Understanding internationalisation at a UK University: meanings and strategy implementation
University of Bath
This paper presents findings of a case study at a UK University into understanding the internationalisation of higher education. The study elicited views from individuals in diverse management positions at the University. Prior research in the field of internationalisation of higher education has largely focused on international students’ experiences or patterns of their mobility. As far as policy is concerned, there has been an emphasis on the commercial and diplomatic values of the ‘education export industry’. Internationalisation has also been seen in terms of ‘international activities’, the ‘international market’ and the expanding mass access to higher education.
The research reported in this paper is particularly important in the sense that it provides insight into how the term internationalisation is understood and how the process of internationalisation is managed. Being a qualitative study, and by using in-depth interviews, the research is unusual in its challenging of definitions of internationalisation that have previously been largely researched through surveys and questionnaires. The research and its findings take the concept of internationalisation away from the practices of the institution and into the accounts of the individuals who manage it.
Findings of the research include the existence of clear differences in views about the meaning and means of implementation of internationalisation, which makes the implementation of a central international strategy a challenge to the institution concerned.