If you could change any one thing about the top universities in the world, what would it be?
Make the break-down of students at the university even more international and more representative of the actual globe.
Right now most top US universities, for example, are 85% American and 15% International. It is easier to gain admission as an American student into US universities. While many universities don’t explicitly state this, 15% of the student body being international at the undergraduate level is a tacit quota of sorts for many universities.
Why is this a good idea?
- It makes the student body more competitive because more of the hardcore international applicants are replacing some of the less competitive American candidates, driving up average quality.
- The student body will become diverse. One of the most powerful parts of the US college experience even in its current form is the massive amount of international students from far flung cities around the world with different languages and cultural backgrounds. If 50% of the student body was international it would be even more diverse.
- It helps the world become an increasingly globalized playing field. Many of the students from these top universities go on to lead and work in top companies, governments, start-ups and not-for-profits and more international students, makes the average graduate from US universities more globally connected, helping to make these organizations marginally more globally connected.
I definitely agree with @jamie.beaton! Universities should not deflate the number of international students to such a huge extent - and this is probably the first thing I would change! I would also add that I would love for elite universities to extend their financial aid opportunities to all international applicants as well. Right now, only Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Amherst offer need blind admissions for international applicants and meet their full need requirement. Opening doors for all applicants - irrespective of geography and financial standing - would be immensely enriching for the student experience.
I would probably add that students at elite universities tend to avoid taking risks in their careers - moving to a new country, starting a company, etc. I would love to see a much more intense culture of straying off the beaten path into less common endeavors that embrace uncertainty!