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- Assessment of International Higher Ed.

This week’s portion of the ACE Report touched on a topic that has been the “hot button” topic in higher education in recent years and how it is certainly relevant to the success of international higher education programs around the world. This topic is assessment: how do countries or institutions show that international higher education programs and policies are actually achieving the outcomes and objectives they claim to achieve. Organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recent made it clear that assessing learning and outcomes should be a global effort. As higher education expands beyond national boarders, it is important to identify what we want students to get from studying or living abroad and what quality of education they are receiving. As the director for education and skills of OECD states “Unless we measure learning outcomes, judgements about the quality of teaching and learning at higher education institutions will continue to be made on the basis of flawed international rankings, derived not from outcomes, not even outputs—but from idiosyncratic inputs and reputation surveys”.

The assessment of international higher education learning objectives should require more than just simply counting the number of students in international programs or leaving the country. Assessment should involve assessing the promises of having an international education, such as cultural understanding and job marketability. As we discussed in class, education abroad constantly promises that these experiences help the student develop their soft-skills, which would make them more desirable in a competitive and globalized job market. Like the report states, measuring the effectiveness of the long-term goals of international higher education is more difficult because these goals involve intangible variables that are difficult to measure and they require more studies that expand over time and countries. However, it can be done and it is necessary that institutions and countries to do these assessments.

I believe that conducting these assessments and having the information to back up what international higher education promises will allow it to expand and to grow as an essential part of education, especially in the US. Without assessment and its findings all those promises about how great international higher education is for students are just empty claims to potential students and their parents. As skepticism about US higher education and it value increases along with its price, parents and students need to be won over with solid data from assessment in order to be sold on international higher education. Students and their parents need to be able to see the end results and outcomes for programs and how it benefits the student before investing in it.

W3-Ace Report (Part II)

This week’s reading in the ACE Report focused on a myriad of issues concerning Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide and highlighted additional key elements to build upon our previous readings.  For example, in the context of cross-border education, the concept of mobility as a cornerstone of international higher education policies was discussed as well as the crucial role of “other influencers” and the central role of national governments.  Cross-border education has been defined as “the movement of people, programmes, providers, curricula, projects, research and services, across national or regional jurisdictional borders” (ACE Report, p. 38).  This week’s reading highlighted the “importance of jurisdictional boundaries when it comes to policy frameworks and regulations” (ACE Report, p. 38).

While in previous readings, I had focused on the role of regional governments, particularly in Asia, this week emphasized the key role national governments play in regulating cross-border educational activity.  I was particularly intrigued by the regulatory policy example of India.  As the reading details, while India is one of the largest exporters of students seeking higher educational opportunities outside of India, the country has a definitive international higher education policy regulating cross-border activity within its own boundaries. This fact was somewhat surprising to me and I wonder if it fosters notions of reciprocal benefits and common values in the internationalization arena or stymies those goals.

For example, the ACE Report explains that India’s policy toward international higher education is not static, but instead “debated intensely” such that it does not allow independent branch campuses on Indian soil.  India requires that international higher education programs be carried out through partnering with Indian higher education institutions.  And these partnerships are themselves highly regulated such that there are “specific parameters” to govern them.  Most interesting to me was the requirement that Indian law requires foreign educational institutions to be accredited and been offering educational services for at least twenty years.  In addition, there are specific ranking requirements that must be met to for an international higher education institution to operate in India. (See generally, ACE Report, p. 41-42).

These various requirements seem like smart ones and would appear to mitigate against sham operations and ensure quality of educational services in the cross-border context that may be otherwise difficult to monitor.  However, do such specific requirements thwart flexibility in internationalization efforts and a lack of agility to develop robust and innovative partnerships?  An interesting question that has been framed for me in the ACE Reports analysis of India’s regulation in the cross-border context is how does a country’s national government ensure quality and standards in educational services against flexibility and reciprocal benefits in the cross-border context.

The ACE Report suggests that India may be moving toward more lax rules to make way for independent branch campuses and allow for foreign curricula and teachers.  But current criticism remains regarding stringent rules and the politicization of higher education in India (see https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/philip-altbach-indias-passage-might-not-be-simple-but-it-can-climb-to-elite-tier).  And there are no definitive calls for change to policy among the Association of Indian Universities’ International webpage (see http://www.aiu.ac.in/International/International.asp).

With respect to the role of national governments in cross-border issues and internationalization, India appears to be an interesting case study as a nation that heavily regulates in this space but may be at the cusp of certain, more open policy reform to make entering the Indian higher education market easier and more dynamic.  If such changes take place, it will be interesting to see how the internationalization trajectory in India develops and whether it can balance quality against collaboration and flexible regulatory requirements.

W3- Hub Initiatives

While the second half of Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide continues to discuss various models of internationalization, one model in particular grabbed my attention. Hubs, which have been sprouting up mostly in Eastern Asia and the Middle East, are relatively new forms of partnerships designed to promote international education. Jane Knight puts it succinctly, describing one as “a planned effort to build a critical mass of local and international actors – higher education institutions and providers, students, research and development centres and knowledge industries – who work collaboratively on education, training, and knowledge production and innovation.” The reading for this week cites three primary examples of hubs, which are located in Ecuador, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), but there are also locations in Botswana, Qatar, and Malaysia.

