Growing complexity, scale and scope of international partnerships

International partnerships are becoming an increasingly important role for advancing institution’s global engagement strategy. This drive is not only reflective of demand for more infusing more global perspectives in curriculum but also pressure to build institutional reputation.  With curriculum and learning comes the role of faculty as an integral component at every stage of building and executing partnerships.

However, sometimes faculty are under-prepared and other times they are disinterested due to lack of incentives. ACE’s 2011 Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses survey reported that just 8 percent of respondents indicated that their institutions had guidelines in place to specify international work or experience as a consideration in faculty promotion and tenure decisions.

The readings from Chevallier and Helms for week 6 provide tangible approaches of building partnerships. In addition to the example of University of Minnesota (p. 9, Helms), Indiana University provides several templates of agreements and also very good definitions related to international partnerships including “overseas distance education”, “Twinning programs (a/k/a “sandwich programs”, and “branch campus”.

One important correction related to definitions of joint and dual degrees. As you would notice that Henard’s definition does not match with CGS definition. The correct definition is from CGS.

According to Henard (p.25):

“A dual degree programme consists of two separate approved degree programmes. A candidate will earn one degree that will be approved and recognised by two different institutions. A joint degree programme is agreed upon by two institutions for which two diplomas are issued, one by each institution.”

According to CGS definition used by Chevallier (p.5):

Dual (or double) degree: students receive a separate diploma from each of the participating institutions.
Joint degree: students receive a single diploma representing work completed at two or more institutions.

Here are couple of related examples:

In addition to managing the growing complexity, scale and scope of international partnerships, another element which is becoming important for international offices is demonstrating the impact of their work and helping larger campus community understand their work. Some institutions have started using visual dashboards. Here are couple of examples:

Look forward to more discussion in the classroom on week 8.



W3 – Cross-Border Education & Assessing Policy Effectiveness

Having taken an educational policy course last semester, I learned that implementing a policy and accurately assessing the effectiveness of the policy is a long and time-consuming process, which the reading also touched upon. In regards to internationalization of higher education, the implementation seems to be easier than the follow-up assessment of the outcomes and impacts (and not just on the outputs). But at the same time, there has been concerns that implementation, specifically in regards to branch campuses, can cause chaos and confusion as well. As with different cultures and customs in different countries, it seems each country has different meanings for the various terminology used in a higher education setting.

The confusion caused by not being on the same page for things as simple as what a “joint-degree” means can have great impact on the subsequent effectiveness of the branch campus and the policies in place. It is hard enough to measure the outcomes and impacts (which the reading emphasizes are the two thing that can better determine the effectiveness of a policy), but when the implementation is already causing negative effects, the policy in place won’t be accurately assessed. Therefore, as mentioned in the reading and in the article, it is ever more important for the parties involved to be aware of what the policy and implementation are affecting.

Another issue that came to mind as I was reading through other articles was the impact of branch campuses and transnational education on the local institutions. The article mentions how the branch campuses often are able to hire better faculty because they can offer better pay than local public institutions, which takes away from the local institutions. And there is concern that graduates from the branch campuses will be more attractive in the eyes of potential employers. While it is great and understandable why a country would want to engage in more internationalization, it is increasingly important that policies are created and implemented with an all encompassing picture of the entire higher education landscape in mind (both local and international).

The reading also touches upon how there is little focus on helping students returning from abroad transition back, which undermines the effectiveness of the internationalization initiative. I remember when I returned from studying abroad, even something as simple as being able to speak with others who were returning helped with the transition and also with how to better promote the skills learned from the experience to future employers. If one of the motivations to internationalization is to better the economy and society, then it is definitely important to help those who return learn how to effectively use the experiences they gained.

W2- Technology and Branch Campuses

I wanted to share couple of my articles related to Oxford report on Trends in International Higher Education. The report highlighted that “International branch campuses are expanding to include non-traditional countries.” It added that

While branch campuses remain a popular facet of institutional international strategies, there have been a number of high profile closures.

In my previous article “International branch campuses get too much attention“, I have argued that branch campuses are infrastructure-intensive efforts that come with high financial and reputational risks and higher education institutions interested in global engagement may also experiment with emerging online learning efforts. These are low-cost, flexible alternative for ‘glocal’ students to potentially earn a foreign credential – ‘glocal’ students aspire to earn an international education or experience without having to leave their home or region.

This directly connects with another trends identified by the Oxford report on technology. While the Oxford report takes a critical view of MOOCs, it does recognizes that “Technology is becoming central to the process of learning and teaching in higher education and, in some countries, is driving wider access to education and training.”

The landscape of internationalization is still shifting with no one size fit all approach, but experimentation with technology is emerging as a new strategy for global engagement.

Feel free to critique/comment on this theme in your future posts.

Related links:

The international branch campus: Models and trends, Line Verbik

The new branch campus model: expand at home, compete everywhere, ICEF

International branch campuses of UK universities in UAE: Highlights from QAA

– Rahul