Globalisation and Higher Ed

At the recent University Social Responsibility Summit in Beijing, university representatives from 12 countries met to discuss transformative education and the role of the university in addressing societal problems. The article I read about this was titled, “Could Asia Lead on University Social Responsibility?” The title highlights the fact that at the same time Asian universities are becoming more influential on the world stage, the U.S. and U.K. appear to be entering eras of looking inward with the election of Trump and the Brexit vote. It also shows that there is an international focus on instilling social responsibility into all aspects of the university. I knew that social justice is frequently a part of university’s missions in the U.S., but did not know how common this was in other countries. A quote from the article reads:

“As is the case in many dimensions of globalisation in higher education, university social responsibility has often been dominated by perspectives from the Global North. But the centre of gravity is shifting and fresh leadership from several Asian countries is correcting the imbalance. “

As countries south of the Brandt Line continue to develop and grow their higher education systems, the flow of international students will change.

According to UNESCO, the U.S. currently hosts almost 20% of tertiary students who seek degrees abroad. The other top countries in this category (U.K.-10%, Australia—6%, France—6%, Germany—5%, and Russian Federation—3%) are also all in the Global North. However, new countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, which together host 4% of international students, are competing for international students. The combination of making international study more difficult in some places and less difficult in others is likely to change these numbers and have a large impact on higher education in the U.S. Last year, almost 1 million international students were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. These students accounted for almost 5% of all students enrolled. It is not surprising that over 300,000 of these students came from China while another 133,000 came from India as each of these countries has large numbers of students. It is estimated that international students contributed 32.8 billion dollars to the U.S. economy and supported over 400,000 jobs in the 2015-16 school year.

As the world continues to become more accessible to more people, countries which invite international students will certainly benefit, as the U.S. has for decades. As we heard from our classmates, there are many differences in tertiary education from country to country. We also know that there are efforts to make degrees/qualifications more transferable across borders. All of these factors will determine who receives the influx of both knowledge and dollars/pounds/euro/deutschmarks/yuan that international students bring. I hope that my country will not legislate its way out of these benefits.