A Competition State Perspective on the Development of Swedish Policies for Internationalisation of Higher Education and Research 1960s–2010s


  • Andreas Åkerlund Södertörn University




internationalisation, internationalisation policy, competition state, student mobility


This article is an historical analysis of Swedish policies for internationalisation of higher education and research from the 1970s and onwards. The analysis is carried out against the theoretical backdrop of the competition state, as a type of state reformulating and restructuring the relation between the national and international during the second half of the twentieth century with the aim of making society fit for international competition. Focussing on arguments as to why Swedish universities need to be internationalised, how this should be done and which parts of higher education that should be internationalised, the article shows the development of Swedish internationalisation policies, starting in the 1960s and -70s where focus was on international solidarity, inward student mobility and the internationalisation of teaching. In the 1980s and -90s the idea of a knowledge driven economic development was the central paradigm, resulting in a stronger focus on research and international research collaboration. To this the 2000s and -10s added a focus on ingoing mobility, both as a source of revenue through tuition fees, and a way to recruit skilled labour.

Author Biography

Andreas Åkerlund, Södertörn University

Associate Professor of History