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Internationalisation

"Students and researchers are more mobile, more flexible and more international than ever before. Knowledge knows no national frontiers. Internationalisation is a pacemaker for reform and for the development and modernization of the higher education system. The institutions of higher education must assert themselves in the international competition for the best brains".

From the website of Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The process of internationalisation is a growing agenda for UK HEIs. International strategies from governmental to institutional level are not new. In 1999, the first Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education (PMI) was a drive to increase the inward recruitment of international students. It was, in large part, successful with many institutions developing and focusing their international strategies on inward recruiting from outside the EU. PMI2, launched in 2006 is a 5-year strategy that builds on the success of the original PMI and addresses 4 interconnected strands:

  • UK positioning: marketing and communications

  • Ensuring the quality of the student experience

  • Strategic partnerships and alliances

  • Market diversification and consolidation

  • (Source: British Council, Review of Prime Minister's Initiative)

Although the overseas market is a valuable source of revenue for the UK which is predicted to rise to £20 billion by 2020 (Source: Christine Shiel, Developing the global citizen, Academy Exchange Issue 5, Winter 2006), international recruitment is only one dimension of internationalisation.

Internationalisation can be defined as "The process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education" (Jane Knight, Updating the Definition of Internationalization, International Higher Education, Fall 2003). In other words, it is about embedding an international ethos across the institution for all its stakeholders through an integrated process.

Organisations that can provide support and additional information include:

Useful resources

Further reading

Jones, Elspeth and Brown, Sally. 'Internationalising higher education: enhancing teaching, learning and curriculum', Routledge, UK 2007.

The case for the internationalisation of UK higher education is strong:

  • For the UK there are economic imperatives, global competitiveness and a mobile workforce

  • For institutions there are a number of drivers including competitiveness; diversification/diversity; partnerships, networks, collaboration, attracting the best mobile students, learning from international (including European) counterparts/competitors and international research

  • For students there is the potential for increased employability through international experience (mobility programmes); and a richer student experience (including on campus)

  • For enhancing the teaching experience with shared practice

  • For curriculum - there is the importance of embedding an international dimension into the curriculum and equipping students with the relevant skills for the global market, especially language and cultural knowledge

  • For employers: the value of international experience is important, students are competing in a global skills market

Developing Internationalisation Strategies

There is a growing imperative to include internationalisation within institutional strategies as a consequence of an increasingly globalised sector. This is supported by strategies, policies and initiatives from a range of UK sector organisations and funding bodies, including HEFCE (International strategy for HEFCE, 2003).

There are a number of approaches that can be taken when developing an international strategy and the application of high-level strategic trend analyses such as PESTLE and Scenario Planning is very likely to highlight internationalisation/globalisation as a major driver.

Participants in a session at the Association of University Administrators (AUA) Conference in 2008 discussed institutional internationalisation strategies.

"UK universities are becoming increasingly international in their composition, a development that embraces EU as well as non-EU students"

Ramsden, B: Patterns of higher education institutions in the UK, Eighth report (2008), Universities UK.

Internationalisation

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