Towards a European Programme Label for internationalisation?
From the present overview, some issues come clearly to the forefront:
> There appears a need for quality assessment of internationalisation strategies in higher education
> Around the world, in particular in the USA and Europe, several instruments have been developed over the past 15 years to assess that quality
> They use more or less the same programmatic and organizational categories for assessment
> They are focusing on input and output assessment
> They are mainly taking place at the institutional level
> They address the state of the art and/or the process for improvement
> With preference some form of benchmarking as to create comparison and best practice is appreciated.
At the same time, one can observe that:
> Institutions are reluctant to ongoing assessmen of internationalisation strategies, as this is a time consuming process
> In the present world of branding and ranking, an instrument without some kind of certification is not considered a high priority
> Assessment of institutional strategies denies the diversity of strategies for disciplines and programmes and the different levels within them
> Increasingly, institutions and programmes distinguish between a minimum requirement of internationalisation, applicable to all students and all programmes, and a maximum requirement, applicable to programmes and students with a high international and intercultural focus
> Internationalisation is becoming more mainstream in het higher education agenda, as in the present global knowledge economy internationalisation is strongly linked to innovation, interdisciplinarity and interculturality, and
> Increasingly a link has to be made to learning outcomes for students.
Based on these observations, it appears advisable to develop a system of certification of internationalisation at the programme level. This certification should be able to distinguish programmes for the quality of their internationalisation.
The following characteristics should be taken into consideration:
> The use of different assessment levels in order to indicate the state of internationalisation (what has been achieved so far) and to provide incentives for improvement (where is it heading to or what is attainable)
> The certification is available at least at the level of the programme or a combination of programmes (bachelor and/or master; schools/faculties)
> The assessment procedure is not focused on a specific activity but is comprehensive towards internationalisation (the why, how and what of internationalisation)
> It should focus on how internationalisation contributes to the overall quality by focusing on qualitative indicators (vision, content, provisional elements and outcomes) while using quantitative indicators (e.g. staff mobility figures) as supporting elements
> It should be with preference a regional (European) or international certificate, as the purpose is to position it in a comparative international context
> The assessment should be done by a team which combines expertise on the subject, on quality assurance and on internationalisation, and should include international expertise and the student perspective
> Given the global knowledge economy and the diverse society we live in, both intercultural and international competencies should be addressed
> As much as possible, the assessment should be combined with existing assessment of the programme, as to avoid extra workload and costs.