Internationalization in Higher Education, a Critical Review

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Hans de Wit


How do we understand the evolution of internationalization as a concept? Is a more diverse and inclusive internationalization replacing the western paradigm? Is there a shift in paradigm from cooperation to competition? Do we see an ongoing dominance of the internationalization abroad component at the cost of internationalization at home, or a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to internationalization? And is internationalization a key change agent towards innovation and global social responsibility of higher education? This contribution provides a critical reflection on internationalization in higher education, particularly in the current nationalist, populist and anti-global political climate! The challenges that institutions encounter are divers. There is pressure of revenue generation, competition for talents, and branding and reputation (rankings). There is pressure to focus on international research and publication, on recruitment of international students and scholars, and on the use of English as language of research and instruction. These challenges and pressures conflict with a more inclusive and less elitist approach to internationalization. In other words, there are tensions between a short term neoliberal approach to internationalization, focusing primarily on mobility and research, and a long term comprehensive quality approach, global learning for all.


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de Wit, H. (2019). Internationalization in Higher Education, a Critical Review. SFU Educational Review, 12(3), 9–17.
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