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Internationalising Higher Education

13 Feb 2024 | Advance HE Advance HE today launches an update to the Framework for Internationalising Higher Education, supporting universities across the sector as they bring international dimensions to their provision, whether through an internationalised curriculum, international student mobility or transnational education.

An international dimension to the university experience can benefit students and staff. Every individual's unique identity, culture, language, and experiences enrich and enhance the global community, contributing to fostering a vibrant and diverse campus culture. The Framework for Internationalising Higher Education recognises and values the contributions of staff, students, and the institution to global education. 

The framework can be viewed through various lenses. Established approaches to developing and strengthening international partnerships are recognised for providing all students with cultural and geographical opportunities. This includes increasing ‘home’ students outgoing mobility, providing greater inter-cultural awareness – as well as attracting international students who will see a more welcoming and inclusive environment in their host institution. 

Recent literature, summarised in the Advance HE Literature review, ‘Internationalisation and students’ outcomes or experiences: A review of the literature 2011-2021 (Mittelmeier et al, 2022) synthesised over 600 research publications written by global authors in the last 10 years about different facets of internationalisation, focusing specifically on whether and how internationalisation demonstrably impacts students’ outcomes and experiences.

Insights from this review, expert reflections, and a study of grey literature and policy papers have enriched our framework, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities in this important area of development for the sector.

The last five years have identified a clear need to innovate: from greater inclusivity and internationalising the curriculum, to designing ‘global classroom’ modules and programmes that allow students to address shared international challenges. Acknowledging innovations during the Covid pandemic – such as digital international mobility – which opened avenues to more inclusive forms of international engagement, it is also essential that we focus on questions of inclusivity, accessibility, and equity of standards within the international student experience.  

Drawing on Advance HE’s expertise in people and leadership development, the framework addresses staff development for international education. It emphasises integrating internationalisation into core strategies, people policies, and professional development to attract and reward innovative contributors in this area. The framework can also aid the understanding of traditional and innovative approaches to models of Transnational Education (TNE). TNE is a common feature within the portfolios of UK higher education institutions. While these collaborative endeavours can be beneficial to staff, students and the profile of the institution, building successful and effective partnerships in this area is not without its challenges. 

Discussing the framework, Advance HE's Stuart Norton and Dr Kay Hack, said, “There is a need to synthesise the evidence base around internationalisation. The revised framework provides a vehicle to develop a shared understanding of the core components to do this. It will support institutions to categorise the points of intersect across related core thematic areas. It can also help shape and recognise the positive impact internationalisation can have on both staff and students.  

“By using the framework to initiate conversations with staff, students and potential collaborators, I’m confident the framework will help clarify expectations and requirements, and positively impact outcomes across teaching, research, and the student experience.”


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