Survey finds progress in comprehensive internationalization efforts. The top two priority activities for colleges are sending U.S. students abroad and recruiting international students.
New results from a survey on the state of internationalization at U.S. colleges conducted every five years paint a picture of institutional priorities and progress.
More than 1,100 American colleges and universities responded to the survey, which was conducted in 2016, for a response rate of 39.5 percent. The survey by the American Council on Education’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement asked institutions about a broad array of indicators of “comprehensive internationalization,” including indicators that relate to the flow of American students abroad and of international students to the U.S., administrative structures and staffing, incentives for faculty involvement, international partnerships, and the curriculum. Key findings of the “Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses” report include:
“We are making progress,” said Robin Matross Helms, the lead author of the report and director of ACE’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement. “Institutions are optimistic about their progress, and this is something that institutions are working towards.”
At the same time, she drew attention to what the report describes as the external focus of many internationalization efforts. “A lot of what institutions are thinking of for internationalization is summarized in that priority list. The top priority is education abroad, No. 2 is international students, and No. 3 is establishing partnerships abroad. It’s only at No. 4 and 5 that we come to the curriculum and to faculty development and to what’s really happening on campus.”
“I think we still are thinking of internationalization often as an outward-facing endeavor,” Helms said. “We need to make sure that we’re giving adequate attention to what’s happening on campus as well.”
In regard to faculty members, Helms continued, “As we look at the faculty data as compared to indicators in other areas, the progress line just is not as steep. We need to be paying attention to making sure that faculty are engaged in and central to internationalization efforts.”
The 1,164 total responses to the survey include 203 responses from doctoral institutions, 352 from master’s institutions, 267 from baccalaureate institutions, 246 from associate institutions and 96 from special focus institutions. Researchers weighed the data in an attempt to mirror the distribution of institution types nationally.