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5 Reasons Why Internationalization In Higher Education Is Important

Higher education institutions from around the world—and the local communities they are a part of—have benefited from international education. Through the internationalization of the academe, generally speaking, higher education institutions have vastly improved their brand and have shifted their campus culture into something that students from all different backgrounds can embrace. When it comes to maximizing the benefits of international education, the correct definition and implementation of internationalization is key.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Internationalization in higher education has boomed in the last 30 years.
  • Internationalization is a result of streamlined intentional actions, and not just a series of incidental reactions based on the students.
  • For higher education institutions, their staff, students and their communities, internationalization brings life-changing benefits as it connects them with the global environment.

Understanding Internationalization

In 2008, educator Jane Knight defined internationalization in an article dubbed “Higher Education in Turmoil: The Changing World of Internationalization” as “the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education.” This definition became the foundation of how institutions understood internationalization since then.

Later on in 2015, a study entitled “Internationalisation of Higher Education: A Study for the European Parliament,” presented a revised version of internationalization basing it on Knight’s original definition.

The study’s authors, namely Hans de Wit, Fiona Hunter, Laura Howard, and Eva Egron-Polak, stated that internationalization is “the intentional process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education, in order to enhance the quality of education and research for all students and staff and to make a meaningful contribution to society.”

Does internationalization lead to better education?

Internationalization in education has boomed in the last 30 years. It is a reaction to different countries becoming more and more increasingly connected with each other, thanks to technology and transportation innovation. Its benefits include molding students who are now more open-minded in accessing knowledge and different cultural learning experiences. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has stated that “education transforms lives.” With internationzalition, education not only develops students’ critical thinking and logical reasoning but they are also well-prepared and well-equipped to engage with other people and businesses from other countries, wherever they may be, and this opens them to more opportunities.

Internationalization also allows a foreign student in a new country to settle in much faster, making the education process more seamless and turning learning into a much more enjoyable experience.

Importance of Internationalization

Internationalization is a result of streamlined intentional actions, and not just a series of incidental reactions based on the students. For higher education institutions, the importance of internationalization in today’s education system cannot be overstated.

Here are some of its positive aspects:

Improved academic quality. Educational institutions maintain standards of practice and these standards vary from one country to another. With internationalization, higher education institutions are exposed to different practices and may adapt a few practices which could help them improve. Also, these institutions can share their good practices to other higher education institutions in need of improvement and guidance. Higher education institutions can better explore these through strategic partnerships.

Internationally oriented students, staff. It’s long been understood that competition brings out the best in business. In a similar context, students and staff who have been exposed to international standards and practices should inspire their classmates and colleagues to learn and achieve more. When students and staff are exposed to globally competitive educational training, this helps toward building a stronger global community.

National, international citizenship for students. Migration is, more of often than not, one of the key reasons why students choose to study abroad. With the internationalization of higher education institutions, students are more prepared to move into new countries. 

Potential for increased international student enrollment. Higher education institutions enjoy the word-of-mouth recommendations from international students who share their experiences with their friends and family back in their home countries, which may eventually lead to more international student enrollments.

Revenue generation, brain gain. Internationalization upgrades a higher education institution’s way of operating. As the education institution improves, it attracts the brightest of minds and talents from all over the world. This leads to more revenue not only for the schools but also for the businesses in the communities they belong to. With schools attracting bright minds, regardless of nationality, expect them to eventually influence the community sector either during internship or post graduation.

For higher education institutions, their staff, students and their communities, internationalization brings life-changing benefits as it connects them with the global environment.

The practice of internationalization fosters an immersive and inclusive academic environment. It goes beyond recognizing an international student’s culture. It understands, embraces, and integrates diverse cultures into the educational experience.

Conclusion

Internationalization empowers students, staff, and institutions with learnings from advanced institutions abroad. For now, in the midst of a pandemic, higher education institutions can still practice internationalization by providing students at home with access to education from advanced countries.

In the end, internationalization molds students who are free of any major cultural bias; are locally, globally, and socially conscious, and are active in doing their roles for their benefit and society’s, whether at home or away.

Data sources:

Hunter, F. (2015, October 15) What’s in a name? Refocusing internationalisation of higher education. European Association for International Education. Retrieved from https://www.eaie.org/blog/whats-in-a-name-refocusing-internationalisation-of-higher-education.html.

de Wit, H. (2015, July) Internationalisation of Higher Education. European Parliament. Retrieved from https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/540370/IPOL_STU(2015)540370_EN.pdf

Education transforms lives. UNESCO. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/themes/education

Jibeen, T. (2015, November 28) Internationalization of Higher Education: Potential Benefits and Costs. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1091722.pdf

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/540370/IPOL_STU(2015)540370_EN.pdf

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