July | August 2017






States Considering Education as an Export

By Jennifer Ginn, CSG Associate Editor
The U.S. Department of Commerce wants state leaders to think about education when considering their export programs.
“When it comes to education, we look at education as a very important service sector,” said Joan Kanlian, director of the Westchester Export Assistance Center in New York. “It currently is the seventh largest service sector export in the U.S. In certain areas, it can be the predominant export.”
Kanlian was one of the featured speakers during a recent CSG eCademy session called, “States Take Global Approach to Higher Education.” She said the Commerce Department provides a variety of assistance for states that are looking to recruit more international students to their schools.
“Commerce focuses its efforts in a couple of key areas,” she said. “Market intelligence, helping you to—whether it’s state agencies or colleges and universities—identify your best prospects, areas that you should be focusing your efforts on, opportunities. Also, helping you make contacts—whether that’s in person … or virtually—and then ultimately, recruiting students. Our goal is to help increase the number of international students studying in the U.S.”
The Rockefeller Institute of Government released a report last year—“States Go Global: State Government Engagement in Higher Education Internationalization”—highlighting state efforts to globalize their higher education institutions to prepare students for the knowledge economy. Taya L. Owens, an academic affairs associate at the State University of New York who worked on the report, said increasing the number of international students can bring economic benefits.
“We’re seeing steady year-over-year increases in the numbers of students choosing to come to the United States to complete their higher education learning,” Owens said. “That has resulted, in the most recent year, just under 900,000 international students that came and studied in the United States. They’re supporting about 340,000 jobs to the tune of about $27 billion being contributed to the U.S. economy in just the last academic year.”
States that are doing the best in recruiting international students are those that have collaborative efforts between higher education and economic development agencies, Owens said.
“States with no initiatives toward international higher ed are showing no growth or a decline (in students),” she said.
Jason Lane, vice provost for academic affairs at the State University of New York and an author on the “States Go Global” report, said universities have much more to offer a state trying to make its space on the world stage than just educating international students.
“We’re thinking about the use of a university to create a globally competitive workforce, which includes sending students abroad to better understand the cultures overseas,” he said. “We’re thinking about it from the faculty expertise, who become area experts and develop contacts overseas. We’re thinking about it from the international research partnerships, where our universities or systems of higher education might be partnering with their counterparts in other countries, developing important linkages that could be built upon for the entire state.
“We’re also thinking increasingly about the creation of foreign outposts. A number of our universities have a physical location in a foreign country that could be capitalized on. For example, in the State University of New York alone, we have offices that are spread in Russia, in Turkey, China, Mexico and a campus in South Korea.”
Wade Merritt is vice president of Maine International Trade Center and immediate past president of SIDO, the State International Development Organizations, a CSG affiliate. The Maine International Trade Center in 2010 launched StudyMaine, which introduces high-achieving international students to educational opportunities in the state.
Merritt said Maine businesses have benefited when educational institutions are involved in trade missions.
“It’s evolved now so that pretty much we can guarantee we’re going to have at least two or three educational institutions along with us whenever we do an overseas activity,” Merritt said. “(It) means that we’re able to do some interesting things, go to some markets we may not try if we had to base this solely on a business delegation. … Our mission to Columbia in 2013 absolutely would not have gone if we had not had educational institutions on board. It was a great success for the companies and the schools that went as well.”
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