A Vision for Advancing Knowldege and excellence by creating a new model of american higher education

Michael Crow and William Dabars of Arizona State University have written a book outlining a model of a more equitable higher education system in the U.S. : https://issues.org/the-emergence-of-the-fifth-wave-in-american-higher-education.

Their argument is put this way:

“Granting increasingly exclusive status to the privileged few guarantees that the interests and agendas of elite universities will drift farther from the needs of most citizens. To strengthen the public purpose of higher education, it will be necessary to leverage the synergies between access and excellence, thereby empowering the nation’s research-grade universities to advance discovery and innovation that contribute to broadly distributed prosperity and societal well-being.”

They make the point that following the recession of 2008, “… many of the students who would most benefit from this most obvious avenue of upward mobility (i.e. obtaining a college degree)—those typically categorized as socioeconomically disadvantaged or historically underrepresented—cannot gain admission to research-grade universities, even as deindustrialization and
other structural features of the economy contribute to ever
greater economic inequity.”

Their new book, The Fifth Wave, takes on what we all know is true about American higher education. That it is fundamentally structured to provide a first-class education to an elite few in our society. Efforts by top-tier institutions to enroll low-income and minority students are not making any headway at democratizing access to degrees which will change the socio-economic status for anywhere near a majority of these students.

Crow and Dabars put it this way: “Educating students who graduate in the top 5% or 10% of their high school classes is business as usual at most leading colleges and universities. The Fifth Wave aims to educate to internationally competitive levels of achievement the top quarter or third of all 18- to 24-year olds, and through universal learning frameworks to provide opportunities for lifelong learning to more than half the population of the United States.”

Their vision really comes, I think, at a good moment as we are all struggling to see beyond the horizon of this pandemic and come to terms with what the future will looks like.

Students Have got to vote!!!

Reported today in the Times Higher Education:

US students overwhelmingly backing Biden and determined to vote

Sign supporting the Democratic Party on a shabby rack beside the road

Source: iStock

US college students overwhelming favour Joe Biden in this year’s presidential election and are determined to cast their votes, a nationwide poll has found.

The online survey of 4,000 students enrolled in four-year degree programmes, commissioned by the Knight Foundation, also found that about half plan to vote by mail and nearly as many fear an unfair election.

With a close contest possible in this year’s presidential race, the ability of Democrats to expand the traditionally low rates of student voting is among their keys to defeating Donald Trump.

A larger survey earlier this year by the Knight Foundation affirmed that challenge, at least among younger voters more generally. It showed that US citizens aged 18 to 24 were less interested in the 2020 election than even chronic non-voters.

The new survey, focusing only on college students, was conducted in early August just as reports began emerging of the US Postal Service cutting operations in line with Mr Trump’s warnings that he would fare poorly among voters using mail.

A New Game Requires Moving the Goalposts for International Education

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 competency that will serve them later on in the workplace, or the confidence and flexibility that come from students testing themselves outside of their comfort zones. As we design virtual programs, it’s those outcomes of international experience that we need to use as not just our measures of success but our road map.” An excellent statement of what the future of internationalization-at-home might look like.

Cheryl Matherly, Vice Provost for International Affairs at Lehigh University asks: “What does international education look like when it is not defined by mobility?” It is forcing a reconsideration about what is the purpose and what is the aim of what we do in the field. If your sole measure is body count, you are putting a priority on the travel experience.” The new “look” should be one of more equity; one featuring far more diversity of minorities and low-income students sharing in the benefits of intercultural and cross-cultural exploration at home as well as abroad.

Ukiah Busch, director of public private partnerships at Partners of the Americas points out the obvious: “The advantage of virtual exchange is equity, but I don’t think it is as impactful in terms of a personal learning and formative experience, as there is no way to do cultural immersion in a virtual exchange.” I agree, but the advantage of greater equity is not a minor gain for the field which has struggled to democratize access to education abroad for decades!

Lastly, Matherly asks: “If the new programs and pathways that are developed or deepened are always viewed as a poor second to travel, then we will have done a disservice. She puts the charge on the higher education community…It is incumbent on us to make the case. What is ultimately the value of the experience?

My take is that any other case to be made puts forth a false choice to students. It’s not either learn abroad or learn less at home — we can’t overlook how few students have ever participated in international education outside the US [less than 10%]. Higher education must now face up to the fact that very little has been offered to the mass of students not going abroad. Covid presents an opportunity to widely expand similar -but not the same- learning outcomes for ALL students. With the curtain pulled back by this virus, the challenge is clear.

My Point of View on Study Abroad and Its Impact on student Career Development & Employability …

Education abroad, in particular, study abroad , has been absent in the Spring/Summer of 2020 – and will not return as a viable off-campus learning experience, until an effective global vaccine against the Covid-19 virus is found and widely available. However, my analysis and pitch in these two videos remains, nevertheless, relevant .

When campuses fully re-open – let’s hope this will happen for the 2021-22 academic year,- there will be , I hope, pent up demand by students to participate in education abroad programs. And going forward, let’s also hope that campuses renew the halted momentum to diversify participation in education abroad by minorities and low-income students.  I see the Black Lives Matter movement as having a forceful impact on the priorities of co-curricular campus programs, like study abroad and international internships,  in support of equal access to these experiences, .

These two presentations,along with the body of my research and writing, articulate the value of cross-cultural experiential learning in strengthening student employability outcomes upon graduation.

As the global economy recovers- and admittedly, this will take several years – employers will still need talent with the same breadth of skills and competencies that were important before the pandemic overwhelmed our daily life.

Global Career Compass

I hope you enjoy watching these presentations which deliver my point of view – well known if you follow me here or @tillman_marty – on a topic which continues to resonate on campuses and with private organizations in the international education field.  This year, the political turmoil in the United States and within the EU over “Brexit” promise to fuel ongoing concerns about a downturn in global student mobility; this, in turn, will impact – perhaps tamp down – the expansion of opportunities for students to build their employability toolkits.

Impact of Learning Abroad on Student Career Development & Employability

 Panel Discussion: IIE Survey of Impact of Study Abroad on U.S. Students (2017 IIE Generation Abroad Summit)


The session analyzed findings of the IIE study, “Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects” showing that study abroad contributes to the…

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Looking Beyond Degrees in hiring

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 month I wrote that I wasn’t sure what to make of President Trump’s executive order urging federal agencies to look beyond degrees in hiring, especially since it came as colleges face their biggest headwinds in memory. I appreciate the insights many of you shared.

Advocates for skills-based hiring tend to see it as a way to level the playing field for qualified job candidates who happen not to be college graduates. And some of you see the federal move as an opportunity for higher ed. Rovy Branon, vice provost for the University of Washington’s Continuum College, said that while degrees can signal mastery of skills, colleges need to do a better job of accurately capturing and verifying that. Now is the time, he said, “to create faster and cheaper pathways for a new market that wants and needs it.” And Shalin Jyotishi, of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, noted that “sometimes a degree isn’t the only/right credential a learner needs, and that’s OK.” Jyotishi, the assistant director for economic development and community engagement at APLU, also put in a plug for an op-ed he just co-wrote, arguing for embedding industry certifications into degree programs, an approach that was popular with readers of The Edge when I wrote about it in December.

Less positively, I heard from folks wondering whether the new order would create confusion — and perhaps worse. Matthew Hora, of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, worried that implementation could emphasize assessments of so-called “soft skills” like communication that are “cultural constructions” and could “open the door to even more hiring discrimination.”

A related concern for me: In recent weeks, we’ve seen a bevy of announcements from colleges, companies, and nonprofits about new programs to help people skill up, especially in the digital realm. The list includes Google’s new career certifications and scholarships, Microsoft’s “global skills initiative,” the Digital US coalition, and the new nonprofit SkillUp. As well meaning as these initiatives seem, they miss the bigger issue — that many of the 40 million newly unemployed people didn’t lose their jobs because they lacked skills. They lost them because the pandemic shut down their workplaces.

Maybe that’s the jolt that will prompt some to find better jobs, but skills alone won’t guarantee a shiny new career. Better coordination of state work-force policies, as this new effort calls for, could help. Ultimately, though, we need a much stronger, growing economy, and that is at least a few years away, if we’re lucky (and if more people would just wear masks). Without a recovery, this Huffington Post reporter’s assessment is worth remembering: “Re-skilling is sort of like playing musical chairs: People are racing to grab a job and sit down, and not everyone will get a seat.”

Education abroad and the student employability gap (looking ahead to the return of student mobility…)

My latest blog for @TheEAIE discussing why, “In a post-Covid world, the agenda of higher education systems throughout the world will remain, of necessity, closely aligned with issues of global workforce development.”


