Overcoming the Competition and Ensuring Higher Education Quality in a Growing Global Market

Tadd Kruse, American University of Kuwait

The mobility of populations is an ever-present concern given ongoing global conflicts and plights, resulting in the highest number of refugees since the Second World War.  In addition to the political and economic impact of migrations, the global mobility of students is expected to increase, as seeking a high quality university degree is an essential necessity for career development and advancement.  Access to education and tertiary degrees is greater than ever, making competition for institutions of quality and reputation even greater.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projects that the international student population will increase from five million in 2015 to eight million by 2025, showing a growth rate of 60% in overall global mobility over the next decade. This significant growth and projection is important for educators to take note, as international student populations present a number of benefits and challenges for institutions.  Overall, and aligned with internationalization or global learning initiatives on campus, these populations serve as valuable resources to both campus and local communities.  Many United States colleges and universities internationalize their campuses strategically and invest considerable resources to attract students by offering internationally focused curricula, by recruiting international students, and by enhancing their international programs and services.

For decades the United Stated and Europe were the hubs of tertiary education, drawing in over half of the world’s students studying outside of their home country.  According to the 2015 Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education released in November, the United States reached a record-breaking number of international students at universities with 974,926 (10% increase) in 2014-15 academic year.

Although, these are significant figures, and the United States remains the leading study destination, the United States share of the global population dropped by nearly 10% during a twelve-year period since 2000.  Additionally, the recent IIE report indicates an overreliance on China and India who sent 44.8% of the almost one million international students noted above.  Notable shifts are occurring in student mobility and these factors will shape the landscape of international education over the next decade.  These shifts appear to be currently driven by increasing regional educational hubs, growing middle classes in Asia, regional mobility over global mobility, and increasing competition.

The latter causation, increasing competition, is one to take pause and warrants deeper consideration.  Competition has not just increased in the usual leading destination countries, but continues to develop on other European, Asian, and Middle Eastern nations.  Demand from Asia has been the greatest driver, but a number of important emerging markets will play a key role moving forward.  Competition is shifting and includes more widely distributed destinations, including increases in non-English-speaking countries.

Destinations for international students are expanding, and growing more competitive as institutions look to increase international populations on campus to enhance fiscal, academic, and diversity initiatives.  Systems and tools to rank institutions and compare institutional data (particularly outcomes), ultimately serve as an aid to students making decisions about higher education opportunities, are expanding and becoming key factors in how competition is perceived.

Competition in Perspective – Higher Education International & National Ranking Systems

In a global marketplace, a prospective student must begin to filter through the thousands of institutions of higher learning to determine quality and fit.  One such mechanism has been the utilization of ranking or scoring systems.   These systems are attempts to compare people’s perceptions of institutions resulting in a compilation of supposed public perception, a direct impact on brand recognition.   However, there are a lot of ranking schemes, comprised of varying methodologies (often including inputs on selectivity, faculty resources, spending, and research productivity), and each striving to identify how well-regarded an institution is perceived against a peer group.

National rankings have existed for decades and have been recognized for years as a guide to quality.  US News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings is more relevant than all the global rankings given its history and structure. The same goes for national rankings published in the United Kingdom such as The Times Good University Guide or The Guardian University League Table.  National ranking systems are growing around the globe with thirty-two new national ranking systems put into place since 2005. National or regional systems are often developed on multi-leveled metrics and apply different criteria to evaluate institutions of higher learning on different criteria.   In 2015, US News & World Report for the first time published the overall Best Arab Region Universities and subject rankings, featuring 91 schools (from a directory of more than 800) across 16 countries.  There is helpful information in a growing higher education market. However, unless one read the methodology they would not be aware that the rankings were based solely on publications and only those from one citation database.   This is a very limited scope given the common perception associated with ranking systems as indicators of quality.

However, international rankings of universities, which have existed for approximately a decade, are establishing a new avenue for consumers to consider the strength of institutions outside of the United States and Europe.  Examples include Times Higher Education World University Rankings (UK), QS World University Rankings (multi-national), Academic Ranking of World Universities (China).  Equally, these systems are often developed on metrics not easily decipherable to most, and evaluate institutions of higher learning on different criteria.   For example, the Academic Ranking of World Universities from the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) has been in existence since 2003 and uses four criteria: Quality of Education (10%), Quality of Faculty (40%), Research Output (40%), and Per Capita Performance (10%).  However, the QS World University Rankings utilize eleven criteria and over 50 indicators: Core Criteria (50%), Learning Environment (16.67%), Specialist Criteria (16.67%) and Advanced Criteria (16.67%).

The IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, established formally in 2009, is an international association of ranking organizations and universities aimed towards the improvement of the quality of academic rankings and the quality of higher education in general. The body is interested in gathering information on all relevant ranking activities in the field of higher education, yet it notes that very limited information is available on national university rankings. National rankings are an integral part of the world’s higher education landscape and are much more developed, more comprehensive as on the national level universities operate within the same cultural and legal system and a rich body of comparable data is available.

Regardless of the system or ranking body these structures do influence perspectives.  In a NAFSA (Association of International Educators, the largest association of professionals committed exclusively to advancing international higher education) report A Utilitarian View of Rankings, Alan Ruby addresses the importance of ranking systems as they influence young people’s decisions about institutional quality and where to study, especially for prospective international students.   Systems utilize varying methods to assess an overall institutional rank, but many rankings systems also focus on a particular field (i.e. academic discipline, institution type, research, or specialty programs).  These systems vary greatly in scope, structure, and reliability from the applied methodology to the resulting ranking figures which are often misleading.  Common interpretation would be the higher the rank, the better the product, but institutions of higher learning are complex systems that provide a multitude of services to students. Therefore, it can be challenging to understand what factors are incorporated into each ranking.

Competition in Perspective – Accreditation, Quality Assurance, and the College Scorecard

Accreditation and Quality Assurance are essentially a systematic review of programs to ensure that acceptable standards of education, scholarship and infrastructure are being maintained.  UNESCO and the OECD created in 2005 an educational quality assurance framework that cultivates a culture of quality in higher education known as the Global Initiative for Quality Assurance Capacity (GIQAC) .  This framework is outlined in the Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education and serves as a guide for institutions and nations around the globe to develop processes which will enable monitoring using a set of commonly agreed-upon standards.

In the United States, higher education accreditation began in the 1880’s and was developed to protect and serve the public interest.  The process later evolved in 1952 into regions in a post-World War II America, and the rapid expansion of higher education as a result of the GI Bill. Processes were based on peer-evaluation amongst institutions and accrediting agencies, and the development of regulation, legislation and oversight by state and federal governments.  With the creation of the United States Department of Education and under the terms of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the United States Secretary of Education is required to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies determined to be reliable authorities on the quality of education or training.  The United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) both recognize reputable accrediting bodies for institutions of higher education.

With criticism of the current United States structure existing for more than a decade, accreditation in recent years has been ever present from presidential candidate speeches to the President’s State of the Union address.  More recently, in September 2015 United States Senators Bennet and Rubio introduced a bill that establishes an alternative, outcome-based quality review process to authorize “innovative, high-quality education providers” to undertake quality review based on stipulated performance measures of student learning, completion and affordability/benefit to students as set by the United States Department of Education. In short, it would test federally approved alternatives to accreditation, federal performance measures for providers, including student learning, and performance-based access to federal student aid.

Critiques of the current system include too much emphasis on processes and input measures (i.e. faculty credentials, research, etc.) and not enough on performance outcomes (i.e. student learning, retention and graduation rates) which should be at the core of quality assessment.  Access, affordability, accountability and student debt are at the forefront of concerns with current practices, followed by making this information easily accessible to the public.  How to disburse the most useful information about institutions of higher education to students and parents in a way that’s not overwhelming and that includes key information is challenging.  The United States Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator tool, a top priority on the Obama administration’s higher education agenda, provides updated information on institutions, but was felt by many to be too overwhelming.

The United States Department of Education’s College Scorecard was designed to be an easier means to provide consumer information to assist students in choosing the best college, and allow users to search for institutions by name and by metrics such as cost, graduation rate, average amount borrowed, and employment data.  Some critics state that until a student unit record system exists, the College Scorecard data offers a much-needed step towards transparency in higher education. However, readers must also be warned of the confusion of correlation with causation when presenting data (especially related to earnings, as many factors impact a graduate’s salary potential). There are a number of limitations in the College Scorecard including: (1) exclusion of institutions primarily awarding certificates; (2) many metrics available are limited to data on students who received federal aid; and (3) average salaries for each institution are based on very wide ranges.  Overall, the College Scorecard is a positive step in providing outcomes and output based information to the public including some data not available outside of this system.

Each of these systems exist in an attempt to provide to the public access to outcomes based useful information related to the affordability, accountability and value of a higher education.  Information can be accessed through the specific program websites, the United States Department of Education, the National Center for Education Statistics, or the websites of various regional accreditors.


As mobility and competition for students internationally continues to grow, universities must become savvy and engage in the changing global market.  As student affairs practitioners, it is important that we acknowledge these shifting factors in how our institution, and those to whom we compete, are perceived.  We further must act to ensure quality education amidst a climate of increased accountability.  So how do we prepare?

Ask questions: “How are we using rankings and dataset information? What does it say about us?  What doesn’t it say about us?”  This is critical information guiding fine decisions between schools in the same type, field, price point, or rank.  Identify what are the institution’s communications efforts which highlight what sets it apart from its peers.

Understanding the basis of the ranking systems, accreditations, or college data dashboards to which you assume your students or their families may consult, will allow you and your colleagues to address rankings based on merit and not misaligned perceptions.  Ranking systems and even outcomes based data present one view of a college or program, so it is important for professionals to be aware of institutional strengths and be able to equally highlight further areas that are notable (i.e. new student center, enhanced security measures, expanding academic program).  Be ready to address the variability within, as some programs inside an institution may be ranked higher or lower than the overall institution itself, or may be greater attributes than others. Recognize these special attributes or niche of your institution and identify methods to highlight these in your programs, recruitment strategies, services, and strategic plans.  For the recruitment and retention of students choices will often come down to a series of factors including programs, location, cost, selectivity, reputation and diversity.  Be equipped with complementary information providing a wider perspective to enable students to look beyond the narrow scope of rankings systems or datasets and see the whole institution.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the figures and make-up of your international student population on campus?
  2. Are you in a state or institution hosting the most international students (see Open Doors 2015 “Fast Facts”?  How do you see the international population on your campus growing over the next ten years?
  3. Where does your institution rank in the US News & World Report Rankings?  How do you and your campus utilize the rankings in recruitment and retention strategies? How does your institution utilize accreditations and scorecard figures or other data dashboards to maintain a competitive edge?
  4. How can you as a Student Affairs practitioner be informed on applied strategies at your institution?  How can you support your colleagues to be more informed on quality assurance best practices? What can your department and you do to emphasize institutional strengths?

About the Author

Tadd Kruse is Assistant to the President for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at the American University of Kuwait (AUK).  With over fifteen years of higher education administrative experience and having worked at institutions in the US, UK, and in the Middle East, he has spent more than a decade working abroad. He has experience in international education on a variety of fronts including international student housing, study abroad, exchange programs, and he co-founded and still oversees the Student Affairs Graduate Summer Internship Program at AUK.  Tadd has served as Senior Student Affairs Officer, founded a department at a start-up institution, and worked in a variety of professional fields within Student Affairs. He currently serves as a Leadership team member for the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS).

Please e-mail inquiries to Tadd Kruse.


The opinions expressed by Developments author(s) are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members, Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Expanding Access to Study Abroad for Disadvantaged Students

The United States has long been the largest receiver of international students, dominating about 20% of the global market.  However, the country has not been as successful in terms of sending students abroad.  According to data collected by the Open Doors report, only about 1% of all United States college students study abroad during their collegiate experience. Granted, the number of Americans studying abroad has increased nearly threefold in the last two decades, rising from fewer than 100,000 students in the early 1990s to nearly 300,000 today.  But, the number remains proportionally tiny and the opportunity to study abroad remains closed off to a vast majority of students, particularly those from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds.  Figure 1 shows the racial disparities that exist in the U.S. study abroad population, with significantly fewer African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students studying abroad than represented in the larger student population.  Studying abroad can have many benefits for students and there are ways to expand access for those academically and economically disadvantaged.

Figure 1: Percent of U.S. Study Abroad Students by Race/Ethnicity, 2012-2013

Source: Data comes from NASFA

Why Study Abroad?

Many who participate in a study abroad experience often describe it as life changing.  The opportunity to experience a different culture, interact with individuals from other countries, and overcome the challenges of living and studying abroad can bring a wide range of benefits. Surveys of those who have studied abroad suggest that studying abroad can advance one’s intercultural understanding, improve self-confidence, and become more self-aware.

