Dialogue around Internationalisation at Home (IaH) is gathering momentum as the values, purposes, and means of HE internationalisation are being re-examined. As such, our research project is both timely and policy-relevant.

The rationale behind our project is that the benefits of an internationalised university experience should not be limited to the internationally-mobile minority. If we are to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive European higher education, as set out in the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy and its Flagship Initiatives, internationalising the experiences and mind-sets of the non-mobile majority should be an equally important priority. 

For universities seeking to graduate interculturally competent global citizens, IaH can purposefully integrate international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and non-formal curriculum for ALL students (domestic and international and/or exchange). Students can learn foreign languages, have access to staff with international experience, benefit from learning with peers from other countries and cultures, and engage in ‘virtual mobility’ via online learning. This will help to develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to operate successfully in a globally integrated economic environment. Employers are increasingly looking for graduates with a ‘global mindset’ and ‘global competencies’. Our research project foregrounds not only the academic, but also the social, intercultural and global learning benefits of an internationalised university experience.

Projects on transnational mobility

Various European-level projects have focused on different aspects of transnational mobility (e.g., quality assurance, benchmarking of student flows, intercultural learning). The consortium seeks to expand this body of knowledge by focusing on ALL students, mobile and non-mobile. Some relevant previous research projects on transnational mobility are listed below.

 Internationalisation at Home initiatives in Europe

In contrast to projects on transnational student mobility, there are less emprical-based research efforts on IaH. In fact, it can be argued that IaH remains a theory-driven concept. The concept itself gained momentum upon its integration in EU’s internationalisation comprehensive strategy for higher education: “European Higher Education in the World” (COM, 2013). The strategy acknowledges IaH as key priority area for higher education institutions and EU Member States seeking to improve their internationalisation strategies. This acknowledgement brought renewed attention in Europe to the 80-90% majority of students who are not mobile.

As a concept, IaH emerged in the late 1990s as an alternative to study abroad, when Bengt Nilson first proposed this idea at the European Association for International Education’s (EAIE) spring forum in 1999. At the time, IaH was defined as “any internationally related activity with exception of outbound mobility” (Crowther, Joris, Otten, Nilsson, Teekens, and Wächter, 2001, p.8)[i] The success of Nilson's idea led to the creation of a EAIE’s expert group on IaH. In fact, so far the practical implementation of IaH seems to be mostly confined to professional expert groups and a few research efforts. Some initiatives are listed below.

[i] Crowther, P., Joris, M., Otten, M., Nilsson, B., Teekens H., Wächter, B. (2001) Internationalisation at Home. A Position Paper. Amsterdam: European Association for International Education (EAIE).

Initiatives outside Europe

Outside Europe, one can also find initiatives related to the importance of providing an internationalised university experience for all students, but not necessarily under the label of IaH.