The decline of globalisation in higher education?

The most recent statistics released by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority (Higher Education: Key Facts and Figures 2010-11) contain some interesting information. One of the things we learn is that international student recruitment by Irish universities and colleges has stalled and may be in decline. ┬áDuring the past academic year the numbers went down for all the key countries and regions, with the sole exception of recruitment from other EU countries. In so far as international student recruitment supports the finances of the sector, recruitment from EU countries does not make a contribution as the students do not pay tuition fees.

Overall, international students account for a mere 7 per cent of the Irish student body. This compares with 17 per cent in the United Kingdom, though some evidence suggests that new visa rules in the UK may also be about to have a negative effect on numbers there. In the UK this may to some extent be compensated for by a continuing strong rise in students studying for a British degree in their own countries.

But what of Ireland? The  percentage of international students is already too low. It is not just that international students bring money, they also create a more cosmopolitan and diverse student body and enhance the experience for home students. It would be wholly negative if the trend towards a more international kind of higher education were to be reversed. There is work to be done.

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4 Comments on “The decline of globalisation in higher education?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    I can see where the paying students from overseas can add a bit of cream to the sauce. Allowing for the purchases of some doodad, gadget or binding of a rare manuscript. But inserting their fees on ledgers permanently and at the level of 17% is just asking for a kicking. Frankly, you’d have to call it dangerous driving at the very least, if not outright arrogant hubris.

  2. kevin denny Says:

    Certainly in UCD there is a much greater awareness of the importance of foreign students, largely for financial reasons. I presume it’s just the economic slowdown abroad that is driving this.

  3. Rob Cosgrave Says:

    Seeing foreign students as cash cows is a bad idea. Sure, they pay, but if they turn up it’s as a indicator that the University is worth going to – worth travelling to. If you are good enough, they will come. Sales pitches alone won’t cut it – the worlds finest Universities have good salesmen too. Not only will overseas students be drawn there instead of here, our own best students will, if they have pluck and guts, go abroad for a superior undergraduate experience.

  4. Ultan Says:

    Interesting article and observations. With regard to the 7%, I would be interested to know more about their distribution across the third level – which colleges exactly are they attending, in what proportion, and why, and what we can learn from that to increase the global mix.

    Being back in TCD for a PhD (Lord, I think this is my fourth decade there), I was surprised to hear so many English accents (and yes, I do know from where) and US ones too (though, of course, an American accent could be from a native from Killiney, by now). An anecdote, I know, but it seems to me there are a significantly higher number of GB students in TCD than in my days as an undergrad, or at least as far as the, eh, Arts Building-based studies are concerned (LOL). I suspect the recent increases of fees in the UK will drive the numbers up a bit more too.

    Comments on distribution? Are most of the 7% going to TCD and NUI?


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