Internationalising Higher Education: Enhancing Learning, Teaching and Curriculum

Editor(s) Elspeth Jones, Sally Brown
Publisher Routledge
Published 2007
Pages 243
Price £22.99
ISBN 9780415419901
Reviewed by Ms Catherine Lee
Aga Khan University
Review published 9 May 2008

This book offers a series of chapters written by various authors, all of whom address the challenges and trends associated with internationalising higher education. The editors start from the premise that internationalisation is desirable and can bring positive benefits to a university and its members while proposing that internationalisation to date in many UK universities has largely been narrowly centred on income generation. Thus, the authors investigate the themes of policy, assessment, learning, teaching, student support, curriculum development and European-wide and global perspectives in respect of internationalisation in order to consider both the state of the field and the potential for further internationalisation.

Many of the chapters provide case studies of programmes, interventions and initiatives, mainly from Leeds Metropolitan University where both the editors are based. These include discussion of the establishment of an International Faculty and a School of Applied Global Ethics, the development of a section of the university website for International Reflections, the undertaking of an internal quality enhancement audit of the international student experience, and the setting up of a service learning/community-based learning volunteering programme. In this way, the book addresses what Caruana and Spurling[i] (2007) identified as a lack of practical examples that could move the field of internationalisation beyond the conceptual.

While examples are included from other UK universities and from other countries, there is an overall sense of the book being about the ‘successes’ at Leeds Met. Also, because the book was written by multiple authors, many from Leeds Met, there is a certain amount of repetition and feeling of déjà vu in terms of discussing initiatives at the university. In some ways, it might have been more satisfying for the reader to have encountered the activities at Leeds Met in a single section of the book devoted to the university in order to avoid repetition.

An interesting outcome of reading the book is a sense that many of the internationalisation initiatives described overlap with other policy-driven agendas such as widening participation, employability and volunteering. In some of the case studies, it was not clear whether there were or should be substantial differences in the responses to the various policy agendas. This is a strength of the book, that while taking an overall positive approach to internationalisation, it also exposes some of the confusions in the field of internationalisation as university communities strive to address the multiple and sometimes contradictory policy challenges. Thus, the book opens the way for further research into the specificities of the experiences of international students while taking into account students’ gender, age, nationality, and level and subject of study. Also, the need for longitudinal studies is highlighted.

Overall, the book seems to present a glowing view of internationalisation and its outcomes. The main appeal of the book would be to academic and student support staff looking for inspiration for developing programmes. For example, in the Appendix, there are guidelines for curriculum review (again from Leeds Met). Also, importantly, the book helps to move the field of internationalisation out of the shadows of the grey literature and into a more widely accessible format.

[i] Caruana, V. & Spurling, N. (2007) The Internationalisation of UK Higher Education: a review of selected material (Project Report for Higher EducationAcademy).