Last week, a colleague shared a short New York Times article with my academic advisement department titled “Study Abroads Seven Deadly Sins”. I thought to myself what a strange title and why is it so dramatic. Not everything can be considered a deadly sin, of course. But, after I read the article I understood the drama. The article is about the 7 faux-pas’s american youth that study abroad commit; many of which are obvious. For example, american youth that study abroad in Europe or Asia where the drinking age is much lower or nonexistent, seize the opportunity to legally binge drinking.These types of experiences are not the same experiences that study abroad programs are meant to give students. If students are going to study abroad with the idea that they are going for fun and trying to get away from their parents, then study abroad programs are not achieving what they claim to be doing for those students in particular. Also, if American students are committing these “sins”, then it is a poor reflection and representation of American youth and our higher education system, which could hurt future partnerships and collaborations.
In relation to the articles we had to read for this week, this Times article reveals the unspoken reality of how many students use study abroad opportunities not for the same reasons administrators claim. The survey that was conducted by the International Association of Universities indicates that the “most significant expected benefit(s)” to the internationalization of higher education is heightening student knowledge and the appreciation of international issues. In addition, according to the survey, one of the top priority internationalization activities institutions want to work on is increasing outgoing mobility opportunities for students.However, I believe that institutions might want to work on internationalization at home first before creating new outgoing programs for students. If the student’s first exposure to a different culture is studying abroad they might not have the cultural awareness capacity to get the learning experiences and outcomes that administrators want. The institution should firstly internationalize their curriculum at home, so that students are familiar with different cultures and have an appreciation for other cultures. Having some level of cultural appreciation and those soft skills prior to studying abroad, might prevent some of these deadly sins from happening.
Before taking this course, I viewed student mobility as the most significant part of an internationalization strategy. One where some institutions had an advantage over others, with more capital, staffing and programing built into the curriculum to support these initiatives; not all colleges could compete. The ACE article we read this week, as well as many of the other articles and case studies we have looked at throughout the semester, support the practice of a more “comprehensive internationalization”, where campuses can achieve a more overall international campus, involving support and buy-in from the entire campus community. The ACE survey project to map internationalization at US campuses was extremely helpful to put in perspective where the United States currently lies and how far we’ve come over the last decade in the internationalization initiative happening globally. Despite the economic struggles are country has recently faced, almost half of institutions surveyed stated their funding for internationalization has increased and 27 percent said their funding has remained steady since 2008. Between 2006’s survey and the 2011 survey – scholarships and funding for student mobility seems more prominent among institutions. Across all types of institutions, doctoral, masters, baccalaureate, associates and special focus, scholarships for education abroad increased from between 4% – 13% between 2006 and 2011. All schools increased their efforts, with special focus institutions making the biggest jump, going from 0% in 2006 to 26% in 2011. However, despite the increase in funding, it was disappointing to see that 42% of higher education institutions do not offer any form of study abroad activity. Due to some of the conversations we have had in class, what is not surprising was the increased efforts and scholarship opportunities for international students coming to the US to study. Almost 40%, of all types of institutions, had some form of international recruitment plan. This is not surprising as the high tuition price international students pay to study in the United States. Support services for international students have increased, however have a long way to go and I believe as these service opportunities and programming for international students increases, so will international applicants. Orientation seems to be the main service offered; however, international students need support far beyond their first week at the institution. The attached article shows how colleges are even increasing international student fees in order to provide better services and programming options specifically for international students.
This week’s readings continued to further my understanding of the internationalization of higher education. Of the two readings for this week, the report entitled “Approaches to Internationalization and Their Implications for Strategic Management and Intuitional Practice”, focused on an area that I wanted to get more information about. These past weeks in class we have discussed the internationalization of higher education policy and programs in place across various countries. Most of the policies and programs we discussed were based at higher education institutions but we haven’t deviled into how institutions directly deal with the trend of internationalization; how are colleges and universities administrations incorporating internationalization into their management approaches? The OECD piece breaks down how higher education institutions can approach internationalization. It can be seen as a blueprint for institutions who wish to create or expand their strategic management to include internationalization.
Several connections are made between internationalization and topic/areas related to higher education. The internationalization through dual and joint programs would allow the students of higher education institutions the opportunity to study multiple subjects at the same time. An article in the US News and World Reports defines dual degree as “Dual degree programs show both degrees on a student’s diploma. The program is formally organized by the university and may involve a great deal of overlap to minimize time spent and cost…” and joint degree as “Some joint degrees combine two or more areas of study in two separate departments on the same campus or at two different universities, Kent says, and are interdisciplinary in nature. Joint and dual degrees are also common structures for international programs, some of which are conferred jointly by different universities in different countries, or conferred separately as dual degrees by international partner institutions.” Dual degrees programs seem to be similar to double majoring and joint degree programs are more synchronized than dual programs, there is a connection between the subjects you are studying. A student can potentially earn a dual/joint degree at their home country and spend a significant amount of time at their host school abroad.
The internationalization of joint and dual degree programs is directly linked to student mobility. Most student mobility is connected to credit mobility but if more joint and dual degree programs were established it could lead to further growth in student mobility. In order to help alleviate the risks that are discussed in the report, institutions must ensure that dual and joint degree programs are all round beneficial for all parties involved- home and host institutions, students and faculty/staff. An article in Business World discusses how the Indian government is pushing for international collaborations like dual and joint degree programs.
