Globalisation of HE and internationalisation of HE

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…researchers who acknowledge the educative nature of carrying out research are likely to adopt more participatory methods and may place less emphasis on seeking objective data and more on feeding back preliminary findings to enable practitioners to learn from research knowledge as it is generated. Constructing research as „educative‟ has ethical implications and has effects in terms of the quality of outcomes, for example through its ability to fine-tune findings to the field of study and increase their impact on practice, perhaps with less emphasis on producing generalisable findings (Somekh and Lewin, 2005, p. 8).


In this chapter I discuss and outline my theoretical positioning as a researcher as well as the design and methods employed to carry out this study. In addition, I discuss the various research instruments used and substantiate my reasons for doing so. I also outline the methods utilised to organise and analyse the many pieces of data collected for my study. I discuss issues such as the credibility of my study, its limitations and the ethical considerations of the study. Finally, I discuss the path that my research took and some of the unforeseen developments (some good, some not so good) during the course of my study.

Positioning the research

Given that my study sought to better understand underlying meanings to HEIs‟ responses to the imperative of internationalisation, and given the “dual development challenge” that they are faced with, I approached my research from an interpretivist paradigm and a constructivist approach to knowledge generation. The interpretivist paradigm is relevant because of my belief that individuals and groups are interpretive beings who are in a “constant state of reconstruction of their worlds” and consequently that “individuals and groups define knowledge not merely through an objectively situated context such as research projects but also through the historical and social situations in which individuals find themselves” (Tierney, 1996, p. 15). Denzin and Lincoln (2000) argue that “all research is interpretative…” and “…guided by a set of beliefs about the world and how it should be understood and studied” (p. 19). My stance as a researcher is such that in this research I sought to locate the research respondents within the context of their own environments in order to comprehend how they understand and interpret this environment.
In terms of my constructivist positioning, I follow the belief that there are multiple realities, that the researcher and respondents co-create and construct understandings, and that a naturalistic set of methodological procedures are needed as individuals seek to make sense of their experiences (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000, p. 21). As such, one must seek the meanings (Charmaz, 2000, p. 255) behind individual actions and beliefs. It is through the seeking and interpreting of such meanings that knowledge is produced (ibid). In this sense, I focused on meanings in context and within the natural world of the research respondents (Charmaz, 2000, p. 525). Hence my data collection instruments sought to understand meanings that respondents ascribed to the imperative of internationalisation in the HE context.
Overall, I followed Merriam‟s (1998) contention concerning the understanding of meanings in context in a natural world. In this regard, she (ibid) argued that “[h]umans are best-suited for this task (as opposed to numbers) – and best when using methods that make use of human sensibilities such as interviewing, observing, and analyzing” (p. 3). This positioning thus informed my research design, methodology and system of data interpretation, as I describe them below.