The reason I have decided to comment on hubs is very simple- I had actually heard of them before this class, and quite possibly before I even became interested in higher education. I have little experience myself in international education, never having studied abroad or been exposed to it besides my sister living in Spain for a semester. Despite this distance from internationalization, I somehow got wind of hubs and thought they were fascinating. The extent of my exposure was looking up a few photographs of the hubs and maybe checking out a couple Wikipedia pages, but the concept was interesting and memorable. Of all the myriad models of internationalization, hubs seem to me the most complete and quintessential. Host countries and cities attract various educational institutions from around the world to build branches within a designated zone. This is the epitome of collaboration- countries, institutions, and students all create partnerships with one another, and with the region the hub is stationed.

While investment is not particularly my area of interest, it is an important topic to discuss because it ends up being a key factor of one of the very few criticisms of hubs that both myself and other scholars have (which I will mention in the next paragraph). Jane Knight, an international education researcher, sums up investment strategies quite nicely in her article “Investing in Education Hubs- Local Investment is Key.” As indicated in the title, public funding is essential in order for hubs to survive. For most, if not all hubs, public funding accounts for no less than 50% of funding, and in some cases, covers 100% of funding. In Qatar, the federal government covers all costs, while in other countries and cities, the regional or city government covers costs. In a few hubs, both foreign investment (from the branch institutions themselves) or private investment can sometimes offset costs, but this is never more than 10-20%. It is easy to see that the public is responsible for the maintenance of hubs, which I actually initially found (and still find, to some extent) somewhat surprising. I assumed that the foreign institutions would pay a heftier sum in order to ‘rent’ space in these educational zones because the marketing and exposure seem to be worth investing in. Apparently it is the other way around, and the local governments have to find ways to attract these institutions. Covering most to all costs seems to be a successful way of doing that!

Now to the criticism. I claim that hubs are the embodiment of internationalization, but in one respect, they totally miss the point. Despite excessive local investment, very few students from the region will attend school at the hubs. In Dubai, only approximately 8% of the student population in Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City are UAE citizens. This opposes another concept that Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide espouses- internationalization at home. Students who are ‘immobile’ should still have the opportunity to learn how to be global citizens. That being said, it seems unfair that so few locals are able to study at these educational centers. Peter Waring echoes this notion, stating “There appears to be a prevailing sense of frustration with the government’s perceived efforts to attract international students while not providing sufficient places for local students.” That is just a shame. Obsess over international students and forget your own (see the correlation with NYU? Apparently there is a trend in international higher education)! It would certainly be uplifting to see these hubs place more of an emphasis on educating the people of their own regions, but that is probably a tall order.



Jane Knight Article


Peter Waring Article

Couldn’t find it for free, but it is cited directly in the reading on page 58.

W3 – Internationalization: Scholar Vs. Student Exchanges

This reading starts out continuing the themes of the first half of the document and defining different types of internationalization policies.  It describes comprehensive internationalization strategies including internationalization at home which widens the outputs and impact of international education.  These strategies go beyond a singular focus on exchange and embrace a multi-faceted approach including creating partnerships and being prepared to welcome international students on many different levels.

The reading goes on to explain the difficulties in measuring the effectiveness of internationalization policies and concludes by examining factors that affect a policy’s success.  One part that I thought was really interesting was the fact that most policies focus on student mobility rather than scholar mobility.  The article made a good argument for the investment in and promotion of scholar exchanges.  For example, scholars usually stay at an institution for a longer time than students.  They also have the ability to impact hundreds or thousands of students through introducing new course material, sharing their firsthand cultural experiences, and promoting international study and travel.  Whereas students have a profound personal experience, professors can produce long-term direct and indirect impacts leading by example.

I am sure that policymakers are aware of the multiplier effect of scholar exchanges, so it got me thinking why so many programs focus on students.  As the article mentioned, funding is one of the main determinants of success of an exchange program.  Students may have a greater need for funding than established scholars.  Researchers could receive funding for a project they are working on abroad.  Professors may have the option to do a sabbatical abroad and still receive their full or partial salary.  In other words, scholars have more funding options for international exchanges that are outside of policies created by national governments, regional entities, and nongovernmental organizations.  Additionally, there are more students than scholars, so it makes sense that there are more programs aimed at them.  It would be interesting to see the percentage of students compared with the percentage of scholars that benefit from these internationalization policies.

There are numerous benefits to investing in student exchanges.  Traditionally aged students are at an age when they are often open to learning about different ways of life.  World Education Program, Australia states such individual benefits to students as increased acceptance and understanding, language skills, problem solving skills, personal growth and development, and interest in global issues (WEP 2016).  Although these can be personal gains, they are also attributes that create globally minded citizens that will go on to help society as a whole.

Focusing mostly on public diplomacy, the Fact Sheet released by the American Security Project, “Academic Exchange: A Pillar of American Public Diplomacy,” (2013) notes that government funded student changes are a crucial aspect of the US’s long-term, strategic relations with other countries.  It notes, “50 percent of the world’s population is younger than 30, constituting a significant potential audience. Building relationships with youth through exchange may pay dividends for the U.S. decades down the line as they assume leadership roles in their countries” (Trost and Wallin p 6).   The authors note that alumni of international exchange programs go on to hold leadership positions in their home governments and win Nobel Peace Prizes.  Although scholars can reach a wide audience, student exchange represents an investment in human capital for long-term benefits.  Both student and scholar exchanges are crucial to comprehensive, multi-faceted internationalization policies.



Trost, K. and Wallin, M.  (2013).  Academic exchange: A pillar of American public diplomacy.  American Security Project.  Retrieved from: https://americansecurityproject.org/ASP%20Reports/Ref%200135%20-%20Academic%20Exchange%20-%20A%20Pillar%20of%20American%20Public%20Diplomacy.pdf.

WEP. (2016). Benefits of student exchange.  World Education Program, Australia.  Retrieved from: https://wep.org.au/student-exchange/benefits-of-student-exchange/.