Inclusivity, Internationalisation & Intercultural Competences

Internationalisation of Higher Education

One of the most widely accepted definitions of internationalisation of higher education was made by Jane Knight (2008).

"Internationalisation at the national/sector/institutional levels is the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of higher education at institutional and national levels" (Knight, 2008, p. 21).

This definition focuses on some key words. The term ‘process’ implies that internationalisation involves ongoing effort and has an evolutionary or developmental quality. The other term ‘integrating’ denotes embedding ‘an international, intercultural or global dimension’ that reflects both the breadth and depth of internationalisation in policies and practices, and ensuring the sustainability and centrality of the educational system or institutional vision (Knight, 2008).

Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC)

Leask (2009) conceptualises IoC as

"...the incorporation of an international and intercultural dimension into the content of the curriculum as well as the teaching and learning processes and support services of a program of study" (p. 209).

Internationalised curricula are supposed to enable students to acquire international and intercultural knowledge and abilities as global professionals and citizens (Leask, 2009). Moreover, Schoorman (1999) understands IoC as a counter-hegemonic and ongoing educational process which entails a comprehensive and multifaceted plan of action that is integrated into all aspects of education.

More details:

The Higher Education Academy (Internationalising the Curriculum)  

Intercultural Competences/Cross Cultural Capability

The Higher Education Academy (2011) describes intercultural competencies as

"those knowledge, skills and attitudes that comprise a person's ability to get along with, work and learn with people from diverse cultures".

According to Teekens (2000; 2003), intercultural competences mainly involve attitudes and behaviors such as broad-mindedness, positive attitudes toward other people, understanding and respect for their cultures, values and ways of living, and awareness of the nature of racism.

Leeds Metropolitan University (2003) focuses on three elements of Cross Cultural Capability. The first is intercultural awareness, the ability to communicate effectively across cultures, and the confidence to challenge one's own and others’ values responsibly and ethically. The second is international and multicultural perspectives on one's discipline area. The third is the ability to apply their awareness, skills and perspectives to students’ personal lives and professional practice.

More details:

Leeds Metropolitan University (Cross-Cultural Capability & Global Perspectives Guidelines for Curriculum Review)


Caruana and Ploner (2010) argue that IoC needs to be based on the principle of inclusion that affirms students’ identities rather than just avoiding discrimination, and that reinforces the notion of synergy between internationalisation and equality and diversity in higher education.

Haigh (2002) and Leask (2001) emphasise that internationalised curricula should meet the needs of international students as well as those of home students, and provide equal learning goals and relevant educational experiences for all students, regardless of their cultural and social backgrounds, in an inclusive and supportive environment.

Inclusive curricula value international students as individuals with great diversity in terms of their own cultural capital, including social and cultural knowledge, experiences and aims. The students are expected to not only broaden a narrow local agenda and perspective, but also create a culturally diverse environment which encourages home and international students to have regular contact, effectively learn together and understand each other (Ryan and Hellmundt, 2005).

De Vita (2007) also proposes ‘culturally inclusive teaching strategies’ that value cultural diversity, social inclusion and student experiences and provide equal educational opportunities for all students. These strategies focus on ‘high-level cognitive processes’ and ‘self-regulated learning behaviours’ that can be activated by facilitating genuine intercultural experiences for students – e.g. mutual dialogue and questioning, self-enquiry, and critical reflection and evaluation. In these strategies, the teacher becomes a facilitator and students are centred and responsible for their own participation, learning goals and demanding outcomes.

More details:

The Higher Education Academy (Eight-part series of e-bulletins on Inclusive Practice)

InCurriculum (What is an inclusive curriculum?)

Leeds Metropolitan University (Internationalisation good practice: The inclusive curriculum and ‘Internationalisation at Home’)