W9-Strategic Plan Comparisons and BRIC Universities

This week’s reading expanded on our view into strategic plans, their value and effectiveness, and relevance in the development of global education at American Universities.  With three strategic plans to now inform a comparative analysis, it was definitely useful to see the diversity with which strategic plans can be approached in content, format and goal setting.  Having already read and discussed Baruch’s global strategic plan last week, it was eye opening to see the Global Education Strategic Plan for Middlesex Community College in MA and the Global Strategy & Internationalization at OHIO for Ohio University.

A few observations I noted while reading the Middlesex and Ohio strategic plans were that they certainly gave credence to the view that the Baruch strategic plan we reviewed was perhaps an initial draft and could benefit from further development and drafting.  Ohio and Middlesex seemed more evolved and sophisticated in their visions and supporting strategies.  They contained more data that was presented in more visually and organized ways which allowed a better understanding of where they stood vis a vis global education and where they needed to go.  To me, the Middlesex plan was the most effective of the three we have reviewed because I found it the most “user friendly” in being able to digest and process the material.  It also did not spend as much time as Ohio did on the introductory sections so you were able to cut right to the work they plan to do with specific deliverables and timelines.  It was a balance I thought between Baruch’s plan being not as developed and Ohio’s being perhaps too developed to the point of not being user friendly and a bit stilted.

The comparative analysis of the global strategic plans we were provided also made me realize how important planning and goal setting is in achieving successful and sustainable global education platforms.  Without a cohesive, data driven and clear path toward internationalization at the outset through solid and robust planning, internationalization with its  many facets and layers of necessary international collaboration and analysis will be on shaky ground.

Finally, the BRIC Universities as Institutions in the Process of Change shed interesting light on how higher education institutions in countries that US HEIs would need to work with for global expansion. The different trajectories of China, India, Russia, and Brazil were fascinating and made me wonder what sort of strategic planning goes into, or doesn’t go into, the HEI landscapes in those countries. Of particular interest to me was the example of rapid expansion of unaided privates which may be compromising quality for the sake of enrollment.  This observation was notable in light of quality control issues we have previously read about that exist in India which can hinder cross-border partnerships and internationalization efforts with India.

W8: Global Strategic Planning

As many have mentioned in class and on the blogs, colleges and universities straddle on the line between a charity and a business. It occupies two very distinct categories; but without either one, it would cease to exist as an institution of higher education. On this week’s topic of strategic planning, this really falls on the more business side of things.  In Brewer’s paper about strategic planning and best practices, a few of her principle focus on the management and organizational behavior aspects of the institution. Also, according to the readings the success of a strategic plan is contingent on organizational strengths of the university in dealing with implementation and large-scale change. In Jiang’s study on the issues of implementing a strategic plan in higher education, one thing that signaled to me that strategic planning resides more in the business-sphere is the issue of choosing suitable international markets. Picking the right country to pursue is important for any company or school because it is such a huge investment and it carries a lot of risk. As we mentioned in class, many of these decisions are not made with the intentions of the institution or of the student in mind. They are made out of external influences or out of convenience more often than not, and they may not be the most rational business step for the institution.

In looking into Baruch’s global strategic plan and at the current global initiatives and partnerships in comparison to Brewer’s case study of Rutgers University, forces one to wonder why Baruch or CUNY does not follow the same steps. Rutgers was able to create a coherent center for the advancement of internationalization that was effective in involving all constituencies on campus. However, based on Baruch’s plan, it seems like the school is still trying to work out who should be involved in the process and which team/ department should be leading the efforts. In the Rutgers case, it is clear that the GAIA centers were the leaders in the change. Baruch suggested that each dean from the three schools should appoint someone as a representative to lead the initiatives in addition to their regular positions and responsibilities. There is not “center” for the college as a whole, like Rutgers. So, organization is a huge issue when reading through the Baruch plan. As others have said in class, Baruch’s strategic plan does seem like it is still in the works because it has many missing elements of an effective strategic plan in addition to no clear leadership.

W8 – Implementing Internationalization Strategies

This week’s readings covered the issues that occur when implementing internationalization strategies in higher education institutions along with various principles an internationalization strategy should address to be more effective. The readings also discussed the strategic plans of specific institutions, and when you compare University of Kentucky’s (UK) strategic plan to Baruch’s strategic plan, it would seem UK has much more detail on the specifics on what was expected and who would be involved and how. The university utilizes all the various trends that were previously discussed in class, from internationalization at home to plans for joint/dual degrees with partner institutions abroad. There’s also a more defined timeline on what is to be accomplished at certain milestones throughout the course of the strategic plan. The strategic plan of the University of Kentucky definitely addresses the 12 principles listed in the AIEA reading in a better manner than Baruch’s global strategic plan. What I find most fascinating is that the University of Kentucky details larger goals with smaller, more specific goals and expectations to show how the larger goal is to be achieved. Whereas in Baruch’s strategic plan, there seems to be more loftier (and thus less concrete) goals that are established and as a student, it does not seem like there’s that much going on in terms of implementing the global strategic plan. The reading also mentioned how the University of Kentucky addresses funding issues in their revised strategic plan in 2014 and pinpoints ways faculty and staff can look for funding within their department or request from central administration for funding support and it seems there is a push to find ways to internationalize curriculum while also minimizing the need for extra funding.

