ERG SES G 12, Cultural Diversity in Education
If current processes going on around the world are taken into account, today democracy, diversity and tolerance to multiculturalism may be considered in danger. So, to cope with the challenges societies are facing, the need for active and aware citizens for societies is more significant than before. However, the challenges societies are facing are global and it requires young people to equip with global and intercultural competences, knowledge and skills to broaden their intercultural understanding and tolerance and to struggle with these challenges. As several researchers (Abdi, 2011; Lee et al., 2012; Shultz, 2011) state, participating in twenty-first century society requires intercultural capacities. Providing young people with these skills should be one of the main aims of higher education institutions and internationalization of higher education may be a successful contribution to this issue.
Internationalization at higher education can be understood as “the process of integrating an international dimension into the teaching/learning, research and service functions of a un9iversity or college” (Knight,1994, p7). According to the research by the International Association of Universities, more than 50% of the institutions state internationalization as a part of their plans and strategies (IAU,2014). Furthermore, the study conducted by the American Council on Education found out that 35% of universities include internationalization in their missions and even for 28% of universities surveyed consider internationalization one of their top 5 priorities (Ray and Solem,2009). Although, internationalization has become a growing trend in higher education in the world, higher education institutions have somehow lacked to justify the importance of intercultural development and foster internationalization in a proper way (Knight,2010; Lumby and Fosket,2015). Internationalization does not mean only attracting international students or staff, it requires “a systematic strategy, including professional development, committed resources, and committed leadership” (Grabove, 2009, p22).
Factors, such as developing internationalized curriculum is important to foster internationalization (Niehaus and William,2016), but for many instructors, it is difficult to provide needs for a diverse student population when they prepare their curriculums (Arkoudis and Tran,2010). For example, Leask (2013) has developed a five-stage strategy to internationalize curriculum. However, internationalization of curriculum is only a part of the strategy toward the internationalization of higher education. For instance, the other factor affecting the process is the culture and environment of institution.
Although, recruiting international students is still perceived as internationalization (Willis and Taylor, 2013), it is not about only recruiting international student, because internationalization and intercultural learning does not mean the proximity of cultural differences (Knight, 2011; Lee et al., 2012). So, the proposed study examines international students’ experience of being an international student at German universities. The aim is to investigate whether and how international students integrate to university and social life in Germany and get academic, organizational and moral support.
30 International students studying at different German universities were invited to participate in focus group interviews. The participants represented 21 countries and the age of participants was between 20 and 30. To keep gender balance, half of the participants were male and half were female. Focus groups interviews continued about 90 minutes each. Furthermore, the participants were given the mind maps to complete where they needed to state the five main challenges they faced during their student life in Germany and the five things they liked most. In the end of the interviews they were also given empty blank and asked to write their recommendation to their universities to improve international students’ experience.
The findings of this study will provide an opportunity for higher education universities to rethink their practice towards internationalization by analyzing the challenges international students face. It will also be a guide for prospective international students planning to start their studying. Overall, it will be a contribution to enhance multicultural understanding and to support diversity in higher education institutions.
Abdi, A. A. (2011) De-monoculturalizing global citizenship education: The need for multicentric intentions and practices. In L. Shultz, A. A. Abdi, & G. H. Richardson (Eds.), Global citizenship education in post-secondary institutions: Theories, practices, policies (pp 25–39). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. Arkoudis, S., & Tran, L. (2010) “Writing Blah, Blah, Blah: Lecturers’ Approaches and Challenges in Supporting International Students”, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 22(2), pp169–178. Grabove, F. L. (2009) “Reflections on trends and challenges in internationalizing an Ontario community college” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2009(118), 15–23. doi:10.1002/tl.349 International Association of Universities (2014) http://www.iau-aiu.net/content/iau-global-surveys Knight, J. (1994) Internationalization: Elements and checkpoints (Research Monograph, No. 7). Ottawa: Canadian Bureau for International Education. Knight, J. (2010) Higher education crossing borders: Programs and providers on the move. In D. B. Johnstone, M. B. d’Ambrosio, & P. J. Yakoboski (Eds.), Higher education in a global society (pp. 42–69). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. doi:10.4337/9781849805315.00010 Knight, J. (2011) “Five myths about internationalization”, Industry and Higher Education, 62, pp14–15. Leask, B. (2013) “Internationalizing the curriculum in the disciplines – imagining new possibilities”, Journal of Studies in International Education, 17(2), pp103–118. doi:10.1177/1028315312475090 Lee, A., Poch, R., Shaw, M., & Williams, R. (2012) “Engaging diversity in undergraduate classrooms: A pedagogy for developing intercultural competence”, ASHE Higher Education Report, 38(2). Lumby, J., & Foskett, N. (2015) “Internationalization and culture in higher education”, Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 44(1), pp95–111. doi:10.1177/1741143214549978 Niehaus, E., & Williams, L. (2016) “Faculty transformation in curriculum transformation: The role of faculty development in campus internationalization”, Innovative Higher Education, 41(1), pp59–74. doi:10.1007/s10755-015-9334-7 Shultz, L. (2011). Engaging the multiple discourses of global citizenship education within a Canadian university: Deliberation, contestation, and social justice possibilities. In L. Shultz, A. A. Abdi, & G. H. Richardson (Eds.), Global citizenship education in post-secondary institutions: Theories, practices, policies (pp. 13–24). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. Willis, I., & Taylor, J. (2013) “The importance of rationales for internationalization at a local level – university and individual”, European Journal of Higher Education, 4(2), pp153–166. doi:10.1080/21568235.2013.858607
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