A New Strategy for the OUC’s International Development Based on the Concept of “Internet +” and the “Belt and Road Initiative”

By Li Wei, Comparative Education Research Section of Education Research Institute, Open University of China

Abstract: First-class open universities should possess a high level of internationalisation. Creating a first-class open university with Chinese characteristics within the global system of open universities has been the goal for the OUC’s internationalisation since its founding. A number of recent national-level strategies, including the “Internet Power” strategy, “Internet+” plan, "Belt and Road Initiative", and the reform and opening up of education, have provided the conditions and possibilities for achieving the OUC’s established goal. In this context, adopting new strategies and initiatives that cater to national development will better promote the internationalisation of the OUC.

Keywords: Internationalisation; Internet+; Belt and Road Initiative; OUC

I. The Development Needs of First-class Open Universities and Internationalisation

(I) First-class open universities and high-level internationalisation

1. The importance of internationalisation for first-class open universities

Today, internationalisation is an important feature of universities around the world, regardless of type, level, size, region, and purpose. Internationalisation is an essential part of the construction and development of first-class open universities.

Firstly, first-class open universities should move towards internationalisation. This path is in line with the international development trends of global universities, and is a necessary means of improving educational standards and building world-class universities. As a specific type of university, open universities should make internationalisation an important part of the construction and development of their open education concepts and practices.

Secondly, first-class open universities need to be internationalised. Internationalisation provides a broader international perspective for open universities and encourages them to draw advantages from others, becoming more open and interactive in areas such as student training, teaching staff construction, scientific research, resource sharing, mutual recognition of credits, and technical applications. By strengthening international exchange and cooperation, open universities can constantly improve their teaching, research and service level; enhance their capacity-building; and maintain their competitiveness and reputation on the international stage.

2. Efforts of world famous open universities towards internationalisation

Most famous open universities see internationalisation as an important concept and development strategy. An investigation of open universities1 wherethe six Executive Committee members of the ICDE found that these universities see internationalisation as an important educational philosophy. Some have developed a special international policy and have taken positive international actions (for example, established specialised international bodies, enrolled international students, recruited foreign teachers, encouraged international communication between teachers and students, internationalised teaching and courses, international cooperation in research and education), and have achieved good results.

Take the Open University, UK for example. The Open University, UK was established in 1969. Since its establishment, it has made internationalisation one of its main development concepts and responsibilities. In 1977, it set up the International Department and developed an international policy for the development of its overseas education market. In 1982, it began to provide courses to overseas universities, and established overseas learning centres. In 1988, its registered number of overseas students reached 25,000, including students from EC, Soviet, Commonwealth, Asian, and African countries. [1] As of December 2014, a total of 8,353 overseas students study at the Open University, UK. Globally, 800,000 teachers have benefitted from its training programmes. [2] It has a number of international cooperation programmes and courses of each discipline bear international features. A series of international collaborative research projects have been carried out, and it has joined many professional international organisations. Its website, FutureLearn, has assumed a pivotal role in the sharing of open educational resources in Europe.