|Photo: Andrée Sursock|
They recognise that the quality of their activities – research, teaching and learning and societal engagement – is integrally dependent upon sound internationalisation and digitalisation strategies (among other factors).
This is particularly true given the general context in which they operate: an environment characterised by the exacerbated global competition of knowledge-based economies. This competition reverberates in higher education.
Trends 2015, a study by the European University Association or EUA, tracked the growing importance of competition and cooperation in the past 15 years. Based on longitudinal data, Trends 2015 revealed that the importance of both competition and cooperation has remained stable during the period 2000-15, but that both are expected to grow by the same value (about 18%) in the near future.
The report also noted the growing importance of ranking schemes (up 10% from 2010) and the expectations that this will continue to be a central and mounting concern in the future.
European higher education has had a robust history of cooperation, particularly during the period when the Berlin Wall split Europe between East and West. A spirit of cooperation across the Wall was maintained, despite the many political vicissitudes and twists and turns of the Cold War.
This spirit drove many institutions (including the most prestigious) to establish partnerships across the continent with other institutions (including the least prestigious). Has this spirit changed?...
MOOCs growth potential
A close look at the number of institutions interested in developing the bottom four activities might help anticipate future trends. Of the four, “MOOCs and other types of online learning” seem to have the most potential for growth: 29% of institutions are planning to develop them and this affects universities in a large number of countries.
This is followed by “capacity-building” (17%) and “offshore campuses” (13%), while “degree programmes taught in languages other than English” have the least potential for growth (11%).
Furthermore, Trends 2015 emphasised that strategic approaches to internationalisation should be supported by savvy use of information and communication technologies or ICT, but the link between the two is not as strong a trend yet and the strategic use of ICT is clearly under development.
When questioned about the objectives of e-learning, only 9% of institutions mentioned that it is being used to enhance internationalisation. A significant percentage of institutions do not offer online degree programmes (44%), MOOCs (40%), joint online learning offered with other higher education institutions (39%) or blended learning programmes (33%).
It may be the case that the link between internationalisation and e-learning has not been made yet because internationalisation strategies are now clearly in the hands of the institutional leadership while e-learning innovations tend to be with the faculties and even with individual academic staff.
Source: University World News