Utilizing a National Association to Increase Access to Education Abroad

Utilizing a National Association to Increase Access to Education Abroad

Jayme Kreitinger (College Consortium for International Studies, USA) and Tanith Fowler Corsi (Virginia International University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6252-8.ch018

Abstract

Today, community colleges seek to internationalize amid an environment of widespread internal budget cuts and restricted resources. It has become increasingly common for community colleges to incorporate a global mission into their strategic plan despite current economic realities dictating that funding get allocated to priority projects such as student enrollment and academics before they reach international activities. A common misperception is that international education is a costly endeavor that has the potential to put a strain on the institutional budget. In reality, international education operations can be set up to be self-supporting and generate revenue for the institution through strategic study abroad pricing models. This chapter constructs a scenario to explore how community colleges can do more with less to expand their international agenda while navigating a climate of internal budget constraints and institutional downsizing.
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The Current U.S. Community College Landscape

There is no denying that the world we live in is driven by accelerating economic and social change fueled by technological advances and all-encompassing globalization. It has now become a practical imperative, and no longer a choice, for institutions of higher education to incorporate a global dimension into their mission and curriculum to prepare students to successfully navigate and contribute to a global workforce.

In the past decade, many community colleges have embraced this internationalization strategy and incorporated it into their learning communities. In 2015, 7,105 community college students studied abroad, and 95,376 international students were enrolled at two-year institutions (Institute of International Education, 2016). According to the American Association of Community Colleges, over 60% of community college students were employed either full-time or part-time and 50% were low-income and received financial aid in 2015. Work responsibilities and insufficient personal funds represent major challenges to studying abroad (American Association of Community Colleges, 2017).

In recent years, many community colleges have also seen a sharp increase in the requests for international partnerships and initiatives on the part of overseas institutions and businesses seeking to capitalize on the growth and economic potential of U.S community colleges (Dembicki, 2015). International partnership requests include but are not limited to student and faculty exchanges, dual-degree programs, and general partnerships that leave room for a variety of creative collaborative options. This increase in interest in international partnership can be attributed to the fact that overseas institutions recognize that there is a market for sending students to U.S community colleges which offer lower tuition and an alternative way to access the U.S higher education system which has historically been a powerful magnet. Overseas institutions are also looking for ways to leverage new relationships to exchange faculty and students and share best practices around curriculum development and community college/local business partnership models that can be applied in their home countries.

Houston Community College (HCC) has expanded the term of “community” to “global community” as it recognizes that globalization has made the world smaller. HCC’s global identity stems from a large international student program, with over 5,000 international students from 200 countries, more foreign students than any other two-year college. HCC attracts international students looking for affordable tuition and a welcoming campus environment. The college has also been pro-active in raising its international profile by recruiting students from Asia, offering global seminars and study abroad opportunities, and signing agreements with overseas institutions (Fernandez, 2015).

Many community colleges that have strong internationalization programs also have a President or Provost who is committed to developing strategic plans for global awareness and competence connecting the institution, local businesses and governmental entities (Boggs & Irwin, 2007). The joint global community mission is to think globally and act locally to create a climate of global connectedness and understanding (Raby & Valeau, 2016). In this cooperative relationship, community colleges develop policies that support international education whereas local businesses are depended upon to provide funding for internationally-related activities (American Association of Community Colleges and Association of Community College Trustees, 2006). Both the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees maintain respective global missions and memberships in recognition of the interconnectedness of our society.

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