EAIE New Knowledge Alert: June 2019

EAIE New Knowledge Alert: June 2019

Summer in Europe is nearly around the corner, a period that offers many of us some well-deserved time out of the office and on holiday. As we hit the beach, head for some quiet in the countryside, or just take a break from our normal routines, reading for personal pleasure is often on the agenda. Yes, the latest bestselling novel is a typical go-to option for those lazy summer afternoons. But, if you’re an international higher education ‘junkie’ like me, adding some recent reports and meaty new analyses to the beach bag or rucksack can round out that summer reading list nicely.

Looking for some new research to sink your teeth into? Here are some ideas to consider, which include several new reports and papers offering Europe-centred insights, a current analysis of the national policy environments for international higher education around the world, and a sampling of new rankings results.

Europe front and centre

Several new reports published during this quarter shed light on various aspects of the international higher education landscape in Europe. In case you missed it, the EAIE released the EAIE Barometer (second edition): Signposts of success report in April.

This publication considers the question of what internationalisation looks like from the perspective of the respondents to the 2017 Barometer survey who specifically expressed optimism about the future of internationalisation at their institutions, saw significant progress at their institutions in relation to priority internationalisation activities, and considered their institutions to be above-average with respect to internationalisation in comparison to other higher education institutions in their national context. Commonalities in terms of rationale, organisation and implementation provide evidence for nine ‘signposts of success’ that professionals and academics responsible for internationalisation at other higher education institutions may find useful to consider.

Two European Commission-sponsored reports focused on the impact of several aspects of Erasmus+ programming were released in May. The ‘Study on the impact of Erasmus+ Higher Education Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances at local, national and European levels on key higher education policy priorities’ relies on data from interviews, case study analyses, a survey, and existing data to assess the effects of these initiatives at both systemic and organisational/institutional levels. They conclude that the impacts of the Erasmus+ Higher Education Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances are roundly positive, serving to effectively reinforce a number of the fundamental goals envisioned for the European Education Area.

For its part, the Erasmus+ higher education impact study draws on nearly 77,000 survey responses to explore the effects of Erasmus+ mobilities on higher education students, staff and institutions. The report provides a wealth of information pointing to encouraging outcomes for all three stakeholder groups. For example, significant percentages of the surveyed students registered positive developments post-mobility in terms of greater clarity around their study plans and career aspirations. Erasmus+ alumni also seem to find jobs faster than their non-mobile classmates, and more frequently report feeling they have professional opportunities in comparison to non-Erasmus+ participants.

Benefits to higher education staff who take part in Erasmus+ mobility are also in evidence. Staff reported exposure to innovative teaching/learning methods and technologies; propensity to include in their teaching representatives from enterprises related to their field; and enhanced intercultural, transversal and social skills, along with positive views about Europe.

Finally, a large majority of the higher education institutions included in the study consider the opportunities provided by Erasmus+ mobility schemes to be “very important or essential” for their institutions to improve international competitiveness and enhance international programme quality. In terms of challenges, the findings note that student and staff demand for mobility opportunities regularly outstrips supply. However, overall, “support for mobility has improved markedly since 2014.”

In another pan-European consideration of internationalisation developments and concerns, our colleagues in Brussels at the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) put forward the ACA Reflection Paper 'Internationalisation for all? Wider inclusion in the internationalisation of higher education' in April. The document distils input from a wide range of stakeholders, experts and national perspectives into nine key considerations for developing policies and practices that together may make it possible to deliver a “more holistic and thus inclusive approach to the topic of inclusion”, ultimately addressing “a wider pool of underrepresented groups in (international) higher education (and particularly in student mobility)”. The discussion covers matters of internationalisation both at home and abroad, aims to sensitise readers to the broadest definition possible for “underrepresented groups”, and offers concrete suggestions for further action.

Rankings developments

For those of us with an interest in crunching the numbers, some new university rankings results announced during the second quarter of 2019 provide food for thought. Acknowledging that university rankings – their methodologies and policy implications, in particular – are the subject of considerable debate and critique, these exercises shine a light on several aspects of the higher education enterprise that bear notice.

For example, Times Higher Education’s (THE) first-ever University Impact Rankings, released in April, aim to consider university performance against 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. With a focus on research, outreach and stewardship, the results are touted by THE as offering a new and important lens through which to consider university impact on society.

The CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019 is notable for the emphasis it places this year on matters of gender diversity and open access publishing. Among the 963 universities included in the exercise, there is “clear evidence of growth” in open access publishing in the period 2014–2017 as compared to 2006–2009, particularly in Europe. In terms of gender diversity, among the authors of research at the universities included in the Leiden ranking, some 70% of those whose gender could be confirmed were identified as male. Overall, this represents a gradual increase in the numbers of female authors affiliated with the universities included in the Leiden ranking from the period 2006-2009 to 2014–2017. But, there is variation in these findings across national/regional contexts and fields of study.

National policy snapshots

If you’re interested in national-level perspectives on internationalisation, the British Council’s new report, The Shape of Global Higher Education: International Comparisons with Europe, might be the read for you. It “attempts to capture the impact of countries’ national frameworks on international student mobility, transnational education, academic mobility and research, and sustainable development,” with a particular focus on “national commitments” to internationalisation of higher education. Eleven European countries are considered in the analysis, and comparisons are made with six additional countries in the Americas, along with Australia, China and India. Among the key findings flagged for future research is the sense international education is “becoming an important consideration in countries’ foreign policy.” A need to ensure “a better balance between capacity building through research and through teaching” is also signaled.

Eleven European countries are considered in the analysis, and comparisons are made with six additional countries in the Americas, along with Australia, China and India. Among the key findings flagged for future research is the sense international education is “becoming an important consideration in countries’ foreign policy.” A need to ensure “a better balance between capacity building through research and through teaching” is also signaled.

Keeping up-to-date in the summer months with the latest research and literature in our field is no easy feat, but the options for expanding your knowledge base with new insights are rich this year. Happy resting – and reading!

Keep up-to-date

Want to stay abreast of news like this and other important developments in the field? In addition to highlights in the monthly newsletter, EAIE members enjoy full access to publications, research and more in our resource library.

Laura E. Rumbley
EAIE, the NetherlandsLaura is Associate Director of Knowledge Development and Research at the EAIE.