What is International Education and Why is It Important For You?
Sponsored by The Education University of Hong Kong
Are you planning on becoming a teacher or interested in pursuing a degree in education studies? If so, it’s important to know that the education landscape is evolving at a rapid rate, thanks to globalization, the growing number of international schools, and the increasing mobility of students and teachers all over the globe.
With the demand for international teachers on the rise, what does this mean for you? And how are universities preparing the next generation of teachers? We spoke with The Education University of Hong Kong to find out more.
What is ‘international education’?
The debate surrounding what ‘international education’ actually means is ongoing, with many believing it signifies a new strategic direction in comprehensive education where it broadens perspectives, builds diverse connections and encourages innovation and ideas across borders.
International schools traditionally cater to internationally mobile expatriate families who work in international businesses, foreign embassies and so on. However, local students may also attend the schools, not least in order to learn the language used as the medium of instruction at the school (usually English).
For those who are currently studying, or hoping to study an education degree, understanding the concept of international education is twofold. During your studies, you’ll automatically become part of a genuine and dynamic international community, where you’ll have invaluable access to a wide range of cultures, faiths, languages and perspectives.
Beyond your studies and into your career, you’ll want to consider the academic environment you’re teaching in – encouraging diversity and inclusivity among students where culture and language may have once been obstacles.
International education is a catalyst for leading change around the world
The world of international education is a melting pot of individuals and learning with a global perspective ensures students are exposed to different cultures, ethnic groups, religions and languages, enriching society in the process and broadening the academic experience for everyone.
It also, of course, establishes a multicultural learning environment which makes it the ideal setting for increasing students’ cultural awareness and fostering their understanding and appreciation of those who come from a different background to their own.
A growing global trend
Education is at the forefront of global development and, with globalization making it easier than ever for families to move abroad for work and study opportunities, it’s easy to see the appeal of pursuing an international education.
In January 2019, ISCResearch reported that there were 10,282 international schools, 5.36 million students and 503,000 staff members around the world, with those numbers only set to rise as the demand for access to international education heightens.
Asia is a rising star in international education, thanks to the rapid growth of English-medium internationals schools in the region with Hong Kong in particular, having long been regarded as a thriving international city ideally situated at the crossroads between east and west, north and south.
Demand for a ‘Western-style’ education, and the growing prominence of the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Assessment system, mean the education landscape in Asia and elsewhere is undergoing a progressive transformation.
What this means for aspiring teachers
Echoing the demand for international schools, there is also a surge in demand for aspiring teachers who have the necessary training, cross-cultural skillset and global outlook to work in an international setting.
Such training is critical, and universities are creating new degree programs in response to this. For example, The Education University of Hong Kong, which ranked third in Asia in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019 for Education, has purposely developed the Bachelor of Education Minor in Teaching and Learning in International Schools in order to meet the increasing needs of an evolving teaching landscape.
As a result, students have the opportunity to take advantage of Hong Kong’s unique international location to prepare themselves for careers as teachers in international schools anywhere.
Students are taught by professors and lecturers from all four corners of the globe, including Australia, England, mainland China, Russia, South Africa and Hong Kong, ensuring a truly international experience. With them they bring their own wealth of knowledge, skills, subject-specific expertise and understanding of different education systems from around the world.
The program aims to develop students into teachers who have the confidence to teach in an international setting. Students are prepared in areas that include teaching, learning, curriculum and assessment in international schools, take courses such as International Schools in Global Context, and undertake their teaching practicum in one of the many international schools in Hong Kong.
BEd students who complete the Minor in Teaching and Learning in International Schools alongside their major program of study will be able to teach in international schools in Hong Kong and those around the world.
In addition, study tours such as those offered through the Global Learning Enhancement Fund by the Department of International Education at The Education University of Hong Kong allow students to develop their international comparative perspectives and see the relevance to their studies as they travel to countries such as South Africa, Russia, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany and Taiwan.
International study opportunities such as this have always been a popular method for increasing awareness and appreciation cross-culturally and cross-borders.
This article was originally published in August 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020