Internationalization and Global Competence of University Students: Insights from Theory and Research


At the recent Teaching and Learning Forum on March 2, 2023, Associate Professor CEN Yuhao from the School of Education (SOE) shared her insights in the lecture titled “Internationalization and Global Competence of University Students: Insights from Theory and Research”. More than 50 SJTU faculty members attended the event.

During the lecture, Dr. CEN discussed the topic in the following three aspects: the concepts and theories of internationalization in higher education, internationalization experience and global competence of SJTU students, and policies and practices for promoting students’ global competence.

Dr. CEN first briefed the concepts about international capability, with a focus on global competence and its assessment. In simple terms, global competence is, according to OECD, a multi-dimensional capacity that encompasses the ability to examine issues of local, global and cultural significance, understand and appreciate the perspectives and worldviews of others, engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions across cultures, and  take action for collective well-being and sustainable development. Hunter defined the concept as having an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others, leveraging this gained knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively outside one’s environment.

Global competence is often assessed in three dimensions: attitudes and values, knowledge and understanding, and skills and actions.

Through her research on internationalization experiences and global competence among graduate students, CEN found that Internationalization-at-Home (IaH) could not replace cross-border internationalization in furthering students' global competence; however, IaH was less costly, more accessible, and thus improved equity. Therefore, IaH proved to be an effective and valuable approach to students’ global competence.

CEN then introduced a range of programs at SJTU in recent years for promoting students’ global competence. She also shared her actions as a course instructor to advance collaborative online international learning. “IaH does not mean additional programs”, she said, “but it refers to an integrated and systematic effort to promote international education on campus.” She believed every educator should take a step forward in internationalizing the curriculum and enhancing students' global competence. The forum inspired the participants to reflect on and act upon internationalization of higher education, preparing university students to thrive beyond borders.

Translated and Edited by CHEN Ruoxi

Proofread by CEN Yuhao