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ACE's Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement Report Informs Next Steps for American Higher Education

November 07, 2011


U.S. colleges and universities have historically set the benchmark for excellence in higher education, but these institutions will have to adapt and collaborate with their peers abroad in the coming years to remain competitive. Assisting institutions in addressing these challenges is the centerpiece of a report issued today by ACE which charts a new agenda for global engagement in higher education.

Strength Through Global Leadership and Engagement: U.S. Higher Education in the 21st Century is the result of the year-long work of ACE's Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement, chaired by New York University President John Sexton and involving leaders of institutions from around the world.

"Our nation has some of the best higher education institutions in the world. Even so, our young adults are behind their counterparts in Canada, Japan and Korea on educational attainment, and although we're still the top destination for international students, our market share is slipping," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. "For our graduates and economy to thrive, and to make the biggest leaps forward in research, U.S. higher education has to step up its collaboration beyond national borders."

The report takes an in-depth look at the growth of international networks and the global relationships in which scholars and institutions have become increasingly involved. It emphasizes that today's graduates must be prepared for interaction throughout their careers with peers in other countries. Based on that information, the report makes recommendations both for institutions and ACE to ensure the long-term success of American higher education through international collaboration.

"This report is about the massive, tectonic change that is occurring around the world today, with both opportunities and challenges for American higher education in all of its sectors," said Sexton. "The report adds a key inflection point for the role of various sectors of American higher education in meeting the opportunities and challenges of a world without borders."

According to the document, the most successful and influential institutions moving forward will operate in global networks in which faculty, students, research activity, teaching models and ideas will travel freely. To aid institutions working toward this vision, the panel identified a cluster of general issues that confront all universities and colleges, regardless of institution type. These themes are meant to be seen as guidelines and require conversations and decisions that must be made at the institutional level before moving ahead with international strategies.

The report also includes a section about how ACE can better serve institutions as they respond to the new global environment. It charges the Council to:

  • lead on critical global higher education issues;
  • assume a broader advocacy role;
  • conduct, gather and disseminate research and analysis;
  • provide constituent services in the global arena; and
  • deepen international ties and outreach.

To accomplish those ends, ACE today announced the creation of its new Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement, to be led by Patti McGill Peterson, presidential advisor for global initiatives.

"The work of the Blue Ribbon Panel over the past year has given us a road map and a sense of renewed energy for our future international activities," said Peterson. "We look forward to serving institutions as they become increasingly linked to the dynamic global landscape of higher education."

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin A. Hennessy ▪ 202-939-9367 (office) ▪ 202-664-4205 (cell) ▪

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