Public Opinion Supports International Education

By a large and bipartisan majority, Americans support international education according to a 2016 Election Eve/Day national public opinion poll commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Americans understand that in order to innovate and compete in a 21st century workforce, we must prepare students by giving them the skills necessary to navigate life and careers in an interconnected global economy. What’s more, Americans believe that being part of the global community makes the United States stronger and more secure.

America Needs an Education System that Produces Educators, Business Leaders, and Diplomats


Question 1

Response Percentage
Strongly agree 75%
Not so strongly agree 15%
Not so strongly disagree 3%
Strongly disagree 4%
Don’t know 3%

Respondents were asked: Do you agree or disagree that our nation needs an education system that produces educators, business leaders, and diplomats who understand other cultures and languages?

A very strong, bipartisan majority, regardless of demographic group, the vast majority of respondents, 90% agree that our nation needs an education system that produces educators, business leaders, and diplomats who understand other cultures and languages.  


Question 2

Response Percentage
Strongly agree 69%
Not so strongly agree 14%
Not so strongly disagree 4%
Strongly disagree 9%
Don’t know 4%

Respondents were asked: Do you agree or disagree that our nation is better off when more of our students are internationally educated and understand other cultures and languages?

The vast majority of Americans, 83% also agree that our nation is better off when more of our students are internationally educated and understand other cultures and languages.  


Question 3

Response Percentage
Very Essential 59%
Essential 16%
Neutral 11%
Not Very Essential 6%
Not Essential at All 5%
Don’t know 3%

Respondents were asked: If our children and grandchildren live in a world in which global competiveness for jobs is on the rise, please note how essential do you think studying abroad, learning foreign languages, and learning about other cultures are to the American educational experience?

Three in four voters, or 75%, agreed that studying abroad, learning foreign languages, and learning about other cultures are essential to the American educational experience. Nearly four in ten say studying abroad, learning foreign languages and learning about other cultures are very essential to the American educational experience. These responses show a significant increase in positivity since 2012, when 63% of voters believed international education was essential to the educational experience, compared to the 75% this year.  


Summary

Despite the highly contentious national election of 2016 in which Americans seemed to disagree on almost every topic including social issues, economic growth trends, and changes in the environment, Americans still agree on one thing: international education is essential to the American education experience and is vitally important to our economy and the success of today’s young people in navigating a competitive global workplace. Americans feel strongly that colleges and universities need to do a better job teaching students about the world.

These findings are particularly significant at a time when concern about jobs and the economy is high. And, in a time of sharp differences between political parties, the results demonstrate broad bipartisan agreement at all socioeconomic levels and demographics in support of international education both as an essential element of a modern college or university experience and as a key to future U.S. economic competitiveness.