W13 – The Future of International Higher Education

This week’s readings about the future of the International Higher Education summarized the great deal of topics, changes, successes and challenges we have discussed in class over the semester. I also found it thought provoking, as it brought up concerns the new generation will have to face and resolve. Both readings had a number of common themes when it comes to the future of international higher education, and some of those that stood out include the growth of enrollment numbers in the last decades and how this will affect the future, especially in countries like China, quality of massive higher education, the inequalities of access, and the role of rankings/global citizens and global institutions.

Both readings referred a lot to the fact that overall enrollment numbers, especially in Asian countries like China and India as well as in African countries have increased exponentially over the last few decades. Although it seems like a good thing, it also created a challenge of quality of education for the students, as the classes grew in size, taking away from that needed relationships between students and professors. In addition, the nations are having trouble placing all of those graduates to jobs, causing more distress in the country. This seems to be an issue for many developing countries that have seen a growth spurt in higher education, which should be addressed immediately by the countries’ leaders, as it can lead to bigger problems for the national and even international economies.

Similar to the Asian and African countries, where the quality has been diminished due to the sudden increase in enrollment, already developed countries are also concerned about quality, but due to the popularity of mass and online education. More and more student chose this option as it might be more practical and convenient; however the quality is not the same as in person higher education experience. Although with advancement of the technology, it will be difficult to stop the trend, the institutions and professors should be more creative in attracting student with things that cannot be replaced online – the network, the mentorship, and opportunities.

Despite the increase in the overall enrollment, majority of the countries still see the inequality of access to higher education, in many countries that gap keeps growing even further than it used to be. This seems as a major concern that needs to be addressed not just on institutional level, but most importantly on a government/national level. Given the increase of importance of international rankings (not just national or local anymore), institutions, especially those with research or large endowments, concentrate on becoming global institutions, which brings more prestige, wealthy students and more partnerships around the world. Although the strategy might seem harmless as it does help students to become global citizens and enhance their experiences, it is highly concentrated on the wealthier students, leaving those in middle class and lower income families outside of reach increasing the gap even further. In addition, the cost of even public institutions has gone up tremendously, limiting access to higher education for many families. The Atlantic Magazine recently summarized the inequalities in the article mainly in the Unites States, however as already mentioned, these inequalities exist all over the world.


Natallia Kolbun

W11 – Internationalization Surveys – Leadership, Funding, and Priorities

The Executive summary of the Internationalization of Higher Education: Growing expectations, fundamental value IAU 4th Global Survey and ACE’s Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses are two very informative surveys that bring up a number of interesting and supporting facts about internationalization in Higher Education in the US and around the world.

The surveys present different points about the change and progress of Internationalization in Higher Ed institutions, some of which are supported by the data from both surveys, making those facts even stronger to believe and the need to be addressed by institutions. Since the number of them strongly stood out for me, I will list and discuss some of them below with my perspective on the topics and questions that have arisen:

  • One of the most noticeable points that were mentioned in both reports is the fact that internationalization strategies and activities seem to be driven by senior levels of leadership, and as most of the institutions reported by president of the institution. Per our discussion in class, the institution should not be waiting for the change of leadership to create and implement global strategic plan, but what if the leadership is the one holding it off?
  • Outgoing mobility is the most prioritized activity, while content of curriculum seems to be far from priority. As already discussed, creating international curriculum seems to be the best way to reach majority of the students on campus, rather than through outgoing mobility or research. On the other hand it makes sense why this is not a priority for the faculty, as they are not being recognized for working on internationalization curriculum and most institutions don’t provide funds, resources or tenure for doing it. As a result faculty’s motivation is not focused on creating international curriculum.
  • Institutions claim the lack of funding as the biggest obstacle in internationalization, while overall funding has been increasing over the years. So where are those funds being allocated? This leads to the next points:
  • Revenue generation as an expected benefit of internationalization ranked lowest in IAU 4th Global Survey, it might be true for the rest of the world, but in the US it seems to be one of the priorities in the most recent years (although not being claimed as one in the survey and stated to be the most important risk for North America). Even ACE Mapping Report states that the funding for international paying student recruitment has increased significantly, proving that US institutions are targeting tuition revenue from international students who have ability to pay. In addition Hanover Research states, “International student enrollments in the U.S. for 2012‐2013 increased by nearly 10 percent over the prior year, with some of the biggest changes coming from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, China, and Brazil”. Higher Education institutions seem to prioritize bringing international paying students to increase tuition revenue, while leaving internationalization at home as the least priority activity.
  • Doctorate institutions seem to be the most active in leading internationalization in Higher Education. It is possible that it is due to the fact that doctorate institutions are also research institutions, and according to the IAU 4th Global Survey research is a number two priority activity in the internationalization of Higher Education. As a result, these institutions receive most amount of funding and spend most amount of resources on internationalization.

