Edition 172 - August 2015

EP-commissioned “Internationalisation of Higher Education” is published

August brought the release of a much-awaited study in the field of international higher education. Titled as simply as “Internationalisation of Higher Education” this study was produced under the lead of Hans de Wit and Fiona Hunter in the name of the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation (CHEI), Laura Howard on behalf of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) and Eva Egron-Polak from the International Association of Universities (IAU), in response to a call for tenders launched by the European Parliament (EP). 

The study, which involved an impressive number of higher education experts from around the globe, takes stock of the current state of internationalisation efforts and strategies in European higher education and then makes a number of recommendations for the future.

The ten main trends identified are as follows:

1. “Growing importance of internationalisation at all levels (broader range of activities, more strategic approaches, emerging national strategies and ambitions); 
2. Increase in institutional strategies for internationalisation (but also risks of homogenisation, focus on quantitative results only);
3.  Challenge of funding everywhere;
4. Trend towards increased privatisation in IoHE through revenue generation;
5.  Competitive pressures of globalisation, with increasing convergence of aspirations, if not yet actions;
6.  Evident shift from (only) cooperation to (more) competition;
7.  Emerging regionalisation, with Europe often seen as an example;
8.  Numbers rising everywhere, with challenge of quantity versus quality;
9.  Lack of sufficient data for comparative analysis and decision-making;
10. Emerging areas of focus are internationalisation of the curriculum, transnational education and digital learning.”

In light of these trends and with the purpose of ensuring a bright future for IoHE in Europe, the authors put forward ten recommendations to the future:

1. “Address the challenges of credit and degree mobility imbalances and institutional cooperation, stemming from substantial differences in higher education systems, procedures and funding.
2. Recognise the growing popularity of work placements and build options to combine them with language and cultural skills training and study abroad.
3. Support the important role of academic and administrative staff in the further development of IoHE.
4. Foster greater higher education and industry collaboration in the context of mobility of students and staff.
5. Pay more attention to the importance of ‘Internationalisation at home’, integrating international and intercultural learning outcomes into the curriculum for all students.
6. Remove the barriers that impede the development of joint degrees.
7. Develop innovative models of digital and blended learning as an instrument to complement IoHE.
8. Align IoHE with internationalisation at other levels of education (primary, secondary, vocational and adult education).
9. Stimulate bilingual and multilingual learning at the primary and secondary education level as a basis for a language policy based on diversity.
10. Remove barriers between internationalisation of research and education, at all levels, for greater synergy and opportunity.”

Last but not least, amongst the wealth of information provided in the study, the authors also propose a revised version of the working definition of internationalisation of Jane Knight. In their view, internationalisation is “the intentional process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education, in order to enhance the quality of education and research for all students and staff, and to make a meaningful contribution to society”.

The full study can be accessed online on the European Parliament website.

European Parliament

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