Covid-19 Disrupted International Education, but Colleges Remain Hopeful About Global Engagement – The Chronicle of Higher Education

by | Nov 3, 2022 | Education

The Covid-19 pandemic was a major disruptor of American colleges’ international-education efforts, yet college leaders surveyed by the American Council on Education remain optimistic about the future of higher education’s global engagement.Sixty percent of colleges said that their level of institutional internationalization during the pandemic was low or very low, according to a new report, “Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses,” released today. By contrast, 47 percent of institutions said their international activities had been accelerating in the years prior to the pandemic, 2016 to 2020.Still, academic leaders took a positive view of future internationalization efforts, with two-thirds predicting that their institution’s overall level of international engagement would increase in the next five years.Despite that hopeful outlook, the report, the fifth in a series of surveys the council has conducted since 2006, shows that the shift away from international education as a campus priority actually began before the pandemic. For instance, in 2016, 72 percent of colleges reported their internationalization efforts were accelerating, compared with only about half of institutions in the years immediately preceding the Covid outbreak.

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The number of colleges that include international or global education in their mission statements or strategic plans has also declined over the years. In the 2012 report, 51 percent of respondents said internationalization was part of their institutional mission. By 2017, the share had fallen to 49 percent. In this latest survey, 43 percent answered in the affirmative.Likewise, the share of colleges reporting that international education is among the top five priorities in their strategic plan has decreased over time: 52 percent in 2012, 47 percent in 201 …

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