Research design

My chosen research design follows that of a qualitative case study research method. My particular case was the University of Pretoria. I chose a single case study because I wanted to analyse how individual agents (i.e. HEIs, their functioning parts and individuals within them) construct the realities of internationalisation, as well as to examine their roles in global and national development. I thus set out to explore and analyse how UP manages its internationalisation within the context of the dual development challenge according to the multiple realities and beliefs of its constituents. Also, as Stark and Torrance (2005) suggest, the particular, descriptive, inductive and ultimately heuristic value of case studies also makes them a valuable tool in qualitative research. In addition, by utilising a case study method I follow Bryman‟s (2001) argument concerning the focused and intensive nature of case studies, and thus suggest that my study was a more focused and intensive examination of the interactions between internationalisation of HE and the dual development challenge at the single case institution, than it may have been if it were a multiple case study.
Also, in choosing one HEI to analyse, this relationship has allowed for more focus on discovery, insight and understanding from the perspectives of those involved in the process of internationalisation at UP. This has offered a greater promise that the research findings will make a significant and new contribution to the existing knowledge base and practice within the field of international education overall (Merriam, 1988, p. 3). I also follow the argument that “an important purpose of case studies is to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the group or individual being observed” (Rothe, 2000, p. 82), and argue that this has been done in this case.
Finally, supporting my argument that an individual case study is valuable, and specifically speaking in terms of the South African context, no comprehensive internationalisation strategy or policy governing or directing the internationalisation process exists at South African universities. As such, each university is engaging in the process differently. Thus, given the unevenness of the HE terrain in terms of economic viability and academic credibility, and the absence of the possible evenness afforded by a guiding policy document on internationalisation, the value of a multiple comparative study is limited. I argue that an in-depth study of a single institution is likely to offer an in-depth understanding of internationalisation of HE. This might in turn offer some guidance to the policy development process and might also assist with cross-comparison and analysis across the spectrum of universities in the future, while allowing for a more focused and in-depth exploration of individual institutions and their engagement with internationalisation. It is also useful to look at an individual university as a case study because it allows for an exploration of inter-institutional similarities and differences with respect to how internationalisation is conceptualised, engaged with and addressed within one institution.
I was therefore not concerned with making or claiming to make my case study generalisable to other HEIs in South Africa or abroad. However, I do expect and suggest that the study will deepen understanding of and assist with explaining the interactions between internationalisation of HE and the dual development challenge elsewhere, and not just at the case study institution. In the light of the above I chose one specific public South African university, the University of Pretoria (UP), as a basis for researching the responses to the dual development challenge.
UP was chosen as my case study university for at least four major reasons, which also validate it as a viable and useful case to analyse my research questions. First, as a historically Afrikaans-medium university, UP has been a major site of institutional transformation since the advent of the new democratic South Africa. As a largely Afrikaans-medium institution – and one that has been historically perceived as being politically conservative and simultaneously powerful in the context of apartheid South Africa – the challenges facing UP, and particularly its international endeavours, in the democratic dispensation of a post-apartheid South Africa would be unique. I therefore suggest it is useful to examine how internationalisation plays a part in the institution‟s transformation agenda, and its particular responses to the dual development challenge.
The second primary justification for UP as a valuable case study for my research is linked to the previous justification in terms of UP‟s historical legacy and reputation. As the institution seeks to distance itself from the negative aspects of its history, and thus to present a new public image, it has been guided by a written and verbalised motto that it seeks to develop “international competitiveness and local relevance”. The transition from its historical positioning of being politically conservative and powerful within the context of the apartheid South Africa, to where it now seeks to position itself publicly as an internationally competitive and locally relevant university, therefore offers useful insights into internationalisation of HE scholarship. Thus, this widely proclaimed mission of transformation positions UP as a viable case to understand the role of internationalisation in that mission.
Third, UP is a viable and valuable case study because the process of internationalisation, as I have defined it herein, was in the midst of unfolding as I commenced this study. This offered me an excellent opportunity to observe how the process was unfolding and to present questions to those involved in the process as it was happening. The combination of observations and interactions (through interviews and document analysis) with UP stakeholders helped to develop and support the richness and depth of my findings around the process at the institution. Thus, since the ambitions of internationalisation were present at UP, it offered an opportunity to engage with those ambitions and to attempt to analyse if those ambitions were being realised.
Finally, although I fully recognise and acknowledge the limitations of choosing a case based on convenience, I chose UP partially because I was situated at UP as a post-graduate student and thus had access to its people, documents and offices directly involved in and related to the internationalisation process. Even give this limitation of choosing UP because of my physical situation within it, it is the combination of these four major rationales for utilising UP as a case study that together strengthen and support my decision to study internationalisation within the context of my research questions at this particular university.


A. Abstract 
B. Acknowledgements 
C. List of abbreviations 
D. List of boxes, figures and tables 
1.0 Introduction to the research problem and purpose
1.1 Research questions
1.2 Rationale for this study
1.3 Conceptualising and defining internationalisation of HE
1.4 Expressions of internationalisation of HE
1.5 Motivations and rationales for internationalisation of HE
1.6 South African motivations and rationales for internationalisation of HE
1.7 Institutional, campus-wide and comprehensive internationalisation
1.8 Organising the study
2.0 Introduction
2.1 Organising the literature
2.2 Globalisation of HE and internationalisation of HE
2.3 Internationalisation of HE as an agent of and for HE transformation/change
2.4 Internationalisation of HE as an agent of national and global development
2.5 Gaps and contradictions in existing internationalisation of HE literature
2.6 Conclusions on existing scholarship
2.7 Giving meaning to the data: Theoretical framework
3.0 Introduction
3.1 Positioning the research
3.2 Research design
3.3 Data collection
3.4 Data organisation and analysis
3.5 Credibility
3.6 Limitations of the study
3.7 Ethical considerations
3.8 Personal observations and developments during my research journey
4.0 Introduction
4.1 UP past and present
4.2 UP‟s Faculty of Education
4.3 UP‟s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
4.4 UP and the transformation agenda
4.5 Internationally competitive and nationally relevant
4.6 An internationally recognised research university
4.7 Synthesis
5.0 Introduction
5.1 UP and the imperative of internationalisation
5.2 Rationales for internationalisation at UP
5.3 Synthesis
6.0 Introduction
6.1 How internationalisation should unfold at UP
6.2 Strategic expressions of internationalisation at UP
6.3 Linking UP‟s international activity ambitions to its three primary rationales
6.4 Further on UP‟s international activities and their developmental impacts
6.5 Synthesis
7.0 Introduction
7.1 UP‟s internationalisation from the lens of existing scholarship
7.2 UP and a “developmental settlement theory for internationalisation”
7.3 Answering the research questions and summarising the key findings
7.4 Synopsis: An understanding and way forward
E. Bibliography 
F. References: List of UP strategic documents, speeches and other material reviewed, analysed and/or referenced in the study 
G. Appendices

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