Research also shows that the opportunity to study abroad is about more than providing students with an opportunity to experience a different culture, it has direct positive results on a student’s success in college and beyond.  Data from UC San Diego, UT Austin, and the University System of Georgia suggests that students who study abroad graduate at higher rates than those who do not.  Moreover, the Georgia report, which is based on a carefully designed 10-year study, found that study abroad had a positive effect on student GPA, particularly those students who entered college with low SAT scores.

Survey data from the United States and the United Kingdom also suggest that study abroad alumni believe that study abroad prepared them well for the workforce.  The findings of both studies revealed that college graduates who studied abroad were more likely to be employed within six months of graduating; more likely to work in a foreign country; and, for most areas of study, most likely to earn a higher wage than those who did not study abroad.

Expanding Access: An Exemplar Program

Given the important benefits accrued through study abroad, many colleges have been working to expand access to a broad range of students; however, the success of such efforts remains inconsistent.  One program of note is a collaborative effort between the Center for International Programs (CIP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at the State University of New York at New Paltz.  The winner of the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) 2015 Heiskell Award for outstanding study abroad program, the SUNY New Paltz collaborative brings together staff from the two different units to expand access to study abroad for students who are academically and economically disadvantaged.

EOP is a state-funded initiative to expand access and provide academic support for students who do not meet general admission requirements, but show potential for success.  To increase the number of EOP students who study abroad, the CIP and EOP staff work together to make EOP students aware of study abroad opportunities early in their educational experience.  The staff collaborates to advise students about financial matters, expectations, cross-cultural adjustment, and scholarship opportunities for study abroad by providing tutoring and financial resource.

Of particular note is that study abroad is embedded in the support work provided to disadvantaged students, reinforced by peers, and supported through scholarships.  In their first year, students in the EOP program are provided with an extra set of supports to bolster their academic success. As reported in their application for the award:

First-year EOP student seminars devote class time to international education opportunities, with assignments such as developing a four-year academic plan to include a study abroad experience.  First-year students attend special workshops during which returned EOP study abroad students speak to students about their experiences. The EOP study abroad liaison surveys students to gather data related to students’ needs, and the international center provides a writing tutor for students who need assistance with their scholarship essays for study abroad.

Beyond the academic support that is provided, the institution has also worked to identify funding to support the EOP students.  Since 2009, 30 EOP students have received funding from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship fund, a national scholarship program supported by IIE to help students with financial constraints study in a foreign country.  Beyond the Gilman scholarship, 35 students have received funding from other national and institutional sources.

The results speak for themselves.  Since 2007, the CIP and EOP staff has collaborated to support more than 140 EOP students going abroad. Moreover, the six-year graduation rate for EOP study abroad participants is 96%, as compared to a 63% six-year graduation rate for EOP students who do not study abroad.  In fact, the six-year graduation rate of EOP students exceeds that of general admission study abroad students (89%).

Key Takeaways

The success of the efforts at SUNY New Paltz illustrate that it is possible to expand access to study abroad for underrepresented groups.  A key highlight about this program is that it is not a new program, per se; rather it was a new process that complemented the existing work of both offices.  Below is a distillation of some of the key takeaways that might help others replicate this success on their campuses.

Shared Vision

Having a shared vision or set of goals fosters shared commitment and helps focus and align activities.  A key component of the success of the New Paltz program is that there is a sense of a shared commitment to increasing the number of student from disadvantaged backgrounds studying abroad.  With the specific goal of increasing the number of EOP students who were studying abroad, all of the involved staff knew that their efforts needed to increase EOP student engagement.  In launching a similar initiative, there needs to be shared vision of what is to be accomplished and this vision needs to be communicated to all involved staff.

Expanding the Team

Complementary to having a shared vision is having a shared team.  One of the critical components of the success of this program is that there was a collective effort to achieve the vision.  Offices did not point fingers when it came to the responsibility for acting.  The directors and staff of both offices worked together and shared responsibility.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

Because of the shared vision, the staffs at both CIP and EOP were able to create mutually reinforcing activities.  This did not require a great deal of additional effort; rather they had to think strategically about building in activities to their existing work that would drive forward the achievement of their goals.  This was about more than simply informing students of an opportunity.  This was about creating an entire set of activities that got them excited about studying abroad and provided supports to overcome the barriers (real and perceived) that might exist.

Measuring Outcomes 

Success builds success and the leadership at SUNY New Paltz wanted to ensure that the new efforts were actually producing the required outcomes.  As such, they developed mechanisms to track a variety of measures to determine not just whether they were achieving their immediate goal (i.e., increasing the number of EOP students studying abroad) as well as ancillary academic benefits such as improved GPAs and completion rates.  This demonstrated success makes it easier to justify additional resources for the program and the institution is now working to expand the model to develop collaborations with other offices that support disadvantaged students.

Tapping into Existing Funding

A common concern is that study abroad is financially out of reach for many students.  In response, there are a growing number of scholarships being made available to assist students with overcoming this hurdle.  The Gilman Scholarships, mentioned above, are just one example.  Others can be found here.  An important role of campus staff is to help students find the resources they need to make study abroad possible.

Discussion Questions

  1. How many students on your campus study abroad?  Are the demographics of the cohort of students studying abroad similar to the general campus population?
  2. What barriers exist on your campus for students to study abroad?  Do these barriers differ for different demographic groups?
  3. What data supports the existence of these barriers?  How might you obtain this data?
  4. Who should be responsible for expanding access to study abroad for underrepresented groups?
  5. Are there ways to leverage existing resources to support more students studying abroad, particularly those from underrepresented groups?
  6. What steps might you take tomorrow to initiate change?

About the Author

Jason E. Lane is Senior Associate Vice Chancellor and Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Strategic Leadership for the State University of New York as well as associate professor of educational administration and policy studies, and Co-Director of the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT) at the State University of New York, Albany.  He has been a member of the governing boards of the Comparative and International Education Society and the Council for International Higher Education and is an Associate of the International Association of Universities. He is currently a member of the governing board of SUNY Korea. His most recent books include Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch Campuses (2010, Jossey-Bass); Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers (2012, SUNY Press) and Academic Governance and Leadership in Higher Education (2013, Stylus Press).  

Please e-mail inquires to Jason E. Lane.

Follow him on Twitter at @ProfJasonLane


The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members, Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Becoming the Culturally Prepared Professional You Need to be: Preparing to Better Serve Your Students

Becoming a professional that is highly effective in the profession and specific role on campus is an ongoing challenge.  As many of us find responsibilities and tasks expanding in our professional roles, it is increasingly difficult to meet these needs while engaging in professional development activities.  An area often overlooked amongst the multitude of our professional responsibilities is developing one’s cultural preparedness or competency.  In an ever-evolving higher education environment that continues to see increased accountability measures, we as practitioners need to be sure we are prepared to engage the cultural challenges presenting on campus and in the surrounding communities.  This is ever apparent in the United States as the past year has seen headlines related to racial tension and sexual assault issues facing both campuses and the larger society.

While attending several professional conferences this past spring the issue of competence, preparedness, and how student affairs/services professionals best serve students from a cultural perspective was a consistent topic.  Developing a degree of cultural preparedness is not a universal or straightforward skill set, but is rather a collection of awareness, experiences, knowledge, open-mindedness, and adaptation.  I am reminded of this each year as I work with undergraduate and graduate interns in an overseas setting.  Becoming culturally competent is a never-ending lifelong process, and one that begins with having a realistic self-view, understanding of your personality, and an ability to interact with others within a social context.  Culture is understood, applied, and interpreted in a multitude of ways and can apply to a vast number of human attributes.  Culture is “the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from another” as defined by Dutch social psychologistGeert Hofstede, who did a pioneering study of cultures across modern nations.  The “category” mentioned can refer to nations, regions within or across nations, ethnicities, religions, occupations, organizations, or genders.

To illustrate the value of culture in higher education the Association of American Colleges & Universities, in an extensive project from 2007-2009, developed common core expectations to undergraduate learning within a basic framework of expectations.  This established a core set of values and means of assessment on campuses at various levels.  As a result, 16 value rubrics were created, including one on Intercultural Knowledge and Competence.  This rubric suggests a systematic way to measure how one identifies with their cultural influences, analyzes them with others, and adapts to new encounters.   It emphasizes the need of campus communities to meaningfully engage with others, consider historical and political contexts, and focus the impact of culture on learning.

As one academic year closes and you prepare for the next I challenge you to become a more culturally prepared professional.   The following sections offer some insights and items for consideration on how each of us, no matter our personal make-up and campus community, can work to become more culturally prepared professionals, allowing us to better serve our students and campuses.

As a note, the list below is a general list of key focus areas and potential opportunities.  Each person must develop an individual strategy based on ones personal make-up (self-awareness, knowledge, history, etc.), current campus and personal environment, perceived needs, and engagement opportunities.

Cultural Self-Awareness

Cultural experiences develop an individual’s preparedness and growth. Higher education is increasingly global, with an increase in the exchange of students and student affairs professionals domestically and internationally. Cultural experiences and exposure provide for both personal and professional growth, however, being aware and competent is increasingly becoming a necessary twenty-first century skill.  The key to cultural understanding and awareness begins first with an understanding and awareness of self.    We each have a keen sense of self-awareness, however this awareness may often not be fully explored.  Essential to this is the ability to accurately evaluate and see yourself as others see you.

Such self-exploration is not one size fits all and we each are unique persons, based on our knowledge and experiences.  Further, having a language fluency or knowledge is not enough.  To expand self-awareness engaging in interactions needs to take place in order to further allow for self-evaluation.

Possible Suggestions

  • Identify your heritage, personal attributes or identifiers, likes, dislikes, tastes, hobbies, etc.
  • Explore your cultural framework and determine experiences that you can undertake to expand your cross-cultural horizons.  Understand your present limits.
  • Change a pattern or routine and try something different or unfamiliar to expand beyond your current comfort zone (could be food, language, socialization, travel, etc.).
  • Practice exploring new topics related to diversity and culture by engaging in tactful and productive dialogues.
  • Converse with close friends and family on how others perceive you.
  • Consider completing an inventory or assessment on personality or self-perception to better understand how you see and interact with the world around you.

Understanding Local & Campus Culture

As with anything we must know where we are or where we came from in order to know where to go.  This is especially important in our professional roles on campus.  Every country of the world, state, in the union, city or town has a unique make-up comprised of numerous historical, social, economic and other influences.  Further, institutions of higher learning (as any company or corporation) have an institutional culture as well built on traditions, civic, and campus climates.   Each of these impact factors creates a context under which we work and our students learn, with our work still about serving students first and foremost. In order to embrace the cultural atmosphere seek to identify the major cultural features, the impacts on the campus and local communities, and how this information can support your efforts in better serving these communities.

Possible Suggestions

  • Participate in, volunteer to help with, or attend major activities or festivals in the local community.
  • Identify the local heritage and key cultural groups and activities that define your community.
  • Identify the international and domestic diversity populations on your campus and locally.
  • Participate in, volunteer to help with, or attend activities facilitated by the Office of International Student Services.
  • Identify the goals and objectives of your campus, and your division or department, towards internationalization, globalization, multiculturalism, and diversity.

Seeking Cultural Exchanges

The American Council on Education (ACE) in 2011 stated:

It is the obligation of colleges and universities to prepare people for a globalized world, including developing the ability to compete economically, to operate effectively in other cultures and settings, to use knowledge to improve their own lives and their communities, and to better comprehend the realities of the contemporary world so that they can better meet their responsibilities as citizens.

In preparing students for a globalized world ACE specifies the task of higher education institutions, and indirectly the professionals serving them, to promote personal and professional interests linked to knowledge and cultural preparedness.   Although study and work abroad opportunities are very rewarding, other opportunities exist that are less invasive.  Cultural exchanges exist in many forms and do not always require one to uproot and spend months or years in another part of the country or overseas.  These can be found on campus, in your local community, through entertainment, books, online, and many other mediums.

Once you are intentionally self-aware and have identified the cultural influences that impact your local environment, it is important to seek out opportunities for cultural exchange. Such exchanges can be formal and informal, part of your professional role or personal hobbies, and can be significant in time/commitment or single exchanges.  From campus international week activities, lecture series, and language dialogue programs, to off-campus cultural meals, foreign films, and ethnic festivals, a multitude of exchanges exist.  The important key is to intentionally and actively seek a meaningful exchange opportunity for you.

Possible Suggestions

  • Be sure to respect all the ways in which people differ, including personalities and preferences, for effective interactions and exchanges.
  • Get involved with the international community on your campus or locally, volunteer to help with the Office of International Student Services.
  • Network with colleagues who have studied or worked overseas.  Engage meaningful conversations with students or in student programs promoting culture or diversity.
  • Look into taking courses about different cultures, religions, international issues, or higher education courses that have a focus on international education or students.
  • Consider participating in service trips or personal travel to international locations or regions of interest.
  • Work, Intern or Study Abroad – requires serving/interacting with a unique local & institutional sub culture.

