Written by the group Anonymous Dinosaurs
Risto Koivula, Ganapati Sahoo, Karmen Kapp, Kaarina Aitamurto
Internationalisation of higher education and research is a growing phenomenon with increasing global interdependence (de Wit, 2020). Integrating international languages and intercultural aspects into the teaching, research and services of the university has become not only necessary but also unavoidable to a certain degree. Even though internationalisation of higher education brings additional tasks for the existing systems, the benefits certainly outweigh the challenges. Keeping a positive approach to this process would help us achieve a leader position in current globalized society. Here we look at the benefits of internationalization from perspectives of development of personnel, research activities and cultural awareness in the community at the universities.
The thirst of knowledge and joy and excitement of finding something new has been a major driver for human evolution. Accepting the differences, e.g., in customs, tradition and appearance enables a safe place for interaction – essential for equal intercommunication.
Taking cultural differences into a daily life of a research group enriches thought patterns of solving problems and gives a variety of paths to fulfil the research goal.
Slow is faster – the slightly slower communication between groups members was in fact faster when examined in terms of meeting the research goals. Reasons for this may be found in communication strategies that favour interactive strategies (asking questions, self-disclosure) between intercultural communications since passive strategies (observation) (Berger, 1975) may lead to false interpretation based to cultural differences, for example, different meanings of looking in the eyes during discourse.
No longer one can take things for granted when working in a multicultural environment. This puts one in a position where more thinking, i.e., time is consumed in the communication that in turn makes it more precise and usually allows more equality between the parties.
Knowing and sharing the common goal of the research group is of course the cornerstone of successful group dynamics. To understand and to affect these issues explicit communication is essential in creating an atmosphere of trust, self-assurance and equality, i.e., a perfect platform for success.
Present and future of scientific research heavily relies on collaboration among multiple international resources. In such a scenario, adapting to internationalization in a research work environment is as beneficial as it is essential.
Academic exchanges among universities and international collaborations strengthens the ties among countries. It provides international education experience to both domestic and foreign students and expands their academic mobility and enhances network building capability to establish future collaborations (Delgado-Marquez et al. 2011; Jibeen and Khan, 2015).
Internationalization is a key aspect in the development of the faculty and students at higher education institutes. While it attracts the best minds, resulting in a better educational environment and higher academic quality, it also partly opens up an additional revenue generation opportunity for the universities not only by running international degree programs but also because the international oriented staff is more likely to receive grants from different international funding programs (Bedenlier and Zawaki-Richter, 2015).
Internationalization of research groups enables members to have access to novel research materials such as articles, patents in diverse languages (Bedenlier and Zawaki-Richter, 2015). It also allows members to work in international laboratories, use data from different experimental facilities and most importantly, to join the effort in addressing problems of global interest.
In regular operations of the research groups the asset of many different working cultures at disposal is a significant advantage. Many situations generate different kinds of responses from which the best practices could be withdrawn.
Working in international groups facilitates students to improve their skills and perspectives, fosters them in growing as a scholar with wider vision and enables them to cater to the global needs and issues.
Culture and social life
In Universities, the lingua franca in international collectives is usually English (Lau and Lin, 2017; de Wit, 2020) and it can be asked whether academic communities often present a kind of bubbles, separate from the society. However, having other international colleagues in the collective may provide peer support for learning the new language and for integrating to the new society (Bedenlier and Zawaki-Richter, 2015). Cultural diversity also creates an inclusive atmosphere where individuals feel that they are accepted as they are.
Working or studying abroad undoubtedly provides new perspectives for people, but so does working or studying in international collectives in one’s home country. These introduce people to alternative ways of thinking, interaction and doing things (Delgado-Marquez et al. 2011). Learning from other cultures and becoming familiar with new customs allows people to reflect their own habits, values and norms from a new angle. Thus, the international environment has a great potential to make one more open-minded and accustomed to adapt to different environments. In consequence, international collectives prepare students also for working abroad and for international careers.
de Wit, H. (2020). Internationalization of Higher Education. Journal of International Students, 10(1), i-iv. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i1.1893 Retrieved from: https://www.ojed.org/index.php/jis/article/view/1893
Lau K.; Lin, C.-Y. (2017). Internationalization of Higher Education and language Policy: the case of bilingual university in Taiwan. Higher Education, 74: 437-454. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10734-016-0055-3
Bedenlier, S., Zawaki-Richter, O. (2015). Internalization of Higher Education and the Impacts on Academic Faculty Members. Research in Comparative & International Education, 10(2), 185-201. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1745499915571707
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Berger, C. R.; Calabrese, R. J. (1975). “Some Exploration in Initial Interaction and Beyond: Toward a Developmental Theory of Communication”. Human Communication Research. 1 (2): 99–112. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.1975.tb00258.x.