Internationalization in the area of higher education has become one of the most talked about issues in recent times. In fact, in the form of internationalization of higher education one of the most important global changes of current period has been manifested. The event of internationalization of higher education is conceptualized in different ways by different people. For example, some see internationalization in the field of higher education as a normal extension of universities’ traditional commitment to learning and as a process of knowledge exchange.
However, for some people internationalization is nothing but an innovative response by the universities to the opportunities in external market (Windham, 1996; Trilokekar, 2007). Whatever be the way of conceptualizing the process of internationalization of higher education, it has been accepted as an important issue in the field of higher education. One crucial issue regarding internationalization of higher education is that there is lack of theoretical studies that could provide guidelines for those universities which are thinking about going international.
Actually, theoretical studies are lagging far behind the practical implementation of the process under consideration. Thus it is found that in most of the cases internationalization has a tendency to take place in an unplanned and incremental way (Welch and Denman, 1997; Wit, 2002) and hence it posses various problems and challenges to the management of the institution which is undertaking the process of internationalization.
Here a case study will be conducted to identify one key challenge that a University management can face while they implement the technique of internationalization in the field of higher education and provide recommendation to solve the issue using theoretical knowledge and empirical evidences. For the purpose of this study Grantchester University of UK will be taken under consideration as the university has taken an important step to go international. It has made effort to internationalize its educational system.
It has undertaken a program for providing higher education to the students residing in far flung places by sending its faculty to those places. This paper will analyse the case study of Grantchester University in order to find a single key challenge the management of the university is facing and to find a way out. First, a rigorous analysis of the case study will be provided, then a key challenge will be identified on the basis of the analysis and finally a strategy will be recommended and justified on the basis of existing management and organizational theories and empirical evidences.
Analysis of the case study: Grantchester University is a relatively new university in the North of England. It is a quite large institution which was created through the merger of three colleges having root going back to 1880 – a teacher training college, a technical college and an art school. In 1983, a Business School was formed under the flagship of the then Grantchester Polytechnic. This business school under Grantchester University will be examined.
This business school eventually has grown to build the largest faculty in the present university with having 4,000 full time students with 500 being registered on postgraduate programmes. As a part of the process of internationalization, in the last few years the senior management of the business school has negotiated a number of collaborative agreements with overseas universities, primarily in an effort to take advantage of the opportunities presented in an increasingly globalised higher education sector.
As in case of most of the British universities, in Grantchester University also the proportion of overseas students studying has been increasing gradually, particularly in the business school. In this segment around 10 percent of undergraduate students and around 40 percent of postgraduate, 75 percent of which are full time post graduate students, are coming from outside of the European Union. However, the senior management has identified a number of factors which are making further expansion of ‘international’ teaching in the university campus sproblematic.
These factors include the size of the current university campus and cost of land in the city, the perceived carrying capacity of the city of Grantchester, the increasingly problematic economic environment, increasing competition from universities in countries providing the ‘traditional’ source of overseas students to the UK, for example in China, India etc. , and the changing immigration regulations. Thus the management has started to concentrate on another alternative program for becoming internationalized in the field of higher education.
The business school is now paying more attention on sending its academic staffs overseas to teach there in collaboration with local staffs. Actually delivering educational program overseas has become a new trend in the field of higher education and the university vice chancellor is quite aware of the trend and hence she has decided to deliver some of university’s more popular educational programmes overseas, either in new campuses overseas or in some sort of partnership with local universities.
The Business School was first chosen to follow this path of internationalization because of its size and the perceived strength of its programmes to pilot the strategy. The management of the business school has designed courses that are generally delivered to full time as well as part time students overseas. All overseas teaching is conducted in partnership with local colleges which are based in the country of delivery. Under the current teaching module developed by the management a faculty member of the University is generally employed for overseas teaching on a two year attachment in each country of operation.
Every study module is delivered to the students through the partnership of a module teacher sent by the University and a local teacher. The module teacher of Grantchester has to visit the partner college and give a series of lectures to students and attend seminars over a single week. During this single week visit he also conduct meeting with partner teachers in order to devise strategy of staff development. Then it is the responsibility of the partner teacher to conduct tutorials and seminars supporting and building on the block sessions.
Although assessment materials are prepared by the module tutor, student work is marked by the partner tutor, with only 10 percent sample of student work being moderated by the module leader. In order to have efficient course delivery the management has to arrange overseas trips for the faculties and teaching schedule in such a way that courses are delivered in timely manner. The management provides allowance for business class travel to the faculties.
The faculty members who are scheduled to go overseas are required to book tickets at least three months in advance through the Associate Dean responsible. Staff wishing to have alternative arrangements approved on an exceptional basis must seek approval from the associate Dean responsible. Both FT and PT delivery modes consist of 6 nights maximum accommodation overseas and 6 nights disturbance allowance at the approved rate (currently ? 50. 00 per day). The current model is however not free from problems.
