Monday, June 22, 2015

Global Internships

This past week, PIE News published an article, “Global standard needed for internships, urge stakeholders”, which shed light on an issue of student mobility that doesn’t typically receive as much attention as traditional study abroad.  The article makes that the rapidly growing interest in global internships demands a common, globally-recognized definition of what internships are.  This would create a universal standard for how they should be handled in terms of pay, accreditation, and visas.  The article points out that not only is participation in global internships rising, but there is also an increase in interest in internships in non-traditional locations, such as Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.  This furthers the complications, as every country has different legislature regarding internships.  Additionally, while the majority of global internship participants are still American students, participation is growing elsewhere as well, particularly in Europe.

One of the traditional rationales for internationalization of education has been to maintain economic security in an increasingly globalized world.  1983’s National Commission on Excellence in Education report, “A Nation at Risk”, urges “If only to keep and improve on the slim competitive edge we still retain in world markets, we must dedicate ourselves to the reform of our educational system for the benefit of all…”  In 2006, the Council for Economic Development warned in their “Education for Global Leadership” report that “Future careers in business will require global knowledge and skills.”  Global internships answer this call very well, by giving students an opportunity to gain educational work experience abroad, and stay competitive with their peers from around the world.  The issue is, there is no universal standard for handling internships.  The definition of what constitutes one and what an intern’s rights and responsibilities are varies from country to country.  Are they paid, or un-paid?  What kind of visa is required to participate in one abroad?  Further complicating things are that internships lay in a grey area between education and employment.  Who should be leading the drive for global internship standards- the businesses hosting the internships, or the HEIs giving students credit for them?  Much as international education has seen accords like the Bologna process create standards to ensure comparability between education systems and increase mobility, the internship sector needs international standards in regards to internships to increase access and make sure that internships, no matter where the participants are coming from or interning at, are comparable.

Committee for Economic Development (CED). (2006).Education for Global Leadership: The Importance of International Studies and Foreign Language Education for US Economic and National Security, A statement by the Research and Policy Committee of the Committee for Economic Development.  Retrieved from:

Custer, Sara.  (15 June, 2015).  “Global standard needed for internships, urge stakeholders”.  The Professionals in International Education News.  Retrieved from:

National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A Nation at Risk: The imperative for educational reform: A report to the nation and the Secretary of Education. Washington, DC: Department of Education.

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