2021 Winter Forum call for submissions: Internationalisation for all

2021 Winter Forum call for submissions: Internationalisation for all EAIE Forum

Forum magazine is now accepting submissions for the 2021 Winter edition on ‘Internationalisation for all’. This issue of the EAIE member magazine will examine the distributed nature of international engagement, framing internationalisation as a whole-of-institution endeavour with multiple nodes of leadership and activity.

Commonly viewed as a set of activities or goals, internationalisation is formally defined as a process, in fact “the intentional process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education”. If we accept this definition, then it goes without saying that internationalisation touches on all aspects of a higher education institution’s activity and, by extension, on all members of its community, including faculty, professional and administrative staff, and students.

Recognising that internationalisation is pervasive and stretches far beyond the international office, this edition of Forum seeks to explore the significant international engagement of faculty, staff and students as actors and champions of internationalisation at multiple levels across an institution.

In doing so, this edition seeks to shine a spotlight on those instances of international engagement which might otherwise remain hidden or go unacknowledged within an institution. In many cases, these forms of internationalisation are harder to capture, as they are driven less by formal strategy than by the individual commitment of staff and students to a global mindset and opportunities for international collaboration.

International strategy

This is not to downplay the importance of how internationalisation is framed in an institution’s strategy, and then enacted in its formal staffing structures and programmes. By necessity, higher education institutions formulate their international (or internationalisation) strategies to prioritise resources towards particular short- to medium-term goals, such as the mobility of students. The same is generally true of national governments and regional groupings such as the European Union.

Staffing structures are then built around these strategies and programmes (for example, the traditional international office), and it becomes all too easy to conclude that the strategies and programmes themselves define internationalisation. This type of thinking leads to the common assumption in Europe that short-term student mobility (via the Erasmus+ programme) is the principal vector of internationalisation in higher education institutions.

Although not doubting the importance of mobility for students, international research points to the fact that international collaboration between academic staff is a more prevalent response to internationalisation within higher education institutions. The vast majority of academic staff have some international engagement in their research, whereas rates of student mobility remain stubbornly low despite the availability of funding and the enthusiasm of staff. As such, within a European context, the Horizon Europe research and innovation framework programme may well be the more common conduit to internationalisation for all.

Distributed leadership

In this edition, we recognise that the leadership of internationalisation stretches far beyond formal leadership structures (including the vice-rector or vice-president and the international office) and is broadly distributed across any institution – in its teaching and research community, in its central service offices, and in its outreach functions, including alumni and industry engagement. We also recognise that understandings of internationalisation vary widely within any institution – between academic disciplines themselves and between the various actors. Indeed, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to internationalisation in higher education.

Of particular interest are the ways in which institutions have sought to frame the distributed nature of international education activity and leadership in their strategies. In many cases, the international activities of faculty and academic staff in their research and outreach are overlooked by internationalisation strategies, not to forget the important role play by administrative staff outside the international office. The Erasmus+ funded SUCTI project has shown how crucial it is to train administrative staff, and a follow-on project (SUCTIA) is now looking at the internationalisation of academic staff, including the EAIE as one of the partners in this project.

Beyond the staff community, our students are often key champions for internationalisation, through their participation in international programmes but also through their own agency. Whether framed in international strategy or not, student leadership in distributed internationalisation presents a compelling opportunity for increased promotion of Internationalisation at Home opportunities.

Multiple understandings

Underpinning this diversity in approach, research points to the fact that understandings and interpretations of internationalisation vary widely across an institution. Faculty staff view international engagement differently depending on their academic discipline, and approaches to internationalisation of the curriculum are clearly shaped along disciplinary lines. Similarly, different narratives around internationalisation exist across the professional staff community.

In focusing on ‘internationalisation for all’, we are interested to explore how these different views of internationalisation align or collide. How can different understandings of internationalisation be harnessed for the benefit of staff and students? How does the distributed nature of international education activity reinforce and amplify successful internationalisation?

Share your expertise

What are your thoughts on the distributed nature of international education activity and internationalisation for all? EAIE members and non-members alike can submit their 800–1200 word article to publications@eaie.org by 11 June. For more information on the issue theme, examples of article topics and guidelines for writing, see our page on Writing for the EAIE.

Douglas Proctor
University College Dublin, IrelandIn addition to being Director of UCD Global (University College Dublin), Douglas is also Chair of the EAIE Publications Committee and Editor of Forum.