First of all, I would like to say that the global strategies laid out by Middlesex Community College and Ohio University are pretty impressive. To have such a focus on internationalization signifies that the states (Massachusetts and Ohio) have deep interest in promoting the concept of global citizenship. It is one thing for a private institution to have that type of support is one thing, but public institutions? And on top of that, a community college?
Reading BRIC Universities as Institutions in the Process of Change shed more light on the autonomy and structuring of educational systems in various countries around the world. Every country does things a little bit differently when it comes to funding by local, state, and federal governments. HEIs might thrive better depending on which level they are more closely tied to, if they have a choice at all. Learning about how other countries’ systems are constructed got me thinking about how things are done in the United States. The autonomy of a college varies so much state by state, whether it is a matter of money or mission. We see lots of controversy even in our own state of New York, where there are battled being waged between city and state governments. Conversely, other states have fewer problems, maybe because cities aren’t as big or educational systems as vast. Additionally, some states are experiencing major changes whose results are yet to be seen. The state of Connecticut has merged all its public colleges into one system, thus removing degrees of autonomy from each individual college.
What I really would like to talk about though goes back to the global strategies. Since I’m always looking to create some debate in this class, I’d like to comment on the purpose of the extensive global strategies of the two colleges being discussed. What I have to say is this: it makes sense for them. Throughout this course we are promoting and worshipping internationalization; it’s as if we are saying successful, smart colleges will encourage it and bad colleges don’t. I’m not on that bandwagon. I think internationalization is a choice, and it doesn’t HAVE TO BE a major focus of a college’s overall strategic plan or mission.
Let’s compare the demographics of Baruch with Middlesex Community College and Ohio University. If you look at Baruch’s numbers, they show that the college is extremely diverse. Lots of whites, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. As I’ve mentioned before, over half of these students are either from other countries or have parents who came from abroad. I just don’t see the purpose of pushing and pushing internationalization at a college like this. It’s internationalized enough as it is. Now, let’s look at Middlesex’s and Ohio’s numbers. Quite a different story! The former is 66% white and the latter is almost 82%! I think it makes sense why these colleges have such thorough plans- because they want to attract more diverse students. By encouraging study abroad programs, international students, IaH, these schools can become ‘better.’
To me, all a school like Baruch needs to do is celebrate what it already has. Clubs, events, representation- that’s more important. Show the students that they are wanted and respected. If some students want to study abroad, make sure a program exists. But, personally, I do not believe Baruch needs a global strategy like that of Middlesex or Ohio.