Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-17, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 3 January, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2017.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Internationalisation in higher education is the process of developing a multilateral and multicultural learning and research environment through, for example, redesigning curricula, engaging non-local staff, encouraging students to study abroad and aatracting overseas students.

explanatory context

There is a great diversity of interpretations attributed to the concept of internationalisation in higher education.

analytical review

Knight (2005) defined internationalisation as:

The process of integrating an intentional, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education.


This definition, which is widely adopted, projects internationalisation as a process, includes both international and local (intercultural) elements and is not the same as globalisation. Knight (1999, pp. 13–14) argued that:

Internationalisation of higher education is one of the ways a country responds to the impact of globalisation yet, at the same time respects the individuality of the nation.” Thus, internationalisation and globalisation are seen as different but dynamically linked concepts. Globalisation can be thought of as the catalyst while internationalisation is the response, albeit a response in a proactive way

Bernardo (2003, p. 5) identified two major rationales of internationalisation as “internationalism” and “open market transnational education”. “Internationalism” focuses on cultural/social development and integration, seeking to develop “international cooperation for the common good and the appreciation of international character or quality in education” (2003, p. 6). Internationalism is associated with: international student mobility/exchange programmes; teacher development and exchange; research collaborations; internationalising curricula as foreign language studies; internationalising curricula as building international perspectives. “Open market transnational education” is “designed to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by the changing demands of a globalized world economy” (Bernado, 2003, p. 16). Open market transnational education with: distance education; twinning programmes; articulation programmes; branch campuses; franchising arrangements; and internationalising standards and quality assurance of curricula.

Concern for the defence of national cultural values led to Malo et al. (1997) to propose a definition as follows:

The internationalisation of higher education involves the process of incorporating an international and intercultural dimension into university teaching, research and services.

associated issues

In the British context, where English is the language of internationalisation, the British Academy in Language Matters More and More, recommends that UK Vice-Chancellors: adopt a wider definition of ‘internationalisation’, rather than focus simply on recruitment of overseas students; ensure that universities place this broader understanding of internationalisation and language learning at the heart of their missions; respond to the growing internationalisation of the graduate jobs market; provide language training to meet the needs of their researchers; encourage and enable their students to take time out of their studies to work or study abroad; make provision for their students to study a language while studying for a non-language degree; work collaboratively to sustain languages at a time of considerable fiscal restraints. (British Academy, 2010)

Harvey (2002
) suggests various possible ways that international accreditation could occur. One approach is for mutual recognition between national agencies, a second is the establishment of international agencies and a third is the development of supranational agencies, paper available here as a pdf

Approaches to internationalisation

Knight (1999, pp. 14–16) identifies four approaches to internationalisation:

The activity approach is one that has been most prevalent and is characteristic of the period when one described the international dimension in terms of specific activities or programmes. The most predominant types of activities include international students, development assistance or academic mobility. In fact, according to some professionals the activity approach was synonymous with the term international education in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The competency approach is more closely related to an outcomes approach to education where quality is thought of in terms of knowledge, skills, interests, values and attitudes of the students. In the competency approach to internationalisation the emphasis is placed on the human element of the academic community – the students, faculty and technical/administrative/support staff. The issue which is central to this approach is how does generation and transfer of knowledge help to develop competencies in the personnel of the higher education institution to be more internationally knowledgeable and interculturally skilled. Thus, in this approach, the development of internationalised curricula and programmes is not an end unto itself but a means toward developing the appropriate competencies in students, staff and faculty. There is a growing interest in the identification and measurement of competencies as outcomes of internationalisation. The preoccupation with competencies is interesting in that research and discourse is now taking place on defining competencies, sometimes called international or global or transnational competencies. Is there a fundamental conceptual difference between these terms? Or is it another indication of terms being used interchangeably and causing more confusion than clarity? The answers to these questions are not evident at this time but rigorous analysis and some clarity on the definitions and relationships of these terms will help the study and practice of internationalisation move forward.

The ethos approach relates more to organisational development theories which focus on the creation of a culture or climate within an organisation to support a particular set of principles and goals. In the case of internationalisation, the focus is on establishing an ethos or which encourages and fosters the development of international and intercultural values and initiatives. This approach attempts to make the international dimension more explicit in the culture of the institution.

The process approach stresses the integration of an international and/or intercultural dimension into academic programmes as well as the guiding policies and procedures of an institution. A major concern in this approach is the need to address the sustainability of the international dimension. Therefore, emphasis is placed on programme aspects as well as organisational elements such as policies and procedures.

In summary, it is important to remember that these four different approaches to describing internationalisation are complementary and certainly not mutually exclusive. The typology reflects how dynamic the concept of internationalisation is and how internationalisation is shaping new directions for higher education and at the same time responding to current trends and needs of the sector.

related areas

See also



Bernardo, A.B.I., 2003, ‘International higher education: models, conditions, and issues’, in Tullao, T.S (Ed.), Education and globalization (pp. 213–72). Manila: PIDS/PASCN.

British Academy, 2010, 'Lost in Translation', news release, available at, accessed 2 September 2012, page not available 3 January 2017.

Harvey, L., 2002, ‘Quality assurance in higher education: some international trends’ Higher Education Conference, Oslo, 22-23 January 2002, pp. 21–26, paper available as a pdf

Knight, J., 1999, ‘Internationalisation of higher education’ in OECD, 1999, Quality and Internationalisation in Higher Education, pp.13–28, Paris, OECD.

Knight, J., 2005, Internationalisation of HE: New Directions, New Challenges, IAU Global Survey Report.

Malo, S., Valle, R and Wriedt, K., 1997, Planning for the IQRP – The National University of Mexico, National University of Mexico, pp. 63–80.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2017

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