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Implications for equity and diversity of increasing international student numbers in European universities: Policies and practice in four national contexts

Haapakoski, J and Pashby, K (2017) Implications for equity and diversity of increasing international student numbers in European universities: Policies and practice in four national contexts. Policy Futures in Education, 15 (3). pp. 360-379. ISSN 1478-2103

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Abstract

This paper examines the main rationales for and possible implications of the policy of increasing international student numbers in higher education (HE). Drawing on critical discourse analysis, we map key themes emerging from two sets of data—university strategy documents and interviews with staff—collected at eight universities in four national contexts in Europe as a part of a larger project focused on ethical internationalism in HE. In our analysis of the data, we apply social cartographic mapping to consider overlapping, competing and absent discourses related to the push to increase international student numbers by using a heuristic developed in the larger project. We found the imperative to increase international student numbers to be largely driven by economic rationales across different national contexts, reflective of a corporatization trend. Where more civic rationales are presented, these discourses are ultimately framed and mediated by neoliberalism. The findings contribute insight into the complicated discursive terrain of internationalising HE. The mapping makes visible what can be taken for granted or is left unexamined. It serves as a jumping-off point for reflection on the policy, practice and research of internationalisation in HE, promoting the formulation of key questions around the assumed benefits and ethics of internationalisation.

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