Why Internationalization? - Old and new rationales in diverse higher education systems

Dear guests,

Why internationalization? Why are we so keen to internationalize our universities and to increase their internationality? What are the theoretical motives driving us and how does this actually look like in practice? In our two-day conference on October 5 and 6, 2020, we have explored the subject of internationalization from an academic, theoretical perspective and have contrasted that with real-world experience, by listening to the findings of distinguished researchers on internationalization and then, on the second day, hearing from the directors of international offices and vice rectors of our partner universities around the world report on their actual experience. With guests present at the conference as well as participants zoomed in from all over the world, we hence experienced, how internationalization and internationality can be practiced in our times of social distancing and travel restrictions. We had two very fruitful days with lively discussions and interesting new ideas about the case of the internationalization of higher education. Now, we are happy to share the recordings of the presentations with you and allow you to reflect on this very important topic of our time.

Best regards,

Stephan Conermann, Vice Rector for International Affairs 2020

Event Recordings

We are pleased that the digital implementation of our conference enables us to provide you with the recordings of the individual lectures here. Below you can find a welcome message from our Rector Michael Hoch, all lectures by our speakers and the panel discussion.

A Welcome Message from Rector Michael Hoch

Why Internationalization? Welcome by Rector Michael Hoch

Panel Discussion: Internationalization with and after Corona

Panel Discussion: Internationalization with and after Corona

Hans de Wit: Shifting contexts and shifting values ask for new rationales for internationalization

Keynote by Hans de Wit - Why Internationalization? Shifting contexts and shifting values ask for new rationales for internationalization

Over the past 3 decades we have seen a shift in rationales for internationalization from cooperation to competition, from traditional values as mutual understanding and exchange to marketization and soft power. Although in theory ‘internationalization at home’ has become a key component of internationalization, mobility is still the dominant policy drive for national governments, institutions and international entities. How can we shift the rationales from this dominant elitist focus on mobility towards global and responsible learning for all?

Terri Kim - The role of transnational identity capital in knowledge creation

This conference paper revisits the role of ‘transnational identity capital’ (Kim 2010; 2017) in knowledge creation to make a case for internationalisation in higher education.  Internationalisation is a dominant global imperative for universities and academics to brand and circulate themselves. It is a complex assemblage of values linked not only to economic growth, but also to soft power and intercultural competencies.  The paper illustrates the relations of academic mobility and knowledge and identity capital and their mutual entanglements in the contexts of many (internationalising) national higher education systems. The contemporary movements of academics take place within old hierarchies and new borders among nation states (Kim 2017). The first two decades of the 21st century were an age of migration and a new epoch of ethno-nationalism, with a strong backlash against ‘migration’.  It is argued that old hierarchies and new borders in the world society of (nation)states intersect with new academic stratifications in the process of ‘internationalisation’ in HE. There are competing epistemic and cultural hegemonies - intellectual traditions, modalities of thinking and research, organisational cultures and languages, yielding new conditions and contexts of internationalisation in many national HE systems.  Exposure to new (foreign) contexts can generate new knowledge through the development of transnational identity capital, which ‘involves generic [reflexive and cosmopolitan] competences ... to engage with otherness’ (Kim, 2010: 583). Internationalisation discourses have posited many migrant academics as ‘knowledge brokers’, ‘knowledge traders’ and institutionalised ‘local career adapters’ (Kim, 2014: 67). In this context, the ideal international academic identity might be that of global entrepreneurial citizen, with the capacity to create, transfer and exchange knowledge across national, linguistic and cultural boundaries. However, a micropolitics of academic mobility takes as its focus the experiences of roles and rules defining academic positions and the segmentations of academic identities into different classed, ethnic and gendered bodies and geographies. The paper highlights and discusses changes and challenges embedded in the contexts of internationalisation in HE contemporaneously and the ways in which diverse mobile/migrant academics engage in knowledge creation, drawing on my long-term research evidence. 

Terri Kim: The role of transnational identity capital in knowledge creation

David Kaldewey: Internationalization and Diversity: Competing or Complementary Imperatives?

David Kaldewey - Internationalization and Diversity: Competing or Complementary Imperatives?

In the last decades, “diversity” has emerged as one possible answer to the question of what we want to achieve by internationalization. If we analyze the diversity imperative through the internationalization lens, then internationalization can contribute to a more diverse student body and faculty (in terms of ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, etc.) and therewith to better learning and research outcomes. Furthermore, internationalization may enhance students’ intercultural skills and awareness in a globalized world. However, practitioners and scholars in the diversity management field, particularly in the United States, sometimes take a more critical stance. They view the internationalization imperative through the diversity lens and suspect that internationalization replaces what they deem as more important, namely the heterogenous national population (in terms of race, class, and gender), including historically disadvantaged minorities. Some worry that the real motives behind internationalization processes often are economical, not least if the recruitment of international students is needed to compensate the shrinking federal and state funding for American higher education institutions. Furthermore, “diversity via internationalization” may come at the cost of reducing more traditional diversity practices, particularly forms for domestic diversity recruiting. Such problems point to the important question of whether the internationalization imperative and the diversity imperative are competing values in higher education systems or whether it is possible that they reinforce each other; ideally enabling a win-win situation. 

Ariane de Gayardon - Higher education internationalization: is it all about money?

