Internationalization of public universities: Gaining momentum, overcoming challenges

State funding as a share of public universities’ budgets declined from 28 percent in 2001 to 19 percent in 2009, according to a recent NSF report. Another report noted that public funding for higher education in California was cut by $1.5 billion, or nearly 12% in 2011-12, to $9.7 billion from $11.2 billion.

Budget cuts at public institutions of higher education is not a news any more. However, the recession of 2008 accelerated the extent of cuts and created a state of urgency among many public institutions to find alternative sources of revenue.

This urgency is prompting many institutions to become more aggressive in recruiting international students. A recent article entitled Lure of Chinese Tuition Pushes Out Asian-Americans noted example of University of California, San Diego which saw 12-fold increase in Chinese freshmen in two years from 12 in 2009 to 200 in 2011.

In my recent article How does the rise of Asia influence international student mobility? published in University World News, I argue that institutions need to develop a comprehensive strategy that should involve deep understanding of countries and student decision-making processes to ensure that recruitment efforts and opportunities are maximized.

Going forward, public higher education in the US will continue to become aggressive in recruiting international students, while grappling with quality and campus diversity issues. A thoughtful and strategic approach to internationalization is required to balance quality with quantity.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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