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Internationalisation of higher education from leadership perspective : a case of University of Malawi.

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Internationalisation has turned into a mainstream activity in higher education, and has stimulated individual higher-education institutions and leadership into maintaining equilibrium between responding to higher education national needs and responding to international demands. Nevertheless, the common trend is that internationalisation is implemented differently in different context. Hence, it is argued that local context offers a description of internationalisation of higher education. The purpose of the study is to understand leadership perspectives of internationalisation of higher education as a phenomenon in a particular locale. The study used an interpretive paradigm which comprised concept analysis and a qualitative case study approach, with a purposefully selected single case of the University of Malawi as the unit of analysis. The study generated data through literature review, document analysis, and qualitative semi-structured face-to-face interviews administered to 7 leaders. The theory of planned behaviour provided a framework on which to analyse the internationalisation context, while the higher education leadership framework provided a lens for the leadership perspective. The meaning from the study was established by using a thematic analysis approach which encouraged the recognition of emerging and dominating themes as a focus for interpretation of the study. The study highlighted in detail the internationalisation context and the leadership perspective. The study revealed the diversity in definitions and strategies, showing not only the flexibility of the concept, but also the degree of disagreement between authors. The study revealed that internationalisation as a strategy is the sum of international activities which are executed in order to run higher education. The University of Malawi leadership recognises internationalisation as an apt source of capacity building and revenue. Hence further analysis revealed that, when budgetary commitment is low, there is greater emphasis on economic rationale for internationalisation as a source of support for financial-distress situations. The study revealed that there is no prescribed framework for implementing internationalisation, there being many factors and other social forces that promote internationalisation activities. Therefore, leadership of higher education requires knowledge and understanding, commitment, and clear purpose for higher education in order to inform the enactment of the internationalisation activities.


Doctor of Philosophy in Education. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


International education - Malawi., Education, Higher - Malawi., Management - Study and teaching - Malawi., Theses - Education.