Rethinking the internationalisation agenda in UK higher education

Glauco De Vita, Peter Case

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    153 Citations (Scopus)


    Internationalisation of higher education (HE) affords an opportunity to engage in critical reflection on practices across the sector and to pursue a programme of widespread reform based on outcomes of practitioner dialogue and debate. This opportunity is, however, being largely shunned thanks to the prominence of a marketisation discourse that has claimed the internationalisation agenda as its own, redefining it narrowly in commercially expedient terms. Adopting a broadly Foucauldian perspective on discourse, this article offers a critique of HE internationalisation in the UK. It begins with an analysis of the global trade in HE courses on international markets, arguing that it is inappropriate to treat curricula as though they were merely commodities reducible solely to exchange value. Having questioned the marketisation discourse, the article proceeds to expose the inadequacies of a piecemeal 'infusion approach' to curriculum internationalisation. Simply flavouring curricula with 'international' or 'global' elements fails to address more fundamental issues of the educational process posed by multicultural recruitment and teaching. The critique is founded on a questioning of the cross-cultural validity of purchaser/provider models in general and the student-as-customer metaphor in particular. A 'learning as eating' conception of education finds its apogee in Ritzer's McDonaldised university, with its programmatic reduction of HE, casualisation of teaching labour and 'product' standardisation. The article ends with a polemical call for a reclamation of the internationalisation agenda on the part of practitioners who are interested in creating culturally inclusive, fair and genuinely educational forms of multicultural HE teaching and assessment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)383-398
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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