The internationalization of higher education is sometimes couched in terms of academic-humanist objectives, including the advancement of cultural exchange and diversity. Higher education research frequently highlights the potential for students in receiving countries to benefit from intercultural exchanges with international students on their campuses. At the same time, governments, higher education institutions, and private sector interests promote internationalization in terms of advancing economic performance, innovation, and investment. In the top receiving nations such as Canada, interest in internationalization is also motivated by the necessity for institutions to generate revenues from beyond their domestic student markets. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on overall enrollments at Western higher education institutions, especially during the 2019-20 academic year. In countries where dependence on international student fee revenue is high, post-COVID pandemic discourse on international students has not revealed much evidence of prioritizing the more academic-humanist aims of internationalization. Instead, from Australia to America frenetic public handwringing over operating revenues lost due to COVID-related travel restrictions has dominated headlines. This has laid bare the profit-seeking objectives of Western higher education institutions which have spent years aggressively seeking to attract international students to their campuses. Amid talk of economic recovery in Western nations, the commercial value of international students continues to be a matter of priority from the institutional level on up to national governments.

Author: Dale Kirby

Published in: Canada International Conference on Education, 2022

  • Date of Conference: 21-23 June, 2022
  • DOI: 10.20533/CICE.2022.0047
  • Electronic ISBN: 978-1-913572-49-5
  • Conference Location: Virtual (Mississauga, Canada)