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Revista Internacional de Educação Superior

versão On-line ISSN 2446-9424

Rev. Int. Educ. Super. vol.8  Campinas  2022  Epub 12-Ago-2022 


The Internationalization of Higher Education From the South-South Perspective: Emerging Processes and Contexts During the Pandemic*

Marilene Gabriel Dalla Corte1 
lattes: 1554366181630485;

Marilia Costa Morosini2

Vera Lucia Felicetti3

1Centro Universitário Cesmac

2Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul

3Universidade La Salle


We analyze emerging processes and contexts related to the internationalization of Higher Education from the South-South perspective during the pandemic, with a focus on internationalization at home (IaH) and students. Our qualitative research methodology is exploratory-interpretative in nature, with the application of online questionnaires to Graduate Programs (GP) from the Southern region of Brazil. The analysis addresses the connections of Graduate Programs regarding IaH and South-South internationalization processes after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. We also aimed to map the [re]connections of international relations and academic cooperation that are occurring between countries and Higher Education Institutions in the Global South. These [re]connections can be made based on joint and horizontal or commercial processes of internationalization, considering potential new emerging contexts in Higher Education.

KEYWORDS: Higher education; Internationalization at home; Emerging contexts; Covid-19 pandemic; Students


Prioriza-se analisar movimentos e contextos emergentes relacionados à internacionalização da Educação Superior na perspectiva sul-sul em tempos pandêmicos, com atenção a internacionalização em casa (IaH) e aos estudantes. A metodologia de pesquisa, natureza qualitativa, constitui-se exploratória-interpretativa com aplicação de questionários on-line à coordenadores de Programas de Pós-graduação (PPGs) da região Sul do Brasil. A análise aborda a articulação de Programas de Pós-graduação quanto a IaH e movimentos de internacionalização sul-sul realizados a partir da pandemia Covid-19. Também, busca-se mapear quais [re]articulações das relações internacionais e de cooperação acadêmica que estão sendo realizadas entre países e Instituições de Educação Superior do global Sul. Tais [re]articulações podem se constituir a partir de movimentos de internacionalização solidária e horizontal ou mercantilista, considerando possíveis novos contextos emergentes na Educação Superior.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE: Educação superior; Internacionalização em casa; Contextos emergentes; Pandemia Covid-19; Estudantes


Se da prioridad al análisis de los movimientos y contextos emergentes relacionados con la internacionalización de la Educación Superior en la perspectiva sur-sur en tiempos de pandemia, con atención a la internacionalización en el hogar (IaH) y los estudiantes. La metodología de investigación, de naturaleza cualitativa, se constituye exploratoria-interpretativa con la aplicación de cuestionarios en línea a coordinadores de Programas de Posgrado (PPGs) en la región sur de Brasil. El análisis aborda la articulación de los Posgrados sobre IaH y los movimientos de internacionalización sur-sur realizados desde la pandemia Covid-19. Asimismo, busca mapear qué [re] articulaciones de las relaciones internacionales y la cooperación académica están siendo que se realizan entre países e Instituciones de Educación Superior del Sur global, que pueden [re] articularse a partir de movimientos de solidaridad e internacionalización horizontal o mercantilista, considerando posibles nuevos contextos emergentes en la Educación Superior.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Educación superior; Internacionalización en casa; Contextos emergentes; Pandemia Covid-19; Estudiantes

Initial Considerations

Higher Education, and its axis of internationalization, is characterized as a field that has movement among its constituents. This statement is confirmed when we identify the growing importance that internationalization has been acquiring for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) since the end of the last century. It becomes a criterion of quality and, therefore, is sought and evaluated not only by international metrics, but also by perspectives, both national and institutional, that copy, remodel or are inspired by global standards. However, they often do not realize that there are other possibilities for internationalization.

For a long time, only the standards of the developed countries dominated this field, thinking about indicators for territories marked by secular institutions, as well as by a significant promotion of knowledge production in these institutions. In a synthetic way, we can classify them as members of the global north, understood as the developed countries. It is important to emphasize that this concept is not simply a geographical matter - and that even in these developed spaces there may be pockets of poverty. Along with this reality, we have a set of other countries that reflect sharp social and economic inequalities, and that, historically, are called the global south. As a rule, these countries reflect emerging contexts, understood as configurations under construction in Higher Education, observed in contemporary societies and coexisting with pre-existing tensions and conceptions, reflecting historical trends. They are contexts with a marked social ethos (MOROSINI, 2014) and for a long period kept invisible. In other words, the university institutions present there were thought, almost exclusively, in patterns inspired by the global North.

With the pandemic health crisis, resulting from Covid-19, which devastated the world in 2020, these differences become clearer and start to coexist and clearly tense what was latent until then. Such a posture is intertwined with the writings of Boaventura when he declares the presence of a new conception of contemporaneity:

[...] it is a holistic vision without being unitary, diverse without being chaotic, which generally points to the co-presence of the antinomic and the contradictory, the beautiful and the monstrous, the desired and the undesired, the immanent and the transcendent, the threatening and the auspicious, fear and hope, the individual and the community, the different and the indifferent, and the constant struggle to find new correlations of strength between the different components of the whole. (SANTOS, 2020, p. 36-37)

Reiterating the previous finding, we identified that theoretical positions are substantiated differently when considering the perspective of the local (MOROSINI; DALLA CORTE; GUILHERME, 2017). This is the object of reflection in the present scientific production, which prioritizes analyzing emerging movements and contexts related to the internationalization of Higher Education from the perspective of the global south, from the Covid-19 pandemic. We focus, more specifically, on the postgraduate vector, trying to identify the articulation of Postgraduate Programs regarding internationalization and movements of south-south internationalization carried out; and to evaluate the potential for changes resulting from internationalization in Postgraduate Programs as a whole.

