Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Higher Education in the Global Economy: A Study Abroad Comparison

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Higher Education in the Global Economy: A Study Abroad Comparison

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Based on historical trends, recent shifts and emerging challenges, the study draws a multivariate contextual model to explain the competitive landscape of higher education in the global market with special attention to international exchange programs in the United States. U.S. educational exchange programs are analyzed from three perspectives: (a) enrollment trends of international students and their major contributions to the U.S. economy, (b) the growing demand for international experiences from American students and prospective employers, and (c) the importance of human capital development in a nation's long-term economic strength. Recent statistics indicate that the United States remains the most popular destination for international students, and international students contribute to the U.S. economy both in terms of their educational and living expenses in the host country and of their intelligence in research, technology advancement, and product innovation. Meanwhile, the world of higher education is increasingly competitive across borders. Multiple factors have led to a recent decline of international student enrollments in the United States. The study takes a comparative approach to address key variables and their interrelationships in the global context. Suggestions for future research and implications to the practical field are discussed.

RESEARCH BACKGROUND

Within the context of economic globalization and the growing need for human capital development around the world, the present study is focused on the role of higher education with special attention to international educational exchange programs in the United States. The competitive landscape of international educational programs is analyzed from three perspectives: (a) enrollment trends of international students and their contributions to the U.S. economy, (b) the growing demand for international experiences from American students and prospective employers, and (c) the importance of human capital development in a nation's long-term economic strength.

According to the most recent survey by the Institute of International Education (IIE 2004a), international students contribute approximately US$13 billion to the U.S. economy each year in terms of tuition, living expenses and family related costs. The U.S. Department of Commence described higher education as the country's fifth largest export in the service sector. Concurrent with many international students choosing the United States as their favorite destination for higher education, the number of American students electing to study abroad has been increasing rapidly but the outbound number is significantly smaller than the inbound number.

From a career perspective, employers tend to agree that candidates with an international learning experience are likely to possess key skills to meet job requirements such as communication, flexibility, leadership, innovation, maturity, independence, and interpersonal relationship (AEO, BC, DAAD, USDOE & USSD, 2003). From a human capital development perspective, a nation's long-term economic strength will to a large extent depend on the nation's ability to produce, support, and sustain a qualified, flexible, innovative, and mobile workforce. Economic globalization denotes a growing demand for human capital development and global mobility of human resources. As an example, of the 500 U.S. firms surveyed by the Hewitt Associates (2004), 45% indicated that they are currently using a global sourcing model to obtain cost efficient human resources. The percentage of jobs being outsourced is averaged 13% for those surveyed firms and will roughly double in about three years. At the same time, the strength of the U.S. higher educational systems helps attract and develop human capital supplies to the Untied States. American universities host international students and visiting scholars from all over the world, and many of them do research while pursuing a degree or seek career opportunities with U. …

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