Gain Exposure to New Things

Understanding one’s self, the local/campus communities, and seeking cultural exchanges are each important steps in expanding cultural awareness and preparedness.  Another important aspect, inherent throughout, is the willingness to gain exposure to new things.  Be willing to go outside of your comfort zone; try different foods & customs, be immersed in an unfamiliar context, and challenge yourself to grow.  Don’t let your inhibitions and fears limit you. Exploring culture is a lifelong process, and one that no one individual can be masterful in all situations.  Embrace diversity, culture, and push yourself to grow through new experiences.

Several suggestions and ideas of how to gain exposure have already been stated in this piece. Below are further ideas for consideration.

Possible Suggestions

  • Enhance your awareness of diversity and culture. Each includes a wide spectrum of differences that may include innate characteristics, such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, mental and physical abilities, or other orientations.  Additionally, acquired characteristics such as education, income, religion, work experience, language skills, geographic location, or family status present some additional differences.
  • Seek culinary experiences at a restaurant that maintains the culture and cuisine of the nation it represents. Look for a restaurant with direct links to the represented country, or is using authentic recipes.
  • View films and listen to music from other countries or regions.
  • Join online communities, professional organizations, or other web-based resources to connect with people from different nations or cultures.
  • Consider a mentoring or exchange program with someone from a different background.
  • Visit a history or cultural museum nearby or when traveling elsewhere to understand the ethnicities of the people who settled in the locale.
  • Travel to a community outside your own to learn about their culture and history,

backgrounds, religious and cultural practices, languages, cuisine, etc.


Students represent even more diverse populations and are influenced by multinational and multi-cultural factors.  As student affairs/services professionals we need to prepare ourselves to embrace students at both an interpersonal and intercultural level.  Self-awareness is paramount to embracing cultural understanding and must begin with reflection, knowledge, and open-mindedness. Student bodies are expanding and more representative of the global population, bringing multiculturalism and diversity issues in unique ways to our classrooms, residence halls, and campus engagement efforts.  Exploring culture allows each of us to develop as competent professionals and individuals.  The process enables each of us to review our attitude, skills, and knowledge leading to more effective and appropriate behaviors and communications.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does your division, department, or office do to develop in team members’ cultural awareness and exposure?  What efforts do you do?
  2. What are key cultural factors and influences that impact your campus?
  3. Are you aware of resources and activities to expand ones cultural knowledge and exposure on campus?  In the local community?
  4. How do you actively expand your cultural awareness, exposure, and competency both professionally and personally?

About the Author

Tadd Kruse is Assistant to the President for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at the American University of Kuwait (AUK).  With fifteen years of higher education administrative experience and having worked at institutions in the US, UK, and in the Middle East, he has spent more than a decade working abroad. He has experience in international education on a variety of fronts including international student housing, study abroad, exchange programs, and he co-founded and still oversees the Student Affairs Graduate Summer Internship Program at AUK.  Tadd has served as Senior Student Affairs Officer, founded a department at a start-up institution, and worked in a variety of professional fields within Student Affairs.

Please e-mail inquiries to Tadd Kruse.


The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members, Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Global Citizenship and Tertiary Education: Looking to the Future

With increased connections and complexities in today’s globalized world, new understandings and skill sets are needed to understand issues and address problems.  The students of today will be the problem solvers of tomorrow, and they will need to rely on broad views of the world and abilities to collaborate with diverse teams and specialties. Our changing global world requires parallel changes in our educational institutions, especially tertiary ones.  In the two previous articles in this series, we discussed changes needed in today’s universities and outlined two experiential approaches for educating students to become global citizens.  In this concluding article of the series, we examine best practices and associated recommendations for developing similar programs.  Through internationalizing the curriculum, developing and enhancing cross-unit collaborations, and implementing meaningful global programs, students will advance their classroom knowledge and widen the lens with which they see the world.


In our previous two articles in this series, we explained the need for changes in higher education.  In particular, in the first article of the series, we called for expanding educational opportunities that enhance students’ global understandings and build associated skills.  Toward this goal, in the second article, we described two experiential education examples, international service learning and study abroad, and how such experiences provide ‘real world,’ tangible outcomes for students.  In this final article of the series, we discuss best practices for creating and improving such programming for university students.

Best Practices

Many colleges and universities seek to be more supportive of international education, study abroad, and international service learning with the intention of improving students’ global perspectives (Musil, 2006). A number of higher education institutions have been underprepared to effectively implement international initiatives, in part because of cost and institutional mission.  Campuses typically rely upon past history and institutional knowledge when forging new initiatives, such as international programming. Because service learning has a positive effect on student learning and development (Chesbrough, 2011) and international programs appear to be increasing, the desire to address international education has become an attractive consideration for some student services administrators and departmental faculty.  In the remainder of this article, we discuss several best practice recommendations when developing and implementing international programming.  These recommendations are divided into the following areas: examining the campus mission, fiscal considerations, securing resources and staffing, using the strengths of the campus, collaboration, developing trust as a team, being true to the academy, respecting different cultures, and respecting faculty contributions.

Examining the Campus Mission

Institutional leaders and senior administrators often make decisions about international programs. In general, these groups may be ambivalent toward the establishment of and support for international programs because of mission and costs.  We argue that international programs support educational ideals and allow students to be more prepared to engage a global community. Certainly, institutional leaders and administrators have an obligation to adhere to the campus mission and serve the greater community (Lyons, 1993).  Further, these leaders also have an obligation to advance the college and to educate students. Thus, the decision to develop international programs on a college or university campus seems a relatively easy one as well as one the institutional leadership must approach deliberately, ensuring a mesh with the overall mission. Next, we examine fiscal considerations in moving toward or enhancing such programming.

Fiscal Considerations

Often the question of international programs is seen through the lens of whether campuses can afford to support the programs financially and whether faculty are available to develop the international initiatives. The more strategic lens to approach these questions is not whether the campuses could support the programs, but whether they want to have a stronger international culture to inspire students toward an international agenda. If students are given more opportunities to interact with people from different countries and cultures then they will have a better chance of having a global perspective once they graduate.  In this section, we examine both single- and multi-university endeavors as well as partnerships between academic units and student services.

Many campuses have some international focus, but not all are suited for in-depth programs and financial support. It simply may not be cost effective within current budgets. One solution is to take a more collaborative approach among geographically close institutions. One domestic example of a successful partnership is the Regional Academic Collaborative in California (RAC).  The

RAC initiatives promote a college-going culture and increase eligibility and enrollment at post-secondary institutions for students. RAC’s two comprehensive efforts–the College Going Initiative (CGI) and the Summer Algebra Academies (SAA)–focus on high schools within rural and remote regions of California (UC Regents, 2008).

Institutions in Texas are entering partnerships and collaborative relationships as well.  Their programs allow “institutions to leverage existing resources to achieve greater efficiencies. Programmatic partnerships are especially important, as they increase student access to degree programs” (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2008, p. 1).

Taking these examples and looking creatively at ways to enhance international programs across more campuses, one idea would be to have one institution in the partnership provide programs in a specific location, perhaps with students and faculty from across several institutions participating, whereas another institution might offer support or courses in another location. This approach would satisfy the needs of the students and maintain the integrity of each institution while eliminating or greatly reducing the overhead for each school to cover these services on each campus.  This type of collaborative effort is already in place in the Claremont Colleges Consortium (Pomona College, 2011).

If the decision is to develop in-depth international programs solely on one’s own campus, institutional leaders should approach the policy decision strategically and with an eye toward the mission of the college and best practices (Lyons, 1993).  Commonly, institutional leaders and administrators may look toward academic departments to first address these programs because such work often involves faculty.  Although this approach may be successful, an alternative one is having student services address international program initiatives. Student services professionals can work collaboratively with academic leaders and faculty to help with details beyond the curriculum.  This approach allows faculty to concentrate on the academic rigor of the international programs as well as creates a fruitful inter-unit collaboration.

Securing Resources and Staffing

Developing international programs does not necessarily require additional resources and staff. In this section, we examine ways of realigning monetary resources and staff, faculty, and administrator time. When such initiatives become an institutional priority, campus leaders can shift resources to strategically align with priorities.  For example, an initial instinct of institutions may be to create a separate department to promote international programs or support international students and study. If the need is to create a department to primarily develop international programs, then institutions may find resources throughout several areas, including: redirecting resources, a student fee, legislative funding, course fees, department reallocation, campus/metropolitan government partnerships, business partnerships, campus giving, or international partnerships.

Redirecting resources is simply shifting resources and personnel from one department or unit to another or evolving/shifting the emphasis of the personnel or department to provide this type of service for international programs. Many campuses are familiar with the attributes of raising tuition when state or other funding is reduced. If such programming is a priority, implementing a small fee charged to all students is one additional method for obtaining additional resources for a new department or program. Certainly this option could draw criticism. However, with the current wave of support for international education, primarily by students, these concerns may be few. But institutional leaders should at least be cognizant of this potential problem. Legislative funding and student tuition are commonly used to finance public colleges and universities in the United States. Of course, obtaining additional funding from one’s state would require this programming become a significant institutional priority. Many legislators may view support for international education less favorably because the primary purpose of local or area colleges or universities is to support the educational needs of the citizens of that community or state.

Course fees are simply a student fee applied to specific courses in a particular unit or department. This approach could be implemented by charging a small fee for each course in all departments to help fund programs. Department reallocation is similar to redirecting resources. Colleges or universities could encourage a specific department(s) to provide programs or phase out segments of unit offerings to create funding to establish international education. Lastly, creating partnerships with international governments and businesses may be options that enable campuses to obtain grants, gifts, or other funding-in-kind to support these new initiatives.

A pitfall to avoid is the belief that whomever advances the institution’s international agenda must be a foreign national. Although many foreign nationals may be skilled at advancing such programs, it is important not to overlook other campus resources.  For example, student affairs personnel as well as many academics are often trained to work with a wide array of students and understand the processes throughout a campus. It is inefficient to believe that only someone from another country will most effectively advance international programs. What is most important is that the work can be performed and the professional have expertise in maneuvering through campus systems.

Using the Strengths of the Campus

International programs should utilize the strengths of the entire campus, including faculty and academic departments as well as student services and other support areas. This approach ensures all aspects of the program are addressed beyond the curriculum.  Transportation, out-of-classroom opportunities, cultural activities, governmental relations, and intergroup dynamics are often elements addressed after some of the academic components are in place. However, these areas are ones often first discussed, as well as logistics and program planning, by units such as student services. Utilizing these common strengths within a campus enables international programs to potentially develop with a stronger foundation and broader institutional support. This support may also influence available resources and access to a wider range of faculty and students for international initiatives.

There are also strengths found beyond campus departments.  Each individual member of a campus department (academic and nonacademic) brings skill sets that should be considered. Naturally, some individuals are stronger writers, some are better orators, and some are better planners. Some individuals are outstanding at relating to multiple individuals. These individuals may be the ones best capable of engaging governments in a more deliberate and intentional manner.  Some individuals are outstanding at anticipating logistical challenges, developing cultural or student engagement activities that complement a curriculum, and forming professional relationships.  Finding individuals with strengths that complement an academically rigorous program enriches the international program emphasis and adds greater value to the learning outcomes and experiences of the student participants.


Like shared governance, collaboration does indeed work.  Faculty are often collaborators, as are student services practitioners. When designing and developing international programs each group can and should be utilized in a collaborative fashion to shape the total student experience. Each entity approaches program development differently, but both have the students’ learning outcomes as an end objective.  Both want students to have a quality learning experience, and this common goal positively shapes a student’s perspectives of culture, countries, and people. Students are great storytellers, and, when listened to, provide insights into what they are learning or want to learn from specific opportunities throughout a campus and in international sites. Utilizing students, faculty, and student services practitioners to provide a well-rounded international program draws on the skill sets and knowledge of all those vested in the success of such programming.

Developing Trust as a Team

Research about group dynamics clearly emphasizes the importance of teamwork. More practically, the intimacy and time intensity of international travel and remote learning likely require greater team development than some other projects. As institutions develop intentional programs that involve international travel, faculty, staff, and students will be exposed to elements not experienced on campus including different cultural expectations, differing foods, and shared space. Also, international travel may bring an awareness of extreme poverty and balancing perspectives on one’s relative level of privilege.  The role of the team and the trust developed within that team are very important in helping individuals add meaning to what they experience.

Being True to the Academy

As institutions develop international programs, there must remain a strong commitment to academic excellence through incredible teaching, student learning, scholarship, service, and research. Certainly each campus may view this tenet differently, however, with each program effort, curriculum content depth must remain and be balanced by service and research. To simply teach the course without the out-of-classroom experience or clear objectives to the service requirements undermines the academic integrity of the program. International programs do not have to be built around the research agendas of specific faculty. Certainly research agendas may be complementary to program objectives, but emphasis should be on the desired learning outcomes that are identified through collaborative efforts with other faculty and community members in the participating locations.

