In this post, Claudia Bordogna (email@example.com) and Halina Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org), Senior Lecturers at University of Huddersfield, reflect on the dissemination and application of the HEA Internationalisation HE framework. Having been involved in the consultation of the framework, Claudia and Halina are keen to share with the academic community ways in which the framework is being utilised in their own HEI, in order to develop teaching and learning strategies and support functions. They describe two case studies in which the framework is being used to impact upon our curriculum, organisation and people.
The internationalisation of higher education is a complex phenomenon. So how are universities reacting to the changes which it brings? Is it a case of simply recruiting international students or are there more significant changes within UK higher education providers? As practitioners, working in international and transnational education we are aware that we represent a global academic community. We have a responsibility to ensure all our students, staff and organisational functions, support the needs of our changing student cohorts.
From a classroom point of view, it’s evident to all of us who work in HE today that the demographic has changed. The effect of teaching students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and linguistic needs means frontline academics have had to question and reflect on current practices - both administrative and pedagogical. We need to ensure that we are continuing to enhance our offering and inspire home and international students. Adding to this we have an ever increasing number of international colleagues working in the sector and international collaborations in research and teaching and learning. It’s a time of dynamic change.
The HEA has responded to these changes through the Internationalising Higher Education Framework which was launched last July. We were both part of the consultation process. The framework aims to enable academic communities to make sense of some of the complexities of internationalisation. For us, being part of the development process meant that we could exchange knowledge and understanding with a wide range of contributors from across the sector. Now it is time to put the framework into practice in individual institutions.
In our case, at the University of Huddersfield, we have done this in two ways so far. Claudia used the framework to share her knowledge with new academic staff working towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education in the School of Education and Professional Development. Halina has worked with Computing and Library staff. We are Business School academics, so these sessions are a first foray into implementing and disseminating the framework across the institution.
The framework has a number of aims and objectives which outline its goal as an enhancement tool for HE. There is also a set of aspirations which focus on our communities of practice, diversity, values and responsibility. Previously, internationalising guidelines have focussed more on process than some of these broader aspirations. We feel that engaging with these broader (and indeed deeper) notions may help institutions re-frame what they mean by internationalisation or internationalising.
Applying the framework
The framework is structured around three key areas: People, Organisation and Curriculum. In Claudia’s, session staff were asked staff to reflect upon the questions posited by the framework, this lead to a great discussion. Workshop members were able to really answer questions that they may not have considered before. Some complex and often sensitive issues were raised. Staff asked questions about how best to design and deliver their teaching materials. It appeared that faculty members really wanted to embrace their international audience, inspire them and nurture them; but at the same time there was some anxiety about how this could be achieved in relation to the needs of the organisation.
Of particular interest was the section on the Individual and Curriculum. Staff used these questions to reflect upon themselves with surprising outcomes! Some participants seemed to go through an awakening process to the issues at hand. Others appeared to enjoy the “realism” of the framework, whereby a complex phenomenon is made tangible and relevant to the situations and challenges academics face on a daily basis. Moreover, although many felt unsure as to whether they had the power to drive organisational change, they all felt they could make at least one change to their daily practices based on the questions the framework asked. Claudia felt it was an excellent tool to create discussion and debate.
In Halina’s session staff were also asked to reflect upon their practice. Computing and library staff deal with student enquiries and concerns on a daily basis. A wide range of issues were raised, including; communication strategies, knowledge and understanding of other cultures, language and support for practical and social issues. The complexities of the everyday experience of HE services were very much highlighted in this discussion.
The framework focuses on providing an equitable learning experience and this was the basis of the workshop. In our everyday encounters we may not be able to address each diverse need or answer every question in detail. Nor is it practical to differentiate endlessly for individuals or groups. However we can adopt a position of inclusivity where we acknowledge diversity. For staff working in university functions such as the library this may mean looking at new ways of sign-posting information or increasing support for technology. In any institution, departments and services have a specific remit and finite resources. The library staff discussed the demands of their roles and debated their ability to put change into place given the structure of the organisation as a whole. However they suggested many new initiatives which could be reasonably implemented in their service. They were also keen to have information on other functions across the institution so that they could refer people appropriately.
In both of these sessions we found it beneficial to be able to address the reality of putting an internationalising framework in place. We were keen to use it in a practical way which is useful in our context. As with all complex phenomena it will take time (and resources) to fully explore the issues. The Internationalising Higher Education Framework provides us with an excellent launch pad for this. It has helped us to open up some of the discussions which may have been difficult to initiate in the past.
How could the framework be used in your organisation? How can HEIs address the aspirations of the framework? How do we create an equitable learning environment whilst meeting the demands or our roles and organisational KPIs?
If you would like to contribute to the discussion you will need to first log-in to your MyAcademy account. If you don't already have an account, you can create one here: https://my.heacademy.ac.uk/welcome/