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.
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.
Like many nonprofits that have an international reach and run several large and varying programs, IIE faces the everyday challenge of how best to assess the effectiveness and impact of its work. Our program evaluation services, offered through IIE’s Center of Academic Mobility Research, have grown rapidly in response to this need! Our evaluation team at the Center has extensive experience in all levels of a program evaluation, from measuring program outputs and outcomes to longer-term studies to identify participant and community impacts over time.
At the recent EducationUSA Forum, I participated in a panel about how higher education institutions can harness Open Doors® to inform their international student recruitment. Open Doors, an annual survey of international educational exchange in the US, produced by IIE with the support of the US State Department, offers valuable information for higher education institutions. The session provided useful insights into different ways to use Open Doors data in planning for international student enrollment. Here are the top takeaways for international educators:
It is estimated that 1.7 billion people in the world live in absolute poverty. Close to 40 percent of the world’s population lives without access to improved sanitation, with the vast majority in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. And when it comes to education, only 10 percent of the world has access to a secondary education, and this proportion plummets to 1 percent for a higher education.
Have you thought about the importance of your networks, both personal and professional? How they shape your career and everyday life? Social network analysis (SNA) is a tool used in modern sociology to identify the links between individuals in various social systems. You can also use it in monitoring and evaluation in order to probe deeper into the power of the social network and how it can be used to measure program outcomes and impact.