put together as a birthday gift to their site:

Courtesy of YoungDigitalLab.net

Obviously unwilling to go against any fellow social media channels, it’s impressive that YoungDigitalLab.net’s Editorial Team maintains such a genuinely engaging presence between three channels.  Take a moment to visit their LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook accounts.  Each platform reiterates the Young Digital Lab brand’s ability to deliver content elegantly and eloquently.

Hence the reason this site earns a well-deserved A –  
Pros: International subject matter addressing major industry concerns/trends, Check.  Responsive authors willing to converse with worldwide audience, Check.  Aesthetic -yet also- Navigable site design, Check.  ‘English On’ button, Check.
Cons:  Their currently following 0% of their Twitter audience, that’s just bad manners.  Still, there’s an argument to say nothing is ever truly perfect.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/YoungDigitalLab

Now let’s assume, ‘hypothetically’ of course – that you’ve saved up some airline miles; because for several unspoken reasons (no judgement), it’s vitally important that at least for this season, you’d prefer to avoid a 96 hour family holiday rotation.  Well if you enjoy lasagna, meeting new industry colleagues, and attending lectures that discuss sometimes unorthodox business philosophy then it’s highly recommended that you book a trip to Rome – pronto!

Our friends at YDL are hosting a little seasonal get -together and you’re invited!  So pack those bags, arrive a few days early to spend a little time sight seeing, and plan to enjoy November 8 / 9 learning about what’s changing media relations, journalism, advertising, and social networks just before Christmas hits.  It’s a unique event but not to fear if you can’t make it – YDL will post a live update stream online capturing the conference highlights.

If you’re an avid fan, new follower or just a friend to the folks running YoungDigitalLab.net – by all means please feel free to sing their praises, opera style or no, in the comment section below.  I look forward to your site reviews!

Ciao for now dearest friends and speak soon!  I hope everyone enjoys a trauma-free, treat-filled Halloween holiday.

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Brazil’s 2013 Plan at Hand: Fixing the Education Gap ASAP

“In the long term, most plans are of little importance but that said,
thoughtful planning is always essential.”
— Winston Churchill

This past summer, when the last 2012 London Olympics athletes finally left England with their medals in tow, and after the last Confetti gun was fired at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the whole UK let out a collective, appreciative sigh. Understandably worn out, her majesty’s government wasted no time in passing on the ‘Party Host’ torch (pardon the pun) to Brazil.  Their Southern Atlantic neighbor will spend the next four years serving as the official ‘Celebration Nation’ not just to the 2016 Olympics but also to the 2014 World Cup community.

Never mind Brazil’s infamous reputation concerning the ability to throw one fun carnival; that’s not exactly helpful when it comes knocking out a housekeeping ‘To-Do’ list many miles long.  Every Culture,  Tourism, and Engineering office continues to spend day and night strategizing ways to accommodate a guest list exceeding millions.  And forget the tea candles, place cards, or pressed napkins.  For now, the country’s education leaders will spend next year’s majority trying to fix the education gap that’s holding back amongst other things Brazil’s booming growth spurt.

While in São Paulo for BBC World News, Katty Kay’s latest report on this topic explains how looming concerns over slower economic growth, inflation, etc., stand to nullify every progressive educational benchmark Brazil’s surpassed since the early/mid 90s.  Moreover, the leading international research firm PISA, recently profiled national education systems, ranking Brazil 53rd.  It’s a concerning placement, taking into account that Brazil’s economy -now the world’s #6 GDP- just bumped the UK to spot #7 not all that long ago.  To point, Kay notes that if Brazil wishes to sustain noticeable progress, “it will require more than muscle to lift a country into modernity; they will need human resources too.”  And while it’s not an exact science,  the process to improve a nation’s ability to educate their domestic population needs to begin with reviewing all teacher feedback.

It’s extremely risky when a government, underestimates a teacher’s role (no matter the grade level) and their ability to influence the educational community locally, nationally, and abroad.  Speaking candidly with Kay about the subject, Priscila Cruz, a prominent Education Campaigner, reiterates that Brazil’s 2+ million teachers posses a great voting power.  In serving as the Executive Director to the organization, Todos Pela Educação, Cruz operates an invaluable company, using the latest technology and media to distribute countless necessary resources, in order to help any Brazilian teacher receive better professional training.  As a result when it comes to electing senior officials who have the power to change government policies concerning education, more teachers will cast knowledge votes.  Any social, economic, or political change relies upon the individual citizen’s ability to maintain a versed political understanding- all party loyalties aside.

