Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education
Global and Intercultural Dimension in Curriculum Development
Because of their nature, the teaching and research of academic subject areas in higher education incorporate broad European and international perspectives. It is incumbent on higher level academics to ensure that their scholarship and research is in contact with the best international studies in their field. Apart from foreign languages, most academic subjects whether it be economics, history, sociology, philosophy, chemistry, marketing, and so on, need to incorporate an international approach to the study of the subject. Many of the research projects undertaken involve partnerships with international researchers. Academic staff also participate in the international organisations of scholars in their fields, attend and contribute to international conferences, host such conferences on occasion, act as external examiners to foreign universities, publish in international journals and communicate on a regular basis using modern technologies with conferences in cognate disciplines. These linkages have long been part of the culture of higher education. The expanding rate of knowledge, developments in ICT, improvements in air travel, better resourcing for research, have all contributed to the expansion of these forms of international co-operation in higher education in recent years.
As well as these continuing patterns of international exchange, there has also been a development in more specific studies with a focus on European and international content. Ireland has been a partner in the process which led to the Bologna Declaration. It is participating in the on-going harmonisation and acceptance of higher education qualifications from other European countries. Irish tertiary education has also been a part of international trends in quality assurance in higher education. Both the Conference of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the Council of the Directors of the Institutes of Technology are active members of the relevant international bodies. The Irish universities have established the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) in 2003, as a central guarantor of standards in conjunction with international developments in this area.
Ireland has established the basis for a single national framework of qualifications covering all education and training awards in the State, from basic education and literacy to doctorate level. The framework is designed for awards based on the achievement of learning outcomes and also includes accreditation opportunities for non-formal learning in workplace and community settings. The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Further and Higher Education and Training Awards Councils (FETAC and HETAC) have been actively engaged in European policy development. As a result of progress to date, Ireland is well placed to participate in emerging developments regarding the European Qualifications Framework.
Partnerships and Networks
National policy on internationalisation is articulated in Investing in Global Relationships: Ireland's International Education Strategy 2010-2015. Policy is premised on the basis that, from a national perspective, the most compelling rationale for internationalisation is investment in future global relationships, with students and alumni, with education institutions that will be research and teaching partners of the future, and with the countries that will be Ireland’s next trading and business partners.
Internationalisation also provides a means of enhancing the quality of learning, teaching and research in Ireland. It enriches our classrooms and campuses and benefits all students by providing them with vital international and intercultural experiences and perspectives and by potentially increasing their educational attainment and competence levels. It encourages cultural exchange and the consequent strengthening of relations with partners overseas, assists countries and institutions in developing their own capacity and human capital in ways that may not be available domestically, and makes a significant economic contribution.
Internationalisation is being developed as a long-term and sustainable process, based on high-quality and balanced engagement with international partners. The type of long-term, balanced approach that is required will include facilitating greater outward mobility and international experience for Irish staff members and students, widening and intensifying collaborative institutional and research links with international partners, internationalising curricula, further developing Irish involvement in transnational education (including delivering Irish academic programmes overseas and establishing Irish-linked institutions outside of Ireland), and continuing to engage fully in the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 and its successors as well as multilateral initiatives such as the Bologna process.
An ambitious target has been set by the Irish government to double the number of international students coming to Ireland, through the full implementation of the international education strategy, Investing in Global Relationships 2010-15. There are around 32,000 international students registered in Irish HEIs; around 6,000 students of whom are studying on Irish programmes overseas.
In seeking to increase these numbers, a revised student immigration regime supportive of high quality operators has been developed and a new international brand for Irish education, Education in Ireland has been launched and is being promoted across international markets.
Inter-governmental education relationships are being strengthened through the signing of memorandums of understanding and also through the exchange of high level ministerial visits also aimed at promoting Ireland to international students. A new international scholarship scheme targeting high-performing international students, aimed at raising Ireland's international education profile, will be launched before the end of 2012.