GLOBAL: International Higher Education spreads wings

In an increasingly globalised world, higher education is no longer the monopoly of Europe and the United States. With countries like Brazil, India and China generating innovative research and producing top academic minds, higher education news and issues have truly taken to the world stage. One American academic publication is also spreading its wings.

International Higher Education (IHE), published by the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) at Boston College in the US, is working to make itself more accessible in the non-English speaking world.

It now publishes in Chinese and Russian and is circulated widely, in English, in Germany - the only higher education academic publication to appear in multiple languages on a regular basis at a global level.

Published quarterly, IHE aims to provide critical analysis of key issues in higher education and to create an understanding of tertiary education and its different permutations and challenges around the globe. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Boston College, the publication sits between the news media and academic journals, featuring short analytical articles by academics.

"We are concerned about the world and do not see ourselves as an 'American' publication," Philip Altbach, director of CIHE, told University World News. With a doctorate in comparative education, Altbach has focused his career on international higher education, with an emphasis on India.

Now, he is taking his enthusiasm for global cross-cultural exchange and dialogue a step further through publication in different languages.

For the past two years IHE has been published electronically and in print form in Chinese, by the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Since last year it has also been appearing electronically in Russian, published by the Independent Kazakhstan Quality Assurance Agency and available throughout the Russian-speaking area.

The English edition is also distributed in Germany by Deutsche Universitatszeitung, the country's leading higher education magazine, which has a circulation of 25,000. The quarterly IHE is included in four of their editions a year.

"Although English is the 'global language' in higher education these days, we want to make our publications available in as many languages as possible," said Altbach, who was formerly a research professor at the University of Mumbai in India and is a guest professor at Peking University in China.

The foreign-language editions are currently direct translations from the original, and do not include local content, although Altbach said the partners translating and publishing the overseas versions have the freedom to write about local issues if they wish.

The choice of Russian and Chinese as the flagship foreign-language editions was not, in fact, a choice at all. "We did not choose those languages, they chose us!" said Altbach. "We simply received offers from colleagues and enthusiastically agreed to provide permission." CIHE currently has no budget for the translated versions, and so these editions are the responsibility of those translating and running them.

The goal ultimately is to publish in a plethora of languages, said Altbach, who is currently in talks to develop a Spanish edition.

The idea is that publishing in other languages will foster more cross-pollination of ideas, since reading in one's own language makes information, especially technical or academic jargon, easier to digest.

"We feel that people will want to read us in their own language if at all possible," said Altbach.

IHE itself, which launched in 1995, has a print circulation of around 4,000 and an electronic circulation list of about 2,000, a number Altbach says is growing. IHE is also available in full text on the center's website, which was recently redesigned to make it more user-friendly.

"Our target audience is professionals in the field of higher education," said Altbach, "but we hope that we will be read by a wider [population] as well."

Building on this sentiment, the center broadcasts informal podcasts in an effort to bring leaders and key thinkers in higher education to a larger audience.

Along with IHE, the center also publishes books and publications linked to its research and other endeavours. Topics explored include private higher education, tertiary education in Asia, African university development, as well as global academic expansion.

The center also runs the Higher Education Corruption Monitor, which puts the spotlight on academic corruption, an issue that is especially widespread in developing countries. The monitor posts news on corruption issues and serves as a forum for information exchange.

Altbach writes a fair amount of the articles himself, but recruits writers from all corners of the globe to reflect the 'international' in the publication's title. "We try hard to attract authors from many countries, backgrounds and opinions," said Altbach.

Altbach said IHE's growth is a reflection of the importance of higher education worldwide.

"I've always thought that universities are not only fascinating institutions to study, but are of central importance to modern society," he said. "And I am convinced that they have become even more important in the 21st century."