University of Hawaii (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 671-680
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
In higher education practice student exposure to different educational environments during the attainment of academic degrees is under some circumstances considered a highly valuable educational experience. In this framework international experiences are considered particularly useful under the auspices of economic globalization promoting internationalization and globalization of higher education.
Student mobility has a progression and location component. A vertical component, from entering at the lowest level of higher education towards achieving highest degrees, is mostly associated with progression. A particular marker for vertical progression is the transition from undergraduate to post-graduate education, or other vertical transitions depending on the construction of higher education systems. A horizontal mobility component is frequently considered the main dimension of student local mobility including, within the course of a degree program or ‘cycle’, the opportunity to study for credit towards a degree at several institutions. Here, various forms of study abroad programs are a prominent aspect.
The basis of vertical mobility is historically the completion of a degree course of study and the general acceptance of the degree as a qualification for progression or entering the workforce. A good example for degree recognition are the publications of the National Qualifications Authority and within it the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) of Australia. Horizontal mobility requires systems of measuring student attainment below that of a completed qualification, at the course or module level. Examples for this are the US credit system and the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Other opportunities are agreements between higher education institutions within a national or international framework.
A comparison between the traditional American course credit system and the emerging European Credit Transfer System will provide insights into benefits, advantages and disadvantages of opportunities for student mobility and of the transparency of credit transfer between higher education institutions or systems from the learner perspective. Within the American course credit system more than 60% of students completing their bachelor’s degree have obtained the necessary credits from or have attended more than one institution and more than 35% from more than two, indicating increasingly complex pathways towards degree completion. Such mobility is not likely to be expected within the European framework, and may not be intended. In addition to America and Europe the paper will for comparison briefly evaluate mobility and transparency in Asia through the examples of China and Japan.
Environments of student achievements need to reflect the needs of learners to accumulate attainment (or credit), to transfer such attainment between degree programs and institutions, and their wish or need to leave a learning environment and to return for further education towards the completion of degrees or additional qualifications. The creation of such environments is dependent on many political, cultural and practical constraints.
In general, however, it can be said that provisions for mobility (through transparency) combined with a good handle on outcomes of educational units or modules have the opportunity for individuals to achieve higher levels of attainment within their national societies or internationally.
mobility, credit systems, higher education, internatinalization.