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.
According to Rajika Bhandari, IIE’s Deputy Vice President for Research and Evaluation and the Center’s Director, “We often tend to focus on the ‘what’ or ‘how’ of international education. But our groundbreaking impact research really tries to get at the critical question of ‘so what.’ In other words, did an individual’s international experience ultimately matter, and what sort of multiplier effect did it have?”
At the Institute, we define “impact” as the contribution of international educational exchange and leadership programs to developing core knowledge and skills, networks, and international cooperation among students and institutions throughout the world. The theory of change that underlies IIE’s vision and mission is that effective educational interventions provide individuals with value-added opportunities to impact human and economic development in the long-term. This theory underlies the Center’s expertise in three areas: 1) measuring the impact of IIE programs, 2) measuring the impact of IIE as an organization, and 3) studying the impact of higher education on international development.
Measuring the Impact of IIE Programs. Implementation of IIE programs includes systematic and rigorous monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to document the processes, outputs, outcomes, and impacts of our interventions. IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact is responsible for collecting quantitative and qualitative data on a continuous basis, both at the program and Institute level. This approach ensures that each year our indicators respond to our broader measures of success.
Measuring the Impact of IIE as an Organization. IIE documents impact not only of its programs, but also of its contribution in the field of international higher education as a whole. IIE metrics that are included in our Annual Report respond to annual goals set by the Institute. These metrics are in turn collected at the program and Institute-wide levels and enable us to measure our progress and accomplishments as an organization. Outcome measures that we report annually also evidence our success in providing services to increase the global reach of and diversity in all of our programs and operations over time.
Studying the Impact of Higher Education on Development. The Center’s staff specializes in studies measuring the impact of higher education on human and economic development. Through the research and evaluations we conduct for IIE and external non-IIE clients, we contribute to a growing field that explores the effect that advanced education opportunities can have on development, skill building, and citizen diplomacy.