22 SES 07 A, Internationalisation and Student Mobility Part 1
Paper Session to be continued in 22 SES 08 A
In my dissertation (Medvedeva, 2018), I established that student dimension is underrepresented in the internationalization arguments. This paper is taking a closer look on how student role is conceptualized in terms of normative ideas, planning and practices, and what kind of omissions there are in the internationalization discourse concerning the place of students in the education processes.
On the level of normative ideas, the whole discussion about expectations from internationalization is not yet developed. Within the process of internationalization, university is interacting with the state, while individual dimension is overlooked. There is an idea of changes that affect students in internationalization.
Hammer et al point conceptualize the context of learning and language as a ground of fruitful experiences through internationalization, and developing intercultural competence (2003, p.420). Another aspect argued in relation to students is identity formation, often through realizing the cultural differences (Fortuijn, 2002). The terminology describing student internationalization in one or another way relates to the idea of culture. For instance, ‘cultural empathy’ (Wood, 1991), or ‘cultural competence’ (Diller, Moule, 2005, p.2). Although cultures are conceptualized as a learning source, the ideas of the fruitful classroom interactions, which would bring educational value, are developed much less. Yet, there are arguments that enhanced learning within internationalization is conditional of the university approach to diversity and rethinking institutional practices. Otten (2003) notes that actual diversity on campus might not be reflected in the curriculum, classroom discussions and the overall campus climate.
On the level of planning, economic and political conditions prevail, there is an anticipation of the broad societal impact. There is a dominance of reasoning, justifying internationalization, rather than setting the boundaries and directing the process. Hence, there is less attention to the adjustment of the processes within the institutional context. Policy texts rely on the macro discourse, which makes internationalization about institutions and education system, rather than about students. Their role is disempowered and diminished, there is a ‘deficiency’ discourse around international students in education (Leask, 2009). And finally, there is a lack of student agency and involvement of them in education development.
On the level of practices, there are many challenges associated with internationalization. Academic literature discusses international students in terms of difficulties of integration, rather than education benefits (e.g. Schweisfurth, Gu, 2009). Yet, the student voice within the university has significantly declined throughout the last decades (Luescher-Mamashela, 2010). As a socially constructed phenomenon, internationalization emerges through a variety of competing perspectives, and this diminishing student power means that the individual perspectives are in the minority.
One objective of this paper is to establish how students are represented in the academic literature, ranging from the learning theories to the overview of internationalization planning and implementation. Another objective of this paper is to reconstruct student agency in internationalization, as it appears in the accounts of various stakeholders (policy-makers, university administration, teachers and students themselves). This analysis would answer the following research questions:
What are the normative ideas, planning and practices behind the student dimension of internationalization?
What are the factors of student inclusion or exclusion in internationalization?
This paper is a part of the larger study, exploring the normative ideas, planning and practices of internationalization, and explaining the internationalization gaps. I focus on the international master’s programs in Finland, which exemplify long-term internationalization. This brings in the discussion and student integration in the academic life, and long-term effects of internationalization. My study draws on the in-depth analysis of four programs, and additional information on the master’s programs in general. First type of data constitutes of national level documents, ranging from governmental publications to the reports of organizations having a varied degree of affiliation with the state. Then, the core of my study is based on the teachers’ and students’ interviews; they elicit individual perspectives on internationalization. Their inclusion in higher education processes is often limited. I do a critical discourse analysis, focusing on the linguistic concepts of actors, mode, time and argumentation (Meyer, 2002, 25). Omissions and inconsistencies also receive a special attention (Fairclough, 1992). Finally, since internationalization consists of competing perspectives, tracing the processes of power is an essential element of analysis (Nikander, 2006). Based on the literature review, I adopted several analytical principles. First, since there is a gap between macro-level planning and everyday university processes, there is little relevance in trancing the continuity between the policies and their implementation. Alternatively, I focus separately of the emergent processes within education and place them along with the policy developments. Second, since university agency is problematic, some of the internationalization features could be explained by affiliation with the state and growing market tendencies. Yet, these explanations provide little insights into the student dimension of internationalization. Therefore, I take these factors as an important context, yet try to explain student related processes by the institutional context. Finally, I am trying to conceptualize the emergent institutional processes as a source of relevant indicators for internationalization development. As I have established in my dissertation, internationalization discourse is full of macro-level measurements, which makes it difficult to assess and argue internationalization value. Therefore, I suggest that focusing on the student perspectives could elicit a new type of indicators of “what is a good internationalization” (Hahn, Teichler, 2005, 45-51).
