Make-Up Post: International Internships

Our recent guest speaker M.Vivian shared her insight on international internships and her role working working with students, companies and institutions. Reading further on this, the articles I found speak of many of the benefits we have covered when discussing the internationalization of higher education this semester. But there is the issue of the high cost of the international summer internships and the disparity in access. The article The Impact of International Internships and Short-Term Immersion Programs looks into the international internships at Middlebury College. Many of the internships are with international non-profits and NGO’s. Middlebury admin note that internships provide real-world experience, and the real-world involves the challenge of cross cultural adaptation. The University of Pennsylvania has an extensive international internship program that focuses on non-profits and start-ups. They active encourage students to seek opportunities that are outside of western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and those selected receive awards that can cover up to 75% of expenses.

A look at third party internship providers shows why the concept of interning abroad can be controversial. In the aptly titled articles Internships Abroad: Unpaid, with a $10,000 Price Tag, and Foreign Interns Head to China, the New York Times covers the rising demand for international internship and the students (and families) who are willing to pay high sums for the experience. Many of the students profiles in the Times articles were business, marketing and finance majors, they spoke of the competitiveness in the job market and the belief that international experience would make them stand out. The high-priced unpaid internships are viewed as an investment, with the return on  investment being post-graduation employment.

There is the issue of inequality- the wealthier students who can afford these experiences will have an advantage in the job market. Which is probably true. But is it anymore of a disparity than the student who can afford a degree from NYU vs the student with a degree from a local public university? I believe that the broader scale benefits we have discussed on the topic of internationalizing higher ed apply just as much to internships. And while the number of interns seeking financial firms is probably greater than those seeking NGO’s, either position has the potential to contribute to greater cross-cultural awareness among college graduates and if they have the opportunity and the means to experience a summer interning abroad, institutions should support it.


Resources: Internships Abroad: Unpaid, with a $10,000 Price Tag

Foreign Interns Head to China:

UPenn International Internship Program:

The Impact of International Internships and Short-Term Immersion Programs : Retrieved from:


W13: The Future of International Higher Education- China Perspectives

Both readings for this week, International Higher Education‘s Spring 2015 issue and Bridges to the Future, cover the topic of the future of international higher education through essays from scholars in the profession. China was a subject for multiple IHE essays and a feature of the Bridges chapter.

The Bridges China feature, written by Futao Huang, covers some impressive internationalization efforts led by the Chinese government. Initiatives include the funding to send 5000 students annually to study at top foreign universities, the dispatching of 10,000 faculty and researchers abroad to conduct research each year, and the implementation of English language and bilingual programs at universities. There have also been great efforts from the Chinese government and individual institutions to implement joint programs and foreign partnerships.

Huang notes the issues China faces in its pursuit of internationalization, namely the conflicts between foreign institutions, Chinese institutions and the government over policies on internet restrictions, and concerns about the preservation of traditional culture and national identity while opening its doors to global educational opportunities. We have read and discussed these issues previously in class, but it was from a western perspective when discussing cultural clashes and academic freedom. This text was valuable for the insight it provides from a Chinese point of view.

The IHE essay, The Challenge Facing Chinese Higher Education in the Next Two Decades, author Weifang Min provides context for the reputation of higher education in China as “big but not strong”. While worldwide higher ed enrollment grew from 79 million in 1995 to 196 million in 2012, enrollment in China grew at a far higher rate, from 5.2 to 32.6 million. The government and institutions were unable to rep up with the expansion, resulting in crowded facilities, limited equipment and lower teaching quality. Institutions expanded lower cost majors rather than STEM fields, resulting in a mismatch between graduate abilities and the demands of the job market. The Ministry of Education realized their missteps and sought to scale back enrollment and improve programs. Also significant is the high numbers of college graduates entering a slowing economy, making employment a challenge. This essay provides valuable insight into the context of the large number of Chinese students studying abroad. In addition to the prestige of studying at a well regarded foreign institution and the leg up it can provide in the job market, Chinese students may not have access to a high quality education in their desired major at home. Among the policy measures proposed by Min is the promotion of international exchanges and cooperation, and to “assimilate high-quality programs such as NYU Shanghai”. This perspective stands out because NYU Shanghai and similar US-international ventures have been discussed in class, but the concerns were from the lens of US students/faculty/admin studying/teaching/working in China. The establishment of NYU Shanghai from a Chinese point of view may show such cooperations as filling a local need, with a rising middle class, a demand for  higher education, and a local infrastructure that cannot meet enrollment needs. Such partnerships may be an effective way to prevent brain drain.

