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.
This week’s readings covered what internationalization in the U.S. looked like in 2012 and a global survey of various higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world and the challenges and trends faced in internationalization of higher education in their institution and countries. It was interesting to read about how issues faced in the U.S. are issues faced around the world in other countries, which is not too surprising since we’ve gone over the similarities in certain aspects pertaining to internationalization of higher education in previous discussions. One aspect in particular that interests me is how other countries and the U.S. take on internationalization at home.
In a University World News article, the authors explicitly redefined the term to give more clear meaning to internationalization at home (IaH) and what actual constitutes as IaH. The article defines IaH as “the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students, within domestic learning environments“. In the CIGE report, it seems the U.S. in 2012 did include the importance of foreign language requirements and co-curricular programs that included a international theme, as well as stressing the important of determining student learning outcomes for assessment. There’s also mention about funding for faculty to gain experience and learn how to internationalize their curriculum. But the report also mentions that while there is some efforts to internationalization, a majority of the efforts still lie in mobility and while the institutions say they are also including internationalization efforts at home, it is not reflected in the general curriculum required for everyone. Internationalized tracks are great but they only reach a limited number of students. There needs to be more efforts to utilize IaH since there still remains a large majority of students that are not able to actually go abroad to get international experience.
Even in the IAU Global Survey, a foreign language still ranks first while integrating the contributions of international students into the learning experience, which would be a form of IaH, is ranked second to last in importance. For regional level results, only in Africa and in Asia and Pacific was professional development of faculty to enhance their ability to integrate an international dimension into their teaching, which is potentially a form of IaH depending on if they teach domestically or elsewhere. And consistent with the CIGE report, the IAU Global Survey found that in North America there was a focus on offering programs or courses with an international themes, but as pointed out above, that can only reach a limited audience. There’s still much to do to fully integrate IaH, but I still think it can be a cost effective way to allow mass amounts of students gain exposure to global themes and cultures.
To me, this week’s readings are all about assessing whether there are “teeth” to the concepts we have been discussing and whether the practical realities if higher education make them sustainable. Adding to the notion of internationalization, this week, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2012 Edition introduced us to the concept of “comprehensive internationalization” and laid out guidance on how to achieve it, if achievable at all. The IAU Internationalization Survey gave us some hard facts and statistics to better gauge and understand how the concept of internationalization actually translates on campuses.
For me, an interesting part of the readings this week was that concepts are easy to pay lip service to and talk about in idealized and romanticized ways, but is there real teeth and resources for meaningful implementation of comprehensive internationalization at our colleges and universities or are they terms thrown around that do not fully take into account the critical importance of student learning and curriculum development?
Having come off a couple of weeks of analyzing strategic plans and mission statements of a diverse group of US colleges and universities, it is clear to me that these documents and statements are key to introducing concepts of global education and comprehensive internationalization. Making sure that they have the teeth and muscle power to lead to implementation underscores even more how important it is that they be well thought out and presented documents stemming from the highest institutional leaders. The path from strategic plan to implementation of comprehensive internationalization has to be a legitimate one – one bolstered by optimism but also one that recognizes the institutional and student learning challenges that must be overcome to not have empty plans and statements. The IAU survey reflects that student learning and student mobility are priorities of internationalization efforts and that specific activities are being considered and targeted. This is promising. But balanced against this is some of the reality of the ACE piece which reflects that data shows some improvements but also some stagnation. In the US, attention also needs to be focused on not just delivering comprehensive internationalization to students in general, but non-traditional students as well who make up more and more of the student body population at our colleges and universities. One way to ensure this is to address such factors in strategic plans and vision statements directly with data driven analysis and support strategies. This will allow for some “teeth” in the optimistic plans and mission philosophies of US colleges and universities striving for meaningful comprehensive internationalization with student learning at the center of its priorities.
