Standards of Professional Practice
for International Education Leaders and Senior International Officers

The Standards of Professional Practice for International Education Leaders and Senior International Officers (.pdf)

The internationalization of higher education is a complex, on-going process of institutional change which, among its principal aims, is the international, intercultural, and/or global education of students. Recognition of the value and complexities of this process has grown significantly over the last two decades, as evidenced by an increase in research and publications on internationalization, the growth of organizations and conferences devoted to internationalization, and the development of graduate programs with a focus on internationalization. Yet even as institutions of higher education increasingly seek to internationalize and do so by appointing an individual to lead and facilitate this work, there has been a lack of consensus on the qualifications such individuals need.

As the only organization dedicated to international education leadership and Senior International Officers (SIOs), the individuals charged with leading the internationalization of higher education, the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) recognizes that internationalization will mean different things for different institutions, and take different forms. However, despite this diversity, SIOs and the institutions and organizations they lead will benefit from having a common set of standards of professional practice for SIOs and internationalization leaders. As such, these standards are specific to these internationalization leaders and therefore intentionally do not cover the more generic leadership/ management skills.

The standards presented here should be understood as a living document, subject to change as understandings of the roles of SIOs evolve along with internationalization and higher education. It is hoped that the standards will help current SIOs identify gaps in practice they would like to fill; serve as a guide for aspiring SIOs as they gain the knowledge, skills and experience needed to become SIOs; and help institutions and organizations appointing SIOs to craft position descriptions, and conduct searches. It is important to acknowledge that no one leader is likely to fulfill completely all qualifications contained here. AIEA will use the standards to further support SIOs through the work of its committees; at its conferences, fora, academies and other gatherings; in publications; and in advocacy.

A note on terminology: AIEA adopted the term SIO to describe individuals within an institution of higher education who are charged with leading and facilitating its internationalization efforts. AIEA recognizes that many other terms may be used to reference these leaders, depending on the context and country (examples include International Relations Officer, International Relations Manager, International Liaison Officer, and so on.) The fact that the SIO terminology may not be in use at a specific institution or in a specific country should not diminish the usefulness of this document in outlining the qualifications and capabilities required of those leading the internationalization of higher education institutions. 

The Standards of Professional Practice is an AIEA publication prepared by the AIEA Task Force on Standards of Professional Practice:  

Harvey Charles, Ph.D., Chair
Dean & Vice Provost for International Education & Global Strategy, University at Albany, SUNY

Elizabeth Brewer, Ph.D.
Director, International Education, Beloit College

Jeet Joshee, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for International Education and Dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Education, California State University, Long Beach

Cheryl Matherly, Ph.D.
Vice President and Vice Provost for International Affairs, Lehigh University

Approved by the AIEA Board November, 2016