Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Reading the Internationalisation Imperative in Higher Education Institutions: External Contexts and Internal Positionings

List of Authors: Alexiadou Nafsika, Rönnberg Linda

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Publication year: 2022

Journal: Higher Education Policy

eISSN: 1740-3863




Sweden has actively pursued internationalisation policies at national level, in parallel to the pursuit of internationalisation strategies of individual universities. This article focuses on university responses towards internationalisation, and the interplay between external higher education environments and institutional positioning. We draw on empirical qualitative research in two of Sweden’s largest universities, to examine institutional responses to internationalisation, expressed through documentary material and interviews with 32 senior leaders. Our findings suggest that the global research environment acts as a strong discursive driver for internationalisation actions, manifested in the strategic partnerships pursued by the two institutions. An equally powerful driver, is the national higher education sector as a context of constant comparisons and competition but also as a source of collaborative learning and exchange. The two universities exhibit strategic autonomy in their reading of the internationalisation imperative, and in constructing their actions and responses, although these are significantly framed by size and geography. In the Swedish higher education landscape, these two dimensions constitute a constraining physical and discursive context, underpinning the links between a global, internationalised environment, and the universities’ self-image and positioning.

Last updated on 2022-05-07 at 12:33