Faculty Experiences of Higher Education Internationalization in Post-conflict Iraq and Tajikistan





post-conflict, higher education, internationalization, education reform, Iraq, Tajikistan


As Iraq and Tajikistan recover from the impact of conflict and international isolation, spaces are being created for higher education to internationalize by opening up and (re)connecting with the international academic community. Drawing on 25 field-based interviews, this article examines how academics in these two countries interpret these processes of higher education internationalization. Four main themes emerged: bridging the gap created by conflict, reconnecting with the world, importing prestige, and integrating into the international academic community. Most respondents viewed internationalization processes positively even while recognizing that national political and economic factors are constraining how these processes develop.


Download data is not yet available.


Achrorova, S. D. (2007). Republic of Tajikistan. In O. Kubar (Ed.), Ethical Review of Biomedical Research in the CIS Countries (Social and Cultural Aspects) (pp. 283–301). UNESCO.

Ahmad, P. R. (2014). The internationalization of higher education in niversity of Raparin “Kurdistan Region-Iraq.” International Journal of Education and Research, 2(8), 35–44. https://www.ijern.com/journal/2014/August-2014/05.pdf

Al-Husseini, S., & Elbeltagi, I. (2016). Transformational leadership and innovation: A comparison study between Iraq’s public and private higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 41(1), 159–181. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.927848

Al-Iraqia University. (2018, July). Al Eisaa yadeu aljamieat wal maeahid albritania illa fath furue laha fi Al Iraq [Al-Issa calls on British universities and institutes to open branches in Iraq]. https://www.aliraqia.edu.iq/main/view/7601

Altbach, P., & de Wit, H. (2018). The challenge to higher education internationalisation. University World News. http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20180220091648602

Asia-Plus. (2013, May 30). Komu svetit “Durakhshandagon”? Voprosi obucheniya za rubezhom [Who gets the “Durakhshandagon” scholarship? On studying abroad]. Asia-Plus. http://www.news.tj/ru/node/147034

Babyesiza, A. (2012). Higher education reform during and after armed conflict. In M. Vukasović, P. Maassen, M. Nerland, B. Stensaker, R. Pinheiro, & A. Vabø (Eds.), Effects of Higher Education Reforms: Change Dynamics (pp. 121–135). Sense Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-016-3_7

Barclay, A. (2002). The political economy of brain drain at institutions of higher learning in conflict countries: Case of the University of Liberia. African Issues, 30(1), 42–46. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1548450500006296

Buckner, E. (2019). The internationalization of higher education: National interpretations of a global model. Comparative Education Review, 63(3), 315–336. https://doi.org/10.1086/703794

Capoccia, G., & Kelemen, R. D. (2007). The study of critical junctures: Theory, narrative, and counterfactuals in historical institutionalism. World Politics, 59(3), 341–369. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0043887100020852

Chankseliani, M. (2018). The politics of student mobility: Links between outbound student flows and the democratic development of post-Soviet Eurasia. International Journal of Educational Development, 62, 281–288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2018.07.006

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Pearson.

Crossley, M. (2010). Context matters in educational research and international development: Learning from the small states experience. PROSPECTS, 40(4), 421–429. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-010-9172-4

De Wit, H. (2002). Internationalisation of higher education in the United States of America and Europe: A historical, comparative, and conceptual analysis. Greenwood Press.

De Wit, H., Gacel-Avila, J., Jones, E., & Jooste, N. (Eds.). (2017). The globalization of internationalization: Emerging voices and perspectives [Electronic resource]. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2011). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7664221). SAGE Publications.

DeYoung, A. J., Kataeva, Z., & Jonbekova, D. (2018). Higher education in Tajikistan: Institutional landscape and key policy developments. In J. Huisman, A. Smolentseva, & I. D. Froumin (Eds.), 25 Years of Transformations of Higher Education Systems in Post-Soviet Countries: Reform and Continuity (pp. 363–385). Palgrave Macmillan.

Forrat, N. V. (2009). Problema kachestva vyshego obrazovaniya: Mirovie vysozvi i ikh rossisskie transformatsii [The issue of quality in higher education: Global challenges and their Russian transformations]. Educational Studies Moscow, 2, 121–138.

Fram, S. (2013). The constant comparative analysis method outside of grounded theory. The Qualitative Report, 18(1), 1–25. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol18/iss1/1/

Frame, J. D., & Carpenter, M. P. (1979). International research collaboration. Social Studies of Science, 9, 481–487. https://doi.org/10.1177/030631277900900405

Frankopan, P. (2015). The Silk Roads: A new history of the world. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Aldine de Gruyter.

