Mobility on the Map: Tertiary Education Interchange on the Threshold of
the 21st Century. Report of a joint Working Group of The Council for Education
in the Commonwealth and UKCOSA: The Council for International Education.
Published by UKCOSA, July 2000, ISBN 1 870679 33 4, 86pp, £20.00
This report examines issues arising from the mobility of Commonwealth
tertiary students. The first study of its kind for seven years, it seeks
to influence government policy in Commonwealth countries by identifying
patterns in student mobility and making recommendations for the promotion
of student mobility across the Commonwealth. It is the outcome of a joint
working group set up by The Council for Education in the Commonwealth
and UKCOSA: The Council for International Education.
The report identifies student mobility as being increasingly significant
as an agent of knowledge mobility. The increasing significance of globalisation
and the knowledge economy requires a re-examination of the international
role of higher education. This debate also needs to inform developments
in online learning. Interestingly, the historical international links
encapsulated by the Commonwealth are still a significant influence on
the choice of destination country for higher education students. Rising
by 76% between 1990 and 1996, Intra-Commonwealth student mobility accounted
for 11.6% of global student mobility by 1996.
Whilst overall levels of mobility within the Commonwealth have shown a
healthy increase, the report identifies a number of more worrying trends
when a more fine-grained analysis is undertaken. Almost all the increase
in mobility has been as a result of the success of Australia and the UK
in recruiting additional international students. The number of Commonwealth
students studying in Canada and India actually declined over the period
of question. So, rather than a genuine and arguably healthy exchange of
students there is a significant net flow of students to a small number
of Commonwealth countries. The report acknowledges that this could be
the cause of a possible brain-drain.
An additional concern is that Commonwealth students studying in Australia,
Canada and the UK come from a very limited range of home countries. 61%
come from just four: Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
In characterising these complex home-destination relationships, the study
makes considerable use of the UNDPs Human Development Index. Rather
than relying on just economic growth this index combines economic and
social factors to give a more balanced well-being index of
a countries development. The major factors in the index are health (eg,
longevity, nutrition, etc), knowledge (eg, literacy) and resources (eg,
adjusted GDP per head, taxation, etc). Countries are classified as High-HDI,
Medium-HDI, Low-HDI or unclassified (usually very small territories).
Using this categorisation, the study, unsurprisingly, concludes that students
from low-HDI countries have very restricted opportunities to travel to
and study in medium and high-HDI countries. Most interchange occurs between
high/medium-HDI countries. The report also concludes that borderless
learning is having a significant impact but that it will have a
complementary role and will not replace the physical mobility of students.
The reports recommendations are aimed at a range of policy makers.
Specific recommendations are made to Commonwealth governments collectively,
individual Commonwealth governments and, additionally, a further set of
recommendations to the UK Government. The recommendations are primarily
aimed at increasing support for international students within the destination
country and raising awareness of the issue amongst development policy
Student Mobility on the Map is of primary interest to education
policy makers, managers and administrators. It is a comprehensive, in-depth
analysis that is backed by a strong set of statistical data. In addition
to its value to education professionals it may be that anybody with an
interest in the current operation of Commonwealth links will find this
report very interesting.
University of Luton