Professors, plenaries and note-free presentations
I was part of a plenary round-table discussion at the Australian International Education Conference in Adelaide in October. A very humbling experience, given John Hudzik, Gudrun Paulsdottir and other notables were on the discussion panel. As people say in my circumstances, “it is always tough to talk after John Hudzik” – well, I was scheduled immediately after John and I now know exactly what they mean - but I'm sure I'm a much tougher person now!
To make my experience a truly unforgettable one, I was the only one who complied with the panel chair request – “just talk for 8 minutes” – and did not bring presentation slides. I did have a few bullet points, which at the time looked important, and which I thought I could elaborate on for 6-8 minutes. Well, this was my first time talking without my favourite charts and data tables. Give me numbers and I can tell you all about your past, current experiences and may even venture in predicting the future. Take away the numbers and I am lost. It must be one of those rare conditions that make people scared when there are no numbers.
So, that was me, talking after John and no numbers! After this fairly elaborate introduction, here are my bullet points, which were originally written up on the back of an envelope:
- One of the fascinating things about international education is how fast-paced it is and while one contemplates the change – gone – it is already replaced by something else!
- In addition to Hans de Wit’s analysis of the internationalisation of higher education as a move from aid to trade, I also see this shift to becoming proactive from reactive - as something that was happening to countries to something they are proactively doing.
- Back to my data analysis comfort zone - analysis of international student outward and inward mobility to Malaysia, India, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and other countries shows a fast drop in the ratio between outward/inward mobility, meaning that increasingly these countries are receiving more students in relation to the students they are sending abroad. Malaysia now hosts twice as many international students than it sends to study abroad.
All of the above raise a strong argument in favour of new terms of engagement with countries with rapidly-changing landscapes. These new terms have to be mutually beneficial and long-term. The off-shore education provision has become a very crowded place in mature countries where access has been strengthened significantly. It is the quality that is becoming more prominent now. Increasingly, a matter of survival will be being niche and relevant to the local needs. The concept of 'boutique' universities is seeing growing popularity and it won’t be long before we see this concept coming to fruition.