Immigrant Higher Education

immigrant educationImmigrant Higher Education: The Community College Role

The Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE) was founded on the belief that community colleges working together could do more to promote and advance immigrant higher education on a national scale than any one college could achieve on its own. The enthusiastic response to CCCIE in the first year and the remarkable progress and growth in the second year provide concrete evidence of both the need for and the potential of CCCIE.

Community colleges are poised to make their institutions the primary vehicle for educating new Americans. Community colleges provide the most accessible and affordable path to higher education and meaningful careers for many immigrants and their children. They offer access to the education, skills training, and English language proficiency that is crucial for immigrants and refugees to successfully integrate into and contribute to their communities and the country. Community colleges are among the largest providers of adult education ESL service in many states and communities.[1]

Yet, many community colleges are far from prepared to meet these needs:

  • While immigrants’ overall educational attainment has remained constant since 1970, the net number of new people who arrive in the U.S. with less than a college education has increased dramatically.[2]
  • One in four of today’s community college students are immigrants or children of immigrants. Their academic success is contingent upon services that often go beyond the usual academic and financial assistance.[3]
  • The increased demand for immigrant educational programs, including developmental education and English language training, has exceeded many community colleges’ capacity.

Community colleges need a national voice and a concerted, unified initiative to share expertise and innovative strategies to provide the best possible education for immigrants and refugees. The Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education is fulfilling that role through its strategic partnerships, awareness and outreach initiatives, and Promising Practices database.


[1] Chisman, F. and Crandall, J.  2007. Passing the torch: Strategies for Innovation in Community College ESL. New York, NY: Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy. 
[2] Haskins, R. 2007. Economic mobility of immigrants in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.

[3] Connell, C. 2008. The vital role of community colleges in the education and training of immigrants. Sebastopol, CA: Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.