As “new and improved” institutions of higher education are being measured through direct correlation to popular magazine, newspaper, and periodical rankings, it is important to understand what this progress means to the greater global community through a list of indicators of globalization. Using global worldwide university rankings and league tables as a guide, aspects of globalization such as study abroad and exchange programs, numbers of international faculty and students, international research and citations, awards, grants, certifications, global presence and recognition were frequently mentioned. Less so were the ideas of branch campuses, dual degree programs and other global indicators which could dilute brand image. When taking all of these phenomena into consideration, it is easy to observe that the global expansion of higher education has been accompanied by myriad missteps and problems. Through the inventory and definition of key phrases, terms, and practices that are distinct in globalization and at comparable, yet geographically-diverse, universities, a set of perspectives and rationales were matched from the theoretical frameworks in order to elicit responses that provided an understanding of the indigenous categories that the interviewees have created to make sense of their world and the practices they engage in that can be understood only within their worldview (Patton, 2002). Emic analysis was used to search for labels interviewees used to define and describe globalization programs, policies and profiles at institutions. Emic analysis involves analyzing cultural phenomena from the perspective of one who participates in the culture being studied. Through this method, indicators that effectively measure global engagement are revealed.

During the examination of global universities, it is valuable to consider international rankings, as they provide a framework from which indicators of global engagement can be culled. However, rankings can only go so far in the actual definition and description of what constitutes a global university. As universities operate in an environment of increased competitiveness and global engagement, focus and attention needs to be placed on the aspects of internationalization which prove to be beneficial for the university as well as its stakeholders. This process can shift the perspective of the universities in such a way that it provides accountability to the students, faculty, alumni, and entire community. The milestones of this project are: a toolbox for universities to profile their globalization, as well as a number of programs and policies (study abroad programs, international research collaboration, partnerships) which will bring together stakeholders from different levels to discuss the results and start implementation (Centre for Higher Education Development, 2011).

The primary focus of the societal trend of globalization in higher education centers around the number and proportion of international students and faculty, a diverse campus, and connections on a worldwide scale. These findings are consistent with Deem, Mok and Lucas’ (2004) assertion that there are certain qualities that coincide with world-class status and that, in order to have a world-class education system, several things are involved: understanding the world in which we live, the values and cultures of different societies and the ways in which we all, as global citizens, can influence and shape the changes in the global economy, environment and society of which we are part; knowing what constitutes world-class educational standards, measuring ourselves against them and matching them, being a global partner overseas, benchmarking performance against world-class standards, drawing on best practice everywhere; developing the capacity to engage strategically with a wide range of partners across the world that can help universities realize their goals to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economies in the world, and promoting the role of universities as international hubs for learning and research.

Thirteen indicators of global engagement were identified. This study was purposefully constructed to gather strong evidence for or against the existence of global indicators within each of four domains: stakeholder perspective/social and cultural rationale; internal business perspective/economic rationale; innovation and learning perspective/academic rationale; and academic management perspective/political rationale. Throughout each of the domains, a significant presence of members of the international community on campus is paramount. This aspect of globalization emerged highly within all four of the domains of the research framework. This includes the numbers and percentages of international students, faculty and administrators, as well as how their interests and influence affects the academic and social environment. Without the influence, interaction, and general presence of members of a global community, a university cannot portend to call itself a global university. Culture is defined as the habits and traditions that set the tone for an institution — that is, the specific ways that stakeholders come together or stay apart (Frost & Chopp, 2004). It makes sense that students, faculty, and academic leaders from geographically, ethnically and culturally diverse regions of the world represent the most relevant, pertinent, and also necessary, indicator of globalization.

There were five findings that emerged:

  • international faculty, students and administrators are vital to globalization processes
  • global consciousness should be integrated throughout the institution and all levels
  • brand image and recognition are important aspects of a universities global profile
  • international collaboration and cross-border engagement are essential
  • administrative involvement and support are necessary for successful programs and policies to exist

By coupling the ideas from the theoretical frameworks, a perception of globalization from an array of stakeholders and investment agents was provided as well as justification for the inclusion and placement of globalization indicators on the resulting framework: The Scale of Global Engagement. There emerged 13 indicators of globalization at colleges and universities: 1) large body of international students, faculty, and administrators, 2) brand image/recognition, 3) international partnerships, 4) funding/fundraising for global activities, 5) international research collaboration, 6) publications/citations worldwide, 7) active, academic cross-border engagement, 8) closely-coupled systems, 9) international offices, 10) top-down administrative support and involvement,11)  meaningful interaction/integration on campus, 12) global programs and activities, and 13) global consciousness. The aforementioned indicators were categorized to match the perspectives/rationales of a newly created scale of global engagement.