A Changing Environment: Sea Change, Headwind or Reality Check? By John D. Heyl Editor, IELeaders.net Posted July 18, 2018 Ten years ago, when this writer published The Senior International Officer (SIO) as Change Agent (AIEA, 2007) – 2nd edition forthcoming in 2019 - expanding globalization was assumed to be the sustaining force buoying internationalization and SIO work. Even as recently as five years ago, leading international educators could state unhesitatingly: “Globalization is a fact of life in the 21st century.” (Green, et al., 2012, 453) Today, the picture is different.
International educators were aware that a nativist wind was blowing across Europe as early as 2014. Elections in Hungary and Poland turned dramatically toward nationalist, anti-immigrant parties, culminating in the election victory by the Law and Justice Party in Poland in 2015 and an anti-EU immigration referendum in Hungary in 2016.
More coverage in the US focused on the so-called Brexit vote in June 2016 that launched the process for Great Britain’s departure from the EU by 2019. This was followed by the election of Donald Trump in the US five months later.
The Trump 2016 campaign in the US, in particular, attacked globalization as a force hostile to American workers and American business. Trump’s attack on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – ultimately driving candidate Hillary Clinton to reject the TPP – was symptomatic of his attack on globalizers who advocate for elite-driven global multi-national agreements that were counter to US interests. Likewise, Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord in June 2017 signaled his opposition to an even broader aspect of international cooperation.
Do these shifts in national politics – blunted, to be sure, by the sound defeat of Marine Le Pen in France in May 2017 and the political setback for Theresa May in Great Britain in June 2017 – mean a “sea-change in the patterns of higher education internationalization”? (Altbach & de Wit, 2017) More specifically, recent trends suggest that the attractiveness of the US as a higher education destination, is turning negative. (Redden, 2017) Although certainly cause for alarm, the shift in national politics in several countries, including the US, likely represents more a headwind and a reality check than a “sea-change” for international education. > cont'd. at right
Editor's note: This article is reprinted by permission from: * Leading Internationalization * A Handbook for International Education Leaders
Edited by Darla K. Deardorff and Harvey Charles
Foreword by E. Gordon Gee Afterword by Allan E. Goodman
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This volume provides senior professionals in international education, increasingly known as senior international officers (SIOs), with the foundational knowledge that informs leadership practices, together with suggested strategies for implementing and developing the wide range of functions, activities and skills associated with comprehensive internationalization that will ensure effective support for their institutions’ educational mission in today’s globalized and interdependent world.
This book addresses strategic leadership issues in internationalization including strategic planning, shaping the curriculum, recruiting students, risk management, and developing partnerships. Throughout, the Association of International Education Administrators’ (AIEA) Standards of Professional Practice for SIOs and International Education Leaders (reproduced in the appendix) are integrated as a point of reference, providing a much needed guide for international education leaders.
This resource is a vital starting point for anyone in a senior leadership role in higher education, as well as for anyone desiring to understand more about this key leadership position essential to higher education institutions in developing institutional global capacity and in educating global-ready graduates.
Job of the Month
SENIOR VICE PROVOST for GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT & CHIEF INTERNATIONAL OFFICER University of Texas at Austin Reports to: Executive Vice President and Provost * See more under Leadership Jobs * * * > from column at left In the US context, for example, it is probably true that advocates of international education have always faced skeptics. According to Madeleine Green, Senior Fellow at the International Association of Universities and former Vice President for International Initiatives at the American Council on Education, the election of Donald Trump has “opened the floodgates” to those who question the value of international education itself (AIEA, 2017). This may be true among certain segments of the public and selected state legislatures – but probably not on many US campuses. Indeed, given the imperative of recruiting international students to close budget gaps, many campuses are expanding resources devoted to recruiting, admitting and supporting those very students. On several levels, the increasingly skeptical - even hostile – national political scene represents a reality check on the internationalization project.
