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Carol Stax Brown, Community Colleges for International Development (USA)

US community colleges welcomed around 90,000 international students in 2012, and Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) supports those institutions seeking to expand internationally. We talk to president Carol Stax Brown.

The PIE: How does a community college differ from year-9 through 12 provision or a university? And can all recruit international students?

"Colleges realise they need to expose their students to different cultures for them to be successful"

CSB: The US community college model provides the first two years of a community college degree. So students who come in with the interest of transferring to a bachelors degree would take a general education degree programme. But there are also certificates, diplomas and degrees in a lot of other subjects which students plan to complete and then go directly to the work place.

It’s an open access model so any one can be admitted from the age of 16. All US colleges can recruit internationals, although fee requirements and support services differ state by state. There’s definitely a wide market for international students to shop around, and the cost is usually less than universities.

“Awareness overseas is an issue… Many Americans don’t even understand what community colleges are!”

The PIE: What sort of international students do you get and what do they study?

CSB: They will almost always be right out of their high schools in their home countries. They usually use community colleges as a pathway to a bachelors degree. Community colleges often have articulation agreements with universities, regionally and nationally. So if a student knows where he or she would like to go to university, that will steer them towards a certain community college.

The majority come from Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea and China and they are focused on a handful of community colleges in the US.

The PIE: Are the colleges popular with international students?

CSB: The last Open Doors report showed a slight decline in the number of students coming. I don’t really know why, because our perception is they’re getting more popular. We just need to do a better job of how we present ourselves. The most successful colleges focus their marketing on the fact they are pathways to university.

The PIE: So building awareness is an issue.

CSB: Yes. Colleges are a great price for the value, have small classes and strong teaching faculties. They also included specialist support services such as English as a second language and special tutoring services. Yet most colleges don’t have international programmes offices or recruiters.

“The most successful colleges focus their marketing on the fact they are pathways to university”

The PIE: Do you represent all US colleges and how do you support them?

CSB: We have approximately 175 members, 130 from the US the remainder from around the world. As most community colleges in the US are locally focused, it’s probably not more than 15% of US colleges that are very active in international projects or recruiting students.

We’re not a recruiting association at all. We help with the capacity building to ensure that the institution is really prepared to host international students.

The PIE: What does that involve?[More>>]

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