Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Internationalisation of Higher Education in South Korea: Reality, Rhetoric, and Disparity in Academic Culture and Identities

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Internationalisation of Higher Education in South Korea: Reality, Rhetoric, and Disparity in Academic Culture and Identities

Article excerpt

The central theme of this paper is contradictions: the ways in which official agendas of internationalisation in higher education are disturbed by the principles of inclusion and exclusion in the local context of university academic culture. The case of South Korea shows how the national policies for the internationalisation of higher education are translated into local cultural practice inside academe: What are the 'positions' of foreign and female academics in the specific national university context? How are they constructed by official policies of internationalisation? How are they experienced by individuals to form new reflexive identities? The paper offers an illustrative analysis of the positioned and positional identities of foreign and female academics and the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion drawn around their identities. This exploratory study is aimed at future research agendas for a larger theoretical study on internationally mobile academics in different social contexts.

Keywords

Asian studies

gender

higher education

identity

internationalisation

South Korean culture

Introduction

The overall purpose of this paper is to examine how the internationalisation of higher education is realised locally. Governments of most Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries have created rationales to internationalise their higher education systems under the pressures set by problems faced by nearly all OECD countries. These pressures include increasing the recruitment of international students and scholars, declining funds for teaching, increasing concentration on research and the emphasis on business activity. Their policy agendas are often similar but are linked to specific national targets (Enders & Fulton, 2002; Marginson, 2003; Odin & Manicas, 2004). The British government, for instance, set a target in 1999 to have 25 per cent of the global market share of higher education students, and to increase the number of international students studying in the further education sector by 100 per cent by 2005 (Blair, 1999). Accordingly most universities in Britain have developed new strategic plans to increase international student enrolment and enhance their international profiles. They are facing increasing demand for places and more competition for international students. Extra recruitment of non-EU students has already generated over 1bn [pounds sterling] for the economy (McNulty, 2003). (1)

In this paper, the case of South Korea will be taken as an exemplary site where the changing nature of the university and personnel can be critically reviewed against the overall national policies for internationalisation. The paper will examine official policies for the internationalisation of higher education in South Korea, and analyse the local context of the official version of what it means to be a foreign or a female academic against historical assumptions about the university. The central theme is contradictions: the ways in which official agendas of the internationalisation of universities and academic identity are disturbed by the principles of inclusion and exclusion in university academic culture in South Korea.

The immediate purpose is to ask questions about the implications of certain kinds of boundaries for academic identities. What are the identities of foreign and female academics in a specific national context? How are they constructed by official national policies of internationalisation and how are they experienced by individuals? The problem can thus be stated as an illustrative analysis of the positioned and positional identities of foreign and female academics and the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion drawn around their identities. This technical vocabulary can be defined.

The concept of boundaries is partly drawn from work on collective identities--as explored by Barth (1969) and Jenkins (1996). …

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