W11: ACE Surveys Internationalization on US Campuses

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.


W10: Higher Ed Governance in Asia

The Varghese reading on Governance Reforms and University Autonomy in Asia discusses the concept of the vast worldwide variations of the Global Gross Enrollment Rates (GER) and what that says about higher education in a nation. 1% GER Tanzania, 98% Korea, 83% US. Up to 15% GER= elite system, 16-50% =mass higher education, 50+% = universal higher education.  The GER measurements make a strong reference point when reviewing the data from Varghese covering the outcomes of higher education reform in Asia.

The five Asian countries studied: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam, cover a wide range in the areas of population, income, infrastructure, governance, adult literacy and school life expectancy. Japan consistently ranks the highest and the closest with the US, while Cambodia ranks the lowest. However, all countries have experienced a rapid expansion of their higher education systems. The expansions all shared  the characteristics of privatization, revised curricula, the creation of connections with local business and industry, and enhanced research facilities at some institutions.  The higher educations expansions have resulted in a jump of the GER in all five countries studied. China and Indonesia have GER’s indicating mass higher education, Japan has universal higher education. While the GER’s of Cambodia and Vietnam still place them them in the elite category, their numbers have increased.  What I find striking is the role private institutions play in the expansion of higher education, indicating a  shift in both management and implementation of higher education from the state to the market.

The balance of governance and autonomy in higher education differs greatly in both concept and practice among the five countries. Development and economics are a factor, with state controlled economies holding decision making abilities in all areas, meaning limited autonomy for higher ed institutions. A fascinating example is the power of the Chinese Communist Party to appoint the deans and senior administrators of higher ed institutions. Varghese makes the distinction between government and party in the case, however it indicates a structure in which high level decisions are made outside the institution.

In all cases, the success of bringing institutional autonomy into practice is dependent on the strength of the institutional leadership. After all, the transfer of power and policy making from government leadership to institutional leadership will only be beneficial for the colleges/universities who will be able to govern themselves.  The challenges and missteps covered by Varghese make clear that regardless of the levels of autonomy practiced in the higher education system of a country, institutional strength is dependent on strong, competent leadership. This seems to be the most vital aspect, having the right woman or man to lead and make education decisions, whether they are working in-house at the university level, or further removed at the government level.

W8: Baruch Global Strategic Plan

As a Baruch student, I enjoyed the inclusion of Baruch’s Global Strategic Plan in this weeks readings. My main reaction to this is the possibility of politics and money impeding the goals of the plan. In my higher ed Administrative Services course, my professor has discussed the history of the conflict between CUNY and Governor Andrew Cuomo. As part of the New York State budget due April 1st, the governor has proposed cutting state funding to CUNY by $485 million. While a wide backlash to the proposal and support for CUNY among Albany lawmakers make these cuts unlikely, it does bring to mind that spending by CUNY is subject to scrutiny. Would any of the plans proposals be considered politically controversial? While initiatives such as an increase effort in international recruitment have financial benefits to Baruch, what about the measures that require an increase in spending? The strategic plan first addresses this in their section about faculty research, noting that private fundraising will likely be needed and the goal to identify international and national funding agencies. The final bullet point before the conclusion is significant. It calls for a permanent and sustainable budget model to fund global activities at Baruch. They seek to follow the example of other institutions and use revenue from ‘international activities’ to fund the proposed office of the Vice provost for Global Strategies. I wish this strategic plan had included a definition of Baruch ‘international activities’. It is unlikely that they are referring to campus events, as most events are free for students or priced low to offset expenses. Is it referring to fees specific to study abroad applications? Many of the proposals in the strategic plan seem to rely on establishing a sustainable budget model, but the plan in unclear about the specific source of revenue funds will be drawn from. This post is not meant to come off as an oppostition to Baruch’s Global Strategic Plan. It seeks to benefit the Baruch community as a whole, with the initiative to create global academic programs as a way to increase internationalization at home. The recognition of the administrative programming challenges and the need for department integration to accommodate the increased workload and improve student services is vital. My questions for our professor would be the following: Do state lawmakers have a viewpoint on funding global strategies in public higher ed or do they leave this to the institutional leadership? Do you think the proposed sustainable budget model is realistic and sustainable?

Allison Olly

Addendum: Interesting article about Governor Cuomo and protests to CUNY cuts. We should know the outcome by this time next week.