Cash Cows: Focus on Recruiting Foreigners Reveals Mission Drift

Times Higher Education, March 27, 2014 | Go to article overview

Cash Cows: Focus on Recruiting Foreigners Reveals Mission Drift


Pro v-c attacks profit chasing in sector and calls time on marketing speak. David Matthews writes

Universities have been warned that they are not "profit-maximising corporations" and to ditch "marketing speak" when recruiting international students.

Nigel Healey, pro vice-chancellor for internationalisation at Nottingham Trent University, rounded on universities that were using international students simply to increase their income.

Speaking at the International Higher Education Forum 2014, hosted in London last week by Universities UK, Professor Healey said that in "many cases" universities are recruiting "large numbers of international students of increasingly poor quality in terms of language ability".

"Those students then can't integrate, they become marginalised," he added.

In Australia, some universities took more than half of their students from overseas, Professor Healey continued, meaning that these students became "ghettoised".

International students could not simply be used as a "cash cow", he said. "It's really important that we do not get fuddled by marketing speak. It's not about the dollars, it's about the mission: why are we doing this?"

"We're not profit-maximising corporations. We're universities. We have a very different mission," he argued.

Professor Healey recounted a conversation he had had with a representative from Jaguar Land Rover, who, if asked, would want to increase the company's sales in China, for example, by as much as possible.

But a vice-chancellor would be likely to keep their ambitions for international student growth in the range of 5 to 10 per cent, he said.

"[The vice-chancellor] is not going to say 100 per cent or 200 per cent. Because [if numbers increase this much] you fundamentally change the nature of the university. …

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