Personal and Institutional Benefits of International Education Programs
In ancient times, it was often the case that learning could only be acquired through a years-long travel experience and immersion in the local life at distant centers of education. Through this experience, the student or scholar acquired both specific knowledge and leadership skills, along with cross-cultural perspective and facility with one or more foreign languages. Recent research has empirically demonstrated that in addition to specific knowledge about a given culture, subject and/or language, the personal benefits of international education include:
- Enhanced tolerance & respect for diversity,
- An increase in critical thinking skills,
- Development of civic responsibility, and
- Increased engagement in life-long learning.
For this reason, a number of educational bodies, most notably ABET (the accrediting agency for college and university programs in the applied sciences, engineering, technology, and computing), but also others, have begun to explicitly require an international component to undergraduate and graduate programs of study before they will certify the program. Equally, the American University of Beirut, having these learning goals as a part of its mission, fully supports international education.
On an institutional level, it has recently been demonstrated that there is a direct co-relation between institutional quality as measured in common university ranking systems and the degree of internationalization on a given campus (Jang, 2009).
For a selective bibliography of research that explores the personal benefits of study abroad, please review the embedded list here.
For those who wish to explore the link between institutional quality and internationalization of universities, the complete citation is: Jang, (2009); Analysis of the Relationship between Internationalization and Quality of Higher Education; Unpublished doctoral disseration, University of Minnesota: Minneapolis, Minnesota.