#LTHEChat 138 Internationalisation in Higher Education – what does it mean and what can we do? with @JennyLewinJones

‘Internationalisation’ often features in university policy strategies.  Yet it is a slippery term, with a range of interpretations. We discussed ‘internationalisation’ on #LTHEchat back in 2015, but it is worth revisiting to discuss what it means and how it affects our practices now.

‘Internationalisation’ frequently refers narrowly to the strategic recruitment of international students, with financial benefits to universities through increasing numbers (Warwick and Moogan, 2013, p. 105). On the other hand, there are calls to broaden the understanding of ‘internationalisation’. A more holistic conception emphasises ‘internationalisation at home’ and the benefits for home students of studying alongside international students in an internationalised curriculum.

However, benefits of internationalisation do not happen automatically. Contact between home and international students does not necessarily lead to increased intercultural competence (Lantz-Deaton, 2017). Studies identify home students’ resistance to intercultural group work (Harrison, 2015), so whereas often the institutional emphasis is on ways to help international students assimilate and integrate, there may be a greater need to encourage home students to respond to opportunities. In fact, the division between international and home/domestic students has been questioned, with a call to consider them all together as heterogeneous populations (Jones, 2017, p. 934). Internationalisation often overlaps with issues around inclusion and inclusivity. Therefore a more optimistic view is that

“the diversity of the student body on university campuses provides a rich source of lived experience in cultural boundary-crossing that could be harnessed as a resource in promoting intercultural understanding and, in turn, developing graduates as global citizens” (Caruana, 2014, p. 86).

This is a more fundamental transformation of the study programme for all students than a bolt-on approach of rectifying deficits by providing additional support to just international students. The pedagogical choices made by staff in the classroom are key (Elliott and Reynolds, 2014, p. 318).

Leask and Carroll (2011, p. 657) call for the development of new approaches to motivate and reward intercultural interaction by all students, identifying the potential for intercultural communication. This #LTHEchat is a response to that call, with an opportunity to share experiences and ideas.

This also reflects the ‘HEA Framework for internationalising higher education’, available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/individuals/strategic-priorities/internationalising-higher-education. It includes these words:

“Everyone within HE can make a valuable contribution to the process of internationalisation, working in collaboration as an international academic community. Individuals bring a plurality of identities, cultures, languages and experiences that can enrich and enhance learning, teaching and research. Thus, responsibility for internationalising HE is shared among organisations, individuals and curriculum”.

Join in the discussion on Twitter, Wednesday 20th February, 8pm GMT, #LTHEchat.

Link to Wakelet of the chat: http://wke.lt/w/s/O4oor


Caruana, V. (2014) ‘Re-thinking Global Citizenship in Higher Education: from Cosmopolitanism and International Mobility to Cosmopolitanisation, Resilience and Resilient Thinking’, Higher Education Quarterly, 68(1), pp. 85–104. doi: 10.1111/hequ.12030.

Elliott, C. J. and Reynolds, M. (2014) ‘Participative pedagogies, group work and the international classroom: an account of students’ and tutors’ experiences’, Studies in Higher Education. Routledge, 39(2), pp. 307–320. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2012.709492.

Harrison, N. (2015) ‘Practice, problems and power in “internationalisation at home”: critical reflections on recent research evidence’, Teaching in Higher Education. Routledge, 20(4), pp. 412–430. doi: 10.1080/13562517.2015.1022147.

Jones, E. (2017) ‘Problematising and reimagining the notion of “international student experience”’, Studies in Higher Education. Routledge, 42(5), pp. 933–943. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2017.1293880.

Lantz-Deaton, C. (2017) ‘Internationalisation and the development of students’ intercultural competence’, Teaching in Higher Education. Routledge, 22(5), pp. 532–550. doi: 10.1080/13562517.2016.1273209.

Leask, B. and Carroll, J. (2011) ‘Moving beyond “wishing and hoping”: internationalisation and student experiences of inclusion and engagement’, Higher Education Research & Development.  Routledge , 30(5), pp. 647–659. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2011.598454.

Warwick, P. and Moogan, Y. J. (2013) ‘A comparative study of perceptions of internationalisation strategies in UK universities’, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education.  Routledge , 43(1), pp. 102–123. doi: 10.1080/03057925.2013.746573.


Jenny Lewin-Jones

Jenny Lewin-Jones @JennyLewinJones is a long-standing university teacher and researcher, initially in Germany and then for 20+ years in the UK. She currently works as an Associate Lecturer on the BA English Language and Sociology courses at the University of Worcester, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Jenny is also a part-time EdD (professional doctorate) student at the University of Birmingham, researching the discourses of internationalisation in Higher Education in the UK. She tweets on language, linguistics, and education @JennyLewinJones, and runs the Sociology course Twitter account @sociologyworc.

About KJHaxton

Katherine Haxton @kjhaxton is a senior lecturer in Chemistry at Keele University. Her research interests range from the use of diagnostic tests to support more effective teaching through to the impact of workload on student achievement.
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