Prevalence of the macro level arguments in the internationalization discourse leaves little room for the alternative, bottom-up visions of internationalization. For instance, considerations of the emergent processes and circumstances of everyday planning would bring greater insights in terms of students’ role in internationalization. Interviews analysis points towards dialogical construction of the education process as a precondition for the educational benefits. State centered arguments, based on the ideology of the small state withstanding the threats of globalization (Nokkala, 2007) divert attention from the processes within the academia. This narrative is focused on the economic development of the country rather than academic dimensions of internationalization. For instance, internationalization is perceived as an income generating activity, and not something that requires investments (e.g. for the developing and maintaining of courses). Then, from the governance perspective, changes are introduced as performance requirements, they are not tied to the everyday practices. Therefore, expectations from internationalization are not practice-driven. Lastly, there is a hidden conflict with the academic community in terms of values pursued through education. Yet, internationalization brings up many challenges to the everyday university practices. Often, it remains a separate university activity in terms of administrative efforts, managing the content and viewing results. The framework of ‘internationalization at home’ is not overcoming isolation of international students within university. They are a special group in terms of planning, and their voice at the university is marginal. This affects their participation in practices: students are not included in internationalization as agents and co-creators of education. Their isolation could be demonstrated through the culture-related arguments, which are often used to label learning difficulties and problems of integrating into the new academic environment. Often problems within internationalization stem from the lack of institutional agency, financial and organizational pressures, rather than cultural conflicts.
Diller, J., Moule, J. (2005). Cultural Competence. Portland, OR: Book News. Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press Fortuijn, J. (2002). Internationalising Learning and Teaching: A European experience. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 26 (3), 263–273. doi: 10.1080%2F0309826022000019855 Hahn, K., Teichler, U. (2005). Internationalisation mainstreaming in German higher education. In: Arimoto et al (Eds.) Globalization and Higher Education. Hiroshima: University of Hiroshima Research Institute for Higher Education, p. 39−66. Hammer, M., Bennett, M., & Wiseman, R. (2003). Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The intercultural development inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 27 (4), 421–443. doi:10.1016/S0147-1767(03)00032-4 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 (1552-7808) Luescher‐Mamashela, T. (2010). From University Democratisation to Managerialism: The changing legitimation of university governance and the place of students. Tertiary Education and Management, 16(4), 259-283. DOI:10.1080/13583883.2010.529161. Meyer, M. (2002) Between theory, method, and politics: positioning of the approaches to CDA. Methods of critical Discourse analysis, Wodak, Meyer (Eds.), 14-30, London: Sage Publications Otten, M. (2003). Intercultural learning and diversity in higher education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 7 (1), 12-26. DOI: 10.1177/1028315302250177 Medvedeva, A. (2018). University internationalization and international master’s programs, doctoral dissertation, forthcoming. Nikander, P. (2006). Constructionism and Discourse analysis. Handbook of Constructionist Research, (eds.) Holstein, J., Gubrium, J., Guilford Publications. Nokkala, T. (2007). Constructing Ideal Universities – The internationalisation of higher education in the competitive knowledge society. Tampere University Press, Tampere. Schweisfurth, M., Gu, Q. (2009) Exploring the experiences of international students in UK higher education: possibilities and limits of interculturality in university life, Intercultural Education, 20:5, 463–473. doi:10.1080/14675980903371332 Wood, R. (1991). Toward Cultural Empathy: A Framework for Global Education. Educational Record, 72 (4), 10–13.
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