International education is BIG business in Australia.
It sounds exciting, the perfect opportunity for a better life.
However, the dream life isn’t as easy to get a hold of as expected. There are a multitude of factors impacting the success of international students in this country, and the question is, can we change things for the better?
Marginson, in “International Education as self-formation“, describes how international students should have an educational as well as a social experience.
Many students experience homesickness and difficulty communicating. Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl in “International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes“, describe other issues, including a sense of isolation, a feeling that local students were disinterested in getting to know them and the sheer difference of culture.
Obviously, some of these issues will always be present. Moving away to study in a different culture, far from family, will always be a steep learning curve. However, it seems some members of our culture experience:
Parochialism: where people have a limited range of view, and are hence reluctant to engage with others.
Ethnocentrism: where people believe their own culture is superior to that of others.
What we need is more people who practise:
Cosmopolitanism: where people act as global citizens, with a responsibility to the world.
It is difficult to decide how best to encourage people to act in a cosmopolitan fashion. Ultimately, it requires the open minds of both parties. So, this really entails a shift in cultural attitudes.
However, there are more serious issues at stake, most especially the fact that many international students find themselves unfairly treated and the victims of fraudulent colleges, underpaid work and lack of educational assistance.
Convenient Education is a documentary that outlines the personal stories of international students. It uncovers some very serious issues regarding the welfare of these people.
For example, the 2009 attacks on Indian students highlighted just how important it is that we deal with these issues. The attacks were reported around the world, as shown by the following clip. This created some very bad publicity for Australia.
International students are important to this country, and it is essential we resolve these issues.
A little effort goes a long way.
Kell, P and Vogl, G 2007, ‘ International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006.