OECD Reports on Making Reforms Happen 2015 and The State of Higher Education 2014 were very informative and quite interesting readings. The State of Higher Education 2014 report focused on how the changes in the Higher Education over the last several decades forcing the Higher Education Institutions adjust, learn, and evolve offering some ideas for different models to address the cost, value, assessment, funding, and research in the Higher Ed Institutions. One of the major examples provided is the success of research and funding through Research Excellence Initiatives (REIs). Although I do agree that this seems to be a prosperous way for many institutions, other smaller colleges and universities might not have same access to this funding, research opportunities, and recognition. As a result, there is a need more ideas/approaches to address all other aspects of higher education that were not given a consideration by REIs.
OECD report on Making Reforms Happen 2015 focused on policy reforms and how they are being implemented around the world. What struck me the most in the report are the statistics of how much of the education money is being allocated toward which purpose. Only 9% goes toward governance, 11% toward funding, and 12% toward evaluation and assessment, which means there is very little attention being paid to what the education system is in need of, who will fund it, and once the policies are implemented, does it really work, or we just continue to fund what is really not working. In addition, the report states, “The analysis shows that once new policies are adopted, there is little follow-up. Only 10% of the policies considered in this dataset have been evaluated for their impact” (P.2). I find it very disturbing that so little attention is being paid to performance and the value on new policies being implemented, it seems as a recipe for disaster and waste of valuable funding that is being thrown out on reforms that simply don’t work, but no one cares to notice to re-allocate the funds to other policies that do perform and make a difference.
In order for the education systems around the world to be successful and efficient, it is important to have accountability on different levels (from individual to national). Accountability seems to be always circling back when it comes to creating these policies and reforms, working on implementation, as well as when measuring quality and evaluation. In her report on Standards, Assessments and Education Policy, Linda Darling-Hammond references accountability as follow, “True accountability occurs only when policymakers and educators can act on the information provided by an accountability system in ways that create better opportunities and outcomes for both individual students and groups of students” (Page 7). This shows that having a strong accountability system in place on any level (either it is individual, school, regional, or national) is extremely important to measure short and long term results of any policy and/or reform.
Both the ACE report on International Higher Ed Partnerships and the IIE Report on the Process for Screening and Authorizing Joint and Double Degree Programs have touched upon details from initiating international partnership to keeping them valuable and successful. The collaboration, development, and establishment of international partnerships is not a one step process, it includes numerous important phases, such as strategic planning, faculty and student engagement, ongoing collaboration for enhancements and improvement, and of course quality assurance. Within those phases, the institutions need to remember that transparency, accountability and commitment are extremely important throughout the whole process.
From the ACE report, it is evident that it is very important for the individual institutions to establish international strategy and policies as the first step toward internationalization and most importantly international partnerships. The base recommendations/requirements for international partnerships seem to be very similar or rather more stringent than for any other internationalization initiatives. It could be due to the fact that many internationalization programs created by the government or NGOs are typically short-lived and often don’t have long lasting strategy. On the other hand, international partnerships are typically institution initiated and are all about keeping the relationship and enhancing knowledge and experience as the partnership grows and progresses. That is why establishing international policies that will help institutions determine the goals, priorities, rules, and limitations and being able to compare them to those of the partnering institution are extremely important. They will not only determine the initial negotiations that need to take place, but also the future potential conflicts that can take place, which should be addressed at the initiation of the partnership agreement to avoid future disagreements.
I found the example of Rice University in IIE The Process for Screening and Authorizing Joint and Double Degree Programs to be a perfect example of how any partnership process should work. It includes a lot of collaboration, details, clear guidelines, continuous learning process, evaluation, and improvement of programs and experience. Although ACE report that concentrates mainly on the American partnerships, additional IIE resources also talk about 4 Steps for Creating Sustainable Academic Partnerships. Those include finding sustainable partnership based on common goals, creating more specific shared vision, establishing commitment from faculty and other involved parties, and making sure the partnerships will have longevity. Therefore, no matter if an institution is in the United States, Europe, or any other part of the world, finding a partner institution that shares common vision and international goals will certainly create a base for successful long-term partnership, as long as institutions are willing to collaborate and learn through the process.
While Dobbin’s, Knill and Vogtle’s report Analytical framework for the cross-country comparison of higher education discussed the approaches and importance of government’s involvement in the internationalization of Higher Education, OECD Report Approaches to internationalization and their implications for strategic management and institutional practice was more of a detailed action plan and a set of considerations both the government and individual institutions need to think through when planning their internationalization strategy. According to Analytical Framework document, no matter which governance type is implemented by the country or nation, the involvement of the government always plays a significant role in the overall system. In addition, the OECD report further explains why the partnership between the government and institutions are important to be able to succeed in the internationalization of higher education initiatives.
