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July 2019

1443651948496Defining internationalisation – Intention versus coercion

Damtew Teferra is Professor of Higher Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Founding Director of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa. He is Founding Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of African Higher Education. Teferra steers the Higher Education Cluster of the Africa Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA). He may be reached at and



Many authorities have aspired to provide an all-encompassing definition for the complex term ‘internationalisation’ as it relates to higher education. The attempt at such a definition by Professor Hans de Wit* and his colleague Fiona Hunter (2015) falls short in capturing reality, particularly in the Global South.

I maintain that internationalisation as regards the Global South, particularly Africa, is far from being an intentional process. In an edited book entitled African Higher Education in the International Dimension, published over a decade ago now, I argued that African higher education is the most internationalined system in the world – not by participation but by omission. Read more.

The International Network of Higher Education in Africa is hosted at The University of Kwazulu-Natal and closely affiliated with the Boston College Center for International Higher Education. The Network is led by its founding director, Professor Damtew Teferra. Numerous initiatives of the Network are supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.