Beyond the Economic Benefits- Internationalisation in Australian Education

In “Internationalising Australian Higher Education” an analysis by Professor Margaret Gardner, the ideology that ‘true excellence in university education and research cannot be realised without some depth of global engagement and understanding’ is voiced very clear. The analysis goes in to explaining how Higher education in Australia is becoming increasingly internationalised by attracting international students as well as Australian Universities going overseas. International education, especially in universities, is important for our future because it is Australia’s largest service export and its 3rd largest export industry, earning $28.6 billion in 2106-2017. The consistent figures observed over the last decade remind us of this importance. The article states that more than 300,000 international students in Australia making up 26% of total higher education students. Majority of students come from neighbouring countries “forming substantial human bridge”. Academics in Australian universities are diverse though slightly more likely to come from UK, North America and Europe rather than from Asian countries from which international students are drawn. They have worked to ensure an international study experience and created a major service export. Gardner goes into explaining that “by establishing branch campuses in surrounding countries, they are engaging with those nations’ governments, companies and communities”.  This is unique to Australia, and not seen as widespread across public universities elsewhere. Links with researchers, industries and government agencies in our region provides means to engage on issues such as public health, governance and justice, transport infrastructure and sustainable resource use. Federal policy allowed this to happen and Australian universities took advantage of changes to immigration. Internationalisation is necessary to the purpose of universities with benefits that are measurable, economically but also social and human ‘it is a benefit without borders’.

Rebecca Ruth Gould’s article for The Conversation titled “Why internationalisation matters in universities” extends on many similar points as those drawn by Gardner by not purely focusing on the economic benefits international students bring and instead bringing light to the many other aspects we as a nation can gain by opening our classrooms and inviting these students into our lives. Gould emphasises to us that “while universities need to sustain themselves financially, viewing international students only from an economic point of view means the quality of higher education is cheapened – and the students themselves are commodified”. The term internationalization however is “about a great deal more than just profit margins”. Four arguments which reach beyond commodifying these students are: 1. For the greater good: to “embrace racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and national diversity”, 2. It helps people to grow: helping international students “see the world from vantage points that reach beyond their own backgrounds” allowing them to learn about new cultures and countries as a form of self-transformation. 3. Best of both worlds: successful internationalization means training students to “approach their own cultures, texts, and traditions in different ways and through comparative perspectives” and finally the last point in the article 4. It helps people to see beyond themselves: Internationalization is a comparative project. And it is an agenda with “intellectual implications”. Giving students and scholars the opportunity to view themselves and their cultures in new ways.

Gardner, P. (2018). Internationalising Australian Higher Education – AIIA. [online] Australian Institute of International Affairs. Available at: 

Gould, R. (2018). Why internationalisation matters in universities. [online] The Conversation. Available at: 

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