ACE Releases Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses Report
November 03, 2022

​​ACE's Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2022 Edition report, released today, shows that years of steady increases in internationalization efforts at colleges and universities were stymied during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

While nearly half of institutions (47 percent) reported that internationalization accelerated on their campuses between 2016 and the start of the pandemic, less than a quarter (21 percent) noticed an acceleration during 2020-21. Despite the challenges, institutions demonstrated resilience and agility, with 66 percent of respondents saying they are optimistic about their institutional global engagement efforts in the next five years, reporting that increasing international student recruitment remained a top priority. A total of 903 colleges and universities submitted responses between March 2021 and February 2022 for this edition.

“ACE's Mapping report provides uniquely comprehensive data on the institutionalized practice and policy of internationalization in higher education," said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “This report highlights how colleges and universities demonstrated flexibility and resolve in combatting the pandemic, allowing the higher education community to celebrate its resilience and determine what we need to do to better serve our students and communities in a post-pandemic world."

Institutions also reported an increased use of technology across a myriad of internationalization activities, including expanded virtual learning opportunities, international student recruitment, and course-level collaborations. Virtual internships increased from 5 percent before the pandemic to 28 percent during the pandemic, and 38 percent of respondents reported that their efforts to expand virtual exchanges to encourage global learning opportunities have accelerated. Additional key findings include:

  • The top countries for international student recruitment in the survey were China (65 percent), India (52 percent), Vietnam (46 percent), South Korea (42 percent), and Japan (34 percent). 
  • Presidents, faculty, and senior international officers (SIOs) were perceived as the most vital catalysts for internationalization, at 49 percent for faculty and 47 percent for presidents and SIOs.
  • Twenty-eight percent of institutions reported expansion of their international partnerships in the last three years. Also, 68 percent of respondents have partnerships with academic institutions abroad, with institutions in China topping the list. Yet only a marginal percentage (18 percent) reported having a formal partnership strategy.

Using the data as a launching point, the report's authors shared several actions institutions can take to elevate internationalization as an institutional priority. The authors recommend that institutions use a data-informed decision-making approach to advance internationalization goals; experiment with technology use to expand access to global learning opportunities; provide comprehensive support for international students; and exercise greater discernment and strategy in international partnership development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and unforeseen geopolitical events created unpredictable challenges for U.S. colleges and universities, yet progress among internationalization efforts was still made," said Hironao Okahana, ACE assistant vice president of research. “The 2022 Mapping survey captured both successes and opportunities for improvement in internationalization across U.S. higher education institutions."

The only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education, Mapping is one of ACE's signature research projects. Conducted every five years, it assesses the state of global engagement at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends, and identifies future priorities. Similar to the survey's four previous iterations, the 2022 edition addressed the six key areas that make up the ACE Model for Comprehensive Internationalization: institutional commitment and policy, leadership and structure, curriculum and co-curriculum, faculty and staff support, partnerships, and mobility.

There are two notable differences that shape this report. First, the ACE Model for Comprehensive Internationalization was updated in December 2020, and this report reflects the model's modernization. Additionally, this survey is distinctive because the pandemic made internationalization efforts extremely difficult for colleges and universities. To analyze these nuances, ACE adjusted the survey to capture both pre-pandemic and COVID-era trends.

Survey respondents consisted of senior higher education administrators, including college and university presidents, provosts, student affairs administrators, and senior international officers. Data analysis was conducted following the same methods used in the 2016 survey in order to provide a more accurate comparison over time. Visit the web page​ to see the full report, survey data, and to explore past editions. Click here to see an infographic snapshot on the key findings.​

This research is generously supported by Acumen, part of Sannam S4 Group, IES Abroad, and Navitas.​

Media Contact
Jack Nicholson
Telephone:(202) 939-9352

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