Internationalization transformed the way Higher Education (HE) is provided. Used correctly, internationalization can bring a useful exchange of services and resources into a country’s HE sector. Although there is a growing body of research on HE internationalization broadly, current scholarship overlooks the correlation of excessive reliance on opening of foreign university branches as a way to internationalize the HE sector and the development of the local HE system. This research thus provides the first insights into how the internationalization of HE may not necessarily solve a developing country’s problems in the local HE sector. Using the case of Uzbekistan, it argues that, in the absence of systematic reforms in the local HE system, HE reform that over-relies on the imported internationalization in the form of foreign university branches is not sustainable. Such “franchise” or “imported” internationalization does not contribute to the development of local HE system.
Conventional wisdom highlights civil society as an integral component of a democratic society. Due to the dominance of the state in all aspects of life, civil society was largely absent in Uzbekistan until the change of government in 2016. The new President Mirziyoyev’s liberalization policy towards media gave birth to a strong group of opinion formers visible on social media platforms, otherwise known as “bloggers”. This paper seeks to identify how Mirziyoyev’s liberalization policy affects Uzbekistan’s path to consolidate its democracy. It argues that the recent political liberalization showed early signs of the emergence of civil society groups. To support this argument, the paper uses the case of two unrelated incidents: large scale demolition of people’s properties by the khokimiyat in Urganch, and forced labor of public servants in the Bukhara region.