[Thesis] Anders Fromm Dall: “The Value of Internationalization”


For decades, both sides of the political aisle in Denmark have worked together to internationalize the country’s higher education sector. Danish students have been encouraged to study part of their undergraduate or graduate degree programs abroad, the number of international programs at the institutions of higher learning in Denmark has been growing and great efforts have been put into attracting and retaining highly skilled international students. However, recent years have seen the consensus fade as politicians have prioritized economic and domestic interests over internationalization of education.

Anders Fromm Dall examines this (de)internationalization of Denmark’s higher education sector. As well as analyzing political aspects, Dall also includes the voices of the subject core: the international students themselves. In June 2017, the thesis was submitted and orally defended at the Danish School of Education (DPU), which is a Copenhagen based research institute part of Aarhus University.

The thesis can be accessed here.

Anders Fromm Dall holds a master’s degree in Anthropology of Education and Globalization from Aarhus University (2017) and is also educated as a teacher from VIA University College (2015), including one semester of studies at Texas Christian University. He has throughout his studies been engaged in the question of internationalization and been an agitator on behalf of international students.


Based on a three month long ethnographic fieldwork, Anders Fromm Dall’s thesis explores (1) the internationalization of higher education in Denmark, and (2) how economic and other-than-economic value is perceived and negotiated politically and by five non-European international students studying master’s degree programs at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

By looking at historical and contemporary aspects of the process of internationalizing higher education globally and in Denmark, Dall analyzes how an until recently political consensus as to the positives of internationalization in Denmark has been challenged. From the perspectives of the five international students, Dall further analyze what kind of factors are of influence as they aim to study abroad, what kind of moral and financial obligations they find themselves in while studying, and which aspirations they have for the future.

With Denmark as a developed country admitting and recruiting students from developing countries, Dall also analyze the notion of ‘brain drain’ in order to challenge an overall theory used to explain and understand such a phenomenon. The findings suggest that (1) an economic rationale for internationalization politically has become dominant in Denmark, that (2) economic value and other-than-economic value are intertwined, and (3) that the latter serves as a tool for broadening our understanding of the complex situations international students often are in. Consequently, ‘The Value of Internationalization’ calls for a greater emphasis on the other-than-economic value of internationalization and international students in Denmark.

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