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BOSTON—New England could help boost U.S. competitiveness and spread democracy by recruiting more foreign students to U.S. colleges and universities, expanding and diversifying study abroad among U.S. students and heightening international awareness among all citizens in part by harnessing the cultural resource of America’s growing immigrant populations, according to the Fall 2006 issue of Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education.
Now in its 20th year, Connection is the journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE)—and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.
The Fall 2006 Connection features articles by educators and other opinion leaders on crucial issues in international education, globalization, immigration and the future of New England.
Why They Come • The Institute of International Education’s annual census of academic mobility reveals that 7.5 percent of the nearly 600,000 international students attending U.S. colleges and universities last year went to campuses in New England. Institute President Allan E. Goodman explains why New England’s higher education enterprise will continue to lure international students in a post 9/11, “flat” world.
World Community • The internationalization of higher education is not limited to private liberal arts colleges and research universities. Middlesex Community College requires all students, regardless of their majors, to take a course with a multicultural or global awareness focus and offers international programs ranging from fellowships in Russia to conflict-resolution training projects in Cambodia. Middlesex President Carole A. Cowan explains how the public two-year college is infusing its programming with global initiatives.
What the World Needs Now: Cross-National Student Loan Programs • New England admissions and financial aid officers say if they could help foreign students finance their educations, they could withstand declines in native New England applicant pools and begin a period of real growth. Former TERI President Thomas D. Parker, now with First Marblehead and the Washington-based Institute for Higher Education Policy, explains how “a well-engineered cross-national student loan program could democratize and expand international student enrollment the way the early guaranteed student loan program expanded college opportunity for U.S. students.”
Global Citizens Through Study Abroad • “Years after students return [from time studying abroad], they continue to learn languages, are keenly aware of other cultures and are more confident and committed to a sensitive global point of view,” according to World Learning President Carol Bellamy and Provost Adam Weinberg. But just 1 percent of U.S. students, usually wealthier students from elite colleges, study abroad. Bellamy and Weinberg offer three strategies to expand and diversify study abroad.
Foreign Exposure • By focusing on “total” immersion in a foreign culture, college international programs often overlook those students who need foreign exposure the most. Lee W. Huebner, director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and former publisher of the International Herald Tribune, explains: “Fostering a globally sensitive public (and electorate!) requires not so much that French-lit majors spend a year in Paris but that pre-med, pre-law and pre-business students are exposed to the sudden jolt of seeing their home culture in a new perspective, of encountering a different, wider world which stretches the mind and soul. And this can begin to happen in just a few days—whetting young appetites forevermore!”
Ambassadors • A recent survey of 350 returning study abroad students conducted by the Providence, R.I.-based Glimpse Foundation found that 37 percent felt discriminated against because of their identity as Americans, and 13 percent actually felt threatened because of their nationality. Glimpse Foundation President Nicholas Fitzhughoutlines a range of strategies to reverse anti-Americanism and address global problems by beefing up study abroad. Among other things, Fitzhugh calls for making study abroad a required part of colleges’ curricula, imposing tough standards on overseas programs and developing a strategy to take advantage of what returning study abroad students have experienced and learned.
The World in New England: Immigrant Education • Before New England colleges and universities—and employers—put all their efforts into recruiting talent from abroad, they should think about the 1.4 million immigrants already here in New England. “They should recognize how the presence of immigrants provides native workers with the intercultural exposure and international savvy needed to compete in the global economy,” observes Marcia Drew Hohn, director of public education at the Malden, Mass.-based Immigrant Learning Center. “And they should consider what these new residents need educationally and occupationally to thrive.”
Making New England Competitive •The recent Nellie Mae Education Foundation report titled New England 2020 predicts that, if current education and demographic trends continue, most New England states will suffer declines in the percentage of young workers holding bachelor’s degrees by the year 2020. Why? One, an increasing number of native New Englanders are leaving the region. And two, the region’s growing populations of immigrants and students of color face persistent gaps in educational achievement. Foundation President Blenda J. Wilson offers a plan to keep New England competitive by better educating New Englanders, including students of color and immigrants, attracting talent from abroad and educating the public on the importance of science and math.
Accountability: Are Doctoral Programs in Education Practicing What They Preach? • Accountability is a watchword in educational leadership these days. Yet those who want to be leaders in education appear willing to spend their time and money at institutions that do not publicize information on program standards or outcomes. Salve Regina education professor Martha McCann Rose and Johnson & Wales higher education professor Cynthia V. L. Ward reveal what they found—or didn’t find—about completion rates, careers prospects and measurable skills among materials commonly sent to prospective students at 13 educational leadership doctoral programs in New England.
A Regional Strategy for Global Success • NEBHE President and CEO Evan S. Dobelle calls for a regional effort to “sell” the richness of New England higher education in the global student marketplace, particularly to students in fast-growing Asian countries who seek the cachet of a New England college education. “Except for a handful of elite schools, few of our region’s 270 higher education institutions have any name recognition among these young people. Fewer still have any strategy in place to change that,” writes Dobelle. “It is critically important that the entire New England higher education community work collaboratively to promote all of our education resources to the world.”
Asia’s Possibilities • NEBHE Chair and former four-term Maine state Sen. Mary R. Cathcart recalls a recent round of meetings with Asian higher education leaders and the particular opportunities presented by Vietnam, which has not invested in higher education and does not have a single “world-class” university nor a developed system of academic credit. Cathcart explains how new higher education partnerships could boost both Vietnam and New England.
Editor’s Memo • Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney explains how New England’s reputation for tolerance, knack for innovation in the student financial aid field and growing immigrant populations could all help enhance New England’s position in the new global student marketplace.