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Minority-Serving Institutions & Access to International Education

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Thursday, December 18, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The United States is home to more than 500 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI’s) including: Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI’s), and Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCU’s). While open to students from all backgrounds, MSI’s occupy an important space within higher education, especially in the context of increasing access to educational opportunities. This blog post intends to highlight some of the trends, research, and debate specific to MSI’s in the context of internationalism.

Currently, there are more than 100 HBCU’s in the U.S. According to the US Department of Education, an HBCU is defined as “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans…” Despite President Obama’s 2010 executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, controversy over the Potential Contraction of HBCUs has been making headlines. At the highest national level, however, the historical significance of these institutions, as well as the present-day role they can play to address inequities in the education system continues to prevail. Specific to international education, the American Council on Education (ACE) published a report, Creating Global Citizens: Challenges and Opportunities for Internationalization at HBCU’s, detailing the comprehensive internationalization efforts at several of the country’s HBCU’s. The report was compiled to serve as a resource for other HBCU’s as they internationalize their campuses. Not surprisingly-- given the well-documented underfunding of MSI’s -- the report indicated a need for additional financial and human resources to support successful internationalization efforts.

The National Center for Education Statistics lists more than 30 TCU’s within the U.S. For Native students studying at non-Tribal Colleges & Universities, some schools are working to identify appropriate means to help Native American students feel at “home” on the campus. This can be difficult, especially, when Native students constitute a small percentage of a large student body. Many Native students are more comfortable attending a TCU because of the efforts made to preserve native traditions and language. Likewise, reports indicate that student success at TCU’s, when compared to Native students at non-TCU’s, is high. Recognizing the important role of TCU’s and other K-12 educational institutions in native communities, President Obama recently announced the Generation Indigenous Initiative, an effort to support Native youth as they prepare for college and future careers. Anne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, noted that TCU’s “do an extraordinary job, often on a shoestring budget, in what they are doing to transform lives to empower the next generation of leaders in a whole host of fields, including our future educators.” In 2012-2013, only .5% of the almost 290,000 U.S. students who participated in study abroad identified as American Indian or Alaska Native. Given this statistic, it is incumbent upon the international education community to consider new ways to reach out to Native students and TCU’s.

HSI’s are defined in federal law (the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Title V, 2008) as accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment (Excelencia in Education). In 2012-2013, the HSI Center at Excelencia in Education, a national educational advocacy nonprofit, identified 370 HSIs in the U.S. within 15 states and Puerto Rico. California has the most HSIs (127), followed by Texas (68), and Puerto Rico (59). In an IndyStar article, Deborah Santiago, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Policy at Excelencia in Education, stated that “Latino students are much more likely to attend colleges where they make up at least one-quarter of the student body, such as the University of Texas at El Paso.” This assertion is also supported by the data: In 2012-2013, 59 percent of undergraduate Hispanic/Latino students were enrolled at MSI’s as compared to 46% twenty years ago (Excelencia in Education). Recent research out of Vanderbilt and Florida State University comparing graduation rates of Hispanic students with similar backgrounds, revealed roughly equivalent graduation rates at HSI’s as at non-HIS’s. This research seems to confront some of the predominant discourse claiming that MSI’s are not performing as well as their non-MSI counterparts.

Diversity Abroad is committed to working collaboratively with MSIs to increase access to and services for students on their campuses. As part of our involvement in the Generation Study Abroad initiative to double study abroad participation over the next 5 years, Diversity Abroad has announced plans to develop a capacity building program geared toward higher education professionals at MSIs. Annually, Diversity Abroad will bring together representatives from 7-10 MSI campuses to engage in virtual and in-person training sessions hosted in partnership with non-MSI Diversity Network member institutions. Additionally, through our annual Go Global Campus Tour (GGT), we will increase our campus visits to MSIs to provide information, resources, and training to students who may not readily have access to information about education abroad options. Each year over the next five years, we will add more diverse campuses (e.g., HBCUs, TCUs) to our campus visits providing pre-departure and returned student resources in the form of student presentations, tabling, and classroom visits.

