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.
Focusing this week on internationalization of US higher education in the ACE companion piece to the global perspective from earlier weeks was revealing and highlighted certain key differences in the US approach to internationalization versus other global regions and players. While mobility is a constant in internationalization policies, the US differs in not focusing on cross-border education and not having a comprehensive national policy due its decentralized government and highly diverse and large higher education structure. Rooted in values of public diplomacy, national security, foreign language competency, scientific advancement, and global economic competiveness, the US has robust programs such as the Fulbright scholars but is generally individual focused rather than institutional as is more common in European countries. With the likelihood of a comprehensive US national policy low, and government funding not high, the future of internationalizing US higher education will require advocacy and institutional attention to build on some of the current momentum.
For me, an interesting aspect of this week’s readings was again related to India and its internationalization relationship with the US. As we read about last week, and I focused my blog on, Indian regulation at the national government level does not make for easy cross-border relationships and there is perhaps a need to loosen some of the regulations without compromising the integrity and quality of internationalization programs in higher education. Perhaps not due to high regulation, but an overall lack of focus on it, the US too does not do much in the area of cross-border education and instead focuses on individual student and scholar mobility. It struck me then that one of the countries the US does seem to partner with, particularly in cross-border efforts, is India.
Our reading this week gave two such examples. The first is the one that is jointly funded by the US and the Indian government: the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) which serves to “promote mutual understanding between the nationals of India and the U.S. through educational exchange of outstanding scholars, professional and students” (see http://www.usief.org.in/About-USIEF.aspx). The second is the Indo-U.S. 21st Century Knowledge Initiative which is supported by USIEF but supported by the US State Department. This initiative is somewhat remarkable in that the US has chosen to focus any attention it does on cross-border education to India, a country that has its own regulatory hurdles toward building strong cross-border relationships. It can also be viewed as a milestone initiative in the US shifting its internationalization focus from individual mobility support to institutional partnerships and collaboration. According to ACE, the initiative “provides institution-level grants to U.S. colleges and universities for the purpose of developing partnerships with Indian counterparts” and has invested approximately $250,000 since 2011 (see ACE Report, p. 22). With a public health focus, the initiative encourages collaborations in the area of curriculum design, research collaboration, and team teaching to “develop expertise, advance scholarship and teaching, and promote long-term ties between partner institutions.” (see http://www.usief.org.in/Institutional-Collaboration/Obama-Singh-21st-Century-Knowledge-Initiative-Awards.aspx)
The above examples shed light on perhaps the changing posture of US policies toward a more collaborative and institutional approach to internationalization with State Department support and funding as well as an opening of Indian regulatory postures toward internationalization. These examples perhaps bring together themes of the two ACE companion pieces we have focused on in the last several weeks and articulate some reason for optimism in higher education internationalization for two countries that have productive programs in place but still work to do in this space.
In contrast to last weeks reading this weeks reading is about internationalizing U.S. higher education. I found it interesting that our discussion about incentives to ensure students go back to their home country was a hot topic last week but the U.S. does not really push those ideas. Instead programs like extending optional practical training to students who come study abroad here to 29 months instead of 12. For example, the David L. Boren scholarship and fellowship only require U.S. students to work for 1 year or the U.S. government. With the hefty monetary amount that they are given as well, more years should be required.
Another program that was really surprising and I did not know about was the 2013 U.S. Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research. Currently we are fighting a huge battle political about making our borders stronger but opening up a program like this could make or break those policies. These agreements were made with President Obama and the Mexican president where they plan on sending over 100,000 Mexican students by 2018 and 50,000 U.S. students to Mexico. I can see this policy being broken when a new presidential candidate is elected. Right now millions of people are fleeing Mexico due to unsafe conditions, why would we want to send our students into that kind of predicament. Can the Mexican government ensure our students safety? In an article I read it states that the Mexican government does need to try harder than the Americans convince students to study abroad in their country.
There have also been many goals set in place by the U.S. government without any actual plan on how to achieve these goals. The reading mentions that there are several reasons why there is not a comprehensive national policy for the internationalization of higher education in the U.S. but the largest is that we have no central ministry of education. Since I work with international admissions at CUNY I see that many other countries have centralized ministries of education. I never understood why students could not receive transcripts directly from their university as many of them insisted they had to reach out to the ministry of education. As much as this may be difficult at times it centralizes the higher education system. If the U.S. had something similar to this we may not have to worry about non accredited institutions giving students degrees that are not accepted in the work place or by other accredited institutions.
