What I found most interesting in reading the AU Global Survey on internationalization of higher education, was the section on page 10 that detailed the aggregate and regional results from the survey question which asked what countries considered risks of internationalization to institutions and society.

As a whole, respondents perceived that the most significant risk of internationalization for institutions was that international experiences would only be available to students that have the financial means to support international education. A whopping 31% of respondents cited this as a major risk. I dug up a couple articles that speak to the actual cost of study abroad and the perceptions amongst many students that believe spending a semester in another country is only for rich people. There are a number of costs associated with studying abroad however the trend towards diversifying the student body populations that study abroad and creating interest in non-traditional study abroad locations is occurring.

What does it really cost to study abroad? College itself is expensive, and after factoring in plane tickets, visas, room and board, meals, new city transportation the upfront cost may seem hard for a student who doesn’t have monetary support from their families. For the 2012-2013 academic year, the average cost of a semester abroad for a student based in the US was $17,785, according to the Institute of International Education. From what I’ve read it seems that this price tag although very expensive, is not necessarily in addition to what you are already paying for college and it could actually turn out to be the same cost that you would spend ordinarily for college, depending on individual college costs.

Regionally, respondents in Africa and the Middle East cited brain drain as the second most important risk for institutions. I had not heard the term brain drain prior to reading the survey but was familiar with the concept under a different name, human capital flight. I thought it was quite interesting that these two countries regarded brain drain as such a huge risk. According to a World Bank Report, there is a growing move of North African migrant to the Middle East and Europe and of these migrants, 2.9 million people where educated and now live in more developed countries.

It is a frightening situation to lose your doctors, engineers, professors and other skilled professionals to other countries; this can cripple a country. The factors for brain drain are wide-ranging and complex and also depend upon the African country itself. One may be forced to leave a country because of war, political, instability, attraction to better pay, or even an appreciation for a different/western way of life. This movement for African countries is most prevalent in the medical field, and the recent Ebola outbreaks highlighted the doctor shortages. “In 1973, there were 7.76 doctors per 100,000 people in Liberia. This dropped to 1.37 doctors in 2008. In East Africa, Uganda has less than 5,000 doctors and 30,000 nurses for a population topping 35 million people, according to World Health Organization data. Societal risks of internationalization differ region to region but resources as seen in the majority of our readings is always a top concern.






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6 thoughts on “W 11- Risks of internationalization to institutions and society

  1. I agree that study abroad, only one component of internationalization efforts, raises concerns about resources, affluence and privilege. Because study abroad is sometimes considered an option available for a small percentage of students at US colleges and universities, internationalization does not get the credit it is due from individuals not as well versed in international higher education as we now are. This perceived risk makes proper implementation of comprehensive internationalization introduced in the readings this week all the more critical in mitigating some of the risks we read about. If student learning and curriculum are at the center of internationalization, one piece of it – study abroad – will not lend itself to as much criticism that it cannot be attained at all.

  2. Hello Tiffany,
    This is a very interesting view to bring to the blog, considering we mainly discuss how the need for internationalization and its growth would is such a positive aspect on all societies. and the negatives are quite small and irrelevant to the process. Also according to your article many people do tend to leave their countries because they do not see a future, hence counties that do take in these people are able to benefit since their general living situation is more accommodating for these people to be able to raise up instead of be put down , and not be able to properly advance their skills.

  3. Hello Tiffany,

    Thank you for your very insightful post this week. All of this time, I didn’t even bother to look up the cost of a semester abroad including tuition, books, meals, flight, room and board, and local transportation. Although a little over $17,000 seems like a lot of money, I agree, based on the average costs of tuition across the nation, it’s fairly reasonable. However, it would seem a bit intimidating for a ‘traditional’ college student (18-22) currently living at home and enrolled at a less affordable college. We have talked about institutions being more transparent with the cost of their study abroad prorgams to ease students into considering participating and now I see the importance of doing so. I enjoyed your addition of bringing up the negative aspects of internationaliztion for poorly underfunded countries in Africa. In theory, a policy can be made that ensures students from a poor country studying abroad in another country are expected to return home and work for a certain number of years to prevent brain drain. I know in the U. S. there are programs from new doctors and teachers that offer tuition reimbursment if the participant works within a facility/organization that is less attractive. Therefore, students and struggling neighborhoods are receiving an adequate education or medical services.


  4. Hi Tiffany,

    I want to comment on the most significant risk discussed in the survey – study abroad is only for rich students. This point brought me back to the statistics that on average less than 5% of the students in particular institution study abroad, but what about the rest 95%? Everyone talks about the importance of internationalization in higher education, existing opportunities and how great it is for students to get involved and have the international experience. However, we talk about targeting 5% of student who have the ability and funds to study abroad, while ignoring and not having ability to fund the remaining 95% to provide opportunities at home campus with curriculum changes and faculty involvement. It seems to be contradicting that we discuss the increase in internationalization efforts, but only showing minimal percentage of participants, while leaving most of the students and faculty out of the picture.

    Natallia Kolbun

  5. Hello Tiffany,
    Your post delves deep into the two areas that are of concern for HEIs and countries that want to get involved with internationalization for their colleges and universities. Study aboard can definitely be expensive and for students who are attending public institutions like CUNY it can be difficult for them to spend the money on something that can be perceived as a vacation. I think it is important for colleges and universities to spread the word about the availability of scholarships and financial aid for those interested in studying abroad. “The Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1992 mandated that a student can receive financial aid for the costs of studying abroad if the student is enrolled in a program approved by the home institution. Moreover, the student would be eligible to receive “grants, loans, or work assistance without regard to whether the study abroad program is required as a part of the student’s degree.” (NAFSA) Not many students are aware that they can use the money that they are receiving PELL and TAP to study abroad. For students who aren’t eligible for financial aid, they can look into study aboard opportunities that are not semester long, that would perhaps help with the cost.

    Brain drain or human capital flight, as you said needs to be understood so countries with this problem can look for solutions. In particular African countries, have to lead to ways to combat these issues so they can start become more self-reliant.

    The links below discuss an initiative reverse the brain drain in Africa.



  6. It isn’t surprising that international education is viewed as a risk, but isn’t possible to have the opposite effect. Exchange rate taken into consideration, yes education is expensive, (within our country at least), and that money many of us spend to obtain an education we could be living like kings and queens in other countries (lol). I for one didn’t want to do study aboard although it was on my to-do list of things to do when in college. I wasn’t prepared for the cost or did I try to understand it, and younger me didn’t sort out the many resources that are available for students who are interested in study aboard. This is still a reality for many students. Your point that it is the same cost (and in some cases it could even be less than an American education) is a great one that should be broadly advertised.

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