And in the case of Rutgers’ strategic plan, the reading suggests that like the University of Kentucky, Rutgers heavily utilized many members of the university community to strategize ways to internationalize their campus and institutional goals. As a result, more ideas were presented that were not realized before and there was definitely a lot more buy-in. The reading also mentioned how the global strategic plan eventually became a part of the New Brunswick campus’s overall strategic plan. In comparison to Baruch, Rutgers and the University of Kentucky definitely seem to have internationalization as a more top priority than Baruch. Which is interesting since Baruch consistently refers to itself as a global leader with a diverse student body that speaks over 150 languages (as mentioned at an event I recently attended on study abroad at Baruch), yet it is clear that Baruch has much room for improvement in terms of becoming more globalized.

W7: Baruch College is uniquely positioned to be a leader in U.S. higher education internationalization

While I’m only in my second semester at Baruch, I have very much settled into the rhythm of campus. Perhaps this familiarity is why reading Baruch’s strategic plan regarding internationalization was so interesting. I am aware of Baruch’s unique characteristics compared to other universities, but reading the strategic plan made me have an even deeper appreciation for Baruch — both personally and in a more general way about how it benefits society.

Baruch’s unique characteristics — diversity, location, and affordability — make it uniquely positioned to be a leader in higher education internationalization. As the 10th most diverse campus in the U.S., where “students hail from over 160 countries and speak over 130 languages”(Baruch College Global Strategic Plan, 2014-2019. pp. 1), and located in one of the world’s most diverse global cities, in many ways Baruch has had internationalization come to it, rather than needed to explicitly seek it out, like most other institutions.

This is true for both international students and the diverse groups of immigrant populations living in New York City. In order to achieve internationalization goals, I imagine that most institutions focus almost exclusively on recruiting international students. While Baruch also focuses on this, it also dedicates time and resources to recruiting international students who are already living in NYC “through existing cultural community centers and organizations” (Baruch College Global Strategic Plan, 2014-2019. pp. 4). Because Baruch College is relatively affordable compared to many other private higher education institutions in NYC, it has an incredible advantage when recruiting international student populations.

So while Baruch College has many things working in its favor to achieve its internationalization goals, it also has significant challenges. Regarding incoming international students or faculty, the lack of a traditional campus likely makes things much more difficult. For one, there is the logistical question as to where these incoming students will live. Because of the limited available space in NYC (and also, I imagine, the high cost of living), Baruch College has limited student dorms, which might put off potential international students. On a related note, this lack of a more traditional physical campus could be perceived as alienating to international students who already face additional challenges integrating into campus life. The strategic plan was very upfront about that challenge, and it proposed an increased attention towards building campus life through student organizations. While this is an important initiative, it will not change the fact that Baruch is largely a commuter campus that will make integrating international students all the more challenging.

However, the biggest challenge facing Baruch College’s internationalization efforts is funding (or a lack thereof). While funding constraints impact virtually all higher education institutions, they are especially challenging in Baruch and other CUNY schools, since 46 percent of Baruch College students are Pell grant recipients. Fortunately, the strategic plan calls for an increase in fundraising initiatives to raise grants to help students with the costs of study abroad programs. While there is likely always going to be more work to be done in terms of controlling costs, it seems like Baruch’s efforts have yielded results, considering the number of students who study abroad has increased over 500% in the last five years.

Thus, despite significant logistical and financial challenges, Baruch College has many factors working in its favor regarding internationalization, including the global environment of NYC, the diversity of the student body, and the relative affordability of education, especially compared to private universities in NYC. The strategic plan addressed many of these assets and also challenges, and provided concrete steps and goals in order to increase internationalization, but it also left enough room for flexibility and adaptation, which I really appreciated. “Since any strategic plan, especially one addressing the global, will constantly need to respond to change, we are aware that we must also be prepared to revisit or reshape one or the other priorities as needed” (Baruch College Global Strategic Plan, 2014-2019, pp. 11). Between the strategic plan itself, as well as the College’s willingness to continue to be flexible with new trends in higher education, I imagine that Baruch College will likely continue to thrive in its internationalization efforts and can serve as a model U.S. institution in this area.