Allan Goodman, CEO of the Institute for International Education, speaks at the Symposium on International Student Growth in Pennsylvania April 10. The event took place in Linderman Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Courtesy of Christa Neu)

Lehigh hosts international student symposium


Lehigh hosted a symposium featuring Allan Goodman, an expert on international education, who spoke on the value of international students in the U.S. 

Since 1998, Goodman has been the president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, a non-profit organization working to create and implement international education programs worldwide. 

His presentation was titled, “Recruiting International Students and Scholars for Pennsylvania Higher Education: A Strategy for Economic Competitiveness and Innovation” and was held April 10 in Linderman Library. 

Goodman discussed the importance of having international students in higher education in Pennsylvania. The event’s thesis was that the United States takes the most international students from every country, but there is still work that needs to be done in terms of accepting more international students and making space for them in the U.S. 

The symposium involved three different speakers, including Goodman and panelists. The opening remarks were made by Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost of International Affairs. 

Matherly discussed the economic impact international education has on the Lehigh Valley. 

“Here in the Lehigh Valley we have 1,697 international students enrolled in colleges and universities and they contributed $79.4 million to the local economy,” Matherly said. 

Once Goodman took the stand, he discussed the importance of international education in the U.S. and how this country differs from others in its treatment of international enrollment. 

“The plans of all the schools represented here are really different than what’s happening in the rest of the world, which is running out of spaces for international students and running out of the political will to take them,” Goodman said. 

He said international enrollment typically only rebounds 1-3% after a pandemic. After the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the rebound rate was much higher. 

Open Doors, an educational survey of international studying and teaching activity in the U.S. organized by the Institute of International Education, reported international enrollment in American colleges increased by 12% in the 2022-23 academic year. 

This spike contrasts with the decrease in international student enrollment in other countries around the world, Goodman said.

Dr. Mirka Martel, the head of research, evaluation and learning at the Institute of International Education; and Elle Butler, the head of marketing for North America IDP Connect, also spoke at the symposium.

Martel discussed data from the Open Doors report while Butler discussed national survey results on the need for policies surrounding international education. 

Using the Open Doors survey results, the Institute of International Education created a 2030 international education and enrollment forecast. 

“Over 90% of institutions told us that they were interested in increasing their enrollment in the next five years,” Martel said. “And this was against a range of how much based on how many international students they had. But we had enough institutions who were telling us that they could in fact, double or triple the total number of students they have.”

Martel said they are looking at increases in international enrollment and in academic levels, as well as where the future of international education is headed geographically. 

A panel answered questions concerning the importance and opportunities surrounding international education after the speeches. 

The panelists included Megan Beste, district director to Congresswoman Susan Wild; George Lewis, senior assistant to the president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Council; and Ali Natale, senior international trade specialist of the U.S. Commercial Service. 

“The importance of having these kinds of discussions is about where the positive benefit is,” Matherly said. “And I think what I’m really struck by in this conversation today is just this consensus that there is opportunity in the evaluative.”

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