This weeks ACE reading on internationalization in the US discussed a variety of initiatives taking place. Some topics that stood out to me include decentralized policymaking, a US-Mexico exchange program and funding issues.
A striking detail was the chart on page 11 showing the numerous players involved in the creation/ implementation/ regulation of higher education internationalization policies and programs. This setup seems to be the result of the US being one of the few countries without a Ministry of Education. Two of the five players involved (Federal and State governments) have systems in which their leaders serve between 4-8 years. Does the potential of differing visions between a leader and their successor affect the ability to implement long term changes to the approach of internationalization?
I was interested in the US-Mexico higher ed exchange program (FOBESII) started in 2013 by President Obama and President Peña Nieto of Mexico, in part due to the contrast between this agreement and the anti Mexican sentiments voiced on the campaign trail. Would the election of a particular candidate lead to the dissolution of this program? We should cross our fingers that FOBESII remains intact, as it has made some notable achievements in 2014, including: The travel of almost 27, 000 Mexican students and instructors to the US, doubling pre FOBESII numbers. 23 new educational agreements between the US and Mexico, resulting from visits of US university presidents. The groundbreaking of a US public university (Arkansas State U), and a US research center (Colorado State U) in Mexico. Will our 45th president see the value in exchange agreements like FOBESII or find such relations with our southern neighbor problematic?
Funding is a vital topic when discussing internationalization, and it can be argued that it should be the first topic discussed. The charts on pgs 37-38 illustrate how far behind US funding is with the internationalization efforts of other countries such as Saudi Arabia, with our total funding amounts to less than the funding for individual programs elsewhere. However, it will be interesting to see if the current low oil prices affect funding for international education programs. Also notable is the difference between American and Canadian government funding for institutional internationalization programs. The most significant fact from the ACE funding section was that US federal internationalization programs often do not provide federal funding. Among the multiple outside sources they use to fund their programs are foreign governments. ACE notes that this setup is unbalanced and puts our relationships with these governments at risk. However, in spite of the arguments that can be made in favor of increased funding for internationalization initiatives in the US, this seems unlikely seeing that federal and state funding for higher education continuously faces cuts.
FOBESII resource: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/01/235641.htm