In the text we initially construct discussions about the relationship of capitalism and coloniality involving the global north and global south countries, with conceptual aspects involving internationalization movements in Higher Education. Next, we present an overview of the internationalization of Postgraduation in Brazil. Next, we analyze the articulation of Postgraduate Programs regarding internationalization at home and internationalization movements carried out from the Covid-19 pandemic, with a view to emphasizing the perspective of coordinators of Postgraduate Programs in Education from the South Region. We prioritize, throughout the text, to delineate an alternative concept of internationalization at home, made emblematic by the pandemic, as well as to reflect about emerging contexts in this scenario. We conclude the article with final considerations that resume the purposes of this production and present some positions arising from the research.

Methodological Aspects

The methodological procedures adopted for the development of this research comprise a set of concepts and techniques used with the objective of "understanding emerging movements and contexts related to the internationalization of Higher Education from a south-south perspective in pandemic times, with attention to internationalization at home (IaH) and to students".

Qualitative research, of exploratory-interpretative nature, served as a basis for the definition and routing of the theoretical-methodological elements. In this sense, online qualitative research was developed that considers important to use the "[...] internet as a tool, as a source or as a research question. New fields [...] raise research questions concerning ethics and practical problems" (FLICK, 2009, p. 32). Also, the author mentions that: "Qualitative research addresses the analysis of concrete cases in their local and temporal peculiarities, starting from the expressions and activities of people in their local contexts" (FLICK, 2009, p. 37).

To this end, a questionnaire with open questions was applied to 50 coordinators of Postgraduate Programs in Education (PPGs) in the Southern Region (academics and professionals). The first three questions were about the identification of the program, the year it was created and its concept, according to Capes. The other three focused on: 1) What actions does the program develop in terms of internationalization? With which countries? 2) How do you evaluate the potential for change, arising from internationalization, in the PPG as a whole? 3) In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, how did the PPG articulate itself regarding internationalization?

For Stake (2011, p. 111-112), the questionnaire consists of a "[...] set of questions, statements, or scales (on paper, over the phone, or on screen) usually asked in the same way to all respondents" being that "in many qualitative studies, questionnaire items are interpretive items, each of which must be considered separately. In addition, one of the advantages of the questionnaire is that it allows you to reach a larger number of respondents and minimize distances. The questionnaire built for the online version prioritized open questions so that, in its entirety, the characteristics of the PPGs and the coordinators' perceptions as to internationalization could be perceived.

The online survey was carried out using questionnaires with resources available in the Google forms platform and, through this dynamic, time and space restrictions were minimized. It counted with the participation of 26% of the PPG coordinators of the Southern Region (13 respondents) in the process of building the research corpus. The excerpts from the coordinators' responses are indicated by the abbreviations PPG1, PPG2 up to PPG13.

The data analysis procedure, based on Bardin (2011), was articulated from the content analysis considering it as one of the techniques of data treatment in qualitative research, especially when the research corpus stems from techniques of exploratory nature and survey. From a careful look, we seek what is clearly said in the message, what is hidden, and what might appear between the lines, in order to build a better understanding of the theme and context under study.

It is worth mentioning that, for content analysis, Bardin (2011, p. 96) foresees three fundamental phases: pre-analysis, material exploration and treatment of results - inference and interpretation, as follows:

In the first phase, pre-analysis, we begin the organization of the material resulting from the online research, establishing well-defined but flexible procedures, systematizing the initial ideas and building an analysis plan. Next, we set out for the floating reading of the communications, becoming aware of the data "[...] letting ourselves be invaded by impressions and orientations" (BARDIN, 2011, p. 96) and for the choice of the most relevant data. In the case of the questionnaires, they were tabulated and transcribed to form the data corpus of the research empirics.

The data analysis process was developed encompassing several procedures, such as the coding of the answers in which, according to Bardin (2011, p. 101), "[...] the analyst, having at his disposal significant and faithful results, can propose inferences and anticipate interpretations regarding the foreseen objectives, or concerning other unexpected findings".

Next, or at the same time as the analysis, the interpretation of the data was performed, that is, we prioritized establishing a link between the data and the research results, with others already known through references from the thematic area. In this direction, we sought to understand the characteristics, structures or models that were in the set of message fragments, in order to later categorize this communication. Thus, the categories of analysis emerged (Figure 1):

Source: Prepared by the Authors.

Figure 1 Analysis categories 

Based on the analysis categories outlined, we prioritized exploring and analyzing the data constructed by demonstrating the empirical context regarding internationalization in PPGs in the Southern Region of Brazil and reflecting on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic amidst the internationalization processes of post-graduation studies today.

Internationalization at Home and the South-South Perspective

The epistemological aspects that permeate the multiplicity of cultures of the South-South axis countries were historically defined by the hegemonic perspective of Eurocentrism interconnected to capitalism and the coloniality of power. In this direction, Quijano (2005, p. 136) mentions that:

[...] the coloniality of power established on the idea of race must be admitted as a basic factor in the national question and the nation-state. [...] in Latin America the Eurocentric perspective was adopted by the dominant groups as their own and led them to impose the European model of nation-state formation on power structures organized around colonial relations.

It is noticeable that colonialism was anchored in structures of power, domination and political exploitation of labor and economy, creating spaces and behaviors that contributed and contribute to the formation of geo-cultural identities, as in countries colonized by European peoples such as those of Latin America and Africa, among others. This logic, as far as knowledge is concerned, interferes in the organizational culture of institutions and in the underlying aspects of democracy, becoming responsible for [re]producing a cultural and intellectual hegemony that brings, in its core, the idea that there is a colonial center and periphery and considering, therefore, that all and any valid and relevant knowledge originates from the (Eurocentric) center and north.

