As a tri-city university with campuses across two countries, we have the opportunity to become a truly international university.
Through the James Cook University Model internationalisation will be more strongly integrated across our learning and teaching, research and engagement activities. We will establish ‘deep partnerships’ with a small number of institutions with shared interests, predominantly in the region extending from Papua New Guinea and the western Pacific to Malaysia, providing opportunities for international collaboration across a breadth of University business. Staff and students will have the opportunity to move between campuses and our overseas partner institutions. We will maintain relationships with our students and graduates through international alumni networks.
At the present time internationalisation is not embedded well enough within our core business, with the main focus being on activities relating to student recruitment, exchange and support. There are extensive arrangements in place throughout the University at individual staff member level, both formal and informal, relating to research and/or the delivery of programs. However, as with community engagement, there is a need for an overarching strategy that pulls the threads together and provides strategic direction.
Internationalisation of the curriculum has been a longstanding agenda item for the higher education sector and for us. In response to the question: How is the course curriculum internationalised? (Noting the special emphasis on James Cook University’s place as Australia’s national university for the tropics. Specifically how is internationalisation embedded in the curriculum and what opportunities are there for student mobility?), the 2012 Course Performance reporting demonstrates a variety of activities, including a tri-city emphasis in some programs, use of international content, case studies, and readings, promotion of courses to students from tropical locations, international subject offerings and the offering of courses in overseas locations. There are examples of student mobility, including exchanges with the Norwegian School of Creative Arts, with Thailand and India.
The adoption of the grand challenges framework will provide additional opportunities for the curriculum to be internationalised and it is envisaged that the establishment of deep partnerships with international universities with shared interests will assist.
Research has always been intrinsically international, but internationalisation is changing in intensity and focus driven, in part, by:
the recognition that nearly all of the major challenges confronting humanity are global – e.g., climate change, energy, food security, biosecurity, emerging diseases – and require global and local solutions;
recognition of the benefits of internationalisation including collaboration, staff and student mobility, more efficient use of infrastructure and productivity dividends including citation rates;
institutional reputation and status expressed through global rankings of universities which rely wholly or predominantly on research performance metrics; and
an increasingly multipolar research landscape through the rise of China and India and to a lesser degree other non-OECD countries.
Our research is strongly internationalised, with 42 per cent of publications having at least one international co-author; the third highest rate of Australian Universities according to SCImago. This is best characterised as being primarily a researcher or research centre driven model of internationalisation.
Notwithstanding recent developments in relations between Papua New Guinea and the Cairns Institute, the major lacuna in our approach to internationalisation is development of significant institutional relations that integrate student exchanges, collaborative research programs and staff mobility. The recommendation to establish long-term partnerships with a small number of institutions seeks to address this issue in part.
That an internationalisation strategy be developed that carefully integrates internationalisation across all aspects of our core business.
That a more deliberative approach to international engagement be adopted that acknowledges existing relationships and looks to establish ‘deep partnerships’ with a select number of institutions with shared interests in the tropics.
Achieving seamless opportunities for mobility between the Singapore and Australian campuses has proven challenging but work is currently underway to put the framework in place to make this easier. An information statement for staff on secondment opportunities at the Singapore campus was recently developed. The proposed adoption of a common trimester model across the three tropical campuses would also substantially increase the ease of mobility between Australia and Singapore.
More students will have the opportunity to study overseas as a result of the Asia Bound Scholarships and changes to student loan schemes announced by the Government in response the Asian Century White Paper. The Singapore Campus and the establishment of relationships with partners in Asia should provide James Cook University with a competitive advantage in this market, but it is essential that we implement practices that make this a simple process for students who want to take up the opportunity.