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Chyrva, А. S. Higher Education Internationalization while Cutting Resources (On the example of USA)

А. S. Chyrva,
Sumy National Agrarian University


Higher Education Internationalization while Cutting Resources (On the example of USA)


The article presents analysis of modern scientific and strategic approaches to education internationalization at universities and colleges of the USA while steady cutting of resources. Internationalization initiatives of higher educational establishments of the USA at national and international levels have been outlined. Principal trends of higher education internationalization in the USA at national, state, institutional levels have been defined.

Key words: higher education internationalization, universities and colleges, international students, cutting of resources.


Internationalization of higher education is one of the leading trends in education systems of many countries. This issue has been actively studied by academic community for at least thirty years.  The problem is particularly relevant in terms of Ukrainian realities, because on the one hand the system of higher education is in a state of transition on its way of integration into the European and world community, on the other hand permanent reduction of state funding puts educational institutions in a difficult situation. In the conditions of globalization in all spheres of life the competition between universities is growing steadily not only within the country but also internationally. One of the alternatives of problem solving can become active involvement of educational institutions in the process of internationalization at both institutional and national level.

The problem of higher education internationalization is actively studied in Australia, Canada, Germany, Britain and the United States. One of the most initiative participants of this process is the USA as the country with the most powerful economy. That is why it is advisable to study carefully the experience of American universities faced with a lack of funding and solved their problems by aggressive internationalization policy.

The theoretical basis and practical mechanisms of higher education internationalization are represented in the works of both foreign (F. Altbach, Sh. Bond, H. de Wit, B. Ellingboe, Ch. Klassek, J. Mestenhauzer, J. Knight and others) and local scientists (N.Avshenyuk, A. Dzhurinsky, G. Poberezska, A. Sbruyeva and others). Important aspects (factors, signs, forms, tasks, mechanisms, strategies, trends, etc.) of the problem were studied by the scientists V. Andrushchenko, M. Boychenko, K. Korsak, L. Kuriy, A. Ovcharuk, V. Soloschenko, S. Shyrobokov, B. Bernardo,  T. Welley, J. Manning, J. Novotny, K. Sheyler and others. Some approaches to internationalization of higher education in the United States under conditions of reducing state funding are highlighted in the scientific works of the following scholars: K. Fischer, M. Green, M. Leventhal, A. Ferguson, N. Peterson, M. Shay and others. But research of higher education internationalization processes in terms of cutting funds in the leading countries is lacking in scientific sphere of Ukraine.

The purpose of the article is an analysis of approaches to internationalization of education at universities and colleges in the United States in terms of steady funding cuts.

Problems of funding cuts affect the internationalization efforts of the US universities. They influence on the policy of education systems, states and universities related to internationalization, including the attraction of international students.

US higher education is becoming less affordable for local students as the cost of education is growing and the growth of citizen incomes is far behind the inflation. While the USA became a leading country hosting international students and researchers – more than 690,000 a year (the average number of foreign students studying in the United States increased by 3 per cent a year over the last decade). University internationalization is a central mission within many institution regulations and programs. This is evidenced by the opening of campuses abroad, gaining experience of studying abroad, international research collaboration, recruitment of international students and internationalization of academic courses.

Federal support of international programs and exchanges are relatively small but its impact on some campuses is significant. The United States has no national policy in the field of internationalization although there are calls for the development of this policy [5, 6]. The relatively small federal support of international education is distributed by several federal agencies (Department of Education, Department of Defense, the US International Development Agency, State Department, Ministry of Agriculture, National Institute of Health Care, National Science Foundation), so evaluation of the funds volume for internationalization and budget cuts is rather difficult. The most prominent programs of State Department are exchange programs for teachers and students who are constantly faced with fund reducing.

Taking into consideration studies of individual US universities (Buffalo, Indiana, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio) we can conclude that most university leaders recognize the importance of internationalization and aim to implement it in different ways according to the education system.

Recruitment of foreign students is considered as a source of income. So, marketing and recruiting efforts are being developed with great emphasis on state cooperation strategies with the use of web sites, advertising campaigns and consultants. At the same time partnerships with organizations which are not related to education are becoming more popular. Discussions about the use of agents recruiting foreign students on behalf of institutions gain popularity. The tendency to reduction of strategic partnerships with international universities is being observed. Education is widely seen as the engine of economic development through workforce training, research, innovation and employment. As foreign students do not compete with local students for budget places they are considered to be a source of income for universities and the state.

