Sustainable Agriculture Institute
Global Strategic Plan
BUILDING ON INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES THAT INSPIRE
Table of Contents
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- SECTION 1: THE GLOBAL CONTEXT
- SECTION 2: AN INSTITUTIONAL DIAGNOSIS
- SECTION 3: INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
The reality of the global and more competitive environment in which Educational Institutions are operating has led to the need to identify the specific international character of the institution in alignment with its strategic focus. Embedding the international agenda within the Institutional organization and operations necessitates making decisions and choices that will define the international character of the Institute and its success in achieving its objectives. The strategy is focused on broad institutional issues rather than operational planning level.
In order to reach a higher and more effective level of internationalization, the Global Strategic Plan defines the following principles for selecting partnerships and identifying new initiatives:
- Positioning the Institute – Partnerships should enhance the reputation of the Institute and raise its profile, both on the national and international scenes.
- The effectiveness of engagement – International agreements should create opportunities for and support the mobility of students and faculty, and be beneficial to the Institute.
- Impact on academic programs and students – Partnerships and initiatives should enhance the internationalization of the curriculum, promote intercultural awareness campus-wide, and support the success of international students.
- Impact on resources – International agreements should account for the impact on Institute resources, including central administration services, student services, and academic units, as agreed with the academic units concerned.
- Funding opportunities – Preference should be given to international agreements that allow access to governmental and other stakeholders’ funding opportunities.
- The academic balance of benefits in international relationships – Both partners should derive benefit from the relationship. The objectives of partnership should enhance global educational opportunities for our partner institutions.
- Alignment with institutional priorities and research excellence – Partnerships should support international collaboration in strategic research areas as defined by the Institute.
- Geographic Focus – Preference should be given to international agreements that reinforce existing strong international ties with institutions and that are in specific, identified geographic areas.
The Global Strategic Plan has been developed to provide priorities in international partnerships and initiatives from a broad Institute perspective in six focal areas:
- international recruitment;
- international mobility;
- internationalization of academic programs;
- support for international student retention and success;
- international research and international development;
- and international alumni engagement.
Priorities are identified in the plan for each of the functional areas. The highest priority in selecting partners and programs of interest will be those with a convergence of value across functional objectives, particularly where there is synergy between recruitment and research where successful partnerships already exist. Initially, the priority research areas and areas of emerging research strength are those currently highlighted by the Institute in its strategic research plan.
A simple organizational model for coordination of resources is proposed, which will coordinate activities with the other units on campus that have international responsibilities.
SECTION 1: THE GLOBAL CONTEXT
1.1 Context for Internationalization: Key Trends and Challenges
“Internationalisation must be internalized and made part of the culture of the Institute, it must be “owned” by all members of the Institute.”
Beau Wickboldt, Chancellor
The reality of the global and more competitive environment in which universities are operating has led many Educational Institutions to specifically demand growth in the international character of their institutions. Embedding internationalization within the Institutional Organization necessitates making decisions and choices in the context of the following challenges:
- Increased recruitment competition – The higher education environment has become increasingly competitive and more emphasis has been placed on the international ranking of the Institute’s reputation for international recruitment and partnerships.
- Increased international mobility of students – The outbound mobility of students topped the list of institutional priorities (International Association of Universities, 3rd Global Survey). More than 3 million students engaged in some form of international mobility, e.g. joint degree programs, an increase of 60% (Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, Status Report).
- Internationalization of the campus: Increasingly, academic programs in many universities are being redesigned to integrate international/intercultural components along with increased pressure to strengthen “internationalization at home” activities involving students, faculty, and staff.
- Increased support for international students: Student support services on campus are challenged to provide the cultural, academic, and financial support needed by the increasing number of international students to ensure their chances for success.
- Internationalization of research: New (thematic) opportunities are available for strategic international research and for joint teaching/training activities.
- International funding opportunities: Foreign governments in Asia (e.g. China, India, Malaysia, Singapore), South America (e.g. Brazil, Chile), and in the Middle East (e.g. KSA, UAE) have declared their intention to become regional education centers and are providing opportunities for student mobility, student funding, and research collaboration at the international level.
- Internationalization of alumni: As increasing numbers of graduates come from other countries and become more mobile, these alumni become progressively more important in supporting international activities and universities’ international reputations.
1.2 Engaging in the Process of Internationalization: Value and Impact of Internationalization
Strategic internationalization provides an opportunity to enhance the quality and impact of education and research at the local, national and international levels. Internationalization of higher education built on cooperation and partnerships, rather than simply on recruitment, supports new forms of knowledge and international relationships that are more interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and global in reach, and increasingly oriented towards solving problems that extend across national borders.
