Trends in Internationalization of Higher Education and Implications for Research and Innovation for Development in African Universities
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What are the current trends that mark out the process of internationalization of higher education? In what directions do these trends influence the direction of research and development in African universities? Does internationalization of higher education have the potential to boost knowledge production relevant to Africa’s development needs or it will further hasten the marginalization of both African universities and African development agendas within the global network of scientific knowledge? Internationalization of education is not new. Historically, students have sought better higher education abroad influenced by the desire to benefit from better opportunities provided by universities in the developed countries. The current phase of higher education internationalization has however emerged more vigorously in the 21st century and is associated with the twin trends of globalization and liberalization. Proponents of globalization have argued that higher education is bound to be more strongly affected by worldwide economic developments. They also point out that higher education institutions in developing countries should embrace aspects of internationalization to boost their efforts to be ranked among the best league of universities globally. At the national level, internationalization of higher education is presented as a process that institutions in developing countries must embrace in order to address the persistent challenges of sustainable development. For universities in Africa, the literature argues that internationalization provides them with opportunities that cut across disciplines, institutions, knowledge-systems, and nation-state boundaries thereby exposing the institutions and academics to the world’s best scientific research and infrastructures. In summary, it is contended that internationalization is a strategy to realize success in human-capability and institutional-capacity development in the universities. This chapter revisits these assertions and their tenacity to developing a culture of research and innovation in African universities, and linking the universities to the continent’s development aspirations.