In conditions of constant financial cuts institutions are considering internationalization as the way of improving their economic state and survival of the university. This conclusion can be reached as the result of studying the reports of the American Association for International Education (The Forum on Study Abroad – Forum on Education Abroad, AIEA – Association of International Education Administrators, Association of International Educators, etc.). In the process of these reports analysis we state that activation of institutions in higher education internationalization grew about 20% – the number of member institutions of such organizations has increased, the number of participants in national and international conferences on internationalization has grown, interest in attracting international students is noticeable. As more universities are seeking professionalization of their international educational activities, new sources of revenue and ways to get advantage over their competitors it can be assumed that they will invest in the professional development of international departments. More and more universities from the smallest to the largest popularize their services abroad distributing brochures in different languages even Arabic and Chinese. According to the data of associations there are no US institutions left which are not interested in foreign students, more over all of them believe the attraction of foreigners for studying is extremely important. They aim to achieve from 5 to 15% of international students of the total student body in their internationalization strategies. Many US universities are focused on Asian students, especially Chinese. The organization Open Doors concluded that approximately 18.5% of all foreign students in USA are from China and 36.4% are from five Asian countries.

According to the research made by the American Association for International Education even major American universities have very few international staff recruiters. Universities of Minnesota and Indiana which have international recruiters are leaders in international education [1].  However, research universities prefer to use their own staff and networks recruiting foreign students but not agents. For example, recognizing the need of experience for successful international recruitment the University of Colorado had hired their own recruiters who work independently from the University Admission Department.

As American scholar K. Fischer noticed, collective efforts of international education marketing and recruitment at the state level have become increasingly popular. Almost half of all US states have regional websites for dissemination of educational services on the international market in order to recruit foreign students. This trend began in the first years of the third millennium with the organization of sites and Sites New Jersey and Ohio After followed them [2]. In the absence of national coherent informative activity the idea of ​​state initiatives at the state level spread quickly as a cost-effective way of combining resources and efforts of all institutions and enabling even the smallest or less well-known institutions to reach students around the world. It is not quite clear how successful these joint efforts in attracting foreign students but they are economically effective and the participants consider them to be useful.

Another relatively new type of cooperation is the relationship between state offices of international trade and educational institutions. Universities are increasingly considered as engines of economic development and so they involve university leaders to international trade missions as they seek business partners’ investments into their states.

Although the use of agents is well established in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, American institutions do not hurry to hire them despite economic pressures on universities. But an American researcher M. Shea argues that this situation is changing. He cites a recent article of the Washington education edition «Inside Higher Ed» which indicated that 85 percent of surveyed foreign students reported that they consulted with agents before coming to the United States. [8] Also in favor of the mentioned trend speaks the fact that American Council for International recruitment (ACIR) which includes more than 100 universities and colleges is establishing professional standards for agents taking the position that the agents are an important part of the educational landscape of the US [2].

Of course there are opponents of this trend. For example, Ohio and Buffalo State Universities lead long-lasting common policy against the use of agents. They have infrastructure and resources for development of overseas recruitment strategy based on alumni and professional staff recruiting international students. The use of agents is mainly the strategy of institutions which are trying to recruit students abroad at lower cost and those ones with low rating [7]. Although interest to agents increases however, according to K. Fischer, was announced the rejection from their involvement in the recruitment of international students. Among the reasons is the reluctance of institutions to pay premium required to support such a business model because the cost of services of most recruiting agents is about 10% of the payment for the first year of study [2].

Although it is difficult to understand how easily American institutions attract agents but never the less we can assume that if organizations continue to face financial difficulties and if the number of high school graduates reduces more and more universities and colleges will turn to agents to expand their international contingent of students.

Interest in attracting more international students initiated a new phase of partnership with the private sector for recruitment of foreign students: there appear agreements between universities and private companies to attract foreign students to guide programs. INTO, Kaplan (China) and Navitas are three main companies-suppliers which enter into long-term agreements with schools and partner agencies to ensure the effectiveness of pre-admitting academic programs. This cooperation gives them a better chance of students’ success they recruit. Famous research universities are typically not subject to such measures. Less prestigious and less well-known institution with limited possibilities of marketing and recruitment of foreign students funding may turn to use of agents whose responsibility is finished after students registered to join.