Government of Iraq. (2012). Al’iistratijiat alwataniat liltaelim waltaelim Al a’ali fi Al Iraq—Al markaz wa Al iqlim Kurdistan li al sanawat (2011—2020) (Molakhas Tanfithi). [The National Strategy for Education and Higher Education in Iraq—The Centre and the Kurdistan Region for years (2011—2020) (Executive Summary)].

Government of Tajikistan. (2012). Natsionalnaya strategiya razvitiya obrazovaniya Respubliki Tajikistana do 2020 goda [National strategy of education development of the Republic of Tajikistan till 2020] (Approved by Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan June 30, 2012, №334).

Harb, I. (2008). Higher education and the future of Iraq (Special Report No. 195). United States Institute for Peace.

Hartmann, E. (2008). Bologna goes global: A new imperialism in the making? Globalisation, Societies and Education, 6(3), 207–220. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767720802343308

Hasanova, M. (2009, January 20). Government endorses establishment of center for international programs. Asia-Plus.


Hausner, J., Jessop, B., & Nielsen, K. (Eds.). (1995). Strategic choice and path-dependency in post-socialism: Institutional dynamics in the transformation process. Edward Elgar.

Heleta, S. (2017). Higher education and its international dimensions in post-conflict settings. In H. de Wit, J. Gacel-Avila, E. Jones, & N. Jooste (Eds.), The globalization of internationalization: Emerging voices and perspectives (pp. 40–49). Routledge.

IDP Working Group. (2008). Internally displaced persons in Iraq—Update. http://www.unhcr.org/491956e32.pdf

Johnson, A. T. (2013). University agency in peacebuilding: Perspectives on conflict and development in Kenya. Prospects, 43(3), 329–345. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-013-9276-8

Johnson, A. T., & Hoba, P. (2015). Rebuilding higher education institutions in post-conflict contexts: Policy networks, process, perceptions, & patterns. International Journal of Educational Development, 43, 118–125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2015.05.007

Kehm, B. M. (2005). The contribution of international student mobility to human development and global understanding. US-China Education Review, 2(1), 18–24. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED494512.pdf

Khater, M. (2015). Internationalization of education: An entrance to achieving competitive advantage. Education and Psychological Studies, Journal of Faculty of Education- Zagazig., 87(1), 223–278.

Knight, J. (2004). Internationalization remodeled: Definition, approaches, and rationales. Journal of Studies in International Education, 8(1), 5–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315303260832

Knight, J. (2007). Internationalization: Concepts, complexities and challenges. In J. J. F. Forest & P. G. Altbach (Eds.), International handbook of higher education (pp. 207–227). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4012-2_11

Knight, J., & Lee, J. (2012). International joint, double, and consecutive degree programs: New development, issues, and challenges. In D. Deardorff K., H. de Wit, J. D. Heyl, & T. Adams, The SAGE handbook of international higher education (pp. 343–359). SAGE Publications.

Krasheninnikov, A. A., & Nechaev, N. N. (1990). Universities as centres of culture: An historical approach to higher education in Central Asia. Higher Education in Europe, 15(3), 54–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/0379772900150308

Maringe, F., Foskett, N., & Woodfield, S. (2013). Emerging internationalisation models in an uneven global terrain: Findings from a global survey. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 43(1), 9–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2013.746548

Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. Jossey-Bass.

Merrill, M. C. (2011). Internationalizing higher education in Central Asia: Definitions, rationales, scope and choices. In I. Silova (Ed.), Globalization on the margins: Education and postsocialist transformations in Central Asia (pp. 145–169). Information Age Publications.

Merrill, M. C. (2020). Internationalization of higher education in Central Asia: Implications beyond the intended. In I. Silova & S. Niyozov (Eds.), Globalization on the margins: Education and post-socialist transformations in Central Asia (pp. 15–40). Information Age Publications.

MHESR. (n.d.). Albarnamaj Alhukumiu Liwizarat Altaelim Aleali [The Government Program of the Ministry of Higher Education]. http://mohesr.gov.iq/ar/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D9%8A-%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7/

Miller, J., & Glassner, B. (2004). The “inside” and the “outside”: Finding realities in interviews. In David Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (2nd ed, pp. 125–139). SAGE Publications.

