Increasing internationalisation of higher education

Higher education scholars have increasingly demonstrated the inclination to look beyond the physical limits of their own country to stake a claim to bigger international markets (Marginson, 2007). Internationalisation strategies are filtered and contextualised by' the specific internal context of the university, by' the type of university, and the extent to which they are embedded nationally (de Wit, 2010). Knight (2008, 21) defines internationalisation as “the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education”. There is a myriad of reasons why institutions will choose to internationalise and these reasons can be broadly categorised as political, economic, academic or social and cultural in nature (de Wit, 2010).

Healey (2008) argues that many of Europe’s most distinguished seats of learning were born global, set up in the 15th and 16th century’ as religious seminaries, attracting scholars from across the medieval western world. It has been the internationalisation of the student body, rather than the internationalisation of either the faculty or research and teaching, that gives rise to the perception that universities are beginning to mimic corporations in their orientation (Healey, 2008). Opportunities for students to spend all or part of their higher education careers outside of their country’ of origin or residence have risen dramatically' in the last ten years (Altbach et al., 2009). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released data which show that the number of students attending institutions outside their country' of origin tripled between 1990 and 2015 (ICEF Monitor, 2015). Internationally mobile students are expected to reach eight million by 2025 (OECD, 2017; Gibney, 2013). Total global tertiary' enrolments are forecast to grow by 21 million between 2011 and 2020 (British Council, 2012). The distribution of destination countries for mobile tertiary' students is currently' concentrated in the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Russia, Japan and Canada. Together these countries account for 60% of total international students.

Benefits of international student mobility’ include increased funding and powerful global alumni links for institutions, access to high-quality' and culturally diverse education for students, and skilled-migrant streams for governments (Gibney, 2013). International exposure and experience are commonly' understood as mechanisms to provide more graduates and scholars with perspectives and insights that will increase their capacity to function in a globalised society' (Altbach et al., 2009). Some of the challenges regarding student mobility' are still to be addressed, including foreign providers offering substandard services and even fraudulent academic services. Uncertainties concerning the quality' of unregulated cross-border providers, as well as the potential for foreign providers to impose inappropriate curricula or teaching methodologies add further issues to this complicated dynamic. Consequently, some international students struggle to gain recognition for some degrees or credits earned abroad (Altbach et al., 2009). Structural barriers between national systems are always a potential barrier to international cooperation and student mobility'. However, they' offer the opportunity' for students to learn from their new environment which might contrast to the environment experienced at home (Teichler, 2004).

The British Council (2012) predicts that in the coming decades international student mobility' will stabilise whilst the number of international joint research and educational delivery' components will have growing prominence. Trends that follow a similar expansion pattern include the emergence of major regional study destinations in Europe and Asia and the increase of transnational education provision, (OECD, 2017). Information and communication technologies (ICT) are instrumental to these trends and the OECD have identified about 13 million cross-border online students in 2017 (OECD, 2017).

The burgeoning number of international agreements between tertiary institutions often includes long and short-term faculty exchange components. International scholarship and fellowship programmes, along with other collaborative projects, move countless numbers of scholars around the globe each year to conduct research abroad (Altbach et al., 2009). The number of programmes and higher education institutions that are operating internationally has increased to encompass full campuses abroad and bilateral partnerships involving joint qualifications and academic posts (Gibney, 2013). The British Council (2012) suggests that about one-third of all academic research produced globally is carried out through international collaborations. In 2016, 22% of science and engineering papers were internationally co-authored, up from 16% in 2003 (The Economist, 2018). Additionally, from 2000 to 2014 the annual number of PhDs awarded increased by 50% in America, doubled in Britain and quintupled in China further emphasising the size and importance of the multinational network ( The Economist, 2018).

 
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