Would you like to study overseas? Perhaps you want to learn a foreign language, gain international experience, or see the historic sites. 150 U.S. colleges are seeking to double the amount of students studying overseas through international and educational exchanges. The five-year initiative by the Institute of International Education hopes to increase the amount of international students from 295,000 to around 600,000.
With only 10% of students gaining international experience the U.S. is suffering from a lack of global marketplace knowledge. Being separated by great oceans once helped protect our borders but may now be a detriment to our economic growth. Our students, and the next generation of leaders, do not have enough familiarity with foreign cultures to effectively compete in this arena.
In business, international experience is also very important for effectiveness. Multinational firms have distribution networks that reach into multiple countries. Management may find themselves in a number of different cultures throughout their lifetimes and will need some method of formulating an understanding of international culture to be successful.
Even though sending students overseas is great there is also a higher cost associated with such opportunities. Research on virtual teams and international online classrooms helps support the idea that many of these benefits can be obtained without the expense of international travel. Students can see other perspectives, collaborate on projects, gain experience, and understand international laws better.
Whether colleges support travel or virtual work groups will depend on their personal strategies. In either event, students are likely to gain needed knowledge of how the international environment works and will be able to apply that knowledge to future jobs. It is these skills that help American businesses become more competitive the globe round.