This weeks reading from the American Council on Education presented us with the results from a 2011 survey on the perceptions and actions of US institutions regarding internationalization. I found this article to be enlightening, as it covers many of the topics our class has covered this semester. ACE divided institutions into categories based on the highest level of degrees awarded. While this is an important element to consider when reviewing the data, I felt the lack of public and private institutional subcategories meant we were missing important information. For example, the CUNY Graduate Center is a doctoral granting institution, but its financial resources, student body and method of governance will differ greatly from a private, well endowed ivy league institution. However, the ACE survey will place them in the same category when analyzing results.
Some thoughts on topics and findings that stood out to me:
Associate granting institutions have overall lower levels of internationalization than those that award higher degrees. This is understandable when considering that many two year institutions are public community colleges. Community colleges are often tasked with serving the highest number of students with the fewest resources, and tend to have low retention and graduation rates. These institutions have the challenge of providing academic and support services to a vast range of students, and often do not have the funds of staffing to adequately deliver. With this is mind it is understandable that efforts at internationalization would not be among a colleges top priorities. ACE argues for the importance of internationalization at the associate level, noting that 40% of undergraduates attend associate institutions, and it is essential to bring global learning to non-traditional students. While I agree in the importance of internationalization, I question if an institution of limited funds and resources would better serve their students by focusing on retention and graduation efforts.
The section covering faculty policies and practices brought up a contradiction between internationalization efforts and the demographics of higher education faculty today. ACE discusses the important role faculty play in campus internationalization, specifically that those who teach and research abroad bring this broadened worldview back to their home classrooms, and are in a position to forge strategic partnerships. To foster internationally competent faculty, their institutions must organize their requirements around tenure, research, teaching and funding to assure that faculty can pursue opportunities to work abroad. But to what percentage of higher ed faculty could such concepts be applied? In my higher education finance and administration courses, we have discussed the main way to offset some of high cost of operating a university, which is to replace full time tenured faculty with adjuncts. Adjuncts are not usually in the position to pursue and forge partnerships abroad. We can discuss the importance of globally focused faculty, but the tendency to hire adjuncts seems unlikely to reverse in the near future.
I was surprised by the statistic that over 60% of doctoral, master’s, and baccalaureate institutions provide scholarships or financial aid for international undergraduate students. This is where I would like to see a breakdown of public vs private universities. Does such aid skew largely toward the private sector, which may be well equipped to pay the way for desirable students? I am also curious about a breakdown of scholarships (for which funding may come from outside sources), vs institutional financial aid. What level of aid is provided? This survey would seem to place a one time, thousand dollar scholarship in the same category as a four year free ride.
The overall survey results indicate that internationalization efforts have increased between 2006 and 2011. Since it is now five years since the last ACE survey, it will be interesting to compare where we are at in 2016.
Just for fun: the New York Times recent education section published Study Abroad’s Seven Deadly Sins. We have discussed the cultural competence to be gained during study abroad. This article covers young adults instantly becoming the legal drinking age. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/education/edlife/study-abroads-seven-deadly-sins.html?ref=edlife