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The internationalization of higher education – Instalment 1

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By Margaret Adolphus


Dubai, for several years an icon of luxury, enterprise and elaborate architecture, may be about to get a rival. Around 35 miles from Seoul, South Korea, on a man-made island almost twice the size of New York's Central Park, New Songdo City is the world's newest city and largest real estate development in history.

A key ingredient of this new metropolis, whose real estate prices will be far beyond the means of the average Korean, will be the Songdo Global University Campus. Here foreign universities will be encouraged to set up outposts. The objective is to blend the strengths of American, European and Korean academe.

This is a bold project (the cost of the entire city is estimated at $60 billion), but it's a reflection of a world where higher education is striving for global influence.

More or less all higher education institutes, particularly those in the "developed" world, are looking to create an international dimension, whether through changing their syllabus, creating exchange programmes, or opening branches overseas.

What makes a university genuinely international, and the reasons for wanting to be so, are extremely complex. In this article, we look at those reasons, at the models of internationalization adopted, and at what makes good practice.

Publisher's note:

The author is very grateful to the following people who kindly helped with this article:

  • Nicola Hiljkema, vice rector for international relations at the Estonian Business School, Estonia.
  • Dr Somboon Kulvisaechana, associate director of the Center for Corporate Communications and International Affairs, Thammasat Business School, Thailand.
  • Professor Danica Purg, president, IEDC-Bled School of Management, South Africa.
  • Marietjie Wepener, marketing and communications director at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa.
  • Professor John Wilson, head of Salford Business School, UK.