The University of Stirling seeks to address society’s greatest needs through internationally excellent learning and teaching and world-changing interdisciplinary research (Strategic Plan 2011-2016).
The Internationalisation Strategy strengthens the University’s established global reputation for providing world-leading research and developing knowledgeable, skilled graduates through a wide range of transnational research and educational activities and mutually beneficial collaborations. The Strategy promotes the institution’s core values of respect for diversity in cultures and beliefs and a pursuit of knowledge that sustains beneficial change in local, national and international society.
It builds on the University’s ambitions to improve its self-reliance and strengthen its position as a pre-eminent force in Scottish education and research where ability, not background, is valued.
That all staff and students value and embrace the diversity of international experiences, histories and cultures and actively strive to be global citizens.
Over the period 2014-19, the Strategy will pursue the following strategic goals:
In order to achieve these goals, all aspects of the Internationalisation strategy should be embraced across the University. Successful implementation will require the strategy to be driven by all academic schools and service directorates with the support of the Internationalisation team.
The University’s performance on the international stage over the years includes a number of significant successes. The transnational education (TNE) partnership with Tongji University in Shanghai remains one of the largest Sino-UK collaborations and nets the University more than £1.5 million in tuition fee income annually. The Retail courses in Singapore routinely attract 100+ students. In contrast, some of our other in-country initiatives are smaller-scale, relying on individual academic contributions.
It must also be recognised that overseas programmes can incur significant additional costs in terms of flying faculty and ensuring quality of teaching in an overseas setting. There is a need to develop multi-layered, sustainable research and teaching collaborations with select partners at institutional level, with a transparent, flexible process to govern and facilitate new partnership engagement.
The University has a wide range of internationalisation-related activities, with important contributions from schools, service areas and the Students’ Union. A number of academics have played key roles in building and strengthening our international development and continue to provide leadership on projects that are making a positive contribution to the University. To achieve ambitious targets, the practical aspects of service delivery must, however, be centrally coordinated and embedded in all areas of our business.
We have world-leading expertise in a variety of disciplines and research areas (to name a few: Aquaculture, Dementia Studies, Education, Management, Public Relations, Sports); and are well known in a number of our key recruitment and partnership markets – such as China, Vietnam and Singapore. However, the University remains largely anonymous and there is a need to target key international league table rankings, and to focus energy and investment in developing our profile to maximise positive impact. New branding guidelines are about to be approved and these will help to ensure that all schools and service areas are marketed in a consistent manner but with specific formally approved sub brands e.g. Stirling Management School.
Many UK universities have shifted focus to growing in-country activity, and in 2011/12 for the first time there were more students studying wholly overseas for their UK HEI degree compared to overseas students studying for a degree in the UK (HESA, Students in Higher Education Institutions, 2011-12). The University is placed behind many Scottish peer institutions (9/17 in Scotland) in the numbers of students studying for University of Stirling degrees overseas. Meanwhile, peer institutions have established successful overseas ventures ranging from single subjects housed in premises shared with local partners to fully-fledged branch campuses offering a wide range of academic subjects. This strategy will enable the University to take its world-class areas of expertise, in research and teaching and learning, to international locations, subject to thorough due diligence and risk assessment.
In spite of the University’s position as a mid-size institution with a limited subject range, the latest HESA statistics reveal that proportionately the University welcomes the largest number of international students in Scotland (the University is 1 st in the ranking of percentages of non-EU taught postgraduate students in university populations, HESA 2012/13). In recent years the University has been extremely successful in attracting overseas postgraduate taught students but less successful in growing EU postgraduate taught student numbers (15th in Scotland) and overseas undergraduate (UG) numbers (12thin Scotland). Furthermore, after a record intake in 2012-13 the University saw a significant decline in postgraduate taught student numbers in 2013-14. To address this decline, work is underway to increase engagement with agents on all levels – an agent survey has been completed and new systems enabling the creation of an agent portal is under discussion. Work is also underway to enhance the student experience across all stages of the student journey focusing on key areas such as the development of an applicant portal via the Student Engagement Programme.
Enhancing the diversity of student bodies is a sector-wide issue in the UK. Over 70% of the University’s overseas students are from one nationality grouping (China) and over 71% of overseas students are studying within the Stirling Management School in 2013-14. This poses significant challenges to many aspects of the student experience and also brings associated risks to the institution. The proposed joint venture with INTO University Partnerships (IUP) will, from summer 2014, provide an increased diversity of overseas undergraduate and taught postgraduate students through a range of pathway programmes on the campus and will provide a new source of postgraduate taught students through an innovative higher education offering based at INTO University of Stirling in London.
The University offers an international study opportunity to students and recognises that providing individuals with different cultural perspectives can improve employability, develop intercultural skills and engender an international business sense. In order to develop our students as global citizens, students are encouraged to undertake a period of overseas study through the University international exchange and Erasmus programmes. Although thousands of students have participated in these programmes over the past 35 years, the reality is that numbers remain low. For each of the past five years only 4% of the UG student body have participated in the international exchange programme. If we are to achieve our objectives of developing graduates who are equipped to thrive in an increasingly globalised work environment, this low participation rate in international study opportunities must be addressed.
The various aims outlined in this document will require a coordinated approach with appropriate investment in several key focus areas to enable the strategic goals to be realised. These key areas are:
Key focus – to deliver an exceptional experience that enhances the personal development, global employability and citizenship of all past, current and future students.
Key focus – to build and sustain long-term mutually beneficial relationships with partner institutions that share our core values and aims.
Key focus – to develop distinctive programmes and curricula with an international dimension to equip students to thrive in diverse, increasingly globalised work environments.
Key focus – to enhance the University’s international reputation as a vibrant intellectual community founded on research and teaching excellence.
Key Focus – to establish an effective management structure to ensure the coordination and promotion of internationalisation and facilitate learning.
Key Focus - to increase the number of international students from new and existing markets in order to sustain a diverse and multi-cultural student body across the University.
A comprehensive action plan will be produced to take forward each of the strategic focusareas, highlighting the resource implications where appropriate. It is recognised that a solidreturn on investment would be expected from internationalisation activity, and that performanceindices will be included in the planning and review action plan and timeline.