In 2010, more than 4 million students were studying outside their home countries. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, this number may rise to 8 million international higher education students by 2025. This globally mobile population of mainly young people seeking education represents an investment in crucial assets for sending countries, which is essential for future development, prosperity and welfare, as students return home with increased knowledge and skills prepared for global citizenship. For receiving countries, these students bring cultural and intellectual diversity to the institutions and the countries they visit, often representing a source of revenue for those institutions and communities, and in other cases a source of skilled labour in the current knowledge based economy. For sending countries, however, this might be a cause of brain drain and increased dependence.
Mobility of students is only one aspect of internationalization in modern higher education: mobility of institutions (branch campuses), programmes (franchises), researchers and teaching staff are other manifestations. The development of intercultural and international learning outcomes, the internationalization of the curriculum and teaching and learning, are other examples, also described as internationalization at home or the preparation of global professionals and citizens. Branding, reputation building and rankings are yet more aspects related to the internationalization of higher education.
Higher education institutions, governments and other organizations invest heavily in the internationalization of higher education to build research capacity, improve the quality of education of their graduates and build up a workforce for a changing labour market. The demand for knowledge is global.
One area that is still underdeveloped is the study of internationalization of higher education itself: researching and analyzing trends, rationales, comparative developments at the regional and global scale, and outcomes and impacts of internationalization. In many cases, policies are being implemented by institutions and governments without proper knowledge and understanding of the consequences of these actions and policies. More academic research of the effect of international activities is needed. Many questions need to be researched and answered. Do international students improve the quality of the host institution's programmes? Does the educational programme offer better quality once the curriculum is internationalized? What is the effect on non-natives of teaching and learning in English? How important is the study of foreign languages and of intercultural and international competencies in the current global knowledge society in which we live? What is the impact of a study abroad period for students on a personal and academic level? Does an exchange programme or an internationalized curriculum make graduates more employable and better able to understand the global social issues we are facing, in particular the eight United Nations Millennium Development...