Internationalization has a significant impact on recruitment, student mobility, academic programs, student services, research, and alumni engagement. Educational Institutions around the world have been quite active and successful in attracting international students to their campuses.
The long-term impact of internationalization will depend on strategic choices related to how we leverage resources to meet the challenges in the following important focal areas:
International Recruitment: International recruitment has been seen as both a solution to falling local demographics and a net-positive educational value for all of our students, as well as necessary for the research enterprise. Sustainable international recruitment at both undergraduate and graduate student levels requires a balance of depth and cultivation of breadth in key markets as well as the exploration of new sources of support, in particular for graduate and post-doctoral students.
International Mobility: Many Educational Institutions are concerned that too few students go abroad as part of their educational experience. Increased support for student mobility (such as exchanges, internships, and service-learning opportunities) should be explored. As an Educational Institute, the challenge will be to develop and leverage these opportunities fully for the benefit of our students.
Internationalization of Academic Programs: While Educational Institutions recognize the importance of preparing graduates who are internationally known, the academic opportunities for enhancing their learning experience on and off-campus are not yet well integrated into academic programs across the campus. Plans to adapt the curriculum and pedagogy are needed to address the importance of students becoming more knowledgeable in this regard.
International Student Support and Retention: Strong recruitment practices across the world (e.g. Australia, France, US, UK, USA) have significantly increased international admission and enrollment levels. In some institutions particularly, a good portion of international students doesn’t continue their academic plans to the point of degree completion. Supporting and retaining international students is an important measure of recruitment success and an important goal that calls for comprehensive, proactive retention efforts. These efforts must be collaborative, cross-functional, and responsive to international students. Increased resources will be needed to counter lower rates of retention in the international student population.
International Research and International Development: Many of the most pressing research questions are ones that extend beyond national borders and benefit substantially from collaboration with international partners. Research cooperation with international colleagues raises the level of research impact and provides a broader range of sources from which research funding might be accessed. The result in both cases leads to world-class contributions to global issues and an elevated institutional reputation. At the same time, the Education Institution’s involvements in international development initiatives provide both faculty and students with the opportunity to gain enhanced knowledge about the lesser-developed world while making contributions to it. The mutual benefits which arise from these involvements are significant.
International Alumni Engagement: Alumni are agents of internationalization and universities should be looking at them as a powerful resource. Plans to invest in international alumni engagement need to be part of the institutional international strategy because these alumni serve as connectors, as ambassadors of the institution, and as sources of information for academic and research initiatives. They also serve as important references for students seeking opportunities and for prospective new students.
SECTION 2: AN INSTITUTIONAL DIAGNOSIS
2.1 Current International Engagement
The Institute partakes in many international activities, both formal and informal. This allows the Institution to keep abreast of current events in the Educational Sphere. The Institution has also focused on assuring that we are current on all electronic learning applications to allow our Educational Platform to provide the best Pedagogical, Taxonomy, and Curriculum Management possible for the benefit of our Educators and Students.
International mobility is supported by a designated person/committee for their international student mobility processes. The following general guidelines for current and new undergraduate exchange programs are normally followed:
- Programs must be balanced in numbers of students incoming/outgoing, to avoid incurring a net loss of tuition revenue.
- Target countries are designated either for undergraduate exchange or for undergraduate international recruitment into full degree programs.
- For current or new undergraduate exchange programs, compatibility with the undergraduate curriculum level and overall quality of the experience is sought, as well as location factors that take into account safety, and student demand for the location.
a. Internationalization of Academic Programs
Internationalization of the campus:
- Target the increase of international student enrollment with appropriately supportive student services, including the availability of English-language training to attract students who are academically qualified but need to develop their English skills prior to beginning their studies. This objective also refers to the very important dimension of student retention and success.
- Targets the development of a coordinated international education and research strategy, including a consultation process with Faculties and other key players in internationalization, which this strategy document addresses.
- Over the years, a number of Faculties and Departments have established significant initiatives to internationalize academic programs through participation in academic consortia or the development of joint academic programs.
b) Support for International Students
The Institute recognizes the importance of skills and preparation that international students require to be successful, and that much needs to be done beyond language training, for example, to support international students so they can succeed in academic, social, cultural, and economic contexts.
2.2 Challenges for International Engagement
The consultation process with Faculties, other key players in internationalization, and the Institute’s community, coupled with feedback received identified the following immediate challenges:
- The development of a concise set of strategies for priority activities and geographic focus for making decisions at all levels in the Institute.
- The coordination between and within academic, research, and administrative units in the identification and development of international initiatives to increase the synergies between international recruitment, academic programs, student success, and research/development activities.
- The development of consistent protocols/guidelines to manage and evaluate international activities.
