Association of International Education Administrators '15

Beyond Study Abroad: innovative international strategies.

UNSW Australia and the University of Birmingham have both won awards for their international strategies. As ‘top 100’, research-intensive institutions they understand the challenge of expanding international strategy beyond study abroad into areas such as university and industry research collaboration, reputation building with governments and media overseas, recruitment of international students and development of network and alumni relations. 

The case for developing broader and deeper international strategies is well known; with benefits for universities in terms of global reputation, recruitment of staff and students, enhanced mobility opportunities and access to research funding. Yet the challenges associated with this are also evident particularly for senior international officers attempting to focus institutional resources at a time of fiscal constraint. The two universities leading this panel discussion have tackled these challenges and key ‘lessons learnt’ will form the starting point for an interactive discussion.

UNSW is recognized as the most international university in Australia and one of the first organizations to be inducted into the country’s ‘Export Hall of Fame’ for efforts to forge strong partnerships across the Asia Pacific. In 2014, Birmingham won a prestigious Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award for its ‘innovative internationalization policy’; in particularly its engagement strategy with Brazil.

This session provides insight into UNSW and Birmingham’s approach, exploring themes such as the role played by university leaders and the challenge of galvanizing teams across campus. Importantly challenges encountered and lessons learnt will be shared.

Key take-aways will include:

  • the role university leaders play in shaping strategy and supporting key international initiatives
  • the challenge of securing investment for international activities and bringing different areas of campus together to achieve common international goals 
  • key strategic outcomes from a broader internationalization strategy

UNSW Australia has long been a leading innovator in internationalization since it was founded in 1949. The stats speak for themselves: 56% of its academic faculty is from overseas, 27% of the 52,000 students on campus are international, 21% of all students spend time abroad during their degree, revenue of US$340 million a year is generated from international sources to support research and teaching. UNSW is also a member of three international networks: Universitas 21, APRU and GlobalTech Alliance.

The University of Birmingham has been global since its inception in 1900, as evidenced by its world-leading research, a vibrant international and staff community, and the breadth and depth of its international engagement. A member of the prestigious Russell Group of UK research-led institutions, Birmingham’s international strategy builds upon its civic roots and national eminence, developing signature international initiatives, including the landmark Birmingham Guangzhou Centre, extensive engagement with cultural partners in Chicago, a strategic alliance with UIUC, and permanent presence in New Delhi, Shanghai, Nigeria, Brazil and Brussels.

Both UNSW and Birmingham are founder members of Universitas 21, the leading global network of research intensive universities, working to foster global citizenship and institutional innovation through research-inspired teaching and learning, and through student and staff mobility.



This paper was presented by Professor Iain Martin (UNSW Australia) and Andrea Edwards (Birmingham).