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Why It’s Important To Keep Our Educational Borders Open

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By Jen E. Clarke, executive director, One To World

Corporate conversations around improving diversity and inclusion have become more critical in recent years, fueled by the charged political atmosphere of the Me Too movement, athletes taking a knee, border barriers and more. Less prominent, but critically important still, is the threat to a boundary that’s not as visible: the “open borders” in education that have historically allowed for some of the brightest minds to enrich our campuses.

I know this because the organization I lead, One To World, has served international students, Fulbright scholars and international educators for the past four decades at more than 65 colleges and universities in the New York metropolitan area. Every day, we spearhead programs that bring unofficial global ambassadors into American schools, homes and workplaces.

What the U.S. has to offer is unique — not just world-class academic programs, but also the freedom inherent in the experience of studying at our nation’s campuses. However, with the recent twists and turns in immigration and foreign policy, there’s a real concern that the U.S., while aiming to be “great again,” is becoming less competitive in the international higher education market, in which it previously had the pole position. 

It is this concern that led me to join the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion as a signatory, to add our organization’s unique mission of fostering intercultural exchange to the broader campaign of workplace acceptance. Addressing global differences at schools and campuses can set the foundation for employees and executives to be more culturally sensitive and open.

High-quality higher education and the dynamism of the New York City region have made the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut the biggest magnet for international students, with New York alone drawing over 100,000 annually to its renowned institutions.

But in 2016, for the first time in over a decade, international student enrollment in the U.S. began declining. Between the fall of 2017 and 2018, new enrollments of international students were down by 5.5 percent at the graduate level across the nation, according to the 2018 “Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange” issued by the Institute of International Education. At the undergraduate level, new enrollments were down 6.3 percent across the U.S. during that same period. We are concerned that this decline will only continue.

Currently, thousands of international scholars in the New York City area are pursuing degrees in science, math and other STEM-related fields of studies, even as fewer Americans are selecting these career paths.  These STEM paths give birth to innovation, new discoveries and advances that will transform economies. In fact, some of the best-known start-ups were founded by international students: SpaceX, Eventbrite, WeWork and Stripe, to name just a few.

Included in the ranks of international scholars are the elite Fulbright grantees from around the world. Each year, the New York area draws over 800 of these international talents, who have overcome rigorous, highly competitive stakes to be chosen to represent their countries at our institutions. They join their American classmates in pursuing traditional, as well as leading-edge degrees, ranging from business and law, to integrated digital media and robotic software engineering.

Following their studies, many Fulbrighters will return to their hometowns to take up leading roles in government or the private sector. One To World is designated by the Department of State as the official coordinator of Fulbright programs in the New York area, and I can tell you that the Fulbright scholars  arrive full of enthusiasm to embrace their academic goals, and also to build bridges between their home countries and the American communities beyond their campuses.

We set up informal dinners inside homes for them; bring them into New York’s leading boardrooms, to our elite military institutions, like West Point; and into public school classrooms. They and other international students are unofficial ambassadors to American K-12 students, peers, professionals and families. And vice versa.

This was the intent of Senator J. William Fulbright when he founded the educational exchange program after World War II. He believed that creating a tipping point of people who had actually visited each other’s countries and experienced one another’s cultures would prevent future conflicts.

One To World has witnessed the benefits of these cultural exchanges directly. We know international students increase global fluency on our campuses, are a potential source of top talent for global and American firms and contribute to the economic health of local businesses and the cities in which they reside.

Without having more welcoming policies toward international visitors, including students, we risk losing this important resource and “soft power” abroad. Other countries are dangling more attractive visa regulations, offering after-graduation work options and financial assistance. Meanwhile, the U.S. is implementing travel bans and stricter visa requirements with longer processing times, making it harder for students to come with ease.

For all of these reasons, we’re concerned to see classroom seats being filled by fewer and fewer international students. Closing off the educational borders will only serve to cut us off from becoming more culturally competent, make our world a little less compassionate and rob us of diverse knowledge and connections.

Last week, I joined our academic partners in celebrating International Education Week, which included the inaugural International Education Day at the United Nations. It’s a welcome annual spotlight, and in these uncertain times, especially meaningful to us, as it gave us an opportunity to advocate for open educational borders before a global audience.

Diversity and inclusion has often  been thought about in the context of the American experience. But with technology shrinking the world into one global village, we believe that real inclusion must embrace cultures from all over.

The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion was spearheaded by PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan.

