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First scientific paper on the Coimbra Group Internationalisation Benchmarking

30 September 2020

Professors Ludovic Thilly, Jürgen Barkhoff and Daniel Donoghue, respectively Chair, Vice-Chair and member of the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group, co-authored with Professors Helen Spencer-Oatey and Daniel Dauber (University of Warwick) and Nick Pidgeon (i-graduate), the first scientific paper on the new approach used for benchmarking internationalisation within the Coimbra Group.

The article was released in the issue 3/20 of “Internationalisation of Higher Education – Policy and Practice”, a journal designed for higher education leaders, policy makers and internationalisation professionals.

The paper first notes the limitations of current internationalisation rankings and league tables which tend to focus on structural/demographic-type criteria such as the proportion of international students and international staff. It then focusses on the specific goals and benefits for Universities of the approach used by the Coimbra Group that is based on the Global Education Profiler (GEP), an integrated pair of surveys designed by Prof Helen Spencer-Oatey and Daniel Dauber (University of Warwick) which is now licensed to i-graduate, a leading education survey company.

The GEP allows Universities to gather robust data on the motivations and experiences of students and University staff, thus measuring performance of the university internationalisation strategy in key areas such as academic and social integration, language skills or opportunities for intercultural education. The results are intended to help Universities to identify areas where to prioritise effort, optimise resource allocation, and ultimately enhance student and staff satisfaction.

The Coimbra Group has put together a first cohort of 13 member Universities to set up a benchmark group with the aim to provide a rich and detailed comparative dataset on internationalisation that will form a baseline for long-established research intensive Universities across Europe. Approximately 17,000 students and 8,000 staff members at the thirteen participating Coimbra Group member Universities completed the first GEP surveys.

This benchmarking study will allow University leaders to better understand the social and academic issues that students face in a multicultural campus and help them reflect on the types of skills and opportunities that are highly sought after by employers. The survey will also help inform Universities of the views of staff in their roles of teaching and in developing the skills they themselves need to maximise the benefits of internationalisation. Last but not least it will allow them to compare their results with peer institutions.

The benefits to Coimbra Group members of participation in the benchmarking project go beyond analysis of each institution’s data. The anonymous benchmarking allows the Coimbra Group network to take a lead in assessing competencies and policy development to support internationalisation at a timely moment, given the launch of the pilot phase of the European Universities initiative, the imminent launch of the Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027 and the ongoing policy developments in the European Higher Education Area. Given the success of the first cohort, the Coimbra Group are now in discussion with i-graduate about inviting more member Universities to join a second cohort in 2021.

Full access to the scientific paper