Perceptions of Key Stakeholders on the Internationalization of Higher Education Institutions in the UAE

Perceptions of Key Stakeholders on the Internationalization of Higher Education Institutions in the UAE

Muhammed Madi A. Ahmed Yousif, Mohammed Alhosani, Ibrahim Duyar, Sameera Alhosani, Sara Hamad
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5929-4.ch015
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The current study, using previously found frameworks of strategic area internalization, examined three key stakeholders' perceptions about the (i) meaning, (ii) significance, (iii) rationales, and (iv) risks of internationalization of higher education in the UAE context. Data was collected from 1323 students, 237 faculty members, and 119 administrative staff members in eight universities. Findings demonstrated that stakeholder groups had similar and differing perceptions in select strategic areas. For instance, while stakeholders collectively valued internationalization as a powerful means for knowledge creation and sharing, there were significant differences among stakeholder groups on the three domains. Post-hoc tests showed that nationals and non-nationals significantly differed in the rationale and perceived risks of internationalization. Similarly, students significantly differed from administrators on three domains. Findings would help policymakers in reconciling the differences between stakeholders towards maintaining effective internationalization efforts.
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The globalization of economies and societies, which has driven waves of change in the higher education landscape at local and international levels, has had a massive impact on higher education and created a context for the inclusion of an 'international' dimension of higher education institutions (HEIs). Internationalization serves as a tool for HEIs to meet the challenges of operating in a highly globalized education arena.

Internationalization of higher education is defined as the (process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions, and delivery of post-secondary education (Knight, 2004, p.11). Any activity which facilitates the described process is viewed as an attempt to internationalize HEIs. Internationalization activities may include traditional study abroad programs, international research collaborations, and faculty exchanges. Over the last decade, the focus of HEIs has been on internationalization activities abroad; however, at present, we see a growing trend towards so-called 'internationalization at home,' wherein the objectives of internationalizing remain the same. Still, the activities are conducted on the HEI's premises (De Wit, 2020).

The current study aimed to explore and analyze the current internationalization practices of HEIs in the UAE. More specifically, the study examined the critical institutional stakeholders' awareness of internalization perceptions, including senior administrators, faculty members, and students. The study examined the key stakeholders' perceptions of internalization, not only observers of internalization processes but also as active participants in creating and shaping it in the UAE context. The findings of the study would eliminate the HEI decision-makers in understanding the views of key stakeholders on Internationalization. Understanding the perceptions of key stakeholders is vital to the effective implementation of internationalization plans for these institutions. Such understanding would help the university administrators to create a shared vision for their internalization efforts. The study would also contribute to the more extensive relevant literature about a unique Arab context. The policymakers have made drastic decisions toward making the UAE a part of the international community, including the higher education institutions.

Several researchers have attempted to define Internationalization, highlighting its most essential elements. Harari (1977) and Arum & Van de Water's (1992) definition (as cited in Knight, 1994, p.3) focuses on three main elements: (a) internationalized curriculum, (b) movement of scholars, and students internationally, and (c) international cooperation. Rudzki (1998) defined Internationalization as a “process of organizational change, curriculum innovation, staff development, and student mobility to attain excellence in teaching, research, and other activities which universities undertake as part of their function” (p. 16). Internationalization defined as “commitment through action, to infuse international and comparative perspectives throughout the teaching, research, and service missions of higher education Hudzik (2011).

From these definitions, any activity or endeavor (international curriculum, student/faculty exchanges, research collaborations) that facilitates a multicultural learning environment for institutional stakeholders and promotes intercultural competencies may serve as an inherent part of Internationalization. Therefore, it is essential to understand what activities are considered imperatives for internationalization to understand its meaning and definition from different perspectives and contexts. Perceived understanding of Internationalization by key stakeholders is a significant area of investigation. The present study endeavored to examine the perceived understanding of internalization by critical stakeholders in the UAE context.

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