Bridging the Gap for Foreign-Educated Immigrants: A Guide for Community Colleges

Alexandra Lowe
Date of Publication: 
October, 2014
Source Organization: 
Center for an Urban Future

Foreign-educated immigrants, i.e. immigrants with college degrees or credits from their home country, often lack the knowledge and resources needed to obtain a job worthy of their educational accomplishments.

This immigrant "brain waste" has overall negative effects such as missed economic growth, wasted skills and loss of tax revenue. This report  draws attention to the central role that community colleges can play in helping skilled immigrants transition into professional careers. The guide encourages community colleges to think of foreign-educated immigrants as economic and social assets, who can fill skill shortages in key sectors and occupations, if properly guided and assisted. It identifies resources for community college educators and administrators, with suggestions as to how to reach out to foreign-educated immigrants and integrate them into existing programs and resources. The Guide also describes promising practices from community colleges across the country and includes profiles of individual students who traversed the pathway to successful careers in America. Among the many observations in the report are the following:  foreign-educated immigrants learn about their local community college purely by chance (targeted outreach would lead to higher enrollments); foreign-educated immigrants don't want to start all over again (credential recognition and prior learning assessments are important steps on the path to career reentry); long years of enrollment in non-credit English language courses can serve as a disincentive to career advancement (co-enrollment in credit-bearing courses and "bridge programs" are effective strategies); and  foreign-educated immigrants are often unaware of  financial assistance options (teachers and advisors should communicate this information to students). (Ariella Katz Suchow for The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.'s Public Education Institute)

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Lowe, A. (2014). Bridging the Gap for Foreign-Educated Immigrants: A Guide for Community Colleges. Global Talent Bridge in partnership with the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education. New York: NY. Available at: