As we reach the concluding weeks of our class and the final week of readings, I am reminded of how many contours and layers we have been exposed to regarding international higher education. Whether it be concepts of study abroad, internalization, internationalization at home, SIOs, branch campuses, global competition or global citizens, we have seen an exciting and trending phenomenon emerge in the guise of international higher education. It is an exciting time for global education and global institutions. As we reflect back on the theories, frameworks, and vocabulary we have been engaged with in the last several weeks, it is an exciting moment to look forward and opine about the future of international higher education and its trajectory.
This week’s readings help frame that analysis. The IHE at Twenty Special 20th Anniversary Feature: Higher Education’s Future offers several vignettes covering issues of internationalization and how best to address challenges confronted so far in this area’s growth. To me, Hans De Wit’s piece, Is the International University the Future of Higher Education? hit on one of the critical questions we have come to time and time again: how can quality be ensured in a growth market that is susceptible to buzz words and sexy international appeal? When you strip away at all that we have discussed in the past several weeks, it seems that quality will be the main driver to determine whether international higher education can be sustainable and productive. As De Wit points out, there must be meaning in the terminology, missions statements and collaborations that drive internationalization for it have lasting impact and shape global citizens – in my view, the goal of international and global higher education.
In Bridges to the Future, The Global Landscape of International Higher Education, we confront the realities of the term global citizen. The authors ask – what does it mean to be global not just at the student level but also at the institutional level? Outlining key trends and issues in international higher education, the authors turn to different regions to analyze specific challenges and strides. This is critical because, as we have seen, international higher education is by no means one size fits all and its overall success cannot be measured unless different regions are assessed and the interplay between them is understood.
For me, in the final analysis, international higher education is crucial to the global economy in which we are necessarily engaged. To prepare our future citizens and leaders to meaningful interact in this environment can only be done with an eye to global education. So long as meaningful collaboration, strategy and implementation drive the process toward goals of quality and advancement, I believe the future of international higher education is on the precipice to achieve real change and advancement in our world today.
To me, this week’s readings are all about assessing whether there are “teeth” to the concepts we have been discussing and whether the practical realities if higher education make them sustainable. Adding to the notion of internationalization, this week, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2012 Edition introduced us to the concept of “comprehensive internationalization” and laid out guidance on how to achieve it, if achievable at all. The IAU Internationalization Survey gave us some hard facts and statistics to better gauge and understand how the concept of internationalization actually translates on campuses.
For me, an interesting part of the readings this week was that concepts are easy to pay lip service to and talk about in idealized and romanticized ways, but is there real teeth and resources for meaningful implementation of comprehensive internationalization at our colleges and universities or are they terms thrown around that do not fully take into account the critical importance of student learning and curriculum development?
Having come off a couple of weeks of analyzing strategic plans and mission statements of a diverse group of US colleges and universities, it is clear to me that these documents and statements are key to introducing concepts of global education and comprehensive internationalization. Making sure that they have the teeth and muscle power to lead to implementation underscores even more how important it is that they be well thought out and presented documents stemming from the highest institutional leaders. The path from strategic plan to implementation of comprehensive internationalization has to be a legitimate one – one bolstered by optimism but also one that recognizes the institutional and student learning challenges that must be overcome to not have empty plans and statements. The IAU survey reflects that student learning and student mobility are priorities of internationalization efforts and that specific activities are being considered and targeted. This is promising. But balanced against this is some of the reality of the ACE piece which reflects that data shows some improvements but also some stagnation. In the US, attention also needs to be focused on not just delivering comprehensive internationalization to students in general, but non-traditional students as well who make up more and more of the student body population at our colleges and universities. One way to ensure this is to address such factors in strategic plans and vision statements directly with data driven analysis and support strategies. This will allow for some “teeth” in the optimistic plans and mission philosophies of US colleges and universities striving for meaningful comprehensive internationalization with student learning at the center of its priorities.
This week we focused on university governance, reforms and autonomy in Asia, Europe and Latin America. First, Global Trends in University Governance looks at how governments plan and direct their higher education sectors. Second, Governance reforms and university autonomy in Asia examines the move towards autonomy and how it has played out in China, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Japan and Indonesia. And again, comparative analysis was useful to see what works for one region or country may not work for another and that in the study of higher education internationalization, it is imperative to understand the diversity of geopolitical and socio-economic issues that intersect and interact. For me personally, having worked at both public and private higher ed institutions, the concepts of autonomy and governance are interesting ones to consider. I realized that the autonomy enjoyed by many American universities is not at all a universal concept but reading about recent governance trends toward autonomy was heartening but also tempered by better understanding what some of the challenges are through both readings.
The concepts of autonomy and academic freedom took center stage in this week’s readings and I think the connection between the two is important to understand in gaining an understanding of how higher education is different from other sectors and what makes it a unique sector to regulate. In general, autonomy reforms serve to propagate that the notion that higher ed institutions should be free to manage their affairs. The move from a state control model in many countries to a state supervising model bolsters the role of academic freedom for universities and colleges to be in charge of their own academic programs and developments as well as mission and vision.
Of course, there are growing pains we see with autonomy for countries that are trending from complete state controlled models. It is clear that for less developed and more previously totalitarian regimes, governance reforms cannot be implemented in a vacuum and must take into context the historical context from which they are coming, such as Malaysia or Cambodia. Japan, on the other hand, as a more developed country has been able to withstand the corporatization reforms of much less state control toward that of private, independent universities and colleges.
While full assessment of the impact of autonomy may be premature, it seems certain that the state supervisory model allows room for higher ed institutions to be more open to internationalization efforts such as cross-border partnerships and other market driven academic entrepreneurial intiatives.
This week’s reading expanded on our view into strategic plans, their value and effectiveness, and relevance in the development of global education at American Universities. With three strategic plans to now inform a comparative analysis, it was definitely useful to see the diversity with which strategic plans can be approached in content, format and goal setting. Having already read and discussed Baruch’s global strategic plan last week, it was eye opening to see the Global Education Strategic Plan for Middlesex Community College in MA and the Global Strategy & Internationalization at OHIO for Ohio University.
A few observations I noted while reading the Middlesex and Ohio strategic plans were that they certainly gave credence to the view that the Baruch strategic plan we reviewed was perhaps an initial draft and could benefit from further development and drafting. Ohio and Middlesex seemed more evolved and sophisticated in their visions and supporting strategies. They contained more data that was presented in more visually and organized ways which allowed a better understanding of where they stood vis a vis global education and where they needed to go. To me, the Middlesex plan was the most effective of the three we have reviewed because I found it the most “user friendly” in being able to digest and process the material. It also did not spend as much time as Ohio did on the introductory sections so you were able to cut right to the work they plan to do with specific deliverables and timelines. It was a balance I thought between Baruch’s plan being not as developed and Ohio’s being perhaps too developed to the point of not being user friendly and a bit stilted.
The comparative analysis of the global strategic plans we were provided also made me realize how important planning and goal setting is in achieving successful and sustainable global education platforms. Without a cohesive, data driven and clear path toward internationalization at the outset through solid and robust planning, internationalization with its many facets and layers of necessary international collaboration and analysis will be on shaky ground.
Finally, the BRIC Universities as Institutions in the Process of Change shed interesting light on how higher education institutions in countries that US HEIs would need to work with for global expansion. The different trajectories of China, India, Russia, and Brazil were fascinating and made me wonder what sort of strategic planning goes into, or doesn’t go into, the HEI landscapes in those countries. Of particular interest to me was the example of rapid expansion of unaided privates which may be compromising quality for the sake of enrollment. This observation was notable in light of quality control issues we have previously read about that exist in India which can hinder cross-border partnerships and internationalization efforts with India.
This week’s readings lead us from external influences on higher education internationalization to internal processed that develop and foster global education: strategic planning. For me, the readings this week were compelling and very interesting because we were given a view into how colleges and universities do their own policy and goal setting and how it relates to internationalization. Strategic planning is a critical foundational component of the internal workings of any higher education institution and seeing its role in global initiatives was very revealing and useful.
The first reading, AEA Occasional Papers Strategic Planning for Internationalization in Higher Education set forth the strategic planning process at colleges in general, then offered twelve principles of successful strategic planning for campus internationalization followed by three case studies of very different types of American colleges and universities. These case studies made for interesting comparative analysis and showcased models of successful strategic planning that has yielded strong global education programs in a variety of higher education environments and contexts. An issue I took to heart from this paper, and had not previously given much consideration to, was the call to acquire and analyze data. The paper highlighted that a successful strategic plan for globalization must be data driven and identify well substantiated and researched goals and deliverable in order to get buy-in and survive implementation. In addition, the UK case study provided real questions that committees were asked to focus on to develop global strategic plans and I thought these were very useful in understanding exactly what type of analysis higher education institutions can utilize in their internationalization efforts. The focus on asset mapping and opportunity mapping were particularly instructive.
The second reading, A case study of issues of strategy implementation in internationalization of higher education laid out the implementation challenges a British university faced in achieving its internationalization goals and underscored the fact that often times, many implementation challenges have nothing to do with external issues such as government or education policy but rather, are rooted internally in issues such as marketing and admissions policies. In this case study, what may seem like minor issues such as the interaction between marketing and faculty turned out to be critical impediments to internationalization which I found to be unexpected and intriguing. Similarly telling were the faculty’s response to how global initiatives may impact work load or scheduling. These types of issues underscored the importance of collaboration and stakeholder buy-in highlighted in the first reading.
Finally, and close to home, we were able to get an in-depth view of Baruch’s Global Strategic Plan 2014-2019. This was a highly instructive document because we were able to review and actual strategic plan, specifically geared to globalization, for an environment that we are intimately close to and invested in. For me, in particular, the Baruch plan struck a chord because it is most similar to the type of college I am administrator with respect to geography and student body. It also spoke to the role of Legal in internationalization efforts in a very tangible and focused way which I can benefit from in my own work.
In the Baruch plan, of note was also its smooth alignment with the college’s overall strategic plan. Such effort to overtly align internationalization with the college’s broader goals and strategy evidences that global education cannot succeed unless it works within, and acknowledges, the larger higher education framework it operates under. The concrete ideas for implementation of the five strategic priorities were very interesting and demonstrated that the key to successful internationalization is in the details and proper planning. I noted that India is a target country which was surprising to me given the high Indian student population at Baruch and found it interesting the plan conceded that the country has not been paid much attention. I wonder if this is related to some of the Indian governmental obstacles to internationalization we have read about earlier in the semester.