Returning scholars in Korean higher education: a case study of internationalisation of higher education.

Doctoral Studies Completed Theses - 2009 Archive

Page archived at: Mon, 14 December 2009 09:19:02 +1000

Sung Un Namgung

PhD thesis, conferred 2009

Among the many forces confronting universities in the context of globalisation, internationalisation is a widespread response. Competitiveness, various political forces and the ever-growing importance of economic values in education are reshaping universities. Given the ever-changing global environment and corresponding policies from government, universities have responded to the challenges and opportunities by making great efforts to internationalise their institutions. Academic mobility, which has traditionally been seen as a main component of internationalisation, has also been expedited by globalisation. Paralleling the increasing importance of human resources in the knowledge-based society, the number and actions of international students and scholars has been identified as a driving force of academic development and the internationalisation of higher education.

For Korean universities, the relatively large number of Korean students studying abroad, together with a high rate of returning Korean PhDs, is one of the main influences on their development, alongside internationalisation in general. This research examines the internationalisation of higher education in Korea, focusing particularly on the impact and experiences of returning scholars in Korean higher education. Hence, it has two main foci: the internationalisation of Korean higher education, and the impact of returning scholars in higher education within the context of the internationalisation.

The research was based on case studies employing document analysis, semi-structured in- depth interviews and questionnaire data. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the internationalisation perceptions and process, and contribution of returned scholars, four Korean universities were selected: Handong Global University (HGU), Korea National University of Education (KNUE), Yonsei University (Yonsei) and Seoul National University (SNU).

Internationalisation has been widely understood as a strategic approach to develop universities in response to globalisation, and internationalisation strategies in Korean universities tend to be embedded in the university's long-term development plan. The specific strategies, which reflect each university's philosophy, educational aim and demands, often have an integrative form, expressing the transformation of the university through curriculum, research, manifold education programs and administration.

The research revealed that returning scholars are seen as particularly valuable to the internationalisation process in their university because of their blend of international competence and deep understanding of Korean culture. Returnees' international activities were found to be strong in the areas of teaching, research and administration. However, the contribution of returnees to Korean higher education is hindered by certain factors stemming from different academic cultures and working conditions, notably excessive teaching and administrative workloads, and a rigid administrative system.

Supervisor: Professor Anthony Welch