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Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2008 Edition

December 30, 1899

Colleges and Universities Make Uneven Progress in Internationalizing Their Campuses

​Despite ongoing efforts to broaden global knowledge and understanding, an analysis from the Center for International Initiatives at the American Council on Education (ACE) finds that internationalization is not a high priority on most college campuses.

Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2008 Edition is the second in a series, following a 2001 study, on the policies and practices of colleges and universities in furthering internationalization. When possible, the report compares the 2001 data with the most recently collected 2006 data. The results, taken from a survey of more than 2,700 colleges and universities, present an overview of U.S. higher education institutions as well as information by institutional type.

While there has been some progress since 2001, ACE's 2006 data found that gains have been slow and uneven, few areas registered sharp increases, and some experienced declines.

Among the survey's findings:
  • Many institutions do not see internationalization as integral to their identity or strategy. Less than 40% of institutions made specific reference to international or global education in their mission statements, although that's up from 28% in 2001.
  • The percentage of colleges and universities that require a course with an international or global focus as part of the general education curriculum dipped from 41% in 2001 to 37% in 2006. Fewer than 1 in 5 had a foreign-language requirement for all undergraduates.
  • The majority of institutions do not have a full-time person to oversee or coordinate internationalization.
  • Despite reports showing growth in study abroad participation, the ACE survey found that 27% of institutions reported that no students graduating in 2005 studied abroad.
  • 10% of responding institutions offered degree programs abroad for non-U.S. students. 40% of these programs were established in China and another 16% in India.

"Overall, internationalization doesn't permeate the fabric of most institutions," said Madeleine F. Green, vice president of ACE's Center for International Initiatives and co-author of the survey. "It is not sufficiently deep, nor as widespread as it should be to prepare students to meet the challenges they will face once they graduate."

Progress has been made since the 2001 survey:
  • The proportion of institutions offering education abroad opportunities has grown sharply to 91% in 2006 compared with 65%in 2001.
  • More institutions are investing in international opportunities for faculty including supporting faculty leading study abroad programs (58%), providing funding for faculty to travel to meetings or conferences abroad (56%), and hosting international faculty (39%).
A sample of key findings by institutional type includes:
  • Doctorate-granting universities showed clear commitments to internationalization in mission statements, strategic plans, and have full-time personnel coordinating these efforts.
  • A majority of master's colleges and universities required some form of internationally focused learning through language study or internationally focused course requirements.
  • Baccalaureate colleges were most active in study abroad in terms of student participation.
  • Associate's colleges were the most likely to invest in professional opportunities for faculty by offering workshops on internationalizing the curriculum.

"Every institution needs to pay attention to internationalization if it is to prepare students for the multicultural and global society of today and tomorrow," Green added. "In order for that to happen, colleges and universities need to build on student interests and demographics, focus on the curriculum, invest in faculty opportunities, create a strategic framework for action, and ensure active leadership in making internationalization an institutional priority."

For more information on ACE's work with internationalization on U.S. campuses, visit the Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement home page.

In the News...

"Not so International After All?" by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. May 22, 2008.

"New Report Charts Mixed Results in Colleges' Internationalization Efforts," by Karin Fischer in the Chronicle of Higher Education. May 22, 2008.


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