We know how to make higher education more international, but the tools should also show in the curriculum, says survey by CIMO

Heads of Finnish higher education programmes would like to offer their students activities supporting internationalisation at every stage of the studies. They recognise a range of tools which integrate internationality into the programmes, but the tools are used randomly and unsystematically. Guest lectures, intensive courses, international projects and other tools of internationalisation can therefore remain isolated experiments.

These are some of the results of a CIMO survey into how internationalisation and elements supporting internationalisation can be integrated into higher education studies. What kind of models are already used and what kind of obstacles of internationalisation or promoting factors are there? For answers, CIMO interviewed heads of study programmes and organised a discussion event with higher education representatives.

In the Strategy for the Internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions in Finland (2009), the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture argues that all higher education degrees should in future include a module supporting internationalisation.

Institutions have already launched projects to create such international modules. The curricula are being reformed to incorporate courses and activities supporting the students’ international competences. The aim is also to make more visible existing tools and resources of internationalisation. The international module can be a compulsory or optional part of the degree, and the module should have its own goals, extent and criteria of eligible modes of study. The module typically consists of different elements such as practical training or study abroad, studies completed through a foreign language, language studies, international summer schools and tutoring given to international students.

International elements can be incorporated into higher education studies, if the institutions make space for internationality in their curricula; if internationality is recognised in student guidande and counselling; if there is improved provision of teaching in a foreign language; and if students from different cultural backgrounds are brought together to study together. The key requisite, however, is a positive overall attitude among institutional leadership, other staff members and the students: if they feel positive about internationality and want to promote it, it’s more likely that the result, too, will be a success.

Read more in CIMO’s publication:

Internationality as part of higher education studies (Faktaa - Facts and figures 1B/2012, pdf)

(TL / September 2012)