Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun on Monday joined federal officials and higher education leaders to discuss efforts to bolster global study programs for U.S. students and develop strategies and innovations that enable more students worldwide to pursue international opportunities.
Aoun spoke at the opening plenary at the U.S. State Department’s fifth-annual EducationUSA Forum in Washington, D.C. He cited Northeastern’s emphasis on global experiential learning—particularly through its signature co-op program—as an effective education model in which students learn about new cultures and gain valuable real-world experience through work, research, and study abroad.
Under President Aoun’s leadership, Northeastern has made a strategic decision to expand its signature co-op program globally. Since 2006, the university has increased global co-op opportunities by 345 percent. Students have participated in experiential learning opportunities, including co-op, study abroad and research in 114 countries and on all seven continents.
“Any way you can explore the world is a good way,” Aoun said, noting that this philosophy applies to U.S. students going abroad as well as international students coming here. He also advocated for recruiting more international students to America, adding that it’s important to help them shed the “international” label and support their transition into U.S. higher education institutions.
“We don’t want international students to see themselves as international students, but simply as students,” he said.
Joining Aoun on the plenary were Orfelina Garza, president of Houston Community College Southwest, and David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan moderated the discussion.
“Relationships between nations are not just relationships between governments. They are also relationships between people—particularly young people,” Ryan said in her opening remarks.
EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State-supported worldwide network of more than 400 advising centers that provide millions of international students with information about U.S. higher education and applying to college in the U.S. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs organizes the annual EducationUSA Forum, where State Department officials and more than 550 representatives of U.S. higher education institutions share strategies for increasing recruitment and retention of international students on U.S. campuses.
At this year’s three-day forum, federal officials and EducationUSA advisers joined higher education leaders to discuss strategies focused on strengthening the United States’ position as an international education leader.
For his part, Aoun is a national leader on addressing higher education’s most critical issues. He frequently writes and speaks about innovation in higher education, with particular emphasis on American higher education in a global context. Earlier this year, he participated in a higher education summit hosted by President Barack Obama that focused on maximizing college access, affordability, and success for low-income students. He also offered guidance to the U.S. Department of Education on its new college ranking system.