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Over the last two decades, the concept of the internationalization of higher education has moved from the fringe of institutional interest to the very core. While gaining moral weight, its content seems to have deteriorated. There is an increasing commercialization under the flag of internationalization. This attitude has exacerbated the devaluation of internationalization and the inflation of defensive measures. While in need of more philosophy, we also require a greater sense of reality. We need to rethink and redefine the way we look at the internationalization of higher education in the present time.
Pages 15-17
The End of Internationalization
Uwe Brandenburg and Hans de Wit
Uwe Brandenburg is project manager at the Centre for Higher Education
Development. E-mail: Hans de Wit is
professor of internationalization at the School of Economics and Management,
Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands. E-
Over the last two decades, the concept of the internationalization of higher
education has moved from the fringe of institutional interest to the very core. In
the late 1970s up to the mid-1980s, activities that could be described as
internationalization were usually neither named that way, nor carried high
prestige, and were rather isolated and unrelated. The exception was joint
international research, which, however, has never seriously become part of the
internationalization fashion. In the late 1980s, changes occurred:
Internationalization was invented and carried on, ever increasing its importance.
In the past two decades, new components were added to its multidimensional
body, moving from simple exchange of students to the big business of
recruitment and from activities impacting on an incredibly small elite group to a
mass phenomenon. In our view, it is time for a critical reflection on the changing
concept of internationalization.
Gradually, the “why and wherefore” have been taken over by the way
internationalization has become the main objective: more exchange, more degree
mobility, and more recruitment. Even the alternative movement of
“internationalization at home” of the late 1990s has shifted rapidly into this
instrumental mood.
This development coincided with the dawn of a second, rivaling term:
globalization. In fact, it seems that both terms act like two connected universes,
making it impossible to draw a distinctive line between them. Today,
internationalization has become the white knight of higher education, the moral
ground that needs to be defended, and the epitome of justice and equity. The
higher education community still strongly believes that by definition
internationalization leads to peace and mutual understanding, the driving forces
behind programs like Fulbright in the 1950s. While gaining moral weight, its
content seems to have deteriorated: the form lost its substance.
Internationalization has become a synonym of “doing good,” and people are less
into questioning its effectiveness and essential nature: an instrument to improve
the quality of education or research.
On the other side, globalization is loaded with negative connotations and is
considered more predominant than internationalization. This formula sees
internationalization as good” and globalization as ”evil.” Internationalization is
claimed to be the last stand for humanistic ideas against the world of pure
economic benefits allegedly represented by the term globalization. Alas, this
constructed antagonism between internationalization and globalization ignores
the fact that activities more related to the concept of globalization (higher
education as a tradeable commodity) are increasingly executed under the flag of
internationalization, as the increasing commercialization illustrated at the
conferences of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Asia Pacific
Association for International Education, and the European Association for
International Education.
Effectively, this attitude exacerbated the devaluation of internationalization and
the inflation of defensive measures. Nowadays, with the tendency of becoming
advocates rather than pioneers of internationalization, we are no longer the
spearhead of innovation but, rather, defenders of traditions. This creates the
danger of self-depreciation and defensive self-perception—holding firmly onto
traditional concepts and acting on them while the world around moves forward.
We—and the authors explicitly add themselves to the group of “we”—lament
about the loss of real mobility and the commercialization of higher education in
general and its international component in particular. Yet, we lose sight of
innovative developments such as the emergence of the digital citizen for whom
mobility can be at least as virtual as real.
But how can we resume the active role and gain ownership of our own fate? The
main points are the following:
1. We have to move away from dogmatic and idealist concepts of
internationalization and globalization.
2. We have to understand internationalization and globalization in their
pure meanings—not as goals in themselves but rather as means to an end.
3. We have to throw off the veil of ignorance and ask ourselves: Why do
we do certain things and what do they help in achieving the goal of quality of
education and research in a globalized knowledge society? We also have to
regard mobility and other activities as what they really are: activities or
instruments—and therefore by definition not goals in themselves.
4. We should carefully reconsider our preoccupation with instruments
and means and rather invest a lot more time into questions of rationales and
While in need of more philosophy we also require a greater sense of
reality. We cannot continue to assume that certain types of mobility and other
international activities (such as exchanges and study abroad) are good in
themselves and that other types (such as recruitment and transnational
education) are bad. We have to dig deeper, place the options within a new set of
values and rationales, and ensure that we really achieve what is meaningful.
