When IIE was founded nearly 100 years ago, one of the first actions founding Director Stephen Duggan took in establishing the new organization was to survey 250 colleges and universities in the United States to determine their capacity and interest in exchanging students and professors with foreign countries. With results of this survey in hand, Duggan visited Great Britain, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and Yugoslavia in the summer of 1919. He personally delivered hand written letters of introduction to authorities and university officials, prominent journalists, and distinguished scholars across Europe, paving the way for educational partnerships and exchanges between universities in the United States and Europe.
Roughly 15 months after IIE launched the Generation Study Abroad® initiative, it’s time to take stock. Are we making progress? Can we achieve our goal of doubling study abroad by the end of the decade? We have built an impressive coalition of educators, parents, students, alumni, and funders who are pledging specific, actionable goals and tangible financial commitments that will contribute significantly to reach our ambitious goal.
When we first traveled to Myanmar two years ago, there was little to no Wi-Fi, few mobile phones (SIM cards could only be obtained by lottery and cost around $1,500 each, making it unaffordable for most), no ATM machines or credit card usage, and frequent electricity outages. Fast forward just two years: consistent access to Wi-Fi, excellent 3G, and little need to bring stacks of cash anymore (credit cards are now accepted at most hotels). The arrival of telecom providers TeleNor and Oredoo has reduced the price of SIM cards to $1.50 resulting in a reported 30%+ market penetration of cell phones. Electricity outages are still common, and traffic in Yangon is worse than ever, but major change is palpable everywhere, and ATMs and 3G are just the more visible manifestations of this extraordinary transition.
How do you engage secondary school students in a dialogue around the world?
We asked ourselves this question a year ago, and our search for the answer has led to an exciting new virtual exchange initiative called My Town. The initiative engages thousands students from around the world in interactive, competitive projects, that encourage students to explore aspects of their own towns and cities while learning about towns and cities of their peers.
In an op-ed in the New York Times about the ‘world’s coolest places,’ columnist Nick Kristof writes that "travel can also be an education, a step toward empathy and international understanding." At IIE, we couldn't agree more. In fact, this was one of the most important factors that led to the establishment of IIE in 1919.
"Every student who wants to succeed in the global economy should study abroad." That is the first sentence of IIE's new book, A Student Guide to Study Abroad, which was published by IIE in collaboration with the AIFS Foundation, and is packed with essential tips and information for students looking to study abroad.
Last month I met with Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, the new Minister of Education and Research in Norway, who was in Washington, DC, for the annual Transatlantic Science Week organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. We spoke about higher education internationalization in Norway and the priorities for academic collaboration with the United States. Mr. Røe Isaksen, who holds a MA in Political Science from the University of Oslo, also spent one year in the United States as a student at Carl Junction High School in Missouri.
In September, IIE announced that it is launching a new course designed to train Ministry officials and university representatives in Myanmar on how to create and manage an effective international education office. The new course, “Connecting to the World: International Relations for Higher Education Institutions,” will be an "essential step to enable universities in Myanmar to connect with institutions in the United States and other countries so that they can build institutional capacity and prepare their students to meet current workforce needs and support rapid economic development." This project is part of a broader IIE Myanmar higher education initiative which seeks to help the country rebuild its higher education capacity.
Higher education institutions, educational organizations, and governments around the world are continuously looking for new ways to engage internationally and to keep their academic institutions relevant and competitive. Funding organizations and governments are investing substantial resources in international education, and are seeking to identify new areas to support.