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How Diverse is the International Office

VU International News and Reviews No. 116 July 2 2018

July 2019

The Diversity Abroad Network has published a survey report on “Diversity & Inclusion among International Educators”. The Diversity Abroad Network is a grouping of (mostly US based) educational institutions, government agencies, for-profit and non-profit organizations committed to advance policies and practices that advance access, diversity, equity and inclusion in global education and exchanges.

Although the survey suffers from low response rate, a recognised North American perspective and lack of comparative data by being the first in its kind, it is still interesting to see the results – precisely because it is the first such survey. Although the title might make one think of people who teach, the survey seems to have been addressed to people who have organisational and administrative roles.

What stands out – though not unexpectedly – is that the vast majority is white (70%), female (79%), and born in the country (87%). On the other hand, almost 30% are first-generation (against 14% first generation in the total US student population, see the Campus Lab report). The report would have been more valuable if it would have provided such comparison against the general cohort of HE educated people in the US. The fact that 18.5% of people in international education have a background in a foreign language becomes more meaningful if we know how much bigger this number is than the average number of foreign language graduates.

As it is, the report doesn’t present much of an answer to who diverse the international office – or should be. But as a first survey on the international education professionals from a diversity perspective, it should definitely be applauded.

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