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    International student mobility may come to a halt

    While academic education was instrumental in shaping the post-WWII global phenomenon, the current changes in international education will have a significant impact on the modern world. 

    Globalisation has led to the emergence of a ‘borderless’ higher education market. However, it is also one of the most imbalanced and hierarchical systems in terms of the supply and demand of education. International student mobility has been said to be one of the attributes to global academic inequality. In recent years, there have been a significant growth in the number of international students. It has increased from 0.8 million in 1975 to 4.2 million by 2010. Therefore, some countries were quick to tap onto this opportunity and developed strategies to attract prospective students. However, growth in international student enrollment figures failed to happen since 2012. This outcome has been said to be more of a structural phenomenon rather than a temporary setback based on the recent figures published in the OECD’s latest Education at a Glance.

    Developments in both the supply and demand of education are influencing the ongoing changes within the higher education sector.

    The decline in demand for foreign university degrees can be attributed to the enhancement of domestic education in sending countries, particularly China and India. They have been investing huge resources to advance their higher education system with a few institutions being foreseen to attain world-class status in the next few years. This changing outlook have influenced the investment strategies of affluent middle-class families in these countries.

    At present, the number of prospective students in these sending countries remains extensive, however the approach and attitude of receiving countries have fundamentally changed. From a very hospitable and welcome approach to international students, popular and political attitudes have led to a more hostile stance. The prevalent backlash against migration, exasperated by the refugee crisis and flows of asylum seekers, have negatively impacted foreign students. False accusations that foreign students are only interested in permanent migration and that they take the future jobs of domestic students dominated the media.

    The shift in demand and supply of international higher education is fundamentally modifying the size and direction of international student mobility flows. They are also concurrently redefining where and how the younger generations will be educated. While academic education was instrumental in shaping the post-WWII global phenomenon, the current changes in international education will have a significant impact on the modern world.

    Source: OEC Education

    Join us in the upcoming QS in conversation seminar as we address the topic on “University Rankings and International Migrant Scholars” from 7-9 Feb 2018 in London, UK.

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