22 SES 15 A, Diversity and Internationalization in Higher Education – A field of change and challenge”
Higher Education as a sector has become a place of increased diversity in recent years. On the one hand, trends of visible internationalisation, migration, cross-border mobility and international cooperation have contributed to this trend and shaped the sector of higher education (Curaj et al. 2015; Knight 2015). In fact, international student mobility has grown by 52% over the period of 1998 to 2004 (Wilkins et al. 2012). Social diversity has also increased steadily in the last years, with a growing number of non-traditional students accessing higher education (e.g. students from remote areas, first generation students, refugee students). On the other hand, the Bologna Process has contributed to an increased standardization in higher education – with effects on shared standards in teaching, credit transfer, and international student mobility. This symposium discusses the ambivalence of standardization and diversification in higher education in Europe (Sursock, Smidt 2010). Also, it displays the ambivalent or shared experiences of cultural and social diversity of international students, migrant student groups, and other socially disadvantaged local students groups in the context of the Bologna reform and its effects on student mobility.
The symposium offers insights into this specific field of “change and challenge” in higher education from a European, comparative perspective. While the first presentation focuses on the standardization aspect, the other three presentations display the diversification processes in higher education: through (institutional) diversity policies, through trainings for teachers in the field of diversity-friendly teaching, and through empirical studies in order to explore the influencing factors for increased diversity and its effects on learning.
The first presentation focuses on standardization processes and gives a conceptual framework for the symposium, introducing the framework conditions of the Bologna process and its effects on students. Data is drawn from a meta-study and critical review. The second presentation shows how diversity is connected with internationalization and decolonialization in Portugal. It will shed light on the concept of deconialising the university in two dimensions: 1) on the institutional level (diversity policies, entry qualifications, etc.) and 2) on a pedagogical level (didactic approaches, peer learning etc.) on the basis of decolonialised curricula tested at the University of Porto. It draws conclusions about similar cultural experiences of migrant students, local students and international students. In the third presentation, the challenges of teaching a diverse student population are presented on the basis of institutional practices in Austria and empirical data from a European research project with a qualitative sample with n=35 local and international students, who were questioned about intercultural conflicts inside and outside class. The study conveys areas of concern for future diversity-oriented teaching in higher education: intercultural communication in class, differences in gender roles, cultural differences in identity, cultural differences in hierarchies, and differences in time perception. The effects of colonialism are also displayed in the empirical data, connecting the second and third presentation. The fourth and last presentation will focus on empirical data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) with more than 8,500 higher education students. It explores students at risk who complete an academic stay abroad.
This symposium brings together recent discussions in the field of Diversity and Internationalization from four European countries (Sweden, Portugal, Austria, and Germany), focusing on policies, diversity-friendly teaching, and empirical data. It connects these important intersections and data sources (policy analysis, qualitative and quantitative data) in higher education, which are often segregated and not brought into discussion with each other. The symposium finally underlines the current field of challenge: the importance of balancing standardization and diversification in higher education across Europe.
•Curaj, A., Matei, L., Pricopie, R., Salmi, J., Scott, P. (2015): The European Higher Education Area. Between Critical Reflections and Future Policies. Springer. •Knight, J. (2015): Is internationalisation of higher education having an identity crisis? In: Maldonado-Maldonado, A., Malee Bassett, R. (eds) The Forefront of International Higher Education. Dordrecht: Springer, pp.75–87. •Sursock, A.,Smidt, H. (2010): Trends 2010: A Decade of Change in European Higher Education. Brussels: EUA. •Wilkins, S, Balakrishnan, MS, Huisman, J. (2012): Student choice in higher education: Motivations for choosing to study at an international branch campus, Journal of Studies in International Education, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 413- 433.
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