W13 – The Future of Higher Education and Internationalization

In Bridges to the Future, Deardorff, De Wit, and Heyl summarized many topics we have spoken about in this course such as the need for internationalization efforts to fit into the overall strategic vision and mission of the institution, the difficulty of balancing the benefits and risks of internationalization, and the resourcefulness, collaboration, and commercialization resulting from declining public funding.  The authors note that internationalization of education is often looked at from the Western perspective, with developing countries mainly sending students to North America and Europe and acting as beneficiaries of capacity building initiatives.

The publication goes on to highlight challenges and opportunities in different regions of the world.  For example, Professor Gacel-Avila from the University of Guadalajara writes about various challenges to internationalization in Latin American including the low enrollment in postgraduate studies, the lack of government support and funding, and limited foreign language proficiency of the students.  In contrast, Professor Ota of Hitotsubashi University in Japan describes the Japanese government’s involvement in internationalization, first to encourage modernization of the country and later to become a leader in hosting students in the region.

IHE at Twenty: Special 20th Anniversary Feature: Higher Education’s Future offers various perspectives regarding the greatest challenges facing higher education in the next two decades.  Looking at the many opinions of experts in the field, the most common challenge was massification and maintaining quality in an era of increasing enrollments.  Various authors explained that increasing participation in higher education means that the diversity of students will increase and their collective needs will change, making instruction more challenging, assuming the same quality standards apply.  Access to higher education is important, but it gains of an “educated” society are negated if quality is not maintained.  These problems are intensified when also factoring in decreasing public funding.

Another theme that I thought was interesting was the importance of recognizing and rewarding effective teaching.  In “The Challenge of Effective Teaching” Bernasconi notes that this is especially challenging because rankings and reputation are only tied to research outputs, making the teaching responsibilities of professors secondary in importance.  Echoes Salmi, “The overemphasis on research sends the wrong signal that the quality of teaching and learning is not important” (p 17).  In fact an article named Teaching vs. Research from Inside Higher Ed found that out of 122 universities that offer PhD degrees in political science, only 41 of them offer courses on how to become a good teacher and only 28 of those require a course on this topic.  Even the way we are training our graduate students emphasizes research over teaching.  Thoughtful and effective faculty and staff at higher education institutions are crucial to both higher education within a country and intentional, impactful internationalization strategies.

W11 – Internationalization Surveys and the US’s Focus on Latin America

Both of the articles for this week summarized findings from surveys about internationalization.  Mapping Internationalization on US Campuses compares the data from a 2011 ACE survey across institutional types and historical data from past surveys.  While doctoral institutions clearly lead the way in most aspects of internationalization, this publication reported a positive picture of growth and expansion of internationalization overall in the US context.  For example, more campuses report having specific internationalization strategic plans and accompanying assessment methods than in previous survey years.  Since there was no change in the institutional policies requiring international experience for promotion or tenure, the authors recommend amending policies to factor in international experience for faculty.

The article named Internationalization of Higher Education: IAU 4th Global Survey presents the findings of a survey that was administered to institutions internationally.  This allowed the authors not only to identify global trends, but also see how perceptions, successes, and issues vary regionally.  In examining benefits, and risks of internationalization, they found that there is still a strong focus on student mobility.  The goals of internationalization align accordingly, including preparing students to succeed in a globalized world, and appreciation of different cultures.  The article spoke about many topics we have learned in class, including the importance of institutional leadership and funding challenges.  I thought the section about risks was interesting because despite the various benefits of international education and the progress being made in that area, there are still many obstacles to overcome including the perception, (and often times reality) that studying abroad is an elitist activity for students with financial means.  Regional societal concerns include brain drain in less developed countries, and solely economic motivations in North America.

I was also especially interested in the geographic priorities section, specifically for the North American region.  Based on the recent economic growth in many Asian countries and the high number of international students coming from countries such as China, India, and South Korea, it makes sense that Asia and the Pacific was the highest priority for institutions in North America.  I was also happy to see that Latin America and the Caribbean was the second highest priority for North America.  The reading stated that many regions, including Asia and Europe, identified their own region as the highest priority.  Since the Caribbean was grouped with Latin America, then North America really only consists of Canada and maybe Mexico.  I’m glad to see North American institutions taking an interest in their southern neighbors.

