Neoliberalism, internationalisation and higher education: connections, contradictions and alternatives

Annette Bamberger, Paul Morris, Miri Yemini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


We explore the role of neoliberalism within portrayals of internationalisation in higher education (HE). Through an analysis of four features of internationalisation, we suggest that they embody a complex entanglement of neoliberal categories and assumptions with other, primarily progressive humanitarian ideals. This framing of internationalisation has three affects. One, humanitarian ideals coupled with neoliberal categories normalise inequalities, turning internationalisation into a meritocratic global race, focusing on celebrating the possibility of the few who can achieve, instead of the embedded inequalities within the system, which disadvantage the many. Two, this allows neoliberal practices to be advanced through the discourse of internationalisation and its association with progressive humanitarian values. Three, this neoliberal framing does not explain the nature of internationalisation of HE in many nations; we demonstrate this by analysing internationalisation in China, Israel and Cuba. We suggest that internationalisation in HE cannot be adequately explained by analyses which rely on neoliberalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • China
  • Cuba
  • Israel
  • Neoliberalism
  • globalisation
  • higher education
  • internationalisation


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