Last few weeks I have been travelling and meeting with academicians, students and parents, from around the world. Global education has been one common topic, almost always.
I agree, the Universities have always had roles that transcend their national boundaries. Students and scholars have always been "mobile". International research collaboration has always flourished.
Scientific communities have always been global. But all of this happened without any need for managerial-bureaucratic initiatives to "internationalize" the system.
What is happening now?
This weekend, on my way back from University of Iowa, my wife and I played a game to kill the boredom of the 12 hours of drive across four states and one ‘international’ border.
The game was simple; to note down names of universities
and schools on the highway which had the word ‘global’ or ‘international’ on them,
the person who notes down most names wins...(Of course my wife won and I had to buy her a tuna
sandwhich!) Both of us were surprised at the ‘internationaliztion’ of
the schools public faces.
Internationalisation is a clumsy word used to describe a wide range of activities, some of which we should be very proud of, and others best left in the shadows. But first, we need to dispose of the rhetoric. The overwhelming majority of universities were established as national institutions
– for example, the big civic universities here in Britain and the land-grant universities in the US. They were not spontaneously created somewhere in the international ether.
What are the drivers for what we are seeing; the pressure to recruit international students, almost entirely because they can be charged higher fees is the number one. Second is the drive for geopolitical and commercial advantage. Third is global positioning.
What are we telling a prospective student who is looking for a global education? As educators what are we looking for from the international community building effort going on in most of the campuses?