For many years "internationalization" has been a mantra of higher education institutions in many parts of the world. Over the past year, the unfolding of the global recession has been a catalyst for many institutions to refocus on their core missions and to take bold steps to imagine the future. Now is a good time to ask, "What will higher education look like in the future and how global will it be?"
These questions came to mind after reading an article by Aisha Labi in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education (9/20/09). Labi reported on recent surveys of internationalization carried out by the International Association of Universities and the American Council on Education's (ACE) Center for International Initiatives that provide some glimpses of what the future may look like. Seven hundred and forty-five Higher education institutions reported that their top internationalization priorities included improving student preparedness, internationalizing their curricula and enhancing their institution's international profile and reputation. Surprisingly, strengthening research capacity through international collaborations, which ranked second only five years ago, is no longer at the top of the list. The ACE survey revealed "a gap between what institutions say they want or intend to do, and what they are actually doing"
The future of higher education must be a global future not only in terms of preparing students to be global citizens (another phrase that's part of the mantra), but also in terms of contributing to the global public good through research and partnerships that address global problems ranging from climate change and human rights to disease and development. Here at IDN we are committed to closing the gap and to this vision for the future of higher education.
Director, Institute for Developing Nations,