Summaries 2007

1. Jeroen Huisman

Researching internationalisation in higher education: state of the art and prospects

The presentation tries to capture first general developments in internationalisation (policies and strategies) and will subsequently give an overview of the current state of the art in research on internationalisation, illustrated by recent projects and their outcomes.

2. Rajani Naidoo

Higher Education as an International Commodity: The Perils and Promises for Development.

Powerful agencies such as the World Bank formerly held the view that higher education offered lower individual and social returns than primary education. However, this view, which led to the systematic under-development of higher education, has changed. The new orthodoxy is that the knowledge economy, which signals a trend away from material production and manual work towards knowledge related product and services, could reduce the disparity between rich and poor nations. The rationale is that the ability to transmit and access information rapidly across the globe has the potential to transform countries that are materially poor into countries that are ‘information-rich’ with the ability to utilise knowledge for social and economic development.

This presentation undertakes an critical analysis of this global policy inversion and challenges the claim that higher education under contemporary conditions has become the most crucial powerhouse for development. The paper explores the impact of economic, political and ideological pressures related to neo-liberalism on the development of higher education systems in developing countries. In particular, the paper examines the pressures to establish a global higher education market and interrogates perceptions that foreign and private providers are the solution to building capacity in higher education. The dangers related to the transformation of higher education into an international commodity are addressed.

3. Andrew Starcher

Internationalizing the Liberal Arts College: Tensions and Rationales

I will be presenting the case of a US liberal arts college located in Switzerland. Using documents and data from interviews with the college’s leadership, I will point out potentially illuminating tensions in how the college conceives of its international, liberal arts and pre-professional missions. In my talk, I will explore these issues in relation to the literature on internationalization in higher education. This talk could be of interest especially to colleagues interested in international education, the teaching and learning of intercultural competencies and the internationalization of the university curriculum.


4. Joanna Al-Youssef

The institutionalisation of internationalisation in HE institutions: A case study.

Prior research in the field of internationalisation of higher education has focused mainly on international students’ experiences or patterns of their mobility (Marginson, 2004). As far as policy is concerned, there has been an emphasis on the commercial and diplomatic values of the ‘education export industry’ (Elliott, 1998). My interest is in how the process of internationalisation is manifested and managed at the University of Bath as an example of higher education institutions (HEIs). My research comes at the time when Bath is creating its International strategy plan thus acknowledging the importance of a more articulated international policy,
In this presentation, I give an update of the research at Bath University, including some data from document analysis and interviews. The research forms the content of an EdD thesis and the hope is that it could be expanded into a larger comparative study to include other universities in the UK and abroad.

5. Silvia Sovic

‘So Tell me in Your Own Words’: International Students Interviewed by Compatriots.
First-Year Experiences at the University of the Arts, London

This paper will present preliminary results of an ongoing investigation of the experiences of first-year BA and foundation degree international students across the different colleges of the University of the Arts, London. The project seeks to assess the extent to which international students integrate and adapt to a different teaching and learning environment; to identify the causes of obstacles to such integration and adaptation; and to propose ways in which these can be eased. It will also probe the specific issue of the way in which the general challenges of coming to study in the UK manifest themselves when the chosen course of study is in the creative arts.

The research is focused on six geographical areas: Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, and India. Some UK students have been included for comparative purposes. Students are interviewed in their own language (or in English if they prefer) by one of a team of social science postgraduates recruited from the University of London. Students fill in a short written questionnaire giving basic details about their educational background, some demographic information etc. before being interviewed. Interviews are semi-structured; students receive the questions in advance. The questions cover topics such as reasons for studying abroad, expectations, cultural and educational differences, friendship, gender issues, stress etc. So far, over 90 students have been interviewed. The approach of the analysis will be both qualitative and quantitative.

The paper will explore the extent to which ‘cultural differences’ contribute to the difficulties that students have, as opposed to linguistic, academic, social and other factors.

6. Mei Tian and John Lowe

Beyond ‘cultural’ barriers: experiences of intercultural interaction among postgraduate Chinese students in a British university

Globalisation of higher education has produced an imperative to ‘internationalise’ all aspects of a university’s activities. We argue that the literature commonly takes the presence of a multi-national student body on campus to signify effective internationalisation of the student experience without adequate investigation of the nature of that experience. In the UK, research into students’ experiences of such internationalisation has tended to be generic and descriptive rather than accessing the individual student experiences and interpretations to any depth.

This paper explores a group of Chinese postgraduate students’ experiences of intercultural relationships when learning in a western academic environment. It draws on data from a one-year longitudinal study of Chinese students at a UK university obtained through the novel use of individual audio diaries supplemented by frequent interviews and discussions. The daily intercultural experiences of the participating students and their responses to them are accessed with an immediacy and depth not commonly obtained in other research.

The research supports previous findings that despite a desire for enriching intercultural experience being one of the attractions of overseas study for these students, this is rarely achieved in practice, but the richness of our data provides greater insights into the personal and structural factors that lead to this. The implications of our findings for universities’ development of a more genuinely international environment are discussed.

7. Anne P. Peterson

Modernising or Missionising? Historical Foundations of the University-Peace Corps Relationship

Preparing graduates for foreign service was an historical driver of higher education internationalisation. Analysis of the role that academics played in founding the U.S. Peace Corps reveals complicity between modernising theorists and nationalistic forces to help explain how universities became instruments of Cold War foreign policy. This ongoing research explores a possibly hidden agenda behind the adoption of the Peace Corps’ mission.

8. Mari Brookes

How are audiences and stakeholders in the United States of America responding to the European Higher Education Process?

This work identifies and analyses responses to the Bologna Process from the United States of America; 1999 to the present day More precisely, it identifies and analyses Higher Education stakeholders and audiences responses of the process from the time of the Bologna Declaration, through developments, to today through Critical Discourse Analysis method developed by Fairclough (2006); using a Critical realism ontology to support the theoretical premise of ‘process’ from the New Institutionalism perspective.

The findings discuss the discourse of the potential affects of European Higher Education reform for the U.S. education system and economy and touches on the ‘External dimensions’ of the European process from two other continents, Australia and Africa; both with interest in aligning to the Bologna model.


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