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Ontario’s new automated speed enforcement explained

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(NC) To wage the war against speeding, many municipalities across Ontario have turned to automated speed enforcement. Most recently introduced in Toronto, speed cameras are a high-tech solution to reduce speeding and are considered one of the most effective ways to create safer roads and save lives.  

Recognizing police officers cannot catch all speeders, these cameras fill the gap, providing monitoring in specific locations around the clock. When a car’s speed is even one kilometre over the posted amount, it will take a picture of the offending vehicle’s license plate, using the captured photo as indisputable evidence. A ticket is then served to the vehicle’s owner, regardless of who was driving. 

With a focus on high-risk areas, Ontario’s automated speed enforcement cameras are located in two specific municipal areas: school and community safety zones. School zones are designated streets close to a school, featuring reduced speed limits as dictated by local bylaws. Community safety zones are high-risk corridors and intersections, subject to increased fines and penalties.  

While the Ontario Highway Traffic Act outlines the use of automated speed enforcement, municipalities can decide when and where to use cameras to curb speeding. The act does dictate financial penalties for speed violations captured with cameras, which vary depending on the number of kilometres caught over the speed limit.  

Speed enforcement is not new, but part of a broader, integrated road safety strategy that includes infrastructure improvements, awareness campaigns and new uses of technology. City officials hope for a halo effect, inspiring better driving behaviour across entire communities, not only in areas with cameras. A controversial topic, some critics take exception to speed cameras, labelling them as sneaky cash grabs for municipalities. Governments think the opposite. 

Safety advocate and auto insurance provider Onlia is hopeful that the cameras will provide drivers with a reminder to slow down, especially in high-risk areas like school and community safety zones.  

For those who obey the speed limit, automated speed enforcement shouldn’t change anything about your driving style, says Alex Kelly, Safety Ambassador at OnliaDrivers have fair warning as they approach areas with speed cameras, as mandatory signs provide reasonable notice of upcoming automated speed enforcement. Regardless of warnings, the best speed is the posted speed. 

You can start to understand your speeding style by downloading the insurance provider’s new safe driving app that coaches and rewards for you for safe driving habits.

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Online banking: How to protect yourself from fraud

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(NC) Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of consumers are regularly using mobile and online banking to paybill payments, transfer money and make purchases.

Although these tools can give you easy access to your personal finances on demand, there are also some risks involved. For instance, your banking information—such as your debit or credit card number, user name, or personal identification number (PIN)—could be stolen. If criminals have access to your online banking information, they can steal your money, which is why it’s so important to be  vigilant when you bank online.

Follow these tips to help protect your personal and banking information:

  • For your online bank accounts, use a strong password that can’t be easily guessed, and never share your user name or password with anyone.
  • Check your accounts regularly to make sure there are no transactions you didn’t make or authorize.
  • When making online purchases, never authorize a website to save your credit card information, password or other personal information. Giving websites this permission will save you some time the next time you access the site, but it poses a real threat if a hacker manages to access your information.

Most financial institutions have policies to protect you from transactions that you didn’t make.

However, you are responsible for protecting your online and mobile banking information. If you give your details to anyone—including your spouse or partner, a family member or a friend—your financial institution may hold you responsible for any unauthorized transactions in your account, and even strip you of protection from unauthorized transactions in the future.

If you suspect your information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately, and check your account and credit card statements for anomalies and report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has created resources to help you protect your online banking information.

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Payday loans: Not the best way to borrow money

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(NC) Payday loans are a very expensive way to borrow money. Even if you’re struggling financially, think twice—and crunch the numbers—before getting this type of loan.

Depending on the rules in your province, payday lenders can charge fees of $15 to $25 per $100 that you borrow.

As an example, let’s say you borrow $300 for home repairs. The payday lender charges you $51 in fees, or $17 for every $100 borrowed. Your loan balance is therefore $351, which amounts to an interest rate of 442 per cent.

There can be serious consequences if you don’t repay your loan by the due date. These may include the following:

  • The payday lender may charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • Your financial institution may also charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • The total amount that you owe, including the fees, continues to increase.

There are better options out there

Payday loans should be your last resort to borrow money. Consider cheaper ways of borrowing money, such as:

  • Cashing in vacation days or asking for a pay advance from your employer.
  • Getting a line of credit, a cash advance on a credit card or a personal loan from your financial institution.
  • Getting a loan from family or friends.

Before getting a payday loan and to avoid getting stuck in a debt trap, consider other, less expensive ways to borrow money.

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