The future of higher education is a global one, and it is our job to help
preparing the higher education world for this. Therefore, what we need are
people who understand and define their role within a global community,
transcending the national borders, and embracing the concepts of
sustainability—equity of rights and access, advancement of education and
research, and much more. But essentially, we need to reaffirm the core role of
universities: to help understand this world and to improve our dealing with it.
Called for is a common commitment at the institutional and personal level of
how we and our students will be prepared to live and work in a global
community. Possibly we must even leave the old concepts of internationalization
and globalization and move on to a fresh unbiased paradigm. The most
important in any case is to rethink and redefine the way we look at the
internationalization of higher education in the present time.
... Bahsedilen gerekçeler; bireysel, kurumsal veya ulusal aktörlerin uluslararasılaşmayı nasıl tanımladığını ve neden uluslararasılaşma faaliyetlerine katıldıklarını açıklamaya yardımcı olmaktadır. Brandenburg ve De Wit (2011), araştırmacıların, uluslararasılaşmanın araçları yerine, gerekçelere odaklanması gerektiğini belirtmektedir. Bir diğer deyişle, uluslararasılaşmaya katılan ana aktörler olan öğrencilerin bu faaliyete katılma gerekçelerini bilmek, programların geliştirilmesi açısından oldukça önemlidir. ...
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Uluslararasılaşmanın yükseköğretimde giderek artmasıyla beraber, üniversite öğrencilerinin yurt dışında eğitim alma eğilimlerinde bir artış gözlemlenmektedir. Öğrenciler farklı üniversitelerde yeni bir akademik deneyim elde etmenin yanı sıra, farklı ülkelerdeki kültürleri öğrenme, yabancı dil becerisi geliştirme, çok kültürlü ortamlarda yaşamayı öğrenme gibi amaçlarla yurt dışında eğitim almaktadır. Ancak, farklı bir ülkede eğitim alma deneyiminin, öğrencilere çeşitli zorluklar getirdiği de bilinmektedir. Bu noktadan hareketle, bu nitel araştırmada; üniversite öğrencilerini yurt dışında eğitim almaya iten ve çeken faktörler ile bu eğitimin olası zorlukları konusundaki algıları incelenmiştir. Bu kapsamda, Ankara’da bir devlet üniversitesinde eğitim gören 12 öğrenciyle, üniversite eğitimlerinin ilk haftalarında yarı yapılandırılmış mülakatlar gerçekleştirilmiştir. Araştırmanın sonucunda çalışmaya katılan tüm öğrencilerin yurt dışında eğitim almakla ilgili görüşlerinin olumlu olduğunu, ancak uzun dönemli programlar yerine kısa dönemli programları tercih ettikleri görülmüştür. Bunun yanı sıra, öğrenciler, pandemi sonrası artan sanal hareketlilik programları yerine fiziksel olarak yurt dışında bulunacakları programların kendilerine daha faydalı olacağını ifade etmişlerdir. Ayrıca, öğrenciler yurt dışında eğitim almakla ilgili onları kaygılandıran çeşitli akademik, ekonomik, politik ve sosyo-kültürel zorluklar ifade etmişlerdir. Son olarak, öğrencileri yurt dışında eğitim almaya çeken yurt dışı kaynaklı faktörlerin; Türkiye’deki eğitim ile ilgili olarak ifade edilen iten faktörlerden daha belirgin olduğu gözlemlenmiştir.
... Lo que hoy conocemos como internacionalización de la educación, tradicionalmente estaba asociada a la cooperación entre universidades; que era una oportunidad reservada para unas cuantas universidades que mantenían vínculos de reciprocidad en cuanto a la movilidad de estudiantes y de personal, así como al intercambio cultural entre las mismas.Actualmente, estas acciones (y muchas más) se han generalizado siendo un valor añadido para las instituciones de enseñanza superior.Tanto en la Declaración de Bolonia (1999) como en la Estrategia de Lisboa(2000), se puede corroborar los conceptos: cooperación y competencia, relacionados con la internacionalización. En las dos últimas décadas, estos dos conceptos, se han ido fortaleciendo y amalgamando en la Educación Superior, siendo la base de la internacionalización en educación. Más allá de los programas de movilidad e intercambio de profesionales, actualmente se ha convertido en un gran proyecto de crecimiento institucional y, en muchos casos, en negocio de captación de estudiantes.En este sentido, el concepto de internacionalización de la Educación Superior se ha desplazado del margen del interés institucional al mismo núcleo(Brandenburg y De Wit, 2011). Siguiendo esta reflexión, más tarde, consideraba que todos estos cambios producidos en relación con la internacionalización de la Educación Superior se habían convertido en un modelo más competitivo y, por tanto, la oferta de programas 2 UNESCO(2004): The objectives of international education can be grouped into three sections: the development of the human personality, human rights and fundamental liberties, international understanding and understanding, and the promotion of peace. ...