Although the internationalization has certainly gained more attention and interest across many countries in the world, the government’s motivations behind those initiatives seem to be the same, just on a larger scale. For example, back in 1999, Jane Knight described motivations behind internationalization of higher education, “Human resources development, strategic alliances, commercial trade, nation building and socio/cultural development, cultural identity, citizenship development, national security, technical assistance, peace and mutual understanding, and economic growth and competitiveness” (P.3). And as if nothing has changed in the world since 1999, OECD report brings up same reasons in 2012. Motivations on the institutional side, on the other hand, have become more of a competition for rankings and recognition, as well as financial stimulus.
Both the government and individual institutions play a big role in delivering success and effective outcomes of internalization initiatives. On one hand, the government/state needs to be involved on a more broader level including financially and strategically, as well as to make sure the institutions are going in the right direction to reach desired outcomes, such as boost to the economy, improvement in the international relations, advancement in research, and prestige of the nation’s and institutional higher education. On the other hand, the institutions must be very thorough with developing and implementing successful programs that will attract students, faculty, research professionals and international collaborations. While doing all of that, ethics, evaluation and the outcomes should be continuously kept in mind and observed, to make sure the efforts do not end up in negative outcomes not only for the institution, but also for the students, faculty and the country.
The ACE report Internationalizing U.S. Higher Education is a follow up on the ACE report Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide, which discusses key players, current initiatives, potential of the internationalization of higher education in the US and the most sensitive topic: funding.
One of the main points brought up throughout the report is the lack of centralized national government agency that oversees and funds the activities of internationalization throughout the whole country. Although the report does mention that having a centralized agency might not be as effective in the US due to the size of the industry at home, it still seems to be the main and biggest difference that separates the US efforts of internationalization of higher education to the rest of the world.
I do believe that creating a single entity initiating and overseeing all internationalization efforts will not be as effective in the United States as it is in the rest of the world. Here in the United States, each individual state values their independence and choices they make, and internationalization might not be at the same priority level for each state. I also don’t think having centralized agency would be to the best interest of the people. Having several agencies, individual states and institutions involved in creating/initiating these policies will create variety of unique programs and policies, as each of them look at internationalization from the own perspective that serves different purposes, instead of just focusing on one, when only one agency makes the decisions.
On the other hand, what needs to be centralized and prioritized on the national level here in the United States, is the funding for such initiatives. The US government needs to be more involved and needs to capitalize on the future outcomes of investing into internationalization in higher education and the level of its importance for the future economy. According to the 2014 Rockefeller Report States go global: State government engagement in higher education internationalization, “The U.S Government Accountability Office reported that international student have been important sources of innovation and productivity in our increasingly knowledge-based economy, brought needed research and workforce skills, and strengthened our labor force” (P. 5-6). So the government understands the importance of internationalization, however funding is still scarce. Could the limited funding for internationalization in higher education be a part of the overall problem of increasing tuition and debt we have in this country? The funding for the global education initiatives could be a matter of priorities the government needs to make in their overall budget, but it might also be a matter of a much bigger national underlying problem that needs to be addressed first.
This week’s reading, Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide: National Programs and Policies, continued to discussed more policies and strategies that are currently being implemented and evaluated in the world of higher education around the globe.
One of the important policies discussed in the reading is Cross-border education, which seems to be quickly developing due to the technology advances, and is also called “transnational or borderless education”. Cross-border education policy is aimed to “establish partnerships among institutions on national, regional and international levels, create educational hubs, encourage domestic institutions to create campuses and programs abroad, and regulate cross-border educational activities” (P.39). All of listed objectives are ways to increase capacities within domestic institutions, while regulating institutional activities and increasing the presence on the international market.
Internationalization at home is another motivating policy described in the reading. Creating international experiences on campus locally is another step to expose students and faculty to the internationalization without the need to travel and the issue of accessibility. I strongly believe that this should be a major priority among many of the internationalization policies in the institutions, as this one in particular provides highest access to all students on campus and will provide greater long-term results. Although the initial investment/funding requirement for hiring international faculty and altering curriculum might be higher than for any other policy/strategy, it will be able to impact larger number of students without the need and cost of traveling abroad.
The internationalization policies and strategies are not easy to evaluate. There are many aspects that make the measurement of outputs, outcomes, and impact arbitrary. The output is typically the easiest to measure, with the number of participants, however, outcomes and impact are way too broad to try to analyze with quantitative measures. Instead, understanding the reason and motivation behind the policy of program is more valuable in determining the effectiveness and reviewing outcomes of internationalization. To support and expand their point of view, Hans de Wit discussed assessment of internationalization in Higher Education in the report by European Association for Higher Education Measuring success in the internationalization of higher education and stated, “Assessments should simultaneously probe not only the particular outcomes of internationalization, but also the contribution of these to the overarching directions and aspirations of institutions” (P. 9). I highly support this point of view of the assessment, as it focuses on the mission, goals, and strategy of the individual institutions, which might not have a globalization as a priority, but forced to spend a substantial amount of resources to meet the standard around the world. With such approach, evaluating the effectiveness and success of the internationalization is more accurate, as it will be in relation to the go initially set goals and priorities.