Uni­ver­si­ties of­fer cul­tural as well as scholas­tic ex­po­sure as global stu­dent num­bers grow, re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -

Dong Yul­ing is a 23-yearold stu­dent from the north­ern Chi­nese prov­ince of Shanxi study­ing app de­sign at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney in Aus­tralia.

Just down the road, at the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy Syd­ney, an­other Chi­nese stu­dent, Chen Shulin, 25, is work­ing on a PhD ex­am­in­ing wire­less tech­nol­ogy.

Among stu­dents around the world, they are part of a grow­ing trend to study out­side their home coun­try. It is a trend, es­pe­cially among Chi­nese and In­dian stu­dents, that is ac­cel­er­at­ing.

“It’s about ex­pos­ing your­self to dif­fer­ent cul­tures ... broad­en­ing your mind,” Dong told China Daily.

She sees this pe­riod of her life not only as a start­ing point in her ed­u­ca­tion, but as a stage in build­ing a close net­work of friends.

A net­work from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent coun­tries, she said, will be cru­cial in her later work­ing life.

Chen said his long-term goal is to be­come an aca­demic at an Aus­tralian univer­sity, where he can gain ex­per­tise be­fore even­tu­ally re­turn­ing to China and con­tin­u­ing his re­search.

Chen also sees a great deal of value in study­ing overseas, gain­ing knowl­edge and mak­ing valu­able con­tacts for fu­ture re­search projects.

Today there are an es­ti­mated 4.5 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional stu­dents just like Dong and Chen glob­ally.

That is up from 2 mil­lion in 2000, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port by The Econ­o­mist.

That fig­ure is ex­pected to rise to 8 mil­lion by 2025, driven by pop­u­la­tion and in­come growth that is oc­cur­ring mostly in the de­vel­op­ing world.

Elite uni­ver­si­ties such as Har­vard, Prince­ton and Yale in the United States and Ox­ford and Cam­bridge in the United King­dom will all con­tinue to at­tract the world’s bright­est minds.

How­ever, ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion has been un­der­go­ing a seis­mic shift over the past 10 years.

Aca­demic part­ner­ships have grown along­side fran­chises, with the open­ing of branch cam­puses and joint re­search fa­cil­i­ties.

Stu­dents today have the abil­ity to pick and choose where they want to con­tinue their stud­ies.

They can now choose uni­ver­si­ties us­ing a num­ber of dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria that best suit their own aca­demic re­quire­ments.

A re­cent re­port in The Econ­o­mist, “Brains with­out bor­ders” said more than 1 mil­lion for­eign stu­dents now study in the US.

Even some coun­tries and re­gions that have not tra­di­tion­ally hosted many for­eign stu­dents are now try­ing to grab mar­ket share.

Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore have both grown into pop­u­lar hubs for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, of­fer­ing a mix­ture of well-es­tab­lished, young but rapidly de­vel­op­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est global univer­sity rank­ings sur­vey by Bri­tish group Quacquarelli Sy­monds, Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong to­gether now have five of the world’s top 50 uni­ver­si­ties, and half of Asia’s top 10 uni­ver­si­ties.

“As wealthy, ef­fi­cient and in­ter­na­tional cities, they also both score well in terms of over­all liv­ing stan­dards and de­sir­abil­ity,” QS said in its sur­vey last year.

Cross-bor­der ed­u­ca­tion is now be­com­ing the norm rather than the ex­cep­tion, aca­demics say.

“Uni­ver­si­ties can no longer op­er­ate in iso­la­tion,” said Abid Khan, deputy vice-chan­cel­lor and vice-pres­i­dent (Global En­gage­ment) at Monash Univer­sity in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia.

“The world today faces com­plex chal­lenges and no sin­gle place has all the an­swers,” he told China Daily.

“But if you can bring peo­ple to­gether you stand a chance of meet­ing some of those chal­lenges ... such as cli­mate change for ex­am­ple.”

