International HE: what you should be reading

by jguiver on 09/03/2012

We have a weekly news magazine here in the UK called ‘The Week’; my husband subscribes to it, and it’s a handy little round-up of the best news bits of the past week.  The inspiration for my post today is The Week.  Let’s see what’s been going on in the world of international higher education…..

Let’s start with The PIE News and their piece on the immigration debate which took place on 29 February in London.  Many in the UK HE sector are saying that international students should not be counted as migrants in the government’s immigration policy, as reducing their numbers will have a detrimental effect on the UK economy which benefits from international students.  Read the full PIE News article, ‘UUK calls for exemption of foreign students’.

In the USA, the National Association for College Admission Counselling (NACAC) held a forum this week to discuss the pros and cons of HE institutions using paid recruitment agents overseas (article ‘Reframing the Agent Debate’).  I’ve been following the ‘agent debate’ in the US for some time, ever since that sanctimonious article by Philip Altbach (Inside Higher Ed) in which he called for agents to be “abolished”. (Really?!)  I used to get irritated by the arguments posed by the anti-agent faction in America because they just didn’t make sense to me, but I’ve come to realize it’s a different mentality over there, and, for the Americans, those kind of arguments hold value.  My stance all along is that using agents should be a choice made by each individual college and university, not a regulated policy from above forced on everyone equally.  Isn’t that what America is all about?  Freedom of choice, anti-big government, a you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do mentality?  However, I recognize NACAC is a membership organization, and they have the right to design whatever policies they see fit for their members; members can then choose to leave the organization if they don’t agree.

One country that is no stranger to using recruitment agents is Australia.  Big news this week is the ‘$3 billion hit to the economy as foreign students slump’ (The Australian).  This slump is due to a ‘perfect storm’ combination of the high value of the Australian dollar, the restrictive student visa regime of recent years, and Australia’s HE reputation is still feeling the effects of the attacks on foreign students which happened a few years ago.

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education has updated its report on international branch campuses.  There are now quite a few more branch campuses being planned than previously mentioned. Read about them here in ‘International branch campuses: Even more developments’.  (snappy title, huh?)

Lastly, lest we begin to worry about the state of the global economy and wonder if our jobs are in jeopardy, take heart from this article in University World News, ‘Worldwide student numbers forecast to double by 2025′.  Those of us working in international higher education may never get rich, but at least we know we are doing worthwhile work, and we can take solace in our job security  – at least until 2025.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Elina Caballero March 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Hello! Jessica Guiver

It has been for me very interesting and great learning, reading this article. I’m from Puerto Rico and currently I work as a professor in one of the eleven units of the University of Puerto Rico, and I’ve never heard that in the university where I work come students through such recruiting agents. I wish we had a service like this for our public and private universities to have increased the number of students enrolled, and are being considered in many to close programs because of lack of students.
After reading, how it will increase the student population to 2025 in countries like Australia, China, USA and others I ask myself, can this happen in my country if we had this type of recruiting agents?

Congratulations for your excellent writing. For me, this was like an eye-opener as one of the things that is missing in my country at international level to promote our universities is to have recruiting agents.
Thanks! Elina


jguiver March 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Hi Elina

Thanks for your comments! I’m glad you’ve found the blog helpful, particularly if you are interested in finding out more about recruitment agents. I have written a number of posts about agents.

Recruitment agents work in countries across the world, and yes, they can help if your university is looking to increase the number of international students. However, you should try to learn as much as you can about it first, as it can be a tricky relationship to navigate, ie. working with agents, and you will need to make sure you have robust agent management plans in place as well as a system to vet agents before you start working with them.

Best of luck for your university!


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