Many foreign students from around the world are lured by lower costs of education in countries other than their own, and the glamor attached to spending time in a foreign land too. Universities laboring under reducing subsidies from governments toiling under recessions are grasping at these new opportunities, and the competition for foreign students is heating up.
In parallel with these developments, many students from non English speaking communities are choosing to be educated at university level in English because this is fast becoming the international business language. One might have thought that English speaking countries like America, the United Kingdom and Australia were tops in the popularity polls among foreign students, but this is no longer quite true.
According to a report published on the BBC website on 9 March 2010 and quoting the British Council the latest league table is as follows:
3. United Kingdom
6. United States
How is it possible that foreign students could prefer to be taught in broken English by a German-speaker than by an American or British professor elucidating perfectly? What on earth is going on?
The truth is that non-native English speaking kids understand the neutral English spoken by a German lecturer far better than they do a deep Yorkshire accent or a Southern American twang, in part at least because the former are so meticulously trained. Other reasons provided by the British Council include lower costs, openness to foreigners, quality of accommodation, and of course the effectiveness of a university’s advertising program.
The internationalization of university education enriches every campus and has spin-offs in greater understanding between students of different nations too. Traditional universities in English speaking countries will have to counter trends, or face fewer foreign students, and financially and culturally poorer campuses and halls.