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Desde sus inicios, la movilidad estudiantil ha sido una meta fundamental del Proceso de Bolonia, y el fomento para promover la movilidad ha sido constante en la última década. Así lo demuestra, por ejemplo, el hecho de que en la ET 2020 existe un objetivo que marca la intención de que al menos el veinte por ciento de los que se gradúan en el Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior (EEES) deberían haber tenido un período de estudio o formación en el extranjero. La cooperación de los responsables de los programas internacionales ofrecidos por la Universidad Antonio de Nebrija en la investigación fue fundamental para lograr el objetivo previsto: “Valorar los elementos implicados en el desarrollo del programa formativo de los estudiantes internacionales de la Universidad Antonio de Nebrija; así como el impacto que éste tiene en las expectativas de los propios estudiantes”. Hecho este que ha permitido conocer el proceso de los programas internacionales ofrecidos por la Universidad: Programas Integrados (PI) y Programa de Estudios Hispánicos (PEH). De esta manera, la investigación que presentamos centra su acción en la evaluación de los programas de movilidad ofrecidos por la Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, para lo cual se ha aplicado el modelo de evaluación de programas CIPP, de Daniel Stufflebeam que valora diferentes momentos de los programas: el contexto (C), el input o entrada (I), el proceso (P) y el producto (P). El desarrollo de la tesis empieza por el marco teórico (capítulos 1 al 5), en el cual se desarrolla una aproximación conceptual a la internacionalización de la educación superior y los aspectos que están vinculados a este fenómeno, tales como la globalización y la movilidad en educación superior; terminología que estará presente en el desarrollo del trabajo de investigación. Por otra parte, se realiza una aproximación histórica al fenómeno de la movilidad universitaria, pasando luego a describir cómo ha sido la evolución de la movilidad de la educación superior en la Unión Europea y sus diferentes tratados, así como la descripción de algunos programas de movilidad universitaria en otras regiones del mundo, más específicamente de Norteamérica, Latinoamérica y Asia. Acercándonos más al objeto de investigación, se describe la movilidad académica existente en España, centrándose en su proceso histórico de internacionalización de la educación superior y cómo se ha abordado este hecho desde las diferentes leyes universitarias. De igual manera, se describe la historia de la Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, su dimensión internacional, la movilidad académica en dicha universidad (de su personal docente y no docente, así como de los estudiantes), sus programas de estudios para estudiantes internacionales, y sus convenios de movilidad. Asimismo, se realiza una aproximación conceptual al término evaluación de programas y se describen los principales modelos que permiten dicha evaluación, centrándose en el modelo CIPP para la evaluación de programas, cuya aplicación ha permitido poner en práctica la investigación propiamente dicha. Una vez realizado el marco teórico, se describe el planteamiento del trabajo. De esta manera, los objetivos, la hipótesis, la metodología de investigación y las herramientas de recopilación utilizadas, se explican ampliamente en el capítulo 6. La metodología mixta ha sido utilizada para el desarrollo de la investigación. Así, se ha combinado la metodología cuantitativa y cualitativa en la recopilación de datos y análisis de los mismos. También se describen los cuestionarios y las entrevistas, utilizadas como herramientas de recopilación de datos; así como el proceso mismo de aplicación de estas herramientas, tanto a los estudiantes internacionales como al personal encargado de la gestión de los programas internacionales en la Universidad Antonio de Nebrija. De igual manera, utilizando el estudio del caso, se describe dicha Universidad y sus programas de movilidad, centrándonos en los estudiantes internacionales que cursan estudios en dicha entidad de educación superior. Siguiendo el modelo CIPP de evaluación de programas, en los capítulos 7 al 10, se explican los resultados obtenidos, tanto en el análisis cuantitativo como en el análisis cualitativo de la investigación. Finalmente, en el capítulo 11 se describen las conclusiones obtenidas en la investigación, los problemas detectados, las propuestas de mejora, las limitaciones y las futuras líneas de investigación. Es necesario señalar que la investigación realizada es el punto de partida de futuras investigaciones en este campo, aplicadas a diferentes universidades en el ámbito nacional e internacional.
