International and Partnerships Strategy

1. Introduction and Aims

The term ‘internationalisation’, as applied to higher education, is broad and this is reflected in the International and Partnerships Strategy for Abertay University. Universities UK describes internationalisation as ‘the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into aspects of university activity’. 

The International and Partnerships Strategy for Abertay University contributes to and supports the vision for the University. It outlines the University’s ambitions for extending our international activity, both within the University’s campus in Dundee and overseas, as well as with partners in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

We will achieve this through:

  • Growing our international student numbers.
  • Enhancing the impact of international students on academic and civic life.
  • Providing opportunities for our international students.
  • Increasing our international partnerships in delivery of Transnational Education;
  • Expanding Abertay Online across the global market.
  • Internationalisation of our curriculum.
  • Evolving collaborative international Research, Knowledge Exchange and Innovation (RKE & I).

The International and Partnerships Strategy takes into account the University’s commitment to sustainability and the reduction of our carbon footprint. The international agenda and the international travel policy are outlined in the University’s Sustainable Development Strategy. The objectives of international expansion and carbon reduction may appear to be contradictory at times.

MPPOP graduation ceremony

3. Strategic Opportunities

The International and Partnerships Strategy has been designed to address a number of strategic opportunities, namely to:

  • Diversify the business and income streams in order to reduce reliance on SFC funding and mitigate financial risks for example from Brexit.
  • Enrich the development of our staff and students through the further expansion of international exchange, study abroad and collaborative research opportunities.
  • Develop progression pathways to Abertay programmes for entry to all years.
  • Utilise Abertay Online programmes as a component of the international and partnership plan.
  • Provide doctoral opportunities (potentially through new Professional Doctorate route in addition to PhD) for colleagues at partner institutions. 

Perfect World Education Partnership

4. Strategic Risks

There are a number of potential risks in embarking on the University’s International and Partnerships Strategy. Risks will be monitored in line with the University’s risk management framework and reflected in the strategic risk register as appropriate.

5. Activities in the Strategy

5.1 Recruitment of International Students

We will contribute to the City of Dundee’s Cultural Strategy and build on our reputation as the UK’s first and only UNESCO Creative City of Design through increasing the number and diversity of international students living and studying in the city. By encouraging international students to study at Abertay we will celebrate and promote global citizenship for both our international and our home-based students.

5.2 International Foundation Programmes

The University will develop International Foundation programmes to align with undergraduate recruitment – focussing on English language, numeracy skills and academic skills as well as the specific subject specialism. We will also develop a Masters preparation programme to prepare students for masters level study.

5.3 Impact of International Students on Abertay and Dundee

Further to the recruitment of international students as outlined above, we will enable and encourage our international students to engage with the wider community in Dundee and surrounding areas. We will provide opportunities for our international students to contribute to both our academic and civic communities through projects, volunteering and community work.

We will explore opportunities for international students to get involved with Dundee schools to share experiences from their country of origin and potentially get involved in supporting language classes. The integration of international students into the city will form a component of our Civic Mission.

We will work closely with Abertay’s Students’ Association to support and enable international students to engage with, and enhance the social, economic and cultural activities at Abertay and throughout the City of Dundee.

Additionally, all staff in the University will have the opportunity to engage with training and educational development activities on topics such as: engaging with international students; embedding internationalisation into the curriculum; and teaching global citizens.

5.4 Student and Staff Exchange

Student and staff exchange opportunities are an important component of internationalisation at Abertay and support the development of our staff and students through exposure to other cultures, whilst also supporting our partnership aspirations and collaborative research.

The main strategic objective is to encourage student and staff exchanges as long as these are sustainable and are funded. Exchanges will be a constituent part of our partnership relationships.

Student exchanges will normally be included as part of a student’s programme of study, but may also be extra-curricular.

Staff exchanges and academic visits will also be part of our partnership relationships, but exchanges can also happen as part of research projects or may well be individually identified.

5.5 International Strategic Partnerships

The objective in developing an international and partnership strategy is to develop a balanced portfolio of partnerships (taking into account subject spread, geographic location and research interests). We will work with partners with the profile, mission and values that fit well with the Abertay strategic vision, values and educational ethos, as well as comply with any requirements from the UK, and international, regulatory bodies. The ambition is to develop successful long-term partnerships which will achieve constructive collaborative relationships between institutions, increase our global influence, grow our global network and lead to positive outcomes for students studying as part of the partnership.

We will work with our partners to ensure that the partnerships are of benefit to Abertay, and to our partners and their student populations. To that end our partnerships will be built on shared values, agreed targets and outcomes, and a programme of mutual development and support.

We will collaborate with partners to share experience and expertise to the mutual benefit of Abertay and partner institutions in learning and teaching and educational development (link to Learning Enhancement Strategy), use of educational technologies and digital transformation (link to Digital Strategy and Digital Transformation Plan) as well as in research (link to Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy).

In addition to individual partnerships with education providers we will seek to develop regional activities with a group of associated partners. Regional groupings (managed virtually) will enable us to enhance our standing in specific geographic areas, achieve economies of scale and provide flexibility and options for our students.

5.5.1 Identifying partners

The strategic objective for the University is to grow the number of partners and partnerships. New partnerships will be developed through a variety of relationships and collaborations such as:

  • Developing relationships with ‘finder’ consultancies and agencies, who will provide a service to match / introduce Abertay University with prospective international partners.
  • Utilising personal relationships and contacts.
  • Liaising with organisations such as the British Council who can support identification of countries where there are opportunities, as well as specific opportunities within countries.
  • Attending individual country embassy roadshows.
  • Utilising national (e.g. UUK and Advance HE) and international organisation memberships, representations and relationships to network and find opportunities.

5.5.2 Principles to consider in selecting countries, partners and programmes

The principles and processes that are taken into account in the selection of a new partner and the development and growth of existing partners are set out in detail in the Academic Partnership Handbook. The framework for selection is outlined in a separate document – ‘Selecting Partners’. In addition, any research collaboration will go through the processes and procedures for any new research engagement.

5.6 Internationalisation of the curriculum (link to Learning Enhancement Strategy and to People Strategy)

Internationalisation of the curriculum covers a wide range of topic areas however at its heart, it aims to provide students with a global outlook on their discipline through a variety of mechanisms and opportunities. The internationalisation of the curriculum will enable us to celebrate and promote global citizenship and provide students with the skillset and the opportunities to contribute to a global society.

The internationalisation activities include:

  • Encouraging students to consider their subject disciplines from a global perspective and develop the values, the ethos, and the tools and techniques required to participate in global society, global business and global industries.
  • Enabling the application of Abertay attributes.
  • Ensuring diversity in recruitment of staff and students, recognising the importance of representing a wide range of cultures across its staff and student communities.
  • Ensuring the curriculum is decolonised to make sure that students are exposed to a range of perspectives on their discipline and can debate these with their peers.
  • Providing opportunities such as international student exchanges, ability to hear and engage with international speakers, international employment, and joint project work with international students at partner institutions.

5.7 Research and Knowledge Exchange (cross reference to the RKE Strategy)

The Abertay International and Partnerships Strategy will embrace the principle articulated by Mariya Gabriel, the EU Commissioner for Research, in 2022 ‘The COVID-19 crisis has also shown that the cooperation at international level in research and innovation is more important than ever, including through open access to data and results. No nation, no country can tackle any of these global challenges alone’.

As outlined above we will identify international partners to extend the depth and impact of our research and knowledge exchange and enhance it through our international collaborations.  We will seek to identify funding for collaborative partnership projects, including joint research and innovation initiatives (linked to RKE Strategy).

We will develop further strategic collaborations aligned with our core academic provision through national and international academic and industrial research and knowledge exchange alliances.

We will develop researchers to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse and global research environment through provision of researcher training, mentoring, facilitated interaction with enterprise and public engagement channels, investment and support.

Risks associated with international research will be included in the risk framework which will cover the protection of researchers (aligned to health and safety), reputational risk, dual use of research, risks of restriction on academic freedom and freedom of speech and risk of misappropriation of Intellectual Property (IP) etc.

5.8 Grow the Portfolio of Abertay Online Programmes

The University will extend our international reach and number of international students by growing our distance learning provision and developing the Abertay Online Brand, in collaboration with Higher Ed Partners (HEP). We will establish the Abertay Online brand to be a recognised and valued part of the University’s international portfolio.

We will continue to develop our online provision, working with our partners to identify new programmes and opportunities.

We will work with our partners to:

  • Continue to identify new opportunities to grow the portfolio of programmes offered through Abertay online.
  • Establish and grow the brand.
  • Increase the student numbers.
  • Extend our geographical reach, in particular to areas we don't traditionally recruit from.

5.9 Build the University’s International Infrastructure

In order to achieve our International and Partnerships Strategy we will build capacity in our academic and professional services staff to enable the development of appropriate organisational infrastructure, pedagogic approaches, resources and materials.

Where possible digital solutions will be utilised. The detail and actions will be aligned to the University’s Digital Transformation Programme.

Similarly, but specifically for Abertay Online we will develop the capacity of the Abertay Online infrastructure focussing on the interface with Higher Ed Partners and supporting the challenges faced by independent learners studying around the world, in different time zones and with varying connectivity.

6. Governance

This strategy will be overseen by the International and Partnerships Committee which reports formally to the Senior Management Team and to the Teaching and Learning Committee and Senate. As specified in the Partnership Handbook all partnership proposals will be considered by the Academic Leadership Group and the Senior Management Team.

For each partner we will establish a partnership strategic and operations group to manage the partner relationships, consider operational issues (including student number planning, course review etc) and plan for graduation participation in Dundee and / or partner institutions as appropriate.

The international and partner activities will feed into  operational planning and budgeting  for each of the Schools, the Abertay Learning Enhancement Academy (AbLE), and Professional Services as appropriate.

There will be an International and Partnerships report presented to the University Court on an annual basis and a financial update on international and partner income and expenditure to each FCPC meeting.

7. Engagement with External Networks

As part of the International and Partnerships Strategy the University will collaborate and engage with a number of external bodies in order to develop opportunities and potential collaborations, but also to identify external regulatory changes and national developments. Colleagues from Abertay will be represented on appropriate groups, including, but not restricted to:

  • Universities Scotland, International Group.
  • UUKi – international group coordinated by UUK.
  • British Council.

8. Deliverables, Timeline and Action Plan

In order to implement the International and Partnerships Strategy a series of deliverables, measurements, KPIs will be agreed and be reported to the International / Partnership Committee. Each activity will be represented on an action plan with the deliverables and timeline specified and monitored for each activity.

Pause carousel

Play carousel