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Keywords:

  • internationalization of higher education;
  • ethics of internationalisation;
  • metaphysics of presence;
  • Jacques Derrida;
  • hospitality;
  • self presence;
  • being late

Abstract

While the concept of internationalization plays a key role in contemporary discussions on the activities and outcomes sought by universities, it is commonly argued that it is poorly understood or realised in practice. This has led some to argue that more work is needed to define the dimensions of the concept, or even to plot out stages of its achievement. This paper aims not to provide a definition of internationalisation for those working in higher education. On the contrary, it seeks to open up discussion on internationalisation by considering Derrida's reflections on hospitality and the metaphysics of presence. In so doing, it will be shown that internationalisation is an ethical demand that is as much about being unsettled by thinking about ourselves and others, as it is about mobility programs and online education, and about being ‘late’ rather than surrendering to the space-time compression of modernity.