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Engagement overseas ‘integral’ in US plans

Four in five education professionals in the US say global engagement is part of the multi-year plan at the institution where they work, new research has identified.

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When asked how departments would measure success in the year ahead, 78% indicated growth of programs and 60% student/ scholar satisfaction rates

The State of Globalization in Higher Education report from technology provider, Terra Dotta, also found that 71% of respondents said that the strategic priority of global engagement is needed to expand the total student experience. The company surveyed more than 250 US global education professionals in April 2023.

“In today’s landscape it is encouraging to see that global engagement is an integral part of most higher education institutions’ strategic plans,” said Ron Carson, CMO of Terra Dotta.

“Leading institutions emphasise the benefits of cultural experiences on and off campus through incoming international enrolments and outgoing study abroad, as both foster personal growth and global perspectives.”

Among the 80% of respondents who said global engagement is part of their strategic plan, reputation and revenue were the second most important factors for doing so. Improving student experience was the most common reason mentioned, with 71% of those respondents saying so.

Global engagement “encompasses diverse initiatives”, the report said. Some 88% of respondents noted study abroad as the main activity, 87% pointed to international education with 60% highlighting on-campus experiences as well as internships.

Success for US professionals was led by the number of new international student enrolments as well as the number of students studying abroad. Growth of programs and satisfaction ratings are also “key goals” for 2023.

When asked how departments would measure success in the year ahead, 78% indicated growth of programs and 60% student/ scholar satisfaction rates.

On study abroad, the survey found that interest in travel is on the rise, with more than 60% expecting to send more students overseas in 2023 and early 2024, when compared with the previous year.

Western Europe and Asia saw the largest interest level increases, with 52% and 43% of respondents seeing rises, respectively.

Students of business, management, marketing and related subjects, and liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities students were most likely to be joining study abroad programs, it found.

Terra Dotta also looked at challenges that professionals are facing, with headcounts, budgets and lack of scholarships being most mentioned.

“The biggest obstacle to increasing interest in study abroad is often the availability and accessibility of financial aid for students,” the report reads.

While 62% of respondents have seen applications increase since pre-Covid, the paper says that global competition is increasing for international student enrolments.

The survey found 41% of the institutions have noticed “heightened competition” from other study destinations, with lower costs in other countries being the primary factor.

It also found that close to 80% of institutions issued 50 or more I-20s study certificates, “with more than half of those students ultimately enrolling at the institution”.

“Though the majority of international students apply to multiple institutions and receive multiple I-20s, most respondents believe that students typically receive five or fewer I-20s, suggesting a relatively focused and targeted approach to school selection,” the report reads.

“Respondents indicated their intention to collaborate with recruiting partners and invest in their own recruiting efforts to maintain their competitiveness in the global arena,” the report adds.

Budget and staffing were seen as the biggest obstacles in meeting international education objectives, the report added.

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