As periods that surround the discussion about the necessary cooperation between emerging or developing countries, we can point out the end of World War II, as well as the consequent geopolitical reorganization, the international opening, the decolonization processes, the economic crises in Latin America in the 1980s and in Southeast Asia in the 1990s, and the current economic and globalized context (CABANA, 2014). In this context, the countries of the global south began to assume and build solidarity and equitable cooperation devices, with the perspective of transposing the "superiority" of the colonizers regarding the subjugation of local and cultural knowledge, opposing, therefore, the epistemological domination perpetuated in the culture of the peoples of the south (SANTOS and MENESES, 2010).

For Santos (1995, apud SANTOS e MENESES, 2010, p. 42) the global south refers to the "[...] peripheral and semi-peripheral regions and the countries of the modern world system, which were called the Third World after World War II. This concept and correlation with countries located in the global south refers to those domesticated by European colonialism (SANTOS and MENESES, 2010). Therefore, it is not about asymmetric relations between peoples, or geographic criteria, but, above all, about the cultural aspects, conditions and development of the northern and southern nation-states.

South-South cooperation is heralded as a device to overcome the asymmetries caused by the aegis of colonialism and the coloniality of power, which have perpetuated and continue to perpetuate intellectual distance and many inequalities between the peoples of the global south and those of the hegemonic power. In this direction, several actions among nations have emerged, of which the following stand out: a) action and influence of multilateral organizations that began to insert in their agendas the discussions and guidelines for internationalization actions; b) in 2009, with the Accra Action Plan, the debate of experiences regarding horizontal cooperation arises; c) between 2009 and 2013, forums are held, among other events of global connotation, focused on the discussion about South-South cooperation, among them we highlight the Ibsa Dialogue Forum (India/Brazil/South Africa bilateral agenda), in 2005 with the Aspa Process (South America/Arab Countries) and in 2006 with the ASA Process (South America/Africa). These, among other strategies, were aimed at promoting international and inter-regional dialogue, with a view to seeking and strengthening partnerships without European or North American intervention.

With the intentionality of searching for a local and regional identity, as well as facing global economic, political, social, and cultural challenges, among others, the regionalization process has been strengthened with the formation and consolidation of joint and shared work of regional economic blocks, such as the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), the BRICS groups, and the Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP).

Based on the studies of Cunha (2015), we verify the important reflection that the expression "knowledge society" has become a reference for the shared articulation of the agenda of Higher Education in the South-South perspective. Moreover, according to Escrigas and Lobera (2009, p. 8),

A hyper-technical society, which is deficient in human understanding and in the ability to provide decent contexts and conditions for all life on the planet, with equal opportunities for all, needs to rethink a way to create a truly knowledge-based society.

In this logic, the discussions about internationalization and regionalization in Latin America need to be based on the possibilities of transposing the experiences and the negative points of the internationalization processes in the global North and its economic, historical and cultural hegemony that is concerned, above all, with employability and the construction of large companies, leaving aside the humanistic construction and valorization of local culture. Therefore, from the perspective of economic power, the construction of common spaces of knowledge in the south-south context is not only characterized by the idealistic perspective of solidarity actions, but by the necessary constitution of international academic cooperation networks, articulated with the participation of nations from historical contexts that have similar characteristics. Such a perspective may contribute to the approximation of nations and to the definition of strategies to (re)build and spread knowledge and Basic and Higher Education, aiming at cultural, scientific, technological, social, and economic development.

The solidary co-participation in the production of knowledge among national, regional and international institutions may constitute one of the ways to lead the nations of the global south to rethink their position in the world context and, above all, to prioritize their distance from the processes of colonization and coloniality strongly impregnated in their daily lives. One of the movements that has been contributing to find multiple possibilities of expanding and connecting the borders demarcated by historical movements and treaties is the internationalization of Higher Education (in its nuances and interfaces). Under the focus of strategies for the concretion and strengthening of the internationalization process of Higher Education, among other possibilities, we outline two major axes: internationalization abroad or cross border and at home (IaH) or at home.

The main characteristic of "abroad or cross border internationalization" is the academic experience abroad, in/out movements, where the Higher Education Institution prioritizes its projection in the world through the academic mobility of students, faculty and staff. It is, therefore, a period of study abroad as a usual form, and its benefits are centered on the opportunities for interlocution in locus, interculturality, and connections to professional and academic life.

The "internationalization at home (IaH) or at home" is commonly understood as resulting from activities that are related to the international dimension, but without the effectiveness of mobility processes (in/out) to/from abroad. Even when understood in a simplified way, this type of internationalization refers to processes that impact the organizational culture of Higher Education Institutions, especially in the teaching, research and extension processes that involve undergraduate and graduate students. Altbach, Reisberg and Rumbley (2009) understand that IAH refers to strategies that can enhance the international dimension on campus, either through the curriculum or by welcoming international professors and students, for example.

Knight (2008) refers to a broader perception of the original concept, considering that the two axes abroad and at home need to be understood as interdependent rather than independent. For the author, internationalization abroad has significant implications for internationalization at home and vice versa. Mendes (2019) produced a summary, presented in Table 1, that depicts the IaH actions raised by Knight.

