Internationalisation in Higher Education


The term internationalisation is common term nowadays due to increased interest in the understanding of international dimension of higher education. This is because internationalization is a central phenomenon to the provision of higher education. Other institutions have defined internationalization in different ways as will be discussed in the following paragraphs. Internationalisation is used interchangeably with globalization and hence there is need to explore the relationship between the two (Knight 1999).

Knight and de Wit defined globalisation as the flow of technology, knowledge, people, ideas, among others things across borders (1997). Globalisation affects countries in different ways depending on their history, cultural practices, and traditions. Internationalisation of higher education is a response of globalisation which is dependent on each country or region. Internationalization and globalisation are thus related concepts. Globalisation of education has been encouraged for a variety of reasons by governments of countries receiving international students. The key purpose of skilled immigration is to address the ageing populations and skill shortages in key industries. International students are recruited through full or partial scholarship. Unlike in the United States and United Kingdom where most students are enrolled in post graduate courses, majority of international students in Australia are enrolled in undergraduate courses. Asian population therefore undertake full degree studies abroad than is the case for the European Union, where majority of the student acquiring a degree in higher education do so at institutions located in their home country. Students interested in studying abroad engage in short term courses (DFAT 2005, p. 9).

Approaches to internationalization

Institutions around the world are using different topology to implement an internationalization strategy. The typology highlights the key areas that have been or are currently being prioritized by different researchers, practitioners, and higher education institutions. These approaches include activity, competency, ethos, and process (knight, 1999). Activity is the most prevalent approach of internationalization which involves student exchange program, international student, technical assistance, and curriculum. Competency is the development of new skills, attitudes, knowledge and values in students as well as in faculty and staff. Ethos is a typology that involves creation of a culture or climate around campus that supports international initiatives. And process means integrating of international or intercultural dimension into teaching, research, and service through a combination of a wide range of activities, policies and procedures. The four approaches to internationalization are seen to be shaping new directions for higher education and responding to current trends and needs of the sector (Ryan 2000).

Definition of internationalization

Knight (1999) defined internationalization as the integration of international culture into research, teaching, and other activities in the institution. The infusion in internalization does not only include different countries and states, but also different culture within a country.

Higher education in Australia

In Australia, education is number four largest in export. The statistics shows a clear increase of 13 percent from 2003 to 2004. Australia’s trade in education with other countries originated from aid-sponsored scholarship programs, notably the Commonwealth’s Colombo Plan. The tradition continues with the Australia Development programs, which provides scholarship to students from developing countries who want to undertake studies in Australia. More recently, higher education in Australia has become a commercial commodity with enrolments of international students increasing every year. For instance, between 1994 and 2004, there was an increase of 15 percent of the number of international student undertaking courses in higher education. The onshore enrolments in Australia continue to form the largest share of international students to total enrolments in higher education of any OECD country (DFAT 2005, p. 11).

Asia on one hand is the most important region when it comes to the growth of Australia’s export of higher education service. Most international students undertake degrees in law, social sciences and business. Australia government and universities plays a major role in the development of education in Asia. Australia’s experience in development and implementation strategies of higher education is currently shared in the Asian region. This happens because of the memorandum of understanding between Australian and countries of Asia pacific region and through skills transfer between Australian universities with an offshore presence and their partner institutions ((DFAT 2005, p. 13).

The benefits for Australia and the challenges that Australia faced

There are a few compelling benefits as well as challenges of globalisation of higher education in Australia. There has been a rapid economic growth which has been the key drive of globalisation in education. The rise per capita in Asia has enabled almost all students to afford education which was unavailable in the previous generations. Most of the contribution to the economy is from international education is when students, as non residents travel from abroad to study, pay both school and living fees. All their spending is included within the category of Personal Travel as Education related expenditure. On the other hand, development of higher education has caused major constraints in education sector across Asia (Ryan 2000).

The benefits for the overseas student and the challenges that overseas student faced

Studying abroad has many benefits which include personal development, academic commitment, intercultural development, and career development. The students interact with other students which help them in understanding cultural values as well as seeking greater diversity of friends (Knight 1999).

International student also face challenges. Financial problem has created difficulties in some student who fail to complete their education on time or eventual drop out of school. This is common in are self-sponsored. There are cases where students are deceived by consulting agencies who promise to help them in the application process. Cultural shock, language barrier, troubles in accommodation, food, weather and feeling homesick, are among the challenges faced by international students (DFAT 2005, p. 9).

The future implication for Australia

The strategy involves subsequent implementation which provides key concepts and understanding about organization change and innovation implementation. The government of Australia provided $11 billion in funding higher education for 10 years in 2003. The reforms structured include four policy principles which are the future implication of higher education in Australia. These are equity, diversity, quality and sustainability. Many factors in Australia indicate possible fertile grounds for new forms of higher education provision. For instance, managerial and para-professional employment in Australia is growing faster with around 0.8 to 0.9 million jobs. Apparently, non-tradition institutions have plans of expanding their online enrolments (Ryan 2000, p. 125-127).


The Australian Universities continues to promote globalisation of higher education and play a vital role in the research, social, cultural, and intellectual development. The higher education in Australia creates professional workforce, and does not limit itself in facilitating intercultural, economic growth, well-established regional successes and trade links globally. International students have as well benefited from higher learning and state-of-art technology. Most importantly, Asian countries continue to embrace international education as population grows and income increases. The liberalization of services in Australian is the key driving force that enables Australia to meet its demand in globalisation of education (Ryan 2000).


Department of foreign affairs and trade, DFAT 2005, ‘Education without borders,’ International Trade in Education, pp.9-13.

Knight, J 1999, Internationalisation of Higher Education in Quality and Internationalisation in Higher Education, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.

Knight, J. & de Wit, H 1997, Internationalisation of Higher Education in Asia Pacific Countries, European Association for International Education, Amsterdam.

Ryan, Y 2000, ‘The Business of Borderless Education in Brief’, in Higher Education Series Report No. 38, Canberra, DETYA.

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