Nationalism internationally and Higher Education

23 April, 2017

There have been some interesting reactions to the arrival of president Trump and the impending departure of Britain from its European alliance. Walls are being built and not just North of Mexico, but doors are also being opened.

Most countries react to a threat to free trade not by opening their own borders but by putting up more barriers. This has an interesting knock on effect in Higher Education. HE is an international business and increasingly so. Students and the attendant incomes that follow also move in reaction to borders. Canada is seeing a pick up in enquiries from former customers of the USA who seemingly no longer feel welcome. 

And it has done so by making students feel welcome. A report in The New York Times states Canada expects to have nearly half a million international students studying in the country within 10 years. And more than half its students from abroad hope to stay in the country and become Canadian citizens, according to a survey by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

In Australia however the recent changes in the visa rules has led to fairly stern words from the head of a prestigeous university group. The Group of Eight (Go8), comprising Australia’s eight leading research intensive universities, is concerned by the potential unintended consequences for Australia’s international Higher Education sector as a result of the abolition and replacement of the 457 visa announced recently.

Professor Peter Høj, Chair of the Go8, said that the Go8 is “supportive” of safeguarding Australian jobs through a targeted approach to issuing and processing visas that allow foreign citizens to work in Australia.

“However, the Go8 sees there is potential for a perverse outcome that may put at risk many of the estimated 130,000 jobs supported by Australia’s $21.8 billion international education industry,” he said.

In Wales two Universiteris have recently announced redundancies and blamed the Brexit process as scaring off international students. A report in Wales Online claims that one Uni wants over 130 jobs to go and another wants to let go 10% of its staff.

Politics and Higher Education are closely intertwined.