W 13 — The Future of International Higher Education

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.