Table 1 Axes and actions of IaH internationalization 

Curriculum and Programs • Programs with international themes
• Insertion of international, cultural, global, or comparative dimensions into existing courses
• Foreign language study
• Regional studies
• Double degree and joint degrees
Teaching / learning processes • Active involvement of national and international students
• Virtual mobility of students
• Joint courses and research projects
• Use of international faculty
• Integration of international reference materials and cross-cultural case studies
Extracurricular activities • National and international student clubs and associations
• International and intercultural university events
• Peer support groups and programs
Connection with local cultural/ethnic groups • Involvement of students in local cultural and ethnic organizations through internships and applied research
• Involvement of representatives of local cultural and ethnic groups in teaching/learning activities, research initiatives, extracurricular events and projects
Research and Academic Activity • Thematic Centers
• Joint research projects
• International conferences and seminars
• Networked papers
• International agreements for research
• Integration of visiting researchers and academics in academic activities on campus
Provider Mobility • International HEI with partnership and academic responsibility for program and degree awarding
Movement of people • Exchange of students throughout the semester/year abroad for internship or research programs or full program abroad
• Movement of professors/academics and specialists for teaching and research purposes, technical assistance and consulting, sabbatical leaves, and professional development
Program Offering • Program/course moves to the student (not vice versa)
• Franchise and dual degree delivery models
• Service offerings include educational, or training programs offered by partnership between international / domestic and foreign institutions / providers on an exchange (non-profit) or commercial (for-profit) basis
International projects • Activities such as joint curriculum development
• Benchmarking
• E-learning platforms
• Professional development programs and other capacity building initiatives
• Projects and services performed as part of aid project development

Source: Adapted from Mendes (2019).

Complementing the axes and actions of IaH punctuated by Knight, we find in Bartell (2003) that internationalization at home is a process directed by material conditions, which, to a certain extent, are permeated by conceptual colonialism and by a regionalist perspective, with a view to gradually transforming international relations in a cooperative, dialogic and participatory manner. Using these precepts, and the contributions of the coordinators of PPGs collaborating in the research, we have elaborated possible actions, which are characterized by different ways of thinking and managing internationalization beyond the "abroad" perspective: a) adoption of a curriculum with a regional and international dimension; b) adoption of interdisciplinary perspectives to boost undergraduate and graduate curricula; c) interconnection between national and international HEIs; d) supply of bibliographic references of an international nature and that promote comparative analytical studies; e) expansion of the culture and/or of the knowledge constructed/transmitted beyond the national scope; f) reflections on different ways of thinking about the multiple local and international cultures, with special emphasis on South-South contexts.

It is punctual that IaH internationalization can be interconnected to curricular and extracurricular activities carried out by students and faculty, precisely because IoC is an essential dimension of IaH and occurs through intra and extra-institutional activities, which constitute optimal formative and educational opportunities. Among them we highlight a) dialogical moments and exchange of teaching and learning experiences (intercultural and international) mediated in scientific events, academic weeks, lives, videos, seminars, seminars, panels, round tables, debates, thematic exhibitions, among others; b) clubs, workshops, disciplines, among other strategies for teaching and learning foreign languages; c) voluntary cooperation activities between professors and students in national and international contexts; d) development of research networks and teaching and extension practices, mediated by projects between professors and students in national and international contexts; e) use of technological and digital resources with a view to interlocution and virtual mobility, among others.

The IaH internationalization strategies, mobilized by the IoC activities, are able to contribute to the recognition and understanding by the postgraduate teachers, students and staff of the diversity and multiculturality of the national, regional and international contexts, in order to develop intercultural competences in order to: become active and co-responsible citizens in the globalized world; know how to work in international and intercultural teams; live and produce in multilingual and multicultural societies; develop and exercise intercultural competences necessary in today's society.

Another perspective, is pointed out by Clemente and Author 2 (2021, p. 18) when they present components of the "university tripod" for the development of intercultural competencies (Figure 2):

Source: Clemente and Author 2 (2021, p. 18).

Figure 2 Components for the development of intercultural competence in Higher Education 

It is evident that internationalization is constituted in the relationship and cooperation between countries and their institutions, which provides a process of shared construction of knowledge, know-how and actions permeated by multiple cultures, systems, institutions and productions, and in close relationship with the elements of the university tripod mentioned by the authors (social actors, practices and context). This perspective has repercussions, above all, in diversified opportunities for the insertion and interlocution between subjects (social actors) from and between nations and institutions (context), in the formative processes and management of/in Higher Education, considering the production and exchange of scientific and technological knowledge (practices).

Internationalization in Post-Graduation in Brazil, an Overview

The post-graduation in Brazil has its development starting from the 70's and the internationalization is identified throughout its trajectory. Initially, some faculty members were trained in European and American institutions from the global north. The tendency to consolidate relations with the north and, more recently, including Australia (it is in the south, but behaves like the north) continues. This direction is a result of state policies that determine this focus; such policies for Higher Education in the country are centralized in the central government and the post-graduation policies in the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes), complemented by the research policies of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

Since the beginning of the internationalization policies there has been a predominance of individualized cross-border1 policies centered on the figure of the researcher and the student and towards the North (out mobility). In this direction, we cite as remarkable the Science without Borders Program - CsF (CAPES, 2014), which granted thousands of scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students. In Figure 3 it is possible to see where the largest number of CsF scholarship recipients was concentrated during the period it was in effect:

Source: Science without Borders Program Portal, available at:

Figure 3 Flow of scholars in the Science without Borders Program 

As shown in the program's records and in the map of CsF scholarship recipients (Figure 3), most scholarships were for academic mobility in countries of the global north, especially in the United States and Europe, also confirmed by the answers given by the coordinators participating in this research when they indicate, for the most part, partnership, cooperation and academic mobility actions with countries from the Global North. Among the countries of the global north, mentioned by the coordinators, we highlight Portugal, Spain, Italy, United States, England, France, Germany and Poland.

