Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

'Empty signifiers' and 'dreamy ideals'. Perceptions of the 'international university' among higher education students and staff at a British university

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alina SchartnerORCiD, Yoonjoo Cho



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This paper reports on a mixed-methods case study investigating how higher education staff and students understand, experience and envision the ‘international university’. As it is becoming clear that international student mobility is not in itself a panacea for universities seeking to internationalise, ‘internationalisation at home’ and ‘global citizenship’ are increasingly permeating university policy documents and mission statements. However, little is known about how students and staff on the ground perceive and experience these concepts. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected at one British university through focus groups (N=19) and through an online survey (n=148). Findings revealed a conventional mobility-focused understanding of the international university among students and staff, and a great deal of cynicism as regards ‘internationalisation at home’ and ‘global citizenship’. We discuss implications for practice and a research agenda.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schartner A, Cho Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Higher Education

Year: 2017

Volume: 74

Issue: 3

Pages: 455-472

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 07/09/2016

Acceptance date: 25/08/2016

Date deposited: 26/08/2016

ISSN (print): 0018-1560

ISSN (electronic): 1573-174X

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10734-016-0057-1


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric