Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2017 Edition

Robin Matross Helms
Lucia Brajkovic
Brice Struthers
American Council on Education-CIGE

Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses is a signature project of the American Council on Education

(ACE) Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE). Conducted every five years, Mapping

assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and

trends over time, and identifies future priorities.


The 2016 Mapping Survey—like the three previous iterations—addressed the six key areas that make up the

CIGE Model for Comprehensive Internationalization: articulated commitment; administrative structures and

staffing; curriculum, co-curriculum, and learning outcomes; faculty policies and practices; student mobility; and

collaboration and partnerships. Key findings include:


• Institutions are optimistic about their internationalization progress. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent)

of respondents indicated that internationalization accelerated in recent years, and the proportion

of institutions reporting “high” or “very high” levels of internationalization rose from just over

one-fifth in 2011 to 30 percent in 2016.


• Internationalization is increasingly an administrative-intensive endeavor, coordinated by a single

office and/or a senior international officer. More institutions are implementing policies, procedures,

and planning processes to guide internationalization efforts.


• In-house models dominate when it comes to resources for internationalization and the management

of activities and programs. However, a notable proportion of institutions are also engaging with

outside entities (e.g., third-party program providers, funders, and international partners) to further

support and supplement internal efforts.


• While student mobility has consistently been a focus of internationalization efforts, the 2016 data

indicate an increasingly sharp emphasis on this area relative to other aspects of internationalization.

This is reflected in stated priorities, as well as resource allocations for education abroad and international

student recruiting—including a marked increase in the percentage of institutions that engage

overseas student recruiters. The level of support international students receive once they arrive on

campus, while trending upward, remains a concern.


• Though the curriculum and co-curriculum take a backseat to student mobility in terms of stated

priorities for internationalization, an increasing percentage of institutions are implementing academic

and co-curricular policies and programming that facilitate on-campus global learning on a

broader scale and among a broader base of students.


• More institutions are offering internationally focused professional development opportunities for

faculty; however, still only about one in 10 specify international engagement as a consideration in promotion

and tenure decisions. Overall, the faculty-related data raise questions about the recognition

of faculty as key drivers of internationalization.


• International partnerships and activities abroad are garnering increased attention, energy, and

support on many campuses. However, there is still a wide spectrum in terms of activity levels, as well

as the extent of planning and intentionality surrounding global engagement.