Preparing students to work in a global economy is no small feat, but it is a skill employers are requesting. According to "Raising the Bar," a 2009 survey released by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, 67 percent of employers believe colleges should place an emphasis on providing students "the ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions," and 57 percent want students to have a better understanding of cultural diversity.
Global education has been a focus in American higher education for several years. Recently, we have seen an increase in conferences, speeches, and papers encouraging us to think globally and prepare our students for a world where success may be dictated by one's ability to navigate varying cultures, languages, and practices.
In 2006, Northeastern University enrolled students from 42 countries, representing 4 percent of the freshman class. By 2009, the university had increased those numbers to 61 countries and 11 percent, along the way adding 932 new high schools sending students to Boston.
Innovation is not a term typically used within higher education circles. Rich in tradition and history, American higher education has been sometimes labeled a bureaucratic, traditionally mired venture that does not change with the times. But this generalization is, in so many ways, incorrect. We have one of the most innovative and complex postsecondary systems in the world, with breadth and depth in our educational delivery.
The worldwide demand for higher education and lifelong learning has never been greater. Colleges and universities around the globe need to scale up their offerings to cater to a mass influx of students, for whom a degree is their passport to the 21st-century workforce. Yet, they must do this in an environment where funding is often constrained and costs continue to spiral upward.