Internationalising the student experienceBy Sophie Arkoudis, Chi Baik, Simon Marginson and Elizabeth Cassidy. Internationalising the student experience in Australian tertiary education: Developing criteria and indicators, prepared for Australian Education International

Australian higher education is grappling with the issue of enhancing interaction between domestic and international students to enhance the student experience and the teaching/learning opportunities available through such interaction. While universities have attempted to address this issue in a number of ways, survey results appear to indicate that many international students anticipate levels of interaction with Australian domestic students that are not realised and other research suggests that both groups often remain largely segmented inside and outside classrooms. Similar issues, though less well documented, have arisen in VET.
To date, efforts to improve the interaction between international and domestic students have been mostly isolated from teaching and learning and mostly focused on activities outside the classroom. A key premise of this project is that positive aspects of student experience and teaching/learning opportunities that are available in an international education context offer a combined benefit to both domestic and international students.
Introduction

In mid 2011 Australia Education International provided support to the Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), University of Melbourne to develop criteria and indicators for monitoring and evaluating the internationalisation of the student experience, which could be used internally by universities to monitor and evaluate their activities and to identify priority areas for improvement. The project developed these criteria and indicators through consultation with the tertiary education sector in three National Forums.
Australian higher education is grappling with the issue of enhancing interaction between domestic and international students to enhance the student experience and the teaching/learning opportunities available through such interaction. While universities have attempted to address this issue in a number of ways, survey results appear to indicate that many international students anticipate levels of interaction with Australian domestic students that are not realised and other research suggests that both groups often remain largely segmented inside and outside classrooms. Similar issues, though less well documented, have arisen in VET.
To date, efforts to improve the interaction between international and domestic students have been mostly isolated from teaching and learning and mostly focused on activities outside the classroom. A key premise of this project is that positive aspects of student experience and teaching/learning opportunities that are available in an international education context offer a combined benefit to both domestic and international students.
Nonetheless, this area is complicated by a lack of agreement on the definition of terms such as ‘internationalisation’ and ‘intercultural teaching and learning’. Also, although many would agree that a key objective of enhanced international and domestic student interaction is to develop ‘global citizens’ there is little agreement on the key characteristics and capabilities of such a ‘global citizen’. This then complicates how progress towards such an intangible goal can be measured or tracked over time. Hence, it remains difficult to identify when systems and institutions are moving forward and where examples of high quality performance can be found.
What is currently missing is an agreed set of criteria for measuring the internationalisation of the student experience. This project attempts to achieve this within a narrow focus on enhancing the interaction between domestic and international students. The indicator framework developed includes numerical indicators where these are meaningful and can be agreed and made operational. Other aspects of internationalisation were found to be less easy to quantify and can only be evaluated through the process of expert judgement on the basis of standard criteria.
Concluding Comments

The next section presents the dimensions, criteria and indicators that were refined after the National Forums. The project team sought written feedback from those who participated in the Forums and the responses received were in general agreement with the items in the document. The project team sought to further strengthen the validity of the framework by asking two universities to pilot the indicator framework by offering examples of data that was available from their institution.
This was a difficult activity for them to complete for two main reasons. Firstly, it was apparent that the institutions did not routinely collect information related to internationalising the student experience (which confirmed general comments made in the Forums). Secondly, the administrative activities (for which data might be collected) of institutions’ international offices are most often focused upon recruitment of international students, rather than internationalisation in terms of student experience and teaching/learning outcomes.
From the experience of this project, it seems clear that educational institutions need an integrated approach to internationalising the student experience that includes:
- a strategic approach towards achieving agreed outcomes;
- better articulation of relevant teaching and learning strategies; and
- a communication strategy that engages the university community.
The dimensions, criteria and indicators developed as part of this project can guide and assist institutions in developing such an integrated approach – but at the present time such an indicator framework can only be considered somewhat visionary in anticipation of institutions developing common strategies that are specifically focused upon internationalising the student experience in Australian higher education.
Dimensions, criteria and indicators for internationalising the student experience Definition of internationalisation: We need an agreed definition of internationalisation that both highlights the transformative nature of the concept and foregrounds the involvement of all students – international and domestic – in strategies designed to implement and achieve that transformation. The National Forums and subsequent feedback and discussion have been especially insistent that internationalisation is a matter for all students.
* In terms of process ‘internationalisation’ means fostering a nationally and culturally diverse and interactive university community where all students have a sense of belonging.
* In terms of outcomes ‘internationalisation’ means graduates who are globally aware, globally competent and able to work with culturally and linguistically diverse people either locally or anywhere in the world.
Discussion in the Forums also emphasised that every institution is working in a distinctive context. The definitions, criteria and indicators are instruments of self-regulation. Therefore as a matter of course they will be interpreted and used in a manner sensitive to the particular mission, location and student mix in each institution. Download Internationalising the student experience in Australian tertiary education: Developing criteria and indicators.