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Internationalization of higher education is an inevitable process in the era of globalization and a deliberate strategy for improving quality and relevance. IAU focuses on the academic rationales, the equitable and collaborative nature of the process and aims to minimize the adverse effects of international interactions when these take place in highly unequal and diverse contexts among HEIs with different, resources, needs and interests.


IAU aims at retaining a leadership role in HE Internationalization which focuses on quality of learning, research and outreach for all.

Overall objectives for 2016-2022:

  • Provide critical analysis of current trends
  • Research on global developments
  • Increase tailored advisory services
  • Expand IAU expertise in benchmarking and impact assessment
  • Provide information and develop global advocacy


Over the years, the concept of internationalization has evolved and different definitions exist, IAU adopts the following: “[Internationalization of Higher Education is] the intentional process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions and delivery of post-secondary education, in order to enhance the quality of education and research for all students and staff, and to make a meaningful contribution to society.“ (De Wit, H., Hunter F., Howard L., Egron-Polak E. (Eds.) (2015) “Internationalization of Higher Education”, European Parliament, Brussels: EU).

This recently refined definition emphasizes the fact that internationalization is an intentional process, not a passive experience. It underscores that internationalization is not a goal in itself, but a means of enhancing quality and excellence of higher education and research. In addition, the definition notes that internationalization needs to serve societal needs, rather than focusing solely on economic rationales and returns. Although globalization affects all institutions, HEIs experience different pressures; they exist in different contexts, and have different needs. Therefore, there is no “one size fits all” model or approach for internationalization, rather, each HEI must find its own way of internationalizing. At the same time, all HEIs can benefit from the best thinking and good practice from other institutions around the world. This is why IAU developed the internationalization strategies advisory service: ISAS (2.0).



The objective of the ISAS impact evaluation study, conducted in partnership between IAU and the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, is to investigate the efficacy of the Internationalization Strategy Advisory Services (ISAS) and its successor program ISAS (2.0) on internationalization initiatives at higher education institutions.

Research objectives of this study are three-fold:

    • To identify progress institutions have made at the suggestion of ISAS;
    • To identify the reason for gaps between recommendations and implementation, defined as barriers to internationalization;
    • To analyze and share results that inform the development of IAU’s future advisory services.

12 of the 17 institutions that ever undertook an ISAS or ISAS (2.0) service participated in the study. The sampling of institutions included in this study, with unique regional, national and institutional contexts, are a microcosm of global higher education at large. Yet collectively, their responses convey that internationalization remains a pressing priority of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), regardless of geographic location.

The results show that every university indicated that working with ISAS was helpful in advancing internationalization initiatives. This is a clear endorsement of ISAS by the institutions.

In their quest for internationalization, all institutions inevitably face challenges. Overcoming those challenges requires a clear, strategic approach, one that is responsive and in alignment with the core mission and values of the institution. IAU through its advisory services stands ready to help institutions in refining or progressing their internationalization priorities built on an inclusive, fair and ethical process.


Launched in 2016, ISAS (2.0) builds on the former IAU ISAS program, created to help HEIs develop or review their internationalization policies, strategies and programs. ISAS (2.0) consists of several different but complementary services designed for IAU Institutional Members (HEIs), individuals at HEIs, national governments and organizations.

It consists of three services:
- Advancing strategic internationalization at HEIs (for HEIs)
- Facilitating individual learning for internationalization for HEIs and individuals working at HEIs. (for HEIs and individuals at HEIs)
- National advisory service for strategy or policy development for HE internationalization (for national governments, agencies and organizations)

ISAS (2.0) promotional leaflet

List of past and ongoing ISAS 2.0 projects

Giorgio Marinoni

There are 4 strands of service designed specifically for HEIs.. The duration of each strand of service depends on the specific needs of the HEIs but typically is between 6 and 12 months. Each strand culminates with the award of an IAU internationalization learning badge. Institutions awarded an IAU internationalization learning badge must follow the guidelines for use.

Planning and Strategy

Target audience
Higher Education Institutions at early development stage of internationalization

Help the institution develop and/or refine its internationalization strategy.


  • Mapping and reviewing internationalization policies and actions at the institution
  • Developing or revising the internationalization strategy
  • IAU Learning Badge rewarded: Planning and Strategy

Detailed procedure


HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
IAU member 18 000 euros 20 000 euros 22 000 euros

Assessing Strategy and Monitoring Achievements

Target audience
HEIs having an already implemented internationalization strategy

Help the institution assess its strategy for internationalization and their monitoring achievements and progress towards the goals outlined in its internationalization strategy.


