Internationalisation Strategy 2014-19

Introduction: A University of Distinction

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.


  1. Fostering an intellectual and vibrant local and global community of distinction, in which all of our students and staff are motivated to discover and fulfil their personal potential.
  2. Promoting a welcoming, supportive, inclusive and culturally diverse environment for all of the University’s staff, student and alumni populations around the world, and for visitors to the University.
  3. Enhancing the University’s reputation for research excellence, in order to retain and attract the world’s best academics across all the disciplines we offer.
  4. Develop strong and enduring international networks with research and teaching collaborators.
  5. Building sustainable partnerships with international centres of excellence.
  6. Enriching the student experience.
  7. Attracting the highest calibre students worldwide to study at the University of Stirling and its partner institutions.
  8. Building and strengthening our lifelong relationships with students, alumni, academia, the public sector, commerce and industry, and agriculture.
  9. Identifying and responding to society’s economic, social and cultural needs to generate new knowledge and innovative thinking to address real world problems.

Strategic Goals

Over the period 2014-19, the Strategy will pursue the following strategic goals:

  1. To promote internationalisation across the campus and ensure that the University is consistently rated in the top 10% of UK institutions for international student experience.
  2. To develop multi-dimensional, sustainable overseas partnerships with up to five high quality international universities.
  3. To investigate and possibly develop one sustainable overseas branch campus.
  4. To grow international student numbers by 30% during the life of this strategy, with a focus on diversification across programmes and across nationalities.
  5. To develop an e-learning strategy and further develop the range of online programmes.
  6. To increase undergraduate student participation in international exchanges from 4% to 15% of the undergraduate population through developing distinctive programmes and curricula and extending the number and range of overseas exchanges available.

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.

Moving Forward

International Partnerships

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.

Key aims:

  • To identify and develop key strategic partnerships with a small number of overseas institutions.
  • To ensure that schools are appropriately supported to actively seek out and engage in international partnership work by developing a business model which recognises the true costs of delivering programmes overseas.
  • To create a partnership development process that facilitates agility and flexibility in the pursuit of an opportunity, yet is sufficiently rigorous to mitigate unnecessary risk.
  • To rationalise and consolidate the existing small-scale partnership arrangements.

Student Experience

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.

Key Aims:

  • To cultivate a whole-University approach to internationalisation and engagement across all school and services by:
    • Aligning all internationalisation activities and driving these forward in a planned and coordinated manner;
    • Ensuring the strategic alignment of indicators measuring internationalisation success with the University’s overall strategic ambitions; and
    • Fostering staff ‘buy in’ across the University to engage in cultural awareness-raising initiatives.

Brand Recognition

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.

Key Aims:

  • To identify opportunities for developing the University’s presence around the world.
  • To increase the visibility and recognition of the University of Stirling brand internationally.
  • To build on and strengthen the University’s international research profile.

Overseas Campus

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.

Key Aims:

  • To seek opportunities to develop at least one sustainable branch campus in a key geographic area in liaison with Scottish government agencies, overseas government agencies and corporate partners.

International Recruitment

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.

Key Aims:

  • To enhance the international ‘look and feel’ of the campus while retaining its distinctive Scottish heritage and characteristics through:
    • Growing international student numbers while encouraging a diversification of the student body;
    • Encouraging the successful integration of international students with the home student body and local community;
    • Achieving the target increase in postgraduate taught enrolments while working towards improving academic performance standards;
    • Seeking out ways to maximise scarce resources to recruit staff and students worldwide.

Student Mobility

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.

Key Aims:

  • To breakdown the real and perceived barriers to outward student mobility across the institution particularly within the under-represented student groups.
  • To ensure that curricula across all areas of the University address the needs for the global citizenship and employability of our graduating students.

Strategic Focus Areas

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:

  1. Student experience
  2. Strategic partnerships
  3. Internationally relevant curricula
  4. International reputation
  5. International initiatives
  6. International student recruitment

A. Student Experience

Key focus – to deliver an exceptional experience that enhances the personal development, global employability and citizenship of all past, current and future students.


  • Meet international student service delivery expectations through the provision of tailored pre-arrival information, and induction events that recognise and value the diversity of our student population and encourages positive integration e.g. Management School’s ‘Flying Start Leadership Programme’.
  • Respond promptly and efficiently to international student feedback on our services, provision or pastoral support, enabling us to build on strengths and address concerns.
  • In collaboration with INTO University Partnerships (IUP), develop a range of English language support programmes throughout the year to meet the specific needs of international student cohorts including pre-sessional, in-sessional, tailored short courses and general English language courses.
  • Develop strategies to foster and build relations with alumni around the world.
  • Enhance employability and career development through the identification of international work placements, improving links with international employers, and international research project participation opportunities.
  • Ensure all University of Stirling students, regardless of their location of study, have access to a wide range of support services during their studies to ensure a first class student experience.

B. Strategic Partnerships

Key focus – to build and sustain long-term mutually beneficial relationships with partner institutions that share our core values and aims.


