I Internationalization of Higher Education

Internationalization of Higher Education—What Can Research Add to the Policy Debate? [Overview Paper]

Hans de Wit, Ligia Deca and Fiona Hunter


Since its beginnings, the Bologna Process was placed in the context of European and international cooperation, and in particular it was intended to strengthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of the European Higher Education by fostering the students' mobility and creating the framework for the international dimension of higher education. A first concrete step in this direction was made at the Ministerial conference in May 2007 in London, where Ministers adopted the strategy “The European Higher Education Area in a Global Setting”, encompassing the following priorities:

• improving information on the European Higher Education Area,

• promoting European Higher Education to enhance its world-wide attractiveness

and competitiveness,

• intensifying policy dialogue,

• strengthening cooperation based on partnership and

• furthering the recognition of qualifications (London Communiqué Bologna

Process 2007).

Until the Ministerial Conference of 2009, the main focus in mobility was on overcoming obstacles, and it was at that conference when the Ministers decided that “In 2020, at least 20 % of those graduating in the European Higher Education Area should have had a study or training period abroad.” (Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education 2009). Three years later, the need to increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of the EHEA was again very high on the agenda of the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference in Bucharest, Romania, in 2012. Discussions on these subjects resulted in adopting a “Mobility for better learning[1] Strategy—as an annex to the Ministerial Communique—and thus agreeing that all member countries would develop and implement their own internationalization and mobility strategies with concrete aims and measurable mobility targets, in order to contribute to the achievement of the EHEA objectives.

Converging with this document, the European Commission launched “The European higher education in the world” strategy (European Commission 2013) to promote mobility and cooperation between the member states and the non-EU countries. According to this policy document, “a comprehensive internationalisation strategy should cover key areas grouped into the following three categories: international student and staff mobility; the internationalisation and improvement of curricula and digital learning; and strategic cooperation, partnerships and capacity building. These categories should not be seen as isolated but as integrated elements of a comprehensive strategy.” (EU Communication 2013). With that document, the importance of internationalisation of the curriculum and learning outcomes for all students, received a central place next to mobility, in the European policies for internationalisation of higher education.

This introductory paper provides the context for the following research articles, which were presented at the Second Bologna Researchers Conference, Bucharest, 24–26 November 2014, as well as a brief overview of their main foci and findings.

  • [1] ehea.info/Uploads/%281%29/2012%20EHEA%20Mobility%20Strategy.pdf
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