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Internationalization Ideologies in Higher Education Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 27th, 2020


The disparate results of the implementation of internationalization policies in higher education can be explained by the different nature of various ideologies that are used by various colleges and universities. This is the idea that Jonas Stier presents in his article “Taking a critical stance toward internationalization ideologies in higher education: idealism, instrumentalism, and educationalism.” This discussion will provide a brief summary of the paper, information related to internationalism in education, my ideas on the topic, an exploration of some ideas of the article and three leading questions that should be discussed in the future.

Brief Summary

The author opens the article with the background on internationalization in the new millennium and its role in higher education. He points out the need for internationalization in higher education due to thousands of competent and ambitious students that travel abroad to study. However, the term “internationalization” appears to be too vague to have a common definition among people. Stier states that the discussions of the term are revolved around varying foci that divert the motives of various educational actors. He connects this idea to the divergent ideologies that are used in higher education institutions (Stier 84).

Stier states that despite people assuming that internationalization is a new development in actuality it has been present throughout history. The modern pace of life just accelerated the process. Then he selects three different ideologies because they represent the prevailing views on the topic (Stier 85). The first is idealism, and it views internationalization in a positive light because it could have a positive change in the world. Internationalism allows people living in developing countries to receive knowledge from higher education, which is not available to them locally. However, such ideas can be seen as a representation of ethnocentrism in the western world when brought to the extremes (Stier 89).

The second ideology chosen by Stier is instrumentalism. It sees education as means of increasing profit, insurance of economic growth or promotion of views of governments, companies or other power structures. Internationalization is seen in a positive light but from a pragmatic perspective. Multinational professionals are in demand around the world, and their education is seen as a benefit. Such tactics can lead to the “brain drain” effect when people from developing countries choose to use their knowledge in foreign countries rather than locally. Such perspective can also lead to ideas being imposed onto others (Stier 90).

The last ideology examined by the author is educationalism that views internationalism as a response to the competence demand of the market. They believe that being exposed to the foreign environment can have a positive effect on the academic experiences of the person. It could allow for personal growth and self-actualization of the person. This point of view may lead to loss of time that could be used in other studies, but such interaction is natural in many fields of work (Stier 92).

In conclusion, the author presents issues that he believes deserve attention. The first is the need for cooperation between policy-makers, educators, and students. The second is the need to move the discourse about the topic to the content-issues such as ideological and cultural biases in the curriculum. The third is the need for international educators to reflect on our ideological motives. The fourth is the entanglement of governments and education. The fifth is the eventual positive effects of internationalization. The sixth is that economic influences should not influence higher education and seventh that internationalization can serve as a tool to re-establish the identity and continuity of people (Stier 95).

Internationalism and Globalization in Education

A later article by Uwe Brandenburg and Hans de Wit from 2015, sees internationalization to be in decline due to the increased focus on its commercialization. While the practice of traveling abroad has become the norm since Stier’s article, it has increasingly become commercialized with the instrumentalist ideology dominating in higher education. The authors see it as an issue due to the danger of making higher education a tool for western governments and corporations designed to shape new workers rather than a place of learning (Brandenburg and Wit 15). The push for commercialization is confirmed by other studies that state that higher education is currently expanding without concern for quality (Heck and Mu 143).

Personal Ideas

I believe that internationalization is a positive force, even when it is affected by commercialism. My position on the topic aligns with the educationalism ideology because the most effective teaching moments for me were ones experienced in unfamiliar surroundings. I believe that even in situations where education is focused on profit, a person is still capable of achieving self-assurance and self-discovery.

However, the danger of education becoming a tool of governmental influence is extremely concerning to me. Stier talks about it in the section on instrumentalism, and I completely agree with his assessment. One of the main perks of higher education is the ability of students to start thinking critically about the world. To replace it with the agenda of a despotic leader or an international conglomerate would be tragic and harmful to the world at large.

Leading Questions

For the following discussion I have the following leading questions:

  • Which approach to higher education is in your opinion the most beneficial for society?
  • What are the differences between internationalization and globalization?
  • Which ideas stated in the last section of the article are the most relevant today and why?


Internationalization is the norm in modern education. Stier predicted that it could move towards commercialization of higher education and it seems that it is the case. However, I believe that a person is still able to self-actualize in spite of commercialization.

Works Cited

Brandenburg, Uwe, and Hans De Wit. “The End of Internationalization.” International Higher Education, vol. 1, no. 62, Mar. 2015, pp. 15-17.

Heck, Ronald H., and Xiaoxin Ivy Mu. “Economics of Globalization in Higher Education: Current Issues in Recruiting and Serving International Students.” Educational Leaders Without Borders, edited by Rosemary Papa and Fenwick W. English, Springer, 2016, pp. 143–165.

Stier, Jonas. “Taking a Critical Stance Toward Internationalization Ideologies in Higher Education: Idealism, Instrumentalism and Educationalism.” Globalisation, Societies and Education, vol. 2, no. 1, 2004, pp. 83–97.

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