  • Build on current successful partnership activity in order to explore new Trans National Education (TNE) opportunities in mature and emerging markets that are a ‘good fit’ for our subject portfolio.
  • Specific target countries/regions will include
    • Joint/double degrees - China; USA; Scandinavia; Western Europe, Japan, India;
    • E-/Distance/supported/blended learning – Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia), Gulf States;
    • Overseas campus – Far East (Malaysia, Singapore).
  • Implement a proactive and strategic approach to new partnership development and review by ensuring that standardised, transparent frameworks and processes are implemented and adopted across the institution for all new partnerships.
  • Identify and develop a small number of multi-dimensional and sustainable partnerships for research, recruitment and teaching with high quality international universities.
  • Investigate existing and new avenues of opportunity for the development of an overseas branch campus.
  • Develop and enhance links with key external stakeholders and proactively explore opportunities with new stakeholders to maximise international knowledge transfer.
  • Develop a suite of ‘off the shelf’ offerings that can be readily marketed to potential partners.
  • Explore opportunities to develop a mix of study environments that facilitate face-to-face, online or e-learning, and blended learning utilising a range of collaborative models of engagement.
  • Build on and consolidate our existing successful partnership arrangements through regular review and evaluation procedures.

C. Internationally Relevant Curricula

Key focus – to develop distinctive programmes and curricula with an international dimension to equip students to thrive in diverse, increasingly globalised work environments.


  • Ensure all programmes (including joint and double degree programmes) delivered on campus and overseas through TNE partnerships are internationally relevant in terms of academic content and meeting global employability needs.
  • Grow the opportunities for all students to engage in an international study experience through the exploration and creation of innovative short-term exchange and internship programmes, local and international placements and international research projects.
  • Develop student and staff exchange partnerships in new countries to broaden student demand across all academic areas, tie in with our global employability agenda, and to support recruitment and build presence/brand in strategically important regions.
  • Initiate a Study Abroad Committee to provide a more coherent, integrated and accessible approach to study abroad activity across the various University academic and administrative divisions.
  • Encourage multi-cultural engagement amongst students and staff through the development of foreign language learning/exchange programmes and initiatives.

D. International Reputation

Key focus – to enhance the University’s international reputation as a vibrant intellectual community founded on research and teaching excellence.


  • Cultivate and extend our reach and involvement with international audiences through improving connections with alumni, academia and business.
  • Embrace global / EU research frameworks such as Horizon 20:20 to enable the development of innovative research initiatives, and develop strategies that encourage international authorship of research papers.
  • Proactive and responsive market research to drive new business development through identifying synergies between skills and knowledge requirements in target markets and our institutional expertise.
  • Transparent, effective internal communication and information-sharing across all schools and directorates to accurately convey the spirit of our internationalisation, to share our best practice and to champion our international initiatives. Ensure the University’s world-class research and teaching are positively recognised in key international league tables (e.g. QS world rankings, Times HE world rankings) and the Research Excellence Framework.
  • Maximise positive and neutral international exposure through intelligent management of the flow and content of information provided to public data collection bodies, international media and PR agencies.

E. International Initiatives

Key Focus – to establish an effective management structure to ensure the coordination and promotion of internationalisation and facilitate learning.


  • Embed internationalisation across the University through the alignment of activities and engagement of staff across all academic schools and services. o Cement the role of the International Affairs team in developing a coordinated and integrated approach to implementing the internationalisation strategy as overseen by the Internationalisation Steering Group. o Promote a culturally diverse teaching and research community through supporting staff engagement within a multinational working environment. o Provide staff with the tools and training to develop an awareness of differing cultural needs, enabling them to engage meaningfully in an international environment. o Attract the world’s best academic staff through the creation of a vibrant, multicultural working environment where success is recognised.

F. International Student Recruitment

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.


  • Strengthen relationships with partners in key markets to support and protect recruitment.
  • Proactively seek out development opportunities in new and existing markets for both short-term and long-term recruitment to reduce the risks associated with reliance on a single/small number of nationalities.
  • Increase our student enrolments in currently under-represented areas in line with the strategic plan including:
    • International undergraduate
    • International and EU taught postgraduate
    • International and EU research postgraduate
  • Investigate a commercial/competitive pricing approach to increase recruitment including targeted scholarships.
  • Fully embed all INTO pathway and degree programme activity at the Stirling and London campuses into the internationalisation strategy and international recruitment goals.
  • Cultivate and grow short-term and online/blended programme offerings through imaginative collaborations and flexible streamlined processes.
  • Strengthen internal networks with academic schools and service areas to maximise the conversion of enquirers and applicants to enrolments through:
    • creating opportunities for closer work planning and implementation;
    • assisting with new course development and market demand research;
    • streamlining and enhancing communications
  • Strengthen external stakeholder engagement to encourage regular communication and facilitate an improved understanding of individual objectives/perceived challenges.
  • Nurture our relationships, efficiently supporting and incentivising our agency network to ensure its commitment to the University’s recruitment goals, hence improving student quantity, quality and diversity and building Stirling’s international brand. Increase engagement with alumni and key student groups, e.g. incoming and outgoing exchange and Study Abroad/ISS students, to encourage and facilitate opportunities for word-ofmouth promotion and involvement in recruitment activity.
  • Specific target countries/regions for University wide activity will include:
    • East Asia: Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Brunei, Singapore, China
    • Central and South Asia: India
    • Americas: USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico
    • Middle East and Africa: Oman, KSA, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania
    • Europe: Germany, Greece, Scandinavia, Switzerland; UK-based international students
  • This list is not exhaustive and target countries will be subject to review, to enable the University to respond to changing market conditions and to maximise opportunities arising from the partnership with INTO.

Key Actions

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.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon