Some thoughts on research
The second core business of universities (in addition to teaching) is research. Analysis of jointly-produced research papers shows significant growth in their ratio to the totally-produced research output. Germany has almost half of its research output being jointly produced with overseas researchers; for UK, Australia and Malaysia this is over 42%. This ratio is still relatively low for India and China (21% and 16% respectively), however it is growing fast.
It is the internationally-produced research that gets cited most. This must be because of increased relevance spread over several nations – not just one. It is the relevance of research and teaching that will push these two towards deeper and stronger internationalisation. My key take away is country’s relevance – relevance in terms of programmes universities deliver and relevance of research they engage in. If universities’ programmes, irrespective of their place of delivery, are relevant to the students’ needs and those of the wider society and they secure employment upon graduation, then this is a good proxy of relevance. An additional advantage will be if they operate in a niche that makes them stand out in what we are increasingly seeing to be a crowded place.
The same is true for research – research gets greater citation internationally if it is relevant to the wider world. This requires international teams of researchers from across different universities working together. National strategies can, of course, give competitive advantage to both teaching and research. Research carried out by the British Council shows that the right policy mix of good international strategy on education, immigration policy aiding the movement of students and academics and environment which facilitates the operations of domestic and overseas institutions brings about higher mobility and greater internationalisation of research. A lack of the right policy mix will not stop institutions being active internationally – however, they will have to work harder to make up for the lack of nationwide supportive environment.