How international is your institution? Use quality assurance to find out!

How international is your institution? Use quality assurance to find out!

Do you know the service your institution provides to society? The intercultural skills your graduates are equipped with? The added value of your international partnerships? This information may be crucial for securing funding, improving your processes and results and for providing information for prospective students and employers. Quality assurance in internationalisation can contribute to these goals and is very useful in making your daily work more efficient. Is your institution utilising quality assurance?

In order to establish quality assurance in internationalisation it is crucial to set a policy plan. The plan should outline the goals of internationalisation at your institution such as improving the quality of education and research, improving your institution’s reputation and increasing the international skills and competences of the students. These institution-wide goals are very broad and intangible, however, and therefore difficult to measure. It is hence crucial to make the goals measurable by translating each goal into one or several more concrete objectives. It is advisable to ensure your objectives are SMART, ie specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-bound. However, don’t let yourself stay too focused on what is measurable at the expense of missing important and meaningful results. Depending on what your goals are, you need to decide on which international activities are to be implemented in order for your institution to reach the goals set. It is moreover important to ensure that you have the adequate facilities and services at your disposal to be able to implement your internationalisation activities.

To integrate or not to integrate

When implementing international quality assurance, a decision has to be made whether or not to integrate it into the regular quality assurance process. The option chosen should depend on the stage and level of integration of internationalisation at your institution. If internationalisation is integrated within the institution and the existing regular quality assurance system is well established and open to additional aspects, integration may be favourable. If, however, internationalisation is rather seen as a separate aspect, the two quality assurance processes may be kept apart. The same may also hold for when international quality assurance is being set up. Ironically, the more recognised and centrally organised international quality assurance becomes, the more easily it can get detached from the programme content. To ensure a link between the programme content and international quality assurance you can choose to incorporate international aspects into the learning objectives of study programmes, and recruit and assign staff with international experience and internationalisation responsibilities to your institution’s study programmes.

Evaluate and improve

Planning and conducting quality assurance is not worth all the effort if you don’t evaluate quality assurance and act based on the results obtained. When it comes to evaluation, you can evaluate the results, ieoutput and outcome, as well as the process itself. To ensure maximum benefit this needs to be done structurally and not on an ad hoc basis. Comparing the goals set with the results of the evaluation will give you a clear picture of what needs to be improved. Here it is important to clarify who is responsible for improving the internationalisation policy and activities accordingly as well as give enough time for the improvement process, ensuring effective monitoring throughout.

This post was written by the EAIE based on Chapter 4 of Adinda van Gaalen’s ‘Internationalisation and quality assurance’ publication in the EAIE Professional Development Series. EAIE members can log into the Member Centre and visit the Library to download the entire publication.