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

In a recently released report by the American Council on Education,, 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.

Lasting Impact of Experiential Learning…With a Student Group Above the Arctic Circle (45 Years Ago!)

Hello to my followers – I’m going to be active once again on my blog this year. Look for more regular posts on the same issues I’ve addressed for many years: education abroad, student career development, international education and its impact on employability – from both a US and international perspective.

If you’re new to Global Career Compass, I hope you will browse through the categories on the right and see if what I’ve written about resonates with you.

The title of this column is prompted by a segment I was listening to on my local NPR affiliate station. It focused on the impact of recent decisions to explore for oil on Inuit lands on the North Slope of Alaska [these villages are the most Northern Inuit communities in North America]. As always, there were balanced points of view aired: Inuit organizations which were new to me, business representatives, environmental nonprofits and others. As I listened, it dawned on me that I had heard EXACTLY this same conversation about virtually the same divisive socio-economic and political issues 45 years ago!

Specifically, in the summer of 1978 when I took a group of students and faculty to explore the impact of the newly built Alaska pipeline cutting North-South through the middle of the state. We spent a week in Anchorage and then flew up to Barrow, just 400 miles from the North Pole and the hub of what’s referred to as Alaska’s North Slope. We lived in Barrow for about two weeks.

That’s the context for this piece…that an educational program which I created (with help from many local connections, including the President of the only private university in Alaska, Alaska Pacific University and a fledgling (since disbanded) community college based in Barrow) was so easily recalled in much detail four decades later!

I was leading this group on behalf of a pioneering organization called The Lisle Fellowship (ERIC-EJ911574). The foundational principle for Lisle intercultural programs that had been conducted since 1936 was rooted in the impactful interpersonal learning derived from intense structured experiential learning. There are not many experiences I’ve had that have left as sharp an imprint on both my mind and my heart as this engagement with Alaskan Inuit leaders and their lived life in Barrow.

Of course, the pandemic has forced educators and institutions to develop and implement more virtual educational options — but, will they remain in the memory of today’s students 45 years later?

A Foundational Overview of Research & Findings: Education Abroad & Employability

My colleague, Ann Hubbard and I are both Affiliates of the new Gateway International Group and co-authors of this foundational reading:


The concept of employability is driving higher education policy worldwide as governments see their economies inextricably linked to a trained workforce. A universal concern has emerged about the effective transition of students to the workplace.”

Published in 2021, this document is a useful up-to-date summary of research on the topic. The pandemic has shifted attention away – perhaps – from a focus on research [for good reason]; however, with the global rebound in student mobility and travel, in general, I wanted to bring this FREE document to the attention of interested readers.

The Fragility of our Democracy and the Challenge Posed to International Educators

I wrote this essay last month -prior to the mid-term elections in the U.S. – for the blog series of The Gateway International Group where I am an Affiliate.

Understanding the implications of the U.S. mid-term elections on international higher education. We can’t afford complacency.

We do not need to learn the results of every local and statewide election on November 8 to imagine their lasting impact on our civil society and political life. Worldwide media coverage of the campaigns and court cases, gerrymandering, efforts at voter suppression, and in particular, the continued influence and impact of the former president’s denial of the legitimacy of the 2020 election, have cast a global shadow on the outcome of this election. We’ve only had two years to turn away from the anti-democratic and authoritarian policies and practices of the last administration; and we are still reeling from the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection and the ongoing legal battles for hundreds who rioted at the Capital. If Trump does run for president again, the normalization of violence, untruths and lies will once again poison our public discourse.

The current campaigns and candidates among the anti-democracy extremists within the Republican Party demonstrate how far we still have to go to protect our democratic institutions and electoral practices. The churn of domestic politics and the uncertainties about the stability of our social and political institutions portend challenges for international educators and the values of our profession. We’ve long assumed an acceptance of the “rightness” of our campus practices and policies to recruit international students and scholars, to provide campus and community models to bridge cultural and linguistic differences, and to widen the door to global travel for study, internships and service.

NAFSA’s advocacy mission statement states: “Global learning leads to a more engaged and welcoming United States, more responsive and participatory government, and a more secure and peaceful world…and advocates for policies that foster the exchange of ideas, a commonsense immigration process…and the evolution and improvement of democratic institutions and enlightened global engagement.”

As we move closer to the next season of presidential campaigning, are we confident these aspirations and values will be upheld and sustained by legislatures, state Attorney Generals, Governors and members of Congress following the outcome of the elections held today? How will we stand up to the challenges facing our campuses and international organizations to foster “enlightened global engagement” as the country becomes ever more divided?

In a recent blog for Campus Compact, Eric Hartman, Executive Director of the Haverford College Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, plainly states: “Our inability to see ourselves as a nation is expressed not only in our ignorance of racial and ethnic diversities and their shifts, but also in our collective commitments to insist that certain regions are irrevocably “red” or “blue.”

We do not usually address the fact that international educators are caught in the middle of what one writer refers to as the “diploma divide” (Eric Levitz, “How the diploma divide is remaking American politics,” New York, Oct. 19, 2022) which is fostering a widening cultural gap in the country. As Levitz puts it, “…college graduates in general-and Democratic college graduates in particular-tend to have different social values, cultural sensibilities, and issues priorities than the median non-college-educated voter.” Those in the Republican party who support and foster candidates out of step with democratic principles consistently prey on this divide (even as their leaders and spokespersons are predominantly college-educated). This polarization affects the practice of international educators and the successful implementation of internationalization policies at our educational institutions (for more on this divide, go to this story in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Professionals in my generation have fought the good fight to sustain and grow the field of international education for the past fifty years. However, we never faced a time in our political culture as intimidating as this time. A time when the basic principles of our democratic culture are being questioned and challenged. A time when our colleagues abroad are worried about our ability to play a leading role in world affairs, in scientific, educational and cultural exchanges, in supporting the open dialogue they came to expect from our faculties, in welcoming students into our communities on and off-campus. 

We can’t afford complacency. We will soon learn just how much there is to be done.

The aftermath of the election, the fragility of democracy and the challenges facing international educators

Dear Followers: I’m back! Throughout the pandemic, I’ve focused on my commentary via my Twitter feed and LinkedIn network. You may not follow me on those platforms, but, I’ve had a lot to say there.

This is a blog just up for a new international consulting practice which I’m connected to as an Affiliate. There’s a lot of content on the Gateway website. Check it out.


Study “Beyond the States”

I was recently interviewed by the founder of the organization, Beyond the States, Jennifer Viemont, I discussed the impact of international study on the future career development of students. In this instance, the organization promotes and assists families of high school students looking for an affordable means of sending their children to college – in Europe.

While I’ve usually addressed this topic solely from the perspective of students enrolled in U.S. higher ed institutions, it was an opportunity to share my thoughts with an audience likely to consist of parents; and of students choosing to be outside the U.S. for three to four years.

I emphasize the need for families to make purposeful choices and to become more knowledgeable about the known outcomes of studying abroad when it comes to student career development (and the strengthening of skills valued by employers).

Given all the uncertainty surrounding travel during the pandemic, it’s hard to step back and take a 360 degreee view of the tremendous opportunity for a student studying outside the U.S. for a lengthy period of time. Usually, researchers are forced to survey and interview students in college who are abroad for very limited time periods: 2-3 weeks in summer or at most, a semester…

Careful planning. Clarity of academic and personal goals. Understanding how a lenghty time abroad shapes a young person’s worldview. Focusing on strenghtening a core set of academic and personal skills and competencies which employers value. These are a few of the threads I focused on in the podcast.

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 [], 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 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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