Internationalisation at Home: how can you incorporate it into the curriculum?
By including Internationalisation at Home (IaH) in the curriculum, you prevent promising international initiatives from fizzling out as well as endorsing the importance of internationalisation. However, how should you go about it?
The students of the Sport and Exercise programme at ROC Twente are full of enthusiasm, getting together with young newcomers to score fantastic goals on the football field or perform dizzying spins on the ice rink. Welcome to the Wereldmeiden (Sportswomen of the World) Project, within which young people organise sporting activities for migrants. It's a win-win situation: 'Young newcomers get to take part in society and our students gain intercultural skills. They learn about how to make contact when you run into the language barrier, they consider their assumptions about other cultures and they see if these assumptions are correct', says Daan Maljers, a lecturer-researcher at the ROC's Internationalisation practoraat (knowledge centre) and one of the initiators of the project.
'To many people, internationalisation means completing a work placement abroad, although you can do it right here in your own back yard, just like we're doing in the Wereldmeiden Project. Our goal is to teach students intercultural skills as this will enable them to live and work in an increasingly globalising world. These skills will be indispensable in their future profession.'
Incorporate IaH into the curriculum
By incorporating Internationalisation at Home (IaH) into the curriculum, you safeguard the continuity and quality of international activities as well as endorsing the importance of this type of internationalisation. 'IaH adds immense value thanks to its inclusive approach', says Eva Haug, educational advisor in the field of internationalisation in the curriculum and COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS). 'All students have the opportunity to gain international experiences and skills, which is a particularly vital factor in the Covid era. As IaH has been incorporated into the curriculum and the learning outcomes at AUAS, I no longer have to closely monitor this aspect and I know that the wheels won't come off if I pay more attention to other things.' How should you go about incorporating IaH into the curriculum? Haug and Maljers explained the key conditions for doing this.
# It's everyone's responsibility, not just one department’s
In Haug's experience, the most fervent advocates of internationalisation are usually the staff in the International Office or highly enthusiastic lecturers. 'The International Office handles international relations and often has no direct power over the curriculum, while curriculum developers are not always aware of exactly what internationalisation entails. To get IaH into the curriculum takes all kinds of people: educationalists, lecturers, students and management.'
# Avoid a box-ticking culture
Make sure you find enthusiastic people and ensure a broad base of support. However, this can be easier said than done. 'Education is continually modernising and changing', says Maljers. 'Lecturers are sometimes sceptical and are usually more focused on promoting hybrid education and digitisation. IaH is seen more as an obligation: a box they have to tick.'
Haug recognises this: 'One of the main focus areas at AUAS is what graduates need in order to launch a career in Amsterdam? What is the state of the job market in this dynamic and intercultural city? We should research how internationalisation can help to satisfy these needs as IaH will therefore become part of the solution rather than being seen as an extra problem to solve. This will help boost people's enthusiasm for IaH.'
Maljers: 'Sometimes I feel like I'm screaming into the void', says Maljers, 'However, I keep raising the subject, not to convince my colleagues per se but more to start a dialogue. As Johan Cruyff once said, 'you only see it once you understand it'. Once you all recognise its importance together, support spreads like wildfire and it becomes embedded into the culture.' Haug: 'Identify where the energy is', advises Haug. 'Avoid starting with your more resistant colleagues and find your 'tribe': people with similar international experience and/or enthusiasm. At first, I felt like I was alone and found a community outside the school. Nuffic facilitates a wide variety of networks that you can join.'
# Use the VIS subsidy for higher education
Haug explains that staff often want to know if they will be granted enough development hours to help them incorporate IaH. She highlighted the Ministry of Education's new VIS subsidy scheme, designed to support virtual international collaborative projects. 'This will allow universities to grant lecturers sufficient hours to develop virtual international collaborative projects. COIL is an example of a virtual exchange that you can use as part of IaH. You should experiment with it and find out what works and what doesn't.'
# Get involved with existing initiatives
According to Maljers, incorporating IaH is all about looking at what you are already doing and considering how you could add an international component to it. For example, within the Adapted Physical Activities programme, he spent some time broadening the target groups. 'Nobody who keeps up with the world news could possibly have failed to notice the refugee crisis. This crisis rose awareness of this target group and ultimately resulted in the Wereldmeiden Project.'
Haug: 'You should get involved in initiatives for related issues, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Citizenship, inclusion and diversity', adds Haug. 'If you are organising guest lectures, consider whether you could invite international lecturers. If a study trip is organised, then get to know new international partners online. Start small, but think big.'
# Facilitate professionalisation
Boost the lecturers' international competencies to ensure they are optimally capable of implementing IaH. Lecturers can gain international skills in various locations and within various contexts both abroad and at home. This is a vital factor, as without internationally skilled lecturers, we won't be able to train internationally skilled students.
Haug: ‘For example, we developed and organised a six-part training course on internationalisation of the curriculum for lecturers together with The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences', explains Haug. 'Always remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint.'
Looking for more inspiration about Internationalisation at Home?
This is part one of the two-part series 'Internationalisation at Home in vocational education and training (VET) and higher education'. See also part two, entitled 'Internationalisation at Home: what is your role as a supervisor?'
To find out more about professionalisation of internationalisation, view our recent draft model 'international skills for lecturers' (in Dutch). This model is in development and focuses on both lecturers and staff in VET and higher education sectors. Would you like to contribute to the development of the model? If so, send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also provide six tips for interconnecting internationalisation and HR. This brochure (in Dutch) is targeted at professionals in the VET sector and may also be interesting to staff working in higher education.
Written by Sang-Ah Yoo