The internationalising of universities : a comparative case study of a British university and a Hong Kong university
This study aims to clarify the role played by internationalisation in the functioning of universities in different institutional, national and cultural contexts. It examines the meanings and concepts of internationalisation, why and how universities internationalise, whether there are barriers and associated disadvantages and risks, and what are the perceived outcomes of internationalisation. The study uses a case study approach, involving the selection of two contrasting universities, namely, the University of Leicester and Hong Kong Baptist University. The choice of these two case universities was based on maximising differences in culture, geographical location, institutional type, and function, as well as feasibility of access. Guided by a literature review and five specific research questions, in-depth interviews and documentary analysis were carried out in Hong Kong and Leicester between July 2005 and April 2006. Data were open coded in accordance with the first stage of the grounded theory method of data analysis and subsequently compared and grouped on a thematic basis. Four major findings and two models emerged. First, university internationalisation as a concept is complex, multifaceted and value-laden. Second, the contrasting characters of the two case universities explain the diverse responses that each makes to the call for internationalisation in terms of purposes, strategies, processes, and practices. Third, the origin of the present emphasis on internationalisation at the two case universities is anything but planned. Having begun the process, however, internationalisation has become an entrenched and integral part in the institutional life of both universities. Fourth, some positive evidence of intercultural learning is apparent in both universities indicating that the efforts to internationalise in an otherwise globalising world of higher education have born fruition. Finally, two tentative models of internationalisation, the “internationalist” and “translocalist,” are presented for further theoretical investigation.