According to the rector of global initiatives and international relations at Ohio State University Dieter Wanner effective international cooperation has to contain more expectations and elegance. To justify the costs, efforts and risk new university partnerships abroad should be focused, strategic, result-oriented. Such partnerships can bring together American and foreign universities for work at sponsorship research projects with the support of US and foreign industry and foreign governments. Strategic approach has a lot of different forms from creation of office abroad to creation of a full campus abroad.
Based on the foregoing, we distinguish the following main trends of US higher education internationalization at three levels during continuous reduction in funding (see table. 1).

Table 1

HEI Trends in the USA under conditions of cutting resources


National level

State level

Institutional level

Appearance of professional international education associations

Growing role of regional (within state limits) systems of education in higher education internationalization

Institutional climate and devotion,

rector devotion,

stuff development, financing of international offices and their role growing

Increasing of interest in international students recruitment

Сooperation with private sector


international recruitment of students


Common efforts in international marketing and student recruitment at the state level

Increasing role of  international departments heads, use of agents for international students recruitment

American Council for International recruitment (ACIR)



using of websites for institution marketing

Effective international cooperation: more expectations and sophistication


Systemized by the author based on original sources [2, 3, 4, 5, 8].

На основі вивчення американського досвіду рекомендуємо: на національному рівні заснувати «Українську Раду з міжнародного набору», започаткувати професійну асоціацію з міжнародної освіти, налагодити співробітництво з приватним сектором стосовно набору міжнародних студентів, розробити єдині обласні вебсайти для міжнародного маркетингу ВНЗ та набору іноземців, інвестувати в професійний розвиток персоналу міжнародних відділів; створити мережу агентів за кордоном для набору міжнародних студентів. Перспективи подальшого дослідження вбачаємо у детальному вивченні методик роботи професійних агентів з набору іноземних студентів у різних країнах.

Thus we can state that in the USA where they have high social standards most institutions responding to the challenges of constant funding cuts apply marketing efforts and the efforts of traditional recruitment – through websites, the use of alumni abroad, attracting institutional staff to international recruitment and improvement of internal coordination of units involved. About half the states have instate organizations which represent and promote institutions internationally. Research universities reject the possibility of hiring agents and partnerships with private sector organizations but institutions with small resources and less recognition are more liable to such initiatives.

On the basis of American experience study we suggest at the national level: to establish "Ukrainian Council for International Recruitment", to organize a professional association of international education, to cooperate with the private sector regarding international recruitment of students, to develop common regional websites for international marketing of universities and recruiting foreigners, to invest in professional development of international departments; create a network of agents abroad for recruiting international students. Perspectives for further research we see in more detailed study of professional recruiting agents work techniques in different countries.



  1. AIEA Listserv Summary Results. (2011). Questions on international undergraduate recruiters. Retrieved from
  2.  American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) [Electronic resource] . – Available at:
  3. Fischer, K. (2011). State by state, colleges team up to recruit students from abroad. Chronicle of Higher Education. April 3.  Retrieved from
  4. Green, M. Internationalisation of U.S. Higher Education in a Time of Declining Resources [Electronic resource] / Madeleine Green and Adelaide Ferguson, Australian Education International (AEI) North America. – June 2011. – P. 39. – Available at:
  5. Leventhal, M. (2011). How the U.S. can stop hindering higher-education exports. Chronicle of  Higher Education.  May 22. Retrieved from
  6. NAFSA. (2007). An international education policy for U.S. leadership, competitiveness, and security. Retrieved from
  7. Peterson, N. et al. (2011). White paper: Towards professional standards and practices ininternational student recruitment. Retrieved from
  8. Shay, M. (2011). Standards for agents – and colleges. Inside Higher Ed. March 25 Retrieved from


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Ключевые слова: интернационализация высшего образования университеты и колледжи, международные студенты, сокращение финансирования.


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Ключові слова: інтернаціоналізація вищої освіти, університети і коледжі, міжнародні студенти, скорочення фінансування.


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