The newly launched Education Insight Global Engagement Index – also being published on The PIE News site – uses 30 new measures to deliver overall scores out of five for UK institutions, with variables being measured such as continuation rates and proportion of domestic students with study abroad experience.

“Some of the league tables… fail to pay any attention to the outward mobility and international experiences of domestic students”

Writing in The PIE News, compilers of the project Education Insight founder and director Janet Ilieva & Raimo explained it can be frustrating that successful internationalisation or global engagement strategies at UK institutions are “often viewed as the number of international students recruited or the income derived from their tuition fee payments”.

“Outside of the simple counting of student numbers, it is difficult to take an holistic view of global engagement and assess the impact of the totality of an education institution’s international activities and compare best practice,” they write.

While vice-chancellors and university governing bodies are “often obsessed with league tables”, the rankings exclude universities’ global footprints, such as staff, students, campuses and operations in another country, they continue.

“And while some of the league tables happily count the inward mobility of students from overseas as a measure of global outlook, they fail to pay any attention to the outward mobility and international experiences of domestic students.”

The GEI will be available via The PIE to allow fellow professionals and decision-makers “to understand and better explain the outcomes of their strategies and colleagues’ work”.

Other of the 30 measures the index covers include student body diversity, international students proportions, students studying offshore, participation in study abroad experiences and how international the curricula at institutions are.

The project attempts to “widen the lens” of global engagement, and add data such as international students continuation rates and proportions of students in study and employment – data typically only published for home students, developers said.

In WONKHE, registrar at the University of Nottingham, Paul Greatrix, called the GEI is a “really interesting and helpful project”.

Greatrix highlighted that the analysis has shown that the percentage of successful outcomes for international undergraduate students appears to be significantly higher than for domestic students.

He also flagged that 57% of UK universities’ TNE is delivered to students in Official Development Assistance countries.

“This demonstrates that universities are concerned with development partnerships as much as focusing on potentially more financially lucrative international operations,” he wrote.

The GEI contains “a lot of detail… which I’m sure universities will find useful”, he added.

“We want the GEI to be useful in evidencing the broader impact of being globally engaged”

Scores range from five stars, highest level of engagement, to one star, indicating a low level of engagement or that the measure bears little relevance.

“We have avoided the temptation of turning the GEI into yet another league table,” Ilieva and Raimo noted.

“We want the GEI to be useful in evidencing the broader impact of being globally engaged to lay members of governing bodies, for example in improving student progression rates or developing research impact with partners in developing countries, and for governing bodies to be better equipped to support and challenge investment in internationalisation of their institutions.”

The index will also seek to support the development of strategies at individual institutions, where providers can focus on measures relevant to them.

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