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International students and the neoliberal marketplace of higher education: the lived experiences of graduate students from sub-Saharan countries in Africa of a U.S. university’s internationalization policy


Prior to the pandemic, approxiately 42,000 students from countries in sub-Saharan countries in Africa enrolled in U.S. universities (IIE 2021). Despite this strong and growing presence, little research exists focusing on their experiences of education in the U.S. Through a small-scale study of the experiences of graduate students from sub-Saharan African countries, we see evidence of material and discursive representations of race that produce material inequalities that are then used to legitimize racial formations. We couple these experiences to the background of campus internationalization policies and the university’s responses to argue that the policies reproduce and reinforce cultural and social racism that positions white Americans as the norm and unproblematically contributes to Western supremacist positionality in the academy and beyond for economic benefit. In this paper, we demonstrate ways in which the implementation of campus internationalization programs is part of the larger discourse of racism on both the national and international arenas, perpetuating white superiority and implementing policies that reproduce the inequities that reify and legitimize neoracism.

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  1. Some possibilities might include making available private spaces with computers to facilitate video calls; stable and accessible family housing policies; equitable access to child care facilities, etcetera.

  2. In June 2020, during pandemic lockdown and while evictions were banned by the State government, graduate student family housing was closed by the university. This has been devastating for international graduate students who were the majority of the resident families and least positioned to qualify for private housing.


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Funding was provided by the University of Massachusetts College of Education.

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Correspondence to Jacqueline Mosselson.

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Changamire, N., Mwangi, C.A.G. & Mosselson, J. International students and the neoliberal marketplace of higher education: the lived experiences of graduate students from sub-Saharan countries in Africa of a U.S. university’s internationalization policy. High Educ 84, 505–521 (2022).

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  • International education
  • Educational mobility
  • Sub-Sahara Africa
  • Internationalization
  • Globalization
  • Neoliberal