how the american public views the contribution of international students to our society

In a recently released report by the American Council on Education, https://www.acenet.edu/Documents/International-Student-Inclusion-Success.pdf, there’s some good news:

About two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents agree that “American college students benefit when they have close and regular contact with students from other countries.” The proportion of respondents indicating agreement with this statement increased by eight percentage points since the 2017 survey.”

And some bad:

“Whether used to inform formal advocacy or to “make the case” to a wider audience on campus and in local communities, narratives that focus exclusively on international student numbers and economic impact are inconsistent with public sentiment and expectations. No matter how the question is asked, the public does
not see a need to increase international student numbers; quantity simply is not compelling in and of itself.”

The report addresses both campus best practices , governmental policy issues and general community engagement with international students. The one “suggestion” in the report I’d comment on is this one:

Provide multifaceted career counseling and advising that allows international students to explore multiple career pathways, and positions them for success whether they remain in the United States, or enter the workforce in another country. Articulate the advantages of hiring international students to local businesses and organizations, and help employers understand and navigate Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) processes in order to offer internships.

Unfortunately, we’ve known for a long time that interacting with offices of career services is not a priority, for many reasons, for international students. In many if not most instances, new international students are not aware the office exists. Nor do they fully appreciate the overall presence of student support services on their campus.

This report is a reminder of the critical role which NAFSA: Association of International Educators plays in all facets of international student recruitment, advocacy relating to visa issues and in promoting the contribution made by international students to American civic life – and importantly, to local and state economies.

The ACE report provides a nuanced view of public opinion on these issues and in general, offers a positive view of public opinion regarding the presence and contribution of international students in American society.

Are You Facing Job Insecurity? Or Deep Into It…

Written over a year ago, I have to say that my comments have largely come to pass. And yet, we remain in a time of tremendous flux – both for our field and with respect to the job market on campuses and in non-academic organizations.

My advice: with more openings just beginning to appear, now is the time to aggressively engage in a job search. Most importantly, touch base with your professional colleagues and friends and let them know you are actively looking!! Do not assume they know that. Remain flexible, if possible, about geography.

I think the job market will remain in flux throughout this Fall and into next year.

Global Career Compass

Where the Field of International Education Finds Itself in 2020

  • Reassess your personal needs & professional expectations in this extremely fluid and unprecedented time
  • The pandemic has radically halted the momentum built up over the past decade in our field –the expansion of education abroad has been stalled everywhere as has the globalization of student mobility
  • Predictions are difficult: As with other sectors, campuses and providers in the education abroad community have differing strengths and weaknesses. Last year, IIE (over 100 years old) in NY went through financial difficulty, CIEE (75 yrs old) just laid off 600 staff and had to cancel all of their intl programs.  
  • It’s hard to predict or “play” the job market now. We are left with more questions than answers: Will campuses re-hire furloughed program staff? Will campuses re-open programs to the same destinations later this year and into 2021?  Will we see a…

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The Future of NAFSA: Association of International educators

Although retired, I have maintained my membership with NAFSA; in fact, I’ve been a member since 1977- over four decades. Many followers of my blog are also members or perhaps know of the association and its preeminent work in the field of international education. It is the largest organization of its kind in the world. In recent years, annual conferences usually have had upwards of 9-10,000 participants. That is, until 2020…

Some of my oldest friends are a result of my ties to the mission of NAFSA . I built my reputation largely as a result of my collaboration with campus and organizational colleagues whom I met and worked with as a result of my participation in NAFSA conference programs and sponsored domestic and international activities.

All this is to say how sad I am to have received a message today from the NAFSA Board President and the CEO. In part, it said: “Our inability to host two consecutive in-person conferences, due to COVID-19, has drastically reduced NAFSA’s revenues and operating budget. We were forced to reduce positions at the NAFSA office; positions filled by colleagues we have worked with side by side for years. Combined with reduced revenue from membership dues, the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected NAFSA’s finances.

This is not a shock; we’ve been aware of lay-offs and furloughs on campuses and with organizations- faculty and senior and mid-career administrators – all year. I knew a good number of the staff NAFSA laid off.

If you are working in the field of international education, anywhere in the world, and unsure whether you intend to register to attend the upcoming NAFSA annual conference [https://www.nafsa.org/conferences/nafsa-2021], please re-consider just how important your support is in 2021. Many professionals are at academic institutions or with organizations who have been forced to cancel their staff professional memberships.

This is merely a nudge. NAFSA plays an extremely critical role as an advocate with Congressional leaders to impact both our domestic and international policies with regard to the flow of students and scholars as well as funding for longstanding stalwart programs like the Fulbright program. Some readers may not realize that well over 1 million international students study in any given year in all 50 states – on urban and rural campuses, at four and two-year institutions.

I believe it’s in the national interest to sustain the work of NAFSA.

Think about it. Please. And if possible, register at nafsa.org to attend the NAFSA conference taking place this June 1-4.