Since I studied and worked abroad in Latin America, I have always had an interest in the region.  A Huffington Post article reviewing the 2013 Open Doors Report noted that Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile were among the top 20 destinations for US students.  The University World News article that Professor Choudaha sent us last week mentioned that Latin America was the top destination for Non-Credit Education Abroad, with Mexico and Nicaragua the first and third most popular destination countries respectively.  I think it is encouraging to see this increase in educational exchange with some of our closest neighbors, especially considering the various (and interconnected) ways in which we are linked including trade, immigration, tourism, the environment, and politics.

W10 – Governance, Institutional Autonomy, and Strategic Planning

In the article Governance reforms and university autonomy in Asia, Varghese and Martin examine the different reforms and policy approaches of five different Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam) chosen because they represent varying progress in academic and administrative autonomy reforms as well as encompassing different levels of economic development and average educational attainment.  For example, with a highly developed economy and educational enrollment rate, Japan’s higher education institutions already had a great deal of administrative autonomy.  Therefore, the reforms there focused on quality assurance and expanding industry partnerships.  Cambodia, a society with a low higher education gross enrollment rate (GER) of 7 percent in 2008, is not as far along in its path to autonomy, with only a select group of institutions transitioning to “Public Administrative Institutions” (PAIs) with limited ability to create new programs.

As demand for post-secondary education increases, it only makes sense that the types of students will be more diverse and will need different types of programs and institutions to accommodate their different needs.  This expansion will also put a strain on a central government with complete control of the higher education sector.  This results in policy shifts from direct central government control to a more hands off “state supervision” model.  Underlying all of these reforms is the idea that a successful higher education system influences economic development in a particular country and that increased institutional autonomy will give universities the freedom and flexibility to adapt and respond to specific regional needs.   This tendency toward using market forces to impact higher education leads to increased capacity and competitiveness.

Global Trends in University Governance by Fielden took a broader look at similar topics discussed in the first reading, such as the unsustainability of a diverse higher education system being fully financed by a central government and the subsequent move toward autonomy.  Fielden (2008) succinctly stated, “The basic principle behind institutional autonomy is that institutions operate better if they are in control of their own destiny” (p 18).  Different institutional approaches result in increased innovation and creativity that may not come about in a uniform system.  Additionally, institutions have incentives to improve and increase efficiency if they can benefit from any additional revenue.

One thing I thought was interesting in this reading specifically was the importance of strategic planning both on the national and institutional levels and how planning can be used as a tool for central ministries or buffer bodies to measure success of institutions in meeting their goals.  If there is a national strategic plan, institutions can incorporate those broader goals into their specific plans while adding initiatives that are unique to their institutional contexts.  Funding can be allocated by a central ministry based on the success of meeting the self-imposed goals of an institution.  We learned about the importance of effective strategic planning in the decentralized, highly autonomous context of the US, but it is also interesting to see how strategic plans are another method of monitoring and evaluation for countries where the government has more authority over higher education.

W9 – Global Strategic Planning

The three main Global Strategic Plans we have read in this class (Baruch last week and Ohio University and Middlesex Community College this week) all have similar themes.  The broad goals for each include increasing study abroad, creating international partnerships, and internationalizing the home campus through increased global themes in the curriculum, emphasizing international student recruitment, and fostering a welcoming environment for international students.  It was nice to see that diverse institution types put such an emphasis on internationalization.  However, the way each institution goes about creating a Global Strategic Plan varies widely regarding approach, specificity, and presentation.

Ohio University’s Global Strategic Plan almost seemed more like a persuasive paper about the importance of having an international component in education than a tangible plan of an established university.  They provide an extensive background, even going into historical trends such as the transition from a service economy to a knowledge economy focused on communication technologies.  They spent about a third of the document focusing on AIEA’s first principle of successful strategic planning: “Educate about internationalization.”  It seems they are convincing the campus community of the need for large scale internationalization.  This is in contrast to the strategic plans we’ve read on the East Coast, specifically Baruch with a student body that is already extremely diverse in a setting where the importance of internationalization needs little explanation.

