Background/Context: Internationalization has moved from the periphery to the core of many universities’ policies, mission statements, and strategic plans. In contrast to earlier paradigms of internationalization, the current period is significantly shaped by the global dominance of capitalism, the rise of the audit and accountability culture, and states’ retreat from funding of public services and goods, including higher education.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine how the practice and policy of internationalization evolved in the specific context of a South African university from 1996 to 2006.
Setting: The research took place in the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) at the University of Cape Town in 2006.
Research Design: This research is an instrumental case study of IAPO at the University of Cape Town in 2006.
Data Collection and Analysis: The analysis present in this article is based on three major sources of data. First, I examined documents produced by IAPO from 1996 (the founding of the office) to 2006, including reports, strategic plans, operational plans, goals and objectives, financial reports, all publicity material, and the draft of the internationalization plan. Second, I analyzed documents produced by the University of Cape Town during this same time period, including mission statements, annual reports, documents related to the transformation process, and the university’s 2006 policy on internationalization. Third, I interviewed all key personnel (9 individuals) in IAPO in March 2006.
Conclusions/Recommendations: I identify three areas that are the focus of the major concerns and tensions regarding internationalization in the first 10 years of the office: study abroad, international full-degree students, and relationships with Africa and the rest of the world. I argue that the lack of a formal institutional policy on internationalization allowed for considerable individual and organizational agency in these areas. While the adoption of a formal policy in 2006 may hinder and channel internationalization policy, IAPO’s practices have transformed the everyday life of the University of Cape Town, though some of the outcomes have been unanticipated.