Internationalization and Higher Education: The Case of the University of Aveiro

Internationalization and Higher Education: The Case of the University of Aveiro

Rosa Nogueira (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and António Carrizo Moreira (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7259-6.ch004
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Education is the most successful strategy for a country's growth and development. It is widely agreed that it is the most effective means that society possesses for dealing with the challenges of the future. Nevertheless, higher education has been confronted and needs, therefore, to redefine its historic role as the center of universal knowledge and understanding. This chapter analyzes the importance of internationalization on higher education institutions and enable us to better understand how they are changing as a consequence of the globalization process. Using the University of Aveiro as a case study, we will be studying what internationalization is in a higher education context and which rationales, approaches, and activities are associated with the internationalization process. Furthermore, the appropriateness of theories of internationalization specifically developed for business contexts will be portrayed at the end of the chapter.
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Higher education (HE) is expected to play a leading role in attaining equity, development, justice and democracy, in fostering the values of democracy, creating critical citizens, as well as in shaping new generations of thinkers and actors. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 1997: 40): “the goal of (higher) education is to make people wiser, more knowledgeable, better informed, ethical, responsible, critical and capable of continuing to learn (…) Education, in short, is humanity’s best hope and most effective means in the quest to achieve sustainable development.”

Pressured by demanding needs to endure and improve their competence, higher education institutions (HEIs) have found in internationalization strategies their way to progress and survive. Internationalization is widely understood to be good and to improve higher education quality, competitiveness and development. However, internationalization cannot be understood as an end in itself but rather as a means to develop and sustain higher education.

At the beginning of the 20th century, internationalization became an interesting study phenomenon, and deeply developed in the 1980s with European mobility programs. However, the literature reviewed, the documentary data and reports analyzed have shown that most of what is produced is related to information that explains the phenomena of internationalization in higher education contexts. Most studies focused their conclusions in why and how internationalization in higher education is conceived. An inner look at the Portuguese reality allows us to understand that there is not much study produced on this theme.

Using a case study, the aim of this chapter is to analyze in depth and with particular attention the example of the University of Aveiro (UA) in order to find out more about what internationalization is to Portuguese HEIs.

The purpose of this chapter is to comprehend the term internationalization applied to the higher education context, to analyze the existing internationalization activities in the University of Aveiro and to understand whether business strategies and models could also be applied to services, namely in a HEI. Despite extensive studies about higher education, it was interesting to discover that there are few evidences of interconnection of managerial ideas and models between private and public institutions. Through the comprehension of their rationales, activities, extension and actors, we should be able to understand the evolution and the importance of internationalization in HEIs.

Considering that most of the literature produced is focused on the background of internationalization, our purpose is to find out more about the importance of internationalization in HEIs, by getting to know their activities in this field better. In order to understand the importance given by institutions to internationalization, a case study will be analyzed so that the following question might be answered: what is internationalization in Higher Education Institutions?

To understand and explore the research problem, as well as take into account our case study, other succeeding questions are defined in order to comprehend and give an oriented design to our work:

  • How is internationalization understood in higher education contexts?

  • How are internationalization activities in HEIs characterized, particularly in UA?

  • What are the main rationales to the internationalization of UA?

  • What are the main strategies being adopted by UA in order to be internationalized?

  • How has internationalization activities in UA changed?

  • What is expected for UA’s future strategy?

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