To Be or Not Be An International University?

Posted: 3 Apr 2019

Date Written: March 11, 2019


For most of the last century, majority of the universities in USA catered to the local needs and the economy. In the beginning of the 20th Century few universities in the USA started to expand to attract students across the borders and the region and gradually acquired national and international recognition. The rise of Harvard, MIT, Stanford and many other universities are the direct result of their efforts and aspirations to go beyond their borders to attract students from all over the world. Later we saw the same pattern in higher education in Europe and Australia. Since the beginning of this new 21st Century many universities in Asia are also aspiring to become international. The race to become an international has been further exacerbated by the advent of several universities ranking organizations, such as, the Times World Reputation Rankings (UK), US News Best Global Universities, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai) and QS World Rankings. In this new century, for some universities, the international rankings are driving their agenda. Hence with increased aspirations for globalization there is also a corresponding increase in efforts to upscale higher education. But can universities in Asia become international? Do they have the kind of infrastructure, the academic programs, and the campus culture? Do they have the faculty and curriculum which is as competitive as we see in the high profile Western universities? In Asia, where most universities do not use English as a medium of instruction (MOI), can they really become international? Recent development in online learning led by MOOCs, edX, Coursera, and IEEE courses are also changing the traditional boundaries and role of the universities. Using secondary sources of data from World university rankings, IMD and other open access resources, this paper will examine pro-and-cons of becoming an international university.

Keywords: Higher Education, International, Rankings, Universities

JEL Classification: I20, I21, I22, I23, I24, I25, I26, I29, H75

Suggested Citation

Nagi, Kuldeep, To Be or Not Be An International University? (March 11, 2019). Available at SSRN:

Kuldeep Nagi (Contact Author)

Assumption University ( email )

271232945 (Phone)
271232959 (Fax)


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