ACE Releases Signature Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses Report
June 14, 2017

​According to a new report released today by ACE, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses, internationalization is continuing to gain traction among U.S. colleges and universities. Nearly three-quarters of institutions that participated in the 2016 Mapping survey reported that internationalization has accelerated on their campuses in recent years.

The signature research project of ACE’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE), Mapping assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities.

Administered every five years to colleges and universities nationwide and in its fourth iteration, the survey includes all sectors of U.S. higher education and is the only comprehensive study of its kind. The production of the 2017 report and the dissemination of the Mapping findings were sponsored by Navitas.

The report concludes that institutional support for internationalization has generally grown in terms of administrative structures, staffing and financial resources, but some areas are still lacking. In addition, articulated commitment to internationalization in mission statements and strategic plans is more prevalent and increasingly is bolstered by specific policies and programming.

“Comprehensive data on the institutionalized practice and policy of internationalization—which Mapping provides—uncovers the realities of how internationalization is playing out on campuses and gives a detailed picture of how trends progress over time,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “Most vitally, I think it helps institutions ask—and answer—‘Where do we go from here?’”

Robin Matross Helms, director of CIGE and lead author of the report, explains that Mapping serves a variety of purposes.

“Colleges and universities can use this data to compare their internationalization progress to other institutions nationwide and identify areas that require additional effort and attention on their campuses,” Helms said. “The Mapping data will inform CIGE’s research agenda for the coming years, and our hope is that other organizations and researchers will also expand upon our findings and provide additional insights on key issues. Overall, the goal is to contribute to and advance national and international policy conversations aimed at furthering the internationalization agenda.”

An online tool also released today allows institutions to compare their efforts to peer institutions. To access the tool, click here.

CIGE’s Model for Comprehensive Internationalization—a strategic, coordinated process that seeks to align and integrate international policies, programs and initiatives and position colleges and universities as more globally oriented and internationally connected—serves as the framework for the Mapping survey and report. The six categories that comprise the model are: articulated commitment; administrative structures and staffing; curriculum, co-curriculum and learning outcomes; faculty policies and practices; student mobility; and collaboration and partnerships.

All institutions, with their varying missions, circumstances and goals, have their own approaches to internationalization. However, Mapping’s broad examination across these six categories provides a useful image of collective progress toward comprehensive internationalization.

Key Findings:

  • Internationalization is increasingly an administrative-intensive endeavor, coordinated by a single office and/or a senior international officer. More institutions are implementing policies, procedures and planning processes to guide internationalization efforts.
  • While student mobility has consistently been a focus of internationalization efforts, the 2016 data indicate an increasingly sharp emphasis on this area relative to other aspects of internationalization. The level of support international students receive once they arrive on campus, while trending upward, remains a concern.
  • Though the curriculum and co-curriculum take a backseat to student mobility in terms of stated priorities for internationalization, an increasing percentage of institutions are implementing academic and co-curricular policies and programming that facilitate on-campus global learning on a broader scale and among a broader base of students.
  • More institutions are offering internationally focused faculty professional development opportunities. However, the faculty-related data raise questions about the recognition of faculty as key drivers of internationalization.

“What is clear from this report is that internationalization is not a passing fad,” said Bev Hudson, president and CEO of Navitas North America. “As a partner to institutions committed to internationalization, it is encouraging to know that the community is expanding and that we can expect to see richer information about institutional outcomes and key issues that need further research and advocacy.”

The Mapping survey was sent to chief academic officers, provosts, senior international officers, institutional researchers and presidents in Feb.-Oct. 2016. Researchers received 1,164 survey responses from colleges and universities nationwide, for an overall response rate of 39.5 percent—the highest ever across the four iterations of the survey both in terms of the number of surveys received and the response rate.

A related joint project by CIGE and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) seeks to investigate the impact of institutional internationalization efforts on student learning. Using the 2016 Mapping data and NSSE’s newly developed Global Learning Module, ACE and NSSE will conduct a joint analysis of administrator and student responses to study the relationship between the internationalization initiatives and activities undertaken by the institutions and students’ experiences of these activities and the global learning that results. To learn more, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristen Carmen | 202-939-9365 |