Over the last 100 years as the world has become increasingly interconnected, governments and international associations have actively encouraged students to study abroad, while inviting students to study at home campuses. This trend has accelerated over the previous decade. Scholarship programs have been developed and numerous governments have linked foreign policy objectives to international education. There are a number of reasons why governments favour international education;
- International relations – To build international relations between sending and host country for economic and cultural benefits
- Development objectives – developing the academic and cross-cultural skills of nationals from the sending country.
- The transfer of modern systems and ideas – technology transfer, innovation and quality improvements, best practise.
- Multicultural campuses – for global awareness and cross-cultural learning
- “Global Citizenship” and ‘global citizens’ – mutual understanding, prejudice reduction, and ultimately peaceful co-existence and co-operation.
In my PhD research I looked at ‘person-to-person diplomacy’ in the context of Saudi students in New Zealand, which is central to the above objectives. Through international education, students develop personal networks and ties to the host country, and can act as bridges for foreign investment and trade. This is an important aspect of domestic foreign relations policy and economic development. Both sending and host countries understand the implications, which is why international education has become so important for all the countries involved in international exchange. Governments hope that international students will favour companies from the host country during their career development, due to development of a close connection with the country. While the UK and US have been traditional countries for study abroad, other less traditional countries including Australia and New Zealand, are becoming increasingly popular with international students. This suggests that benefits previously gained by traditional study markets, are now being shared by other countries. And so we all become increasingly GLOBAL..