Winning strategies on ‘internationalization at home’


FOR the long future, Asean universities will be much engaged in internationalisation, preparing students for functional global literacy. Philippine campuses are no exceptions.

Referring to the Asean Economic Community, analysts say we, member states, are expected to invest heavily in our education. While we have the promise of a generous increase of the education budget, we face the two lean years (primarily due to the K-12 transition) and ongoing efforts toward financial viability.

How shall we internationalize our 1,699 private universities, the usual mode being faculty and student cross-border exchange? Would majority of our HEIs have enough institutional stature to engage the resources of foundations? However, Jane Knight states there are “two basic aspects evolving in the internationalization of higher education – ‘internationalization at home’ and ‘internationalization abroad.’” The former includes “activities that help students develop an international awareness and intercultural skills, much more curriculum oriented: preparing… students to be active in a much more globalized world.” < /RUSC/article/download/ 254141 /340980>

Let’s look at some ways of keeping to a lean budget.

A snapshot of Mindanao
Per available data, there are 1,699 Philippine private HEIs with a total of 1,853,438 collegiate students enrolled in schoolyear 2013-14. <…/Higher%20 Education%20Data%202014%20-%20Public%20an..>

Of the 392 private HEIs in Mindanao, two made it within the top 300 in the 2016 QS ranking of Asian universities. These were – Xavier University the Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City and Ateneo de Davao in Davao City. Of the 53 private HEIs granted autonomous status until 2019 (CHED Memo No. 20, s. 2016), seven are in Mindanao (two from CdO – Liceo de Cagayan University and Xavier University – the Ateneo de Cagayan).

Most students in Mindanao HEIs come from upper lower middle to upper lower class families; many rely on part time jobs or study grants – a fact HEIs consider in costing tuition and fees. Not that these students have limited talents.

We’re so elated with Hydilin Diaz! For the persevering among them, study awards in cross-border universities are not totally out of their reach. But such awards would be very minimal.

‘Intentional’ internationalization
Intentional means embedding policies and practices in an institution’s system of assessment and rewards that foster global fluency. Crediting in ranking/promotion and tenure internationalization-related output would inspire the faculty; so also would students, as a criterion for honors and other forms of recognition awarded during timely celebrations such as the UN Day, etc. <>

Curriculum and instruction, research and campus internationalization
The curriculum is a strong driver of internationalization. How? Offer foreign languages to foster better understanding of culture and its diversity. Integrate regional studies (eg Asean, European, etc.) and global issues that influence governments. Enrich class discussions with comments and reflections on intercultural issues in multinational corporations and organizations, on regional and international accords, such as those on “international and national laws, standards and customs pertaining to professional practice in different national settings” (Asean engineer, Washington Accord, etc).

Have students explore “international themes” … sourced to “international journals, newspapers, foreign films, TV and radio broadcasts and foreign-based websites.”

Have students analyze and interpret perspectives of such themes to deepen their understanding of global realities.<>

Research-wise, translate institutional vision, mission and goals in the research agenda to include global issues that have an impact on Philippine life. Acquire international data sets on poverty/food security, drug abuse and crime; environment issues related to climate change/global warming/air pollution, oil leaks and excessive mining; socio-political-economic issues of migration, terrorism; and health issues on malnutrition/obesity, Zika virus, etc.

Have students analyze and apply this “analysis to real-world questions.” Exchange journals with research collaborators; invite them to peer review.

Extra-curricular activities
Stage debates on Philippine contemporary issues, lectures by internationally experienced practitioners, such as academics on sabbatical leaves (eg. Fulbright visiting professors), foreign embassies such as the political attaché of the Embassy of Canada for a talk on federalism and about the West Philippine Sea, a sinologist/Philippine diplomat.

Inviting embassy officials usually entails minimal cost; embassies do have budgets to disseminate their culture. Request the Philippine National Volunteer Services Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) for foreign volunteers (VSO, JOCV, Peace Corps, etc.) to assist with social and academic projects or the Senior Expert en Service (SES) –“the leading German organization for voluntary assignments carried out by retired specialist and executives and other such organizations.”

Maximize internet use
Set up a common website to support faculty discussions of teaching and learning experiences and publish self-reflective writing on global topics, cultural issues and research findings; organize webinars to widen academic discussions on group projects composed of both domestic and cross border academics collaborating in person or virtually. For more examples, please refer to <>

Add more fun and life
Have students “translate cultural experiences from literature and the social sciences in cartoons, animations” and paintings. Do “simulations, role-plays; stage debates on issues from different cultural perspectives.” Set up cultural exhibits, concerts, festivals and films/movies with support of foreign cultural units – Goethe Institut, Instituto de Cervantes, Alliance Francais, Nippon Foundation, Japan Information and Cultural Center, British Council, USIS, the Asean Cultural Center, the European Union- Philippine Commission (for Cine Europa), etc.

These are excellent sources of cultural materials with explicit international perspective on socio-political-economic topics, etc. Have libraries assisted by student/faculty organizations set up and maintain “world region corner/s” such as on Asean, or on individual countries. This internationalization “at home” is affordable.

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is copy editor of the Liceo journals, and professorial lecturer at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education.


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