Teichler (2004) suggests that in the higher education context the term ‘globalisation’ has recently been replaced by ‘internationalisation’. The term ‘internationalisation’ is used to describe any supra-regional phenomenon related to higher education or anything on a global scale involving higher education which is characterised by market and competition. Internationalisation is not defined by large numbers of international students on campus but is more a radical transformation of academic disciplines, a freeing of both teaching and research from the dominance and acceptance of the intellectual traditions of any individual culture, (Ping 1999). Therefore, internationalisation is not a synonym for globalisation but a process, a response to globalisation which contains both local and international elements (de Wit, 2010). This is perhaps best summarised by Knight (2008):

Internationalisation is changing the world of higher education, and globalisation is changing the world of internationalisation.


International activities in higher education are not viewed as regular systemic ones, which are systematised and embedded (Teichler, 2004). In fact, higher education internationalisation strategies are often shaped at the programme level by the different relationships these programmes have with the market and society. An internationalisation strategy can be substantially different for a teacher training programme than for a school of dentistry or a business school. Strategies may also be different by level: doctorate, master and bachelor (de Wit 2010). Internationalisation can also take many forms, including co-taught courses and degrees, massive open online courses (MOOCs), collaborative research projects and student exchanges. However increased internationalisation projects can be costly and don’t necessarily produce favourable outcomes (Tadaki & Tremewan, 2013). Concerns have been expressed regarding the elimination of cultural heritage, language diversity, reducing the variety of academic cultures and declining quality (Teichler, 2004). However, Teichler (2004) suggests that internationalisation scholars tend to share the view that internationalisation delivers more desirable opportunities than it produces threats. Whilst national higher education systems, of both developing and developed countries, grapple to transform their structures to better respond to the challenges and opportunities provided by globalisation (Meyer, Bushney, & Ukpere, 2011), private institutions have been quicker to respond to the multiple commercial opportunities offered by globalisation than the public sector who are sometimes seen as primarily providing a service to national systems (van Rooijen, 2014).

The five elements of globalisation, as defined by Knight (2008) also impact on the international component of higher education and potential development opportunities and challenges can and do arise from these five elements. Knight (2008) lists the implications the five elements have for the international dimension of higher education:

  • 1 Knowledge society
  • • New types of private and public providers deliver education and training programs across borders - e.g., private media companies, networks of public/private institutions, corporate universities, multinational corporations. Programs become more responsive to market demand. Specialised training programs are developed for niche markets and professional development and distributed worldwide. The international mobility of students, academics, education/training programs, research, providers, and projects increases. Mobility is both physical and virtual.
  • 2 Information and communication technologies
  • • Innovative international delivery' methods are used, including e-learning, franchises. Satellite campuses require more attention to the accreditation of programs/providers, more recognition of qualifications.
  • 3 Market economy
  • • New concerns emerge about the appropriateness of the curriculum and teaching materials in different cultures/countries. New potential develops for homogenisation and hybridisation.
  • 4 Trade liberation
  • • The emphasis increases on the commercially oriented export and import of education programs; international development projects continue to diminish in importance.
  • 5 Governance
  • • Consideration is given to new international/regional frameworks to complement national and regional policies and practices, especially' in quality assurance, accreditation, credit transfer, recognition of qualifications, and student mobility.
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