Universities around the world are working hard to internationalize their curriculums and make them more relevant for the interconnected digital world. These efforts include:
- developing courses for English-speaking students,
- providing language training to students,
- launching joint academic programs with foreign universities,
- offering scholarships and financial assistance to foreign students,
- publishing articles and research papers in internationally-renowned journals, and
- inviting foreign scholars and industry leaders as guest professors or speakers.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds. A lot of challenges stand in the way of internationalization in higher education. These include:
- lack of funds,
- lack of publishable scientific research papers,
- lack of suitable journals to publish the available research work,
- a tussle between management and academic evaluation of the curriculum,
- poor English language skills of students and teachers, and
- cultural barriers (such as different views on gender, climate, etc.).
To overcome these problems, universities are joining hands with other universities worldwide, establishing special centers for facilitating admissions of international students and becoming members of appropriate organizations.
Besides, they are also working on developing assessment methods that are suitable for internationalization purposes; promoting English language skills; and revising curriculums.
What forms does Internationalization in Higher Education take?
Internationalization is more an evolutionary idea than a revolutionary one. It is a gradual process that can be defined from two main perspectives:
- Within university premises, and
- Outside university premises.
Within the University, internationalization manifests itself as:
- Presence of foreign students, scholars, and staff members: International students coming to study in a university, or domestic students going abroad is one of the ways for students to gain an international academic experience. As universities open their gates to foreign students and staff members, they engage in ‘inward’ internationalization. When students go overseas for studies, they engage in ‘outward’ internationalization.
- International collaborations: To promote academic integrations with the rest of the world, universities engage in network activities or collaborate with other institutions on different projects. This is known as ‘network’ internationalization.
- Multiculturalism: Multicultural learning environments enable students from different cultures and backgrounds to live together. They share experiences through dialogue and critical thinking. This leads to a better understanding of differences and diversity. This includes:
- teacher-student interactions, as well as,
- students’ interactions with each other.
Outside the University, internationalization of higher education can often be seen as universities expanding beyond national borders. They are now providing high-quality education services for non-resident students. This is known as ‘service’ internationalization.
Besides these, universities also encourage:
- International student exchange programs: Here, both domestic and foreign students gain study abroad experiences. This is known as ‘exchange’ internationalization.
- Language learning programs: As a part of encouraging people from different cultures and languages to understand each other, universities are now offering to teach major languages to students. This is known as ‘language’ internationalization. A multicultural campus environment also encourages students and faculty to communicate with each other, share their views, and talk about their backgrounds.
Why is Internationalization a revolutionary idea in the field of Higher Education?
Internationalization in higher education helps students in several ways, including:
- improving their ability to adapt,
- developing cultural empathy,
- exposing them to diverse viewpoints, and
- enhancing their job prospects after graduation.
Better ability to adapt
Individuals who engage in intercultural experiences tend to have better social skills, including being able to adapt quickly. This is not only beneficial because individuals are much happier when they are able to connect with others, but also because it allows for better communication and problem-solving.
Additionally, having the ability to adapt quickly can reduce culture shock, which is common for students coming from abroad or studying in places where they do not share similar cultural norms.
Increased cultural empathy
Participating in intercultural experiences during one’s college years is extremely beneficial in terms of cultivating cultural empathy. This type of empathy can help students avoid stereotypes, which are often untrue and harmful to the growth of relationships among different groups.
Furthermore, having this form of empathy can increase positive interactions that could lead to increased support for internationalization efforts at the university.
Cultivating cultural empathy can also reduce instances of racism, which are often perpetuated by stereotypes that people hold about others. Upon returning to their home country after having had intercultural experiences abroad, students are more aware of which micro-aggressions perpetuate stereotypes and are therefore less likely to engage in them.
Opening up new career opportunities
Higher education institutions have found that their internationalization efforts are extremely beneficial because they allow students to gain diverse skills. These can include language acquisition, cultural adaptability, and increased knowledge about the global economy. As a result of these benefits, many employers are willing to fill positions with graduates who have had intercultural experiences during college.
Internationalizing higher education helps ensure that students develop an understanding of their role within a global society. This can be essential for students who are going to graduate school, pursuing a career in international relations, working for a multinational corporation, or simply traveling abroad. It is therefore beneficial to students at all levels and should continue to be incorporated into the curriculum at American universities.
How can university students seek help with the internationalized curriculum?
International students or study abroad students need special assistance when they study in an English-medium institution. At Transtutors, students reach out to us for academic support, We offer them several study help channels, such as instructors, tutorial sessions, and online resources. Our students shared that they:
- receive what they expected from their tutors because our instructors were able to answer their questions about academic writing.
- find it easy to talk to our tutors when they couldn’t talk to their instructors in class. Most of them had problems understanding what their classroom teachers meant.
- feel it’s easy to connect with someone online because they were embarrassed about asking questions in English in front of their non-native speaker classmates.
We offer all international students access to the best academic writing support services online.