Middlesex Community College’s (MCC) Global Strategic Plan is very specific, including a number of specific documents in their appendix such as applications for MCC study abroad programs and a promotional flier regarding the Mission and Values of the college.  These support documents indicate a level of organization and preparedness not seen in the other strategic plans.  For example, Appendix A is a worksheet in the form of a table that includes columns about each Strategic Direction of the college and the corresponding specific initiatives, measurements, resources, and areas for further research.  Along with Appendix A, MCC used tools to succinctly present the information in a way that anyone could understand.  For example, the SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and the Goals and Strategies (pg. 21 – 24) were both great ways to not only establish what the institution is already doing but also to clearly outline specific activities and evaluation methods.  They were able to efficiently fulfill many of AIEA’s strategic planning principles including “establishing a timeline”, “ensure that internationalization touches all students,” and “disseminate the information.”

Both Global Strategic Plans share common characteristics.  For example, they both emphasize the importance of preparing students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world and produce graduates capable of solving complicated global problems.  They also both connect the new Global Strategic Plan with the institutional mission and general strategic plan.  However, Middlesex seem to be further along in the strategic planning process than Ohio University.  MCC also seems to be more coordinated.  This could be due to a number of factors including the institution’s current student enrollment (MCC is more racially diverse), or size (MCC has about 12,000 students while Ohio University has 17,000 undergrads, but almost 6,000 graduate and doctorate students).  In both of these areas Middlesex has an advantage when it comes to global strategic planning.  Additionally, perhaps because Middlesex is a Community College there are fewer distinct schools and fewer degree levels, making it easier to craft a strategic plan to applies to everyone.  Regardless, both institutions clearly but a lot of effort into crafting these strategic plans and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

W8 – Strategic Planning for Internationalization

Strategic Planning for Internationalization in Higher Education, a publication by AIEA, introduces the history of strategic planning in higher education and provides a helpful definition which states: “A 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…” (p 4).  It goes on to stress the importance of strong leadership, faculty input, utilizing data and measurements to inform objectives and track progress, and investing time to develop consensus in a decentralized environment.

A case study of issues of strategy implementation in internationalization of higher education looks at the challenges that a UK institution faced when implementing their internationalization plan.  Focusing on internal challenges such as coordination and fear of change, they conducted one on one interviews with the leadership, faculty, and marketing teams.  Unsurprisingly, “resource allocation” was a concern shared by all three teams, especially financial resources, which is an ever-present constraint throughout many aspects of education.

One thing I thought was interesting was that the availability of staff resources was viewed differently among the different groups.  While faculty, the people on the ground dealing with increased workload, were concerned about having enough manpower and time to complete tasks during the busy times, the leadership team did not think this should be a problem, as they viewed these resources as already having been allocated during the planning phase.   Jiang and Carpenter (2011) sum it up well by noting, “The potential reason for this discord is that the corporate group is responsible for strategy formulation, rather than strategy implementation” (p 9).  I think this example is illustrative as it also encompasses other issues discussed in the reading including cooperation and communication.  Additionally, leadership being unaware of volume and complexity of staff duties is not unique to education.

It is important that institutions apply AIEA’s definition of strategic planning so that it is truly “an inclusive, collective process” where representatives from various departments and levels are involved in strategic planning.  Fear of change, risks to institutional reputation, and external factors such as visa regulations and other governmental policies are also factors that can impede internationalization on campus.  In order to overcome these challenges, the authors suggest more staff training and professional development, increased communication to ensure common values when internationalizing, and more cross-departmental cooperation.

Baruch’s Global Strategic Plan 2014-2019 was easily my favorite reading this week.  Baruch’s comprehensive global plan included initiatives such as international student recruitment, increasing study abroad, and encouraging faculty collaboration.  Not only did we get to see the recommendations from the previous readings put into action, but it is great to know that the institution where I will earn my master’s degree is making the effort to invest in a global strategic plan that is comprehensive and closely linked to the overall strategic plan of the university.  One example suggested by AIEA is the benefit of targeting specific countries for internationalization initiatives, which Baruch did expertly, not only by providing a comprehensive list of current global initiatives, but also identifying “Country Commitments” where future resources and efforts will be focused.   I also liked that Baruch’s internationalization strategic plan ended each section with plans for measurement and evaluation of its goals.