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Are universities making a profit from international students?

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International students can pay high fees in the UK and US but job prospects are limited. Source: Shutterstock.com

In countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, international students can pay painstakingly high fees to attend university.

While domestic students often benefit from subsidised fees and generous scholarship schemes, international students can be left to bear the high cost of studying abroad.

But should global universities be promoting financial and social equality for global students – and offering them international opportunities beyond graduation – rather than taxing them with extortionate international fees?

In our globalised world, international collaboration is essential to propelling the pillars of academic endeavours forward.

International students are invaluable to creating a diverse academic community on campus. Cultivating a global perspective is vital to understanding the world graduates will enter, so an intercultural campus allows students to develop this.

However, there is a reliance on international students as a source of income at universities in the UK and the US, Carolyn Barr, the international relations officer at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told The University Times.

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This profit-driven mentality can create an attitude of international students being treated as equals when they are studying at the university.

However, they are significantly disadvantaged in their application to university and in their job search after university, reported University World News.

Barr said the profit-driven incentive of UK and US institutions makes it difficult for international students to stay in the country upon graduation.

“I’ve worked for a UK and an American – and now a Dutch – institution and I don’t think that there is this focus on international students as a source of income… our focus is more about the experience of the international classroom than about financing I would say,” Barr explained.

“The Netherlands as a whole wants to attract talent to stay after they have finished their studies as well… we want them to get a job and continue to bring their unique perspectives and their skills here.” 

Ian Diamond, the principal and vice-chancellor of Aberdeen University, agreed that the recruitment of international students should not be driven by financial gain but rather aimed at promoting an intercultural learning experience and gaining the brightest talent from abroad.

“If we were able to get a fair environment for students being able to work post-study, then I suspect we could end up with increased numbers of international students,” Diamond told The University Times.

“Students making their choices will be looking for the very best opportunity to study and that’s why I believe very strongly that enabling post-study work is an incredibly important thing for students.”

So while international academic communities may benefit universities, experts are calling for more to be done for the students both during and after their study.

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