Diversity and Internationalization of Higher Education

A Focal Point Project for 2014-15 sponsored by Graduate College.


The field of international education is “a growing pie” worldwide, with United States as the leading destination for the increasing population of students studying outside of their original countries. Specifically, according to the annual report by the Institute of International Education, there were 819,644 International Students studying in the U.S during 2012-13 academic year, accounting for 3.9% of its total higher education enrollment.

This development has been the focus of intense debate in US higher education during the past decade. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolled 9,407 international students of its 43,398 total enrollment in Fall 2013. According to NAFSA, an estimated economic contribution of $300,351,700 and 5,538 jobs were created or supported due to the influx of international students during the 2012-2013 academic year in Congressional District 13 of the State of Illinois alone, to which the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a major Contributor. In addition to economic value, international students also contribute academic value to U.S. colleges and universities, as well as cultural value to campuses and local communities by serving as cultural bridges and bringing global perspectives. While the internationalization of higher education is pictured positively either economically, politically, academically, or culturally, there have been growing concerns nationally, about the ways in which domestic diversity and global diversity intersect, diverge and compete with one another in new and complicated ways.

Given campus-wide concerns about the increasingly globalized U of I campus, this Focal Point project seeks to bring together a diverse group of faculty members, student and academic affairs administrators, and graduate students who are interested in exploring the tensions and overlaps between movements for campus diversification and internationalization, specifically within the context of the institution’s land-grant mission.