Last post on this particular discussion
A few more interesting comments from LinkedIn discussions. Again see comments for full transcripts.
Peter Esmonde, a Development and Education Sociologist, makes the point that huge international fees reduces the number of students from economically poorer countries. He says this:
…truncated the quality of university intellectual culture in UK universities, while we also witnessed an increasingly excessive commercialization and utilitarianization of third level studies.
I can’t help but agree. High international fees ensure that international students come from wealthy backgrounds and have probably already had access to a good (expensive) education and university preparation. This probably propels a university’s reputation and quality. But also closes it off because, though from diverse backgrounds culturally, share a commonality in a quality pre-university education.
An international student perspective
LSE is a UK university with a very large intake of international students. Some of LSE’s international alumni were kind enough to reply to this discussion from the perspective of being an international student.
Somya Jain, from India, did her Masters in Development Management at LSE, says:
I won’t say that international students don’t contribute to the quality of the institution. I respect their exigency and they definitely do contribute to our learning by peer-to-peer discussions. For instance, we can read about Africa in 1000s of books, but to learn from a person who is from the conflict area definitely adds on to one’s knowledge.
American Michael Bernier graduated from LSE in 2009 with an MSc Development Studies. He says that while on the face of it the disproportionate international fees seem unfair, home students pay for universities as long as they live in that country through taxation. He adds:
I would argue that selectivity, retention, and all the other standard metrics make more sense than just international student attendance, except in a discussion of “profile”.
International fee paying students are applying [to LSE] because they know the name and that employers in their home country are excited by it. I am not sure there is a more important metric. Every other metric is also a proxy for school quality, but this one gets at the biggest reason people go to school in the first place.
Yes. I absolutely agree that marketability of degrees is an important metric. For the reasons outlined in the previous post, I am not convinced it is the definitive metric for a university’s quality – merely its perceived quality. Habit, in terms of routine and tradition, play a role here that I feel should not be discounted.
Though, perhaps on a more abstract note than is appropriate, maybe ‘perceived quality’ by prospective students and employers and ‘quality’ are the same?
Lucille Ossai, from Nigeria, studied Industrial Relations and Personnel Management at LSE. She says:
I found the academic standard truly empowering. My course mates came from other continents and the mix sharpened my mind. Overall, the experience was very empowering. A degree from LSE is very-well regarded anywhere in the world. Still not convinced though that the high fees for international students is practical but what I have learnt in my 5 years of education in the UK is that international students are willing to pay whatever price for quality education, more so than UK students. I think that this is because most international students return home with skills, experience and the education to impact their lives, careers or countries.
International students willing to pay more than home students?
It is an interesting observation that UK students may be unwilling to pay for quality education, or at least evidently more unwilling than international students. Is the gap in quality that extreme between international universities and UK universities?
I know that American universities are continually rated the best in the world, but lots of Americans (usually from Ivy League universities) come to study in the UK. Clearly, the mix of students and the chance to live and experience another country is a bid draw in these cases.
Maybe UK students protest paying higher fee, or in some instances any fees, because they will pay taxes which should contribute to university funding. But also because UK students who go to UK universities and live and work in the UK after contribute to the whole of UK society. The education they received benefits everyone. It is in that sense a public good. Why should they pay so much when everyone benefits?
International students may not remain in the UK, so the education they received, while benefiting whichever society they chose to live and work in, is not plowed back into the UK.
Just about the money?
Vezuh Minang, a graduate from a UK university, now a Human Resource generalist, says:
A university’s reputation can hardly be a matter of the number of international students!! There are many factors that have to come into play here including the quality of the international students ( that is, if the number of international students has anything to do at all).
I am an international masters student studying in the UK and i have come to realise that majority of the universitites go after international students for the money. World best known reputable unis such as Harvard, Beckley, Oxford etc did not build their reputation from the number of international students but rather from the calibre of lecturers and students that those unis produce.
Unfortunately, university education has become a business. And I am sure that the revenue universities can get from international fee-paying students is one reason universities try so hard to attract them.
Martin Levine, consultant and distance education instructor, University of Manitoba, Canada, agrees with Vezuh:
Many universities around the world want to enhance their intake of tuition fees and international students frequently pay far more than local ones. Even in the case of Canada, while almost all universities are supported by provincial governments, the universities are still required to cover part of their costs by collecting tuition fees. In some cases international student tuition fees are a significant part of the university’s entire budget.
Other influences on international student’s choice of university
But Martin also contends there are influences outside the University on international students:
Whether a given institution is open to receiving international students, what its tuition fees and local living costs are like, what the community where the institution is located is like (parents of international students will generally prefer very safe communities), whether that community welcomes outsiders and whether there are possibilities there for part-time employment while studying.
Another increasingly significant issue for the students is whether the country where the institution is located allows post-secondary studies as a pathway to permanent residence. Canada is an immigrant-welcoming country and does this.
What standards does the recipient institution require of international students in terms of English, French or other local language proficiency? Will they require additional language studies from the student before the student will be allowed to enter the institution’s main programs of study?
Thank you to everyone that responded to this discussion. I hope people found it as interesting as I did.
Do you agree with these commentators?