  • Evaluating the institutional strategy and reviewing of monitoring framework
  • Monitoring progress
  • IAU Learning Badge rewarded : Strategy Monitoring and Achievements

Detailed procedure


HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
IAU member 18 000 euros 20 000 euros 22 000 euros

Enhancing a specific area of internationalization

Target audience
Higher Education Institutions interested in a specific area of internationalization

Enabling institutions to focus on a particular area of internationalization requiring special enhancing and monitoring efforts including:
- Governance and management structures for internationalization;
- Internationalization at home;
- Internationalization of research;
- Internationalization of the curriculum;
- Language policy;
- Strategic partnerships;
- Academic and non-academic staff mobility;
- Student mobility;
- Transnational/cross border education;
- On-line and distance learning.


  • Reviewing fitness of purpose of specific goals and objectives for the area of focus within the overall institutional context
  • Assessing the implementation strategies adopted and pursued to achieve objectives
  • Providing recommendations for developing new activities in the specific area
  • Reviewing and/or developing indicators for evaluating progress
  • Evaluating achievement
  • IAU Learning Badges rewarded: Governance or Internationalization at home or Curriculum, Language policy, Strategic partnership, Staff mobility, Student mobility, Distance learning, Research

Detailed procedure


HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
IAU member 10 000 euros 12 000 euros 14 000 euros

Achieving comprehensive internationalisation

Comprehensive Internationalization is increasingly the goal of many institutions that have emphasized internationalization for some time and have devoted particular attention and resources to developing a comprehensive approach within their institution.
This strand of service is highly selective, not all institutions that would wish to choose this strand might be ready for it.

Target audience
Higher Education Institutions at advanced development stage of internationalization

Assess to what extent the HEI is achieving Comprehensive Internationalization


  • Submission of an application by the institution
  • IAU submission evaluation: decision on acceptance or suggestion to undertake another strand of service of ISAS (2.0)
  • Asses to what extent the HEI is achieving Comprehensive Internationalization, that is, looking at the extent to which internationalization is pervasive throughout the institution.
  • IAU Learning Badge rewarded: Comprehensive Internationalization

Detailed procedure


HEI Low income country Middle income country High income country
IAU member 22 000 euros 24 000 euros 26 000 euros

One of the major institutional obstacles to internationalization is the limited expertise of academic and administrative staff working at HEIs. IAU has therefore developed this service, intended for individuals and groups of individuals at one or more HEIs wishing to improve their knowledge, skills and competences related to strategic planning and monitoring of internationalization of higher education. It consists of two main strands of service:

Training workshops for professional development of senior academic and administrative staff

Target audience
Higher Education Institutions (or groups of HEIs)
Enhance staff development to allow them to gain expertise in internationalization process.

Duration: 2-3 days


  • Request for workshop by an HEI, National rectors’ conferences, national university associations or networks.
  • Tailored-made peer-to-peer workshop by IAU
  • IAU charges to the host institution an all-inclusive fee for the workshop design.
  • Host institution is responsible for the logistics related costs and can charge fees to workshop participants, which must be agreed upon by IAU

Detailed procedure

Fees will be negotiated with the host institution on a case-by-case basis.

Webinars on specific topics on internationalization for academic and administrative staff

IAU aims to expand the range of learning opportunities available to individuals, and to offer to all individuals at HEIs the opportunity to access its programs.

In October 2018 the first ISAS (2.0) webinars took place. The topic of the first webinar was “Developing a Strategic Approach to Internationalization”. The speakers were the IAU Senior Fellows Eva Egron-Polak and Madeleine Green. To maximize outreach and accommodate time differences, IAU conducted the webinar in both English and French and re-broadcasted the original English language session.

The English language webinars drew 36 participants from all over the world, including Australia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and the USA. IAU received positive feedback and participants expressed enthusiasm about IAU’s plans to continue this initiative. Participation was low in the French webinar. Moving forward, IAU will thus develop a whole series of webinars in English, each dedicated to a specific pressing topic in international education.


Higher education has become a high-level priority for more and more national governments, some of which have adopted national strategies for internationalization or plan to develop one. IAU has gained significant experience in helping national governments and organizations in the development of national strategies and policies for internationalization (e.g Romania, Malaysia).

