International learning at your doorstep

Internationalising education brings equity in knowledge sharing.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The concept of internationalisation began in ancient times when people and material began to move across the world through diverse means of transportation. Nalanda University, established as early as the fifth century CE, attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey. With quality education offered in some prime institutions in certain parts of the world, people began to migrate both for educational and employment purposes. Thus, it could be said that internationalisation of higher education is the process of integrating an international, intercultural, or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education (Knight, 2003).

In the past

Earlier, opportunities to go abroad were mostly available to the affluent and to those who could secure scholarships, which were few and highly competitive. As globalisation increased and many international conferences were hosted in western countries, there was a movement of academicians and researchers to share and gain expertise.

Undoubtedly, such voyages encompassed excitement and every bit learnt there was internalised and implemented at the individual and institutional levels on their return. While some of these were brought to fruition, many forgot their unique international experience soon after they returned home.

At home

This involves the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for students within domestic learning environments (Beelen, 2015).

As a response to domestic lacking opportunities with cross-cultural experiences, schools, colleges and universities have developed on-campus efforts to promote a global student identity, including, internationalising the curriculum, developing intercultural research projects, collaborating with local minority groups, and promoting interactions with international students.

During this pandemic, when travel had become almost impossible, the internationalisation of education, became highly relevant and useful, as experts were invited to deliver talks and webinars on topics of their specialisation virtually to students and faculty, thus, bringing in equity in knowledge-sharing, irrespective of the geographical location and social and economic differences.

International students are often encouraged to experience a stay in the home of a local student or professor from the host institution to experience the different facets of life-related areas such as food, culture, traditions, and habits in that part of the state/country.


An internationalised curriculum with relevant information embedded in existing courses will engage students with informed research, cultural and linguistic diversity, and purposefully develop a global perspectives. As we live in a globalised world, this virtue is crucial as people now move freely across countries. Tthis aspect will provide the necessary impetus to students to handle challenging matters successfully.


Due to the high fees collected from international students, the economic status of those institutions is likely to improve (in 2019, nearly 7.5 lakhs Indian students studied abroad, spending nearly $7 billion). Further on the academic front, such collaborations are likely to enhance teaching abilities and fill in the language gap and cross-cultural collaborations. Social connections among local and international students will also foster camaraderie and cross-border cultural exchanges.

Benefits to students

As a result of internationalisation at home, local students derive many benefits such as improved interpersonal relationships, enhanced spoken English and communication skills, an amplified ability to articulate, increased self-confidence and self-esteem, visible team work and, overall improvement and change in outlook.

It is interesting that, in NEP 2020, one of the key areas of focus is internationalisation, which is bound to scale up the quality of Indian Higher Education in the future as it is expected to deal with aspects such as larger number of international students coming into India and greater mobility to Indian students to go to overseas institutions, transfer of credits, joint research programmes and sharing of multiple resources among them.

Alexander Jesudasan is Pro Vice-Chancellor, and G. Ilavazhagan is Director, International Affairs, Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science (Deemed to be University), Chennai.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 5:43:51 AM |

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