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Internationalisation in Higher Education for Society


"A central part of university agendas over the next decade?"

Definition of IHES

"Internationalisation in Higher Education for Society (IHES) explicitly aims to benefit the wider community, at home or abroad, through international or intercultural education, research, service and engagement"

(Uwe BrandenburgHans de WitElspeth Jones and Betty Leask)  


DAAD Study

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While community outreach, social responsibility, social engagement and concepts such as service learning have been present in higher education for decades and in all regions of the globe, the main focus of internationalisation activities has been largely concentrated on the HE community. The social responsibility component of internationalisation has, to date, rarely been the focus of systemic thinking, conceptualisation or strategy in the broad agenda of internationalisation in higher education.


As a first step towards addressing this imbalance, the study analyses five major trends in internationalisation which closely connect to Internationalisation in Higher Education for Society (IHES). Second, it locates IHES within the two wider and highly relevant contexts of social engagement and internationalisation since IHES is relevant to both areas. Third, the study develops a definition of IHES. An analysis of existing research and literature - based on this description - reveals that although political documents do, to some extent, emphasise the relevance of IHES, it is not yet a serious focus of internationalisation research.


The study shows that IHES has the potential to make a meaningful and important contribution to HEIs, their local communities and the global common good. Whether this potential is ever realised will depend on the extent to which HEIs, meta-level organisations and governments prioritise IHES in their internationalisation strategies in the coming decade.

Link to the IHES Study

 Blogs and articles about IHES


Internationalisation in Higher Education for Society

"Not only is internationalisation not a goal in itself, it is also not just for ourselves: its right of existence is dependent on its ability and willingness to serve society outside the walls of higher education."

"We feel global developments remind us that the time for internationalisation as an ‘in-house’ issue has to be over. We have to take our responsibility to society more seriously." 


Defining Internationalisation in HE for Society

"IHES activities will intentionally and purposefully seek to provide benefit to the wider community. Activities will be carefully planned and evaluated and their impact on society will be visible in some way." 

"IHES will involve the wider community at home or abroad. It may bring the global to the local, or the local to the global, both being equally valuable." 


The big challenges facing society can only be solved through international cooperation

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is currently investigating how universities can take this responsibility into account in their internationalisation initiatives.

Dorothea Rüland: "Universities today are thoroughly internationalised. This leads to the question of what effect internationalisation has on society."

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