There is evidence of a widespread gap in understanding among students about the value of international experience to their overall studies. This produces a mismatch between student expectations and those of employers, who expect the experience to better prepare students for the workplace. To close this knowledge gap, the benefits and impact of learning outcomes from well-structured international experience for student employability need to be effectively communicated to students and their families. One way to do this is through increased harmonization of messaging and advising practices among faculty and education abroad program administrators

Employability Amplified: The Power of Global Internships

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.”


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 health emergency has thrown our world and our higher education systems into chaos. Against this backdrop, it may be difficult to understand why these results are important. Considering that the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be graduating into the worst economic conditions we have ever experienced, employability is more important than ever. Our students will need extra support to enter an intensely competitive job market. We can use these research findings to provide additional support by helping them to reflect on their international experiences and related skills development. More than ever, they will need to be able to tell their story and convince prospective employers of the value they will bring to their organization. And if they have undertaken a global internship, they are already a step ahead.

The Career Outcomes of Learning Abroad project surveyed more than 3,300 alumni of Australian universities who participated in learning abroad programs to understand the connections between international study, careers and employment. The study included respondents from 36 of 39 public universities, a broadly representative, national sample and is the largest learning abroad outcomes project conducted in Australia. The final report has recently been published by the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA).

The study included participants of all types of learning abroad programs including classes at a host university, study tours, research and internships. Two hundred and eleven participants (6.3%) indicated that they undertook an internship as the main activity of their international education experience. Across 4 areas of career impact, internships were rated as providing significantly greater benefit than other program formats. These areas were:

  • Developing skills to support your professional role
  • Obtaining your first job in your field of study
  • Obtaining subsequent career-related jobs
  • Developing your professional knowledge

Across nine employability skills tested, internships had a significantly higher impact on:

  • Teamwork, and
  • Problem-solving skills

(differences reported here were significant at the P=.05 level).

These findings are important because of the endorsement they provide for the value of global internships. This is an area where we need more evidence to advocate for our work, and to demonstrate to students the possible return on investment for the time, effort and cost of gaining international work experience. 

It’s important to note that the characteristics of internship participants were different to the overall sample – they were more likely to be studying a health discipline, to have studied abroad for seven weeks or less, and were more likely to be working for a public or non-profit organization. They were also more likely to be graduate students when they studied abroad.

Moving forward, institutions have the opportunity to build more opportunities for work experience programs into their learning abroad offerings. 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. I am advocating for Australian universities to use this time of pause in regular learning abroad operations to partner with organisations (providers, companies, government agencies etc) to build internship and other practical experience programs. When our students are able to travel again, we will be ready and able to support even more students to undertake internships abroad.

In 2019, the Australian Government introduced performance-based funding for universities. In the future, 40% of the possible funding available under the scheme will be awarded based on graduate employment outcomes (specifically, employment status 4 months after graduation). For our institutions, guiding our students to success in employment has become more important than ever before. Learning abroad, specifically global internships, are one tool available to support graduate success.

My First Encounter With Racism on an American Campus

It was Spring, 1968 and I was in my senior year at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The unrest throughout my four years was largely around the anti-war movement against the Vietnam war. In January, I was deeply involved with the first drug raid by police on an American campus…I was active in residential affairs and in the administration’s irrational and seat-of-the-pants policy regarding drug use. But, that’s not what this piece is about…

I had applied to enter an MA program in Student Personnel Affairs at Colgate University in upstate N.Y. I grew up in Brooklyn, and even traveling 60 miles to the then rural Stony Brook campus on Long Island was a cross-cultural experience. Colgate asked me to come up for an interview . I had never ventured this far north of NY City.

I had no knowledge about the history of Colgate. I did know it was an all male institution and had been since its founding in the late 19th century. Colgate had taken small steps to recruit black students – largely from NY City. However, it was a sea of white male privilege [although that adjective was not in common usage then]. There were no administrators of color and I do not recall any faculty of color.

Martin Luther King was assassinated in April. The reverberations were immediately felt at Colgate.

Here is what happened prior to my arrival for the interview: Only a few days after King’s murder,a few black students were walking along the main street running parallel to campus where many fraternity houses were located. Some fraternity students were sitting on top of the roof of their house- and one of them SHOT at the black students walking by the house…I only learned of this after my arrival on campus for my interview.