Respecting Different Cultures

USA-based programs where students, faculty, and staff travel to another country should be cognizant of the environment the group may visit. As international programs are developed, effort should be devoted to being culturally sensitive in the country visited and with the people with whom students and faculty will be interacting. International programs are a conduit for faculty, staff, and students to serve as ambassadors of their college or university to a different region or country. The opportunity for students to learn from the community they are visiting is most critical in the development of the experience. Care should be taken not to impose USA-based symbols and cultures upon another community, but rather to embrace the community visited and learn from how it is enhancing the student experience.

Respecting Faculty Contributions

Campuses are rich in tradition and often state the value of faculty. However, not all campuses are outstanding at recognizing faculty.  International programs are relatively new to many campuses in the United States, and faculty who have devoted efforts to develop and design international opportunities for students may not have been recognized for these efforts. Establishing an acknowledgment process or reward system for faculty contributions to an international agenda is a worthy cause.


In summary, we believe specific strategies enacted by colleges and universities ensure desired learning outcomes for students in international settings. Across this series of articles, we have asserted our belief that integrating and internationalizing the curriculum, creating new and enhancing cross-unit partnerships, and designing and implementing meaningful global experiences for students are necessary for a quality education. These experiences provide students opportunities to better understand and operationalize concepts about the world around them. We posit that experiential education, specifically international service learning and study abroad, offer students a more thorough education and help prepare them for life in a global community. We conclude that college and university campuses must begin conversations about how they can best incorporate international programs and that best practices for increasing and implementing international programs should be taken into consideration.

Discussion Questions

1.  What opportunities exist on your campus for cross-unit collaboration on international programming?  What obstacles might inhibit such partnerships?

2.  Which of the best practices above seem especially important to consider at your institution?

3.  Imagine that you enter the elevator with someone in upper administration who you have been hoping to talk with about creating international opportunities for students.  What is your 30-60 second “elevator speech” to get this issue on the person’s agenda?


Chesbrough, R. D. (2011). College students and service: A mixed methods exploration of motivations, choices, and learning outcomes. Journal of College Student Development, 52, 687-705.

Lyons, J. W. (1993). The importance of institutional mission. In M. Barr, M. Desler, & Associates (Eds.), The handbook of student affairs administration (2nd ed., pp. 3-15). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Musil, C. M. (2006). Assessing global learning: Matching good intentions with good practice. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Pomona College. (2011). The benefits of the Claremont College Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.pomona.edu/academics/curriculum/consortium.aspx

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. (2008). Joint partnerships among Texas institutions of higher education. Retrieved from http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/reports/PDF/1644.PDF?CFID=12204509&CFTOKEN=5659525

UC Regents. (2008). Regional academic collaboratives. Retrieved from http://www.ucop.edu/rac/

About the Authors

Kandi L. Walker is Professor of Communication at the University of Louisville.  Tom Jackson, Jr., is President of Black Hills State University.  Gregory Roberts is former Executive Director of ACPA – College Student Educators International.  Joy L. Hart is Professor of Communication at the University of Louisville.  Roger B. Ludeman is Executive Director of the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS).  A previous version of this work was presented at the 14th General Conference of the International Association of Universities in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Please email inquiries to Kandi L. Walker.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Global Citizenship and Tertiary Education: Exploring Experiential Education Examples

Global Citizenship and Tertiary Education: Exploring Experiential Education Examples

Gregory Roberts
ACPA – College Student Educators International
Tom Jackson, Jr.
University of Louisville
Joy L. Hart
University of Louisville
Kandi L. Walker
University of Louisville
Roger B. Ludeman
International Association of Student Affairs and Services

As the world has become more interconnected through globalization, the need for citizens with expansive views of society has increased.  Today’s problem solvers need to understand local, regional, national, and international issues—as well as the complex interrelations between such issues—to be effective.  Furthermore, tomorrow’s problem solvers will increasingly need such understandings, as well as the skills to work with diverse groups of individuals.  With such changes come increasingly expanded opportunities (and perhaps responsibilities) for universities to educate global citizens: graduates with broad perspectives and necessary skills to build and sustain a world that is just and fair.

As we argued in the initial article in this series, globalization has increased connections across the world; thus, citizens need to have expansive views in order to fully confront the complex issues and problems facing society.  Today’s students must possess multilevel understandings (i.e., local, regional, national, international) and skills to collaborate with diverse others if they are to be tomorrow’s problem solvers.  Such changes call for universities to rethink educational programs in ways that will educate students to become global citizens, who possess encompassing perspectives and necessary skills to grapple with complex issues.  In the previous article in this series, we discussed related literature and made the case for changing tertiary education toward these goals.  With this foundation, we now turn our attention to providing experiential education examples and examining how such experience may develop students’ worldviews.  In particular, we explore service learning and study abroad, though a host of other experiential education opportunities may have similar outcomes for students.  In the next and final article of the series, we conclude by assessing outcomes and describing best practices.


As many educators, strategists, business people, and politicians have suggested, changes are needed in university education to better prepare students for today’s global, interconnected world.  In particular, a focus on and experience with civic engagement is needed.  Toward advancing such educational objectives, several scholars and practitioners have described needed changes in university practice and structure (ACPA et al., 2006; Harper & Quaye, 2008; Keeling, 2004; Strange & Banning, 2001).  Integration of curricular programs and co-curricular opportunities forges more memorable results and deeper learning for students.  Through such experiences, awareness is broadened and skills are honed.  Experiential education, such as international service learning and study abroad (Lewin, 2009), frequently involve collaboration across university units and spur partnership development (Bringle & Hatcher, 2011).  Thus, we turn our attention to these two forms of experiential education, describing two examples and addressing the potential for student growth and inter-university collaborations.

Experiential Education Examples

International service learning and study abroad are two types of experiential education that have a history of providing meaningful and global experiences for students.  Recently, higher education institutions have seen a rise in the number of service learning and study abroad opportunities for students (Campus Compact, 2007).  Assessments of international service learning and study abroad programs show that participation in these types of programs increases students’ awareness of the world around them, fosters students’ ability to think critically about social and cultural issues, and develops student leaders who will embrace a global community (Bringle & Hatcher, 2011; Engberg & Fox, 2011). These positive assessments show that international service learning and study abroad provide students with learning opportunities that are relevant, meaningful, and increasingly needed in global citizenship.

Although international service learning and study abroad have the potential to provide students with many positive educational outcomes, it needs to be noted that international service learning and study abroad, while similar, are two different approaches to experiential education. As Parker and Dautoff (2007) noted, international service learning “emphasizes reciprocal learning and growth for students, faculty and community members” (p. 41) and study abroad focuses on the “personal growth” of the student (p. 41).  Bringle and Hatcher (2011) further explained international service learning as:

A structured academic experience in another country in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that addresses identified community needs; (b) learn from direct interaction and cross-cultural dialogue with others; and (c) reflect on the experience in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a deeper understanding of global and intercultural issues, a broader appreciation of the host country and the discipline, and an enhanced sense of their own responsibilities as citizens, locally and globally. (p. 19)

This definition distinguishes service learning from study abroad by highlighting the student focus on community needs and how students can engage and help community members with such needs. Service learning also allows students time to reflect about the service experience from multiple lenses, including academic, social, and cultural.

Study abroad and service learning may approach educating students somewhat differently, but they both often make a positive impact on a student’s education and leave a lasting impression on students.  In the next section, we provide international service learning and study abroad program examples from the University of Louisville (UofL).

International Service Learning

The International Service Learning Program (ISLP) at UofL began in the mid-1990s.  From the beginning, ISLP stressed the need for service learning in order to have multiple disciplines involved both in the formal classroom at the university and in the more experiential component of the class in the international setting.  After a few years of fieldwork in Belize, Central America, the faculty and student service administrators believed that this multidisciplinary approach needed to become an interdisciplinary one.  They believed that an interdisciplinary approach, which allows students to have a “problem-centered mode of learning” (Gagdon, 1998, p. 191), better suited the goals of a quality learning experience and an enhanced international service-learning program for students.  It was clear that faculty and student service administrators wanted ISLP to align itself with an approach that would boost “critical thinking, enhance creativity, integrative thought processes, sensitivity to ethical issues, tolerance of ambiguity and humility” (Gagdon, 1998, p. 189).  As such, ISLP created “an interlinked interdisciplinary structure, ensuring that students from diverse disciplines would collaborate with each other in developing and leading service projects as well as with community members” (Jackson et al., 2012, p. 5).

In the initial years of ISLP, the primary international location was Belize, Central America.  As the faculty, administrators, and students of ISLP became more comfortable with the problem-focused interdisciplinary model, the capacity for the program to grow in more sites was evident.  At this time, ISLP takes place in five countries, using the interdisciplinary problem-focused approach in every site.  ISLP currently offers a service- learning program in Botswana, Croatia, The Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Belize.  There are one fall program (The Philippines), two spring break programs (Belize and Trinidad and Tobago), and two end-of-spring term programs (Croatia and Botswana).

Now in its 15th year, ISLP has accumulated a list of service learning activities and educational programs implemented in the five countries.  Most recently, UofL students have provided educational programs in primary or secondary schools and/or to community groups, ranging from full communities to women’s groups; led teacher training workshops; and/or setup and staffed free dental or medical clinics.  Examples of school programs include anti-bullying and healthy relationships (Justice Administration), personal resiliency (Psychology), Olympic ideals (Sport for Development), water filtration (Science Education), the cardiovascular system (Nursing), and dental clinics (Dentistry).

In each educational program, students develop their materials in their discipline-specific classes.  Then the students merge to an interdisciplinary team where they all learn the programs.  The cross-disciplinary training occurs in the required pre-departure orientations.  In addition to cross-training on the educational programs, ensuring every student is responsible for knowing all the programs, the pre-departure orientations allow students to meet each other and create group cohesiveness, with team-building units as part of each orientation; to learn more about the country, culture, and customs of their host site; to get logistical information about the trip, such as necessary paperwork, dress code, travel specifics, and significance of each service day; and to review reflection practices for different aspects of the service learning trip.

UofL’s ISLP implements essentially the same program structure at each of the locations; that is, the general travel and service itineraries are highly similar across all sites.  After many years of experimenting with multiple approaches, the current schedule includes student downtime after traveling, letting them adjust to their new surroundings, followed by several days of service learning work, and then concludes the trip with cultural activities.  This model allows students to better absorb each phase of their service learning activity and reflect on the phase in greater depth.

After students return to the university, the team reunites to reflect and celebrate their work and accomplishments.  Some students have created Facebook pages to increase contact with their new friends in the host country and also to maintain contact with their new ISLP university friends.  Student comments during the reunion, post-service survey assessments, and on Facebook concentrate on how the international service learning opportunity changed their outlook on life and often on how they want to continue in their work helping others.

Study Abroad

One successful study abroad program at UofL is the joint effort of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the Department of Communication.  During the month of May, UofL students and faculty travel to Panama City, Panama, where courses in Spanish, Communication, and Panamanian Culture are taught and cultural excursions are offered.  Existing for more than a decade, this program is extremely popular with students, because they have unique opportunities to take classes from UofL faculty and local Panamanian instructors, as well as to experience much that Panama has to offer (e.g., fieldtrips, cultural performances).

As part of this study abroad program’s structure, faculty and students meet before they depart for Panama.  During the first week of May, the study abroad students participate in a multi-day orientation.  At these orientation meetings, students meet the professors and each other, learn about trip expectations and policies, begin discussing some material for the courses they will take onsite, and learn about Panama.  The orientation meetings are required half-day events.

Each student participating in the Panama study abroad trip registers for six hours of course credit and is in class Monday through Friday during the month-long visit.  While in Panama, each student is required to take a Panamanian Culture course, which teaches students about the history, culture, and political, educational, social, and religious institutions of Panama.  The students then choose a three credit hour elective course.  Students can take either an upper division Communication course or an upper division Spanish course.

In addition to the six credit hours, students are offered a number of co-curricular activities and excursions to immerse themselves in the country.  The students have time to visit the Panama Canal and Panama Canal Museum, participate in a guided tour of the Presidential Palace, join in dance lessons, visit the Gamboa Rainforest, and tour the Emberá Indigenous Village.  At the Emberá Village, students have opportunities to talk with members of this indigenous group about their history, customs, and culture.  In addition to these activities, UofL students meet Panamanian college students and are guests at a dinner hosted by the President of Quality Leadership University (UofL’s affiliate campus in Panama City).

When the Panama program first began, it was housed solely in the Spanish Section of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages.  Originally, students who traveled for the month-long program were interested in enhancing their Spanish speaking abilities.  Later, in collaboration with the Department of Communication, the program broadened class offerings so non-Spanish speakers or students with more limited Spanish-speaking abilities also would have an opportunity to study in Panama.  This partnership has proved successful, and a third discipline, Political Science, will join the collaboration next May.


