Mathew Anderson, President of Keiser University
August 21, 2016
Mathew Anderson, President of the Latin American Campus of Keiser University in San Marcos, Carazo, is a scholar of how the development of robotics will make easier the lives of many people, and cause the misfortune of those they replace.
He is also a ‘preacher’ of the importance of having a bilingual workforce, not only because he runs a training school in that language, but because of the proven correlation between the acquisition of English, and the growth of the employee’s income, and GDP of a country.
Immersed in the task of implementing the Global Scale English in the country and focusing on the expansion of the University to the northern triangle of Central America, Anderson spoke with Confidential about Keiser the educational project. The expert in International Education, specializing in the History of Philosophy, also referred to the effects of 3D printing on world trade, and the impact the ‘Trump effect’ would have on the national BPO industry if the Republicans win the U.S. presidency.
What is the current status of the teaching of English in Nicaragua?
The fastest way to help the country and contribute to the growth of its economy is to learn English. There is evidence and statistics show that states that have adopted the teaching of English as a priority, which is the lingua franca – have seen an increase in per capita income and the economy in general.
The English Proficiency Index serves to verify the data, which draws information in 60 countries, without exception, those countries with higher levels of English, were those who had the higher income.
Research showed that individuals who had higher levels of English had incomes 30% to 40% greater than average. Even countries like China are promoting English as the medium of communication at the corporate level.
Something singular to Nicaragua is that outsourcing companies (BPO or call centers) have a high demand for bilingual staff, but in Nicaragua, there is no critical mass in English.
Countries like Nicaragua might not be an attractive destination for BPO if Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency …
For these decisions to be active, Trump would have to be approved by the US Congress and negotiate with its members, and I do not consider they want to lay off 11 million people. Rather, Trump is emphasizing on the issue of wages, which have been stagnant for a long time in the same range.
Although, working in a call center is a solution for an immediate job, what other advantages does a bilingual worker have in a market like Nicaragua?
The call centers are only touching the surface. In fact, for middle managers and senior executives, it is a key element to have English proficiency.
Generally, between 30% and 50% of all businesses worldwide have to make cross-border communication, and in an increasingly global world, there is greater demand for such type of communication. Even small grocery stores in Nicaragua are working with suppliers who provide services from abroad.
How can Keiser improve the teaching of English in the country?
Keiser is adopting universal standards for the sake of BPO and corporate companies operating in Nicaragua. We have seen that if institutions let the open market, without measurement, it caters the selling of programs that have no measure or verification of their quality.
The English teaching programs of our International Language Institute are reviewed and evaluated by doctors in the field of teaching English. Second, we hire people with master’s degrees in the discipline of English. Third, Keiser has a requirement that all English teachers are certified.
When someone studies English at another institution, he or she receives one to two hours per day of class, but in Keiser its English day and night for four years. The one with more consistency in the learning process will lead to having better results in the future. Besides, I must say that when comparing with other English teaching institutions, our prices are competitive with the quality and diversification we offer.
Who certifies teachers?
We use an international standard, and we are adapting our programs to align with the international standards. The GSE is a global consensus of more than 6,000 teachers. It is vital to stress that it is not a person or company that promotes the guidelines, but by a consensus of experts worldwide who participated and contributed to the design of the descriptors.
I do not know if others are using it, but we are promoting them. Our expectation is that other institutions get involved and chooses to adopt it and that the government involvement serves not only to recommend it but also to align its programs with it.
An American university in Carazo
“Our system of online education allows students to choose from up to 100 different majors.”
What are the advantages of studying at the Keiser Latin American Campus?
Most of our teachers come from prestigious universities, including Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford. Also, we are an American university, accredited to the American system with a level 6 in SACS, which is the highest.
This institution is service oriented to students who are eligible for an exchange program in the U.S., and within six months, also in China. Our pedagogy emphasizes critical thinking rather than memorization. Also, all of our classes are in English. Finally, our online learning system allows our students to choose from up to 100 different majors.
What is the Keiser educational project for Nicaragua and Central America?
Keiser tries to recruit as students, potential leaders within the region. There are good universities in Nicaragua and Central America that focus on the masses. Our focus is on the future leaders of Central American nations. Through leadership, we look for people with firm ethical and moral values and teach our students to be self-learners in the learning process.
As we know, knowledge grows exponentially every day. By contributing to the education of our students, we want them to help and return that knowledge to their nations.
Does it matter for a US employer that the title has been issued here, and not in Florida or Shanghai?
Absolutely! There is no difference. Graduates receive an American diploma which is also valid and recognized by the CNU.
You serve careers as Business Administration, Accounting, Criminal Justice, Technology, Nursing, and Psychology. How would you define the profile of this university?
Traditionally, the Latin American Campus has focused on business administration, political science, and psychology. However, like any other traditional school in the U.S., we also offer a plethora of options: we do not target a particular area, but we have a range of choices: from Associate Degrees (two-year degrees) to doctorates (Ph. D.).
As we are an institution accredited by SACS, which is the Southern Association of Colleges, 99.9% of our teachers have at least master’s degrees or higher. For our masters or doctoral programs, it is required to have a doctorate. For bachelor’s degrees, 25% of the courses must be taught by Ph. D’s.
How do you define your mission, regarding the type of professionals graduating: people with an American title that stay and work in their countries, or that go to work in the United States?
One of our added values is that 90% of our graduates get a job within and outside the country, or they get accepted into graduate programs. 85% of graduates get a job within their field of study.
In practice, most students choose to return home, but I guess that between 15% and 20% go abroad for work. Our primary focus is to stay in the region to contribute to their nations.
Artificial intelligence and critical thinking
People have to invest in training focused on the development of creativity
You say that 65% of children now in elementary school will labor in jobs that do not exist yet. What do you rely on to make that claim?
Historically speaking, inventions make some jobs disappear while generating new jobs, but AI is replacing the thought process, and will eliminate more jobs than it will create.
The estimate is that within 30 to 50 years, Artificial Intelligence will oust the thinking process. In fact, there are already jobs as security and home care among others, which are starting to be replaced by robotics.
What will differentiate us in the process is how we are developing critical thinking and creative thinking. For example, within academia, there are computer programs that validate qualifications objectively, and may qualify the quality of a trial. There are also computer programs that write short news reports in the field of business.
What should education systems do?
Writing on paper is easy. The focus has to be towards engineering, liberal arts (believe it or not), mathematics, (we should be emphasizing in that discipline since students are very young) and everything that is related to creativity, because other professions are being eliminated, even at this time when we are talking about it.
As an example, McDonald’s is operating fully robotic restaurants in some cities in the U.S., and I know of a company that replaced all agricultural workers with robots.
As for international trade, a pending topic to address is that 3D printers will rectify the logistics process and production so that all you have to export is raw material for ‘printing’ what you need.
You mentioned several professions that are at risk of being replaced by intelligent machines or robots, including teachers of primary and secondary schools. Can it also happen to university professors? And to those who teach English?
I recently read an article that mentioned that technology would not replace teachers, but teachers who do not use technology. There are aspects that neither robotics nor artificial intelligence can handle because they are part of human nature, but there are computers that can play chess better than any human.
Right now, both artificial intelligence and robotics, come to assist us in different jobs, but perhaps in the future, within 50 to 100 years, they might come to replace us. Stephen Hawkins always says that jobs will disappear, but will have to wait for time to pass to know if that prediction comes true.