Platform for internationalisation under development

The Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), together with the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, have been mandated by the government to develop a platform for investigating influences on internationalisation.

The purpose of the platform is to “create a stable and long-term structure for coordination of questions that are influencing the internationalisation of higher education, research and innovation”. The mission shall be worked out in close collaboration with universities and other relevant institutions.

The initiative was proposed in the internationalisation inquiry (“Increased attraction force for the Swedish knowledge society”) delivered in 2018 and it has been proposed in a government research white paper that SEK3 million (US$350,600) a year be set aside for the platform in 2022-24.

Under the leadership of UHR, a project group has been established and several meetings have been arranged by public organisations and other stakeholders working with internationalisation of higher education.

The project’s group is led by Anders Ahlstrand, assisted by Madelen Charysczak, both from UHR. Stefan Törnqvist, head of the international secretariat, and Senior Analyst Ellenor Devine, both at the Swedish Research Council, and Emma Bäcke, programme manager international cooperation at Vinnova are participating.

Forum for Internationalisation

The Forum for Internationalisation was established in 2008 with participation from UHR that had the leadership and secretariat, and with permanent participation of most governmental institutions working with internationalisation and with invited guests at many of the biannual meetings.

The following public institutions are participating in the forum:

• The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions,
• The Swedish Migration Agency,
• The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA),
• The Swedish Institute,
• The Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN),
• The Swedish Higher Education Authority,
• The Swedish National Union of Students (SFS),
• The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT),
• The Ministry of Law,
• The Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation,
• The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and
• The Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Today, the forum has an important role as an information agent and a coordinating function for higher education internationalisation, but the internationalisation investigation called for a strengthening of these coordinating functions as pertinent questions are becoming more numerous and more complex.

The Forum for Internationalisation has followed the work of the special investigator closely and has several times discussed the proposals for a platform for internationalisation.

In 2019 it undertook a mapping out of national organisations, networks and collaboration initiatives in Sweden that are in some way or another working on internationalisation of higher education, research and innovation issues.

The mapping out is a part of the forum’s work on removing barriers towards internationalisation of higher education and will serve as a background document for the platform now to be established.

The mapping out is based on a survey sent to the 16 members of the forum in 2019 which was answered by 12 of them and was published by the forum in October 2020 (in Swedish) and is one of the background documents for the proposal to the ministry.

Agneta Bladh, who was the special investigator for internationalisation working out the investigation for the government in 2018, told University World News: “It is positive that the Swedish government gradually is taking up proposals from the internationalisation review from 2018. The platform was one of several suggestions.

“The challenge with this platform compared to the earlier forum is that the platform will cover both education and research. I hope the mandate will be more forceful, not just a discussion club.

“It is also a first attempt to find links between the European Research Area and the European Education Area, even though the mandate is broader than Europe for this platform. As in many countries, Sweden has strong separate pillars for education and research.”

Anders Ahlstrand told University World News: “We are looking into questions regarding themes the platform should address as well as the organisation of the platform.”