These two examples of experiential education have prompted many discussions about the benefits of engaging students in the global community.  From a student affairs perspective, it is our job to move higher education institutions from conversation to action and support and encourage more international programs across campuses.  When students participate in such opportunities, their outlooks broaden and their skills deepen, moving them toward greater abilities to engage with others in tackling issues and solving problems—and creating the global citizenry needed in today’s world.  In the next and final article of this series on global citizenship and tertiary education, we discuss the commitment needed for such programs and share best practices for designing and implementing international programs.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does integrating the curricular and co-curricular enhance student learning?
  2. What programs or opportunities similar to the ones described in this article exist at your institution?  What are their learning outcomes?
  3. How does your campus distinguish between service-learning and study abroad? What are considerations in developing such programs? How should such programs be evaluated? What approaches or methods do you recommend for assessing student learning?
  4. Have social media enhanced service-learning activities? If so, how? What other recent developments have influenced study abroad and service learning?


ACPA, ACUHO-I, ACUI, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, & NIRSA. (2006).  Learning reconsidered 2: A practical guide to implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (2011). International service learning. In R. G. Bringle, J. A. Hatcher, & S. G. Jones (Eds.), International service learning: Conceptual frameworks and research (pp. 3-28). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Campus Compact. (2007). 2006 service statistics: Highlights and trends of Campus Compact’s annual membership survey. Providence, RI: Author.

Engberg, M. E., & Fox, K. (2011). Service participation and the development of a global perspective. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48, 85-105.

Gagdon, P. D. (1998). Acting integrative: Interdisciplinarity and theatre pedagogy. Theatre Topics, 8, 189-204.

Harper, S. R., & Quaye, S. J. (Eds.). (2008). Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations. New York, NY:  Routledge.

Jackson, T. R., Jr., Hart, J. L., Walker, K. L., Foster, J. P., Clark, T. J., & Mercer, L. H. (2012).  Serving the world through international service learning: A partnership between academics and student services. Proceedings of the Asia Pacific Student Services Association Conference.

Keeling, R. P. (Ed.). (2004). Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience. Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Lewin, R. (Ed.). (2009). The handbook of practice and research in study abroad: Higher education and the quest for global citizenship. New York, NY: Routledge.

Parker, B., & Dautoff, D. A. (2007). Service-learning and study abroad: Synergistic learning opportunities. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 13, 40-53.

Strange, C. C., & Banning, J. H. (2001). Educating by design: Creating campus learning environments that work. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.

About the Authors

Gregory Roberts is Executive Director of ACPA – College Student Educators International. Tom Jackson, Jr., is Vice President for Student Affairs and Joy L. Hart and Kandi L. Walker are Professors of Communication at the University of Louisville.  Roger B. Ludeman is Executive Director of the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS).  A previous version of this work was presented at the 14th General Conference of the International Association of Universities in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Please e-mail inquiries to Gregory Roberts.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Student Mobility in an Expanding Global Market: Potential Impacts on Your Campus

Student Mobility in an Expanding Global Market: Potential Impacts on Your Campus

Tadd Kruse
American University of Kuwait

Entering the new millennium and following the events of September 2001, the composition of higher education around the globe has seen significant growth and change. New opportunities for access to post-secondary learning continue to expand with the continual growth of institutions of higher learning, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.  Access for individuals to attain a quality education without leaving home is greater than ever before outside the United States, seeing increases in both foreign operated institutions and international branch campuses of universities.   The need for greater access to higher education and the means by which such access is administered have resulted in tremendous growth and unique shifts in how academic and student support services are delivered.

In the early weeks of 2014, a series of articles were reported in the University World News on the mobility of students to study internationally.  These articles highlighted some interesting data and trends that significantly impact institutions of higher education around the world. The mass movement of students will see nearly five million students around the globe pursuing coursework for degrees outside of their home country this year.  This number is staggering, especially when one notes that this figure is a 140% increase since the year 2000.  Understanding the mobility of students is important for campus communities in serving special student populations and in meeting commonplace initiatives related to multiculturalism, internationalization, and global citizenship.

It is important to recognize the top source countries as well as the top destination countries for international students as many campuses will likely have students attending from the top source countries, and students or programs in the top destination countries.  These are important factors to consider and means to acknowledge how each campus is influenced by student mobility. According to the article, and based on 2011 statistics, the top five source and destination countries are as follows:

Graph of Top 5 Source Countries

Graph of Top 5 Destination Countries

The top five destination countries hosted almost half of all international students, an important note for educators and student services professionals. The United States is still the top destination for international students since 2000, however this figure has decreased by more than 7%, illustrating one of the outcomes of higher education in a post-September 11th world.

Overall, overseas students comprise less than 4% of the 21 million students enrolled in higher education.  Despite the decrease in percentage in the United States from the global pool, and given the number of international students has doubled around the globe in the same period, the United States will see a record number of foreign students in 2014, an estimated 900,000.  The United States, as similar in many other western nations, has seen the enrollment of Chinese students significantly increase, reaching almost 30% of all international students in United States.  Students from India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia are among the most numerous source countries following China.

Conversely, last year the United States saw 285,000 students pursue academic coursework abroad, a small increase.  The top five destinations for American students in rank order were the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and China.  Other notables were Germany, Australia, Costa Rica, Ireland and Japan.  The largest increases were seen in China and Latin American countries.

As stated previously, nearly five million international students will influence the diversity, and in a large part, the identity of college campuses globally this year.  The United States alone will be influenced by almost 1.2 million students participating in overseas studies when you combine foreign students studying in the United States and American students who study overseas.

Additionally, it is important to recognize when reviewing figures of student mobility that reports will often differ due to definitions of mobility, data completeness, lack of systematic central data collection, and most significantly the availability of data.  Understanding imbalances in reporting are important to note, and in some instances the figures can differ drastically.   Systems and definitive data are not in place to address the many complex issues surrounding mobility on a global level, but one should look at the bigger picture and make connections from the general figures and trends to one’s own institution and campus community.  Adjusting one’s scope and finding the commonalities in the data shared will provide a context for understanding and growth that may be useful and meaningful on campus.

Potential Impact and Application on your Campus

Higher education prides itself in promoting diversity, cultural awareness, and particularly in recent years, global citizenship.  The flow of students on an international scale, and changing trends impact both large and small campuses alike.  Higher education in the global market is being forced to evolve at a rate in which student services on many campuses may or may not be keeping up.  Each institution has a unique sub-culture and student population represented, impacting the overall campus environment and how student services are aligned.  As a result every institution has a varying degree of commitment to diversity or internationalization, both in vision and practice, which are effected by the institutional type, campus size, campus location, culture, and nation of origin among others.

The best means to support students is to be aware of student mobility and how both the diversity of the student body, and international programs and services may directly or indirectly impact programs and services.  These both influence the overall institution, and many times may exist in academic or other units from whom student services may not normally interact. Awareness is essential so that one can engage in opportunities and help to build bridges that enhance student services and the overall student experience.

Several factors to keep in mind when considering how student mobility may impact your institution and the preparedness of student services are listed below:

Cultural Adaptation

Recognizing the various cultural differences and challenges as well as preparing to make adjustments in both directions in order to meet institutional requirements along with reasonably accommodating international student shifts from cultural norms (Example: helping to meet special eating requirements for Muslim students, especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan).

Student Housing

Providing student housing with an understanding and preparedness to accommodate special needs regarding cultural matters pertaining to gender, hygiene, food, religious beliefs, space, etc. (Example: providing housing opportunities to support students from cultures that are more conservative than others in regards to gender).

Special Populations (Large Groups)

Catering to large populations of foreign students, especially if they come from a single country, to meet special large group or program needs but doing so without allowing the group to become isolated (Example: providing support for the needs of a large student group represented on campus, Chinese students for instance, without inherently creating/enabling a means to isolate these students from the greater campus community).

International Admissions

Understanding admission target regions or populations and the recruitment objectives related to international admission, acknowledging that objectives may shift from year to year but are often driven by existing academic programs and global markets (Example: STEM-related fields are popular among potential students in many Asian countries, thus driving admission practice)

International Programs

Recognizing the overseas programs and ways that students and faculty participate in foreign studies and research is an important component, often overlooked, of how a campus is influenced (Example: a campus has an overseas study abroad campus maintained by the institution, resulting in a significant number of faculty and students participating in that program over others).

Special Programs or Initiatives (Scholarships, exchanges, partnerships, etc.)

Identifying scholarship programs or other financial support, as well as exchange or partnership agreements, can drive the opportunities or objectives of an institution and equally impact several of the other factors listed here (Example: foreign governments establish scholarship programs to send students overseas to pursue degrees in certain countries, at partnered institutions, or in specified fields of study).

Global Events

Being aware of international, and domestic, activities and events that impact students on campus can significantly shift the short-term and long-term feasibility of special population enrollments, programs, and services (Example: natural disasters, political unrest, economic developments, etc.).


Remember that influences and impacts on campus from student mobility, diversity, and international programs can present themselves in differing forms.  Sometimes it is as simple as changing an approach or perspective towards providing a service, such as housing, from providing living quarters to making it a truly unique living/learning environment.  Equally, it may require seeking out an understanding of new or existing initiatives and finding ways to partner with other units to create a mutually beneficial opportunity.

As a new academic year approaches, now is an excellent time to reflect on your own institutional make-up, culture, and multiculturalism on campus.  Consider the driving forces behind each, the factors that impact your institution, and attempt to understand how student mobility and international programs influence your institution.

Discussion Questions

  1. How has your campus been impacted in recent years, and over the past decade, from student mobility related to international students and international programs?
  2. Has your campus adjusted programs and resources to meet the cultural needs of international and domestic students and those of the campus community at large? If not, what areas need greater attention?
  3. What opportunities exist on your campus: (a) to maximize potential impacts of student mobility and international programs? (b) to improve student services to special populations?

About the Author

Tadd Kruse serves as Assistant to the President for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at the American University of Kuwait (AUK).  Having worked at institutions in the US, UK, and in the Middle East, Tadd has spent more than a decade of his fifteen years of experience in higher education working abroad. His global experiences include international student housing, study abroad, exchange programs, in addition to his co-founding and continued oversight of the Student Affairs Graduate Summer Internship Program at AUK.  Tadd has also served as Senior Student Affairs Officer, founded a department (Office of Student Life) at a start-up institution, and worked in a variety of professional fields within Student Affairs.

Please e-mail inquiries to Tadd Kruse.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Global Citizenship and Tertiary Education: A Time for Change

Global Citizenship and Tertiary Education: A Time for Change

Joy L. Hart
University of Louisville
Tom Jackson
University of Louisville
Kandi L. Walker
University of Louisville
Gregory Roberts
ACPA – College Student Educators International
Robert B. Ludeman
International Association of Student Affairs and Services

As the world has become more interconnected through globalization, the need for citizens with expansive views of society has increased.  Today’s problem solvers need to understand local, regional, national, and international issues—as well as the complex interrelations between such issues—to be effective.  Furthermore, tomorrow’s problem solvers will increasingly need such understandings, as well as the skills to work with diverse groups of individuals.  With such changes come increasingly expanded opportunities (and perhaps responsibilities) for universities to educate global citizens: graduates with broad perspectives and necessary skills to build and sustain a world that is just and fair.

In this series of three articles, we address strategies to ensure desired learning outcomes for the students of today and tomorrow, especially those outcomes crucial to becoming effective global citizens.  In particular, we examine integrating and internationalizing the curriculum, creating new and enhancing existing cross-unit partnerships (e.g., academic and student affairs), and designing and implementing meaningful global experiences for students.  Such experiences allow students to better understand and put to use the concepts they have grappled with in the traditional classroom.  After making the case for needed change and positioning our work in the scholarly literature (Part 1 of the series), we focus on two key experiential learning examples:  service learning and study abroad (Part 2 of the series).  We conclude the series by discussing preparation and results, including best practices for designing and implementing such programs (Part 3 of the series). 


What global companies look for is people [sic] who we think can take a global perspective.  Students are well placed to do this if they have taken opportunities to widen their cultural perspective.  The people that succeed can work in multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural and multi-locational teams.  If students have demonstrated they can work with other cultures and teams, that’s a big plus for us as we need students to be intellectually curious and culturally agile if they are going to work in a global context. -Sonja Stockton, Director, Talent – PricewaterhouseCoopers

Despite some educational strides, much work remains in order to ensure that tertiary graduates understand the global landscape and possess the skills to advance a more sustainable and just world.  The sheer volume of ongoing conversations about such issues is evidence enough of the vastness and pressing nature of this need.  Toward a just and sustainable world, embracing the “triple bottom-line” or 3BL approach, with social (people), economic (profit), and environmental (planet) components, is vital.  Using this 3BL lens for education and society requires timely promotion of democratic citizenship and creation of global competencies that move beyond the borders of comfort and familiarity.

