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What’s the impact of globalisation on student choices and universities?

Whether a prospective student is looking to study maths or Chinese with German, one factor they will need to consider is how well the degree they select will develop their international outlook.

Of course there will always be careers one can pursue upon graduating that are within organisations operating locally, rather than nationally or internationally. Equally, one could pursue a career in academia or performing arts for example, which doesn’t seem to demand international outlook as a primary skill. However, if an organisation is expanding due to its success, it will likely want to reach out internationally at some point. Equally, if it’s a well-regarded institution, it is likely to already be concerned with internationalisation and have a culturally-diverse staff and student body. And if one does become an actor, they will likely want to be globally-renowned one day?

Why is this happening? Globalisation. Here’s a definition from the Financial Times:

A process by which national and regional economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through the global network of trade, communication, immigration and transportation.

Where’s the evidence this is happening? It’s all around us. Just how far we have come in international trade, student mobility and even tourism in the past few decades is phenomenal. And yes, perhaps, we cannot predict with complete certainty that this trend will continue but, unless the World War III breaks out, I think we are pretty safe to assume.

Moreover, whilst global trade may be somewhat more sensitive to political circumstances, student mobility numbers are continuously going up. This naturally puts pressure on universities to become more creative in attracting international students. UNESCO provides some insight on this in their article ‘Trends in International Student Mobility’:

”Although student mobility is expected to grow, institutions have to compete hard for talented and self-funded students.”

As is documented in this paper, countries such as the US, UK, Australia and Canada have had a steady growth in numbers of international students and they are currently considered to be the higher education leaders of the world.

An article from the Guardian supports this by providing the top 10 places for international students:
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If we look at World Trade Organisation’s statistics as evidence for globalisation, we can easily note that the export and import in the world’s most economically-developed countries keeps growing too.

This is yet again affirmed in the ‘Education at a Glance 2011’ paper released by the OECD:
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We can see from the above graph that the number of international students is steadily growing and this is evidence of globalisation in itself.

There are figures from the World Tourism Organisation to say that the youth today travel more, spend more and reach much further destinations. This is also true for those that going away for work experience, study or volunteering.

It seems to me that the variety of different data available on this today allow us to reach one and the same conclusion – developing one’s international outlook is a necessity in the 21st century.