Comprehensive internationalisation: the power of partnerships

internationalisationINTO’s Director of Academic Affairs for the USA, JoAnn McCarthy, has recently co-authored a paper on internationalisation in the educational industry. In this blog she gives an overview of the paper and her thoughts on international study.

A complement to John K. Hudzik’s earlier publication, “Comprehensive Internationalization: From Concept to Action”, this most recent joint effort, entitled “Leading Comprehensive Internationalization: Strategy and Tactics for Action,” provides practical guidelines for starting, sustaining, and evaluating a comprehensive internationalisation agenda in a wide range of institutional types.

It presents a flexible leadership framework for the what, why, and how, of both strategy and action for comprehensive internationalisation (CIZN). In collaborating on this publication, I found my experience in helping establish new INTO partnerships in the US very fertile ground for observing transformational change and gaining insight into the leadership process that makes it possible. As you might suspect, I incorporated much of what I learned into the text and examples.

Inspiration from INTO partnerships

Anyone who has been a part of the development of an INTO partnership will recognise some of the points we make in this publication. Such innovative undertakings provide powerful case studies in engaging leaders from every corner of campus, inspired by an ambitious vision, all working toward a common goal, and confronting a myriad of challenges along the way.

Not only do INTO joint venture projects require one to “cross borders” between academe and the private sector on a daily basis, various participants are also crossing borders within the institution itself. Units must learn to cooperate and collaborate in new ways to implement a complex and unfamiliar organisational structure as well as new policies, procedures, and programmes.

I think most would agree that it’s not for the faint-hearted or the inflexible, and strong, visionary, sensitive leadership is required throughout the process.

Spread the word about internationalisation

Getting started on a CIZN effort can be daunting. Indeed, if you query random people on campus about what they think internationalisation means, you are likely to get a surprising diversity of answers.  For that reason, we underscore the necessity of first engaging in a campus wide dialogue on what internationalisation actually means for a specific institution.

The institutional mission, its unique characteristics, its motivation for wanting to extend the global impact of its teaching, research, and service should be clarified and embraced by the campus community. And finally, an inspiring vision for the institution’s future development must be clearly articulated in order to guide substantive efforts over the long term.

Use leadership to promote

Such efforts require skilful leadership as overall planning and specific projects fall into place. The paper emphasises the need for multiple leaders at multiple levels of the institution to be working in sync with each other toward the common vision.

This often means expanding the leadership team well beyond those who have official responsibility for traditional international functions on campus. As we know from experience, identifying and engaging colleagues who never considered themselves “internationalists” can be a challenge.

CIZN offers institutional approaches that can both disperse and coordinate leadership responsibilities as well as approaches to key players. This results in the creation of a diverse team of leaders who understand their role, feel competent to contribute to the effort, and feel connected and committed to the overarching vision.

When I speak to prospective partners about the INTO joint venture model, I always emphasise the fact that it provides the perfect catalyst and infrastructure to design a CIZN effort. Such partnerships require:

  • – Strong and committed senior leadership;
  • – An ambitious vision aligned with the institutional mission, values, and goals;
  • – Participation of the entire academic community;
  • – Measurable outcomes to demonstrate benefits to students (foreign and domestic), the faculty, the   institution, and the community; and
  • – A long-term commitment to a dynamic partnership that is responsive to evolving needs and opportunities   that arise over the long term.

Joint venture model now more relevant than ever

Over the past four years, I have seen that the INTO joint venture partnership model is ideally suited to today’s changing global higher education environment and highly responsive the critical challenges facing most universities as they seek to diversify their financial resources and compete in a global marketplace.

These partnerships have served as an effective catalyst for universities seeking to transform their institutions from predominantly domestic operations to globally competitive institutions with global reach and impact.

As our network of partner institutions continues to grow in the UK, the US, China, and elsewhere in the world, I am confident that we will see INTO continuing to lead the way as an innovator in global capacity building in higher education.

Our partner universities will shape how that vision will be realised as we begin to collaborate more and more within the network in the coming years. As proven innovators, the INTO network of universities will be positioned to lead the way in the higher education sector in the years to come as this world grows ever smaller and interconnected.

It’s an exciting time to be part of an organisation with such vision, commitment, and collective assets and I look forward to seeing us unleash the still untapped power of our partnerships as we move forward.

Click here to read JoAnn’s full paper.

JoAnn McCarthy

Author: JoAnn McCarthy

JoAnn McCarthy is INTO North America's Director of Academic Affairs.

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