Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education


Internationalisation of the curriculum is a major issue for academics, administrators and policy makers in an era of market-driven changes affecting the higher education sector. It is a key program strategy within the wider activity of internationalisation of higher education. The latter is increasingly seen by policy makers and university administrators as driven by international student mobility and the need for revenue from international student fees. These are critical issues for universities in the globally competitive market environment. Despite its importance as a concept, it is not yet clear just what internationalisation of the curriculum means, or how it should be implemented. Thus it attracts a variety of perspectives and understandings. For example, it could be described simultaneously as a systemic reaction to the neo-liberal economic imperatives of marketisation and as an educational response to globalisation. One important outcome of the work described herein is the development of recommendations for internationalisation of the curriculum to assist and empower academics in providing international learning outcomes for their students. The literature review carried out as part of this study revealed that only a relatively small amount of research, evaluation and guidance on internationalisation of the curriculum has been published. It was also clear that very little is known about the ways in which academics and students experience internationalisation of the curriculum. The research reported herein was designed to fill this gap by documenting and analysing the staff and student experience. The research is therefore grounded in the interpretive paradigm and utilises case study method. Using the curricular areas of the Best Practice Guidelines for Internationalising the Curriculum (Whalley, 1997) as a framework, two summer study abroad programs and one global learning course at Australian and Singaporean universities were chosen for study. These programs were offered within science faculties however the curriculum for the study abroad programs included languages and commerce subjects. After data gathering the Presage, Process and Product structure of the 3P Model of Learning (Biggs, 2003) was used as an interpretive tool. The cross-case analysis surfaces common themes and highlights contradictions and tensions that were seen to lead to problems in practice. In particular, the two study abroad programs were found to be top-down and failed to offer students an authentic international learning opportunity. In contrast, the third case, a global learning course, was found to be both top-down and education-led and afforded a level of international engagement for students. Academic goodwill was found to be the most critical factor for success of internationalisation of the curriculum initiatives. Other factors that were found to have negative impacts include: the absence of theoretical frameworks underpinning internationalisation of the curriculum and curriculum planning; the non-alignment of assessment policy and practice across partner institutions; and the failure to develop student learning communities. From the themes identified in the cross case analysis a set of recommendations for internationalisation of the curriculum is offered by the author to help academics and administrators develop policy and a disciplinary vision for courses and programs that lead to international outcomes for students. These recommendations refer to the need for: theory-based, education-led models and disciplinary visions for internationalising the curriculum; equity of student access; student engagement within and across institutions; local and transnational student learning communities; policy-based procedures and professional development and support for academics.

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