Global engagement should mean more than money


 The pandemic provided an opportunity to rethink Australia’s approach to international education

With developing countries looking to rebuild post-pandemic, the Australian Government encouraging greater diversity in our international student mix, and many (albeit not all) Australian universities contemplating how to spend eye watering financial surpluses – it was uncomfortable listening to a representative from a prominent university speaking at a recent conference about their university’s interest in India – including ensuring Indian parents understood (assuring the audience Chinese parents already do) high student fees are a sign of quality.

Meanwhile education consultants, Studymove, suggest Australian universities are also “feeling more assured in increasing their fees in 2023.”

The university happy to talk openly about their intent to earn more from Indian students does not currently operate any overseas branch campuses but is involved in a number of international research partnerships – the overwhelming majority in Europe, the UK and North America.

That picture contrasts with the global engagement described on the websites of leading North American and European universities, where the focus is more typically on highlighting their partnerships in Africa, Latin America and Asia, with research activities often linked to the university’s social and economic development work in these regions.

The pandemic provided an opportunity to rethink Australia’s approach to international education. Institutions could be looking at encouraging greater diversity in their international student cohorts by lowering fees, using their substantial research expertise to help countries emerge from the pandemic, and actively supporting the government’s efforts in the Pacific and ASEAN through more research and education partnerships, as well as offering more scholarships to students from these regions.

However it seems the regrettable choice for some is to double down on higher student fees and increasing financial surpluses.

If you’re interested in how leading universities outside Australia describe and celebrate their global engagement consider:

* University of Chicago

* Columbia University

* Johns Hopkins University

* KU Leuven

* University of Toronto

* Heidelberg University

* Wageningen University

Claire Field is an advisor to the tertiary education sector