Not So International After All?

For all the talk about globalization, new survey finds many colleges don't show much evidence of embracing study of the world outside the United States.
May 22, 2008

College presidents boast these days about how international their institutions are -- and many indeed are opening campuses abroad, promoting the study of foreign cultures, and sending more and more students outside the United States for a semester. But a study being released today by the Center for International Initiatives at the American Council on Education finds plenty of evidence that at a large number of institutions, borders very much exist.

Among the findings:

  • At 27 percent of institutions, no students graduating in 2005 studied abroad.
  • The percentage of colleges that require a course with an international or global focus as part of the general education curriculum fell from 41 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2006. Less than one in five had a foreign-language requirement for all undergraduates.
  • Less than 40 percent of institutions made specific reference to international or global education in their mission statements, although that figure is up from 28 percent in 2001.
  • Most institutions do not have a full-time person to oversee or coordinate internationalization.

The survey found different international strengths at different types of institutions, with doctoral institutions more focused on including international education in strategies and having full-time personnel to work on the plans. Bachelor's institutions have the highest participation rates in study abroad. Community colleges were more likely than other sectors to create professional development programs for professors, focused on global issues.

The survey results appear in Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2008 Edition, which can be ordered for $55.00, plus shipping and handling, from the American Council on Education Web site.


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