If you read the education news during the past two weeks, it was nearly impossible to miss the headlines: international students are coming to the United States in greater numbers, and they are going to more U.S. universities in more U.S. states. More than 1,000 news reports across the country and around the world announced the latest statistics and trends, illustrating the growing impact these students have on the U.S. economy and communities, on the institutions that host them and the American students with whom they live and learn, and on their home countries.
Over the past fifteen years, the number of American students studying abroad has more than doubled. In 1998/99, there were just 129,770 American students studying abroad for academic credit from their home institution, and in 2012/13 that number has grown to 289,408. When you also consider that more than 46,000 American students pursue full degrees abroad and over 15,000 students travel overseas for non-credit work, internships, and volunteering, the current number of U.S. students overseas grows to more than 350,000. What is clear is that American students are increasingly interested in studying abroad and that U.S. higher education institutions are active in providing study abroad experiences for their students.
Three weeks before IIE's fall Generation Study Abroad commitment deadline, I packed a suitcase full of newly released IIENetworker magazines and flew back to Oregon, my home state. My destination was Idealist.org headquarters in Portland, where PDX Abroad had gathered 26 higher education professionals from Oregon and Washington to hold a Generation Study Abroad Think Tank. The event, which was modeled after IIE's March 2014 roundtable discussion titled "What Will it Take To Double Study Abroad?" was the first such event organized spontaneously.
Launched in 2012, IIE’s research center is now changing its name to the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact. Why are we doing this and why now? It is not just a matter of semantics. Instead, it reflects the evolving nature of our work and of the emphasis the Institute places on measuring the impact of what we do. While IIE continues to be at the forefront of applied research on international student mobility through Open Doors and Project Atlas, our Center’s work has expanded rapidly to studying the impact of international higher education programs—including scholarships and fellowships—on individuals, institutions, and communities. This shift in our work reflects a growing awareness within the broader field of international education about the importance of assessing and documenting the profound and sustained influence that international education exchange can have.
Our team has great commitment to the important mission of international education, in-depth understanding of global primary and secondary education, and most importantly, incredible passion for the professional development of K-12 educators.
The answer to this question, according to the authors of IIE’s spring 2014 edition of IIENetworker is, “it depends.” While we tend to think of internationalization and globalization as harmonious, even synonymous, this issue of IIE’s biannual magazine makes important distinctions between the two and points out the benefits—along with potential drawbacks—of rapid globalization.
So how might globalization be bad for international education?
"The way to create a really great city is to establish a university. Then wait several hundred years."
It was Mark Twain, I think, who had this important insight. Neither cities nor universities get built overnight. But having returned from visiting universities in three very major and rapidly growing cities, I had a chance to reflect on what it is taking to build world class institutions of higher education in an age of globalization.
It was the Mickey and Minnie Mouse red and pink rolling suitcases that first caught my eye as what seemed like the entire population of Beijing headed to baggage claim. Then I saw the two children that were accompanying the bags and their parents. As we waited for the trains to the exit hall, I had a chance to notice a bit more about what the parents were rolling.
Advances in technology and global connectivity have raised exciting possibilities and serious challenges for higher education. In January the Open University of Hong Kong invited educators from around the globe to examine these issues at the inaugural International Conference on Open and Flexible Education. I was fortunate to attend the conference as part of IIE's traveling fellowship, and I was eager to learn about the ways in which technology will impact the future of education and international exchange programs.
"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.