The Rise of Global Hispanics - Higher Education
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The Rise of Global Hispanics

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by Fernando León García


A new generation of global Hispanic professionals is rising, ready to navigate the world and steer their futures, armed with the advantage of innovative and transformative higher education experiences.

As the leading universities around the world respond to the challenge of globalization in the age of technology, more Hispanic students can gain state-of-the-art knowledge, cultural intelligence and international capabilities by researching the options within their reach and identifying higher learning institutions that are effectively preparing students for global competitiveness, particularly in engineering, business and entrepreneurship.

Fernando León García

Fernando León García

In today’s globalized world, a consolidated Ibero-American approach to higher education enormously increases the value of our shared Hispanic cultural currency. By thinking across borders, Hispanics in North America and across the Americas are poised to help lift the economic outlook of their competitive blocs while simultaneously improving their own overall employability and salary outlook.

That paradigm shift is already underway, particularly at forward-thinking institutions that see transnational dynamic exchange as a strategic investment in the future.

This new vision is particularly important for Latinos and others in the United States because it expands their global potential. It is producing individuals with the informed international perspectives, language capabilities, entrepreneurial skills and the global mobility necessary to address specific opportunities created by economic clusters in our region and beyond.

I recently attended the Times Higher Education Latin American Universities Summit in Bogota, Colombia, where I spoke about why internationalization is essential for institutions. It was an opportunity to talk about my own experience at the CETYS University System in Baja California, Mexico, and offer it as one example of the benefits of a global approach.

Baja California is strategically located to access global markets in the Pacific Rim and acts as a gateway to the emerging Latin American markets. As a result, our geographic position, cross-border dynamics, bilingualism and mobility are inherent to our cultural heritage and build on our economic synergies, creating a natural affinity to all things international.

Today, our three distinctive campus locations on the border with California are playing a critical role in fostering qualified talent and cutting-edge research to serve the needs of a wide variety of global businesses.

An important alliance is the CETYS University-City University of Seattle Double Degree Program. Degree programs that offer additional value, such as a degree from another country, are growing internationally, especially in European countries where they are becoming the norm. These programs provide students with experience and certification abroad, making them more competitive in their fields.

This June, it was fabulous to see almost 100 CETYS students graduate with a double degree from the City University of Seattle in business, engineering and psychology.

A recent example involves a tripartite initiative where students from CETYS, San Diego State University and Universidad Alcala de Henares took a summer course on entrepreneurship in Spain, thereby providing a transatlantic perspective. As a result of that effort, an additional exchange in Alcala de Henares will involve all CETYS students majoring in renewable energies engineering.

Also in Spain, our joint MBA program with the University of San Diego (USD) delivered a summer course in “Leadership, Strategy and Culture in a Global Context” in collaboration with Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.

Additional initiatives involve focused efforts that, in collaboration with U.S. universities, are providing specific solutions to problems posed by key multinational industry clusters. One such effort already in operation involves a graduate degree in radio frequency for the electronics cluster that brings together the University of California, San Diego and CETYS.

Another soon to be launched for the medical device cluster brings together St. Cloud State University and CETYS.

Collectively, these eff orts are building and reinforcing a pipeline of skilled individuals that can make a positive impact on the San Diego-Tijuana regional economy and on the broader CaliBaja mega-region.

In this region, engineering talent is absolutely critical. Entrepreneurial skills are essential to the success of business and industry employers, which include a sophisticated manufacturing base (automotive, aerospace, electronics), an advanced renewable energy industry, state-of-the-art agribusiness, and international trade and logistics industries.

Globalization has challenged humanity in many ways. It is bringing the world face-to-face with the benefits of diversity and with the difficult tests that result from the necessary transformation to a multicultural mindset. This dynamic is taking place at a time when technology has connected us like never before. Even while the evolutionary pressure of nationalist and populist politics can cloud the landscape, the reality is that the future of higher education requires making internationalization a priority.

Faculty exchanges; undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral student and scholar exchanges; joint research and educational projects; and special short-term programs and visits are all key to a successful mix when building international university alliances. Partnerships with business and government are vital to achieve the credentials that will lift the academic profile of a truly global advanced learning institution.

Fernando León García is president of the CETYS University System.

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