Universities are becoming globalising institutions in and exceedingly complex and unintegrated world, posing some tough challenges for higher education.
This emerged at the one-day Internationalisation at Home colloquium hosted by the International Academic Programmes Office. Guest speakers were Professor Paul Zeleza of Pennsylvania State University and Dr Hanneke Teeken of NUFFIC in the Netherlands.
In his invitation to the colloquium, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo said internationalisation had to enhance the core task of academic education to develop critical thinking skills in students.
Teeken said that although many universities had diverse student bodies, teaching in an international classroom demanded special skills.
Writing in the Journal of Studies in International Education
She said globalisation had pushed the debates in various and often different directions.
"How does the process relate to the position of national institutions of higher education in a global education market? Technology and market forces will not only challenge the notions of co-operation in higher education, but they have put the issue of competition between universities (and companies) high on the agenda."
Globalisation would make education more technological and thus more system-oriented and less student- and teacher-centred.
Zeleza, a research professor, literary critic and award-winning writer, said that research conducted by the world's universities had fostered globalisation as a "constellation of material and imaginary, spatial and symbolic processes", while it simultaneously produced new contexts and imperatives for intellectual communities.
"Yet there is a widespread sense that universities as institutions and academics as a profession are facing unprecedented crises engendered by globalisation, that rapid technological, economic, political and socio-cultural transformations emanating from the wider world and academe itself, are eroding the old systems, structures and stabilities of higher education."
He added: "Struggles of various kinds and intensities are being waged within and outside university systems over their missions and mandates, legitimacy and status, as leading producers, disseminators and consumers of scientific and scholarly knowledge."
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