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.

W3 – Internationalization at Home

I found the portion of internationalization at home (IaH) particularly interesting. European Education in the World singled this out as one of the three key institutional priorities of higher education in Europe and I think it should also be a priority of higher education in the United States. For me, I believe this task starts with addressing the “curricular issues” – colleges and universities must work with faculty to infuse global content and viewpoints into their everyday curriculum, no matter which academic subject they teach. In order for this to happen, specific training programs for faculty need to be implemented as well, so they can be prepared to educate our students from a global perspective. While the example in the United States provided in the article, addresses the Department of Educations initiative to set up foreign language centers throughout the US, there is way more we can be doing to internationalize our college campuses in particular. As mentioned in this 2013 Institute of International Education http://www.iie.org/Blog/2013/April/What-Is-The-Next-Big-Thing-in-International-Education, one program IIE funded from 2011-2015 was through a partnership with Hilton HHonors called the Teacher Treks Program, where they sent primary and secondary level teachers abroad for 2-3 weeks to experience the culture and the subject they teach first hand. These teachers than come back with a global perspective they can then instill in their young students. I think a program like this can be adapted to fit the higher education realm. In addition, as partnerships between foreign universities grow, professors teaching abroad and increases in mobility of both students and faculty through partnerships and educational exchange programs would ideally grow as well. I enjoyed reading about Germany’s internationalization policies, specifically where they outline that “staff at all levels speak ‘at least’ English, participate in intercultural training courses, and become acquainted with the practices of higher education institutions around the world.” (p.44).

With support from the government agencies, like the European Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy, it seems education has taken a priority in their strategy. Canada, Finland, Malaysia and the United Kingdom have launched International Education Strategies as well. Support like this, is hopefully going to push these policies and programs forward at a faster rate and hopefully interest will not wane, due to these publicly supported initiatives.

W2-Scholar Mobility over Student Mobility

One of the more interesting topics I found from this week’s reading was the section on scholar mobility and what types of policies and program are in place for matured academics and researchers to travel abroad. As mentioned in our class discussion, a lot of policies and practices of international higher education are based on the assumption that all higher education students are the traditional undergraduate college aged students. However, I believe that changing the direction and focusing more attentions on graduate students, doctoral candidates and faculty members would be of great value for internationalizing higher education.

In order to meet the demand of higher education in the country there must be enough researchers, lecturers and professors to have a robust faculty at an institution. As noted in the report, having scholar mobility is a way to building higher education capacity in a nation. International higher education policies should definitely do more to expand this population’s access to opportunities abroad for doctoral degrees and for research. Researchers and other doctoral students can diversify the types of programs and expertise they bring with them to the institution. By attracting professors and researcher to their campuses, it can, in turn, attract other students to come to the university. Countries that want to build their capacity in research in and in professors should take on a more active role to pursue these candidates and to bring them to their country. Russia was spotlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education in November about creating a program that aims to increase the number of scholars and researchers to the country. According to the article, the Russian government has been taking a very active role in recruiting foreign researchers because the government believes that this will help to raise its international rankings. The government hopes to attract researchers by providing tax and benefits incentives for those who are going to be employed at a university and additional grant funding for research.

For countries like Russia, that want to build their capacity, having more scholar mobility oriented policies would benefit them greatly. However, for countries such as the United States that already have such a high concentration of scholars, researchers and institutions, this might not be the best policy approach. In addition, the Chronicle’s article noted that this new incentive program is geared towards attracting scientists, researchers and scholars of Russian origin to return. From this line it seems like Russia wants to bring back the talent that has left their country by offering incentives. However, if the program is so focused on recruit scientists of Russian origin, the country would not have a very diverse population of researchers. It could be that Russia experienced a “Brain Drain” and now wants to bring back the talent they have lost. Achieving the diversity might not be Russia’s aim; but, giving preference to just one ethnicity of scientists and scholars might not allow them to attract the talent they desire.

Russia’s new program is definitely a step in the right direction if the country wants to increase scholar mobility and capacity but the narrowed concentration on scholars of Russian origin might not give the country its optimal results.