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AIRC calls for a more integrated approach to international student recruitment

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • The American International Recruitment Council has released new recommendations designed to help expand international enrolment in the United States
  • The core concept behind the recommendations is essentially that the United States should recognise that broad range of entry points for US education, actively promote them, and look for ways to smooth student movement from one programme option to the next

The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) has released a set of recommendations designed to further boost international student enrolment in the United States, and the country’s competitive position in general.

The recommendations were developed over the past two years by a working group with input provided by the AIRC membership, government agencies, and sister associations, including EnglishUSA and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS).

“As a destination for education, the United States finds itself today in a diminished position due to increasing competition from nations with more favourable student mobility policies and practices,” begins an introductory statement to the new recommendations. That introduction calls for a wider and more contemporary understanding of international student mobility, pointing out that, “International students today may choose from a wide array of non-credit and credit-bearing experiences and combine multiple experiences to advance their academic and career goals in a personalised way that works well for them. Students are looking for accessibility, value, relevance, and flexibility in their educational avenues, including in application processes, admissions, enrolment, course selection, learning modality, credit articulation, transfer, and study abroad.”

With that context in place, AIRC offers two primary recommendations:

  1. Promote the many and diverse US educational entry points to expand access to international student mobility.
  2. Facilitate connections between entry points to support international student mobility.

The recommendations statement makes the case that those entry points span all education sectors – K – 12, community colleges, and higher education – but also include a wide variety of additional learning experiences, including intensive English programmes, pathway programmes, vocational training, short-term study abroad and exchange programmes, volunteer, work and cultural programmes, and online learning. AIRC points out, however, that these options are not widely understood among key stakeholders, including student advisors, and that the pathways between them need to be strengthened.

The core concept behind the recommendations is essentially that the United States should recognise that broad range of touchpoints for US education, actively promote them, and look for ways to smooth student movement from one programme option to the next.

There are several more specific actions attached to the two recommendations, including:

  • Identify and promote model practices that demonstrate the benefits of a wide variety of educational entry points.
  • Train those who advise and counsel students about the diversity of educational entry points.
  • Promote multiple entry points to students, their families, and stakeholders so that they are aware of the robust educational choices students have.
  • Advocate for improving the processing of student and exchange visitor visas to make entry to and transition between educational opportunities as seamless as possible.
  • Highlight models of articulation that link entry points into educational pathways to serve as examples for institutions and students to emulate.
  • Support greater portability of international students’ educational credentials and transfer opportunities by adopting the principles of the UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region.
  • Develop course articulation databases and assessment practices that include the use of life skills equivalencies and non-standardized aptitude tests.

AIRC Executive Director Brian Whalen said that, “These recommendations offer a distinctive perspective stemming from AIRC’s wide reach into all areas of international student enrolment. [They] articulate AIRC’s vision for how international enrolment in the US can grow to benefit students, institutions, and our society and culture.”

Noting that the recommendations are meant to be a complement and a support to the ongoing national conversation around international education in the United States, he adds that, “[These] recommendations will influence the broader conversations on US international education policies and the development of a national strategy.”

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