De-Internationalization of Universities: An Exploratory Study

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In this paper we focus on de-internationalization of universities, aiming to advance our theoretical understanding of university international activities. Internationalization has become an indispensable part of universities’ mission statements and strategic plans. It is practiced in different forms and requires various approaches. Alongside student and staff mobility, universities get also actively involved in cross-border activities, such as licensing, joint ventures and green field investments. These cross-border activities are not without pitfalls however. A large number of universities withdraw from international markets and such cases raise concerns about sustainability of university internationalization. Despite this disconcerting evidence, the research in this area is lacking. To explore how and why university de-internationalize, we employed the concept of de-internationalization as a theoretical lens and reviewed and analyzed available unobtrusive data such as running records as well as episodic and private records. A number of de-internationalization factors emerged: low student enrolment, wrong assumptions, bandwagon effect, staff immobility, lack of adaptability, brand identity, and funding issues. We call for future research in this substantive area, conjecturing that international activity of university and its sustainability is dependent on university institutional autonomy settings at home and in host countries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFinding Solutions to the Challenges of Internationalisation
EditorsMarin Marinov, Olav Sørensen
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-87-7112-482-8
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • University internationalization
  • De-internationalization
  • International business
  • University autonomy


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