International higher education and cross-border connections: Evidence from Asia

Yuyang KANG, Weiyan XIONG, Lili YANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


The rapid increase in international mobility in higher education has sparked considerable interest in the intersection between international higher education (IHE) and cross-border connections. Previous studies primarily center around the embedded national interests of IHE and suggest that IHE can strengthen the linkage between home and host countries through cultural diplomacy and enhance the host country’s soft power. What is neglected includes the agency and reciprocity of non-state agents in IHE. The mechanism between individual mobility and cross-border connection remains unclear. By focusing on the non-state agents in IHE, this paper underlines the importance of multi-lateral communication and collaboration in IHE. It highlights global connectedness and the potential of IHE in promoting reciprocal cross-border cooperation and addressing pressing global issues. Through this lens, this paper investigates an IHE leadership program in Asia, with the objective of revealing how IHE may contribute to institutional development and cross-border collaboration. Based on qualitative data collected from various agents of the program, the paper finds that individual IHE will not automatically lead to institutional connections, but with careful design and governance, international mobility programs are well placed to facilitate cross-border communication and contribute to the development of institutional collaborations. It particularly highlights the important roles played by “other” agents in addition to the host and home institutions of the program participants. Copyright © 2024 International Association of Universities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education Policy
Early online dateJun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 2024


Kang, Y., Xiong, W., & Yang, L. (2024). International higher education and cross-border connections: Evidence from Asia. Higher Education Policy. Advance online publication.


  • International collaboration
  • International higher education
  • Cross-border mobility
  • Asia


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