Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


International Education: A Foundational Pillar for Universities

May 1, 2024


From a podcast interview with Charlie Bankart, a seasoned Senior Internationalization Officer at the University of Kansas who has worked in international education for over 19 years.

“I think the question is, is there a university out there that isn’t engaged with the world? Because I think it’s impossible.”


The University of Kansas (KU) has recognized the power of international education and its role in shaping the institution’s growth and impact. In a recent podcast interview with Charlie Bankart, the Senior Internationalization Officer (SIO) at KU, he discussed how international education has become a foundational pillar for the university’s strategic planning. This article will delve into the key themes from the interview, highlighting the importance of international education and its implications for all universities.

Embracing Internationalization as a Foundational Pillar

At KU, international education is not a peripheral program but a core component of the institution’s mission and vision. Bankart emphasized that internationalization is one of the five foundational pillars of the university’s strategic planning. This recognition signifies the integral role of international education in shaping the university’s future.

Bankart explained that internationalization is more than increasing enrollment or attracting international students. It is about embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the university community and the broader global context. By centering internationalization as a foundational pillar, KU aims to create an exceptional learning community that lifts each member and advances society.

The Changing Role of the International Education Office

Traditionally, international education offices have focused on advocacy, constantly fighting for resources and recognition within the institution. However, at KU, the role of the international education office has evolved. Bankart highlighted that the office now focuses on providing support and resources to other departments, helping them understand the value of internationalization and how it aligns with their goals.

The international education office at KU takes a proactive approach by analyzing data and contextualizing the contributions of faculty, staff, and students involved in international activities. By demonstrating the impact of internationalization on research, enrollment, and community engagement, the office helps other departments recognize the value of international education and encourages collaboration.

The Practical Implications of International Education

International education is not just a buzzword; it has practical implications for universities, especially in the face of enrollment declines and increasing competition. Bankart emphasized the importance of internationalization in diversifying the student body and expanding enrollment opportunities. With the enrollment cliff approaching, universities must look beyond their borders and tap into the vast talent pool worldwide.

Bankart highlighted India as an example, where millions of individuals lack access to higher education. By actively recruiting and engaging with international students, universities can increase enrollment and foster a more inclusive and diverse learning environment. International education is not just about numbers but about creating a vibrant community that prepares students for a globalized world.

The Power of International Research Collaborations

Internationalization extends beyond enrollment and plays a crucial role in research and discovery. Bankart discussed the importance of building transnational research consortia and connecting with global knowledge networks. By collaborating with researchers from different countries, universities can tackle complex global challenges and significantly contribute to society.

Bankart highlighted the European Union’s Horizon Europe platform as an example of international research collaborations. By aligning research themes with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, universities can access funding and engage in multidisciplinary research that addresses pressing global issues. International research collaborations not only enhance the quality of research but also foster cultural exchange and promote understanding among nations.


The University of Kansas has recognized the power of international education and its role in shaping the institution’s future. By making internationalization a foundational pillar, KU has integrated it into strategic planning and encouraged collaboration across departments. The international education office's role has shifted from constant advocacy to providing support and resources to other departments, helping them recognize the value of internationalization.

International education has practical implications for universities, from diversifying the student body to expanding research collaborations. In an increasingly globalized world, universities must embrace internationalization to thrive. By centering international education as a foundational pillar, universities can create vibrant learning communities that prepare students to be global leaders and contribute to the advancement of society.

To catch the full interview with Charlie, CLICK HERE.