The oft-used Kennedy paraphrase, “To those whom much is given, much is expected,” provides a touchstone for moving forward with education cultivating global citizenship.  It is imperative that “high performing” nations embrace global skills development and work to infuse it throughout their educational systems, especially at the tertiary level where students are ready to engage deeply with critical thinking, embrace multiple and divergent perspectives, and work diligently to forge relationships. Following Singmaster (n.d.), let’s briefly examine the actions of four nations toward developing global citizens.

  1. China – A mid-1990s overhaul of the educational system resulted in English language training beginning in primary school and world history and world geography infused throughout the curriculum.  More recently, China is engaged in further educational reforms, emphasizing “real world” needs, focused on 2020.  Students are engaging in real world applications, emphasizing alternative energy, health and well being, and preservation and conservation.  One indicator of China’s commitment to increased global education and citizenship is its plan to send 50,000 school principals abroad to gain new insights, experience other cultures firsthand, and determine best practices (Singmaster, n.d.).
  2. Singapore – Recent educational reform involves plans to strengthen curricula toward meeting “21st century competencies,” such as intercultural skills and global literacy (Singmaster, n.d.).  Indicators of competence include abilities to communicate (e.g., asking questions) and work in teams, as well as being knowledgeable about the nation and the world.  Focal skill areas center in developing: (1) confident, independent thinkers with well-honed communication skills, (2) self-directed individuals who take initiative for learning, (3) active participants able to work effectively with team members, and (4) engaged citizens committed to civic responsibility and improving social justice.
  3. Korea – Beyond the typical core curriculum (e.g., science, mathematics), considerable educational emphasis is devoted to world history, world geography, and humanities courses, such as art and music.  Further, students have been required to take English language courses for more than 65 years.  To ensure teachers are prepared to facilitate student skill development, the government provides a number of programs to support teacher travel and study abroad (Singmaster, n.d.).
  4. India – Although not widely regarded as a “high performing country” in measures of student assessment, India is working toward preparing students for the global economy and global challenges (Singmaster, n.d.).  Plans are underway to incorporate a worldwide focus into educational systems, as well as to increase emphasis on communicative abilities and analytical skills.  For example, world history, world literature and increased language study (i.e., three languages rather than the previously required two languages) will be required.  Other subjects, such as international business, will also be available.

These examples provide some evidence that the world is moving ahead in trying to cultivate global citizens with global knowledge and, in some cases, a commitment to the common good—or a sustainable future for all of us (Abdi & Shultz, 2009).  However, the United States, an educational innovator and leader at one time, is now losing its edge.  Following the Kennedy challenge, as a “high performing,” developed nation, much is expected of us—and we need to do more to meet the challenge of creating global competencies and democratic citizenship.

Why is it essential that we design educational programs with learning outcomes to develop 21st century global citizens?  Despite an array of considerations, the major challenge facing us is developing an engaged, global citizenry, and toward this goal, we must focus on multiculturalism, diversity, inclusiveness, global awareness, community service, dimensions of leadership, and effective involvement in governance (e.g., community, institutional).  In tertiary institutions, these aims are best met by fusing what have often been disparate facets of the university—the curricular and the co-curricular.  Partnerships between academics and student affairs can more rapidly and more meaningfully develop student skills.  To better serve current students—as well as work to create a more sustainable world—we need to assess possibilities, plan programs, and share best practices.  This series of articles is one step in that process.  The following examples show the extent to which such perspectives are embraced beyond the academy:

  1. Frits van Paasschen, Starwood Hotels and Resorts CEO and President, labeled the inability of U.S. citizens to speak a language other than English or function cross-culturally as a primary hindrance of being a U.S.-based company (Mulholland, 2011).
  2. CEO, Chairperson, and President of Manpower, Inc., Jeff Joerres noted that businesses need global capital and stressed that the paucity of employees with a global perspective and global skills must be addressed.  In his view, this “social skills” deficit is harmful (Mulholland, 2011).
  3. Further, according to Mulholland (2011), if we are going to produce the educated citizenry that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and others desire, “We need to focus on how to provide students with greater access to an education that specifically nurtures critical global skills such as facility in a foreign language, an understanding of other countries and cultures, and the ability to function effectively in differing cultural contexts.”

Toward reaching such goals, we examine several facets of tertiary education.  In this first article of the series, we review academic literature relevant to these goals.  In the next article in this series, we discuss experiential education as a means to develop global understanding and skills.  We provide two examples—service learning and study abroad—and explore preparation and results.  Finally, in the third article in the series, we chronicle recommendations and best practices that may be useful as colleges and universities consider such programs suggesting central goals and action steps for administrators and institutional leaders.

A Time for Change

Few would dispute that monumental changes have occurred over the past few years or the rippling effects of these changes.  And change continues—population increases, climate change, depletion of resources, destruction of rainforests, disease outbreaks, just to name a few.  Further, globalization is a magic wand and a double-edged sword.  We can travel faster, communicate faster, and share faster than ever before, but just as the positive possibilities have materialized, so have negative ones, with far-reaching implications for local or regional actions.

As the world has grown more interlinked, the need for global awareness and understanding is even more pressing (Rhoads & Szelenyi, 2011).  Certainly, cultural awareness and cross-cultural skills have long been important, but in today’s world, such knowledge and skill is vital (Schattle, 2007).  Due to the increasing importance of such understanding and skill, a number of leading educational groups and associations call for action—priorities for civic education and engagement (e.g., Campus Compact, 1999; Council of Europe, 2006).  Because change has occurred and is occurring, these professionals call for a changed education system: one that foregrounds the global world and the knowledge and skill sets needed to navigate its complex systems and cultures.

With the changes over the last few decades come demands for new problem-solving skills as well.  Increasingly, problems are “wicked”—morasses of mess.  No longer is one expert enough to solve most problems.  Further, no longer is one area of expertise enough.  Rather, the problems of today and tomorrow require new orientations to solutions: ones that involve collaboration across bodies of knowledge or disciplines.  For example, addressing issues of hunger or disease will not be complete from only the perspective of public health scholars or practitioners; such issues require efforts from teams of collaborating health care workers, geographers, health communication specialists, biologists, agricultural experts, and so forth.  The task of education is to bring forth graduates who can serve on and lead such teams.  As Bringle, Hatcher, and Williams (2011) underscored, “Crossing cultural boundaries, navigating differences, and finding common voice to address complex social issues, around the world and at home, requires that college graduates are equipped with skills unlike those needed a generation ago” (p. 287).

In sum, as societies have become interlinked, so have many of the problems we face.  Thus, leadership skills also take key prominence in the global context.  Although the number of individuals graduating college is increasing slightly worldwide, still a small minority of the world population holds a university degree (Barro & Lee, 2010; Freeman, 2009).  Yet, these individuals are some of the ones most likely to be called upon to solve local and global problems. Global understanding and multicultural awareness enhance their chances of successful problem solving.

Education focusing on civic engagement is one means of facilitating citizenship and problem solving.  Such education is believed to result in increased learning, contribute to quality of life for individuals and communities, as well as further campus learning outcomes/objectives (Bringle, 2011; Colby, Ehrlich, Beaumont, & Stephens, 2003; Percy, Zimpher, & Brukardt, 2006).  But to achieve the desired outcomes, universities will have to reinvent themselves in ways that model what they are looking for.  No longer can silos exist where we isolate ourselves with disciplinary specialization.  Increasingly, we must strive for multidisciplinarity, even omnidisciplinarity.  Further, no longer can divisional or unit lines separate our thinking or our practice.  If we expect to produce students capable of working in multidisciplinary teams to address society’s challenges, we must be able to forge partnerships with our colleagues across the campus, even in areas not often coupled together.  As Jackson et al. (2012) noted, these educational goals “will not be achieved by the university of the past century.  Rather, new methods and structures of university education must be devised and enacted” (p. 3).

To meet educational objectives, a number of scholars and practitioners have called for changes in university structures (ACPA et al., 2006; Harper & Quaye, 2008; Keeling, 2004; Strange & Banning, 2001). One area for change involves interweaving curricular and co-curricular offerings and programs.  Through such interweaving, tighter links can be forged that result in deeper student learning.  Such collaborative efforts are likely to foster skill development and broaden awareness.  For example, experiential education programs, such as international service learning and study abroad (see Lewin, 2009, for more detail), often involve work across units and can fuel partnership growth (Bringle & Hatcher, 2011).  In the next article in this series, we examine service learning and study abroad in more detail, especially addressing the potential for student learning and furthering collaboration.

Discussion Questions

1.  Changing university structures is not easy, especially in terms of undertaking curriculum overhauls or shifting program requirements.  How can universities best incorporate cultural awareness and cross-cultural skills into their curricula?

2.  What buy-in from administrators, faculty, staff, and/or students needs to be in place to best incorporate civic engagement into the academic curriculum?

3.  What are the challenges and potential pitfalls of merging the curricular and the co-curricular?  How can these challenges and pitfalls be overcome?

4.  As universities reinvent themselves, what types of changes do you envision?  What will universities look like 25 years from now?


Abdi, A.A., & Shultz, L. (Eds.). (2009). Educating for human rights and global citizenship.  Albany, NY:  SUNY Press.

ACPA, ACUHO-I, ACUI, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, & NIRSA. (2006).  Learning reconsidered 2: A practical guide to implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience. Champaign, IL:  Human Kinetics.

Barro, R.J., & Lee, J.W. (2010).  A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010.  Cambridge, MA:  The National Bureau of Educational Research (working paper no. 15902).

Bringle, R.G. (2011).  Preface. In R.G. Bringle, J.A. Hatcher, & S.G. Jones (Eds.), International service learning: Conceptual frameworks and research (pp. ix-xvi).  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.

Bringle, R.G. & Hatcher, J.A. (2011).  International service learning. In R.G. Bringle, J.A. Hatcher, & S.G. Jones (Eds.), International service learning: Conceptual frameworks and research (pp. 3-28).  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.

Bringle, R.G., Hatcher, J.A., & Williams, M.J. (2011).  Quantitative approaches to research on international service learning:  Design, measurement, and theory.  In R.G. Bringle, J.A. Hatcher, & S.G. Jones (Eds.), International service learning: Conceptual frameworks and research (pp. 275-290).  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.

Campus Compact. (1999). Presidents’ declaration on the civic responsibility of higher education. Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/resources/detail.php?id=35

Colby, A., Ehrlich, T., Beaumont, E., & Stephens, J. (2003).  Educating citizens:  Preparing American’s undergraduates for lives of moral and civic responsibility.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.

Council of Europe. (2006). Higher education and democratic culture: Citizenship, human rights and civic responsibility. Retrieved from http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/highereducation/DemocraticCulture/Declaration_EN.pdf

Freeman, R. B. (2009).  What does global expansion of higher education mean for the US?  Cambridge, MA:  The National Bureau of Educational Research (working paper no. 14962).

Harper, S.R. & Quaye, S.J. (Eds.). (2008).  Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations. New York, NY:  Routledge.

Jackson, T.R., Jr., Hart, J.L., Walker, K.L., Foster, J.P., Clark, T.J., & Mercer, L.H. (2012).  Serving the world through international service learning:  A partnership between academics and student services.  Proceedings of the Asia Pacific Student Services Association Conference.

Keeling, R.P. (Ed.). (2004).  Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience.  Washington, DC:  National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Lewin, R. (Ed.).  (2009).  The handbook of practice and research in study abroad:  Higher education and the quest for global citizenship.  New York, NY:  Routledge.

Mulholland, J. (2011, July 28).  Is having a global mindset as important as technical skills in today’s economy [Web log post]?  Retrieved from http://blog.nafsa.org/2011/07/28/is-having-a-global/

Percy, S.L., Zimpher, N., & Brukardt, M. (Eds.). (2006). Creating a new kind of university.  Bolton, MA:  Anker.

Rhoads, R., & Szelenyi, K. (2011).  Global citizenship and the university: Advancing social life and relations in an interdependent world.  Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Schattle, H. (2007).  The practices of global citizenship.  Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield.

Singmaster, H. (n.d.).  How high performing nations teach global skills.  Retrieved from http://asiasociety.org/education/learning-world/how-high-performing-nations-teach-global-skills

Strange, C.C. & Banning, J.H. (2001).  Educating by design: Creating campus learning environments that work.  Hoboken, NJ:  Jossey-Bass.

About the Authors

Joy L. Hart is Professor of Communication, Tom Jackson, Jr., is Vice President for Student Affairs, and Kandi L. Walker is Professor of Communication at the University of Louisville. 

Gregory Roberts is Executive Director of ACPA – College Student Educators International.  Roger B. Ludeman is Executive Director of the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS).  A previous version of this work was presented at the 14th General Conference of the International Association of Universities in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Please e-mail inquiries to Joy L. Hart.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

How Safe do International Students view your Campus?

