This paper with its focus on the internationalisation of curricula in university higher education addresses in a very direct way the theme of this conferenceReforming Education and the imperative of Constant Change. Over a thirty-year period, programmes such as ERASMUS and the Marie Curie Fellowships have promoted internationalisation in higher education in the European context and beyond (De Wit et al., 2015). The influences of changing political, economic, socio-cultural and academic needs have ensured that internationalisation is promoted in a variety of ways in different regions, countries, institutions and programmes offered (De Wit et al., 2015). Some authors including Robson (2015) suggests that different approaches to internationalisation are reflected in the teaching and content of the curricula offered.
The literature on internationalisation has over the last decade tended to focus on a number of themes mobility, national policy contexts, internationalisation abroad, English as a lingua franca, the role of ICT and online learning, competition, multicultural issues, quality assurance, and life long learning (Yemini and Sagie, 2015). Issues relating to the internationalisation of content and learning outcomes have received less attention in the literature (Jones and Killick, 2013; Svensson and Wihlborg, 2010). Internationalisation of curriculum is not easily defined and has tended to focus on areas such as interculturalism (Leask, 2009); provision of opportunities to explore different cultural perspectives; preparation for the world of work in a global context and preparation for responsible global citizenship (Clifford and Montgomery 2014). In the Swedish context Svensson and Wihlborg, (2010) found that the content of curricula that faculty and students identified as representing internationalisation was not uniform and was viewed in idealised and general terms. This paper emerging from a wider study on internationalisation in Irish higher education focuses on the internationalisation of curriculum, encompassing teaching, learning and student experience.
The global recession has had a significant impact on Ireland and the funding of higher education was negatively impacted upon. Internationalisation in Irish higher education is at a developing stage both in terms of numbers and policy development. There were 4,007 EU students and 16,714 non-EU students studying and contributing income to IoTs and Universities in 2014/2015 (Government of Ireland, 2016) coming from Asia and the EU, followed by students from North America and South America. International education is now estimated to be worth €1.58 billion to the Irish economy (Government of Ireland, 2016).
Internationalisation comes under the remit of not just the Department of Education and Skills but also the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a wide range of government agencies. The internationalisation of education is specifically linked to the National Skills Strategy 2025, the forthcoming Foreign Languages Strategy, the Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy and labour market strategies. In the period since 2010 successive governments have published two strategy documents in the area: Investing in Global Relationships 2010-15 and the most recently published strategy document Irish Educated, Globally Connected, an International Education Strategy for Ireland 2016-2020. In the most recent strategy document, higher education institutions under the government mandated performance framework will be monitored in relation to this area and are requested to place greater emphasis on the internationalisation of the curriculum (Government of Ireland, 2016).
This national study commissioned by the Higher Education Authority and funded by the Irish Research Council is the first to examine internationalisation in Irish higher education. The aspects of the study reported upon in this paper focus on issues pertaining to the internationalisation of curriculum and student experience and its impact on faculty with reference to changing national and institutional agendas and on international students who are studying in universities in Ireland.
Agnew, M. (2012). Strategic Planning: An Examination of the Role of Disciplines in Sustaining Internationalization of the University. Journal of Studies in International Education 17(2) 183–202. Clifford, V., & Montgomery, C. (2014). Challenging conceptions of Western Higher Education and developing graduates as global citizens. Higher Education Quarterly. 68(1), 28–45. de Wit, H., Hunter, F., Howard, L., Egron-Polak, E., (2015). Internationalisation of Higher Education, European Union Report. Jones, E. and Killick, D. (2013) Graduate Attributes and the Internationalized Curriculum: Embedding a Global Outlook in Disciplinary Learning Outcomes, Journal of Studies in International Education 17(2), 165–182. Government of Ireland (2016) Irish educated globally connected an international education strategy for Ireland, 2016-2020. Leask, B. (2009). Using Formal and Informal Curricula to Improve Interactions between Home and International Students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), 205–221. Robson, S. (2011) Internationalization: a transformative agenda for higher education? Teachers and Teaching, 17(6), 619-630. Svensson, L. & Wihlborg, M. (2010). Internationalising the content of higher education: the need for a curriculum perspective Higher Education 60:595–613. Yemini, M & Sagie (2015) Research on the internationalization in higher education – exploratory analysis. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education.
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