Officially opened: new forum for studies of internationalisation in higher education

8 November 2017

On 7 November, Uppsala University’s new Forum for Studies of Internationalisation in Higher Education was officially opened. The ambition is to make Uppsala a local, national and international node for research on the topic.

The idea is for the new forum to conduct its own research on the topic, collect local, national and international research expertise and constitute a platform for collaboration and communication with external actors such as the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority.

Internationalisation has brought extensive changes to Swedish higher education institutions. The number of courses offered in English has long been increasing, as has the number of international students – although the latter declined in connection with the introduction of tuition fees in 2011. Today, higher education institutions market themselves globally and a host of international Master’s programmes have been launched over the last decade, as part of the Bologna Process to create coherent higher education in Europe and neighbouring countries. Comparisons of and cooperation among higher education institutions in different countries have become more important and university rankings have been given increased attention and importance, not least for international student mobility.

The field is also politically highly topical. A government inquiry is currently being conducted with the goal of drawing up a new internationalisation strategy and reviewing the tuition fee system in order to increase the number of incoming students, not least from developing countries. The European Commission’s goal is for 20 per cent of all graduated students to have taken at least part of their studies abroad, through for instance exchange – a goal which Sweden has yet to reach.

“Surprisingly, research on internationalisation in higher education has been neglected in Sweden, which otherwise places great importance on internationalisation of higher education institutions and making them globally competitive. A lot of the ongoing research is conducted at Uppsala University, and we also have close cooperation with several responsible authorities and relevant organisations, so it feels like a natural step to collect all of this more formally as a research forum,” says Mikael Börjesson, Professor of Sociology of Education and Head of Research at the new forum.

The official opening by Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson was held in connection with Global Super Tuesday and the celebration of the EU’s exchange programme ERASMUS’s 30-year anniversary at Blåsenhus.