A number of problems are associated with this current module of overseas teaching. Faculties of Grantchester who have already visited other countries for the purpose of delivering study module have expressed their grievances over certain issues. Last minute scheduling of overseas trips for the faculties have been a major problem for the management. The current system of organizing trips to overseas seems to be ad hoc in nature which is creating problem not only to the higher authority but also to the faculties who are assigned the trips on short period notice.
During the case study it has been found that the management was dealing with the problem of arranging academic staffs for some particular session as the management did not able to find out academic staffs who could participate in that session even when only one and half months remained in the hand of management where the program necessitates booking of flights three months before the delivery schedule. The management was looking for some one who was under profiled as the business school was not in a position to pay for overtime.
Although the management some how managed to get required staffs for sending overseas for that particular session, this kind of ad hoc nature of scheduling trips create huge problems for faculties as they have to go other countries for delivering course module on short period notice. Another problem associated with the issue of scheduling trips is that management is quite idle in informing faculties about any changes in the scheduled trips on an emergency basis.
For example, in 2008-09 for the February session Peter Smith was supposed to leave to deliver course module to the students of Star College on 8th February, but due to some problem the lectures that were scheduled to be given on WC February 9th got cancelled and the lectures were rearranged on WC February 16th. The management, however, did not bother to let Peter know about this change as soon as the decision was taken by the management. He was informed two weeks later giving him only little time to change his flight booking.
Last minute scheduling of overseas tours also provides the faculties with little time for preparing themselves for teaching overseas students. They get little time to get acquainted with the course module and get confused about what to deliver to the overseas students. One the faculty members who has already gone through this problem has described his experience. He suffered the problem of this kind of ad hoc nature of planning in his very first trip to overseas. This faculty member was asked to go to Far Off to deliver the induction programme for the first cohort of students on a very short period notice.
He received the email only two weeks before he needed to fly out. He was provided with the paperwork, i. e. the course material only before he left for the trip so that he could read it on the plane, and hence he hadn’t had the chance to prepare or fully understand what was being proposed in the documentation. He wasn’t aware of the course structure or even the module content. It seemed crazy, but the authority wanted him to run a week of course induction for the new students and had drafted him the course material at the last minute.
As he did not get enough time to prepare himself for delivering course material, the quality of teaching according to him was not up to the mark. The management is also suffering with problem of delivering allowances to their faculty members on time for their trips to overseas. The university is liable to pay allowances for traveling and accommodation to the faculty members. But the case study has revealed that some faculty members were not provided with the stipulated allowances even after a long time of since completing their visits.
For example, according to a faculty member although the travel arrangements and the hotel accommodations were satisfactory, it was three months since she returned and still had not received her expenses and disturbance allowance. Not only that, she also did not have any clear idea regarding how to chase these up. It is the responsibility of the university management to offer a clear idea regarding all aspects of these overseas tours and providing allowances no time.
She did not bother very much about the issue of reimbursement and expressed her satisfaction over the trip and expressed her wish to go for another one as it was only her first trip. But if she faces this kind of reimbursement problem everytime she goes overseas for fulfilling the goal of internationalization of the university, she might not be ready to continue this or this could negatively affect the quality of teaching as she will not be sure about whether she will be paid off for delivering lectures.
For any international teaching organization, success depends on the quality of teaching. In recent times many organizations many educational institutions are going for internationalization with an aim to cash in on new market opportunities and least bother about providing high quality education. Looking at these kind of intentions of most of the international educational organizations, a number of countries are making some regulations for overseas universities running programs in those countries.
Granchester University is also confronting this problem in some of the countries where it has been running its overseas programmes. For example, Ethnocentrica, one of the countries that Grantchester has been teaching in, has recently introduced tighter regulation of overseas universities running programmes there. This is, at least in part, because of concern that such teaching is perceived as primarily a means of cashing in on the growth in education globally.
A number of universities operate in Ethnocentrica and the government is worried by the growing number of complaints about poor quality teaching and assessment. One of the key regulations stipulates that overseas universities must provide full Professors for all teaching of university courses delivered in Ethnocentrica in order to enhance teaching quality. But the problem with Grantchester is that it employs only few full professors as they are more interested in research work and the university is basically a teaching university which does not pay much attention on research works.
A key challenge to the University management: Through the rigorous analysis of the case study presented above, one thing has come out that all the problems discussed above would result in deterioration in the quality of teaching which is essential for an international organization like Granchester University. It is one of the vital responsibilities of the management to ensure that the faculty members offer quality teaching to overseas students.
All the problems revealed through the case study ultimately boils down to a vital problem relating to the quality of teaching. Thus it is the issue of providing high quality teaching to overseas students that is posing challenge to the management of the University. The university authority requires to manage its human resources, i. e. the academic staffs in such a way that quality teaching can be provided. This issue of providing high quality teaching is extremely important and relevant fro conducting the process of internationalization efficiently.