Setting the internationalisation research agenda

Setting the internationalisation research agenda EAIE Forum

How does research on the internationalisation of higher education shape the work that you do? What has research on internationalisation revealed? And how does this research relate to enhanced practice? These are some of the key questions facing the EAIE in its mission to support international education practitioners across Europe.

As a professional organisation dedicated to helping international officers to network among their peers and partners, the EAIE also seeks to expand the knowledge base of its members with respect to the work you do in the field. As such, this edition of Forum is aimed at exploring why research matters and how it is used, as well as looking to future trends and new avenues of enquiry.

Internationalisation, of course, is a complex term, laden with different meanings and subject to multiple interpretations. What is more, it is not always a term which those working in international education associate directly with their work. However, as the subject of research in its own right, ‘internationalisation’ is examined by scholars, policymakers, consultants and practitioners. In their own way, each of these groups is seeking to ensure a better understanding of the phenomenon of ‘internationalisation’, and this edition of Forum is intended to highlight some of the contours of this field of enquiry, as well as to highlight how research informs and guides practice (and vice versa).

Setting the scene for this edition, Professor Hilary Kahn (Associate Vice President for International Affairs at Indiana University, and former President of the Association of International Education Administrators in the US) asks us to think critically about the terms we use to describe research that transcends borders, and in so doing makes a case for pursuing research that is both global in reach and transformative in effect. Continuing in the vein of real-world impact, Uwe Brandenburg, Elspeth Jones and Betty Leask explore a current research project which is seeking to draw connections between internationalisation and social engagement. Hans de Wit (Director, Boston College Center for International Higher Education) later goes on to trace the broad historical outline of research into internationalisation in higher education, rounding off this volume with a glance to what the future might hold.

Another series of articles in this edition highlights specific fields of enquiry where research is making a difference, for example, in relation to climate change and how international educators are responding to climate action initiatives (Pii-Tuulia Nikula), or to guide new thinking about virtual student mobility (Ana Beaven and Robert O’Dowd). Adinda van Gaalen advocates for an integrated approach to research on internationalisation in all education sectors, seeking to bridge a research gap between secondary education and higher education.

We are delighted that Roberta Bassett, Lead for the Global Solutions Group on Tertiary Education at the World Bank, agreed to be interviewed for this issue. With a PhD in international higher education, Roberta offers some fascinating insights into how a global organisation such as the World Bank draws on research to guide its work. She also highlights the paucity of research into those countries and regions which are traditionally less-analysed. Another perspective on research in practice is offered by Maria Stergiou, who reports on the internationalisation research agenda of the Swiss Government.

A final set of contributions focuses on the connection between scholarship and practice, specifically as lived and experienced by international educators who have knowledge of both. Much has been written about scholar-practitioners in internationalisation, and we are pleased to feature a series of case studies highlighting the experience of those who have sought to bring research into their work, such as Courtney Hartzell and Tanja Reiffenrath from Germany and Visnja Schampers-Car from Croatia, who has recently completed her PhD under the supervision of Fiona Hunter (former President of the EAIE) at the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy).

I am very grateful to my colleagues on the EAIE Publications Committee for their expert support and guidance in reviewing submissions for this edition of Forum. Each of the members of the Publications Committee finds themselves somewhere on the practitioner-scholar continuum, having undertaken research degrees or projects in the field, or by way of our current work and research interests. We hope that this edition provides food for thought for scholars and practitioners alike!

Winter Forum

What has internationalisation research revealed so far, and what remains to be investigated? Find out in Winter Forum. Members can access the entire issue and non-members can download the Editor's pick for free.

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.