UUKi report identifies pros of internationalisation at home activities

These are the findings of a UUKi report on internationalisation activities at home.

However, the higher education sector needs to “ensure that it harnesses the positives” it has drawn from initiatives introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to increase the number of students who gain access to an international experience during their studies through these activities, it urged.

Analysing 15 case studies at 10 UK institutions, four in the USA and one in Australia, the UUKi’s ‘Internationalisation at home – developing global citizens without travel’ paper also suggested that institutions are utilising IaH initiatives to help students gain international competences and become globally agile graduates in new ways.

While “much emphasis has been put on the physical mobility of students”, institutions can easily provide alternatives to physical mobility with activities held on campus, it noted.

Activities include virtual programs, activities focused on bringing international and domestic students together, blended learning and research projects with partner institutions overseas, among others.

“Covid-19 has accelerated IaH initiatives, especially online courses. This leads to several areas that need further consideration,” the paper read.

“Previously unimaginable” engagement via online technology has improved access and increased opportunities during pandemic but its use may also lead to online fatigue.

“Some of the case studies indicated a drop in attendance after an initial surge in interest and maintaining a stimulating and engaging learning activity will, therefore, be key for the future success of these programs,” it noted.

Global collaborative online learning should be harnessed even when in-person travel becomes possible again given the UK government’s ambition for a ‘Global Britain’, it continued.

“Programs can be a gentle introduction and first step to prepare students with fewer opportunities for a mobility abroad”

Other positives identified in the report include skills gained such as intercultural awareness and competence, teamwork and in languages.

“Offering IaH activities provides all students with the opportunity to acquire intercultural skills, and such programs can, therefore, be a gentle introduction and first step to prepare students with fewer opportunities for a mobility abroad,” it added.

Key recommendations the paper outlined for institutions featured outlining IaH activities in global strategies and getting institutional buy-in.

Adequate funding is also often required, particularly at the design phase, it noted.

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