In recent years, the discourse about internationalization around the globe has made the importance of economic benefits involved clear – for students, institutions and nations. Students’ mobility decisions are in part informed by financial considerations, not only cost of living, tuition fees and financial aid but also career and employability prospects in the global labour market. Internationalization can be beneficial for non-mobile students to, by helping them develop critical skills valued on the labour market. At the institutional level, the discourse has mainly revolved around institutional reliance on international students’ revenue – including the description of international students as “cash cows.” However, internationalization also matters for institutions because international prestige and global research findings are increasingly important in getting funds. Finally, nations are reliant on the internationalization of the higher education sector to remain at the forefront of research and innovation, while enjoying a highly-skilled internationalised workforce. The economic benefits of internationalization enjoyed by society at large are evident in public funding made available to help institutions internationalise. While internationalization has become a key part of higher education globally, the importance of economic rationales and stimulus has not faded, driving many policies and initiatives.

Ariane de Gayardon: Higher education internationalization: is it all about money?

Karl Dittrich: How to overcome inequalities in internationalization?

Karl Dittrich - How to overcome inequalities in internationalisation?

Karl Dittrich will address the continuing necessity for internationalisation. No doubt about the massive contribution of internationalisation to learning! However, he will put attention to some clear - and difficult - disadvantages of the current practices in internationalisation: the inequality of chances for students, the “academic tourism”, the growing cleavage between countries within Europe, the challenge of sustainability, international students as “business model”, and the global inequality. He will make a plea for resilient alliances, brain circulation, solidarity, and for new moral and ethical dimensions in internationalisation.

Kai Sicks - Strategic University Partnerships – Benefits and Challenges

In times of uncertain political conditions and scarcer resources, international HE cooperation increasingly requires a strong "institutional trust" between universities and other HE organisations from different countries. Against this background, the instrument of strategic partnership is becoming increasingly important.  The presentation tries to reassess the advantages and challenges of such strategic partnerships, with a particular focus on the current situation – which in Germany is characterized by the buzzwords of pandemics, export control and sustainability.

Kai Sicks: Strategic University Partnerships - Benefits and Challenges

Norimasa Morita: Who wants to internationalize universities in Japan the most?

Norimasa Morita - Who wants to internationalize universities in Japan the most?

According to Phillip Altbach, a former professor at Boston College, globalization and internationalization can be clearly differentiated and should not be confused with each other.  Globalization is the economic, political and social forces that push everything it touches to transnational involvement and in this respect nobody cannot control it and its influences, while internationalization is a response to the requests it imposes on each society and each institution. Globalization is, therefore, beyond our control and internationalization is our choice.  As any other countries or areas affected by globalization, Japanese universities has been making continuous efforts of internationalization since the last decade of the 20th century with various results.  In this paper I would like to demonstrate that the internationalization of Japanese universities is not only direct reactions to globalization but also consequences of conformity to the responses of the central administration and business and industry to globalization and by doing so, identify who want to internationalize universities in Japan the most.

Samantha Lister - Internationalisation in a post-Brexit world – a case study 

“We are outward looking, international and European, and we will go on being so.”

The impact and implications of the UK’s exit from the EU are both far-reaching and long-term. Since the referendum in June 2016, the UK higher education sector has been preparing for significant changes to the UK HE landscape including impacts on international education, collaboration and research. This session will explore the challenges and opportunities for internationalisation presented by Brexit, focusing on the strategic approach of the University of St Andrews.

 The University of St Andrews, Scotland’s first and most international university, is one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities. St Andrews was named UK university of the year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020. It was also rated first in Scotland and second in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2020.

Samantha Lister: Internationalization in a post-Brexit world – a case study

Carla Camargo Cassol Da Silva: The Whys of Internationalization of Higher Education in Brazil

Carla Camargo Cassol Da Silva - The Whys of Internationalization of Higher Education in Brazilian Higher Education Institutions.

This presentation aims to present a brief historial overview about  Internationalization of Higher Education in Brazil, giving light to the status of the theme in the country. It also aims to elicit motives, goals and present challenges faced by Brazilian Higher Education Institutions regarding national scenarios and political issues.

Jeffrey Lesser - Research as a Global Strategy

Emory University’s Global Strategy seeks to lead and influence global scholarship, research, and teaching in order to equip students to meet the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. In our initial strategic phase, we focused on country-based initiatives in Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, and South Korea but over the years, we have taken a more “grass-roots” approach that seeks to expand existing faculty research connections broadly. 

In order to do this Emory’s first step was to transform the Halle Institute from a primarily programming oriented unit that hosted hundreds of events per year into a research-focused, faculty-directed unit.   One of our most successful strategic approaches has been the Collaborative Research Grant (CRG) program that tests the hypothesis: “Can great research be recognizable across fields, geographies, and topics?”   We do this with about ten bi-lateral, shared-funding, Collaborative Research Grant competitions that connect us to highly ranked, comprehensive partner universities without regard to discipline, location, or theme.

Our primary directive is “Open to All,” and the results have been gratifying. We have funded dozens of projects across the globe ranging from digital cartography to drug discovery. These projects have internationalized Emory (and we hope our partners) from within and externally.  Faculty and students see that collaboration with, for example, the University of Bonn, is not about “German Studies” but all areas of knowledge.  Our multi-school peer review committee breaks down barriers by bringing together colleagues who have never met – this year’s group includes faculty from Physics, Theater, Public Health, Biology, Jewish Studies, and Nursing.   Peer-review across fields of knowledge and space demands that the joint project proposals be written without jargon.  Thus, from the start, the global research outcomes speak to multiple publics both inside and outside of the academy.

Jeffrey Lesser: Research as a Global Strategy


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