MSIs, particularly HBCUs and HSIs, prepare and train the majority of African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latino professionals entering the workforce. As such, their engagement in doubling study abroad participation is critical to ensuring that the student population going abroad is also representative of the diversity of the U.S. population.

Tags:  HBCU  HSI  international education  Minority Students  Tribal Colleges and Universities 

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Report Highlights Challenges HBCUs Face in Their Internationalization Efforts

Posted By Andrew Gordon, Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016
A new report from the American Council on Education published this week highlights the challenges that HBCUs face in their internationalization efforts.
A link to the full report is included below as well as a summary from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

While many of these challenges may not be new, the report highlights some interesting and good work being done at the seven institutions that participated. 

This is also a good reminder that HBCUs and minority serving institutions play a valuable role in the diversification of education abroad activities because they serve a large portion of racial/ethnic minority students enrolled in higher education (for a quick snapshot of these numbers you can read the recent report from Excelencia in Education and UNCF titled "Black + Brown: Institutions of Higher Education").
For those of you working in and with the HBCU community, please feel free to share your thoughts on the topic.

Report Links:

Tags:  Education Abroad Diversity  global education  HBCU  HSI  research 

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First Lady Michelle Obama Encourages Study Abroad to China With 100,000 Strong Initiative - Special Emphasis Put on HBCU's & HSI's

Posted By Andrew Gordon, Thursday, January 20, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

With China’s President Hu Jintao in Washington for a State Visit, First Lady Michelle Obama used the occasion as an opportunity to encourage American high school, community college and university students to pursue study abroad. Speaking at Howard University, Mrs. Obama pressed the importance of American students pursuing study abroad as a whole, and specifically study abroad in China.

“Studying abroad isn’t just an important part of a well rounded educational experience,” Mrs. Obama said.“It’s also becoming increasingly important for success in the modern global economy.”She also emphasized that study abroad does not just help individual students, but also the United States as a whole. “Studying in countries like China is about so much more than improving your own prospects in the global market… When you study abroad you’re actually helping to make America stronger.”

While the First Lady did an excellent job in highlighting the individual student and national benefits to study abroad, she was also keenly aware of the challenges we face in increasing the number and diversity of students studying in China. “There are too many students here in the United States that don’t have that chance (to study abroad) and some that do are reluctant to seize it. Maybe they feel that study abroad is something only rich kids do or maybe kids who go to certain colleges.” The Diversity Network agrees with the Obama administration that not only is study abroad to China important, but also that it is essential that diverse and underrepresented students take advantage of international education opportunities to China and other countries.

Reaching the goals of the “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of students studying in China will require that we as international educators accept the challenge and work to be more effective in recruiting and advising underserved students for study abroad to China. To be successful in this endeavor, we must do a better job in communicating to diverse students and their parents the positive impact a study abroad experience can have on their future academic and career goals. Reaching the 100,000 Strong goals will also require the nation’s Hispanic Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to increase capacity to provide more of their students with international education opportunities to China.

The 100,000 Strong Initiative’s goal to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China is exciting. To fully realize this goal will require innovative approaches for reaching underserved students who traditionally have not taken advantage of international education opportunities. The Diversity Network and its members are committed to supporting the 100,000 Strong Initiative and any other initiative, which aims at diversifying the locations and the students who pursue international education.

Andrew Gordon is the founder and president of Diversity Abroad. He is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, where he studied business, economics and Spanish. He has studied, traveled and worked throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and South America. He started Diversity Abroad in 2006 with the focus of increasing global awareness and engagement among students and young people with an emphasis on diverse and under-served populations.

Tags:  100000 Strong Initiative  China  Education Abroad Diversity  First Lady Michelle Obama  HBCU  HSI  Minority Students  Study Abroad 

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