In 2017, Capes (2017) published research on internationalization in the Brazilian university, based on information from graduate programs and concluded that there are at least two distinct groups of HEIs in Brazil in terms of internationalization with differentiated levels and needs and that the internationalization process is no longer incipient. According to this research, internationalization presented as indicators: visiting professors and foreign post-docs; permanent foreign professors; projects with international cooperation; articles with foreign co-authorship; articles published in journals with Journal. Citation Reports (JCR); classes taught in another language; foreign students enrolled; double degree; students in subjects taught in foreign languages; graduate students with fluency in a foreign language; students with sandwich doctorate and technical staff with fluency in foreign languages (CAPES, 2017, p. 18).

More recently, Capes launched a Capes PrInt edict (CAPES, 2020) that aims at the internationalization of the university institution as a whole and no longer only in the figure of faculty and/or students individually. From a universe of 2,500 Higher Education Institutions, around 100 applied, and only 36 were selected to fulfill the objectives of internationalization of Higher Education in Brazil.

In parallel, assessing the internationalization policy of Brazilian Higher Education Institutions, Author 2 verified the presence of:

[...] internationalization as a criterion of quality; strong presence of the concept of internationalization as face-to-face mobility; lack of policies for the implementation of internationalization at undergraduate and graduate level, restricted to a few institutions and not to the system; a narrow trend towards a model of integral internationalization in the institution towards northern global countries; and the challenge of internationalization as university integration. (MOROSINI, 2020, s/p)

In continuity with the productions that evaluate the process of internationalization of Higher Education in Brazil, and in view of the changes that Covid-19 is bringing, we questioned the coordinators of Postgraduate Programs in the Southern Region of Brazil, how the articulation is happening in the internationalization aspect in pandemic times. Thus, to help answer this question it is important to note that prior to this pandemic, the predominant model of internationalization was the cross-border one - centered on face-to-face mobility. The most usual strategy was that linked to the airplane dream! Students, professors, researchers, technicians, managers, in short, the academic community moving around or receiving people from other institutions or research centers, in person.

Already at that time the models of curriculum internationalization - IoC - and, alternatively, the internationalization at home - IaH - were being proposed. Thus, IoC conceptualized as the incorporation of international, intercultural, and/or global dimensions into curriculum content (LEASK, 2012) and IaH conceptualized as the intentional integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students in home learning environments (BEELEN; JONES, 2015), have been focused on energizing an intercultural and international curriculum based on teaching and learning outcomes, assessment tasks, and program of study support services. Interculturality is important because the university environment brings together groups of different ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic strata, and other constituents.

The IoC model (MOROSINI, 2018) embraces cross-border internationalization (mobility) and internationalization at home. Currently, with borders closed, with most HEIs working online, IaH has become the main form of internationalization in Brazil and worldwide. Thus, mobility has occurred via partnerships and virtual Exchange activities. Classes, seminars, lives, exams, among other activities, with the participation and interlocution of national and international professors and students, in an inter-institutional perspective, via digital platforms among other devices. The internationalization of the plane has gone to the cloud of the web!

Globally, digital connectivity has become a necessity, whether for communication between people in different spaces and social and institutional contexts, or for remote work, based on the need to establish connection and collectivity, as well as meeting social demands and shared production. The Internet has become, therefore, one of the entry and exit doors for the realization of most essential services, such as health platforms, digital transfers and electronic payment systems, online shopping, cultural and educational events and activities, among others. But notably, access to digital infrastructure and connectivity has been one of the limiting factors in emerging economies and/or poorer countries around the world. Although mobile coverage has considerably expanded globally, many contexts, such as Latin American and African countries, still have various difficulties with mobile internet and real-time connectivity. This, among other factors such as low family income, is closely related to access, permanence, and quality of university teaching, research, and extension. For example,

The number of internet users in Brazil in 2019 reached 134 million, or 74% of the population over 10 years old, with 71% of households with access to the network, according to the TIC Domiciles survey by the Internet Management Committee ( Of the 47 million Brazilians who do not use the Internet, most are in urban areas and belong to the classes DE (almost 26 million people). In rural areas, there are nearly 12 million. (BRIGATTO, 2020, s/p)

The temporary interruption of face-to-face activities in HEIs has acted as a major disruptor to their functioning, and it is most likely that there will be a retraction in demand in the short term and an upward recovery in the next academic year. In this logic are the students, among whom in a considerable percentage had interrupted the HEIs' classroom activities, precisely because the pandemic has accelerated the movement of social inequalities and, in the case of Higher Education, during 2020, by mid-September, there were 40% HEIs without remote teaching and 70% of the international students have returned to their countries of origin. Moreover, within the HEIs that offer remote teaching there is the percentage of students who do not have this access from their places of residence, which directly impacts the dropout rates.

Covid-19 presented and induced new realities and limitations to the social contact of and in Higher Education, both in Brazil and worldwide. The pandemic has strengthened the need for society to value education and science, especially when it comes to finding solutions to social problems. In this context, the best universities in the world have mobilized efforts to combat the new coronavirus and to minimize the damage caused, whether it be sanitary and health, economic, political, educational, among others, especially damage that puts the quality of life of people and social coexistence in "jeopardy".

Thus, the pandemic and post-Covid-19 scenario presents itself with new challenges for Higher Education, among which we highlight those directed to graduate studies: actions beyond mobility, using IAH and IoC strategies; strengthening of inter-institutional partnerships, with emphasis on regional ones; construction of an institutional policy of internationalization; constitution of partnerships and strengthening of international collaborative networks involving teaching, research and extension activities; training of faculty, students and technicians in the IAH and IoC perspective; articulation and development of flexible curricula and new assessment formats; creation of twin chairs that enable virtual mobility and shared and intercultural work among teachers and students; establishment of an EaD culture, with support, practices and interculturality; critical reflection about quality versus face-to-face context and virtual context. These actions and transformations, among others, are not trivial, precisely because they may contribute to the construction of a new institutional organizational culture and, in this direction, the joint and collaborative effort between countries from the global north and global south in a perspective of solidarity and valorization of local aspects.

