Intled leaders say globalisation a ‘strategic priority’

Published 16/06/2022

78% of leaders in international education believe globalisation is a strategic priority, according to a new report by Terra Dotta.

Nearly half the participants in the report, entitled The State of Globalisation in Higher Education, also connected globalisation efforts to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

The PIE sat down with Anthony Rotoli, CEO of the global engagement platform, during the NAFSA conference in Denver to discuss the near future of international education and emerging from the pandemic, as well as thoughts about where it is headed longer term.

“Global education leaders at colleges and universities from across the country agree that international travel for students is coming back in full force,” said Rotoli.

When aligned with the pent-up desire for international programming – cited by the majority of students surveyed by Terra Dotta this winter – these data bode well for the sector’s future.

The survey questions gauged student interest in international programming this year, with 72% indicating a strong desire to study abroad in 2022. Participants citied language learning (30%) and career prep (24%) as the two primary reasons for wanting to study abroad.

Moreover, Rotoli asserted that, not only is international travel back, but “in many cases, it is exceeding pre-pandemic levels”.

Terra Dotta surveyed over 120 global education professionals for the report to better understand their perspectives on both incoming and outgoing international programs. They examined the perceptions of leaders in international education who represented colleges and universities of various sizes from different geographic locations.

It found that global engagement is not only bouncing back, but also, “in many ways, accelerating its evolution”.

The rationale provided for the finding of globalisation being that high of a priority, by the majority of participants, was that global engagement is a key factor in the student experience. Additionally, 45% believed global engagement to be tied to the reputation of the organisation.

Other findings suggested global offices at institutions are “shifting away from siloed study abroad or international education departments”.

Rather, they are integrating more, which facilitates “a more strategic, holistic, integrated, and comprehensive view of global engagement”.

International education leaders were also asked about the biggest challenges they face currently in the field. Budget came in as the top struggle at 41%. Additionally, a quarter of respondents believe the COVID-19 pandemic “will continue to be an obstacle in the future”.

“International travel for students is coming back in full force”

As individual international program offices begin to increasingly collaborate, a stronger focus on measuring success has emerged. Yet, how that success is measured now and post-pandemic, is still subject to debate.

One survey respondent indicated, “It’s not just how many go in and go out. How do we really measure internationalisation?” – implying that success is not only about program enrolment, but also about how one defines international experiences.

“More domestic students are preparing to study abroad, and more international students are coming back to the U.S. As this is happening, institutions are investing in global engagement initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion on campus and abroad, ultimately improving the student experience and helping the leaders of tomorrow become global citizens,” Rotoli added.

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