Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Internationalization versus Globalization of Higher Education

In these days of continuously increasing process of globalization it is but natural that a subject like that of higher education emerges predominantly at international level, or discussions pertaining to internationalization of higher education becomes vital all over the world. It is because globalization and internationalization are, despite being two different subjects –having different meanings, purposes and basic spirits in their roots in particular, connected to one-another.

How are they connected to one-another and how are they different in their respective meanings, purposes and basic spirits which they have in their roots? To be acquainted with answers to these important questions, it is necessary to have clarity about their respective meanings, purposes and basic spirits. By this clarity it will also be easy to proceed further to discuss and analyze the subject in hand.

First about internationalization! The word internationalization is made of international, which generally means involving at least two nations –in political and economic activities in particular. Contrary to it, globalization, made of the word global, covers the whole world –the globe. In other words, all those who are living on this planet are within the scope of the word global, it does not matter which country or state they belong to. Along with academic and educational activities, all other subjects related to life, which can be counted for the larger welfare of humanity, are essentially within the ambit of global –globalization.

Hence, with this acquaintance in short with the word-meanings and purpose of the both –international and global, the spirits which remain in the roots of the words internationalization and globalization become evident automatically. However, for more clarity the following three points can be counted in this very context:

  • In comparison the scope of globalization is far extensive than internationalization;
  • Globalization is in its true meaning and purpose fully dedicated to the larger welfare of one and all; for, it calls for ample cooperation. Contrary to it, it is not necessary that activities related to internationalization pave the way for the larger welfare of people or develop the spirit of cooperation at large scale; and
  • The process of globalization is more natural in comparison with internationalization. Furthering steps of globalization are definitely the outcome of continuously increasing process of development –at all levels and in all walks of life. It is undoubtedly mounting steps towards transforming the ancient Indian slogan of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam into a reality.

Therefore, I am of the firm opinion that it would be better and more appropriate if any of the events related to higher education is connected to the word globalization, and not to internationalization. I will also try to express my views having globalization of higher education as the nuclei.

In principle education in its real meaning and purpose is a subject of globalization. Therefore, all accomplishments or gains by education should pave the way for the welfare of one and all. Further, education is a subject of realization and knowledge. It paves the way for all-round development of personality on the basis of knowledge with continuously development of study and skill –the two foremost aspects of it in particular. Therefore, paving the way for the welfare of one and all, and gathering people’s cooperation at larger scale are the prime expectations from education. That is why; scholars of repute, while deciding for scopes of the two –globalization and internationalization, keep aspects related to academic and educational fields within the range of the former, and not the later. Thus, the state becomes clear. To say, education is connected with globalization. Therefore, discussions on a subject like that of globalization of higher education stands rather sound. It is important and significant to discuss it widely and properly.

What I am to mention here especially is that there is no harm at all from globalization, or to an extent from internationalization of education if the process concerned goes ahead according to the basic spirit in the root of education itself. Rather, outcomes of this process will definitely be pleasant. This will accord well more or less to one and all. Moreover, the manner the process of development at all levels and in all walks of life is going forward, the globalization of education is necessary and inevitable. It is because causes are step-by-step becoming common now. Effect of any of the events that takes place in any of the nations of world, it does not matter if it is small or major, could be categorically noticed despite its being more or less in quantity on one and all inhabitants of the earth, which is now transforming very quickly into a global village. Therefore, joint ventures and common accomplishments are continuously getting proximity for common achievements. It is but natural and inevitable.

It is the upshot of this very necessity and natural inevitability that many organizations at regional or to say at international, continental and global levels have effectively emerged with a clarion call for collaboration and cooperation in the field of education and higher education in particular, and among them the name of the International Association of Universities1 could be of special mention. This organization for its significant undertaking through the HEDBIB [Bibliographical Database on Higher Education], its chief functioning programme is supported by many known agencies of the world like that of the British Council2, the NAFSA –the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers3 [Association of International Educators], the CONAHE –the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration4, and the UNESCO and many of its sister organizations in particular. The HEDBIB provides supports, financial in particular, for a number of causes –system, plan, policy, maintenance and development in higher education. It supports sometimes unprecedentedly for studies, research and publications. Today, the number of collaborative research works in different subjects at international-global level is not in some thousands, but in lacs, which divulges itself the significance, necessity and inevitability of internationalization or in fact globalization of higher education.  

Through their gigantic tasks the IAU and other agencies or organizations, names of which have been mentioned above in particular, while contributing unprecedentedly to the process, make the situation quite clear and make known the significance and importance of the subject in hand. They, along with this, call for a joint forum, collaborative works and wide cooperation at the global level. This is for the attention of all of us on the one hand and to step forward with extra care on the other. Extra care, particularly in the sense of proper watch, observation and examination of this process so that this continuously increasing and inevitable development could prove to be productive at large scale, more and more effective and eventually productive and approachable to one and all in the world to accord opportunities in prevailing circumstances of space to rise. For this, it must be accountable if to be proved befitting accordingly. Hopefully, some important points must as guidelines emerge from the broad and prejudice free discussion and analysis by educationists and subject specialists to pave the way for a true internationalization of higher education –globalization in the real sense.       


* This article is based on extracts of a lecture delivered as the Chief Guest by Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar at a two days international seminar organized on the theme Internationalization of higher education by the Vivek College of Education, Bijnor [U. P., India] on November 25-26, 2012.


1. Having 601 universities of almost all the continents of the earth as its members.

2. Especially for the fourth global survey for internationalization of higher education covering more than eight thousand institutions around the world.

3. Founded in 1948 with its headquarter in Washington DC [USA], and having currently ten thousands members representing approximately three thousand institutions of higher education. The NAFSA is in fact for the advancement of international education and exchange and for global workforce development in particular. Moreover, the NAFSA is serving well the international educators, their institutions and organizations by establishing principles of good practice, providing training and professional development opportunities, networking opportunities and advocating for international education –to say global education.

4. Founded in 1994 with its current headquarter at the University of Arizona in Tucson [USA], and having one hundred thirty members to advice and connects higher education institutions interested in establishing or strengthening educational-academic collaborative programs in the North American region. It is the largest and most comprehensive network of institutions from the NAFTA region, offering student exchanges, annual conferences, professional development programmes and direct advice to its members.



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