A recent discussion on student mobility and the higher education landscape from a Russian higher education practitioner’s perspective had my research wheels turning. Meeting with the 2014 Fulbright Russian International Education Administrators (RIEA) Program cohort was an educational experience for me: specifically it taught me that mobility data doesn’t always tell us the full story, and that one has to always speak to colleagues in the field to fully understand the context of student mobility.
Christine Farrugia and Rajika Bhandari on
Friday, March 27, 2015
The Institute of International Education has been collecting and disseminating comprehensive and reliable data on international academic mobility since the Institute was founded in 1919. For nearly 70 years IIE has been publishing this information annually as the Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange*.
Over the past fifteen years, the number of American students studying abroad has more than doubled. In 1998/99, there were just 129,770 American students studying abroad for academic credit from their home institution, and in 2012/13 that number has grown to 289,408. When you also consider that more than 46,000 American students pursue full degrees abroad and over 15,000 students travel overseas for non-credit work, internships, and volunteering, the current number of U.S. students overseas grows to more than 350,000. What is clear is that American students are increasingly interested in studying abroad and that U.S. higher education institutions are active in providing study abroad experiences for their students.
Launched in 2012, IIE’s research center is now changing its name to the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact. Why are we doing this and why now? It is not just a matter of semantics. Instead, it reflects the evolving nature of our work and of the emphasis the Institute places on measuring the impact of what we do. While IIE continues to be at the forefront of applied research on international student mobility through Open Doors and Project Atlas, our Center’s work has expanded rapidly to studying the impact of international higher education programs—including scholarships and fellowships—on individuals, institutions, and communities. This shift in our work reflects a growing awareness within the broader field of international education about the importance of assessing and documenting the profound and sustained influence that international education exchange can have.
Last month I met with Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, the new Minister of Education and Research in Norway, who was in Washington, DC, for the annual Transatlantic Science Week organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. We spoke about higher education internationalization in Norway and the priorities for academic collaboration with the United States. Mr. Røe Isaksen, who holds a MA in Political Science from the University of Oslo, also spent one year in the United States as a student at Carl Junction High School in Missouri.
The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are the three primary English-speaking destinations of international students worldwide. Among the three, Australia has the most centralized, proactive international education policies and, arguably, the most highly developed international student data collection system in the world.