Factors Affecting Internationalization Degree of Higher Education Institutions in Portugal and Spain

Factors Affecting Internationalization Degree of Higher Education Institutions in Portugal and Spain

Marina Amorim Sousa, Tomás Bañegil Palacios, Beatriz Corchuelo Martínez-Azúa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3525-6.ch016
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The aim of this study is to evaluate the degree of internationalization of Iberian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the factors that influence their internationalization process. The study begins with the contextualization of the HEI internationalization process through a brief historical synthesis and the establishment of the levels of analysis of this process, to focus, in more detail, the organizational level. To this end, it is supported in an organization dimensions model to define the components of the internationalization process and the data collection by questionnaire. The results were processed for each of its components, and the degree of internationalization was obtained by calculating the mean values of the components total. The study concludes that the Iberian HEIs have an interesting level of internationalization, which is higher for institutions with more than 5.000 students, with simultaneous focus on teaching and research, conferring the master's and doctor's degrees.
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Historical Synthesis of the Internationalization Process of Higher Education

The history of the University traces its origins to around the 12th century in Europe, with the Medieval University, natural corollary of Christianity, of strengthening the feudal territorial independence, of land concentration and its settlement as well as of the increase in agricultural production, and consequently of its surpluses trade.

The Medieval University is the source of the concepts of University that still last today: the University was not only a learning institution, but also a place for developing the thought and for creating knowledge. It was the headquarters for scholarly debate, and often the area of conflict between the real power and the ecclesiastical power. Masters and students overcame their territorial borders to acquire the necessary knowledge for social development and for power support, a mission that lasted until the end of the 17th century.

Simultaneously with the consolidation of the Medieval University, “the discovery of new worlds” cycle happened from the 15th century on. This cycle can simply be seen as a colonization movement that first involved the Portuguese and the Spanish (1492-1572) (Hernandez, 1985), and afterwards (1534-1630), other peoples from Europe, namely the Dutch, the Swedish, the French and the British. The depth of this colonization movement is clearly perceived when knowing that it included the founding of two universities – the University of Lima in 1551, and the University of Mexico in 1553 –, leading, in following years, to the founding of universities in South America and Antilles, in India, Macau, China and Japan.

We can, therefore, affirm that from the 12th century to the 17th century the University had an international vocation and its own mission, centered on masters and students’ mobility, and on its settlement in scattered regions around the world.

Within this cycle the “discovery of America” took place, specifically of its northern continent, colonized by the French and the English, who fought each other for the possession of the territories in that vast region. This rivalry gave origin to an indigenous settler movement, which culminated in the American War of Independence and in the ensuing Declaration of Independence (1776). The United States were born with a very close configuration to the one we know today. Those French and British settlers that did not comply with this secessionist movement moved farther north, having founded Canada (Fohlen, 1985).

It was during that colonial period under the British power that the first American Universities were formed. The first was the Harvard College (1636), which, having been founded by British settlers, replicated the fundamentals and culture of the two main British Universities: Oxford and Cambridge.

Nevertheless, and concurrently after the beginning of the 17th century, there was a decline in the University foundational principles derived from a social transformation process whose epicenter was France and the French Revolution (1789-1799). The French Revolution repercussions were extended under diverse forms and degrees to almost all Europe, as well as to the United States and to Canada. It was a social transformation of both economic and social nature, in which the University assumed, paradigmatically, a new mission with utilitarian significance:

…offer to the State and to the post-revolutionary society the necessary boards to stabilize a troubled country; strictly control its training and education according to the new social order; and prevent the rebirth of new professional corporations (Charle & Verger, 1996, p. 76).

The French Revolution symbolically signals the beginning of the end of the Medieval University.

At the end of the first half of the 19th century, replying to this radical and utilitarian definition of mission, Humboldt proposed the concept of “Research University”, a comprehensive university that pursues scientific truth, and it is not idealistically oriented towards satisfying society’s needs. Consequently, many universities abandoned their professional market-oriented curricula and focused on advanced PhD studies (Winckler, 2008).

It was at this time, more precisely in 1875, that the Johns Hopkins University was founded in the United States. Inspired by the Humboldt’s model, it was the first American university to follow this model.

In the United States, the coexistence of distinguished Universities formed according to Newman’s classical model and to Humboldt’s model helped the massification of the Northern-American higher education system during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. This enabled the American higher education system to respond to the challenges of the new industrial society in a world dominance situation, which was expressed, inverting its initial movement, in the exportation of its model to the Occidental Europe and, after that, to the whole world either commercially developed or in development. This was, then, a period of great international mobility of institutional models and curricula.

After the Second World War, as new geostrategic instances emerged, an epoch of extensive liberally-shaped economic dominance started. This market based society adopted by the developed countries and assumed by developing countries has determined a hegemonic change of the university ethos. Currently, the University is an institution that – in the context of an increasingly competitive and globalized society; of a diffused regulation of a more distanced State that provides it with more autonomy for self-organization and relation; and of an enlarged and socially responsible mission – is available for performing public services and for satisfying social needs as well as for seeking connections with territory managers, economic actors and other social actors in a competitive way.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaboration and Partnerships: Includes all forms of internationalization of university activities with cross-border character, which can be structured in the mobility of students, institutions, courses/programmes and research projects/services.

Degree of Internationalization: A quantitative value for each university obtained by averaging the normalized value of every dimension on the concept of comprehensive internationalization.

Europeanization: May be understood as an internationalization process at a regional level, with a potential similar to a global intervention.

Student International Exchange: The movement of students from one home university to universities abroad, as well as on the flow of foreign students coming from abroad to study at a university in the country.

Organizational Structure for Internationalization: The organizational structures that support the implementation of internationalization according to the framework outlined in the institutional commitment.

Faculty Policies and Practices for Internationalization: The policies and practices outlined for the university’s human resources management, since these are the pillars for implementing the internationalization, whether in teaching, and in research/services activities or in their ability to detect opportunities to establish international partnerships and collaborations.

Dimensions of Organizations: Objectives, functions, structure and participants.

Organizational Environment for Higher Education: The global level represented by the supranational dimension, the regional level represented by the geographic region, the national level representing the country and the organizational level represented by higher education institutions in each country.

Internationalization of the Curriculum: Is a concept that focuses on the internationalization of educational programs in general, such as curricula, learning outcomes, or language requirements.

Institutional Commitment to Internationalization: The link between mission, strategy, planning and assessment mechanisms, and the communication channels within and outside the university, in order to assess whether and how stakeholders perceive the definition of internationalization as a priority for the university.

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