Report: The Internationalisation of Irish Higher Education

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The Higher Education Authority (HEA) commissioned report The Internationalisation of Irish Higher Education by Marie Clarke, Linda Hui Yang and David Harmon, published this week, is an important contribution in terms of evaluating the internationalisation efforts of Irish higher level institutions (HEIs) over the past number of years. While noting that, overall, Ireland’s internationalisation efforts have been very successful, the report also identifies a number of areas in which improvements could be made and identifies a lack of funding as a particular issue.

The report notes that, in many HEIs, there is a lack of clarity in relation to the future direction of internationalisation and, in some cases, internationalisation efforts have been “symbolic” and fail to meet international students’ needs.

It also notes the mixed feelings among faculty across HEIs towards internationalisation, with many of the view that the time and effort they invest in internationalisation is not valued by their institutions. Some also do not see the value in internationalising curricula, and some feel that the presence of international students can result in a more challenging teaching and learning environment. Perhaps related to this, it is noted that most HEIs do not provide funding for the internationalisation of teaching and learning, nor do the majority of faculty receive intercultural training.

In terms of the student experience, international students are generally very positive about the orientation they received and the supports that are available to them at their institutions, although medical and counselling services are particularly noted as in need to improvement. Unsurprisingly, the cost and suitability of available accommodation is highlighted as one of the biggest challenges, as is the integration of international students with domestic students.

Interestingly, though, the report finds evidence that Irish students who have studied abroad have a shared experience with international students in Ireland and are often more supportive as a result. This leads to the contention that outward mobility is important in contributing to successful internationalisation at home.

Read the full report here.   

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