Internationalization: A Transformative Agenda for Higher Education?

From Section:
Trends in Teacher Education
Dec. 01, 2011

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 17, No. 6, December 2011, 619–630.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article explores the notion of higher education (HE) internationalization and its potential to lead to transformational institutional change.

Introduction: exploring the notion of higher education internationalization
Internationalization has become an increasingly important phenomenon for the higher education (HE) sector in many countries.
Internationalization has been positively presented as a process that involves increasing the range of international activities within universities and between universities and other educational institutions and the numbers of international students and academic staff.
These activities include international research collaboration and application for societal impact and the numbers of international students and academic staff.

However, economic imperatives have increasingly driven the internationalization agenda (with the commercialization of HE and growth in international markets and cross-border student flows.

This article attempts to characterize what an ‘internationalized’ institution might look like, and what support might be required to achieve the personal and professional transitions within its communities that are necessary to achieve the transformative agenda.
The article suggests that universities taking a responsible approach to internationalization are more likely to achieve the transformational institutional change that will help to maintain their reputation and foothold in international markets.

Characterizing an ‘international’ university

An internationalist discourse acknowledges the personal, disciplinary and community values, cultures and traditions in HE.
The development of an inclusive culture requires exposure of those personal, disciplinary and community values, cultures and traditions to critical scrutiny to validate existing positions or facilitate the adjustments required to achieve an internationalist orientation.

Transformative internationalization characterizes institutions where international concerns have become explicitly embedded into routine ways of thinking and doing, in policy and management, staff and student recruitment, curriculum and programs.
The processes of developing the institutional identity are inextricably interwoven with the personal development of key stakeholders.

At the strategic level formal communications will reveal the extent to which internationalization is identified as an institutional priority e.g. in the institutional mission, and in budget allocation for development activities, as well as in the more subtle or implicit messages that exist within patterns of communications, celebrations, stories, and profiles.
The expectations of external stakeholders will also influence strategic readiness for change e.g. the extent to which the business community demands graduates who are prepared for the global workforce.

The author concludes that internationalization can serve as the focus for a transformative agenda in HE.
Transformative internationalization requires a holistic approach in which universities become internationally-minded communities.
A responsible internationalization strategy will incorporate innovative approaches to curriculum development, student support mechanisms and academic development initiatives.
This can help to foster an overall positive climate and to determine the extent to which individuals position themselves as active agents of change in their context and in the international world.

Updated: Oct. 26, 2019
Barriers | Educational change | Educational strategies | Global approach | Higher education | Organizational change