chapter  2
19 Pages

Equals or others? Mobile students in a nationally bordered world


Across the world, 3.3 million students study outside their country of citizenship each year (OECD 2010: 315).1 Almost half of them move from Asia and Africa into English-speaking education systems. Another quarter move between countries in the European Higher Education Area. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand international education is a large and growing commercial export industry (Bashir 2007). In the United States international students contribute to the national knowledge economy and American foreign relations. Both the nation of education and the educated international student appear to gain from the exchange. But for international students in general, and more so for non-white students from emerging nations, the exchange is premised on less than equal respect and treatment. Most people in the country of education give this little thought. If it is difficult for international students, the thinking runs, why do ‘they’ come? Clearly ‘our education’ is superior to what ‘they’ have at home. And being supplicants, as it were, ‘they’ ought to ‘adjust’ to the country of education to the degree necessary to absorb its bounty.