How is academic culture influenced by internationalisation?

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In an international society, Higher education systems (i.e. universities and colleges) combine global practices into teaching and learning processes, research and administrative responsibilities.

This allows them to react more substantially to international needs such as cooperation, mobility and the establishment of international networks. Internationlisation trends emerge within decentralised contexts; they are not tied to certain cultural or academic positionings but are the outcome of a compilation of global higher education circumstances that lead to the development of mechanisms and priorities within extensive public policy agendas.

As a result, the objectives, strategies, power relationships and individuals attributing to internationalisation are scattered distributed throughout various higher education systems around the globe. Sequentially, internationalisation processes may be perceived as ‘belonging to no one but affecting everyone’. However, discrediting that leading universities and the educational systems of developed nations are key influencers of internationalization practices would be misleading.

Four key components demonstrate the advancement of internationalisation practices in higher education systems and institutions: rankings, cooperation, academic mobility and curricular reforms. In addition, as mentioned previously, top notch universities present a distinct effect on all four components. These institutions develop international standards for teaching strategies as well as for research and service practices.

This leads to a critical question: what happens, internally, to universities that opt to seek and utilise internationalisation practices? A key aspect of each institution’s unique internal world is demonstrated in its academic culture: its own set of beliefs, norms, habits and values.

Institutional and academic precedences, types of norms, authenticating guidelines as well as what is allowed, expected and valued are also influenced by ideals of what a university ‘should be’ and what ‘quality’ is. What are the elements of research universities’ academic cultures that are driven by standards of what a university ‘should be’ and what ‘quality’ is. What are the aspects of research universities’ academic cultures that are affected by internationalisation, itself governed by the forms and mechanisms of leading universities?

Teaching processes are implicated in some forms. Beliefs in relation to quality in teaching, teaching strategies and evaluation techniques are altered.

International requirements and opinions of what ‘quality teaching’ can be associated with academics’ own perceptions of what defines a quality educator and what is critical to teach within each discipline – ideas that have been acknowledged by academics through personal experience within their internationalisation processes can lead to new challenges as well as conflicts.

Internationalisation processes also affect curricular decisions. Features such as the learning objectives of undergraduate programmes, graduate student profiles and cooperation with foreign universities are affected.

All these aspects are based on how knowledge is created and acknowledged by research communities, given that internationalisation processes determine which forms of research are accurate and where accurate research must be generated and disseminated. This international influence reroutes the institutional norms and values that academics identify with knowledge production.

Within the process of internationalisation, rankings are significant. They are based on the conclusions of academic institutions; for instance, they determine the type of research that is prioritised and funded, forms of international cooperation, knowledge dissemination and the means academic achievement is determined.

As such, an important examination to look into is: to what extent do international demands decide the what and how of research?

As for ‘academic autonomy’, international trends undoubtedly re-formulate the areas of knowledge examined relevant for academics and schools and institutions to be ideally positioned.

The rearrangement occurs partly because of the number of indexed journals and certain publications with more anticipated value and by attracting professors to become members of editorial groups of renowned journals. Therefore, higher education institutions may have local autonomy, but their interactions with the international landscape influence how they develop and circulate knowledge.

However, with the shift in focus towards international trends, higher education institutions can miss out on the local needs and mission objectives. Therefore, internationalisation processes will influence academic cultures by develop new challenges within teaching-learning processes, research and administrative functions. They also have an influence on how new knowledge is generated and circulated.

Even though this will result in friction, internationalisation should drive academics to re-evaluate their teaching and research methods. Also, it should enhance the quality of higher education and its importance to local needs as a result of globalisation.

Source: University World News

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