Roadmaps for National Strategies: Who’s Doing What and Why?

Across the globe, government-sponsored internationalization strategies, policies, and funding helps countries attract international students and boost their own student mobility.
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash
David Tobenkin

Determining cause and effect between a government’s international recruitment and internationalization plans and their results is a complex topic, and there is a shortage of good comparative studies on the subject. However, experts say that comprehensive strategies can indeed make a difference in drawing more international students and achieving related goals.

There is no one-size-fits-all reason or strategy, as variables depend on a country’s specific goals and strengths. But, at the very least, the existence of a national strategy acknowledges the importance of international education to a country’s economic, academic, and social interests.

“The mere process of putting the document together forces all sorts of conversations to take place that might not otherwise,” says Nick Hillman, director of the UK-based Higher Education Policy Institute. Hillman helped implement a UK higher education export strategy that took effect in 2013. “In our case, every part of government, including the Prime Minister’s office, had to think about the issue.” 

“[A plan] commits you to go out there with targets, which means other people can hold the government accountable and [it can] increase attention toward addressing any shortcomings,” says Hillman. 

The Many Internationalization Roadmaps

Such internationalization plans are a relatively recent development, says Daniela Craciun, a political science doctoral student at Central European University who completed her dissertation on a comparative analysis of nations’ internationalization strategies. This is in part because there is little research on the effectiveness of actual policies intended to internationalize countries’ higher education systems.

The majority of countries—80 percent worldwide, or

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