ICT assisting institutions in internationalization is another area worth further discussion. More and more universities and colleges are introducing or expanding the online presence of their classes. Connecting information and computing technology with the internationalization policies of higher education institutions can run into some of the same concerns that people have about MOOCs and fully online classes. However, a major advantage for ICT assistance in internationalization is that it could help with internationalization at home. It could connect the non-mobile student with international experiences or at least an international perspective. By using ICT to help with internationalization, universities and college understand the need to bring internationalization to all its students. Two articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education discuss the pros and cons of using MOOCs with regards to internationalization.
In order for ICT assistance to be successfully there has to be systems in place that would ensure that the benefits and skills that are gained through face to face instruction are still there for the students.
International higher education re-emerged on the national policy platform during the Obama administration. As noted in the ACE report on national policies and initiatives, President Obama announced an initiative in 2009 that will encourage 100,000 US students to study abroad in China and to learn Mandarin by 2014. In 2013, the 100K Strong Foundation was created as an independent non-profit by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to oversee this initiative. Not only has the initiative achieved its goal of sending 100,000 students to study in China in the Summer of 2014, but President Obama has announced a new goal of sending 1 million students to study abroad in China by 2020 during a state visit with President Xi this past September. Travis Tanner, the senior vice president and chief operating officer of the 100K Strong Foundation comments “create a pipeline of China-savvy employees in a range of fields…ensure our trade relationship with China continues to benefit the American economy and that the future generation of American entrepreneurs, business owners, journalists, engineers, scientists, doctors, as well as government officials at both the national and state levels, understand China”. The focal motivation of this initiative is train the next generation in helping to build better trade relations with China in the future. This motivation is even more clear when looking at the Foundation’s supporters. Wal-Mart, Ford, Coca Cola, WanXiang Group(US-based company specializing in auto parts) and Caterpillar(specializing in construction vehicles) are all major trading partners with China, and would hope to benefit the most if the next generation of workers are equipped with Mandarin proficiency and chinese cultural appreciation.
There is no doubt that financing international higher education initiatives are expensive. Policies and programs that especially support students mobility require massive amounts of funding to subsidize the scholarships and financial incentives that attract students to these programs. As the report identifies, many of these efforts have been stalled due to the lack of federal funding and congressional support. As the ACE reports mentions, even long-standing programs such as the Fulbright Fellowship has been threatened with federal funding cuts, which could determine the viability of the program.Therefore, initiatives and non-profit organizations are finding other sources of funding for their programs and are not depending of the federal government for funding. As the 100K Strong Foundation did, corporations became private supporters of the foundation. Sources like Foreign Policy question the intentions of China and its supporting companies in subsidizing these initiatives because China might be receiving political favors in return. However, I hope that private international corporations continue to support international higher education because ultimately, these students will help to make their workforce and company better in the future where both the US and China will mutually benefit.
I chose to focus on the section in the reading pertaining to student mobility as I take a personal initiative in these programs and hope to work in a study abroad or for a student exchange program after completing my masters. I was excited to see the scholarship programs available in the US to international students choosing to study in the United States and particularly happy about the graduate student scholarships, as I wonder if a higher percentage of these students wish to stay and work in the US after receiving their graduate degree. However, I do know only a small percentage of international students receive scholarships and due to the high sticker price international students must pay and their ineligibility to apply for financial aid, studying in the US seems out of reach for many international students.
While reading this document, its clear that the process of internationalization in the US is very segmented, with the government supporting some initiatives, each college and university having very different policies and programs, and influence from non-governmental agencies. Much of the scholarship initiatives for inbound students are only funded by the State Department; however, the scholarship programs for outbound students are much more robust, with funding from the State Department, the National Security Education Program, and the Paul Simon Study Abroad Act which provides $80 million per year for study abroad to individuals and institutions. In addition to these governmental funding of scholarships, I did some research on private and non-profit organizations that offer funding for students wanting to study abroad. NAFSA provides a list of search engines to use and the Institute of International Education (IIE) provides and entire search engine website specifically for IIEPassport Study Abroad Funding. According to the Institute of International Education, a total of 304,467 students studied abroad for academic credit in the 2013-2014 academic year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 17.5 million undergraduate students at postsecondary degree granting institutions in the United States in the Fall of 2013. If these numbers are accurate, that equates to approximately 2% of the entire undergraduate population who is actually “mobile” and successfully studying overseas. President Obama’s 100,000 Strong initiatives: one from 2009 which aimed to have a national effort to increase the number of students studying in China and another in 2011 which had the goal of doubling student mobility (both inbound and outbound) between the US and Latin America and the Caribbean. The former program was originally housed by the State Department but now is an independent foundation. The second program is a collaboration between the State Department and NAFSA- Association of International Educators and Partners of the Americas. I had not previously heard of these initiatives, so I continued to investigate and it looks like President Obama’s goal was reached in 2014, when 100,000 US students studied in China that year. In addition, there was a 5% increase in Americans studying in China last year and a 23% increase in Chines students studying in the US last year. I think these are amazing statistics and proof that a program like this, coming from the President, has the power to reach big goals in only a few short years. While the document talks about whether an overarching national policy would be truly effective in advancing internationalization in the US, I think this example proves that it may help more than we think. I think to successfully increase the overall percentage of mobile students, collaboration from the government, non-profit organizations and the colleges themselves is essential.