It may well be that the period from the fall of the Berlin Wall to 2016 will, in retrospect, be seen as a quarter century of unusually favorable elements supporting the growth of international education globally. Challenges and Trends
The challenges of leadership in periods of growth are, for the SIO, to a large extent a matter of funding and mobilizing the infrastructure that supports that growth. As a campus elevates the internationalization effort - and with it the role of the SIO – the skills and responsibilities of the SIO expand as well. Increasingly, the SIO must lead a process of both stimulating and integrating international engagement by diverse units across campus – not just traditional players such as agriculture, business and journalism but newcomers such as law, pharmacy and engineering - some of which will appoint their own international officer. This challenge goes well beyond the management challenge of hiring staff to handle study abroad advising or student visa processing. But like the earlier management challenges, the new leadership challenges are also products of success for international education as a field.
When the global, national and institutional contexts turn negative, those challenges are clearly magnified (Van de Water, 2015). And the negative elements come in many forms, not just in the tone of national leadership. Public support for higher education has been declining, reflected in state allocations to public campuses – for many years. Many large premier institutions deriving less than 25% of their operating budget from public funds now consider themselves only “public assisted.” Ironically, the advance of internationalization over the past quarter century has paralleled the dramatic decline in state support for public universities over the same period (Data, 2014).
But there are other trends that impact international education negatively. More adjunct/fewer tenure-track faculty reduces the availability and consistency of faculty leaders, experts and contacts as resources for internationalization. The growing prevalence of adjuncts in the faculty at many if not most institutions make engaging faculty in the internationalization process increasingly difficult. Limited support for adjunct faculty, fewer tenure-track faculty trying to protect their advancement to tenure, and lack of tenure credit for international engagement all conspire to raise ever higher hurdles for the SIO to expand both participation and leadership in international education.
Further, the SIO must justify his/her role in tight budgetary times and through much more argument than that international education is a good thing . . . . As Michael Woolf, Deputy President for Strategic Development at CAPA International (London), has recently observed: “. . . [international educators] need to become more than good people; [they] must become relevant people.” Relevance in the > cont'd. at right
> from column at left current environment may mean different things in different institutional settings. For Woolf, relevance (or credibility) demands a commitment to social justice. Social and economic inequality has been an undeniable byproduct of globalization and fostering much of the backlash against it (Rhoades, 2017). But such a call becomes all the more problematic as international education itself becomes enmeshed in the commercialization of the field through paid international student recruiting agents, marketing of institutional programs off-campus, collaboration with for-profit/non-profit study abroad program providers, sponsored special events and conferences and program fees for international services on campus. Facing an institutional demand to become a “profit center,” international education has become more of a business enterprise than ever before. . . . Conclusion SIO leadership involves a good deal of on-the-job training. Still, the basic foundations of SIO leadership – as with all leadership in basically conservative, bureaucratic institutions like most universities – involve the same features: coalition building for a change agenda, highly effective multi-level communication, leveraging an institution’s mission for change, global knowledge and strategic thinking. And a passion for leading others and shaping institutional futures. In his conclusion, Robert Gates (2016) quotes Anatole France as an enduring guide for leaders: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe” (p. 228). This will always be good advice - in good times and in bad.
References AIEA. (2017). They were at the Beginning: Lessons from Leaders in Internationalization. Video interviews with Madeleine Green, Riall Nolan and Michael Woolf conducted by Joan Gore. Retrieved from www.aieaworld.org.
Altbach, P. G. & de Wit,H. (2017). Trump and the Coming Revolution in Higher Education Internationalization. International Higher Education, 89, 3-4.
Data. (2014, March 3). 25 Years of Declining State support for Public Colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Friedman, T. L. (1999). The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Gates, R. M. (2016). A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service. New York: Knopf.
OECD. (2016). Education at a glance 2016: OECD indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2016-en
Redden, Elizabeth. (2017, September 5). International Enrollments: From Flat to Way Down. Inside Higher Education.
Rhoades, Gary. 2017. Backlash Against ‘Others,’ International Higher Education, 89, 2-3.
Van de Water, Jack. (2015). International Education Leadership. In Gilbert W. Merkx & Riall W. Nolan (Eds), Internationalizing the Academy: Lessons of Leadership in Higher Education, 37-52.. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press.
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