International Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

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Posted on by Vicky Lewis

How it came to be

GSR Cover

It’s a while since I posted a blog. The research project that I mentioned in my November and December blogs grew into something much larger than I anticipated and I have been busy working on that.

Given my long-standing fascination with the evolution of HEI international strategies, particularly within the UK context, I started out thinking it would be interesting to take the temperature of the sector in late 2020 and see which aspects of global engagement were being prioritised in university strategies.

I enjoyed building a picture of the state of internationalisation and global engagement within UK universities. It was noticeable that the older, still current strategies (published back in 2013 and 2014) tend to use the terms ‘international’ and ‘internationalisation’, whereas the more recent ones are more likely to use the term ‘global’. Beyond terminology, there were changes in content which demonstrate how strategies are very much products of the global and national context at the time they are developed.

Having completed this research, it struck me that the really interesting question is what the next, post-pandemic generation of international strategies will look like; and how they may differ from those that came before them.

Phase two of my research

So I decided to conduct a second phase of research, exploring that question and related issues by interviewing (during February and March 2021) 12 senior sector stakeholders (all with responsibility for or an interest in institutional strategies for internationalisation). The interview findings were supplemented and contextualised via a review of some of the numerous webinars, virtual conferences, reports and articles that have bubbled up since the pandemic started.

The resulting report

The report that I produced is therefore focused largely on future global engagement strategies, though it takes as its starting point a snapshot of what current strategies look like.

I hope that it will be useful to those who are responsible for – or involved in – developing or reviewing their institution’s strategy for global engagement in a post-pandemic landscape.

The report is broken down into three parts:

  • Context for this report: why now?
  • Current state of play: tensions and traps
  • Next generation strategies: where are we heading?

The final part is the longest. It comprises a number of chapters, each of which focuses on one of the key (interrelated) themes that emerged from the interviews.

Some of those themes sit at a more philosophical level:

  • Considering the ‘why’: drivers and differentiation.

Others are still quite ‘big picture’, but a bit more concrete:

  • Addressing global – and local – challenges
  • Negotiating new global dynamics.

There are two priority areas of focus at a more tactical level:

  • Rethinking partnership models
  • ‘Internationalisation for All’ in a digital world.

And there are two themes that are primarily about enabling the changes needed at operational level:

  • Alternative operating practices
  • New ways of measuring success.

Download options

The full report can be downloaded from the page on my website entitled Global Strategies Report – April 2021.

That page also includes download buttons for the Executive Summary and for an Overview of key questions for HEIs to ask (as they are developing and consulting on their strategy).

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