Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


Avoiding the Perils of International Education Peripheralization

May 1, 2024


From a podcast interview with Charlie Bankart, a seasoned Senior Internationalization Officer at the University of Kansas who has worked in international education for over 19 years.

“Is there a university out there that isn’t engaged with the world?”

Embracing International Education as a Core Value

International education is often treated as a program separate from universities' core values and mandates. However, Charlie Bankart, in a recent podcast interview, challenges this notion and argues that international education should be seen as a foundational pillar, an integral part of a university’s identity and mission.

Bankart acknowledges the statement made by a previous podcast guest, who claimed that without an international education goal or mandate, a university could not be considered a real university. While Bankart agrees with the sentiment, he believes that it is not a matter of whether an institution recognizes the importance of international education but rather how it embraces it and integrates it into its planning and decision-making processes.

The Inherent Connection to the World

Bankart emphasizes that every institution, regardless of size or mission, is inherently connected to the world. Whether through the recruitment of international students, the pursuit of research collaborations with colleagues from other countries, or the establishment of global industry partnerships, universities cannot escape their connection to the global community.

While not every institution explicitly articulates internationalization as one of its pillars, the reality is that their students, both current and future, come from diverse backgrounds and countries. The research conducted at universities often relies on the expertise and contributions of scholars worldwide. Therefore, universities must acknowledge their connection and commitment to the world, even if internationalization is explicitly stated in their mission or vision statements.

The Need for Intentionality and Planning

Recognizing the inherent connection to the world is one thing, but actively embracing and integrating international education into university planning and decision-making is another. Bankart highlights the importance of intentionality in this process. It is not enough for universities to passively acknowledge their global connections; they must actively invest in and prioritize international education.

By including internationalization as one of the pillars in their strategic plans, universities demonstrate their commitment to fostering global citizenship among their students and faculty. This intentional approach allows universities to develop programs and initiatives that promote cross-cultural understanding, global collaboration, and the acquisition of intercultural competencies.

Moreover, planning for international education ensures that universities are prepared to face the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world. By actively seeking partnerships and collaborations with institutions from around the globe, universities can enhance their research capabilities, attract top talent, and provide their students with a truly global education.

Implications and Potential Impacts

Integrating international education into university planning and decision-making has far-reaching implications and potential impacts. By prioritizing internationalization, universities can:

1. Enhance the educational experience: By exposing students to diverse perspectives and cultures, universities can prepare them to thrive in a globalized world. This exposure fosters critical thinking, empathy, and adaptability, which are highly valued in today’s interconnected society.

2. Foster innovation and research excellence: Collaboration with international partners brings together diverse expertise and resources, leading to breakthroughs and advancements that would not be possible in isolation. By embracing international education, universities can position themselves at the forefront of innovation and research excellence.

3. Strengthen institutional reputation and competitiveness: In an increasingly globalized higher education landscape, universities that actively engage with the world and prioritize international education gain a competitive edge. By attracting international students, faculty, and research collaborations, universities can enhance their reputation and standing on the global stage.

Connecting Universities to the World

In conclusion, international education is not just a program or an optional university add-on. It is a foundational pillar that should be embraced and integrated into every institution's core values and planning. While not every university explicitly states internationalization as one of its pillars, the reality is that all universities are inherently connected to the world.

By recognizing this connection and actively investing in international education, universities can enhance the educational experience for their students, foster innovation and research excellence, and strengthen their institutional reputation and competitiveness. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and universities must adapt and prepare their students to thrive in this globalized society. Embracing international education is not just a choice; it is a necessity for universities to remain relevant and impactful in the 21st century.

To catch the full interview with Charlie, CLICK HERE.