22 SES 03 A, Internationalisation in Higher Education
The Ethical Internationalism in Higher Education (EIHE) Project is an inter-disciplinary international comparative mixed-methods research project. It examines internationalization processes in higher education and how these processes construct notions of epistemic difference, transnational literacy and global citizenship. Official policies and initiatives, as well as the perceptions of students, faculty and managers engaged with internationalization processes will be reviewed and compared. The data includes both policy documents and qualitative and quantitative data collected through surveys, interviews and ethnographies in 20 university sites in over four continents. The project is at the post data collection, early analysis phase. This paper will focus on a select section of data collected from student surveys at two Scottish universities, notably Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) and Stirling University.
Research partners in these 20 university sites have agreed to address the same questions using the same data collection methods to create a common dataset that can be used for comparative purposes. Research questions from the EIHE project include but are not restricted to the following: 1) How is the role of the university, faculty and graduates perceived in terms of global citizenship and social accountability ideals? 2) How is epistemic difference perceived in internationalization policies and initiatives at participating universities?
The EIHE Project builds on previous research concerned with the effects of ethnocentrism and of deficit views of diversity in higher education initiatives related to curriculum internationalization. The research also builds on HE strategies to promote global citizenship and social responsibility. The literature affirms that policies, partnerships and curriculum design are largely framed by neoliberal market imperatives that construct epistemic difference as a value only when it is domesticated and corporatized. Therefore, internationalization policies, development partnerships and global citizenship or social responsibility initiatives tend to reproduce ideals of exceptionalism, entitlement and (market) expansion. Postcolonial theory offers a framework for understanding academic capitalism. Its critique exposes the problematic association between the production and dissemination of knowledge and the unequal distribution of wealth and labour. Knowledge is generated by those who have benefitted from colonial processes, and is still perceived to be the knowledge of most value. Andreotti (2006:145) notes ‘Postcolonial theory provides directions that point to a move beyond ethnocentrism and its claims of cultural supremacy, towards “planetary citizenship” (Spivak 2003)’.
This paper will report on initial findings from 400 student surveys collected in January 2014 from the two Scottish university sites mentioned above, including initial comparisons made with data collected from student groups from a small selection of other universities involved in this international project spanning nearly 20 countries over four continents. This paper proposes to focus on final section of the student survey, which invites qualitative responses to questions such as: 1) How does internationalization affect society in general? 2) Apart from possible language difficulties, do international students or students with diverse backgrounds face other challenges in your institution? 3) Can diversity enrich your university experience?
The two Scottish universities involved in this international research project educate and then facilitate the transition of young people from school to higher education then onto the workplace both in the UK and abroad. These two universities have themselves also undergone transition from providing education on a national scale to becoming global players in higher education market, with significant increases in their international student numbers on their UK campuses. Both have formulated new strategic internationalization agendas that intensify competitive international initiatives that can, in many instances, be considered corporate colonisation of higher education mandates in other national contexts. However, as well as creating opportunities, this diversity also creates significant challenges and ethical dilemmas.
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