DOI: 10.1111/hequ.12481 ISSN: 0951-5224

World‐class universities cut off from the West: Russian higher education and the reversal of the internationalisation norm?

Anne Crowley‐Vigneau, Yelena Kalyuzhnova, Andrey Baykov
  • Education


The Western‐style internationalisation of Russian universities, which guided the evolution of the country's higher education sector for over three decades, has been challenged by Western sanctions following the 2022 Russian ‘Special military operation in Ukraine’. The authors show through the prism of constructivist theory how the norm on the internationalisation of higher education characterised by the strive for Westernised world‐class universities was adopted and then came to unravel in Russia. A qualitative case study based on 42 expert interviews and an analysis of political discourse and legal documents reveals how the key features of the internationalisation of Russian universities are being challenged. The authors contribute to the expert literature the notion of ‘norm reversal’, defined as the process whereby an institutionalised and internalised international norm is ‘cancelled’ in a specific country. The paper shows that the reversal in Russian higher education, which was initially ‘circumstantial’ is becoming ‘intentional’, with legal documents being drawn up to accelerate and claim ownership of it.

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