Tailored approach at national level

Target audience
National governments, governmental agencies and organizations

Provide international expertise to assist the government (or governmental organization) in developing a proposal for a national strategy

The approach is tailored to the specific needs of the country. It can focus exclusively on the national policy level, with IAU providing international experts to assist the government or governmental organization in developing a proposal for a national strategy.

Detailed procedure

Fees are agreed upon on a case by case basis

’Bottom-up’ approach

Target audience
National governments, governmental agencies and organizations

Provide international expertise to assist the government (or governmental organization) in developing a proposal for a national strategy

The process of designing or revising a national policy can also involve working ’bottom-up’, meaning working at the same time at governmental and institutional levels. It consists in assisting a group of HEIs in revising and developing their institutional internationalization strategies while helping the government or governmental organization developing a proposal for a national strategy. This simultaneous process ensure that national policy recommendations are based on a understanding of HEIs needs and visions.

Detailed procedure

Fees are agreed upon on a case by as basis.


Future of Internationalization Partnership (FIP) Project

The Future of Internationalization Partnership (FIP) is a three-year project, begun in May 2021, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) that brings together The Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) at Boston College, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and the IAU.

Led by Project Director Dr. Elizabeth Buckner, an Assistant Professor in Higher Education at the University of Toronto, the FIP aims to deepen theoretical understanding of how internationalization is changing in response to global pressures.

Through mixed methods research, the project will design a new survey module to be included in the sixth edition of the IAU Global Survey on Internationalization, which addresses external pressures to internationalization.

The project will also conduct case studies of institutional innovations and engage scholars and practitioners to discuss effective, equitable, and sustainable forms of internationalization in higher education. One of the most important aspects of the project will be to translate research findings into profiles of good practice and resources for institutional leaders.

COST Action - European Network on International Student Mobility: Connecting Research and Practice

Giorgio Marinoni, Manager HE and Int sits on the Management Committee of COST Action - European Network on International Student Mobility: Connecting Research and Practice.

This Action responds to the pressing need for systematic interdisciplinary and international exchange of knowledge on theoretical frameworks, research methodologies, findings, and best practice examples, and for translating scientific findings into recommendations for international student mobility ISM practice.

The Action brings together established researchers, early-career investigators (ECIs) and PhD students from different scientific disciplines, countries, and research communities as well as stakeholders from international offices, international student and study abroad organizations, and different policy levels. The Action will offer comparative and practical insights into ISM dynamics by bringing fragmented knowledge together, with the main aim of generating new interdisciplinary and innovative empirical perspectives on the phenomenon and translating these into tangible recommendations for stakeholders.

>>> WEBINAR: Connecting research and practice in international student mobility (ISM) - brought to you by WG5 of the ENIS network

  • Thursday, 28 April 2022
  • For more information click here.

Learn more about COST Action

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Observatory for Higher Education Transformations

IAU is a founding institutional member of the Observatory for Higher Education Transformations, an initiative of the Institute of Education, HSE University, Moscow, Russia which joined forces with seven other renown research centres on higher education around the world:

  • CGHE, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • CIEFR, Peking University, China
  • CIHE Boston College, USA
  • CiPES, University of Porto, Portugal
  • OISE, University of Toronto, Canada
  • School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • SERU, UC Berkeley, USA

The mission of the Observatory for Higher Education Transformations is to provide an empowering space for collaboration of scholars interested and engaged in the sphere of higher education, and to follow and reflect on transformation of the research and practice in higher education worldwide.

The Observatory investigates six topics:

  • Internationalization and global cooperation
  • Finance
  • University Management
  • Student Experiences
  • Higher Education Systems and Dynamics
  • Digitalisation of Higher Education

Read more on the Observatory for Higher Education Transformations on the Observatory website.


IAU publishes Internationalization of Higher Education: An Evolving Landscape, Locally and Globally

One of IAU’s strategic priorities is to promote an inclusive, fair and ethical process of internationalization of higher education. IAU advocates for internationalization as a means to improve the quality of teaching and learning, research and service to society for all students and staff.

Knowing how the process of internationalization is evolving is paramount to gain a thorough understanding of its potential benefits and risks. Researching global trends is essential for IAU to continue providing the required support to higher education institutions (HEIs), governments and individuals as they develop their internationalization strategies, policies and activities.

