Internationalisation is a global trend of higher education


By Project 5-100

The global competition for talents, spread of academic mobility, international research collaborations, study abroad and students’ participation in overseas internships, international recruitment and enrolment, emergence of international branch campuses, internationalisation of the curriculum, and the rapid increase in the rate of technological advancement over the last 20 years created profound changes in the higher education realities.

One of the most significant changes is internationalisation, which is everywhere on the agenda now. However, the development of strategies and approaches to promote, enhance and manage international engagement varies significantly. Besides its role in redrawing relationships with students and academic staff and shaping each of these relationships; developing, empowering and improving research, teaching and innovation, internationalisation in higher education are also seen as means of improving institutional and national visibility.

Every year, the number of countries committed to internationalisation in higher education is increasing. European, Asian, Latin American, Northern American and Pacific universities embrace the international agenda, taking top places across the subject rankings tables, becoming more pro-active in stimulating the internationalisation of their education and driving an increasingly global knowledge economy.

Today, among the countries that attract a significant number of international students to their universities are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, Russia, the UK, the USA. Despite dramatic variations of internationalisation strategies between countries and institutions, here is an outlook of the education programmes in the different parts of the world.


Through its Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes, the EU supports international exchanges for students, academic staff and researchers, as well as structured cooperation between higher education institutions and public authorities in different countries. The objective is to create new opportunities for people in higher education to learn from one another across national borders and to work together on joint projects to develop good learning and teaching, undertake excellent research and promote innovation.

Internationalisation gives focus to the higher education policy development in the European countries. For example, in 2013, French universities, grandes ecoles and research centres were joined into research clusters. Today, each of the 13 regions of metropolitan France has at least one higher education and research cluster within its borders. As part of the restructure, new visa regulations, administrative requirements for international students were implemented. The number of courses taught in English, and French lessons for non-Francophone international students were increased.

Higher education is also an important determinant of Russia’s international attractiveness and competitiveness. The nation aims to propel its national universities to achieve a better position in the world university rankings and to witness some of its best universities inch closer to the top. Since 2013, Russia has placed such goals on a more strategic footing. Under its Academic Excellence Initiative, the country is strengthening its position in the area of education, innovation and research, lifelong learning and mobility. It is enhancing the profile of its universities and supporting them to establish international partnerships to promote innovation and spread of modern methods in teaching and youth work. This effort is known as Project 5-100.

Ilshat Gafurov, Rector of Kazan Federal University (Kazan, Project 5-100 participant), Chairman of the Council of Rectors of Tatarstan: “International students are important because their interest is an indicator of global demand. Of course, creating a favorable environment for overseas students means more responsibility for educational institutions. The responsibility not only include the quality education but also in all issues pertaining to their life and time spent here”.

Daria Kozlova, First vice Rector of ITMO University (Saint Petersburg, Project 5-100 participant): “ITMO University collaborates with partner universities in a vast variety of areas that these institutions excel in. In this regard, we perceive both our international and local students as members of the united community regardless of their citizenship. All programs are open for the students, based on their educational background. They only have to decide what are their educational goals. Be it the adaptive foundation program or an individual educational track, we have a lot to offer. We believe that internationalization and the interdisciplinary approach are the key trends in the higher education today”.

Latin America

Global trends have become an accepted part of the higher education sector in Latin America. In 2017, Brazil has launched a programme which focuses on supporting the internationalisation of Brazilian institutions and international student mobility, as mentioned in the “International Trends in Higher Education 2016–17” by Oxford University. Under development of this programme, each university is to form a coherent elaborated internationalisation strategy together with international partners in order to gain access to mobility funding.


In the past three decades, a lot of progress has been made in internationalization of higher education in China. The country has launched a series of initiatives aimed at speeding up the establishment of China as an innovative country that generates high quality and relevant research outcomes, using collaborative partnerships as the key mechanism. Project 211, Project 985 and Project 2011 are among such initiatives. Chinese strategy has a substantial international focus, with international cooperation and exchange, it brings together world class experts and researchers, and promote substantial cooperation with leading foreign universities.