Keynote 1: Internationalisation in HE? Not without intercultural communication…
Lixian Jin, De Montfort University
Internationalisation (or transnationalization) in British higher education (HE) as an institutionalised process may have a relatively short history if it is perceived as a practice of recruiting international students to study in Western universities. However, current thinking has moved well beyond this position. It has been argued that the internationalisation in HE has been motivated by ‘commercial advantages … enhancing the curriculum with international content’ (Altbach & Knight 2007, p. 290). Researchers (e.g. De Vita & Case, 2003; Coverdale-Jones & Rastall, 2009; Coverdale-Jones, 2013) have been examining policies, agenda and practices of internationalisation in HE not only in ‘the West’, but also in other regions such as the Middle East, Southeast and East Asia where universities increasingly put internationalization in a central role in their missions.
The presenter argues that intercultural learning and developing awareness and skills associated with common and differing cultures of learning should be part of the curriculum and staff development in British universities in order to genuinely promote and practise internationalisation in HE. This goes beyond catering for international students (whose academic and social needs must still be met) and includes home students, part-time and distance learners, academic and technical and administrative staff and, arguably the local community. The presentation cites examples of good practice from the UK, Canada and China and outlines some ways in which intercultural communication might be carried out within a framework of internationalization. While internationalization may have stemmed from commercial motives, and has now (surely?) broadened well beyond simplistic market orientations, universities still need to adopt some business principles to serve customers and learn from the business world to see how they meet the intercultural communication needs in their commercial activities. However, beyond this, intercultural communication is not simply a fashionable trend but can be seen as foundational for the educational benefit and humane development of all participants in British higher education; thus we need to include intercultural communication competence and skills – as a central part of internationalization – to enhance learning and teaching and for academics to think about HE in a dynamic intercultural way.
Prof. Lixian Jin is Chair Professor of Linguistics and Intercultural Learning and the Director of the Centre for Research in Intercultural Communication and Learning (CIRCL) at De Montfort University, UK. She has taught linguistics and English in China, Hong Kong, Britain, Turkey, and has been leading funded research projects with international teams and in Singapore, Malaysia and China, including the project granted by the British Prime Minister Initiative (PMI2) fund on Intercultural Business Communication. She has also built up a staff team at De Montfort University for a new MSc course on Intercultural Business Communication as a response to the findings of the PMI2 project where they train both British and international students to be more competitive and competent in intercultural communication to meet the demand of workforce in international companies.
Her over 100 publications based on research are in intercultural communication, applied linguistics, bilingual clinical assessments, and narrative and metaphor analyses. Her recent publications included jointly edited books: Researching Chinese learners, skills, perceptions and intercultural adaptations (2011, Palgrave Macmillan) and Researching Cultures of Learning; international perspectives on language learning and education and Researching Intercultural learning; investigations in language and education (2013, Palgrave Macmillan). She has also served as an editor or an executive editorial member on a number of international journals including Intercultural Communication Studies, Asian Journal of English Language Teaching, and International Journal of Language Communication and Disorders.