Journal Posting 11

Thanks for posting about your internship experience in response to what Davina Potts wrote on my blog. I’m glad her research and analysis helped you to think in a purposeful way about the meaningfulness of your internship.

-Marty Tillman

Looking Beyond Degrees in hiring

Written last July – am I seeing this issue differently now that we are entering the end-time of this academic year? I don’t know, but, there has been a consistent effort to foretell the future of higher education and of prospects for a transformation of campus culture as a result of the pandemic.

Both the classes of 2019 and 2020 are going to find that their short-term professional aspirations/career goals have been radically altered due to the pandemic. No doubt, it was take longer for students to pay down their debt because it is going to take longer than anticipated to find solid ground in the job market. Their expected career goals may have changed completely. There likely will be an increase, for those who can afford it, in enrollment in graduate schools or technical training programs in order to find employment as the economy does “rebound” in the next 1-3 years [longer?].

I’ve just read a report which cited a statistic that only 10% of this year’s students have interacted with their campus career services office. If anywhere near accurate, this is a clear indication of the ground that needs to be covered for current Sophomores and Juniors before they graduate. It will take the entire campus “village” to help students transition from campus to the workforce for years to come as the country finds its new “normal” post-Covid.

Global Career Compass

In the midst of the pandemic, there are again renewed calls for re-thinking the value- and ROI- of a college degree [and the requisite residential life surrounding being in a classroom]. We know the impact of Covid has hit harder in minority communities; that minority students are disproportionately impacted and their capacity to pay for their degree has been greatly affected by the tremendous job losses throughout the country. I view this discussion within this context as consequential, in particular, for community colleges where almost 50% of all minority students are enrolled).

In the recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education’s newsletter, The Edge, reporter Goldie Blumenstyk discussed the new executive order of President Trump which urged federal agencies to “look beyond degrees.” She reviews the pros and cons….:

Hopes — and doubts — about new attention to skills in hiring.

This monthI wrote that I…

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Job Insecurity in Field of International Education

It’s a new year, and with it comes renewed hope for a return to a world robust with international exchange and study abroad. However, turbulent times and widespread job insecurity are not yet over in the field of international education.

Uncertainty remains wide spread among international educators – both in the U.S. and abroad.

Are you, or someone you know, experiencing job insecurity in the field of international education? If so, I encourage you to consider joining a virtual Listening Circle, a free program developed by members of the NAFSA Association of International Educators Phase II: Continuing Educators MIG (Member Interest Group). Facilitated by experienced international educators, small groups provide much needed support to international educators who have lost their jobs, are in a job transition, or concerned about the future of international education. 

Begun last year, over 100 individuals across the U.S. have participated in a Listening Circle, some more than once. Evaluations have been overwhelmingly positive, reporting a supportive environment that has offered clarity, space for career exploration and networking ideas.  

Applications are now being accepted for our next cohort of Listening Circles to begin in March, 2021. Learn more about the Listening Circles by watching this short explanatory video (https://bit.ly/2FJgUll) that includes remarks from two past participants. There is an email address in the video if you would like more information.

The online application is available at https://forms.gle/TFEt9dpAUuVn2RBA7.

You do not need to be a NAFSA member to join a Circle.  

Employability Amplified: The Power of Global Internships

“While the findings of this study are particular to one national context, they support similar findings in other countries and there are good reasons to believe that global internships can provide all graduates with a competitive edge in the job market.”

Question in front of us is whether or not we find that virtual internships afford student valued employability benefits. Regardless, will campuses decide to sustain and widen such opportunities post-Covid?

Global Career Compass

I am especially pleased to share this guest post by Davina Potts, an Australian colleague whose research -on the impact of education abroad on student employability- I’ve widely cited in my work on this topic. She is currently Associate Director, Careers, Employability & Global Learning at the University of Melbourne. This blog follows publication of her latest research for the International Education Association of Australia, “Career Outcomes of Learning Abroad.”

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A new study on the Career Outcomes of Learning Abroad for graduates of Australian universities has found that global internships provide significantly greater work-related benefits from the perspective of former participants, than other types of learning abroad programs. Participation in any type of learning abroad promoted positive growth in skills and competencies that were relevant to the workplace. However, the impact was amplified for respondents who undertook an internship, professional practicum or clinical placement while abroad.

The COVID-19 global…

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A New Game Requires Moving the Goalposts for International Education

As we enter the second semester of this difficult academic year, I thought it timely to examine this blog of mine from last summer…

Global Career Compass

I’d like to call attention to this excellent analysis by Matthew Clausen, Business Development Advisor to the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC): https://www.tiec.org/news/rethinking-internationalization-metrics-during-covid19 . I’ve re-worked its title, but, the idea he posits is that Covid has clearly altered the way that international educators view the endgame on our campuses. Clausen has brought together useful metrics and juxtaposed several points of view. For example:

Clausen asks: “Should we take this moment to reconsider what we truly mean by internationalization of higher education? What is the point of internationalization and should we have been limiting ourselves to those narrow metrics all along?”No. And the pandemic has pulled back the curtain on Oz.

