Left to Their Own Devices: The Role and Skills of Academics in Partnerships for the Future

Jos Beelen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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This chapter explores international partnerships as an enabler for internationalisation of home curricula, what these partnerships would look like and what the role of academics and other stakeholders would be. Student activities within an internationalised curriculum at home, such as online international collaboration, fall outside the scope of this chapter. Instead, the chapter focuses on the role of academics in building partnerships that support curriculum development through the internationalisation of learning outcomes. The chapter begins with a discussion of the state of flux that resulted from the shift towards internationalisation at home. While many universities have embraced this concept,implementation is not without challenges. Two of the main obstacles are discussed, these being the imperfect conceptualisation of internationalisation at home and the lack of skills of academic staff. A symptom of the former is confusion over terminology. A discussion on terminology has no place in this chapter but a reference is made to recent literature that discusses terminology and definitions. The latter obstacle, the lack of skills of academics,is discussed extensively, particularly with regard to the internationalising of learning outcomes. This will reveal that current professional development does not seem effective in addressing the lack of skills of academics. While academics continue their struggle with the conceptualisation of internationalising learning outcomes, the question is raised as to whether international partnerships could contribute to internationalisation of the home curriculum and if so, how. In order to find an answer, the literature on partnerships is looked at in order to understand to what extent literature is explicit about partnerships that are conducive to internationalisation at home and about the role, character, benefits and requirements of such partnerships.On the basis of the conclusion that literature is implicit on this topic, the chapter builds an argument for using international partnerships as a tool for collaboration on the internationalisation of home curricula. The characteristics of such partnerships for the future then follows. These are partnerships at programme level with academics as key actors focused on benchmarking the internationalisation of learning outcomes, combining mobility with professional development and linked to quality assurance. The benefits of such partnerships, their organisation and the role of stakeholders are subsequently discussed. Finally, the chapter argues that, without a structured approach to learning outcomes, collaboration will not be effective and international partnerships will not reach their full educational potential. Partnerships for the future, by making internationalisation of curricula a cross-border collaboration, can help to achieve the ‘internationalisation’ of internationalisation at home.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigher Education
Subtitle of host publicationPartnerships for the Future
EditorsNico Jooste, Hans de Wit, Savo Heleta
Place of PublicationPort Elizabeth
PublisherUnit for Higher Education Internationalisation in the Developing World, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781920508623
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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