This week’s readings focused on strategic planning for internationalization in Higher Education. Moreover the readings went beyond a simple discussion of the process and why strategic planning is important, they provided some detailed examples of the existing global strategic plan (Baruch College), examples of successful implementation of strategic plans (The University of Kentucky, Rutgers University, and Beloit College), and a case study of the problems that can arise during international strategic plan implementation (University of Derby).
First, I want to bring up AIEA definition of strategic plan, as it seems to be the base for further discussion, “Strategic plan is ideally developed through an inclusive collective process through which the participants develop a mission and a set of priorities to move the college or university toward an aspirational, but attainable, future state over a period of five or more years.” What I find to be the most important in strategic planning is the collaboration and involvement of everyone in the strategic planning. In order to determine and true direction of where institution would like to be headed, it is important to get everyone on the same page (board of trustees, faculty, operations, finance and marketing people, etc.) From the examples provided by the University of Kentucky, Rutgers University, and Beloit College, all of them were involved in providing ideas, however at the end of the day the decisions were made by board and the president. In addition, implementation almost always falls onto faculty, which increases their workload and jeopardizing failure of the strategic plan, as mentioned in the University of Derby study case.
Other important aspect of strategic planning is “setting mission and set of priorities…toward an aspirational, but attainable future state”. As stated in the AIEA report Principle#6 in successful strategic planning is “to focus on the curriculum and student learning”. As also further elaborated, it is often overlooked due to other interests the leadership in the institution might have. As a result, this can lead to a failure of following institution’s mission and overall long term strategic plan. Moreover, focusing on something realistic that the institution has a implantation plan for is even more important, because setting up unrealistic goals that do not seem to fit into the institutional mission will result in automatic failure, even if it looks good on a paper.
EAIE created its own definition of international strategic planning, which I really liked, “Strategic planning is problem focused and future driven. It involves prioritizing and making explicit choices, setting realistic goals for internationalization but stretching the institution beyond its current capacity. It involves making effective use of resources. It is implemented and reviewed in a continuous cycle, and it creates a sense of ownership and ambition. In other words it becomes an instrument of institutional and individual change.” I find it to be very important to touch upon individual and institutional change when talking about strategic internationalization planning, since many people and especially faculty are very resistant to change.