Feng, Y., Burnapp, D., Shen, G. and Zging, L. L. (2010) International collaborations in higher education and motivational change for professional development: Chinese academics' perspective. Paper presented to: European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) 2010: Education and Cultural Change, Helsinki, Finland, 23-27 August 2010.
Changes in the cultural contexts in most European countries provide opportunities for internationalisation in higher education (HE) (Kenway and Fahey, 2009). The changes encourage students to move from their local context to a global context, whilst demand academics to develop their international knowledge and skills necessary to help promote their students' global perspectives. In this process, changes are needed in fundamental conditions in the programmes for professional development (PD) to foster pedagogical professionalism in HE (Crossley and Watson, 2009). For example, studies (Nicholls, 2001) urge organisations to support academics for visits and observations of other learning environments, indicating that discussions and evaluations based upon them would allow academics to reflect on their thinking and action. With this respect, international collaborations are playing a vital role (Li, Wilson and Doran, 2009). Nevertheless, the collaborations also create challenges for PD of academics in the direction of capacity building for the future of HE. This paper reports a case study of a Chinese institution’s partnership with a university in Europe from 2003-2009, bound for the vision of international education for culture change. In 2003, the institutions started a range of collaboration initiatives including mutual visits of the top administrators, themed symposium, student exchange, and a language and culture immersion (LCI) programme. The universities’ initiative of the LCI programme to be conducted in the Chinese institution was to provide the students from the European institution opportunities to enhance their Chinese language proficiency and cultural understanding. The purpose of the study, on which the paper is based, is to evaluate the LCI programme from 2004-2009. It aims to provide case-study evidence to a longitudinal primary research (2008-2011) funded by Higher Education Academy of the UK on ‘The strategic implications of international collaboration in higher education’. The case study examines the perceptions and perspectives of the Chinese academics on the collaboration with the university in Europe with a specific focus on the impact of the LCI programme on the academics’ motivational change for PD after their involvement in it