As Kay’s article for BBC points out, it’s true that “over the past 20 years Brazil has done an impressive job of getting more students into the education system.”  However that success translates to a different problem, as enrolling more students, now requires schools to expand their class availability.  Furthermore, if teachers fail to receive extensive training before they actually start teaching their classes – the negative impact gradually trickles down and directly impacts every Brazilian student.  Although sophomoric, many young students voice their genuine understanding that gaining even the most basic education, acts as a passport that will eventually grant access to creating a successful future.  Such enthusiastic, insistent student potential deserves far more than an educational environment that underserves the teachers and their instructional materials.

Failing to implement such serious changes will not only hurt Brazil’s academic reputation internationally; there’s also weighty financial implications to consider.  It stands to reason that if Brazil’s working demographic isn’t sufficiently educated, then it will force the present and future commercial development to hire a labor force – not locally from Brazil – but more expensive professionals, eager to relocate overseas.  A Brazilian workforce lacking transferable skills, also jeopardizes the ability to diversify the nation’s economic activity.  It’s exceptionally dangerous for any country to rely on a single trade exchange, i.e. only exporting natural resources or supplying commodities to China.  Hence, if Brazil wishes to evolve past the ’emerging leader’ role then they must prepare to keep pace with Asia/US/European competition.

Without question, luck, timing and a rare geographic/coincidental proximity between two such monumental events like the Olympics and World Cup all give Brazil premium opportunity to show off the nation’s historic legacy and other strengths.  But in order to make this global presentation a truly successful, resonating performance they must first figure out how to redesign the way both lower/higher education rouses the population.  Once this internal enlightening begins, it’s only a matter of time before Brazil’s talent pool will flood into the market place.  It will serve Brazil well to follow their national motto more closely than ever over the next decade.  It’s an unremitting philosophy… Order first, then Progress.

Verdade, meus amigos, muito verdadeiro. // True, my friends, very true.

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Will TomoClases.com steer Chile’s Universities to a Tech Savy Future?

   “Serving others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Mohammed Ali

Courtesy of S3.AmazonAws.com

Trick Question (it’s Halloween season folks) — Name two people receiving more Chilean press than a Miner Survivor preparing to enter the Presidential Race?
Answer: Meet the dynamic entrepreneurial duo, Guimar ‘Vaca’ Sittic and his CTO sidekick Eric Denovitzer, the latest Chilean startup all stars hoping to lead their country’s – and in time all of Latin America’s – entire education industry to embracing the 21st century.

So when/where and how exactly did these head honchos brainstorm such a progressive concept (seemingly overnight) that in the last six months they’ve recently joined Argentina’s top idea incubator NXTPLabs.com and began site expansion to the Argentina, Brazil, and Colombian markets?  For starters, they’re both alumni to notable US Universities – the University of Chicago and Princeton respectively.  Then combine this top-tier higher education experience with a multi-lingual/international business sense and it results in producing two civic-minded leaders perfectly ready to embrace the challenging landscape, when it comes to designing an online learning community that will change all future generations.  Vaca Sittic’s previous stint, helping cofound/sell restaurant booking website CenaPlus which raised $3.2 million in funding by February 2011, also gives the team an advantageous, competitive edge.

To quote an old Texas adage, this is not the boys’ first rodeo.

Courtesy of TheNextWeb.com/LA

In describing the company’s site premise and overall purpose, TheNextWeb.com’s reporter Anna Heim highlights how TomoClases.com takes the “offline classes and workshops marketplace model,” that’s comparable to the already popular domains like Khan Academy or SkillShare – but will concentrate their ambition more to specifically improving Latin America education.  Understanding certain, culturally relevant elements also matters a great deal when analyzing how the site will provide sustainable content long term.

During his interview with Heim, Vaca Sittic points out how, “Countries such as Argentina and Brazil have a strong culture in terms of hiring tutors for children. Moreover, people are constantly learning something new ranging from a new sport or an eccentric hobby. Hence, Tomo Clases will have a big impact in this countries in 2012 – we shorten the gap between professors and students from any field, and also encourage everybody to become a professor by teaching what they know.”  

