Elusive Politics: De-internationalizing Higher Education in the Context of International Recognition Conventions

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This article addresses a new phenomenon in higher education internationalization: national policies seeking to reduce the number of incoming international students (‘de-internationalization’). Such policies have been introduced in Denmark and the Netherlands, countries traditionally welcoming large numbers of international students in their higher education institutions. At the same time, these countries have committed themselves to promote academic mobility and international access to higher education through the Lisbon Recognition Convention and the Bologna Process. This article analyzes the case of Danish de-internationalization policy against the backdrop of pro-internationalization principles, promoted by the Council of Europe and UNESCO. The article focuses specifically on the methods applied to obtain the desired reduction of the number of international students. Theoretically, two different approaches to understanding discrepancies between national and international policy levels are presented in the article. One framework emphasizes the power obtained by international organizations through their institutionalization of discourses, norms, and standards (Shahjahan in Higher education: handbook of theory and research, Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, 2012). The other, principal–agent theory analyzes the relationship between states and international organizations as a matter of optimization of political influence and calculation of costs and benefits.

TidsskriftHigher Education Policy
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)411-429
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2023


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