Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 6, No 1 (2018)

Assessing International Student Mobility in Canadian University Strategic Plans: Instrumentalist versus Transformational Approaches in Higher Education

Kate Grantham


This paper examines the strategic commitments made by Canadian universities around international student mobility, and evaluates whether these commitments provide an appropriate foundation for delivering strong mobility programs adopting “transformational” approaches. Through a content analysis of university strategic plans, I examine the nature of international student mobility discourse, ideas and objectives in Canadian higher education. This locus of examination is important because the strategic plan sets the tone and commitments for the university, and has significant power to influence decision-making at the program and department levels. This analysis also helps us to see the ways that university administration understands the purpose of international student mobility, and where gaps exist. The findings demonstrate that current conceptualizations of student mobility in the Canadian university context are: 1) Instrumentalist in the sense that they are near-exclusively designed to promote the university, and 2) Do not lay the foundation for strong international mobility programs.


international student mobility; university internationalization strategies; student accessibility; transformational learning

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