Legitimations of Finnish education export–exploring the plurality of guiding principles

Henna Juusola, Terhi Nokkala

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This paper explores the legitimation of Finnish education export (EE) activities linked to higher education institutions. As a small non-English speaking country with only recent involvement in the EE market, Finland provides an underexplored context to consider the legitimation of overseas, fee-based educational services from the perspective of EE providers. In this qualitative case study comprising two Finnish EE endeavours, we draw on convention theory to argue that the legitimation of education export is based on multiple roles of such export, not just on generating revenue for the provider institution. We show that legitimations are linked to multiple guiding principles, illustrated in our data through five themes: education for the future generations, competing institutions, localisation of education activity, project-oriented activity, and Finnishness of education export. Due to the plurality of principles, the legitimation process of EE among internal and external stakeholders includes more variation than the seemingly important market-driven logic would suggest, even if this logic has been in focus of the national higher education policy over the past decade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-227
Issue number2
Early online date11 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Education export
  • Finnish education
  • higher education
  • legitimation

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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