For this week’s reading, this issue of whether or not there should be a comprehensive national policy on internationalization in the United States was examined. Given the structure of the U.S. government and our higher education system, a national policy might not be as effective as in other countries. As mentioned in the reading, the diversity of different types of higher education institutions in the United States makes it difficult to have a national policy that would be general enough to cover all the different institutions but specific enough to to actually be effective. I agree that there should be more collaboration and more effort put into working together with the various governmental agencies and non-governmental agencies to ensure sufficient funding of the various programs that attempt to better the internationalization of the United States higher education system.
Hans de Wit mentioned at the Association of International Education Administrators conference that funding is one of the frequently mentioned challenges of internationalization of higher education. This has caused institutions to view international students as “cash cows”, because more international students means more revenue. The reading also mentions how institutions justify the increase of international students can help balance out the limited number of domestic students that are able to go abroad by bringing the diversity and culture to the home campus. But as the reading also mentions, there seems to be a lack of support for the international students to properly infused their diverse backgrounds into the local culture and benefit the local students. The benefits of the diversity from having international students do not magically manifest themselves without the support from the institution. Institutions need to provide adequate support both for the international students and their own students and faculty to be able to take advantage of the benefits of a diverse community.
De Wit goes on to mention how mobility has been at the forefront of internationalization. Global competitiveness is increasing and causing tension between quantity and quality as more students and scholars go abroad. But there is little focus on the vast majority of students that do not go abroad in the United States. To improve internationalization at the home campus, curriculum and programs can be globalized to increase exposure of all the students to different cultures and languages to allow them to be more globally competent. In the article, de Wit also mentions how there is missing a “more comprehensive approach to internationalization and a focus on internationalization of the curriculum and learning outcomes to enhance the quality of education and research”. Especially when the majority of U.S. college students do not study abroad or research abroad, there needs to be more efforts to globalize the environment at home in order to make all the students more globally competent and open to learning about other cultures.
This week’s reading highlights the current policies and future directions of internationalization in higher education. It outlines prominent policy actors and discusses current policies (using the 4 typology subcategories previously discussed: student mobility, scholar mobility & research collaboration, cross-border education, and IaH.) The reading begins by defining key policy players in the United States, such as the U.S Department of State, Education, Defense, as well as the National Science Foundation. Together, these agencies (and others) can be analyzed using the 4 typologies listed above to help develop comparisons on a global scale. In the Executive Summary, it is highlighted that while the U.S does many things well, what we lack as a nation is a comprehensive national policy which links multiple initiatives together in order to further promote the internationalization of higher education in our country. The reading suggests that in order to address this issue, the U.S must promote higher levels of engagement between the world of Higher Education and these agencies. It also suggests that we coordinate more well-funded initiatives which support global internationalization.
Something that I found very interesting was the nod towards the United States’ decentralized structure of government. Because of this, as well as the current state of Higher Education in our country, the author states that they do not foresee one national policy proving to be effective on a global scale. Instead, they believe that the U.S would need to target federal policies and programs individually, in order to best support the internationalization effort as a whole. I agree with this train of thought and also find it very interesting to see how different our country is from others discussed later on in the article. Speaking from personal experience, I have traveled abroad to many Caribbean countries where I have been lucky enough to tour their Ministry of Education building. The United States is so different because we lack an educational structure defined by a single governing agency. In an article titled, “The Three Great Strengths of U.S Higher Education,” the author explains “This is the defining feature of U.S. higher education. It is why we have the best universities in the world (by pretty much any measure), and it is also why applying to U.S. colleges and universities can be so confusing. We do have a Department of Education, but it is by far the smallest federal department. It doesn’t run schools or universities. It doesn’t issue diplomas. It doesn’t write or choose curricula. So each college or university decides for itself how best to teach its students. This leads to the first great strength of U.S. higher education—diversity” (Gorski, p.1).
It is an undeniable fact that while the U.S has work to do regarding Internationalization at Home, among pursuing other global policy initiatives, we have already succeeded in promoting a vastly diverse realm of education for our citizens as well as visiting scholars. As the article concludes, I agree that it will be of the utmost importance to support policies which promote “preparedness for a global era” because that is absolutely the direction which our world is headed.