The International Competences Matrix

The International Competences Matrix

Published by Els van der Werf op Monday 17 December
© 2017

The International Competences Matrix is an HRM tool which aims at facilitating the evaluation of the competences which a teaching staff member is required to have or develop in order to function well in an internationalised higher education institution. The matrix wants to alert both teaching staff and their superiors to the fact that working in an international environment may require new and additional competences and that training teaching staff in ‘weak’ competence areas may be necessary to make a university’s internationalisation policy a success.

Description

The emphasis in most studies on the role of the lecturer in an internationalised higher education institution has been on teaching in the international classroom and on the intercultural competences which a lecturer needs to effectively engage with students from different educational and cultural backgrounds. However, the introduction of the concept of Internationalisation at Home (IaH) has led to a redefinition of internationalisation and subsequently to the realisation that this would have consequences for a much wider group of teaching staff members. They are not only expected to contribute to the internationalisation of their higher education institution by teaching to internationally diverse groups of students. Working in an internationalised higher education institution requires them to undertake a much wider variety of activities, such as internationalising curricula aimed at a domestic student population, counselling and supervising (domestic and international) students in preparation for and during study abroad periods, and maintaining collaborative relations with partner institutions abroad. This calls for a more differentiated approach to teaching staff competences in relation to internationalisation.

The International Competences Matrix was developed in response to the need for a practical tool which could serve to alert both teaching staff and their superiors to the fact that working in an international environment requires new and additional competences and that training teaching staff in ‘weak’ competence areas may be necessary in order to make a university’s internationalisation policy a success. Heads of department/teaching units are advised to use the matrix in appraisal talks with their teaching staff members, who, in turn, are stimulated to use it in reflecting on their own needs for professional development. As such, the International Competences Matrix forms an integral part of the HRM appraisal cycle. The matrix can also be used, however, during job interviews with potential new members of staff, in order to evaluate the candidate’s competences in relation to the tasks which s/he will be required to undertake.

The introduction of the International Competences Matrix in the HRM appraisal cycle of a higher education institution should ideally be supplemented with making a range of personal and professional development options available to teaching staff members. The use of the matrix is, after all, intended to be a tool to stimulate the awareness of the need for specific or additional competences for working as a teacher in an internationalised environment and to foster the discussion on how to acquire or improve these competences. For many higher education institutions, the process of internationalisation means a transition from being a workplace steeped in a national, even regional, identity to becoming a multinational and multicultural working environment. That process can only be successful if an institution’s human capital is given the opportunity and support to make that transition on a personal and professional level.

Favourable and demonstrable effect on the quality of education

The International Competences Matrix has provided its users with a clear framework and a shared language for the reflection on teaching staff competences in relation to the international ambitions of the department and the institution. By introducing the matrix as an HRM tool, both management and teaching staff have in appraisal talks been invited to systematically address the potentially delicate topic of a lecturer’s competences in relation to the international work environment.

The demand for training possibilities related to the enhancement of competences for the international workplace has increased. More teaching staff members recognize their own potential weaknesses and plan professional development activities to address these. At an institutional level, this has been an incentive to develop more and more varied training options aimed at enhancing language and intercultural competences.

Constraints or limitations and unique features

The International Competences Matrix will only be used in everyday practice if it offers a relatively compact set of tasks and competences. The matrix should be easy to read and refer to. It must be detailed enough to provide the extra information and insights that its users would not normally think of themselves, and at the same time it should not be too lengthy or exhaustive. This places limitations on the number of different tasks that can be defined and on the degree of refinement of the competences.

The current matrix focuses on the relatively homogenous group of teaching staff members. Although it would in theory also be possible to develop a similar matrix for non-teaching staff, this would first require indentifying sufficiently homogenous groups of non-teaching staff members, who have (relatively) similar tasks. Only then would it be feasible to develop a matrix which defines particular (levels of) competences for each of these tasks.

Exchange characteristics & opportunities

The International Competences Matrix reflects a number of influential studies that have been done on the topic of staff competences in relation to the higher education working environment. However, it is not carved in stone. It can be adapted to suit the specific situation of a higher education institution, e.g. by shortening or extending the list of tasks or by adapting the competence categories. Similarly, the level and the definition of the competences can be adapted to reflect the policy of a higher education institution with regard to its teaching staff.

Links and supporting documents

17 DEC

Specifications

Level: Bachelor
Orientation: Professional

Standard: Staff
Assessment Result:

Type: The programme was NOT assessed against the NVAO framework "BKInt"

Contact information

Contact: Els van der Werf
Contact e-mail: p.e.van.der.werf(plaats the 'at' sign hier)pl.hanze.nl
Institution: Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen
Website: http://www.hanze.nl
Country: The Netherlands

References

The implementation of the International Competences Matrix as an HRM tool does not require special resources, financial or otherwise.