Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)

Training Module

Internationalisation in Higher Education: Practical Guidance

This module is designed for staff at Higher Education Institutions - Human Resources, Equality and Diversity personnel and managers - involved in the recruitment, support and development of international academics. The content is designed to offer concise and practical advice, helping users to identify and develop reflexive practices for their own training programmes. For more on the background to the module, see 'Background'.

See also the Spanish version of the Training Module. 

See also the Japanese version of the Training Module.

Everyone involved in the recruitment and support of international researchers needs to be aware of the obstacles they encounter. By addressing unconscious bias within institutions and better understanding the needs of a diverse workforce, we can contribute to a truly global society.

‘[in] the academic world it was individuals who decided they really wanted to champion my cause and help me connect to the right people and explained to me how to do it.’ (Female with Romanian-Hungarian origins)

On this website you’ll find a range of resources to help you think about the ways in which international researchers are supported at your institution, including the legal framework, practical tips on avoiding bias, ideas on establishing an effective induction and mentoring programme, and a case study on researchers from Roma communities.

Once you’ve worked through the material, take a look at the Checklist for reflexive internationalisation to establish what your institution needs to do next.

Internationalisation is …

  • part of the global knowledge economy
  • a dominant policy discourse in higher education today
  • driven by both educational and economic concerns
  • about the mobility of students, staff, programmes, and higher education institutions
  • seen as a desirable form of capital for students, staff, institutions, and research and publication partnerships

And the benefits of this approach are:

  • increased global standing for the HEI
  • improved researcher retention
  • enhanced interpersonal relations across the institution
  • exchange of best practice to improve researcher development
  • contribution to a global society

The European Charter for Researchers stipulates that:

“Employers and/or funders must recognise the value of geographical, intersectoral, inter- and trans-disciplinary and virtual mobility, as well as mobility between the public and private sector as an important means of enhancing scientific knowledge and professional development at any stage of a researcher’s career. Consequently, they should build such options in the specific career development strategy and fully value and acknowledge any mobility experience within their career progression/appraisal system.”

Internationalisation and mobility are two of the most important issues facing higher education, in the UK and beyond. We need both to support the diversification of academic communities through equitable practices, and also prepare our researchers to live and work in a global society. In 2012, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) devised a strategy with the aim that ‘by 2020 at least 20% of all graduates from the EHEA should have spent a period of time studying or training abroad’.

While there have been wide-ranging initiatives to support the mobility of students, relatively little attention has been given to researchers.

Mapping Mobility

Six destination countries host nearly one-half of total mobile students:

  • United States (hosting 19% of global internationally mobile students)
  • United Kingdom (10%)
  • Australia (6%)
  • France (6%)
  • Germany (5%)
  • Russian Federation (3%)

Top countries of origin of mobile students are:

  • China
  • India
  • Germany
  • Republic of Korea
  • France

Considerably less policy and research attention is paid to the internationalisation of academic careers.

In those countries where relevant data exist for the origin of university faculty members, the ratio of international staff varies between 3 and 22%. Norway, Finland, UK and USA have between 18 and 22% share of international academic staff. Japan, Spain and France have  between 3 and 9%.1


  1. De Wit, H. Hunter, F. Howard, L., & Egron-Polak, E. (2015). Internationalisation of higher education. Brussels: European Parliament.