SECTION 3: INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
“The growing international scale of the Institute is terribly important for our future…If an Educational Institution desires to be a premier institution in a significant region of the world, than that institution needs to be world-class. An institution cannot be world-class without international students. It has to reflect an increasing portion of the world.”
Beau Wickboldt, Chancellor
3.1 Guiding Principles for Making Strategic Choices in Internationalization
In order to reach a higher level of engagement in internationalization, strategic choices need to be made that ensure the best use of its resources to achieve its goals.
The following principles have been delineated to guide decision making with the goal of selecting partnerships and identifying new initiatives to enhance the Institute’s international presence:
- Positioning the university: Partnerships should enhance the reputation of the Institute and raise its profile, both on the national and international scenes.
- The effectiveness of engagement: International agreements should create opportunities for and support the mobility of students and faculty, and be beneficial to the Institute.
- Impact on academic programs and students: Partnerships and initiatives should enhance the internationalization of the curriculum, promote intercultural awareness campus-wide, and support the success of international students.
- Impact on resources: International agreements should account for the impact on the Institute’s resources including central administration services, student services, and academic units, as agreed with the academic units concerned.
- Funding opportunities: Preference should be given to international agreements that allow access to governmental and other stakeholders’ funding opportunities.
- The academic balance of benefits in international relationships: Both partners should derive benefit from the relationship. The objectives of partnership should enhance global educational opportunities for our partner institutions.
- Alignment with institutional priorities and research excellence: Partnerships should support international collaboration in strategic research areas as defined by the Institute.
- Geographic Focus: Preference should be given to international agreements that reinforce existing strong international ties with institutions and that are in specific, identified geographic areas.
3.2 Strategic Objectives of International Engagement
The preceding principles will be used to guide the choices we make for partnerships and agreements with international partner institutions and in international activities as we move forward.
The following General objectives by focal areas for internationalization have been identified:
- International Recruitment: enhance and diversify the recruitment of international students.
- International Mobility: enhance the number of student mobility experiences, in particular outbound.
- Internationalization of Academic Programs: increase the number of graduates who are internationally knowledgeable and culturally aware through the student learning experience, and increase joint international degree programs.
- International Student Support and Retention: increase retention and success of international students.
- International Research and International Development: increase alignment with the strategic research plan with a priority on funded opportunities, as well as on development activities/projects (e.g. knowledge transfer, export of skills, skills training).
- International Alumni Engagement: enhance the impact of international alumni relationships.
3.3 Administration of International Engagement
The international agenda of the Institute is very complex and requires careful coordination and integration of effort with strong senior administrative support for effective decision making between Faculty services and Institute services. In order to accomplish the objectives, care must be taken to integrate internationalization objectives into the institutional culture (create communication and commitment to internationalization) by identifying common interests among faculty and staff and by encouraging regular communication among senior administrators.
As part of the strategy for internationalization, a more comprehensive and coordinated organizational structure is needed. Appendix II shows a flowchart of the organization for the internationalization of the Institute. We Examine the components by function rather than by office in this section.
a) Policy and Strategy Setting
International Strategy Committee (ISC) and working groups/ad hoc committees ISC is the forum for the administrative and academic units responsible for the operationalization of international plans. It represents the breadth of units involved and facilitates discussion of directions, priorities, problems/issues, and better coordination of units in meeting the objectives. Working groups/ad hoc committees are struck by the ISC as needed to focus on specific areas and report to ISC.
ISC membership is composed of a representative of each Faculty. ISC members meet four times per year, twice per term.
b) Direction and Coordination of International Relations across Campus
International Relations Unit (IRU)
International Relations is responsible for providing leadership to the university in the development and deployment of the international strategy that encompasses student recruitment, academic programs, student experiences, research, and alumni engagement. The Executive Director identifies and communicates opportunities for international collaboration, facilitates institutional relationships, develops criteria and review processes for international agreements, and develops protocols for institutional level missions and external delegations. The focus of this role is to coordinate efforts and activities relating to the internationalization of the university, in collaboration with key players in internationalization. The Executive Director reports to the Chancellor, works in close collaboration with the other members of the Senior Management Team.
The Administrative Assistant works with the Executive Director to coordinate the operations of International Relations, and they compose what can be called the International Relations Unit.
International Coordination Committee (ICC)
In coordination with the relevant academic and administrative units, this committee will have the mandate to operationalize the recommendations made by the working groups of the International Strategy Committee (ISC), in particular, the assessment, development, and implementation of international agreements and partnerships. The ICC will be composed of the Executive Director, Administrative Assistant, and Deans of each Institute The ICC will meet on a monthly basis and produce an annual report for the ISC.