Special Issue "Multiculturalism in Higher Education: Current Trends, Challenges, and Practices"

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Higher Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2023 | Viewed by 3174

Special Issue Editors

Centre for Research and Intervention in Education, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Interests: migration and education; higher and international education; diversity; social justice; educational policies; international student mobility; multicultural learning
CIES-Iscte—Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology, University Institute of Lisbon, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: mobility; migration; social inequalities; intersectionality; gender; neoliberalization of higher education; international student mobility; post-colonial studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Internationalisation of higher education (IoHE) has become a key element in the strategic agendas of many higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world. The process of becoming more international is coupled with the formation of an increasingly diverse and multicultural environment, by means of, for instance: increased student and staff mobilities, participation in international networks and research projects, and attraction of international students and faculty. As a result, multiculturalism has become the ”new normal” in many HEIs (Walter, 2018).

In this Special Issue, multiculturalism is understood in its relationship with broader internationalisation discourses, first in its demographic meaning, as ”the coexistence of a range of different cultural experiences” (Bolaffi 2003, 83) in the same space and temporality—in this case, in HEIs. Second, multiculturalism is also understood in its ”ideological–normative” and ”programmatic–political” meaning (Inglis, 1996). In line with Tiryakian (2003, 24), multiculturalism emerges here as ”a normative critique of the institutional arrangements of the public sphere that are seen as injuring or depriving a cultural minority of its rights”. Therefore, in this Special Issue, multiculturalism in HE is strongly connected to policies and institutional practices that break (or do not break) the cycle of inequality, with the potential to create spaces where diverse cultural groups can feel supported, valued, and included. It is important to recall that, quite often, multiculturalism fosters the idea of a “happy diversity”, losing sight of the complexity of social hierarchy dynamics (Ahmed, 2012).

In an increasingly neoliberal and marketized HE system, diversity and multiculturalism now comprise a ”holy mantra” (Puwar, 2004), which is indispensable from most institutions’ strategic plans and internationalisation reports. However, research on IoHE reveals that, in spite of the multicultural potential of internationalisation, HEIs have not been able to effectively develop multicultural environments where different groups can participate equally or have meaningful inter-cultural interactions, and where inequalities linked to diverse identity markers—such as religion, language, nationality, migration status, race, gender, and sexual orientation—are actively and continuously tackled. Quite often, different groups, together with their diverse cultures, expectations, and daily practices, are approached through a deficit lens, as though they need to adapt to the dynamics of the institutions, whilst the institutions themselves can remain exactly the same (Nada and Araújo, 2018). Moreover, internationalisation practices are often implemented without consistent monitoring to understand the extent to which they are achieving their expected goals (Morley et al., 2018). As noted by Ahmed (2012), diversity and multiculturalism have become new and unquestioned flags that many HEIs are carrying, without necessarily implementing any changes into their institutional fabric to actually promote more inclusive, diverse, and multicultural environments.

Whilst the research literature on IoHE has been growing significantly in the last two decades (De With and Altbach, 2021), the subsequent creation and expansion of multicultural environments in higher education has been less studied, along with its impact on different higher education (HE) actors and the institutions themselves.

In this context, this Special Issue welcomes reviews and empirical studies drawing on diverse methodologies focused on multiculturalism in HE. Research topics can include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • The impact of internationalisation on cultural diversity and the development of multicultural environments in HE.
  • The impact of multiculturalism on daily life in HEIs, especially on teaching, learning, and research practices, as well as in institutional practices, such as recruitment and support programs.
  • Research that questions widespread and reductive views of multiculturalism in HE—for instance, deficit views and tokenistic approaches to multiculturalism and diversity.
  • Research on the experiences of historically under-represented groups in HE, including students and academic and non-academic staff with a migrant/minority background; research focused on other under-studied topics and populations.
  • Research on HE policies and practices regarding the promotion of multicultural environments, preferably including the perspectives of HE practitioners who are actively engaged with these issues.
  • Research questioning the theoretical basis and underlying logics of multiculturalism in HE, preferably through the use of critical approaches rooted in, for instance, intersectional, critical race, decolonial, post-colonial, and/or indigenous theories.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Cosmin Ionut Nada
Dr. Thais França
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • multiculturalism
  • higher education
  • internationalisation
  • diversity
  • inequality
  • critical perspectives

