During the 2014-2015 school year, undergraduate and graduate international students studied in U.S. colleges and universities are 974,926, 10 percent more than the previous year, according to 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released by the Institute of International Education. I think higher education institutions need to do a much better job to bring domestic and international students together in an intentional way as international students add to a university’s mission of internationalization and global engagement.
There is a study applied a cross-sectional survey to undergraduate and graduate international students enrolled at a public university in the Midwest (Urban & Palmer, 2014). It collected international students’ perceptions on how the universities has engaged them as cultural resources in support of a strategic goal of global engagement and found that international students are not actively engaged as cultural resources.
At Virginia Tech, we have international street fair which provide an opportunity to international students to share the information about their countries, cultures, food, customs, music, and cultural beliefs. We have courses about diversity. We also have special activities and projects to interact with international students. These are good approaches to integrate international students and domestic students. I think we could do more.
Urban, Ewa L., and Louann Bierlein Palmer. “International students as a resource for internationalization of higher education.” Journal of Studies in International Education (2013).
Before I got admission in Virginia Tech, my advisor asked me if I would get the doctorate degree. I said absolutely yes, I liked the program and I would like to be a faculty in the future. When I came here, I knew why he asked me that question. Some previous students enrolled in our program quitted the program after one or two years because they got “good” job (i.e., with good salary). It looks like they just need some transition time before they get jobs. As many of young generation people go for higher education, we should ask ourselves “Why do we go to a university to learn undergraduate and graduate education?” Most of us would say: to find a better job and to make more money. As opposed to generations of the past, it is probably unable to obtain the number of high-paying jobs that were once available for high school graduates today. Other common responses might be: to gain social and peer respect, to fit our social circle, or to make our families happy.
With education, students need to learn knowledge and skills. More importantly, they need to learn how to develop their thinking. Except for intellectual development and learning, moral, social, physical, and spiritual development is very important. Because of globalization, students also need to develop a global perspective. Hendrik de Wit mentioned internationalization “has become an indicator for quality in higher education” (de Wit, 2011, p. 39).
de Wit, H. (2011). Internationalization of higher education in Europe and its assessment. In H. de Wit (Ed.), Trends, issues, and challenges in internationalization of higher education (pp. 39-43). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Centre for Applied Research on Economics and Management, School of Economics and Management of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, and Hans de Wit.
I read an interesting paper “Global geographies of higher education: The perspective of world university rankings” (Jöns & Hoyler,, in which authors provides a geographical analysis of world university rankings. They compared geographical clusters of universities and structural variations between Shanghai rankings (Academic Ranking of World Universities as compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University since 2003) and THE-QS rankings (The Times Higher World University Ranking as produced by QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited from 2004 to 2009) that use very different types of ranking criteria. The attached maps based on the two rankings showed some common clusters of academic excellence.
When comparing the Top 200 universities in both rankings for 2009, they found the overlap of 138 universities form four regional clusters in North America, Europe, East Asia and Australia. That’s not surprise as they locate in the core of the world economy.
Jöns, Heike, and Michael Hoyler. “Global geographies of higher education: The perspective of world university rankings.” Geoforum 46 (2013): 45-59.