Robin Lerner, president and CEO of TIEC, asks: “What are the core takeaways we want for our students from an international experience? Maybe that’s an understanding of how to problem-solve for issues that don’t respect national borders, cultural…

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The Biden Presidency Brings a renewal of hope

Those of us who voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris feel this way. From communications with colleagues abroad, many feel the same way. I’m not going to write a political column [although the title itself is a give-away, right?]; however, I could not let the inauguration go by without comment.

The profession of international educator, the one I know best, has suffered on many levels during the past four years; and needless to say, the pandemic has left all educators facing a crisis of proportions unknown in our lifetime.

Classroom life is virtual and so is learning. There has been no mobility for students and scholars. There have been no international conferences or meetings. Dreams of families to send their children to study abroad have been crushed. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in higher education have been lost either temporarily or permanently. Job insecurity at colleges and universities is widespread. And in particular, friends and colleagues of mine in leadership roles at campus international education offices or with organizations supporting education abroad programs – all have seen budgets collapse, jobs lost and aspirations of young professionals in the field greatly diminished.

We also are carrying with us the burden of a vastly different view of the United States by our colleagues abroad. No one could have imagined that the moral stature of the country would be so tarnished and hollowed out by the policies of the past administration. But here we are – a day before the dawn of a new era…or should I say, a return to the norms and practices we’ve cherished in the past (and perhaps took for granted- at least following the debacle of Watergate).

We do have a long road ahead of us before the field of international education returns to anything like it was. I think campuses will be re-assessing their commitments to internationalization for years to come. Professionals may be forced to move on to explore other careers. But, as I’ve written elsewhere, perhaps the new “normal” that emerges will see new innovation in developing opportunities for internationalization-at-home…meaning in the immediate campus community, nearby neighborhoods, elsewhere in the state or region –as opposed to solely focusing on regaining lost ground only in mobile international learning experiences.

If there is a silver lining for the field of international education, it could be that a far greater number of students have opportunities to develop intercultural and cross-cultural skills, and an array of other skill sets valued by employers in all fields, through off-campus experiential learning-at-home. A democratization of access to “internationalization.”

The response of historically black colleges & universities to the pandemic

This is an excerpt from the Dec. 8 issue -online – of the NAFSA: Associationof International Educators International Educator magazine [for those readers who are not members of NAFSA]. It’s an important statement about an often un-reported cluster of essential higher education institutions in the U.S.

This essay was written by Dr. Harvey Charles and Dr. Dimeji Togunde.

“The most critical questions for HBCUs posed by this pandemic are not whether they will be impacted by the economic fallout, or whether there will be enrollment declines, but how they will transform themselves.

To respond strategically to the challenges resulting from globalization, we must look to comprehensive internationalization. Global learning, a derivative of engagement with internationalization, is a high-impact practice that can lead to positive outcomes in terms of student satisfaction, persistence, retention, and time to degree completion. 

Additionally, the scope of these issues requires global collaboration to find solutions. This work happens in the curriculum—in the learning experiences that are afforded to students on their way to earning degrees in their respective areas of study. It also happens intentionally, as institutions help students embrace the richness that comes from fluency in crossing borders, negotiating cultural differences, and encountering multiple perspectives. 

How HBCUs Can Emphasize Internationalization

This intentionality is on display at several HBCUs, and these examples are worth noting. Spelman College has a mission-driven focus on internationalization, graduation requirements that include foreign language and international studies coursework, a philanthropic investment of more than $17 million supporting this work, and the internationalization of the curriculum in most majors. Prairie View A&M University requires all undergraduates to complete at least one global studies course prior to graduation and has identified internationalization as a strategic goal. Howard University has a foreign language graduation requirement for undergraduates as it continues to articulate a comprehensive vision for internationalization.  

While many HBCUs cite a lack of resources as a reason for the absence of meaningful engagement with internationalization, several aspects of this work do not put a strain on institutional budgets: 

  • Articulating a commitment to internationalization in the institution’s strategic priorities, mission, and vision costs nothing. 
  • Supporting faculty policies and practices that lead to more courses being taught from a global perspective, and more research focused on global issues, requires innovation, not a bigger budget. 
  • Identifying existing commitments to internationalization, even if random and scattered around the campus, and deploying them in a more strategic approach is a more efficient and cost-effective way to support faculty engagement in this work. 
  • Ensuring that these curricula initiatives are linked to measurable global learning outcomes, and rigorously assessing student performance relative to these outcomes, will not necessarily cost more, but will make the most compelling case to institutional leadership and grant-awarding agencies about the transformational power of internationalization. 
HBCUs’ Role in Preparing Students for a Globalized World

The grim forecasts for higher education post-pandemic suggest that relevance is assured only to those HBCUs that are willing to embrace a radically re-envisioned curriculum. This is a curriculum that prepares students to be globally competent, facilitates learning experiences in diverse teams, and socializes students to apply the knowledge they are acquiring to solve real problems in local and global communities.” 

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