Quality assurance and consistency

De Wit (2010) suggests that this emphasis on internationalisation, accompanied by the birth of international ranking systems, calls for accountability by students, faculty, deans, the management of higher education institutions and national governments. In addition, the call for quality assurance is an important issue for higher education and this includes the internationalisation process, programmes and projects. Accreditation, ranking, certification, auditing, and benchmarking have increasingly become crucial items on the international higher education agenda. Quality assurance concerns have led to a rapid expansion in measures of formal (i.e. not qualitative) standardisation combined with calls for facilitating recognition in the case of mobility (de Wit, 2010; Teichler, 2004). Institutions need a way to monitor internationalisation and collect information on an on-going basis, and any relevant measures of explicit objectives and targets will help provide the information necessary to analyse strengths and areas for improvement (Knight, 2008). Some of the formal quality and benchmarking measures that have been implemented, or are being implemented, include; the Lisbon convention of 1997, the Bologna declaration of 1999 and the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) (Teichler, 2004). All these mechanisms suggest that if a mobile student has successfully participated abroad in a study programme similar to that provided by their own institution, one should recognise his or her prior study based on trust that the quality of study abroad is more or less the same rather than check the quality level in a more detailed manner (Teichler, 2004).

As discussed above, various aspects of internationalisation present challenges and in some cases internationalisation itself generates new barriers. Altbach et al. (2009) suggests that the most disconcerting characteristic of globalised higher education is that it is currently highly unequal. The elite universities in the world’s wealthiest countries hold a disproportionate influence on the development of international standards for scholarship, models for managing institutions and approaches to teaching and learning. These universities have the comparative advantage of large budgets, significant resources, and substantial talent, which contributes to sustaining a historical pattern that leaves other universities (particularly in less developed countries) at a distinct disadvantage (Altbach, 2004).

Knight (2015, 110) categorises three emerging models of international universities attempting to differentiate the approaches taken and cast light on the notion of an ‘international university’.

  • 1 The first model is labelled the classic model as it refers to an institution that has developed multiple activities and partners, both at home and abroad, and involves a broad spectrum of intercultural and international academic, research, service, and management initiatives.
  • 2 The satellite model is the second category and refers to those institutions that have concentrated on developing off-campus research centres, international branch campuses (IBCs), and offices for alumni relations, student recruitment, or consultancy purposes.
  • 3 The third type, which is the most recent development, is the international cofounded model. These are new stand-alone independent institutions that have been co-founded or co-developed by two or more international partners. Internationalisation constraints, predominantly related to the co-founded model, include governance models, intercultural partnerships, accreditation, awarding of qualifications, staffing, language, host country’ regulations, and sustainability.

The growing internationalisation of universities regarding students, staff and international co-authorship, is one of a few generic aspects encapsulated within HERS (Yat Wai Lo, 2014; Downing, 2013; Marginson, 2007). Internationalisation of contemporary' higher education has enabled borderless collaboration on research projects, student mobility' and the provision of higher education offerings (de Wit, 2010; Taydor & Braddock, 2007). The rankings race is thus marked by a happy irony, driven in part by nationalistic urges, it has fostered the growth of an international higher education community' that knows no borders (The Economist, 2018).

Marketisation and privatisation of higher education

Universities are important contributors to state and national economies not only in terms of providing skilled human resources for various industries but also in terms of job creation, investment attraction and tax revenue generation (Nizar, 2015). The importance of economic growth as a driver of future tertiary' education demand is clearly illustrated by' the strong relationship between GDP per capita at purchasing power parity' (PPP) and gross tertiary' enrolment ratios. Not only is the correlation positive and statistically' significant, but more importantly, at low PPP

GDP per capita levels, gross tertiary enrolment ratios tend to increase quicker for relatively small increases in GDP per capita (British Council, 2012).

Economic motivations, including growth and competitiveness, national educational demand, the labour market and financial incentives have come to the forefront in the present-day globalisation of our economies (de Wit, 2010). Lee (2004) suggests that in parallel with the globalisation of the economy is the retrenchment of the welfare state, which is being replaced by a neoliberal state geared at promoting international economic competitiveness, through cutbacks in social expenditure, economic deregulation, decreased capital taxes, privatisation and increased labour flexibility. Therefore, universities have diversified their income sources across the state and non-state sectors to secure their revenue. This restructuring process has influenced a redefinition of the relationship between the university, the state, and the market, and a drastic reduction of institutional autonomy (Schugurensky, 1999).

Financial concerns have always impacted upon instruction and research activities (British Council, 2012). However, it is not just economic factors that determine how universities operate and what they charge students for their services; it is their increasing corporatisation (Mills, 2012). As competition has become the driving force for many social institutions along with global and national economies, neoliberalism affects instrumental adjustments, such as cost shifting and sharing, and fundamentally alters the governing philosophy in policymaking and service delivery (Yat Wai Lo, 2014).

Teichler (2004) noted a gradual process impacting on higher education institutions whereby governments reduce their direct supervision and control of higher education and tty to shape higher education more strongly through target-setting and performance-based funding. ‘Paying for performance’ is one of the core components of this strategy that will tie financial aid to college performance (Nizar, 2015). National systems using performance indicators for higher education funding are also used in other countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Belgium and Sweden (Hicks, 2012). The direct consequence of a performance-driven culture in higher education is that universities need to rethink their relationship with the state and students. In the relationship between the higher education sector and the state, the strong emphasis on performance introduces a culture and a mode of regulation (Yat Wai Lo, 2014).

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