Survey’s show a great way of getting an idea of how an idea is moving along. But, there are also biases in surveys. This survey for mapping internationalization at higher education institutions may show great advancements and lack thereof but it may not grasp a complete idea of how active higher education is in mapping internationalization as there may be institutions who did not participate in the survey. It was interesting to see that those who did participate gave us a good idea on where higher education needs to work on with internationalization and where we are succeeding. One thing that caught my attention was that 95% of doctoral students saw and felt internationalization more according to the survey. It made me think if more doctoral students saw this because many doctors often do their doctoral work in a different country. It is very common for doctoral students especially for medicine to go to the Caribbean to finish their degree but are associated with American universities so when they return they can easily move into their residency.
Formal assessment is important in higher education but has not been at the forefront of it, which is a huge problem. I find it very interesting that higher education as a whole is having difficulty with formal assessment of educational outcomes and success of their students but this is at the forefront of internationalization of higher education. According to the survey their was a decrease in the early 2000’s of assessment of internationalization but in 2011 they saw an increase in formal assessment of internationalization of higher education of 37%. What phenomenon between 2006 and 2011 occurred that this number increased? Why hasn’t this effected higher education as a whole? Many strategic plans are starting to include internationalization and some institutions are creating separate strategic plans just for internationalization. A concern I have is that if so much effort is put into internationalization an institution will the home campus begin to loose out. This is a reoccurring theme as we have discussed internationalization over the semester. Co-curriculum programs are now progressing to the internationalization end. I have never been a fan of this for the reason as they are no credit, students already spend large amounts of money on college, why would they opt to take a non credit course. Yes, they enhance the curriculum but it makes it hard for students on a budget to enhance their education when they are not receiving credit for a course. Expanding this to internationalization at home is going to leave out a certain socioeconomic group of students who cannot afford that luxury.
The readings for this week discussed the results of surveys that dealt with the Internationalization of Higher Education. Both surveys show the gains that HEIs have been making with regards to incorporating internationalization. After reading both articles, it is clear that their have been changes in how HEIs handle internationalization. Both surveys indicate that internationalization is becoming more of a priority of administrations. Many HEIs have policies or strategies that include an element of internationalization. It is important for HEIs to understand the need to participate in assessments like the the ACE and IAU surveys. This is the 4th edition of the IAU survey an the number of respondents of had doubled, they contacted 6,879 institution and 1,336 responded even though this in an improvement from 4 years ago, HEIs have to know that participating in this surveys can be used as tool of assessment for their institutions. I would suggest that in the future for both surveys, the results are given in comparison form. Meaning that each school will know where they rank compared to the other respondents. In the Sage Handbook of Internationalization of Higher Education, their is an entire chapter dedicated to the explaining the importance of outcome assessments in the internationalization of higher education.
In the ACE survey, the results show that the level of commitment to internationalization varies across they different types of institutions; doctoral institutions have many of the indicators included in the survey, while associate institutions are at the bottom of the list. If we refer to the readings from two weeks ago, Middlesex Community College had the most comprehensive plan for internationalization compared to Baruch College and Ohio University. Middlesex is a community college and they understand the need to include a global aspect across the campus. All HEIs looking to incorporate internationalization can look to Middlesex for guidance. The surveys also can be used for guidance, they point out the areas connected to internationalization. This information would be useful for HEIs.
Some areas of interest for me from both surveys include:
- Student mobility is once again proven to be the number one way institutions, look can be internationalized.
- North America has the highest number of respondents who have confirmed having specific learning outcomes; based on important internationalization seems for European HEIs and governments, I thought they would be number one in this category. Having specific learning outcomes help with the assessment of specific programs.
- Internationalization at home continues to be challenge for HEIs in America and abroad. How institutions implement internationalization at home varies across regions; The requirement to learn a foreign language has always been used as a tool to bring internationalization to the masses; however their has been a decline in American institutions requiring students to learn a 2nd language but it seems in other regions foreign language is still seen as the “best” way to incorporate internationalization to the curriculum.