MSUToday
Published: Dec. 30, 2014

Community colleges expected to triple efforts to internationalize

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Tomas Hult International Business Center office: (517) 353-4336 hult@msu.edu

Community colleges around the nation expect to have about 24 percent of their programs fully internationalized by 2024, up from only 8 percent now, according to a new study by Michigan State University’s International Business Center.

In the 2015 report, the Northeast was the top region for internationalizing business programs at community colleges, while the Midwest was last. Iowa received the top ranking among states.

“We suggest that a target goal of internationalizing 20 percent of community college programming by 2024 is preferred to maintain the international competitiveness of the United States workforce,” said lead researcher Tomas Hult, director of IBC, and Byington Endowed Chair and Professor of International Business.

Hult developed the International Business Education Index as a benchmarking tool. IBEX measures the degree to which community colleges emphasize internationalization of business education in their curricula and educational activities. Five “pillars” comprise the IBEX score: investment in faculty, strategic commitment, program offerings, organizational infrastructure and funding.

To internationalize, community colleges offer a variety of courses, Hult said. Seventy-one percent offer an introductory survey course in international business, followed in popularity by international marketing, international economics, international trade and international management.

Offering such internationalized business courses is important since fewer than 2 percent of students at community colleges study abroad; fewer than 1 percent participates in an international internship; and students generally have limited availability to take foreign language courses, he said. Community colleges spend more than double on international business programs, compared to the rest of campus.

Hult and William Motz, professor of business and economics at Lansing Community College, have been conducting the study regularly since 2008, providing an annual assessment of internationalization at the nation’s 1,132 community colleges. The sample size ranges between 309 and 428 community colleges responding (with one to 16 respondents per college). The sampling frame includes administrators and faculty.

The study is supported by Community Colleges for International Development.

MSU’s IBC is designated and funded as a Center for International Business Education and Research by the U.S. Department of Education – one of only 17 institutions in the nation with the designation.

Tomas Hult is director of MSU's International Business Center. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

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