http://www.oecd.org/vgn/images/portal/cit_731/61/2/49378725IMHE30.JPGSUNY – IMHE Conference - New York, 12-13 April
With more HEIs developing effective and substantive internationalisation strategies coupled with the current economic crisis underscoring the greater meaning of a “global economy”, it is essential to examine the successes, attempts and failures of such strategies. The State University of New York (SUNY) and the OECD’s Programme on the Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) held a conference in New York on 12 and 13 April 2013 to provide participants with models to apply or cases to consider that would transform national dialogue as well as support innovation and job creation.
How can the internationalisation of higher education institutions support economic development in the 21st century? Future challenges will require comprehensive solutions that can best be addressed by higher education systems. Creative and effective approaches were highlighted keeping in mind the urgency of implementing new strategies in a time of global economic crisis. Job creation, economic recovery policy and human capital development were at the core of the discussion. The interplay of public policy, academia, business and industry is key. Government and system policies must aim to maximise the benefits of internationalisation and reap the rewards of participating in the new economic/societal paradigms.
The main obstacles to overcome identified during the conference were:
- Cultural and linguistic barriers: how to best integrate international students and maximise their presence at the university; how to make the most of their contribution to internationalisation at home?
- Organisational constraints: not all institutions are international-ready in terms of support to international students, faculty and administrative staff so that they may be fully globally-minded.
- Quality assurance remains limited on the internationalisation aspects of higher education and should be broader in scope to better capitalise on internationalisation for educational and economic purposes.
- Despite growing student mobility flows, few students are in fact concerned by internationalisation in their daily life. Statistically, only 2% of students are counted as international students, while many are excluded from the mobility phenomenon (e.g. life long learners). In addition, the curriculum and teaching process have not all incorporated internationalisation into the institutional culture or their programmes and often remain nationally-bound.
- There are many ways to move forward. Streamlining and combining these paths would be advantageous and efficient so as to maximise benefits. For example, a national or regional framework comprising clusters of institutions and private players fosters the instrumental role of internationalisation for economic purposes. It is essential for institutions to forge partnerships with companies, no matter the size as long as they are locally engaged and globally developed. Within institutions, university leaders should motivate staff to constantly
incorporate international aspects at all levels, including teachers-on-the-job and support staff. Champions should be identified and valued.
University leaders and governments are facing the challenge of harnessing the driving role internationalisation plays in boosting economic growth and job creation. Internationalisation is complex mainly due to the inconsistent interaction of multiple players having their own particular strategies. The valuable concept of systemness by which institutions, possibly in collaboration with public authorities and corporations, could streamline and cross-fertilize their interventions within a network of activity. The creation, by universities, of long-term internationalisation strategies and complying with the golden triangle, “Missions-values-partnerships”, has proven effective. Incorporating the global-mindset as from K-12 is one way in which to infuse international interests into our future students. Lastly, no progress will be made without a set of reliable quantitative and qualitative measures of the impacts of internationalisation.
Given the current economic crisis underscoring the extent, depth and meaning of “a global economy”, we need to examine the successes, attempts and failures of HEIs in the development of effective and substantive internationalisation strategies. Based on what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what might work, the SUNY-OECD conference provided participants with models to apply or cases to consider that can inform their national dialogue and support innovation in internationalisation.
The Conference examined the ways in which internationalisation in and of colleges, universities and higher education systems can be leveraged to support economic development in the 21 st century. Creative and effective approaches will be highlighted against the urgency of implementing new strategies in a time of global economic crisis, with job creation, economic recovery policy and human capital development and, above all, innovation at the core of the discussion. The interplay between public policy, academia, and business and industry is key. Government and system policies should aim to maximise the benefits of internationalisation and reap the rewards from participating in the new economic/societal paradigms.
Likewise, academics and institutions should be able to optimise government policies and implement the best international strategy involving the entire community. Industry and services development models need to support and capitalise on government policies. While the university-industry relationship has been on the agenda for some time, until recently government, industry and academia have operated in separate spheres of authority.
Looking forward, economists and policy planners have identified these three aspects of what is termed the triple helix of innovation as more inter-related, and deeply integrated in partnerships for learning, development and application. Internationalisation is an aspect of this new relationship that must be considered as a means of facilitating and promoting a more dynamic convergence of interests and activities.
Core questions
  • How can internationalisation help colleges and universities, higher education systems, governments and industry foster the balance of competition and co-operation required for job creation, innovation and regional economic development?
  • What role can higher education system leaders play in helping institutions pursue internationalisation strategies, both collectively and individually?
  • To what extent is regulating, monitoring and evaluating the internationalisation of higher education important to government and industry at a time of economic globalisation?  How can higher education partnerships with government/industry lead to more effective co-operation and collaboration in terms of policy and practice?
  • How can the ethos, mindset and approaches of the innovation partners be better geared to the new paradigms of the global economy?
  • Where does the internationalisation of higher education fit into the contemporary portrait of the educated, competent and skilled citizen of the 21st century? 

What Works?

The OECD What Works conferences have been a successful series of workshops and meetings designed to assist member institutions by reviewing current policy and practice while disseminating examples of successful innovation. They are intended to equip participants with clear-cut examples of institutional strategy development, as well as provide an understanding of the conditions for implementation, the context, and the measurement and assessment of impact.

For further information contact: Fabrice.Henard@oecd.org.
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