The story is told in this first-person narrative by an alumnus in this historical piece published by Colgate : https://200.colgate.edu/looking-back/moments/administration-building-sit-1968

And so, in the aftermath of this tragedy, I began the odyssey of my graduate study with nine other men in 1968-69. It was a year of ongoing tension,confusion, and absence of coherent leadership by a white Dean of Students who had been at the university for 30 years. He was completely unprepared to navigate change. We in the graduate program often had to manage our relationship to students, to the racism and absence of clear policy-on our own. We were actively in the middle of daily incidents taking place.

This was the beginning of my career in student affairs. I was 22 years old upon graduation. Colgate then hired me as Director of the Cutten House residential complex [where I had been during my Fellowship studies]. Two others in my class were hired on to manage other residence halls. Many decades later,during a family trip to Ellis Island, I learned that the man for whom Colgate had named the residence hall was a racist and well known for advocating a policy of racial exclusion with respect to immigration policy. A quote by him was written on the wall of one of the main buildings under the Statue of Liberty.

At the end of my first year in my first job, in 1970, Colgate terminated my contract saying the position was not going to be filled the following year. I had been an activist administrator – we all were. There was student protest over my being “let go.” A grad school colleague resigned his position. I was then 23….adrift.

Race and racism, as you will see if you read the article above, continue to impact education at Colgate.

A Students’ Place in the World

Written in 2016, I wrote this post after reading an essay about teaching students, “the art of being human.” I know that 2020 grads, especially those from low-income families, are facing extremely difficult times and an extraordinarily fragile economy. I’ve been using my Twitter feed, @tillman_marty, to post and comment on advice to students and provide perspective about how campuses are struggling to support students. So, it may appear glib or irrelevant to talk about anything other than finding a job. Nevertheless, it might be helpful to reflect on the issue of the “return” on one’s investment in obtaining a degree:

“Either you believe the purpose of going to college is to be able to secure a (preferably high-paying) job, or you think there is something more intrinsically valuable to be gained from the years spent earning a degree. As in how did your college experience shape your humanity?

My question is: When did these become mutually exclusive?”

Global Career Compass

In the cycle of life, it’s that time once again. Students are graduating from colleges and universities across the country and for many, the unanswered question is: Now what?

Shortly, NAFSA: Association of International Educators will conduct its annual international conference in Denver. And one of its major speakers is NY Times columnist, David Brooks. In thinking about graduation and what “place” lies ahead for millions of youths, I re-read his September 8, 2014 Times column, “Becoming a Real Person.”

Brooks references three different missions of the current university: commercial (preparing for work), cognitive (acquisition of information & knowledge), and moral purpose (building an integrated understanding of self).  Of course, a week later, the Times published several letters to the editor from campuses around the country. The gist of these responses was that students should not have to choose one path over another.

A good follow-up to the Brooks column…

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Are You Facing Job Insecurity? Or Deep Into It…

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 more splintered geographic map for education abroad? Less mobility to developing nations whose infrastructure and health systems are now devastated? 
  • Will the coming generation of students measurably turn away from international experience outside the U.S. and instead look to domestic programs with a focus on internationalization-at-home? For example, service-learning
  • Will all the chaos facing the field now result in setting back efforts to diversify the IE field?

What are the implications for you as a job seeker in the field?

  • Likely that new hiring will be on hold for many months (perhaps deep into 2021); at least until we know more about when the economy can “re-open.”
  • When airlines again fly their usual routes…When it’s clear how campuses and providers are able to re-schedule programs they can still afford to offer and to safe destinations.
  • When campuses and providers more clearly see what their short and medium term financial situation looks like.

What you can do?

  • Reflect on your transferable skills. Strengthen new ones!
  • Review and re-assess your strengths – identify skill deficits which could be a bridge to new employment (e.g. language, public speaking, tech)
  • Research organizations which align with your skills, interests and values
  • Revive & renew professional networking; identify new contacts in a purposeful way. Lean-in to your trusted friends and colleagues.
  • Discern who are your most trusted allies and actively seek out their counsel

These are two organizations run by trusted professionals whom I know and have worked with. See if the resources they provide offer you opportunities to hone your skills and explore new paths to employability:

Global Leadership League


The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


Melibee Global

The Swarm on Culture, Identity, and  Perspective. An innovative, experiential, and practical LIVE online gathering to explore culture, identity, and perspective in a very unique way. 


Scholarships for The Swarm: https://crafty-producer-6700.ck.page/iceasoo

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