Ever since the foundation of modern university internationalization has been a natural part of it (Enders, 2004). However, two movements in the history had resulted evolution of the meaning internationalization from its pure meaning during the medieval university into new meaning during postmodern times. The first movement was the rise of globalization. As a result of this movement international transportation and communication advanced to a great extent. The second was the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the rise of neo-liberal movements in higher education. As a result of this movement, particularly after the 1980s, intentional policies towards internationalization have been a top policy issue on the agenda of government and individual higher education organizations. In the new era, both countries and higher education organizations are concerned with realizing every rationale of internationalization in higher education.
Rationales of higher education internationalization were first expressed by Knight (1999). Knight (2006) defined rationales as the basic motivation why a country or an individual higher education institution internationalize its teaching, research and services. A similar definition was advanced by De Wit (2000) as well. Knight (1999) differentiated between political, social, cultural, and economic rationales. Although the framework advanced by Knight (1999) has been commonly used in the literature, these rationales work for country or institutional level rather than individual level.
Study abroad, one version of internationalization, has been commonly accepted as a form of internationalization which benefits the individual student as well. Study abroad in most cases means high reputation, better degree and better jobs at home country. Beyond material returns, internationalization may have a drastic impact on identity construction of the student. Particularly the students coming from a countries-in-transition the study destination functions as a determining factor in identity construction of the individuals. In other words, students do not only develop academic knowledge and skills but also experience cultural, social, economic and political practices of host country. When they return back to home country they tend to maintain the identity formed during study abroad.
Based on this discussion, the purpose of this study was to problematize the relationship between study abroad and identity formation among young academics Azerbaijan. The study aimed at answering the question of how the destination of study abroad impacted their professional identity, worldview, political (e.g. democracy and individual rights) and societal values, and individual daily routines and choices (e.g., dressing, taste). It mainly focuses on how study abroad contributes individual’s self and professional identity; how country of education informs the perceptions about the world; and how study abroad shapes changing and often conflicting worldviews. It is argued that the milieu where the study abroad takes place; the interactions and processes of socialization abroad results in having different worldviews, values, priorities and sensibilities.
De Wit, H. (2000). Changing rationales for the internationalization of higher education. In De Wit (Ed.), Internationalization of higher education: An institutional Perspective. Bucharest, Romania: UNESCO/CEPES. Enders, J. (2004). Higher education, internationalization and the nation state: recent developments and challenges to governance theory, Higher Education, 47, 361-382. Knight, J. (1999). Internationalization of higher education. In Knight,J. & De Wit, H. (Eds.) Quality and Internationalization in Higher Education. Paris: OECD
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