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Calls for "Internationalisation" Amid Diversity Decline UK

clock iconCreated At:01 November, 2023
write iconCreated By:Allaa Ashraf

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A new report, released by the International Higher Education Commission (IHEC), highlights the importance of making "internationalisation at home" a central element of the UK's upcoming higher education strategy. The report "Is the UK developing global mindsets?" raises concerns about the diminishing international diversity within British universities.

The Chairman of IHEC and former universities minister, Chris Skidmore, noted that the concept of “internationalisation at home” had been undervalued in the past. The report defines “IaH” as "the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students within the domestic learning environment."

Skidmore emphasised that the UK's international education should go beyond attracting international students to the country. It should focus on creating truly international campuses with attractive international-based curricula, exchange programmes, and inclusive facilities to make the UK an appealing destination for international students.

The report explores the challenges and opportunities of ensuring the UK remains globally engaged. It points out that the recent growth in international students has yet to be accompanied by increased diversity. In fact, diversity has decreased due to the loss of incoming Erasmus+ exchange students and a continued decline in the study of foreign languages by UK students.

Skidmore stressed the need for a more relevant and purposeful approach to higher education, ensuring that campuses and courses prepare students for the modern international world they will eventually work in.

Anthony Manning, co-author of the report and dean for global and lifelong learning at the University of Kent, sees “internationalisation at home” as a cornerstone for preparing the next generation of UK and international university students for a more interconnected and promising future. He suggests that IaH should be a key feature of the next focus of the UK's international education strategy.

This report is part of a series by IHEC, contributing to developing a new higher education strategy in the UK. Chris Skidmore, who published the UK's International Higher Education Strategy in 2019, established IHEC to create a more ambitious and detailed vision for the future.

David Pilsbury, another co-author of the report and the chief development officer at Oxford International, believes that the UK's higher education sector should prepare for more challenging times. While acknowledging the UK's competitiveness, he points out that other countries, such as Australia, are embracing new approaches to remain competitive.

Pilsbury highlights the importance of enhancing the student experience and expects some critics to question the investment in these aspects. Still, he emphasises that these "fluffy" elements significantly influence student recruitment. The report features successful models, such as Coventry University's 'Model for Progression for International Experience,' which drove international recruitment and global engagement.

Pilsbury anticipates a more nuanced approach to future higher education strategy, with a focus on both international recruitment and robust internationalisation at home. He also calls for measuring the quality of the international student experience, including aspects like welfare, accommodation, graduate employability, student mobility, and engagement with sustainable development goals.


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