Norwegian version

Public defence: Tea Dyred Pedersen

Tea Dyred Pedersen will defend her thesis: “Making mobility meaningful: A study of policy and practices of international student mobility in Norwegian teacher education” for the degree of PhD in The Study of Professions.


Leader of the public defence is Professor Fredrik Wilhelm Thue, Centre for the Study of Professions, OsloMet.


  • Thesis summary

    This article-based thesis presents a qualitative study of how international student mobility as a prominent feature of higher education internationalisation policy materialises in Norwegian teacher education programs. Through document analysis of key policies and interviews with academic staff, administrators and management, the study offers a critical perspective on the significance of student mobility in teacher education in relation to the wider internationalisation process. 

    Short-term mobility has increasingly gained a more prominent position in European and Norwegian internationalisation policy as a means of quality enhancement in higher education. Following this, higher education institutions are being met with stronger expectations for increasing levels of mobility.

    Yet, while the existing research on internationalisation and student mobility is abundant, there is a lack of perspectives aiming to unpack the often taken-for-granted meaning(s) of student mobility situated in a particular field of study. Thus, little is known about how the expectations for student mobility play out in relation to the internationalisation processes, and the potential tensions involved in its realisation. In particular in professional programs where internationalisation may take different forms than within “traditional” disciplines of higher education. 

    The three articles included in this thesis provide rich accounts of the political ideas and discourses framing student mobility, and how policy both shapes and is challenged by the actors involved in the work with student mobility and internationalisation. The articles explore the issue of ‘significance’ in relation to three different aspects: the political promotion, how mobility is approached in practice, and in relation to how it is perceived as an educational activity contingent on the purpose and mission of teacher education. 

    Article 1 analyses the political discourses used to promote mobility in teacher education and argues that such discourses increasingly instrumentalise both the role of future teachers and the activity of mobility itself for non-educational or non-professional ends.

    Article 2 analyses the practical approaches to student mobility in teacher education as a form of policy enactment. It reveals an array of challenges to its realisation in the intersection between policy discourse and distinct contextual aspects of three teacher education programs. 

    Finally, Article 3 unpacks how the prevailing Norwegian discourse on student mobility as a means of quality enhancement is made sense of by teacher educators. It shows how mobility comes to represent a challenge to the mission of teacher education which tends to result in a strong emphasis on generic, personal outcomes at the expense of specific educational outcomes.

    Based on these articles, the overall argument proposed in the thesis is that the significance of mobility is strong at the surface of policy and practice. It is perceived and promoted as a highly valuable learning activity with professional benefits for the individual teacher student and has a strong symbolic value for rendering internationalisation visible to an external context. Yet, its significance also emerges as ambiguous, as mobility is embedded in different layers of meaning shaped by academic, professional, and bureaucratic ideas. These layers, in turn, are shaped by the uneasy nature of internationalisation in relation to the mission of teacher education. The multiplicity of meanings creates a range of tensions for how mobility materialises into practice, ultimately found to challenge a meaningful embedding of mobility into teacher education.

    In light of this, the thesis contributes with novel perspectives on the nature and role of student mobility in relation to a particular field of study and the conditions and tensions involved in realising this distinct element of internationalisation policy.

    The thesis advances current knowledge by unsettling taken-for-granted views on student mobility and contributes to more clarity around its meaning, rationales, and impacts. This is important in the current political and higher education institutional setting, where international student mobility is still the dominant activity of internationalisation though undertaken by a minority of students – in particular in teacher education.


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