Countless higher education institutions’ missions make the claim to be global organizations producing global citizens. Understanding exactly what that means is a worthwhile pursuit. Gathering data that supports the idea that there are indicators of global engagement is fundamental to understanding the impact and effects of globalization on higher education. The purpose: to provide a solid, literature-based foundation through which a list of indicators of globalization provide information for institutions in need of determining levels of global engagement and interaction. A review of the literature depicts a breath of research surrounding the topics of institutional global engagement and tactics, higher education rankings, and indicators of globalized universities; however there is a lack of synthesis of these themes where a scale of global engagement can be created that can inform institutional practice.

Internationalization, in a larger sense, is economic, political and social factors and influences that cause global understanding on a large scale and helps to identify multicultural strength, international knowledge and interconnectivity. Kwiek (2001) describes globalization as “the cessation of national identity as the most important social glue and that the production, cultivation and inculcation of national identity cease to be crucial social tasks.” This is important, because it implies that national borders cease to be important in globalization and that the worldwide distribution of products and services are not bound by national borders and perimeters. Altbach (2002, 2004,2007) defines globalization as a key feature in knowledge industries citing its implications in communication, marketing, strengthening the global labor force, the use of English as a widespread medium for communication, and increasingly advanced training in many fields. Globalization is the integration of economic, social, and political forces in order to advance efficiency, collaboration and multinational cooperation. The forces of globalization are refashioning economic structures and lifestyles, and, in addition, are also challenging the authority of the nation-state, penetrating deeply into the private world of informal associations, communities, and families as well as into personal identities (Scott, 2000). Globalization is shifting business and industry, as well as higher education, into an era of postmodernism that requires a shift in perceptions, practices and policies. With the evolution of technology, coupled with the need to find a provider of products and services around the globe, a new global business model is emerging that is transcending traditional national identity and alliances. In recent years, globalization has been the driving force of the world economy, production processes, information technology and diminishing national borders and boundaries to optimize production and distribution.

Within the last century, developed societies experienced social and economic changes leading to globalization. It is been argued that globalization, the Internet and the scientific community will level the playing field in the new age of knowledge interdependence (Altbach, 2004). Through a shared economy and culture, influences from around the world can converge and diverge in innumerable ways. Altbach argues that all of the contemporary pressures on higher education, from the pressures of massification to the growth of the private sector, are the results of globalization. “Countries that use the English language benefit from the increasingly widespread use of English for science and scholarship; developing countries will be greatly affected by globalization, as they will experience the bulk of higher education expansion in the coming decades,” says Altbach (2004). Because of these changes, the parameters of economic and socioeconomic attainment and opportunities have transformed throughout the world.

The higher education system has long begun to embrace the trend of globalization through sweeping changes to structures and programs within institutions. A new form of university has emerged: the global university. Wildavsky (2010) states “in the world of business, the globalization trend is so well known as to be cliché, but the globalization of universities is equally important and has perhaps even more far-reaching consequences.” This trend has prompted institutions to create global initiatives, partnerships and programs that mirror the efforts of multinational corporations, for a burgeoning number of universities, national boundaries have become largely irrelevant and few parts of the world have been untouched by the new university globalization (2010). In response to societal and social changes throughout the world, the concept of the global university has emerged and is leading changes in educational structures and policies which focus on creating global institutions and developing global citizens. It is taking shape as an electronic exchange of information and courses, with students, lecturers, and researchers in many countries connected via satellite, slow-scan television, computer networking and other advanced communications. The global university started with shared information and has now moved into the sharing of human resources and curricula. A global university is characterized by its replication of enterprise and corporate entities, human resources, consumerism and the use of modern technology. The ease of delivering instruction, of communicating and sharing, as well as traveling to other countries is cultivating a new form of higher education. Each institution influences and is influenced by human interaction and personal development, entrepreneurship and technological advances. Higher education institutions that claim to be global must push to make programmatic and structural changes in how they are managed, organized, governed, administered and generally considered.

Considering global rankings and literature on globalization in higher education, several distinct indicators are prominent. These include: international students and faculty, study abroad programs, international curricula, structures for global engagement, funding, awards, fellowships, international partnerships and international research collaboration. In order to measure globalization in higher education, these indicators represent some of the critical criteria for determining global engagement. The image of the world-class university is spawning more studies and comprehensive research in an attempt to standardize what it means to be a global university. A Although a world-class university does not necessarily have to be a global university, the indicators of world-class connote many of the same ideals and indications as global institutions. Kim and Nam suggest that “in response to the globalizing economy, many developing countries have been paying serious attention to building world-class universities and that a major strategy for world-class research universities is major higher educational reform projects to cultivate the creative and high-quality human resources necessary for a knowledge-based society. They further posit that higher education in today’s society has gone beyond the stages of elite education and mass education and has entered the stage of universal education (2007). This means that there are several important conditions that a world-class university requires that mirror that of global universities, including excellence in research by top-quality scholars, institutional autonomy, academic freedom, adequate facilities for academic work, and long-term public funding. “Global connection and cooperation are also critical elements for creating a world-class university; making a university world-class requires qualitative rather than just quantitative advancement “(Kim & Nam, 2007).