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IAU warns against pitfalls of internationalisation

The International Association of Universities has warned of the potential negative consequences of internationalisation and outlined ways higher education can avoid them. It said cultural homogenisation, brain drain and unethical recruiting practices were among the associated pitfalls...
May 24 2012
1 Min Read

A call to action has been issued to institutions operating in Higher Education by the UNESCO-based International Association of Universities (IAU)  to affirm their values in internationalisation.

“Internationalisation has been gaining a lot of traction for several years now, but along the way the process has come to be associated with a huge variety of activities, so much so that it has begun to lose its meaning,” Ross Hudson, programme officer at IAU told The PIE News.

The paper discusses the potential pitfalls of internationalisation. “Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education: A Call for Action” cites risks of cultural homogenisation due to the widespread use of English, brain drain, foreign branch campuses disadvantaging local institutions and questionable or unethical recruiting practices as some of the consequences of internationalisation.

The appeal comes from the IAU International Ad-hoc Expert Group on Re-thinking Internationalisation. It espouses intercultural learning, inter-institutional cooperation, mutual benefit and fair partnership.

“This rethinking initiative aims to re-centre the whole process on academic values and purposes. The Call will hopefully help guide future action on institutional action internationalisation, especially given that the process doesn’t show any sign of halting,” said Hudson.

“This rethinking initiative aims to re-centre the whole process on academic values and purposes”

Other principles IAU highlights include safeguarding cultural and linguistic diversity when working outside one’s own nation, promoting social responsibility, placing academic goals at the centre of initiatives and ensuring that non-mobile students – still the vast majority – can benefit from internationalisation as well.

The benefits and draw-backs of the process continue to dominate discussions among international industry experts. At the Institute for International Education’s 2012 Summit this month 50 high-level delegates from around the world put economic impact, academic mobility and institutional cooperation in international education as top priorities.

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