Mar 26, 2020

The internationalization program of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need strategic leaders who are able to create opportunities to implement transformational changes within an organization. This is according to Dr. Feliciano G. Calora, Jr., president of Benguet State University.

Dr. Calora describes a strategic leader as one who is able to translate strategic vision through motivation and persuasion of his constituents to support a shared vision. Strategic leaders influence the behavior of the faculty and staff with reference to internationalization initiatives and programs, he said.

A survey of 108 HEIs in the Philippines by the Internationalization of the Higher Education in the Philippines Network (ANTENA) Project showed that majority of the respondent HEIs have written up their internationalization strategic plan, the latest are mostly written one and three years ago. Most of the internationalization strategic plans written by the institutions cover three- to five-year periods (47 percent) while 29 percent of the respondent HEIs cover one- to three-year periods. Some 18 percent of the internationalization strategic plans of the respondent HEIs cover more than five years. The development of their internationalization strategic plan was mostly initiated by an international affairs office, or the office of the president or an internationalization committee. These results indicate that strategies and tactics for internationalization result from a strategic direction, organizational alignment and ability of the strategic leader to get faculty and staff commitment, said Dr. Calora.

Dr. Calora explained that strategic leadership does not refer only to the head of an institution, but to a network of leaders in the university who have a shared vision for internationalization, and are in a position of power to facilitate or initiate transformational change. Strategic leaders can be found and developed in all levels of management hierarchy in the university, and these group of leaders work in harmony to achieve a shared internationalization vision, he said. For example, in the said HEI survey, each of the respondent HEIs has a designated focal person cum strategic leader who leads an office and responsible for facilitation and implementation of the internationalization programs and activities. For each program, a designated faculty or staff is in a position of power and can open windows of opportunity to facilitate, implement and sustain the internationalization initiatives or programs.

Many of the obstacles that prevent Philippine HEIs to advance internationalization, as identified in the Project ANTENA survey, are largely administrative and can be addressed by the strategic leaders of the university. The top three internal barriers based on the survey, for example, are insufficient financial resources, administrative and bureaucratic difficulties, and lack of exposure to international opportunities. Dr. Calora said such issues can be addressed in the institution’s internationalization strategic plans so that budgets required for benchmarking, research collaboration or mobility programs can be earmarked. The top strategic leaders in the university also represent the university in policymaking bodies which gives them, to some extent, capacity to address the external barriers to internationalization.

Dr. Calora emphasized the value of strategic leadership in the development of a holistic and customized logical framework for internationalization with identified outcomes. He said strategic leaders start with understanding the current status of their institution in internationalization, after which they collect, collate and analyze institutional information so that they can identify strategic partners for mutual development through faculty, student and staff mobility, or research collaboration. He explained that they need to formulate policies in support of the internationalization programs of the university.  Such policies become the basis of developing capacity building programs which will be integrated in the human resource development plan, and other plans of the university.

BSU is a member of the ANTENA Project led by the University of Alicante in Spain with the support of the University of Montpellier in France and the European Foundation for Management Development. Other members are Ateneo de Manila University, Central Luzon State University, De La Salle University, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Saint Louis University, University of the Philippines, University of San Carlos and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan and the Commission on Higher Education.