This guest entry is written by Sintayehu K Alemu. He is a graduate of the Hedda master programme and is currently working on his PhD at the Center for Educational Policy Studies (CEPS) at University of Ljubljana as a part of the UNIKE project. Earlier, he has studied history at Addis Abbaba University, and obtained a MA degree in general education at Umea University in Sweden. His PhD project is titled: ‘’A Comparative Analysis of Practices and Impacts of Internationalization of Higher Education on the Academic life in the Centers and Peripheries’.
Markusen has defined ‘fuzzy concept’ as ”one which posits an entity, phenomenon or process which possesses two or more alternative meanings and thus cannot be reliably identified or applied by different readers or scholars” (Markusen, 2003, p.702).
“We use the term more and more and seem to pay less and less attention to what it means. While the need for global and international studies is generally accepted, there is no agreement as to what it means or how this can be implemented” (Schoorman, 2000, p.3). Internationalisation of higher education is understood differently by different people. It sounds a fuzzy concept probably because the concept is built upon the experiences and activities of the global North. Its fuzzines also emanates from the unidirectional articulation of its perspective. Internationalisation of higher education seems to be fuzzy because the ”commonly accepted” definition and conceptualization have done little to address the specific approaches emerging from different contexts. Due to these facts, there is little agreement about what internationalisation means and what strategies are most effective for its implementation in different regions and countries (Cross et al., 2011). In spite of these assumptions, internationalisation of higher education is increasingly growing in importance in terms of programs, research, mobility of faculty and students, and institutions’ environment. Inter alia, perspectives and definitions of internationalisation are focused under the following questions: Is internationalisation of higher education an outward or inward looking or both? which perspective does the most common definition reflect?
Importance and Expansion of Internationalisation
Since the 1990s, globalisation, the neoliberal ideology, and the emergence of knowledge economy and society have expanded and diversified activities, rationales and actors, and shaped policies and strategies of internationalisation. From more or less traditional forms such as student and academic staff mobility, internationalisation policies and practices nowadays have moved to ”at home” and abroad activities: such as exporting higher education via branch campuses and institutional cooperation, developing transnational university networks and virtual delivery of higher education, and the harmonization of higher education systems. Because of the diversified rationales, activities, actors and approaches, internationalisation of higher education has become an overextended and complex concept, whose perspective and definition are not well enunciated.