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The Globalization of American Higher Education

by Benjamin Skye | April 22, 2010 | Newsletters 0 Comments

“The internationalization of American higher education is both inevitable and important, but progress requires vision and leadership”. – Nancy L. Zimpher.

The 2009-10 Officers of Abilene Christian Universities' International Student Association.

The 2009-10 Officers of Abilene Christian Universities' International Student Association.

University-bound students today find themselves in a world much different from the one that their parents experienced twenty or thirty years ago. Not only are most university campuses today more equipped and technologically savvy, the student bodies’ themselves have become increasingly diverse and integrated.  Particularly in the case of American Universities, where enrollment of international students has grown steadily over the past five years, university officials have come to accept that globalization is indeed inevitable.

Nonetheless, even though much has been said about the importance and inevitability of globalization in American higher education, a definite model for what this “internationalization” should look like has yet to emerge. Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, one of the country’s largest public-university systems, presented her views on the current state of globalization in higher education at this year’s annual meeting of the Association of International Education Administrators, addressing this issue by emphasizing the importance of vision-setting. She states promptly, “Vision trumps everything.” She argues that strong visionary leadership is required if universities hope to successfully navigate the waters of integrating international efforts in addition to culminating in a globalized model of higher education. Adam Levine, the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation echoes Zimpher’s sentiments. In his speech, he said that he foresees “some bold universities” leading, and being “popularizers” while “others will hold onto the past and will be destined to fail.” In view of this, Levine challenged international education administrators to “take a lead” in shaping the concept of today’s university, believing that these administrators have been strategically placed to make globalization in the field of higher education a more concrete reality.

Of all the things that were being said at this meeting, the issues that were of the most interest to ELI 360 was that of the position of international students, and the role they have played and will continue to play in the movement towards the globalization of American higher education. Erik Presley, the President of ELI 360 comments, “Universities that are serious about globalization need to start integrating the international students on their campus more and more. This doesn’t just include changing the students to fit the university but to actively learn from one another. The problems that arise from having international students on campus need not be seen as merely obstacles to globalization but opportunities for the university to change and grow.” Erik’s sentiment is echoed by Steven Gist, the Director of Global Markets for ELI 360. He says, “Globalization is all about conflict and conflict resolution. When you bring people who are from completely different backgrounds, you are bound to have disagreements as they bring varying styles to perceiving and handling issues to the table. It is through this process of engaging, encountering and exchanging ideas that all parties involved grow and learn.” In sum, in order for universities to successfully internationalize, there needs to be a relationship of reciprocity established with its foreign students and partners. Learning has to be seen as a two-way street in order to cultivate a truly globalized environment.

International Students at Oklahoma Christian University.

International Students at Oklahoma Christian University.

As internationalization grows as a priority for higher education in the U.S., The role of third-party recruiters of international students, such as ELI 360, become more prominent. Zimpher, who championed a project led by Mitch Leventhal, the SUNY system’s vice chancellor for global affairs, to certify and regulate third-party international student recruiters argues that universities international work had to be done in the context of trade and immigration policy. This focus on consultants such as ELI 360 goes to show that international students seeking to pursue higher education need to engage with third-party recruiters who are experienced and credible; organizations that are sincere in aiding both students and universities adapt to a globalized world. ELI 360 prides itself as a company that has years of experience in cross-cultural relations and projects. It is the goal of ELI 360 to be continually relevant as a company that is “committed to the worldwide development of people and ideas for the increased wellbeing of all nations” especially in a future where a globalized world is a reality.

* This news release is based on the article “Campus Officials: Globalization is Inevitable, Whatever the Path” by Beth McMurtrie and Karin Fischer published in the February 26 2010 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, page A32

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