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 In Focus

STINT Internationalisation Index 2016

Published 2016-10-17

STINT has developed a tool to measure how international a higher education institution is. This STINT Internationalisation Index comprises six aspects of internationalisation. The results indicate large differences between the institutions in Sweden. There are clear motives for all actors in the higher education and research system to intensify the work with internationalisation.

Internationalisation is an important tool in the development of Swedish higher education institutions (HEIs). The HEI’s strategies and visions confirm the importance of internationalisation. Most of the them emphasize the role of internationalisation in line with the quote from “Vision 2020” from University of Gothenburg:

“Our goal is that the education at the University of Gothenburg is characterised by high scientific and artistic quality, with pedagogic excellence and a pronounced international profile.”

STINT has investigated how international 28 Swedish HEIs are. With this internationalisation index, STINT offers a novel opportunity to measure in a relatively comprehensive manner how international a HEI is. Data comes from established sources such as Statistics Sweden, the Swedish Higher Education Authority and Elsevier. Six aspects of internationalisation have been studied:
•    Research collaborations using international co-publications
•    Student mobility in and out
•    International PhD students
•    Educational offer in English
•    Staff’s international academic experiences
•    Leadership’s international academic experiences.

Overall the Stockholm School of Economics gets the highest value and scores five stars in STINT Internationalisation Index. Also other HEIs with a clear scientific profile such as KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Chalmers University of Technology score high and some of the comprehensive HEIs are not far behind. The younger and smaller HEIs are on the other hand often considerably less internationalised.


In year 2011 the HEIs were more or less as international as in 2014. In a global perspective the academy becomes rapidly more international and this must be reflected in this index with an increasing number of stars, otherwise the Swedish HEIs fall behind.

Student mobility increased during a long period until the tuition reform in 2011, which caused a dramatic decrease in the figures. The HEIs are now working to improve their attractiveness abroad. Similarly, the share of international PhD students has increased during several years but there is a risk that the decreased numbers of international students will influence these figures.


All large HEIs have four or five stars in research. There is a clear positive correlation between international co-publications and the impact that the research has. Not least for this reason, it is important to develop international research collaborations. International collaboration is a natural part in several scientific disciplines but not all. In a small country such as Sweden, international research collaboration is often decisive to reach success, in the more and more specialised research fields as well as when trying to address global challenges such as climate change.

Student mobility appears partly to depend on the scientific profile of the HEI and whether it is located in a large city or not. However, there are exceptions in both directions, which indicate that it is definitively possible to influence the development. Unsurprisingly there is correlation between how much education that is available in English and the share of internationally mobile students.

Technological HEIs have large shares of international PhD students. Among the large comprehensive HEIs the number of stars varies from two to four and there are obviously different levels of ambitions when it comes to the recruitment of international PhD students.

Chalmers University of Technology and Karolinska Institutet have staff with most international experience. It means that these HEIs have employees that have done research abroad and potentially also have a PhD exam from abroad. International recruitment to enhance the competence and establish new networks is an important means to develop the institutions. Similarly, Swedish researchers and lecturers should have first-hand experience from academic activities abroad. Staff with international experiences also contribute with international perspectives to education, research and administration.

The same indicator but exclusively for the top management, i.e. the vice-chancellor and the pro vice-chancellor, shows that Jönköping University is the only HEI with extensive international experience in the management. Since 2009, it is allowed to employ vice-chancellors without Swedish citizenship and this has also happened, but then at HEIs that are too small to be part of this study.

Internationalisation is a mix of several aspects. They influence each other and it is important to understand the total picture, not least as the establishment of international relations often takes a long time.

All in all, the results of STINT Internationalisation Index indicate important differences among the HEIs. As internationalisation of higher education and research is a key tool to develop the activities, all actors in the system for higher education and research, among them the HEIs themselves, the funding agencies, the public administrations including the Ministry of Education and Research, consider how to support internationalisation effectively. In next year’s index, STINT would like to see more stars.

Methodology (pdf)

For details, please contact Hans Pohl, Programme Director,, +46 8 671 1995.

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The seminar March 7th facilitates the sharing of experiences when it comes to strategic international-isation. All people involved in such internationalization are welcome. 

STINT & RJ launch: Sweden-Japan 150 Anniversary Grants

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STINT invests 10 MSEK in four strategic internationalisation projects

STINT’s board has decided to invest 10 000 000 SEK in four projects within the Strategic Grants for Internationalisation programme for the time period 2017–2020.

Sweden has three international universities in the top category

STINT Internationalisation Index indicates how international the universities in Sweden are. This year three universities are in the top category of internationalisation. Last year´s prize winner Stockholm School of Economics is now accompanied by Chalmers and KTH.