Based on input from some 1,000 HEIs in 126 different countries, the IAU 5th Global Survey Report is the most geographically comprehensive collection and analysis of primary data on internationalization of higher education ever undertaken. It covers all aspects of internationalization from policy and activities to research, human resources and staff development, student mobility and the design of curricula.

Assessing internationalization trends over time and comparing developments across regions, the 5th Global Survey provides unique insights into the internationalization process. It highlights its overall increased importance, which enhances international cooperation and capacity building and has a beneficial impact on the quality of teaching and learning. However, it also reveals its limitations and the main area of concerns, such as funding, commodification of higher education, language barriers, or the recognition of qualifications.

The Executive Summary outlines the main highlights of the Survey report.

The IAU 5th Global Survey is available free of charge to IAU Members in its online version.

>> Not yet a Member? Join IAU now!
>> Order a copy of the print version


The IAU 5th Global Survey benefited from the support of UNESCO, Académie de recherche et d’enseignement supérieur (ARES), Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.


The following articles are based on the preliminary results of the survey:

A changing view of the benefits of HE internationalisation, Giorgio Marinoni, Eva Egron-Polak and Madeleine Green, University World News, 1 February 2019

Is internationalisation creating inequality in higher education?, Giorgio Marinoni and Hans de Wit, University World News, 11 January 2019


Since 2003, IAU has conducted regular Global Surveys, which have become an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the internationalization of higher education. They are used by researchers, as relevant data that stimulate further research and innovation in the field; by HEIs to benchmark themselves in the development of their internationalization processes at global and regional levels; and by policymakers to seek inspiration for policies affecting higher education.

- 4th Global Survey (2014) - IAU 4th Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education.
Executive Summary
- IAU 3rd Global Survey (2010) - Internationalization of Higher Education: Global Trends, Regional Perspectives
Executive Summary
- IAU 2nd Global Survey (2005) - Internationalization of Higher Education - New Directions, New Challenges.
Highlights of findings
- IAU 1st Global Survey (2003) - Internationalization of Higher Education: Practices and Priorities
Highlights of findings


IAU and Boston College collaborated on a research project about the role of English language instruction in higher education institutions(HEIs) around the world. IAU and the Boston College Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) co-supervised research undertaken by Xinyan (Sissi) Liu, a student in CIHE’s Master of Arts program in International Higher Education. This program requires that all students participate in a course titled “Field Experience in International Higher Education.” The course combines practical experience at higher education organizations, such as the IAU, with an in-depth research project.

Sissi’s report explores the national policies and role of English language instruction at HEIs in Brazil, France, Malaysia, South Africa and Spain. This is a particularly timely topic at the time when English language has become dominant in many fields, including in highly cited research and scholarship more broadly.


Policy Statements - Network of International Education Associations (NIEA) - IAU Working Group

IAU has developed advocacy positions on internationalization of higher education:


IAU acts as the coordinator of the Network of International Education Associations, NIEA. NIEA members are non-profit, non-government associations which main stated purpose is to advance international higher education. The Network advances the global learning of post-secondary education organizations through the exchange of information and dialogue, advocacy for international education, professional development, and discovery of new approaches to international education.
NIEA members meet twice annually, alternating between EAIE and NAFSA conferences.
Other than IAU as a coordinator, NIEA has a chair elected among its members, the chair for the year 2020 is Phil Honeywood, from the International Education Association of Australia IEAA.


NIEA organised two Global Dialogues on Internationalization of higher education, the first Global Dialogue held in 2014 and hosted by International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA), led to the Nelson Mandela Bay declaration on the future of internationalization of higher education.

In 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, NIEA members published a statement reaffirming the importance of international higher education and research, which calls government and higher education institutions around the world for supporting international collaboration as an essential means to finding solutions to global problems, which manifest differently in local contexts.

This Working Group encompasses a small group of Administrative Board members. It provides advice to the Administrative Board and the Secretary General on the strategic direction. The Working Group develops recommendations on how to improve the visibility and response rate and dissemination of the IAU Global Survey. The Working Group also provides recommendations on how to operationalize the Call for Action: Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education. Finally, it assists in the promotion of the IAU Internationalization Strategies Advisory Service (ISAS (2.0)).


  • Andrew Deeks, President, University College Dublin, Ireland


IAU Secretariat Staff:

Giorgio Marinoni

NGO in official partnership with UNESCO in associate status
International Association of Universities, UNESCO House, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris cedex 15, France
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