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Student Mobility and Internationalisation

Rationales, Rhetoric and 'Institutional Isomorphism'

Vered Amit

Drawing on interviews with Canadian and Australian officials, this article examines the frame of student mobility within the broad discourse of internationalisation. Difficulties in definition and admitted shortfalls in achieving progress even on the more easily articulated benchmarks of student mobility, do not seem to staunch the enthusiasm of a variety of officials for the idea of internationalisation. This article will examine some of the contradictions framing these institutional discourses of internationalisation. These include the gaps between institutional claims and their substantiation, between lauding the internationalism inculcated by student mobility programmes and the more mixed motivations or engagements of student clients, and between claims for the entrepreneurial potential of internationalisation as against the uncertainty of its outcomes. I argue that a long-standing Western view of travel as a vehicle for self-cultivation and transformation combined with competitive efforts to keep up with perceived trends in the fields of post-secondary education are producing a momentum that is elusive even as it threatens to bulldoze its way across important institutional practices and procedures.

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Karen Valentin

An explicit marketisation and national profiling of Denmark as an attractive country for foreign students has resulted in an increasing number of students from poor countries in the global South, including Nepal, being admitted to Danish colleges and universities. The influx of students from these countries has led to several accusations against them of using enrolment in educational institutions primarily as an entrance point to the Danish labour market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among Nepalese students in Denmark this article addresses the intersection of internationalisation of higher education and immigration policy in a Europe with tightened immigration rules for certain nationalities.

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Christopher R. Cook

This article contributes to the discussion of internationalisation in higher education in the context of the international relations (IR) subfield of political science. The field of IR might seem by definition to be ‘internationalised’, but the underlying theoretical assumptions of the field, its social science rationalism and privileging of the unitary nation-state exhibit an American or Eurocentric bias. This Western bias with its emphasis on security issues is then replicated in research agendas and reproduced in higher education classrooms across the United States and beyond. I argue that the way forward to promoting internationalisation partially lies with promoting plurality and diversity within research and in the classroom or what Lamy calls ‘challenging hegemonic paradigms’ (2007).

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Melody Viczko

Internationalisation of higher education has been overwhelmingly embraced by Canadian universities (Beck 2009). Yet, the decentralised nature of higher education institutions, coupled with the absence of a national governing body with responsibility for higher education, creates an interesting terrain for internationalisation. In this paper, I examine the ideas related to internationalisation pursued by one Canadian organisation, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Responding to concerns from Canadian institutions and government ministries about their potential exclusion from global markets, the AUCC took a national lead to better acquaint Canadian institutions with the Bologna reforms, declaring an urgent need to respond to the reforms taking place in Europe (AUCC 2008a). I analyse the policy knowledge, spaces and actors involved with internationalisation through the AUCC's interaction with the Bologna Process, to argue that a deeper entangling of universities in the ideational market-based competition embedded in neoliberal reforms has created tensions in how autonomy can be conceived in Canadian higher education.

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David Mills

We hear ever more about the internationalisation of higher education. As U.K. universities become increasingly exposed to the vagaries of international student demand, administrators are scrambling to develop ‘internationalisation’ strategies, whilst academics are being encouraged to incorporate ‘international perspectives’ into their curricula. Even the U.K.’s Centre for Learning and Teaching Sociology, Anthropology and Politics (C-SAP) has a strategic aim to promote ‘best practice in the internationalisation of the student learning experience’. It sounds impressive, but what does it mean in practice? Internationalisation has become a buzzword that everyone can use without having to agree on what they mean. The word’s descriptive malleability is its analytical downfall.

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Gritt B. Nielsen

In order to prosper as a so-called knowledge society in a global economy, countries worldwide are increasingly emphasising the need to internationalise their higher education institutions and attract the best and brightest students and staff from abroad. This article explores the shifting rationales for internationalisation and how today, based on novel forms of comparability and exchange, a new and highly stratified arena for higher education is developing. By focusing on the conferences and fairs where actors negotiate and position higher education on various scales, not least a global one, the article introduces the core themes of this special issue and presents one possible context for the following articles.

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Stephanie A. Limoncelli

The increasing internationalisation of social science curricula in undergraduate education along with the growth of service-learning has provided new opportunities to join the two. This article offers a reflection and discussion of service-learning with placements in international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs), drawing from its application in an undergraduate globalisation course in the United States. I argue that service-learning can be a useful pedagogical approach for helping students to think actively about themselves in relation to other people, other places and as part of broader global and transnational processes.

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Sheila Trahar

Transnational higher education is the term that is most commonly used to describe programmes that allow students to obtain a degree from an overseas university in their local context. Such programmes are often marketed on their similarity with those offered at home by the overseas university. Perhaps as a consequence, the related literature focuses on 'problems' that are encountered in the 'other' environment, particularly when academic staff travel to the host country to deliver the teaching. Transnational programmes, however, offer rich opportunities for developing cultural capability in students and academics through a sensitively internationalised curriculum. This article uses an autoethnographic approach to discuss teaching and learning in transnational programmes that are delivered in a postcolonial context (Hong Kong) by a university that is in the former colonising country (U.K.). Its aim is to illustrate how, by embracing the complexities, transnational higher education programmes can enrich learning and teaching in both the host and the home context.

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Yukiko Ishikura

English-medium degree programmes are one of the trends within the internationalisation of higher education in Japan. The recent university internationalisation project, Project for Establishing University Network for Internationalization, or Global 30 is a good example. English-medium degree programmes attract a larger and more diverse international student population to study in Japan and create an on-campus international learning environment for both local and international students. This article aims to shed light on what attracts Japanese students to such an on-campus international learning experience and the kinds of challenges they face in taking English-medium courses. The results of my research show that English as a medium of instruction is a good tool to attract Japanese students, but the quality and relevance of what is being delivered are also significant. Japanese students are willing to challenge themselves in a different learning environment, but they tend to do so without seeking support, which in turn limits their learning.

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Teaching globalisation in the social sciences

the effectiveness of a refugee simulation

Stacy Keogh George

This article describes the incorporation of a refugee simulation into an upper-division sociology course on globalisation at a liberal arts institution in the United States. The simulation is designed to inform students of the refugee process in the United States by inviting participants to immerse themselves in refugee experiences by adopting identities of actual refugee families as they complete four stages of the refugee application process. Student reactions to the refugee simulation suggest that it is an effective tool for demonstrating the complexities of the refugee experience in the United States and for evoking social empathy.