Internationalisation strategy, faculty response and academic preparedness for transnational teaching: the significance of pre-departure training
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Transnational education (TNE), interpreted as the mobility of education programmes and providers between countries, has grown exponentially as a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. Higher education institutions (HEIs) have mainly used such opportunities to internationalise their degrees and programmes, and have paid scant attention on preparing academics to teach cross-culturally. As a result, academics being at the coalface of teaching and learning often feel under-informed, under-supported, underprepared, and under-confident when it comes to cross-cultural teaching, suggesting that universities have largely failed to prepare their academic faculty members to face the challenges of internationalisation. This is particularly important for new and young players such as the Post-92 universities in the UK. However, such institutions have largely been ignored by the previous research in this area. Reverting the research focus on young HEIs, this paper highlights the importance of preparing faculty staff members in the context of a Post-92 University in the UK, to teach cross-culturally at partner institutions via the TNE route. The paper adopts Deardorff’s intercultural competency process model to develop a framework (focusing on three core elements of knowledge, skills and attitudes) that could help the academic staff members to prepare for teaching internationally. The paper is based on a detailed analysis of university’s internationalisation strategy, policy documents and related reports for the 1999 – 2016 period. The initial analysis is further supplemented by 11 interviews with the main stakeholders i.e. academics, educational developers and policy makers. As the Post-92 University in focus like its counterparts, continues to proliferate its degrees and programmes through the TNE route, academics who are tasked with transnational teaching have an increased responsibility to develop the competencies required to work with learners from diversified cultural backgrounds. However, there has been less interest at university or faculty level in ensuring that academic faculty members who teach in transnational context are prepared for the specific rigours of transnational teaching. The research findings have broader implications at individual-, organisational- and industry-level for individual academic faculty members to progress further in their career, HEIs to improve the quality of training programmes and policies and the HE industry to adjust the strategy towards internationalisation. In the absence of any formally structured training, the paper proposes pre-departure informal training workshops/seminars conducted by seasoned academics at faculty, school or department level to help new academics transform their knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to facilitate positive interactions with students in a cross-cultural teaching environment. Although the focus is on one post-92 university, however, the proposed framework could be adopted across HEIs worldwide. The paper is based on a detailed analysis of university’s internationalisation strategy, policy documents and related reports for the 1999 – 2016 period. The initial analysis is further supplemented by 11 interviews with the main stakeholders i.e. academics, educational developers and policy makers. Informed by the best practices, the paper also discusses the implication of intercultural competencies for cross-cultural teaching.
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