Here Are Four Ways That HBCUs Can Boost US International Education Outreach

Officials from the US Department of Education released a blog post this morning outlining its commitment to educational opportunities for students from around the world.

Here is what the department is emphasizing in its international approach, which is a complete reversal of most foreign engagement policies enacted by the Trump Adminstration towards student and information exchange among nations.

  • A coordinated national approach to international education, including international students on our campuses, study abroad for Americans, and the internationalization of U.S. campuses and classrooms.

  • A welcoming environment for international students coming to the United States, encouraging a diversity of participants, disciplines, and types of schools and higher education institutions where they can choose to study, teach, or contribute to research.

  • Encouragement for U.S. students, researchers, scholars, and educators who reflect the diversity of the U.S. population to pursue overseas study, internships, research, and other international experiences.

  • Promotion of expanded access to international education, including using technology where in-person experiences are not feasible, to connect U.S. students, researchers, scholars, and educators with their peers abroad.

  • Partnerships of the U.S. government with higher education institutions, schools, state and local governments, the business community, and others to support international education.

The timing couldn’t be more vital for the higher education sector in the United States. Total college enrollment among Americans is falling but relatively steady among international students. Domestic job growth is increasing but remains a key factor in individuals and families’ ability to pay for school, and public health concerns remain a factor in how people will teach and learn over the next year.

How can historically Black institutions, in spite of these challenges, be a sector asset for these international goals? Some existing HBCU programs already provide a blueprint for success.

  • Fortify current HBCU relationships with Caribbean, East African, and Middle Eastern nations by expanding federal grantmaking opportunities in public health and applied science. Many Black colleges already maintain strong connections with these countries, and only need resources to attract more students through existing pipelines.

  • Relaunch and offer details for previous State Department guidance on HBCU-China relations. Under the Obama Administration, the federal government backed a formal relationship building program between historically Black and Chinese universities. Beyond executive trips and cultural exchange with the nation, there has been no formal report on the amount of professors, students or professional placements which emerged as a result. How can the State Department, with its existing programs to encourage careers in diplomacy and foreign relations rebuild this program and expand it to nations Like South Korea and India?

  • Create grantmaking programs for campus cultural liaisons. None of these ideas work if HBCUs are not equipped to manage cultural and social expectations of international students and faculty members. The Department of Education can play a role in supporting English as a Second Language programming, infusing resources for cultural training and sensitivity, and chronicling best practices for low-resource institutions who want to expand international learning.

  • Deploying HBCU sociology, educational talent to allied countries. One of the fascinating things about HBCU outreach is that very little is done to Black people and enclaves in countries like Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and other friendly nations. How can the United States, as part of its diplomatic portfolio, build bridges between Black Americans and Black international neighbors to cultivate international research, learning and development in areas like social justice, community activism, educational support infrastructure, environmental justice and political mobilization?