Impact assesst as an integral part of internationalization strategy

In a world of increasing fiscal constraints, discourses that emphasize measuring impact continue to gain traction.
Most recently, the Scaling Social Impact series by Harvard Business Review and The Bridgespan Group focuses on how organisations can have a greater social impact. In the same vein, the Stanford Social Innovation Review also has a special section on innovative ways to measure an organisation’s impact on various populations.
In light of the increasing complexity and changes in higher education, universities engaging in internationalisation need to candidly ask themselves if and how their strategies are in fact meeting the goals and outcomes they have set for themselves.
Of course, assessment is not something new for many engaged with the internationalisation of higher education. However, current practices often take a one-dimensional, limited view as compared to a big-picture, holistic view of the impact of internationalisation strategies.
Impact assessment helps make a stronger case to stakeholders of all types who are involved with a university – public funders and legislators, private donors and alumni, university leaders, tuition payers, faculty, staff and students – for funding programmes and strategic initiatives.
By proactively making impact assessment an integral part of funding decisions, campus international education leaders also demonstrate their confidence by not shying away from showing the outcomes of their programmes and initiatives.
In addition, impact assessment keeps programmes on track by not only helping to identify areas of improvement and thus deliver better overall outcomes, but also helping to focus on how they affect individuals – particularly faculty and students – at different stages of their engagement.
Finally, we are in a world of data and technology, which can assist not only in assessing impact in multiple dimensions but also in tracking it over time. This will further intensify the need to build strategies that are measurable, impactful and evidence-based.
There will be an increasing demand not only to assess the impact on stakeholders but also to understand how the data compare with that coming from peer institutions.
Currently, we often measure the impact of internationalisation from a rather insular and imperfect viewpoint, which comes down to simply counting the number of globally mobile students.
This argument has also been suggested by other scholars and practitioners in the field who agree that institutions need to go beyond the rhetoric and numbers and rigorously measure the impact on campus at the level of individuals as well.
Rahul Choudaha