... Acknowledging that internationalization can take many forms, shaped by the national context, allows a more inclusive analysis of IHE, especially for periphery countries. The HEIs and individual stakeholders in these countries do not perceive themselves as the main actors in framing IHE policies (Buckner & Stein, 2019) and, most of the time, they tend to imitate Western policies (Brandenburg & de Wit, 2015;De Wit & Jones, 2022). Indeed, the majority of studies in IHE have been written by scholars in the West (Brooks & Waters, 2022;Kondakci et al., 2018;Mulvey, 2021). ...
Internationalization of higher education (IHE) has become one of the most prominent strategies in national policies and universities’ agendas during the past three decades. IHE provides numerous benefits to nations, institutions, and higher education stakeholders and plays a vital role in improving the quality of education and research. However, it is difficult to argue that all countries equally benefit from IHE; that is, power inequalities between countries in the world are reflected in universities’ efforts and outcomes regarding internationalization. To analyse the effects of national boundaries on IHE, this article presents qualitative research conducted in two European countries: Poland and Turkey. Thirty-six semi-structured interviews were conducted with international office professionals. The results revealed that IHE in Poland and Turkey, as examples of peripheral countries in terms of IHE, is restricted by political instability, economic impotency and socio-cultural legacies. These factors lead to a nation-bounded internationalization experience for higher education institutions and individual stakeholders in both countries. The results also revealed some differences between the two countries and it is argued that decentralized internationalization strategies designed based on nations’ unique characteristics are needed to drive the progressive values of IHE forward.
... Economic and political rationales of internationalisation practice have become increasingly dominant (Bamberger et al. 2019;Brandenburg and De Wit 2011;Scott 2017;Robson and Wihlborg 2019). IoHE is steadily connected to, and being operationalised through, a hegemonic neoliberal framework (Bamberger et al. 2019;Robson and Wihlborg 2019). ...
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As the world is becoming more globalised, intercultural competence development within higher education is at a crossroads between the competing aims of neoliberal and cultural social imaginaries. On the one end, the global market demands graduates that are interculturally competent. Higher education is attempting to meet this demand with internationalisation endeavours, specifically virtual exchange programmes. There exists a widely held assumption that these programmes will lead to intercultural competence development. However, this article questions this assumption due to the neoliberal hegemony within which higher education functions, which emphasises market rationales. This is placed in contrast to intercultural competence development within a humanistic educational setting, which emphasises cultural pluralism. A strong link is drawn between the importance of intercultural competence and the ability of graduates to navigate diverse cultural social imaginaries. This paper argues that the neoliberal social imaginary poses a risk of trivialising the humanistic meaning of intercultural competence development in higher education to mere neoliberal cosmopolitan capital for the human consumer.
... Literature review. Various aspects of higher education internationalization have become the issue of research interest of such foreign scientists as F. Aw (2017), U. Brandenburg & H. De Wit (2011), H. De Wit & F. Hunter (2015, A. Kertz-Welzel (2015;2018;2021), J. Knight (2011;2012), Y. Turner & S. Robson (2008) and others. Most of the above-mentioned scientists focus on the theory of internationalization, its relation to globalization. ...
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The definitions of internationalisation have been contested and require contextualisation. Despite the long-standing practice of and research on higher education internationalisation in Mainland China, ambiguities regarding the concept persist. This study examines academic discourses on the internationalisation of Chinese higher education. It draws on a systematic literature review of 240 journal articles published in Mandarin Chinese and English. Findings reveal the prevalence of defining internationalisation using Western discourses and attempts to provide Chinese definitions of internationalisation. The review also identifies the coexistence of educational, economic, political, and cultural logic clusters in the discourses on the internationalisation of Chinese higher education. In addition, the article discusses temporality, spatiality, affectivity and relationality in the discourses and their corresponding themes. It concludes with a discussion on the 'Chinese characteristics' of higher education internationalisation, and reflections on the common dichotomies and myth in the existing literature.
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