Vol 50 No 4 (2020): 50(4)
Special Issue: Emerging Issues in the Internationalization of Cdn. Higher Ed.

Strategic Benefits, Symbolic Commitments: How Canadian Colleges and Universities Frame Internationalization

Elizabeth Buckner
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto
Bio
Scott Clerk
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto
Adriana Marroquin
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto
You Zhang
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto
Published December 8, 2020
Keywords
  • internationalization,
  • strategy,
  • international students,
  • research collaboration,
  • student mobility,
  • study abroad,
  • mobilité étudiante
  • ...More
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Abstract

This article examines how Canadian colleges and universities formally articulate their priority activities for internationalization, and what discursive rationales justify their approaches. Data come from 32 publicly-available internationalization strategies published in English by Canadian colleges and universities. In terms of practices, we find that institutions are adopting a largely similar set of activities, focused on partnerships and student and scholarly mobility. In terms of their justifications, we find that most institutions combine the strategic benefits of revenue generation and reputational prestige with symbolic commitments to diversity and excellence. We argue that by drawing on multiple rationales, internationalization strategies imbue the same generic activities with many meanings, which helps the internationalization project garner acceptance from an institution’s diverse stakeholders. In concluding, we also point to a number of noticeably absent ideas, including equity, empathy, humility, and civic responsibility

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