Research digest for practitioners: July 2016

Research digest for practitioners: July 2016

The July issue of the Journal of Studies in International Education highlights academic staff experiences in international branch campuses, the impact of transnational education, and how higher education institutions can be a tool for public diplomacy. Furthermore, you will find articles that tackle subjects such as MOOCs and how they are perceived by academics and the distinct perceptions academic and administrative staff have with regard to internationalisation. We hope that this melange of interesting bits of internationalisation encourage you to explore these articles further.

Motivations, Expectations, and Experiences of Expatriate Academic Staff on an International Branch Campus in China

By: Li (Lily) Cai and Christine Hall
Topic: Academic staff experiences in international branch campuses

The article explores the motivations, expectations and experiences of expatriate academic staff while working in an International Branch Campus (IBC) in China. The study was based on 20 interviews with non-Chinese academic staff members at the IBC and focuses on the differences between the expectations they had before their arrival and the experience they had during their stay.

When asked why the respondents applied to work at the IBC, answers included: a sense of adventure, a career change or professional ambitions, financial reasons and the opportunity to experience Chinese culture. Yet, their lived experiences did not measure up to their expectations as they shared disappointment with the heavy work load, lack of language learning, and a low satisfaction with cultural and social immersion. Based on the findings, the authors suggest that pre-departure staff induction and ongoing professional development after arrival would help to align expectations with the lived experience of IBC academic staff.

Institutions of Higher Education as Public Diplomacy Tools: China-Based University Programs for the 21st Century

By: Emily T. Metzgar
Topic: International education and public diplomacy

Are higher education institutions a public diplomacy tool? China’s efforts in investing in soft-power and public diplomacy have intensified over the years. Higher education international exchanges are increasingly seen as strategic efforts for the Chinese Government. In the last three years, China’s Government and investors have developed two scholarship programmes: Schwarzman Scholars (inspired by the Rhodes scholarship) and Yenching Academy programmes. These scholarship programmes involve two Chinese institutions in developing English taught programmes that welcome both Chinese and international students.

Where do the Schwarzman Scholars and Yenching Academy programmes fit in the context of China’s ongoing soft power promotion efforts? Findings show that the main arguments on which these schemes were built are to attract more international students for graduate study, in English, at leading Chinese universities and develop “a network to bridge differences between China and the rest of the world”. The benefits China expects from these programmes in terms of public diplomacy and soft-power are to educate future leaders of the world to become closer to the Chinese culture, promote it and through them advocate and influence policies in their home countries for the benefit of China’s public agenda.

Impact of U.K. and Australian Transnational Higher Education in Malaysia

By: Nirmala Devi Arunasalam
Topic: Transnational education

The study was based on interviews of 18 Malaysian nurses who upgraded from diploma to degree level. The students were part of Transnational Higher Education (TNHE) programmes developed by one Australian and two UK universities. During the study the following areas were qualitatively analysed: personal change, professional transformation in nurses, implementation of theoretical knowledge in clinical practice and acceptance of nurse-led changes.

Findings show that in relation with the analysed areas, all nurses viewed themselves changed in a positive way after the completion of the programme and most seemed to have gained influence in their clinical setting. However, 17 out of 18 respondents felt the support from Western teaching staff was inadequate to their specific cultural context. The authors recommend that for TNHE programmes such as this one, academic staff participate in a short cultural immersion and induction to ensure they understand the context in which they are teaching and adjust the pedagogy accordingly.

Learning from the Adoption of MOOCs in Two International Branch Campuses in the UAE

By: Carrie Amani Annabi and Marlene Muller
Topic: MOOCs as innovative learning platforms

Annabi and Muller explored if MOOCs are perceived as innovative learning platforms by lecturers in two IBCs in the United Arab Emirates. Based on 20 interviews with lecturers, results show that MOOCs are seen as an innovative method of learning, yet adoption among lecturers is low. Respondents evaluated MOOCs as a technological innovation advancement which has changed the pedagogical practices and a phenomenon that impacts the teaching role. As well, there is a strong belief that MOOCs are not a substitute for face-to-face learning but are a possible way for self-promotion and career progression. In terms of adoption, even though the level of awareness and interest was high, just one out of the 20 lecturers adopted the use of MOOCs.

Going Wide, Not Wild: Varying Conceptualizations of Internationalisation at a University of Technology in South Africa

By: Lawrence Meda and Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela
Topic: Different conceptualisations of internationalisation

Internationalisation has become a very popular concept in universities today, but is the various interpretations helping universities achieve their goals? This study reveals different perceptions of 13 academic and administrative staff members at a South African university regarding how they conceptualise internationalisation. In most cases the variances in conceptualising internationalisation drives academic and administrative staff to approach the implementation of internationalisation policies and practices differently. The authors conclude that in order to effectively achieve institutional internationalisation goals, universities should have an institutional agreement outlining what internationalisation means and why it is important.
Leasa is Knowledge Development Adviser and Cristina is Intern at the EAIE
If you are an EAIE member, you can contact our office to subscribe to the Journal of Studies in International Education for a special price of only €10 per year.

Leasa Weimer
EAIE, the NetherlandsLeasa is Senior Adviser for Knowledge Initiatives for the EAIE.