Internationalisation of higher education institutions - Different understandings of internationalisation influencing on its strategic planning and an analysis of European policy statements as strategic plans of internationalisation

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School of Business | G3 Lisensiaatintutkimus
International Business
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This licentiate study examined different understandings internationalisation of higher education institutions (HEis) and presented a holistic model of planning of internationalisation. Internationalisation of higher education institutions had expanded because of the EU programmes like Erasmus, Socrates and Leonardo. Completely new processes had emerged and new professional groups had born. The earlier research had been quite dispersed. No concensus of the meaning of internationalisation existed. On the other hand, the management studies of internationalisation of higher education institutions were few. This study examined the concept of internationalisation in the context of higher education institutions. The ways to understand internationalisation of Knight, van der Wende and Luostarinen & Pulkkinen were analyzed. The difference to the neighbouring concepts internationalism, international education, international business, Europeanization and globalization was highlighted. A pragmatic way of thinking was adopted. It was argued that in order to fulfil the aims of internationalisation the process of internationalisation must be planned systematically and holistically, but it cannot be done if the nature and the characteristics of the process of internationalisation of higher education institutions are not understood. A framework of holistic strategic management was presented and adopted to the internationalisation of HEis. As an example of the clearly present planning function in HEis European Policy Statements (EPS) were chosen. They presented a material more or less the same for all the institutions. The whole population of Finnish higher education institutions, i. e. 20 university EPSes and 24 polytechnic EPSes, each 1 - 4 pages, done in 1996 and 2000, were analyzed. This study has three types of theoretical contributions. First, it contributes to the understanding of the concept of internationalisation in itself, and in reference to neighboring concepts. Second, it proposes a theoretical framework for the internationalisation process of higher education, consisting of the definition of internationalisation and of an integrated understanding of internationalisation and its planning, as part of holistic management. This understanding is split to eight propositions of which the first one proposes that the recent internationalisation seemed to proceed through five stages and the other seven propositions are made to analyze the different parts of holistic planning of internationalisation as part of holistic management. Third, the empirical contribution of the present study was the population analysis of the internationalisation planning, the unit of analysis being the European Policy Statements done by the higher education institutions. This analysis contributed in understanding the holistic situation of internationalisation in Finnish HEis. It was found that the strategic thinking shown in the plans is not very vast, neither deep. As a managerial implication it is claimed that it is of vital importance to have a common understanding of internationalisation in order to be able to plan it. The integrated framework of internationalisation and holistic planning could be of help in developing the procedures of internationalisation.
internationalisation, higher education
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