Project 1.2

Internationalisation of HE as a public good: a comparative study in four national systems

The aim of this project is to examine inward student mobility and how it relates to the production of national and global public goods in four countries: France, the UK, Japan and China.

Project team

  • Simon Marginson, University of Oxford
  • Vincent Carpentier, UCL Institute of Education
  • Futao Huang, Hiroshima University
  • Nian Cai Liu, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Kiyomi Horiuchi, Hiroshima University
  • Thomas Brotherhood, University of Oxford


We refer to ‘internationalisation’ as the growth of relations across national borders. This is associated with a wide range of values, purposes, interests and practices, which this research project aims to identify.

There is a potential for tension between the free mobility of students, which is a global public good, and national public goods – such as managed migration (targeted to persons identified as economically useful and/or limited in volume), and national security.

In order to optimise the benefits of internationalisation as a public good (whether a global and/or national good), it is necessary to understand it in context. This project will analyse four countries which offer sharply contrasting examples: the UK, France, Japan and China. Among the four countries there are striking differences in both political cultures that affect higher and international education, and in the regulation of migration.

The project will enable a better understanding of synergies and tensions between:

  • national migration policy and international higher education, especially cross-border student mobility;
  • economic growth and global competitiveness as national public goods, and educational internationalisation as a national public good;
  • national social equity, global social equity, and the internationalisation of higher education, especially cross-border student mobility;
  • national public goods in education and other areas, and global public goods that are, or can be, furthered by international student mobility and/or other forms of internationalisation in higher education.

The project will also examine how policy relating to student mobility connects to:

  • ‘soft power’;
  • recruitment of global talent and the building of world-class universities and research capacity;
  • revenue generation through education exports;
  • intercultural learning and the building of national facilities in global English;
  • educational ‘modernisation’ and improvement.

The project will generate new understandings of global and national public goods, and new insight into the dynamics of global relations in higher education, including the limits and potentials of the nation-state and the potentials of both national political regulation and democratic forms in the global setting.