Deepening the institutional perspective of the internationalization of the ES with respect to Covid-19, Author 2 (2020), in a recent participation as a lecturer (June 2020) in the webinar "Acafe of Internationalization - directions of the post-pandemic internationalization", presented institutional strategies based on Iesalc/Unesco guidelines (Figure 4).

Source: MOROSINI (2020).

Figure 4 Institutional Strategies - Covid-19 

These strategies are based on the recognition of the impact of the health crisis on Higher Education and foresee an internationalization plan. In other words, the institutional ceases to be casual and moves towards a perspective of systematic and collaborative administration. The focus is on the teaching function, starting from reflection-action-reflection in face of the possibilities of an intermittent pandemic and the tendency to maintain the virtualization of activities and, with it, the implementation of hybrid teaching-learning.

Internationalization in Postgraduate Programs in Education in Southern Brazil

From the analysis of the answers given to the online questionnaire, it was found that of the 13 post-graduation programs in the South Region of Brazil, participants in the survey, one has grade A because it is newly approved, one has grade 3, seven have grade 4, two with grade 5 and two with grade 6.

The actions developed in the programs are diverse. Some of them are exclusive, such as courses taught in languages other than Portuguese, openings for foreign students, umbrella project in the program focused on internationalization, receiving students through the Post-Graduation Student-Convention Program (PEC-PG), co-supervision and participation in advisory boards. For these last two actions, it is not explained whether they involve the participation of teachers from the program abroad or teachers from abroad in the program. Other actions are repeated in three or more programs, such as agreements, joint publications, sandwich doctorates, co-supervision, research projects, organization and participation in events, seminars, courses, presence of visiting professors and post-doctorates of teachers abroad.

We observe that the greatest diversity of internationalization actions is developed in programs with concepts 5 and 6, reflecting Capes' guidelines that programs assessed as excellence have internationalization as one of their main goals.

Regarding the countries with which the programs have partnerships, agreements, cooperation agreements or other activities, the following were listed Portugal in eight programs; Colombia in seven; Spain, Argentina and Chile in six; Mexico in five; Uruguay and Italy in three, Germany, Cape Verde, England, Cuba, the United States, Nicaragua and France in two programs; and Angola, Venezuela, Guinea Bissau, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica and Poland cited in one program. We found nuances of joint work with countries of the global north and global south, and, in this demand of researched PPGs, there is a predominance of interlocution with Latin American countries and, in a broader vision, with Ibero-America, demonstrating that programs have prioritized the establishment of south-south partnerships.

The internationalization of PPGEdu takes place through international agreements with universities in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Angola, Venezuela, Colombia, Italy, Chile, England, France and Guinea Bissau. The interchanges highlight the visits of research professors, joint scientific production, and joint research projects. Each line of research of the program has specific activities that are widely diversified. [...] In 2020 the program has 1 regular doctoral student from Angola and 2 regular students in the master's degree from Guinea-Bissau. (PPG 1)

[We have exchange activities with the Marta Abreu de Las Villas University (Santa Clara, Cuba) and with UDELAR (Universidad de la República, Uruguay). Also, the PPG established [...] agreement with the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional - Bogotá/Colombia [...]. Currently PPGEA participates in the Alianza de Redes Iberoamericanas de Universidades por la Sustentabilidad y el Ambiente - ARIUSA. Also, as a result of the insertion of scholars through the OAS/FURG agreement we are expanding relations with universities where these researchers come from such as Colombia, Nicaragua and Peru. (PPG 6)

Research projects, joint conferences, networking, courses in foreign languages; co-supervision; inter-institutional agreements. Countries: Portugal, Colombia, Argentina, United States, Italy, Chile, Poland. (PPG 13)

It was observed that regarding IaH, it was pointed out that there is investment in subjects taught in another language, co-supervision and participation in advisory boards, joint publications, and participation in events and seminars. In 2020, with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work has brought distances closer, and the online context portrays actions carried out in a shared manner between research collaborator programs and other foreign programs, especially about the realization of virtual scientific events, lives and webinars, including presentation of papers, as well as qualification boards and master's and doctoral defenses. These activities count on the participation and protagonism of the students, including also the sandwich doctorate.

Regarding the evaluation of the potential for change in internationalization, the answers were divided into two groups. The first one portrays the PPGs thinking and articulating internationalization actions in the long term, since they have regional, national and social insertion as priorities, i.e., such programs have in their planning the strengthening of indicators necessary for the current grade, prospecting a higher grade after consolidating their social function, as can be seen in the excerpts below:

The PPGEdu has made efforts to advance in internationalization since it is concept 5. There is a promising scenario in this sense that materializes both in scientific production in conjunction with universities from the countries listed above, as well as with the possibility of attracting foreign students to the program. (PPG 1)

We still have possibilities for further progress. There is the intention to spread the offer of teaching activities open to foreign students on a regular basis (every semester). There are also plans to strengthen cooperation with foreign institutions, especially in Latin America, and to start offering courses in Spanish or English. The strategic importance of offering inter-institutional masters or doctoral degrees with institutions from the Global South is also understood. (PPG 11)

The expectation for the next period is to deepen these relations, both through post-doctoral internships, research partnerships, productions and events. However, the great challenge is the immersion of foreign teachers/researchers in our PPGE. This is the horizon to be explored. (PPG 5)

Reinforcing the previous statement, the programs with grades 5 and 6 have internationalization as a potential attraction to foreign students, to publications with partners from other countries; they have internationalization as a possibility to interact with different cultures, different thoughts, and build an idea of globalized education.