Khan leads Global En­gage­ment, a ded­i­cated unit whose aim, he said, is to ad­vance the univer­sity’s im­pact on the world through “in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion ... by forg­ing and nur­tur­ing part­ner­ships, and ad­vis­ing fac­ul­ties, cen­ters of ex­cel­lence and in­dus­try on new ways to col­lab­o­rate”.

Tan Tai Yong, pro­fes­sor of his­tory at Yale-NUS Col­lege in Sin­ga­pore, said in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure is essen­tial in teach­ing “adapt­abil­ity, flex­i­bil­ity and the abil­ity to see things from an­other per­son’s or cul­ture’s per­spec­tive”.

The col­lege, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Yale Univer­sity and the Na­tional Univer­sity of Sin­ga­pore, has a com­mon cur­ricu­lum drawn from both Asian and West­ern “in­tel­lec­tual tra­di­tions”, he said.

“In today’s econ­omy, learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties across na­tional ju­ris­dic­tional bor­ders are highly soughtafter.”

The dean of the fac­ulty of en­gi­neer­ing and in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, Archie John­ston, over­sees what he said is “the ed­u­ca­tional devel­op­ment of world-class grad­u­ates with both the tech­ni­cal and in­ter­per­sonal skills for na­tional and global lead­er­ship roles”.

China is mov­ing from an econ­omy of the past to an econ­omy of the fu­ture, a fu­ture driven by tech­nol­ogy, which is in turn be­ing driven by knowl­edge, he said.

“The ex­po­sure to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and cul­tures is an in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence ... some­thing which we can­not teach here (lo­cally). By bring­ing minds to­gether it is quite pos­si­ble to solve is­sues com­mon to all peo­ple, whether you live in Aus­tralia or China.”

Khan of Monash Univer­sity said: “There is a say­ing that money fol­lows peo­ple ... not the other way around.

“The nar­ra­tive we are push­ing at Monash is there are ex­pe­ri­ences, ex­po­sures and net­works you can ac­cess that are dif­fer­ent in other parts of the world. Go out there and take ad­van­tage of what’s on of­fer.”

Stu­dents and aca­demics alike pay close at­ten­tion to the var­i­ous univer­sity rank­ings that are pub­lished on an an­nual ba­sis, which com­pare the world’s uni­ver­si­ties in spe­cific sub­ject ar­eas.

“These give stu­dents the abil­ity to pick and choose where they would like to go,” Khan said.

“It is still com­pet­i­tive but stu­dents have choice. There was a time when uni­ver­si­ties told stu­dents what they should do and what they can gain. Now stu­dents say: ‘This is what we want to achieve and what we want to gain’.

“By study­ing overseas a stu­dent is ca­reer build­ing be­fore he or she ac­tu­ally starts a ca­reer.”

A re­port by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment and the World Bank on cross­bor­der ed­u­ca­tion said uni­ver­si­ties serve a vi­tal func­tion in that they train a “coun­try’s work­force in all fields rel­e­vant to its devel­op­ment, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion”.

It went on to say that cross-bor­der stud­ies “help to ex­pand quickly a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and to in­crease the coun­try’s stock of highly skilled hu­man cap­i­tal.

“It also gives a bench­mark to aca­demics and in­sti­tu­tions on the qual­ity and rel­e­vance of their ser­vices and can lead to or­ga­ni­za­tional learn­ing, thanks to part­ner­ships, both at the in­sti­tu­tional and sys­tem lev­els.

“Fi­nally, it adds va­ri­ety and choice to do­mes­tic sys­tems, which may lead to healthy com­pe­ti­tion and qual­ity en­hance­ment.”

Con­tact the writer at karl­wil­son@chi­nadai­lya­


Dong Yul­ing, 23, a Chi­nese un­der­grad­u­ate at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, rep­re­sents a grow­ing trend of stu­dents study­ing out­side their home coun­try.

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