Yasemin Soysal and Roxana Baltaru have received funding from the University of Essex’s Executive Dean Fund for a new one-year project on mapping internationalization in the university sector, focusing on the institutional level factors. Launched in September 2017, the project aims to develop analytical tools to measure internationalization.
Internationalization ranks highly on universities’ agendas due to its potential to foster the development of new knowledge and innovative approaches of world-wide significance. However, there is a profound lack of analytical tools that would allow a comparative investigation of universities’ responses to internationalization. “Global Outlooks” aims to create a cross-national analytical framework to understand the ways in which universities internationalize. The project will produce two coding schemes that can be used by further academic research in identifying the diversity of internationalization pathways and strategies in UK universities and beyond. More specifically, the project will engage with empirical data at the organizational level (e.g. the emergence of new positions and units such as: PVC internationalization, PVC research, development offices) and at the discursive level (e.g. how universities “talk” about internationalization on their websites).
We will use three sources of data: A) We will start by exploring the websites of UK universities by using in-depth case studies and aggregate level data mining techniques at the cross-sectional level. This will help us map the type of structures that universities engage with in articulating their commitment to internationalization. B) Once these have been captured, the research will take a longitudinal turn by aiming to identify the time points at which such organizational structures were first adopted by universities (e.g. when was the international office, if any, founded). For this purpose, a structured questionnaire will be developed and sent to all UK higher education institutions (HEIs) as defined by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) population frame. C) Institutional level characteristics will be collected from HESA and the European Tertiary Education Register.
On the basis of these data, we will develop two coding schemes allowing for the identification of institutional pathways and models shaping universities’ engagement with internationalization. The coding schemes will cover internationalization related personnel structures and organizational units (at the organizational level), and a representative set of keywords and semantic clusters (at the discursive level). These coding schemes will allow us to compare universities’ strategies of internationalization at the organizational level with their discursive strategies (e.g. universities’ self-presentation in terms of global outlook on their websites), in the light of specific institutional characteristics (e.g. foundation year, rank, and prestige).