Presentation 4

Herding cats? Challenges to institutionalising internationalisation in a UK university.

Joanna Al-Youssef J.B.Al-Youssef@bath.ac.uk

This paper presents findings from a case study research into the internationalisation of higher education at a UK university. In-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with individuals at middle and senior management positions at the institution to explore how the term internationalisation is understood in relation to the university’s international strategy. The findings reported in this paper are related to interpretations of the institution’s international strategy and how these interpretations influence approaches to the implementation of the strategy. The paper identifies a multiplicity of opinions and interpretations of an internationalisation strategy, the thing which poses a challenge to implementation even when a strategy has been developed through consultation. This suggests that the process of internationalisation at an institutional level is likely to be more complex than the literature often tends to suggest.

2 Responses to Presentation 4

  1. Dear Dr. Al Youssef,

    I definitely agree with you the concept of internationalization is elusive.

    The concept of internationalization in the educational context as you are introducing it here is truley new to me. By contemplating over the concept and trying to figure out what it implies, I came up with a number of enquiries that I would like you to clarify for me, please.

    Does internationalization of higher education mean literally being open to the world and allowing for international students and instructors to be part and parcel of the structure of, say, the university?

    Does it mean disseminating knowledge and sending faculty and university representatives all over the world?

    Does it mean adopting international thinking systems in a way to produce a more integrated international picture of common research strategies and educational approaches worldwide?

    Or does it mean having the very local educational approach and thinking system of a university recognized internationally?

    Or is it perhaps neither?

    • joy says:

      Hi Montazar

      Thank you for your comment. It’s very nice to see your contribution here!

      As far as my research is concerned, the internationalisation of higher education means all that you mentioned above. Internationalisation in the literature is seen as multi-dimentional (Knight, 1995), and it’s a personal choice which aspect of it institutions or individuals choose to prioritise. The part of the literature that I’m personally interested in is that which looks at existential internationalisation (Sanderson, 2004) or internatioanlisation as a continuum from weak or symbolic to strong or transofmative (Turner and Robson, 2008). It seems to me that whichever way you look at internationalisation, the values and beliefs of individuals working in a higher education context are crucial to how it is approached and interpreted. My research shows multiple interpretations of internationalisation in a single institution, and I would anticipate a bigger divergence in conceptions across different cultures (which poses a challenge for intercultural comuunication with regard to this issue). I’m afraid that with a term like internationalisation, it’s a challenge to give a definite answer to your questions.

      I hope this clarifies things a bit, and I hope to keep the conversation going 🙂

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