How Safe do International Students view your Campus?

Jason E. Lane
State University of New York, Albany

During 2009, a series of alleged hate crimes occurred in Australia against students studying abroad from India. The attacks attracted the attention of the Australian and Indian media, with stories increasingly suggesting that Australia was no longer a safe place for Indians to study abroad. The widely reported result was a precipitous decline in the number of Indian students pursuing their studies in Australia. In fact, one report found that the number of Indian students studying in Australia fell from 34,200 in 2007-2008 to 9,750 in 2011-2012.

For a nation where international students make up the largest proportion of collegiate enrollments in the world and for whom education is the leading service export, the result was significant. The shrinking number of students resulted in the closing of several foreign language institutes (heavily dependent on those enrollments); the shrinking of university budgets; and reduction in the overall export value of the sector. For example, in the state of Victoria where many of the incidents occurred, the export contribution of international students fell from more than $5 billion in 2009-2010 to $4.4 billion in 2011-2012.

The reality of the situation is far more complicated. An investigation by the Indian government concluded that only 23 of the 152 reported incidents involved “racial overtones.” Moreover, a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology concluded that between 2005 and 2009, international students in Australia were less likely to be assaulted than the average person in Australia. And, while the assault rate of Indian students in some jurisdictions was equivalent to that of the average of Australia, the overall assault rate of Indian students across the nation was also lower than average.

But, the damage had already been done.

In fact, there appears to have been a significant increase in the level of concern about the safety of international study According to research by the British Council, safety is now one of the top five concerns among international students influencing their choice of destination. Only six years ago, safety barely made the list of their concerns, ranking 17 out of 19.

For the most part, the United States retains a reputation as one of the safest destinations in the world.

Another report by the British Council, with the online student forum The Student Room, found mixed reviews about the safety of the United States among their 160,000 student respondents. The United States received the third most votes for being the safest destination. However, it also received the third most votes for being the least safe destination. The report indicated that the divided opinion “was based on concerns about relatively relaxed gun laws, offset by its multicultural society and high police presence.”

The heightened concern about safety means that the media, particularly overseas, more readily report on attacks on international students. In fact, the United States drew a lot of attention last spring over the Boston bombings. Not only was this a significant event of domestic terror, but one international student ended up dead and three others significantly hurt. Two of the students were from China, including the one who was killed. The other two were from Saudi Arabia and one was misidentified by the media as a suspect, leading the Saudi Arabian embassy to state : “We’re concerned about the backlash against students based on a false story.”

Safety concerns captured diplomatic attention on the other side of the country as well. In September of this year, the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles sponsored a series of lectures at the University of California, UC-Irvine, and UCLA. The topic: safety of Chinese students in the United States. More than 200 students attended the first engagement, held at USC.

A year and a half before the lecture, two graduate students from China were shot and killed while riding in a friend’s car near the USC campus. The cops believed itwas a botched robbery or carjacking attempt; regardless, it cut short the lives of two students, both of whom happened to be from China.

Like the situation in Australia, the issue in the United States is far more complicated than it appears on the surface. Even Secretary of State John Kerry joined the confusion last spring when he reported that Japanese officials told him that the decline in the number of students from Japan studying in the United States was a result of concern over gun violence. It was a timely political quip that did not paint a full picture, as a fact checker from the Washington Post quickly pointed out. Nonetheless, it also indicated that concern about international student safety has emerged as a diplomatic talking point with at least one of the nation’s allies.

Why bring this topic up with readers of Developments? The truth is that there is not much we can do to immediately change the broader beliefs held about the safety of international students in the United States. But, student affairs professionals should be aware of these concerns and be proactive in helping ensure that students have the tools necessary to take responsibility for their personal safety.

  • Recruitment: Recruiters should be prepared to answer questions about campus safety. Even though the United States is a large and geographically diverse country, many people from outside of the United States see the country as one large entity. Thus, whatever happens in Boston or LA or Chicago gets aggregated into one large perception about safety in the United States. Recruiters and recruiting materials may have to help prospective students understand the level of safety on their campus and how the campus is working to ensure that international students are safe while pursuing their studies.
  • Orientation: If not already, the topic of personal safety should be part of new student orientation. Student safety seminars should take into account that international students do not often have the same basic level of knowledge about the law enforcement, legal protections, and how to handle local situations that threaten personal safety. In fact, many come from countries where culture and regulations dictate different types of reactions to such situations than what is expected in the United States. As such, student affairs professionals may consider an extra level of outreach and education to international students.
  • Ongoing Educational Programming: Those who have traveled abroad have likely wondered if they are in a safe neighborhood; how diligent they have to be in protecting their purse; or what would they do if someone were to threaten their safety. International students often wonder the same thing. In some cases, they have an extra level of security, living in a residence hall and having the standard support provided by a college campus. On the other hand, that added protection could also lure them into a sense of false confidence about the safety of certain activities or surrounding neighborhoods. Student affairs professionals should be proactive in helping international students take responsibility for their personal safety.

One of the most important challenges for student affairs administrators will be to balance support for individual independence against the need to ensure that students remain safe. College is about advancing personal growth, awareness, and responsibility. Concerns about safety can prompt us toward wanting to protect students entirely from any risks that might exist; but this approach also fails to teach students about how to deal with such situations when they do eventually encounter them.

The goal of student affairs practitioners should be to remain educated about local safety concerns, to be able to provide an accurate picture of safety to students and family, and to help students take personal responsibility for ensuring their own safety during the studies and beyond.

Discussion Questions

  1. Are there any concerns, real or perceived, about international student safety on your campus?
  2. Has there been a discussion on your campus about international student safety? If not, should there be and who should be involved in such a convening?
  3. Do current personal safety courses provide opportunity for those from a different country and/or culture to be oriented to issues that could be taken from granted by domestic students?

About the Author

Jason E. Lane is Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Provost for Academic Program and Planning for the State University of New York as well as Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, associate professor (on leave) of educational administration and policy studies, and a senior researcher with the Institute for Global Education Policy Studies at the State University of New York, Albany. He has been a member of the governing boards of the Comparative and International Education Society and the Council for International Higher Education and is an Associate of the International Association of Universities. His most recent books include “Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch Campuses” (2010, Jossey-Bass); “Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers” (2012, SUNY Press) and “Academic Governance and Leadership in Higher Education” (2013, Stylus Press).

Please e-mail inquiries to Jason E. Lane.

Follow Jason Lane on Twitter @ProfJasonLane.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Unauthorized, Ineligible, Deferred, and Underserved: Realities of Undocumented College Students

Unauthorized, Ineligible, Deferred, and Underserved: Realities of Undocumented College Students

Karen Miksch
University of Minnesota
Jeffrey C. Sun
University of North Dakota


In July 2013, Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl described college readiness, access, and completion between majority and underrepresented groups. As reported in “Separate and Unequal,” they presented the disparate opportunities that African American and Hispanic college students encountered relative to White students. While their report indicated that the actual numbers of African American and Hispanic students enrolling in higher education has increased, they offered overwhelming evidence of societal stratification by race in terms of type of institution and degree progress. For instance, African American and Hispanic college students are more likely than Whites to attend an open access college than a selective college, and they are less likely than Whites to attain a baccalaureate degree (Carnevale & Strohl, 2013). These data points offer some evidence of a stratified higher education system. Yet, another societal barrier also exists for a class of individuals within higher education – undocumented college students.

In many respects, undocumented college students face legally sanctioned inequalities. For instance, undocumented students are ineligible for federal financial aid and severely restricted in terms of employment. What they encounter is an obvious form of societal stratification that makes higher education nearly unattainable. This article outlines ways in which the stratification is manifested and how colleges can support these underserved, and often forgotten, students.

The precise number of undocumented students in the United States is unclear and difficult to determine. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that approximately 50,000 to 60,000 students, who lack immigration documentation, graduate every year from United States high schools (Batalova & McHugh, 2010; see also Educators for Fair Consideration, 2012). Given financial and employment barriers, the number of those undocumented students who actually attend college is likely a lot lower. For example, according to the PEW Hispanic Center, in 2008 the percentage for United States born immigrants and legal immigrants with some college experience or a college degree was 58% and 60%, respectively. However, estimates of undocumented individuals in the United States with some college experience or a college degree are only 26%. The data disparity highlights severe educational access hurdles taking place for undocumented students to experience college or achieve a degree. Although a recent federal program provides work authorization and permission to stay in the United States for some of these students, there remain significant barriers to higher education.

State and Federal Policies

State Policies on Attendance/Enrollment

Most colleges and universities permit undocumented students to attend their institution. However, as we explain below, the cost and lack of financial assistance makes a college education unaffordable for many undocumented students.

Some systems have banned undocumented students from enrolling (Russell, 2011). In Alabama, the public community college system prohibits enrollment of undocumented students (Russell, 2011). Similarly, the South Carolina public colleges require documentation of a student’s lawful presence before one may enroll (S.C. Code Ann. § 59-101-430 (2013)). In Georgia, the Board bars undocumented students from enrolling at its state institutions that have denied admission to academically qualified students in the past two years (Russell, 2011).

State Policies on Tuition Rates

Undocumented students’ prospects for completing their education is limited because they are often considered to be “out-of-state” or international students and thus ineligible for in-state tuition. However, in 14 states, legislation grants students, who attended and graduated from a high school in the state, eligibility for in-state tuition. The law covers undocumented students who can demonstrate attendance at a high school within the state for the requisite number of years and proof of graduation from a high school within that state. As of September 2013, states with these laws are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. A few states (e.g., Oklahoma and Rhode Island) permit in-state tuition for undocumented students when the Board of Regents approves such a policy.

Of course, these laws did not proceed unchallenged. California was one of the first states to roll out a law permitting undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. In 2001, the California legislature enacted a law exempting certain nonresidents including undocumented students from paying nonresident tuition. ¹ The law stated that eligible students must have attended a California high school for at least three years and graduated or attained an equivalency certificate such as a general educational development (GED) certificate.

Soon after the law’s passage, a group challenged its legal permissibility. The group contended that the California law violated a 1996 federal law. The federal law places some limits on an undocumented college student’s eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence.² In 2010, the California State Supreme Court ruled that the state law exempting certain nonresidents (including undocumented students) from paying nonresident tuition did not violate federal law. ³

Several states (i.e., Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana) have been more active in blocking financial support to undocumented students. These states have explicit laws prohibiting public colleges from offering in-state tuition absent documentation of a student’s legal presence (see, e.g., ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN . § 15-1802 (2013).

Policies on Financial Aid

Even in-state tuition rates are too high for some students, yet financial aid programs are still largely closed off to them. Undocumented students are typically ineligible for most state and federal financial aid (Miksch, 2005; Olivas, 2004, 2009; Yates, 2004). A federal law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (“PRWORA”), precludes undocumented immigrants from qualifying for federal financial aid or student loans.

A few states (e.g., Texas and California) offer state financial aid to undocumented students on an equal basis with other students. Nonetheless, a vast majority of states do not have such equal access. Even in Utah, where the law is financially favorable to undocumented students, a policy permits undocumented students to qualify for only one state aid program (Olivas, 2009, 2011).

Adding to the financial challenges, undocumented students are unable to work legally in the United States. These students face legal restrictions that make them ineligible for employment. These barriers often extend to other career development opportunities such as holding a paid internship, co-op learning programs, or employment-preparation field experiences (e.g., student-teaching). Their lack of documentation precludes their participation in academic programs that require or are significantly enhanced by these experiences. A new program, discussed next, does provide undocumented students the opportunity to apply for temporary legal status and work authorization.

Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Over a year ago, the Obama Administration implemented a program that deferred (halted) deportations for certain young undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The program is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. In order to be eligible an applicant must meet a number of criteria, including proving that they came to the United States prior to the age of 16 and that they have graduated from high school, have a GED, or are currently in school (USCIS, 2013a). A grant of deferred action is temporary, must be renewed every two years, and is not a path to United States citizenship. However, a person granted deferred action is considered to be lawfully residing in the United States and in most cases is also granted work authorization.

As of September of this year, 455,455 people have been granted DACA status and 9,578 have been denied (USCIS, 2013b). There are currently about 100,000 DACA applications pending before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mexico, South Korea, and the Philippines are among the top ten countries of origin and DACA applicants reside in all 50 states, with California having the largest number of applicants (USCIS, 2013b). Everyone granted DACA status is between the ages of 15 and 30 years old and those who are applying to colleges and universities should all have legal authorization to work. Depending on state laws and institutional policies, however, DACA students may not be eligible for in-state tuition or financial aid—potentially insurmountable barriers for low-income DACA students to overcome. In addition, there is no guarantee that DACA status will be renewed every two years, leaving graduates unsure whether they will be able to legally work in their chosen fields of study.