Completing such thorough, primary, in-depth due diligence understandably generates ample, invaluable rewards.  It’s exciting to watch where TomoClases.com will go next, especially considering that even since last April’s beta launch when they first introduced the site to only the Chile/Mexico markets, the community now shares 600+ online classes to a 1,250+ user database.

Courtesy of Blog.TomoClases.com

So just how far will this online mercado, that openly shares an interactive knowledge source to one of the world’s fast-growing regions go? Well if the developing team keeps up their current work, it’s likely that TomoClases.com will evolve far beyond the founders’ initial vision and aspirations. It’s interesting, that where so many online platforms fail to maintain a strong, online brand community presence, TomoClases.com’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook channels all display enriching, supplemental content. It’s a smart strategy that will only help the founders as they plan to court students, professors, and select education leaders’ participation more aggressively.

Anyone who still stands with both their initial entrepreneurial project and body intact despite enduring numerous, relentlessly searing VC investor screenings certainly posses a natural ability to demonstrate creative, charismatic leadership. But it’s also arguable that certain things succeed because on only the most select occasion, Lady Luck will opt to shine favor toward endeavors she deems worthy.  TomoClases.com’s serendipitous, timely beginning hit the web not long after several reports announced that Latin America’s current informal education market, a sector where 18 million users already spend $5+ Billion USD annually- was growing by 16% every year. Indeed, this proves point to international journalist Henry Golden’s now legendary business philosophy, “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”  As TomoClases.com continues to circulate their initiative worldwide, hopefully this winning streak will keep pace.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/TomoClases

It’s almost hard to believe that in just a few short week, students everywhere will rejoice to celebrate another semester’s end, yet the duo will not spend the remainder of 2012 enjoying a leisurely holiday season.  Far from it in fact, as they’ve expressed that their next major milestone will mean securing 10,000 classes and expanding the user-audience by at least ten-fold.  However while the weary TomoClases.com team soldiers on, a hard working holiday now will hopefully mean magnitudes of vacation time to themselves later, after they’ve managed to successfully create one of Latin America’s most lucrative, extraordinary businesses.

As Chile’s national motto so wisely expresses ‘By Right or By Might’ – it’s a tough, tedious road to creating a movement that will forever impact a region’s education industry.  Yet every new accomplishment brings TomoClases.com just a little bit closer to that truly admirable goal. Keep the course dear friends – the world’s already anticipating your next exciting announcement 🙂

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Corazón Digital: A Chilean University’s Alumni Volunteer to make an Impact

“It’s not that successful people are givers; it’s that givers
turn into incredibly successful people.” — Patti Thor

Any curious researcher wanting to learn more about which top-notch Chilean universities lead the way to progressively educating this emerging nation’s future work force, will no doubt discover La Universidad de las Artes, Ciencias, y Comunicaciones – also known by its international acronym UNIACC.

The private university, since opening their doors in 1989, currently operates three campuses (including the institution’s Santiago headquarters), offering 18 bachelor’s and two master’s programs to a 3,000+ student congregation. Moreover, comparable to the premier arts/technology instructor networks one finds at Yale, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford; UNIACC boasts an internationally recognizable, faculty directory all their own. And while class choices run the gamut between digital communications, computer science, architecture, journalism, etc. – all UNIACC degree candidates enter their respective programs with an understanding that their work must exhibit passionate creativity and always harbor a unique force combining invention, innovation and change.

As a result, by encouraging such a standard amongst the entire student body, this produces a dynamic alumni community, who then go on to work with world’s top media publications, advertising agencies, marketing firms, or even for a brand’s global internal communications team. Collectively, these graduates recognize that charismatic professionals lead by example, continue their education beyond graduation and give charitably whenever possible. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that earlier this summer when a relatively small group of UNIACC alumni began campaigning to launch the initiative Corazón Digital – as a way to help mainly immigrant women learn necessary, basic computer program skills – university administrators practically leaped at the opportunity to offer the organizing committee resources and their enthusiastic support.

Although Corazón Digital maintains an admirable, on-going track record, launching any new project or philanthropic effort will unavoidably generate numerous challenges. In an interview with the university, Senior Director of Communications, Alfredo Santibanez shares that, “One of the first challenges for the project was that it was needed [a] digital volunteers form; that is, [a way to find] people who can teach information technology. We found that the digital volunteer training requires some knowledge and content must be systematized.” Indeed, coordinating, organizing and distributing materials takes patience, time and effort. On average, the program’s volunteers spend 32+ hours teaching course lectures that all explain how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint successfully.

