The policy environments in the Netherlands and Germany are the most supportive of international higher education, according to a study comparing 20 national systems.
The research from the British Council analysed countries’ performance in three areas: openness and mobility; quality assurance and degree recognition; and access and sustainability. Both European nations achieved “very high” scores in all three.
The Republic of Ireland, Australia and Poland were also singled out as leading countries on these measures. The five nations received overall scores of between 0.87 and 0.92 out of 1. In comparison, the UK’s overall score was 0.79, while Canada’s was 0.71 and the US’ was 0.69.
The study, The Shape of Global Higher Education: International Comparisons with Europe, which was due to be presented at the Going Global conference in Berlin on 14 May, analyses 11 countries in Europe, alongside Australia and eight others in Asia and the Americas.
It considers 37 measures of national policies and regulations including approaches to and funding for student and academic mobility, recognition of overseas qualifications and sustainable development strategies.
Michael Peak, senior consultant for education research at the British Council, said that of the European countries studied, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Poland and France “score highly in terms of openness”.
“They have all recently published international education strategies, and all have dedicated bodies to implement their strategies,” he said.
Meanwhile, an analysis of nine countries found that the UK was the only one whose national support for internationalisation had declined since 2016.
The report says this is because “cyclical reviews of education provision across institutions in England, previously conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency, have been replaced by a basket of indicators monitored by England’s new regulator, the Office for Students”, and that “does not fully capture [transnational education] activities”.
However, the study warns that factors stemming from the “period of uncertainty regarding the UK’s relationship with the [European Union]…may affect future international engagement and the UK’s indicators in this study”.
These factors include uncertainty over the status of EU students and academics post-Brexit, and doubts around the UK’s continued participation in Erasmus+, with the report noting that the UK has no national-level funding for UK students’ outbound mobility.
Academics and university leaders will discuss how universities should internationalise and collaborate over the next 20 years at Times Higher Education’s Teaching Excellence Summit, which is taking place at Western University, in London, Ontario, Canada, from 4-6 June.