Thursday, January 15, 2015

Internationalization of U.S. Schools Still a Work in Progress

Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois
By Brendan Twist
World Education Services

When a U.S. college or university sees a massive increase in international student enrollment in a short period of time, what kind of impact does that make?

Quite a huge one, as it turns out.

In “The University of China at Illinois,” a new article for Inside Higher Education, Elizabeth Redden details the academic, social, and cultural effects of introducing 5,000 Chinese students to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) campus over the past 15 years – up from just 37 in 2000.

“What happens when a classic American university in the heartland is better known in Beijing than in Boston, in Tianjin than in Tuscon?” Redden asks.

Redden’s piece illustrates the struggles and successes of faculty, administrators an students – both American and Chinese – as the school tries to acclimate to the rapid influx of foreign students. It poses a lot of good questions – What responsibility does a university have to try and help its foreign students integrate? Is American higher education falling short? – and though it doesn’t offer many answers, it should kick start some important discussions. It’s a long read, but it’s well worth your time.

David Sun, president of UIUC’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association and one of dozens of students interviewed for Redden’s story, poses a series of questions for his Chinese classmates that should resonate with all international students considering a U.S. education.

“Are you going to make American friends, Chinese friends or a mixture?” Sun asks.

“Are you going to just study every day or take some social life? … Are you going to continue working or just go back to China after graduation?”

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