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Germany and Malaysia best internationalisation performers, research finds

Germany and Malaysia have emerged as “top performers” in international higher education, according to new research from the British Council. National quality assurance schemes were found to be lacking in most surveyed countries while most access and sustainability efforts were deemed high performing.

Users of the online tool can select indicators, such as quality assurance for international students (above) to compare countries' performance. Photo: British Council Global Gauge

"Malaysia and Germany are consistent at providing high level support"

Looking at national policies supporting international higher education in 26 countries around the world, the research scores the governments in Germany and Malaysia “very high” across all three categories: openness, quality assurance and degree recognition, and access and sustainability in international higher education. In total, 37 indicators were measured.

Student mobility is one of the most developed policy areas, according to The Shape of Global Higher Education: National Policies Framework for International Education report, while quality assurance is the weakest.

“Across all of the categories, looking at the policy related to openness, looking at the infrastructure and quality assurance systems in place, access and sustainability, Malaysia and Germany are consistent at providing the high level support,” said Michael Peak, a co-author of the report.

Student mobility is one of the most developed policy areas according to The report while quality assurance is the weakest

Malaysia’s Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2020 and Germany’s Akademischer Austauschdienst’s Strategy 2020 are earmarked for best practice in international student recruitment and internationalisation.

Vietnam also scores consistently “high” across the three categories.

Worldwide, there is an increased commitment towards international higher education, the report notes, which is seen in countries’ international higher education strategies.

“These are strong signals of readiness to engage internationally and to support their higher education systems’ global positioning,” it states.

In the category of openness, Australia, the UK, Germany, Malaysia and China emerge as the five countries performing “very high”.

However, countries perform best when it comes to access and sustainability.

“This category is dominated by countries with high support for funding underpinning student and academic mobility, and policies aiming at equitable access and brain drain prevention,” the report notes.

Quality assurance was scored “low” or “very low” across 19 of the 26 countries, with only Germany, Malaysia and the UK performing “very high”.

“Countries struggling with access, the preoccupation at the national level has been to meet the local demand for higher education”

Janet Ilieva, founder and director of Education Insight and one of the report’s authors, said that for many countries where access to higher education is a challenge, quality assurance is sidelined.

“Countries struggling with access, the preoccupation at the national level has been to meet the local demand or the unmet demand for higher education in the country,” she said.

Recognition of transnational education degrees has also been pegged as an area for improvement.

“[A qualification] only becomes internationally recognised if there is a proper, thorough quality assurance mechanism in place,” Ilieva observed.

The data from the report has been integrated into an online tool, allowing users to compare countries, and see how well individual countries performed against particular indicators.

The research can be used by universities who might want to “identify countries where there are potential collaborative partners for the future,” said Peak.

“They might ask where’s my next international partner and does [this country] have a national drive to engage internationally and is that backed up by policies which enable mobility and research.”

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