Unpacking internationalisation of higher education: Knowledge economy perspective

Year: 2017

Author: Kostrykina, Svetlana

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background. Recent literature provides strong advocacy for re-thinking the conceptual underpinnings of internationalisation of higher education (IoHE) (Brandenburg and de Wit, 2011; Deardorff, de Wit Heyl and Adams, 2012; Knight, 2014; de Wit and Leask, 2015). These conceptualisations need to be revised with regularity because of their dependency on political, economic and socio-cultural contexts (Knight, 2012; Rizvi, 2014). The political scenarios unfolding in the USA, the UK, and the EU previously regarded as the champions for IoHE (Altbach and de Wit, 2017), have triggered much discussion concerning the future of IoHE (de Wit, 2017). Some researchers believe that IoHE is embedded within predominantly western academic contexts (Rizvi, 2014) and this might be problematic for other education systems. The emerging knowledge economy as a global context for re-thinking IoHE remains under-researched, despite having a strong influence on IoHE discourse within the academia (Marginson, 2008; Robertson, 2008). Therefore, the need to reform the existing conceptualisations of IoHE persists (de Wit, 2017).

Aim. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new definition and conceptualisation for IoHE which would acknowledge the impact of the knowledge economy and would be beneficial for various academic contexts.

Method. This paper employs a critical analysis of the literature on IoHE (de Wit et al., 2015) and the knowledge economy (Chen and Dahlman, 2006), globally and in the Asia-Pacific region. The specific emphasis of the analysis is on the conceptualisations concerned with re-thinking IoHE (Hawawini, 2016; Hudzik, 2015; Larsen, 2016; Leask, 2015; de Wit et al. 2015; Yemini, 2015). The critical analysis also focusses on the OECD and the World Bank policy documents (OECD, 1996; the World Bank, 2007) and interdisciplinary research on the knowledge economy (Robertson, 2008; Powell and Snellman, 2004; S