In an ever-flattening world, the need for a pronounced international emphasis in education is becoming more apparent every day. Universities and larger colleges have been able to adapt to this need relatively quickly. In a 2002 article, Philip Artbach and Jane Knight wrote that the focus of international activities in universities have expanded greatly over the last twenty years ranging from “traditional study abroad programs allowing students to learn about other cultures to providing access to higher education in countries where local institutions cannot meet the demand”. Much of this drive towards internationalization is motivated by profit (schools marketing internationally or promoting a new internationalized aspect of their programs) and the desire for students to study in English-speaking nations.
Although universities may seem to hold the monopoly on international education, the same emphasis is beginning to emerge in community colleges as well. In addition to supplementing certification programs and two-year degrees with bachelor’s degrees or transfer programs, community colleges have began to further expand options for graduates by emphasizing the importance of an internationalized education as a way to stay competitive in a global marketplace. This includes increasing availability of international business degrees, certificates, and specializations.
In a 2008 study, Tomas Hult of Michigan State University and William Motz of Lansing Community College developed the International Business Education Index (IBEX) as a way to compare levels of activity in community college international business education. The study surveyed 428 community colleges across the U.S. about different aspects of their emphasis in international business education including funding, program offerings and requirements, and staff development. The results illustrate the need for a greater presence: of the colleges surveyed, only18.5% had some sort of foreign language requirement for graduation and 11.8% required business students to take courses that were “primarily international in nature”. Most schools offered very few classes that dealt with international regional studies in comparison to classes on North America. Additionally over 80% of schools did not earmark funding for international business programs or activities. The average IBEX score of schools surveyed was a 0.27, with zero being the least internationalized and 1.0 being the most internationalized.
While it is apparent that community colleges as a whole have a long way to go, Hult and Motz are optimistic and believe that the average IBEX score will improve as community colleges internationalize their business programs further in order to accommodate the increasingly globalizing marketplace. The authors believe that emphasis for improvement must be investment in faculty- schools that were ranked within the top 25% of the index scored 0.74 points on average for investment in faculty development in internationalization, while the bottom 25% averaged zero points.