I consider the actions carried out enriching for both students and teachers. The Program interacts with different cultures, different thoughts and builds an idea of planetary education and not only local education. (PPG 7)

In the second group there is the understanding that internationalization needs to be treated as an institutional policy and not as a private initiative of some professors. In this sense, a coordinator states that "what we have to offer" is more important than "what we can receive. We identify here the need to establish institutional policies with a view to supporting and directing internationalization actions and, consequently, to result in advances in the scientific field and in inter-institutional relations beyond the local scope.

It is also missing that internationalization stops being a private initiative of professors and becomes a policy. (PPG 5)

Actually, we have several agreements and partnerships, but we still don't have an internal internationalization policy. The pandemic this year made meetings and discussions to establish goals and guidelines difficult. We are planning to build and strengthen internationalization in 2021. (PPG 6)

In the answers obtained, in the 13 questionnaires, no data were recorded that directed to the understanding of internationalization as a way of building knowledge capable of sustaining and developing new proposals for teaching and learning or, also, as a possibility of rethinking and/or restructuring educational practices or then, the development of skills such as the formation of academic networks, knowledge of the area of activity or communication (MOROSINI; FELICETTI, 2010). Aspects such as the exchange of cultural and scientific knowledge, among others, need to permeate the internationalization in all its spheres.

Regarding the category of analysis Covid-19 and the internationalization of the PPG, it was found that in times of public health crisis such as the pandemic in 2020, social isolation was imperative to reduce the spread of the virus. To this end, the programs invested in strategies for the maintenance and continuity of doing and living in society, and educational activities began to be developed in a new format.

Work and remote teaching have become necessary and present in the everyday life of university institutions, facing challenges and overcoming them every day. Higher Education has reinvented itself; teachers and students have faced challenges never experienced. Physical distance has led to closeness and its boundaries have been broken down, making room for communication and the development of activities that were once performed only in a face-to-face setting; now in a virtual way, and the social distance has served to bring people closer in other ways.

There have been PPGE-supported initiatives in international events as well as individual participation in events and publications. All this facilitated by the means of remote communication, especially Stream Yard and Google Meet tools. (PPG 5)

We maintained the activities remotely, including an international congress. (PPG 2)

The internationalization activities were carried out remotely, with participation of the Program's teachers in academic activities of partner institutions and vice-versa. (PPG 10)

In this inevitable context of a virtualized world, of the use of technologies in education, Nóvoa (2020) in a videoconference on YouTube highlights that this is the time for education to ally itself to new technologies, as possible means for teaching to reach the student in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in the educational environment. Therefore, it was necessary to

[...] 'yesterday', to dominate, invest, support and use technological tools in the remote classroom model. Technological progress, even if seen as irreversible, was still considered as one of the possibilities to stimulate learning. Today (May 25, 2020) it is the only possibility focused on learning [...]. (NETO, 2020, p. 33)

For the author, there is between the subjects, an operating system that involves interfaces, applications and platforms that make the experiences in education to be supported by technology. The moment we are living demonstrates that rethinking the internationalization in and of the post-graduation is necessary and that the articulation developed by the subjects involved in it, via digital technologies, is undeniably important, but worrisome when used in an exhaustive manner, as portrayed by a research collaborator.

We continue with the process of hiring visitors, whose contracts have already been closed and they are already working in the research lines and in the Program; we organized 'webinar' type seminars within the flexible curriculum with great adherence from faculty and students; approach to possible partners and networks. We focus on the priorities of the internationalization project with the understanding that it is not possible to saturate the faculty and students with lives, for example. The continuous exposure to digital devices and the Internet network has harmful effects when some rules are not respected, such as environment, quality of navigation, exposure time, importance of the online activity, among others. (PPG 9)

The use of technologies, increasingly resulting from the need, made the post-graduation transits through scenarios shy until then, triggering virtual actions not thought of before, such as the realization of "lives", congresses, conferences, seminars, classes with students from different regions, states and countries. We experienced synchronous and asynchronous activities with more than one language in class and in qualification or defense examinations through Zoom, Meet, Team, Skype and other means of dialoguing, working and sharing ideas, regardless of the geographic space in which we are, reducing distances and making us closer. In this sense, all PPGs pointed out the importance of continuing the activities concerning the educational development remotely, and that internationalization proved to be active and fruitful in this new scenario.

The meetings were virtual, with Meet, Zoom... The activities became more democratized. Before the distance a small number of students and professors benefited from the internationalization, however, with the pandemic and the reinvention of PPGEDU's daily activities, more people had the opportunity to participate in the actions. We did not stop any daily routine; they were all remodeled to be developed. (PPG 7)

The context of the pandemic deepened remote training mechanisms via Internet. In this sense, PPGPE teachers followed formative actions planned for 2020, such as: (a) agreement with ULisboa, involving research projects, joint seminars and publications; (b) participations in events, associations and academic forums, mainly with the CPLP; (c) invitations to events, boards and other academic activities (e.g., with a lecturer at the University of Southern California, USA). (PPG 8)

Another noteworthy aspect is that there was a greater participation of foreign students in activities carried out in the programs, as well as the participation of Brazilian students in activities in Graduate Programs from other countries.

It has improved activities with international events, made it possible to hold conferences with international researchers, improved the joint production processes, and makes it possible for foreign students to study in the programs. (PPG 1)

The offer of seminars in remote format has facilitated the participation of foreign students in our activities. It is intended to strengthen this participation. (PPG 6)

Some 'lives' have been held and several groups have maintained their partnership efforts and joint productions. (PPG 12)

Based on the answers and facing the reality experienced in times of pandemic, it became possible to understand that, at this time, regardless of the circumstances, life must go on and the post-graduation has been investing in finding ways to adapt, reinvent itself and why not say "dare" to make use of possibilities previously not experienced or refuted by the limited Cartesian thinking that internationalization is only realized by mobility, by the physical coming and going between countries. Thus, internationalization qualifies a Postgraduate Program, however, it is still insipient in the Brazilian reality, since it needs to advance from the perspective of academic mobility.


The production of scientific and technological knowledge traditionally occurs in universities, more specifically in stricto sensu graduate programs (MOROSINI; FELICETTI, 2010) and associated with this is the internationalization, since it is also through it that knowledge is strengthened, expanded and moves the globalization of science and the economy, deepening the segmentation of knowledge between countries and within countries.

Considering the Covid-19 pandemic, it was found that the virtualization of internationalization in the researched PPGs is considered positive and has been embraced by all to a greater or lesser degree. Another important aspect to be highlighted that the IoC has come closer to the IaH. Let's remember that IoC encompasses IaH and face-to-face international exchanges and, in this sense, complementary actions from IaH perspectives are necessary to disseminate and strengthen internationalization and its benefits to students, teachers, technicians and the institution as a whole.

When the borders were closed and face-to-face mobility was forbidden, the programs turned to virtual mobility. In other words, the curriculum became international and/or regional "at home", contributing to the widening of the knowledge frontiers and to the interlocution process between national and foreign faculty, students and staff, beyond physical mobility. Therefore, a new format of mobility was strengthened: the virtual one.

We can conjecture that, at the end of the pandemic, face-to-face mobility will return, but to a country where face-to-face mobility reaches very few students, supported by scarce national exchange policies or by families. In this sense, mobility and all the underlying virtual actions came to change the current educational context and to direct internationalization to a new level with more supportive, democratic and equitable characteristics. This logic constitutes an emerging context in the perspective of virtualization of the internationalization of Higher Education and, certainly, will become an agenda item in the discussions that trigger the (re)formulation of public policies for this level of education in Brazil.

Considering the effects of Covid-19 on Higher Education, we support the conception that

[...] the transformations that take place in the context of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are apparently internal, however, they are interrelated with social, cultural and economic demands, among others, which imply the emergence of a new architecture for Higher Education and, consequently, current demands for the university that influences and is influenced by global and local educational public policies. This multifaceted reality is now called the emerging context and requires a new university pedagogy that is anchored in an environment of change and tension [... ] To this end, a multifaceted reality that emerges and culminates in rapid access to information and new modes of institutional and societal organization, anchored in the precepts of globalization, but which requires almost daily that the institutions of [re]dimensioning, new educational environments, new pedagogical practices and, in this sense, educational innovations anchored in [re]configurations and [re]articulations of/in the processes of management and teaching-learning. (MOROSINI, 2017, p. 358)

The effects of the pandemic have led to new ways of articulating and implementing strategies for the internationalization of Higher Education. Such perspectives imply in learning from the challenges posed by the pandemic, which produced a framework of information and new management processes that triggered a different organizational culture regarding the production of knowledge beyond the face-to-face context. Therefore, it has become emergent to think about teaching, research, extension, and university management processes looking at multiple possibilities of interlocution and shared and networked technical and scientific production, in order to bridge distances and create new strategies via the digital world. Among such emerging contexts is the strengthening of South-South academic networks; remote work and teaching, expanding the participation of HEI faculty, students and staff in different activities and countries, showing the viability of IoC and IaH beyond internationalization abroad or cross border. Also, students started to adopt greater protagonism and resourcefulness in the internationalization processes.

Capes has been promoting many internationalization issues from the perspective of cooperation and partnerships for the realization of institutional activities between local, regional and international contexts, however, still reaching very few HEIs, which shows that public policies involving the internationalization of Higher Education in Brazil still translate into segregating and not very democratic practices. The existence of a certain public policy is not enough; it must effectively reach everyone in an equitable way. This is a challenge to be overcome in the Brazilian post-graduation context.

Certainly, a new internationalization has proved to be possible, not only between Northern and Southern countries, but between HEIs, between Postgraduation Programs in the country itself, which shows that being open to new opportunities and information makes the difference and contributes to making us better. It makes knowledge advance and, as Albert Einstein said in his famous sentence: "A mind that is open to a new idea will never go back to its original size. Thus, we conclude that internationalization can and must make use of technological and digital artifacts, and this is a not so new idea, but one that needs, especially after the experiences with the Covid-19 pandemic, to be accepted and disseminated among and by the PPGs, regardless of being in different countries and economic blocs, but especially in the country itself, thus characterizing internationalization at home, in the curriculum, and with the outside world.


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1Cross-border internationalization is that which occurs through mobility, either out (people leaving) or in (receiving people). It consists of all forms of Higher Education carried out, in person, beyond the country's borders. However, it has been proven that mobility is an important factor, but insufficient to internationalize a university.

Received: January 02, 2021; Accepted: February 09, 2022; Published: February 11, 2022

Corresponding to Author1 Marilne Gabriel Dalla Corte E-mail: Universidade Federal de Santa Maria Santa Maria, RS, Brasil CV Lattes


Texto traduzido por: Silvia Iacovacci Graduada em: Secretariado Bilíngue e Tradução/Inglês Comercial - Instituto Roberto Schumann - Roma, Itália E-mail de contato: Orcid:

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