As we continue getting familiar with the topic of internationalization, this week’s reading “Internationalizing U.S. Higher Education” focused on the current policies and possible future direction of internationalization of higher education in the United States. I will be focusing on government involvement in the internationalization of US higher education but before that I want to point out key ideas/facts that I took notice to in the report:

  • 1) Cross-border Education is a program/policy type that is growing abroad but is not seeing any significant growth in program or polices in the United States
  • 2) Institutional autonomy and the country’s decentralized government can be seen as a hindrance to higher education internationalization
  • 3) National security, public diplomacy and the economy are the key motivators of programs and polices related to internationalization; academic and capacity building are the rationales used abroad when implementing policies and programs
  • 4) The internationalization of U.S. higher education is not necessarily the goal or expected outcome of some of the programs and policies in place.

These points stood out to me because they illustrate that internationalizing in the U.S. is different from the programs and policies that are in place across the world.

The lack of a cohesive and comprehensive plan for the internationalization of U.S. higher education demonstrates the lack of cohesive direction of higher education in America. As the authors note, unlike other countries the United States does not have a government agency that is dedicated to higher education. Within the U.S. Department of Education, is the Office of Post-Secondary Education (OPE) that “works to strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities to promote reform, innovation and improvement in postsecondary education, promote and expand access to postsecondary education and increase college completion rates for America’s students, and broaden global competencies that drive the economic success and competitiveness of our Nation.” I was unable to locate information on the government appropriations for the OPE, but I believe it is safe to assume that the funding is minimally when compared to their global counterparts.

Government discussion on higher education is usually in the context of federal aid (grants and loans). Legislation that is passed that would promote internationalization of U.S. higher education focuses on programs and policies that are believed to support national security and the economy. The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2007 was sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin and Representative Tom Lantos, the stated intentions of the bill don’t seem to align with the rational/motivations of legislative mandates of programs and policies that have gotten congressional support and approval. This maybe one of the reasons as to why the bill as not been enacted or is not a focus for Congress.

The report suggests that a comprehensive national policy on internationalizing U.S. higher education is not possible due to the systems and structures of the government and higher education institutions. Instead of a national policy “a broad, well-coordinated set of well-funded initiatives that support comprehensive internationalization” should be implemented. Any initiative that is put into place should come from a policy that lays out the expected goals, outcomes a rationales of internationalization U.S. higher education. Having an overreaching policy provides guidance. Instead of working with the federal government, state governments could be used as a vehicle to put into place policies to internationalize higher education that can be implemented by colleges and universities that meet certain criteria. Most states have some sort of standalone agency/department that focuses on the governing of higher education, these departments could be charged with implanting policies that are passed by the state legislatures.

It is important to point out that for any government state or federal to take an interest in the importance of internationalization of higher education, the officials have to understand how and why this topic is important to them and their constituents. Making higher education institutions global competitive is a good basis’s for providing an explanation, as we already know as Mr. Trump has said we need to make America great again.

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