Action Steps

Action Item #1: Designate a point person for Undocumented and DACA students.

Students who are applying for admission to your campus may have questions about eligibility, residency, in-state tuition, and financial aid. Studies have explored obstacles undocumented students face during the admission process (Alexio, Chin, Fennelly, & Shurilla, 2012; Pérez Huber & Malagon, 2007), and recommend that institutions designate a point person in the admissions office, someone who is knowledgeable about state and institutional rules regarding in-state tuition and the level of support permissible in your state and university system. In addition, students who have been granted DACA status might wonder if they are eligible for certain financial aid programs. Having a point-person in financial aid will also support students’ persistence and success. The College Board (Rincón, 2012) has created a useful guide to resources available to immigrant students in California, Texas, New York and a number of other states that provides information for staff and students.

Action Item #2: Advocate for a Federal Policy of Inclusion

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) would provide a mechanism for long-term resident immigrant students to apply for legal residency, provide work authorization, and a path to permanent legal status in the United States. Although the DREAM Act has obtained bi-partisan support, it has never passed both houses of Congress. Many institutions have sent in support of the DREAM Act to members of Congress (NILC, 2013). Undocumented students often refer to themselves as “dreamers” and many have worked tirelessly to try and pass the DREAM Act.

Action Item #3: Create a Climate of Inclusion

Some commentators have noted that “getting in” is often the easy part. Undocumented students face a range of additional obstacles once they are admitted to postsecondary institutions (Gildersleeve, Rumann & Mondragón, 2010; Gonzales, 2009, 2011; Pérez Huber & Malagon, 2007; Rincón, 2010). Lack of access to financial aid, hostile campus climate, and administrators and staff unfamiliar with the rules governing undocumented students are three of the main obstacles undocumented students and DACA students face after they are admitted to postsecondary institutions. Pérez Huber and Malagon (2007) provide concrete ways to improve campus climate, including calling on institutions of higher education to overtly support the DREAM Act. They argue that a “neutral” stance sends the wrong message. In addition, memos and documents within higher education, on occasion, include words that shun groups or frame the issue as an illegal activity. Correct others and documents that use terms such as “illegal” or “illegal alien.” These words are tendentious and unrepresentative of more inclusive educational goals.

Action Item #4: Develop a Program Educating Others About Obstacles that Undocumented Students Encounter.

Take this article and pass it along to others. Highlight portions of this article and inform your colleagues of these societal barriers for undocumented students. Consider what it means for undocumented students when they speak about financial challenges, obstacles to gain work, and what support they may need from others in terms of creating a positive climate for these under-supported students.


Alexio, M., Chin, J., Fennelly, K., & Shurilla, A.  (2012).  Analysis of policies toward
applications from undocumented immigrants at Big Ten schools.  Law and Inequality, 30, 1-16.

Batalova, J., & McHugh, M.  (2010).  Dream vs. reality: An analysis of potential DREAM Act
beneficiaries.  Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org

Carnevale, A., & Strohl, J.  (2013).  Separate and unequal: How higher education reinforces the intergenerational reproduction of white racial privilege. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and the Workforce.

Educators for Fair Consideration  (2012).  Fact sheet: An overview of college-bound undocumented students.

Flores, S.M. (2010).  State Dream Acts: The effect of in-state resident tuition policies and
undocumented Latino students.  Review of Higher Education, 33(2), 239-283.

Gildersleeve, R. E., Rumann, C., & Mondragón, R.  (2010).  Serving undocumented students: Current law and policy.  New Directions for Student Services .

Gonzales, R.G.  (2009).  Young lives on hold: The college dreams of undocumented
students.  Retrieved from www.collegeboard.com/advocacypubs

Gonzales, R.G.  (2011).  Learning to be illegal: Undocumented youth and shifting legal
contexts in the transition to adulthood.  American Sociological Review, 76, 602-619. Doi: 10.1177/00031222411411901

Miksch, K.  (2005).  Legal issues in developmental education: Immigrant students and
the DREAM Act.  Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, 22 (1), 59-65.

National Immigration Law Center (NILC).  Letters in support of the DREAM Act from higher
education institutions.  Retrieved from http://www.nilc.org/dreamed.html

Pérez Huber, L., & Malagon, M.C. (2007).  Silenced struggles: The experiences of Latina and Latino undocumented college students in California.  Nevada Law Journal, 7, 841-861.

Olivas, M.A.  (2004).  IIRIRA, the DREAM Act, and undocumented college
student residency.  Journal of College & University Law, 30, 435-456.

Olivas, M.  (2009).  The political economy of the DREAM Act and the legislative process:
A case study of comprehensive immigration reform.  Wayne State Law Review, 55, 1757-1810.

Olivas, M.A.  (2011).  The good, the bad, and the undocumented college students: 2011
state and federal developments.Retrieved from http://www.law.uh.edu/ihelg/

Rincón, A.  (2012).  Repository of resources for undocumented students. Washington, D.C.:
College Board. Retrieved from http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/Repository-Resources-…

Rincón, A.  (2010).  Undocumented immigrants and higher education: ¡Si se puede! El
Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

Russell, A.  (2011).  State policies regarding undocumented college students: A narrative of unresolved issues, ongoing debate and missed opportunities.  Washington, D.C.: American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (2013a).  I am a young person who arrived in the United States as a child: How do I request consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?Retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/daca.pdf

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (2013b).  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals data report. Retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies /Immigration%20Forms%20Data/All%20Form%20Types/DACA/daca-13-9-13.pdf


  1. Cal. Educ. Code § 68130.5 (2013).
  2. The law states –
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.
    42 U.S.C § 1623 (2013).
  3. Martinez v. Regents of the Univ. of California, 241 P.3d 855 (Cal. 2010).

About the Authors

Karen Miksch is an Associate Professor of Education and Law at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the law of higher education and the transition to college.

Please e-mail inquiries to Karen Miksch.

Jeffrey C. Sun is an associate professor of educational leadership/higher education and affiliate associate professor of law at the University of North Dakota. He teaches and writes about legal issues pertaining to higher education.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jeffrey C. Sun.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Are you ready for the “Pacific Century”?

Are you ready for the “Pacific Century”?

Jason E. Lane
State University of New York, Albany

Over the past decade, a rapidly changing global landscape has led many colleges and universities to shift their focus eastward across the Pacific Ocean. While maintaining their European engagements, new resources are often invested to support activities in Asia. With this change in mind, has student affairs evolved to meet this shift?

The latter part of the 20th century saw colleges and universities engage internationally more than ever before. Both scholars and practitioners grew increasingly interested in internationalization. Effort was poured into exploring ways of enhancing the mobility of students and scholars as well as how to transform the curriculum to better prepare students for a “flattening world” (see Friedman, 2007). For colleges and universities in the United States, most of those engagements were very Euro-focused, stemming from our long shared history, common language, and (relative) ease of access.

Yet, in the last few years, changing economic and political winds have led the United States and its higher education sector to adjust their sails. This repositioning has led the Obama Administration to call the 21st century “America’s Pacific Century.”

There are a number of reasons why such repositioning makes sense for the nation and its institutions of higher education. Two of the most significant reasons are demographics and economics. The largest and fastest growing populations in the world are located in Asia; and Asia already has more than 60% of the world population. China has emerged as the world’s second largest economy, recently eclipsing Japan. And, though the Chinese economic engine may be slowing a bit, it still has plenty of gas left in the tank. But, China is not the only economic reason to look westward. Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are among the fastest growing economies in the world. In fact, the International Monetary Fund predicts that by 2030, Asia’s economic impact will be larger than that of the United States and Europe, combined.

More specific to higher education, Asia is the largest sender of international students to the United States. In 2012, nearly half of all international students in the United States came from China, India, or South Korea, according to the Open Doors report. And, as colleges and universities in the United States look to expand abroad, many new branch campuses and other foreign educational outposts are popping up in places such as China, Singapore, and Thailand. There is also increasing interest in India (though their restrictive regulations may stymie expansion of institutions in the United States into that country). But, it is not just the United States expanding into Asia. China has opened hundreds of Confucius Institutes on United States campuses as a means of expanding awareness of China’s culture and language. And, China has begun to export its own universities to other nations through the creation of foreign educational outposts in Africa, Malaysia, Laos, and Singapore;. This is likely just the beginning.

So, why is this important for student affairs professionals?

First, as I have noted previously, it is critical for student affairs professionals to recognize the changing (and often growing) demographics of their campus’ international student population. Many campuses have not fully recognized the different types of supports that students from different parts of the world need to be successful. For example, English is not as widely spoken in Asia as in Europe; and many Asian students often need support in acquiring English proficiency to acclimate successfully and to excel in their studies. And, research has shown that students from Asia can have a more difficult time developing friendships and integrating socially than their peers from Europe.

Second, there can be strong cultural and learning-style differences between Asia and the United States. One of the most extreme differences often comes in the form of student willingness to engage openly and freely in class discussions and academic arguments. Many countries in Asia continue to have much more stringent legal and cultural restrictions in regards to one’s freedom of speech. Questioning the policies of one’s country or challenging one’s elders (e.g. professors) is often discouraged or explicitly illegal. However, much of the educational experience in the United States is based on the premise of questioning ideas and debating various ideological or philosophical positions. While such questioning is important in classrooms, they may not be the most effective venue to help international students adapt to such behaviors. The co-curricular opportunities such as student leadership roles, debate clubs, and other opportunities may be a more effective way to demonstrate and model such behaviors. But, we have to make sure such experiences are open and available for all international students.

Third, student organizations, cultural events, and leadership activities can be a critical way to help domestic students prepare to engage in and assume leadership roles during “America’s Pacific Century.” Developing an understanding and appreciation of the many cultures, histories, and customs of Asia will be important for our future political and business leaders. Actual immersion in a culture via study abroad or similar experience can hardly be surpassed in providing this learning. Though, like point number two above, co-curricular experiences provide an opportunity to prepare students for such engagements as well as provide students who study abroad the opportunity to share with others. And, for those who do not have the opportunity to study abroad in Asia during their collegiate years, student organizations and other events can offer domestic students and students from non-Asian countries the occasion to develop relationships with colleagues from Asia and enhance their knowledge and appreciation of the region.

Fourth, as institutions grow their global footprints, student affairs professionals become more critical for ensuring the institutional ethos is embraced throughout the entirety of the institution, no matter where the physical presence might be. The student experience will vary across all of an institution’s foreign engagements. There is no way to replicate exactly the student experience on the Texas A&M campus in College Station, Texas. As students expand into Asia, they will have to learn to adapt to the local environments in a number of ways. But, there are key experiences, traditions, and values that can transcend the campuses; and student affairs professionals are often the keeper of such things and should play an important role in ensuring that an institution’s ethos is apparent in all of an institution’s campuses.

A critical component of preparing for “America’s Pacific Century” will be to find balance between existing interests and new areas of expansion. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled Is Europe Passé?, Beth McMurtie explored the tensions inherent in research and study abroad partnerships as institutions deploy new resources toward Asia and seemingly lessen their focus on Europe. The article argues that while Asia has emerged as strategically important, Europe remains an important partner – and I’d be remiss to not note that other regions from Africa to Latin America to the Middle East are also important to the nation, its higher education institutions, and students. At the same time, if the United States is going to be increasingly engaged across the Pacific, then it is important that higher education institutions do the same and student affairs professionals have a critical role to play in making that happen.

Discussion Questions

  1. How has your campus prepared for “America’s Pacific Century”?
  2. Other than those listed above, what opportunities exist for student affairs professionals to support students to learn about and gain an appreciation of Asia?
  3. How important is it for student affairs professionals to help international students adjust to campuses? To what extent does your campus adapt to meet the needs of different populations of international students?
  4. Which co-curricular programs would you advise students with an interest in Asia to participate in? How might you encourage other students to participate in these programs?
  5. What might be the downside of overly focusing on Asia, as opposed to or instead of other regions? How might a vice president of student affairs approach implementing a comprehensive focus on all regions of the world?


Friedman, T.L. (2007). The world is flat 3.0: A brief history of the 21st century. New York, NY: Picador.

About the Author

Jason E. Lane is Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Provost for Academic Program and Planning for the State University of New York as well as Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, associate professor (on leave) of educational administration and policy studies, and a senior researcher with the Institute for Global Education Policy Studies at the State University of New York, Albany. He has been a member of the governing boards of the Comparative and International Education Society and the Council for International Higher Education and is an Associate of the International Association of Universities. His most recent books include “Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch Campuses” (2010, Jossey-Bass); “Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers” (2012, SUNY Press) and “Academic Governance and Leadership in Higher Education” (2013, Stylus Press).

Please e-mail inquiries to Jason E. Lane.

Follow Jason Lane on Twitter @ProfJasonLane.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Aligning Flags, Foods, and Festivals with the Curricular Experience

Aligning Flags, Foods, and Festivals with the Curricular Experience