How International Education’s Golden Age Lost Its Sheen



On a Sunday in May 2014, 140 students from forty-nine countries, a few in hijabs, a few with hair tinted pink to healthy their commencement gowns, walked through the degree to acquire the first diplomas presented at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker. But the day belonged to John E. Sexton, NYU’s president. He greeted each scholar – lots of whom he knew from the 14,000-mile spherical journey he made from New York every other week to train – with a fist bump or a hug.

In a manner, Sexton celebrates his fulfillment as much as theirs. He had shepherded NYU’s Emirati outpost from pie-in-the-sky imaginative and prescient to anchor in a community of global campuses. Another branch campus in Shanghai opened in the fall of 2013. Speaking to a target audience of graduates, dads and moms, and various sheiks, he argued for the importance of internationalizing training. “The international you have entered has to turn out to be miniaturized,” Sexton stated. “Events around the globe affect us all, no matter how remoted we seek to be.”

In hindsight, that graduation, held on NYU’s campus, not a ways from the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre, came at the peak of what became a golden moment for international education – and one that could soon dim.

It became a technology wherein better schooling observed ways to export its prestige, assert itself as an automobile for American gentle energy, and facilitate the trade of humans and ideas across borders. American universities joined NYU in opening campuses overseas, including Yale in Singapore and Duke in China. Colleges employed senior administrators to manage their burgeoning foreign places portfolios, including scholar exchanges, school research, and joint ranges.

First Lady Michelle Obama declared taking a look abroad a “key thing of this management’s foreign policy” as the White House rolled out a plan to ship one hundred,000 younger Americans to China. And Chinese college students led a surge of international college students onto American campuses. Their numbers could boom almost 90 percent to one.1 million, an influx welcomed not least due to the tuition bucks they paid.

That golden generation became born out of the grimmest of occasions: the September 11 terrorist attacks and the conviction that the violence – whose perpetrators were erroneously stated to have been inside the United States on scholar visas – referred to as increased engagement with the sector, now not less. Its cease date got here a decade and a 1/2 later, signaled by Donald J. Trump’s election, on a platform of America First.

While it might be tempting to pin internationalization’s present-day challenges on President Trump and the nativist surroundings he has instigated, that clarification also seems inadequate. Ultimately, the president wasn’t the only one that decimated college foreign language programs, shutting down 650 in just three years. His policies have little bearing on the drop-off in the percentage of institutions reporting that internationalization is a high priority in their strategic plans, from 60 percent, in 2011, to forty-seven percent in 2017.