Trends in internationalisation

In my last blog I discussed reasons for internationalisation based on the EAIE Barometer. In this blog I would like to further explore this subject by looking at trends in internationalisation in higher education.

First, let me say that I fully understand that there are many aspects influencing these trends. For example the type of institutional funding, but also the motivation and the level of internationalisation the institution starts off with. These aspects vary widely among institutions within one country, let alone across institutions across the globe.

There are however focus points that seem to be characteristic for most of the institutions that where surveyed by the EAIE Barometer on trends. The first one is that quality is picked over quantity. Where, when I started to work in higher education a little over 10 years ago most institutions where looking for as many partnerships as possible, nowadays the trend is to go for a few strategic partnerships. Partnerships which are formally implemented and serve an institution over the entire line of internationalisation. From student or staff exchange to COIL platforms to joint programs.

Other trends can be found in for example the service area, as in “what services are there for international students?”. With about 122.000 incoming exchange students in the Netherlands in 2018 this is one of the key focus points for this country. It’s not solely about the study, a big part of the experience is reserved for learning about the culture and the customs. Not spending the evenings alone in your dorm studying but learning  what benefits working in international teams can bring you, by studying together with your fellow students. As a lecturer specialised in the field of intercultural communication this subject is one of my favorites! Seeing the creativity of students with different backgrounds and frames of reference working together both international and interdisciplinary, brings the most beautiful and unexpected results. Results that benefit the international programs themselves as well. To quote the EAIE Barometer: “…the quality of programs is reported to be the most significant recent change in the Netherlands.” This is something I can see back in the education offered at various Dutch institutions. Besides that, I think this benefit becomes clearly visible in international projects. For example, a few years ago when I was in Lithuania for an interdisciplinary program. Dutch, Lithuanian and Chinese students worked together on creative advertisements for Lithuanian businesses. Some of these students had a communication background, others a technical or law related one. The end results where beautiful, and clearly a mix of the three disciplines and cultures. Exactly what the businesses had asked for.

To quote the EAIE Barometer: “The level of internationalisation and the types of internationalisation activities embraced by institutions seem clearly connected.” Or in other words the saying: “the more you put into it, the more you get out of it” this definitely applies to the interesting field of internationalisation in higher education.