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Int’l student, scholar flow tied to globalization

Author  :  YANG QIGUANG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-09-29

In the globalization era, countries around the world are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. However, conflicts between different societies remain, and mankind faces more complicated and grimmer challenges. Only by conforming to the times and actively constructing new types of international relations fitting regional integration and diversified, integrated communication can human society become more united to cope with crises and pressure.

Building bridges for global open cooperation and fusion in the field of higher education, enriching university students’ international experience, enhancing their global mobility and cultivating globalized talent are important means to creating a new future of global interconnectivity.

Complementarity

As a significant factor, the flow of people is increasingly crucial in world peace and the sustainable development of humanity. The global flow of university students is vital to education and the reserve of human resources in the future. It will not only help those highly educated to make a difference in the international market, but it also facilitates individual career development and self-realization.

A recent study by the Institute of International Education in the United States shows that an international education experience has a direct influence on and positive correlation with the key skills needed by a successful career in today’s world. Cross-cultural learning experiences accumulated through long-term international interaction have remarkable impact on future job opportunities, career prospects, and the development of foreign languages and communication skills, particularly cross-cultural skills, curiosity, flexibility, adaptability, confidence and self-awareness. In addition, interpersonal and problem-solving abilities can be considerably strengthened as well.

It is worth noting that the flow of scholars—along with the nurturing of students’ global mindset, competency and international consciousness—is likewise important to the global flow of higher education. At the same time, the flow of scholars is a symbol and necessity of higher education internationalization, playing a unique role in advancing countries’ socioeconomic growth as well as the peace and development of humankind.

Backlash against globalization

The backlash against globalization due to changes in international politics, economics and society has borne out directly in the increase of international students in the United States and the United Kingdom since 2016.

Given various social trends and government policies, American education expert Philip Altbach predicted that the mobility of international students will not weaken much, but their growth will noticeably slow in the next few years.

Protectionist policies carried out by the Trump administration have brought significant impact on international students in the United States, as the number of newly enrolled international students has decreased for the first time in dozens of years.

Recently, an empirical questionnaire survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers revealed that approximately 40 percent of US colleges saw declines in applications from international students for enrollment in 2017-2018.

If a series of restrictive immigration policies and possible cuts in foreign work exchange programs, such as those for au pairs, are enacted, the number of applicants for international students and scholars will fall dramatically.

In the United Kingdom, low economic growth and Brexit have prompted adjustments to policies regarding foreign students, employees and immigrants, which has reduced possibilities for international students to stay in the United Kingdom with a work visa after graduation, leading to a slowdown in the growth of the number of international students in the country.

Although some unpredictable and uncertain factors will affect the recruitment of international students by global institutions of higher learning and impact international academic education and people-to-people exchange, the trend of globalization is irreversible and the exchange and flow of international students and scholars as well as its significance in human development remains unchanged.

In contrast to the United States and the United Kingdom, other countries have seized the trend and actively taken measures to enroll international students and high-caliber talent in science and technology.

China’s efforts

China is one of the many countries to actively promote globalization. Its government and institutions of higher learning are beefing up efforts to make education more open and encourage exchanges. Youths are given opportunities to study abroad and build connections, and China welcomes foreign talent with open arms, adopting diverse innovative policies to enhance international students’global mobility.

According to the Annual Report on the Development of Chinese Students Studying Abroad released by the Center for China and Globalization at the end of 2017, growing numbers of Chinese students studying abroad returned in 2016. Moreover, increasing numbers of students from countries along the Belt and Road have come to study in China. South Korea, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Laos were the fastest growing sources of students, with the growth on the previous year averaging 20 percent.

With the furthering of opening up, China has become the largest source of international students in the world. In the meantime it has attracted more international high-caliber talent, becoming the third largest destination in Asia for studying abroad.

New type of international relations

As network communications have greatly boosted globalization, human society has embraced a new network of relationships, which requires a fitting global governance landscape. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a theory for a new type of international relations featuring a “community with a shared future for mankind,” calling for new reforms to the global governance system with education included.

Relying on the “Belt and Road” initiative, China has established multiple platforms for educational cooperation to propel people-to-people exchanges, thus bolstering the free global flow of international students and providing a specific scheme for addressing global educational governance. Most notably, it has become one of the main poles in the world attracting international students of higher education.

With China as a role model for confident integration with globalization, more and more developing countries and some developed nations have also actively participated in constructing the new globalization mode and have jointly stressed the importance of globalized talent and international experience. This shift will gradually manifest as changes in the international student flow.

According to the Blue Book on Global Talent, Asia took six of the top ten destinations in the world for studying abroad, namely China, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Iran and Indonesia. Foreign students from middle-income and middle-to-high-income countries will continue to increase, while international education worldwide will be multi-polarized.

Globalization is an irreversible trend. New types of globalization characterized by complexity and diversity will bring both challenges and opportunities to the world and mankind. As UNESCO has pointed out, knowledge created out of globalization is the common heritage of humanity. It should be regarded as a global common interest to be shared and exchanged like education.

Therefore, it has become a new direction for global educational development in the new era that different societies share their acquisition and application of knowledge to all and coordinate knowledge and educational governance.

Exchanges in global education form the basis of cultural connectivity, and the communication, flow and migration of international students constitutes an important cornerstone for people-to-people bonds.

As a crucial force in the inheritance of human civilization and the exchange of cultural understanding, cross-cultural education and the international flow of learning should serve in globalization as an essential bridge for creating a community with a shared future for mankind.

In recent years, however, the number of international students pursuing higher education in some developed countries has grown too fast. Many colleges and universities are obsessed with recruiting international students for the sake of global educational trade, ignoring the importance of providing corresponding educational and teaching support and a friendly campus.

“Who” is flowing globally and the new type of inequality in educational returns brought by the “floating capital” in question is the concern of justice in global education. Meanwhile, there is a trend of privatization in the dissemination, replication and creation of human knowledge.

These issues require institutions of higher learning to reflect on the positioning of international student flow and global educational governance and to build diversified, free and equitable campuses to deepen understanding and communication between human cultures and civilizations around the world. Also, efforts should be made to establish an educational community by cooperating with global government institutions and non-governmental social organizations, thereby advancing socioeconomic development of all countries and improving the wellbeing of the people. This should be the new theme and task for future education internationalization.

 

Yang Qiguang is a professor from the School of Humanities at Jiangnan University in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

 

(Edited and translated by CHEN MIRONG)

Editor: Yu Hui

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