Overall, I really enjoyed these surveys, which triggered a lot of different thoughts about the statistics versus reality of internationalization in higher education around the world, but especially in the United States.

Natallia Kolbun

W10 – Global Trends in University Governance

This week’s reading on Global Trends in University Governance was very informative and in some situations eye-opening when it comes to today’s world of Higher Education. The report talks about the movement of the developing (and even developed) countries to give more autonomy to the individual institutions to give them more freedom to compete on the international level, since having total or even most of the control over higher education institutions limits their ability to compete and be more creative and advance at the needed pace. The state/government has to also consider international players coming and competing on their territory and brining more flexibility to the new demand of non-traditional students (over 24 years old, part-time, and online programs).

Most of the countries do not want (and should not) to give up all of the control, as higher education is important for its people and its economy, so the operation and results need to be monitored one way of the other. What was new and interesting to me in the reading is the discussion about the “buffer body” created by ministry of education. It is the way the government can still control the performance of the higher ed institutions, while giving them the right to make their own decisions. I found an article that talks about the need and importance of buffering bodies back in the 1990s, which I found really interesting that even 20 years ago, this was already a starting trend toward autonomy in Higher Ed Institutions around the world. What I think is important to notice is that decision to give autonomy to institutions really depends on the type of governance in the country. For example, Russia is currently moving toward some form of autonomy allowing more private institutions and even public institutions to make certain decisions. However, for a country that seen a tremendous change in political overturn in early 1990s when the USSR fell apart, it might take some time to adjust to the world new trends.


Natallia Kolbun

W9 – BRIC Universities and Process of Change

This week’s reading BRIC Universities as Institutions in the Process of Change, I personally found very interesting and educating, as I did not know much about the commonalities and differences among BRIC countries, especially when it comes to higher education. Although India gave up a lot of its control to individual institution over the past couple of decades, Brazil, China, and especially Russia are still largely dependent on the state governance to make decisions and provide funding.

What I found most interesting is to read about Higher Education and Institutions in Russia, as I was born in Soviet Union and grew up in Belarus (now an independent country after USSR fell apart) and so this is very close to my heart. As to my knowledge the higher education systems in Russian and Belarus are not much different, the state has most of the control over curriculum, faculty, research, and funding. Despite the recent growth in private institutions that rely on tuition money to operate, as mentioned in the report, it is still largely funded by the state, pushing “elite” private institutions to attract international students and become world known, while pushing public institutions out of business. It is interesting that the reading mentions The 1993 Law on Education that “legitimized the decentralization and autonomy, self-governance, and devolution of authority, and legalized the introduction of private and nongovernmental higher education institutions” (P. 160). What was not mentioned is how highly corrupted the Russian government and so is higher education system in this country. Although the report states that most of the institutions, especially private have control over choosing their faculty and administrators, it is still highly controlled by officials with top positions and getting a job often depends on who you know who has an ability to hire. Although this might not be obvious or difficult to prove in the report, the highly corrupted culture of former USSR still exists in those countries and spreads to majority of the “industries”, including higher ed. In addition to hiring and funding corruption, admissions in Russian institutions mainly depend on “knowing people” and ability to pay someone off, despite your admission exam results.

One of the main conclusions about the BRIC institutions is that most of them are highly dependent on state funding, which gives the government more control over the decisions individual institutions make. It seems that the economists predict that BRIC countries will step up and take top ten spots in the world’s largest economies by 2050 (which China being #1), which to me seems to be a little overly optimistic looking at it from today’s standpoint. If that, in fact, will be true, the Higher Education systems and individual Institutions will have to see tremendous amount of change in the next 30 years, to be able to step out of the current state control and become more independent and risk takers, which are willing to take curriculum and internationalization in their own hands. BRIC countries won’t be able to grow as fast as predicted if the state continues to have such control on higher ed system and individual institutions.


W8 – Strategic Planning for Internationalization in Higher Education

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.