The set of 22 standards aims to clarify the professional qualifications required for roles at the helm of an institution’s internationalisation strategy.
Cheryl Matherly, a member of the AIEA Task Force on Standards of Professional Practice, told The PIE News at the organisation’s recent conference in Washington DC, that the guidelines reflect a “professionalisation of the field”.
“It’s a statement on the part of AIEA of acknowledging that there are standards of practice for this work”
“It’s a statement on the part of AIEA of acknowledging that there are standards of practice for this work and that’s how the individuals who hold these particular roles, regardless of title, if they are in that senior leadership role, these are the standards by which they should be measured and evaluated.”
The guidelines cover using assessment data to strengthen internationalisation and refine processes; possessing international and language learning experience; being entrepreneurial to secure financial support and understanding how to advance global learning in the curriculum.
Six of the guidelines focus on advocacy including advocating for internationalisation within the local community as well as with governments, the private sector and non-profit organisations.
Their release is timely as promoting the benefits of a global education to university communities has become more urgent for US educators in the current political environment.
“When we were doing these we did not anticipate the current climate as to really bring this to the forefront but it is exactly this climate that is the reason that we identified advocacy as being one of the essential competencies in the field,” said Matherly.
“It was a recognition that part of the responsibility in that leadership function is to be forward-facing and public-facing and to be ready to speak and articulate the value of the exchange, to be clear on why universities have these kinds of international agendas.”
AIEA defines SIOs as “individuals within an institution of higher education who are charged with leading and facilitating its internationalisation efforts”.
Part of the responsibility in that leadership function is to be forward-facing and public-facing
In addition to recognising the responsibilities of SIOs, Matherly said the guidelines aim to develop future leaders and help universities who are building their own international departments.
“We hope this will guide institutions with the evaluation, creation and design of positions when they’re preparing to hire…and to help with those who are aspiring for this kind of role to be able to understand what is expected in terms of their own kind of professional development.”
Matherly noted the standards apply to a US context, including using the title SIO, but added that “some of these are standards that are reflective across the world at other institutions.”
AIEA also underlined that the standards are “a living document, subject to change” as the roles of SIOs evolve alongside internationalisation and higher education.