International students and Ukrainian universities: Dilemmas of agency and change


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This paper examines the agency of international students in the context of university transformations in post-Soviet Ukraine. Conflict-driven political, social and economic changes in the country have laid the groundwork for the redesign of institutional policies related to the internationalization of Ukraine’s higher education. However, it is not clear to what extent local universities have managed to engage the creative power and agency of international students in these transformations. By examining how international students’ agency is constructed at 12 public universities, and triangulating comparative findings with data from the Ukrainian State Centre for International Education at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, and from publicly available sources including social media, this study delves into the complexities of student agency development in the postcolonial discourses at Ukrainian universities. On a theoretical level, this paper enriches the knowledge base on tensions between institutional and human agencies in international higher learning. Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-558
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number2
Early online dateNov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Oleksiyenko, A. V., & Shchepetylnykova, I. (2023). International students and Ukrainian universities: Dilemmas of agency and change. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 32(2), 531-558.


  • International students
  • Agency
  • Transforming systems of higher education
  • Post-Soviet Ukraine


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