Presentation 1

Internationalisation of Higher Education: How important is the international office professional?

Marilyn Brookes M.C.Brookes@bath.ac.uk

Explicitly, or implicitly, all individuals within colleges and universities who have the role of leading or managing the international office …have the responsibility of ‘internationalising’ their institutions.

Thullen, Heyl and Brownell (2002)

The role of Professionals’ within International Offices is changing (Thullen, Heyl and Brownell, 2002) as Higher Education becomes more competitive and the changing management of universities continues to draw on ‘new managerialsim’ (Deem, Hillyard and Reed,2007) to protect themselves from the ‘audit culture’ and ‘transparency regime’ (ibid:2).  Further more, we live within a tight economic climate today and this phenomenon must affect all within it – so how has the role of the International Office Manager changed? What are their responsibilities today?  Are there any blurred identities and tensions?  How do they see themselves?  Finally, how is the profession emerging – is the Professional acting as institutional agent in the context of internationalisation?

These are some of the questions being asked within a PhD study that utilizes a liberal and extensive paradigm with the aim of ‘making sense’ of the cultural and social dimensions of the empirical data.  Analysing at both the micro and macro levels to fit the need of a more systematic focus on the real source of institutional change as Gorges argues (2001: 142), the whole study is set within the context of one element of higher education internationalisation – entrepreneurialism – and aims to examine the perspective of the professional acting as institutional agent via the use of a sense making and cultural cognitive strategy.  This work is largely driven by an interest in the dynamics resulting from economic and political pressures and an interest in research that is not just empirically driven, seeking instead to theoretically investigate the perceptions (i.e. the ideas as understood or ‘made sense of’) and the following actions of higher education management – within the context of an element of internationalisation.

This presentation will look at the literature on both the role of the Professional as Agent for institutional change and the literature on the role of the International Office Professional today; all with the aim of investigating the International Office Professional’s role within the process of internationalisation of higher education.

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