International Education or Colonial Tourism? Measuring Tools and Standards for Evaluating International Education


  • David Lempert Humboldt University of Berlin



International education, educational standards, International Education, Educational Standards, Non-Governmental Organizations, Development, Aid, Colonialism, development, aid, colonialism


This article applies a recently published indicator to various types of international education projects to measure their compliance with educational professionalism and international development law and also compares this indicator with the standards checklist currently in use by The Forum on Education Abroad. The tests and comparisons suggest that no existing standards hold international education to any real scrutiny, allowing many programs: 1) to degenerate into the equivalent of for-profit travel programs with little real educational content or intellectual challenge to students and 2) to promote colonialism rather than equity and development meeting international legal standards. The author shows how indicators can be extended to improve education abroad programs assessment on dimensions of professionalism and appropriate impact on developing countries under international law and also points to some of the many niches or gaps in education abroad that remain to be filled.

Abstract in Spanish

Este artículo aplica un indicador recientemente publicado a varios tipos de proyectos de educación internacional para medir su cumplimiento de la profesionalidad educativa y la ley de desarrollo internacional, y también compara este indicador con la lista de comprobación de normas que utiliza actualmente The Forum on Education Abroad (el Foro sobre la Educación en el Extranjero). Las pruebas y comparaciones sugieren que ninguna de las normas existentes somete a la educación internacional a un escrutinio real, lo que permite que muchos programas 1) degeneren en el equivalente a programas de viajes con fines de lucro con poco contenido educativo real o desafío intelectual para los estudiantes y 2) promuevan el colonialismo en lugar de la equidad y el desarrollo cumpliendo las normas legales internacionales. El autor muestra cómo pueden ampliarse los indicadores para mejorar la evaluación de los programas de educación en el extranjero en cuanto a las dimensiones de profesionalidad e impacto adecuado en los países en desarrollo según el derecho internacional y también señala algunos de los muchos nichos o lagunas de la educación en el extranjero que quedan por cubrir.


Abstract in German

In diesem Artikel wird ein kürzlich veröffentlichter Indikator auf verschiedene Arten von internationalen Bildungsprojekten angewandt, um deren Übereinstimmung mit der pädagogischen Professionalität und dem internationalen Entwicklungsrecht zu messen, und dieser Indikator wird mit der derzeit vom Forum on Education Abroad verwendeten Checkliste für Standards verglichen. Die Tests und Vergleiche deuten darauf hin, dass keine der bestehenden Standards die internationale Bildung einer wirklichen Prüfung unterziehen, so dass viele Programme: 1) zu einem Äquivalent für gewinnorientierte Reiseprogramme mit wenig echten Bildungsinhalten oder intellektuellen Herausforderungen für die Studierenden zu verkommen und 2) Kolonialismus fördern, aber nicht Gerechtigkeit und Entwicklung  sowie die internationalen Rechtsstandards entsprechen. Der Autor zeigt, wie Indikatoren erweitert werden können, um die Bewertung von Bildungsprogrammen im Ausland in Bezug auf Professionalität und angemessene Auswirkungen auf Entwicklungsländer nach internationalem Recht zu verbessern, und weist auf einige der vielen Nischen oder Lücken im Bereich der Bildung im Ausland hin, die noch zu füllen sind.


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Author Biography

David Lempert, Humboldt University of Berlin

Dr. Lempert is a social scientist, lawyer, Stanford M.B.A., and international educator.  He designed and led the first international sustainable development field project in Ecuador as part of the experiential education NGO that he founded, Unseen America Projects, Inc., and has designed curricula and advised universities, overseas programs, and governments for 30 years in over 30 countries.  He is the recipient of an honorary degree in education from the Moscow External University of the Humanities.


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How to Cite

Lempert, D. (2022). International Education or Colonial Tourism? Measuring Tools and Standards for Evaluating International Education. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(4), 357–400.