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
International Office Professionals: An Example of Street-Level Bureaucrats in Higher Education
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(9), 890; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13090890 - 02 Sep 2023
Viewed by 769
Abstract
Internationalization has become an indispensable part of universities worldwide. Since the 1990s, various research has been conducted with those often seen as the main stakeholders of universities, namely administrators, academics, and students. However, the leading implementors of internationalization and especially mobility programs, international [...] Read more.
Internationalization has become an indispensable part of universities worldwide. Since the 1990s, various research has been conducted with those often seen as the main stakeholders of universities, namely administrators, academics, and students. However, the leading implementors of internationalization and especially mobility programs, international office professionals (IPs), are rarely considered by research. In this study, qualitative research was conducted through 36 semi-structured interviews with IPs in Poland and Turkey. The results revealed that IPs have several professional and institutional challenges. While the professional challenges include diversified responsibilities, incoming students’ problems, and communication difficulties with the young generation; institutional challenges are mainly associated with administrative issues like lack of participation in decision-making, temporarily appointed leaders, and lack of academic support. Additionally, in this study, IPs were referred to as street-level bureaucrats as the main contact with the beneficiaries of internationalization. The research revealed that IPs use a high level of discretion in practice. This paper presents examples of how to structure internationalization policies so that the IPs use their power of discretion in a positive way, contributing to policy implementation. Therefore, this paper aims to provide a roadmap for the practical implementation of internationalization and mobility programs in universities. Full article
Article
The Impact of International Student Mobility on Multicultural Competence and Career Development: The Case of Students from Latin America and the Caribbean in Barcelona
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(9), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13090869 - 25 Aug 2023
Viewed by 299
Abstract
Every year, an increasing number of students decide to study abroad in non-English-speaking countries, and Spain is recently a very popular destination within Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) communities. This paper attempts to deepen our knowledge of the impact of international student mobility [...] Read more.
Every year, an increasing number of students decide to study abroad in non-English-speaking countries, and Spain is recently a very popular destination within Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) communities. This paper attempts to deepen our knowledge of the impact of international student mobility (ISM) on students’ multicultural identity and career development. To do so, the experiences of 10 LAC students who completed a one-year degree programme in Barcelona are examined. Semi-structured interviews were employed to evaluate the international experiences one year after their completion. During their post-mobility interviews, participants were able to reflect on the ISM through a structured dialogue that allowed them to analyse the experience from a distance. Findings indicate that the ISM helped them to grow personally and professionally and, one year after the stay, they are aware of this evolution. They show an increase in their self-confidence, and they see the experience as an opportunity for personal maturity. This suggests that universities should consider the importance of offering guidance to these students when they end their master’s degree and are considering their plans for the future. Full article
Article
Academic Migration and Epistemological Value: Exploring the Experience of Migrant Academics in Portugal
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(7), 720; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13070720 - 14 Jul 2023
Viewed by 400
Abstract
The internationalisation of higher education (IoHE) has become a prominent topic in higher education research. While there is increasing institutional and governmental commitment to IoHE, it is important to consider the actual outcomes of these processes critically. Despite the significant issues raised by [...] Read more.
The internationalisation of higher education (IoHE) has become a prominent topic in higher education research. While there is increasing institutional and governmental commitment to IoHE, it is important to consider the actual outcomes of these processes critically. Despite the significant issues raised by the academic migration of professors, researchers, and post-docs regarding migratory trajectories and epistemological aspects of scholarly work, this area of research remains understudied. This article adopted a qualitative approach, drawing on semi-structured interviews with migrant scholars pursuing academic careers in Portugal. Our findings suggest that a complex interplay of factors influences the pursuit of an academic career by migrants, including the influence of institutional and governmental policies regarding science and the impact of marketisation of higher education institutions that have jeopardised academic career possibilities. Moreover, science and academic-related work seem to be the main drivers in pursuing an academic career for migrant scholars rather than primarily career-focused and economic strategies. Notwithstanding, our study highlighted the challenges that migrant academics face at the epistemological level, pointing out that their experiences are embedded in neocolonial logics that are further aggravated by current unequal societal arrangements related to what constitutes valid and legitimate knowledge and the power relations therein. Full article
Article
Dealing with Diverse Cultures and Needs: How Have Higher Education Institutions in Portugal Responded to COVID-19?
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(6), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13060585 - 08 Jun 2023
Viewed by 629
Abstract
This article seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the strategies implemented by Portuguese higher education institutions in addressing cultural diversity and meeting the demands of international students, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. In methodological terms, this is a [...] Read more.
This article seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the strategies implemented by Portuguese higher education institutions in addressing cultural diversity and meeting the demands of international students, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. In methodological terms, this is a qualitative study in which more than 40 in-depth interviews were conducted with degree mobility students from Brazil, Portuguese-speaking African Countries, China and Syria, who were already in Portugal when the pandemic was declared in the country in March 2020. Through the lens of multiculturalism, which understands that higher education should be inclusive and equal for all, we found that higher education institutions in Portugal did not provide adequate support to its international student body at a time of so many challenges and uncertainties. Our data indicate that higher education institutions in Portugal need to make more efforts towards fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, whilst taking into account the complex needs of international students. Full article
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