Miller‐Idriss, C., & Hanauer, E. (2011). Transnational higher education: Offshore campuses in the Middle East. Comparative Education, 47(2), 181–207. https://doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2011.553935

Milton, S. (2018). Higher education and post-conflict recovery. Palgrave Macmillan.

Milton, S. (2019). Syrian higher education during conflict: Survival, protection, and regime security. International Journal of Educational Development, 64, 38–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2018.11.003

Milton, S., & Barakat, S. (2016). Higher education as the catalyst of recovery in conflict-affected societies. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 14(3), 403–421. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2015.1127749

Ministry of Education, Republic of Tajikistan, OSI Tajikistan, & Education Reform Support Unit “Pulse.” (2005). Perspectives of the development of higher education system in the Republic of Tajikistan. Draft.

Mohamed, B. K. (2012). Internationalization modules of the higher education system in Iraq. Journal of International Education Research, 8(3), 245–254. https://doi.org/10.19030/jier.v8i3.7106

Novelli, M., & Lopes Cardozo, M. T. A. (2008). Conflict, education and the global south: New critical directions. International Journal of Educational Development, 28(4), 473–488. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2008.01.004

O’Connor, M., Netting, F., & Thomas, M. (2008). Grounded theory: Managing the challenge for those facing Institutional Review Board oversight. Qualitative Inquiry, 14, 28–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800407308907

Olimov, M. (2016). Civil war in Tajikistan. Himalayan and Central Asian Studies; New Delhi, 20(2/3), 44–57. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1829445658

Palmer, J. D., & Cho, Y. H. (2012). South Korean higher education internationalization policies: Perceptions and experiences. Asia Pacific Education Review, 13(3), 387–401. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-012-9204-2

Pettersson, T., Högbladh, S., & Öberg, M. (2019). Organized violence, 1989–2018 and peace agreements. Journal of Peace Research, 56(4), 589–603. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343319856046

Rahmonova-Schwarz, D. (2010). Migrations during the Soviet period and in the early years of USSR’s dissolution: A focus on Central Asia. Revue Européenne Des Migrations Internationales, 26(vol. 26-n°3), 9–30. https://doi.org/10.4000/remi.5196

Sabzalieva, E. (2020). Negotiating international research collaborations in Tajikistan. Journal of Studies in International Education, 24(1), 97–112. https://doi.org/doi.org/10.1177/1028315319889345

Sabzalieva, E. (2022). From policy design to lived experiences: Developing university research capacity in Tajikistan since 1991. In M. Chankseliani & I. Fedyukin (Eds.), University research capacity in post-Soviet Eurasia. Palgrave Macmillan.

Samoff, J., & Carrol, B. (2004). The promise of partnership and continuities of dependence: External support to higher education in Africa. African Studies Review, 47(1), 67–199. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0002020600027001

Shemyakina, O. (2011). The effect of armed conflict on accumulation of schooling: Results from Tajikistan. Journal of Development Economics, 95(2), 186–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2010.05.002

Soltys, D. (2015). Similarities, divergence, and incapacity in the Bologna Process reform implementation by the former-socialist countries: The self-defeat of state regulations. Comparative Education, 51(2), 179–195. https://doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2014.957908

Steinmo, S. (2008). What is historical institutionalism? In D. D. Porta & M. Keating (Eds.), Approaches and methodologies in the social sciences: A pluralist perspective (pp. 150–178). Cambridge University Press.

Wang, Y., Sung, M. C., & Vong, K. I. (2019). The foreign moon is fuller: Chinese academics’ perception of internationalisation. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 50(6), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2019.1572494

Welch, A. (2012). Seek knowledge throughout the world? Mobility in Islamic higher education. Research in Comparative and International Education, 7(1), 70–80. https://doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2012.7.1.70

Whitsel, C. M. (2009). Family resources, sitting at home and democratic choice: Investigating determinants of educational attainment in post-Soviet Tajikistan. Central Asian Survey, 28(1), 29–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634930902771516

Xie, M. (2018). Living with internationalization: The changing face of the academic life of Chinese social scientists. Higher Education, 75(3), 381–397. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-017-0145-x

Zapp, M., & Ramirez, F. O. (2019). Beyond internationalisation and isomorphism – The construction of a global higher education regime. Comparative Education, 55(4), 473–493. https://doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2019.1638103



How to Cite

Jafar, H., & Sabzalieva, E. . (2022). Faculty Experiences of Higher Education Internationalization in Post-conflict Iraq and Tajikistan. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 14(2). https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v14i2.3453



Empirical Article