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.
As we are almost at the end of this class, discussing the future of International Higher Education seems pertinent. We have discussed through our blog posts and class discussions the many areas of International Higher Education and specifically the internationalization of Higher Education- student and faculty mobility, Internationalization at home, branch campuses, strategic planning and partnerships, and SIOs. By reading and discussing the theories and framework of International Higher Education we have been able to gain an overview of global education.
This week’s readings helped bring to a close our analysis of the internationalization of Higher Education. The IHE journal featured several articles covering current trends in international education and possible solutions to outstanding issues that could hinder the prosperity of this field. The second reading, Bridges to the Future, gives an overview of the issues and trends in IHE as well as the regional trends of the internationalization of higher education in countries that are not often discussed in that context.
Hans De Wit’s piece in the IHE journal was of interest to me because it examined the trend of International Universities. He mentions that he fears universities “…will refer, in their mission statements and policies, to the fact that they are international university, without clearly explaining what they mean by it.” His fear is warranted, as more and more universities and colleges see the appeal of being branded an international institution, they may put together haphazard strategic plans to incorporate international themes. This will be a disservice to the students. If a university or college categorizes itself as an International University they have to first understand what that means for the intuitions and its population. I think the definition will vary based on the goals of the institution; if the institution is a small community college and the administration wants to internationalization the college, they have to see what areas they can truly achieve international in, whether it be through student and faculty mobility programs or to incorporate internationals themes in the curriculum.
The “Bridges to the Future” includes textboxes that analyze the analyze the internationalization of higher education in regions that are often left out of the conversation or not given enough attention- Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. I have wondered throughout this class; how African institutions have embraced the internationalization of higher education. Of the challenges listed by James Jowi quality and brain drain stand out. The quality of the education that students receive in African intuitions is important because many of the students who may want to stay at home to further their education, don’t stay because they can get a better education abroad- leading to “brain drain”. It will take institutions a while to increase the quality of the education they offer to attract the brightest of students to stay home; however, if they implement a plan similar to the Russian government- where the government will pay for students to study abroad once they commit to returning home and working for the government. African countries could change it to be that an individual has to commit to working at a college or university either as a faculty member or administrator. This will allow those who study abroad to return home to jobs that will contribute to the next generation of students.
Internationalization defined by Jane Knight is “Internationalization at the national, sector, and institutional levels is defined as the process of integrating an international, intercultural, or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of postsecondary education.” As this class concludes, I think it safe to see that we can agree that this a board definition of internationalization but it does encompass the frameworks of what we call the internationalization of higher education.