This article considers the influence of changing higher education discourses on the mission and vision statements of public and private institutions of higher education attended by Rwandan students. Applying a vertical case study approach that draws on critical discourse analysis, the study examines the degree to which the mission and vision statements of these higher education institutions are characterized by divergence or convergence with global trends. Additionally, it considers the spaces that exist for higher education initiatives to address themes that diverge from dominant higher education discourses. The findings demonstrate the potential for higher education institutions to resist the narrowness of dominant neoliberal global trends toward entrepreneurialism, while also supporting claims and reinforcing concerns that these trends are widespread. They suggest that private higher education institutions within Rwanda and international scholarship programs that allow students to study in other countries create spaces for higher education to diverge from a primarily human capital framework and respond to broader social concerns. The study highlights the significant role and responsibility of external funding partners in shaping how higher education institutions contribute to economic, political and social change.
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