International education leadership experiences in Canadian universities: policy and practice

Knutson, Sonja (2019) International education leadership experiences in Canadian universities: policy and practice. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Over the past decade, Canadian universities have experienced significant growth in the numbers of international students and the revenue they represent, a result of both federal policy and the revenue needs of universities. As revenue generation has become an essential element in balancing budgets with international student income as the most significant and stable revenue opportunity, the position of the Senior International Officer (SIO), has inevitably gained prominence. Little empirical research is available on the SIO position, a senior administrative position that exists in most universities in Canada and is accountable for all international activity in Canadian universities. SIOs are expected to add economic value to their institutions and by extension their region or country, as well as to contribute to transformative humanistic goals, such as the development of globally aware graduates (Yemini, 2015). The inherent tension in attracting international students for economic reasons together with the transformative discourse of internationalization is a challenge of SIOs working in Canadian universities. This dissertation explores the impact of the Canadian federal policy context and the expectations of universities with respect to the SIO role on the experiences of those in the role. The focus of the study is on the tensions of the SIO role in balancing expectations to achieve both economic and transformational outcomes, and will employ a qualitative, critical approach. The study itself is divided into three phases: a chronological analysis of federal international education policy in Canada from its beginnings until the present day; a critical discourse analysis of the executive search position briefs through which Canadian universities attract SIOs to the leadership role; and a critical examination of interviews with the incumbents recruited into the university SIO role. The purpose of the research is to understand the experiences of these leaders in carrying out their mandates for campus internationalization. The findings show that SIOs are concerned with the growing focus at this time on internationalization for economic outcomes at both the federal and institutional levels. While SIOs continue to support these economic outcomes, the research shows they find covert ways to implement a more comprehensive internationalization to achieve academic and socio-cultural outcomes. This dissertation demonstrates that SIOs in Canada are committed to a comprehensive approach to internationalization, despite the overwhelming focus on economic outcomes in the discourse of federal policy and institutional expectations and aims for international education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 14453
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 235-249).
Keywords: international education; internationalization; Senior International Officer; leadership in higher education; international education policy; transformational learning; post-secondary administration; strategic planning; public good
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2019
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: College administrators--Canada; Students, Foreign--Government policy--Canada.

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