However, anything worth completing correctly typically adds up to a rewarding end. To date, 300+ participants now posse an advanced training background regarding these programs. More importantly, course instructors also see an intangible benefit by volunteering their time to help improve the local community. Since seeing this initiative’s impact around campus Santibanez observes how, “[Student volunteers] gain an awareness about realities that maybe [they] did not know; [every volunteer] can provide concrete tools for people to overcome their barriers, gaps and situations that may [previously excluded them] from better job performance.” An earnest testament proving once again how one never experiences success without giving selflessly first.

Courtesy of Twitter.com/IntelAprenderCL

If you’re interested in supporting the Corazón Digital initiative, there are several ways to follow up with UNIACC, in addition to the school’s main website.  They promote several social media channels including active Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.  Specific questions about the program can be directed to either Magdalena Quintero, Intel® Aprender’s Lead Coordinator or UNIACC’s Senior Communications Director, Alfredo Santibanez.  Lastly, if you’re a UNIACC alum/current student that’s worked with Corazón Digital at any point, please feel free to share your thoughts/comments about volunteering below.  Here’s a cheer to this fantastic cause and the truly inspiring individuals that kickstart this project both on and offline. ¡Felicitaciones para su trabajando!

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

London: Student Visa Chaos jostles an Education Capitol

“Education aims to give you a boost up the ladder of knowledge.  But too often, it causes a cramp while you sit on one of its rungs.”  ~Martin H. Fischer

Every now and then, it’s important to keep an ‘ice breaker’ question handy, just in case the small talk chatter during a monthly happy hour fades, because really there’s only so much conversation mileage when it comes to football.  So last week during a monthly ‘Wine Roundtable’ as my friends like to call it, someone put forth a question to the crew that dumbstruck all conversation mid-sentence.  Which gig would you hypothetically avoid at literally all cost: Penn State’s current VP of Marketing or RIM/Blackberry’s CMO responsibilities?

Having read about the recent student visa issues taking place overseas in London, I chimed in to offer a third alternative, “Well either way at least they’re not the immigration lawyers on case at London Metropolitan University…” and with that we all clinked glasses, lifting a hopeful prayer to the Paperwork Gods.  As every international student knows too well, dealing with visa administration/processing requires a patience threshold to rivals Job’s.  So in an extra effort to send out optimistic energy to the overseas students under fire across the pond, I also lit some extra candles – better safe than sorry.

Courtesy of CSmonitor.com

In order to resolve any problem, it’s paramount to first consider why/how things collapse, so that later when creating future operations, new procedures avoid former detrimental, mistakes. However no amount of mediation will correct a disagreement if those arguing fail to establish consistent, fair terms outlining how they’ll proceed.

In the case of LMU versus the UK Border Agency (UKBA), it’s evidently clear that neither party knows how to handle the system pitfalls concerning student immigration data and visa control.  As a result, according to a BBC World News report, come December 2012 “some 2,o00+ foreign students are affected and have until 1 December to find an alternative course or arrange to leave the UK.”  Comparatively, this almost makes waiting to find out about flight cancellations feel like a spa treatment.  It’s true, although LMU’s current predicament fortunately excludes child abusers and/or tanking stock values – it’s not exactly a rosy picture.

When it comes to discussing international student/staff university recruitment successfully, this London campus carries the burden to clarify issues involving the UKAB so that other UK colleges won’t endure a similar fate.  In a statement to the media, the campus administration made sure to note how, “London Met appreciates that as the first UK university to be placed in this position, [we have] a duty to the sector to try and bring an end to the damage arising from UKBA’s decision.”  Moreover since coming off a summer long media celebration involving Olympic preparation and a monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s certainly understandable that the press openly welcome a new feature subject.

Courtesy of Hydromontage.com

In an effort to bring some relief and order to chaos, a task force with representatives from the academics’ union UCU, the UKBA, and the National Union of Students will help genuinely qualified international students enduring the investigation figure out alternative enrollment options and get back to their studies as quickly as possible.  A wise Englishman once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts.”  It’s a good lesson to remember while waiting to re-enter the classroom, but until someone issues a logical verdict, LMU’s foreign students must try to keep calm and carry on.

Here’s hoping to a swift solution.

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