Australia’s education system is often named one of the best in the world. In the years 2012 and 2013, a total of $9.8billion was generated by the higher education sector, 67.6% of total on shore earnings. These statistics and the reputation of Australian tertiary education are primary examples of why studying in the nation is so appealing for international students. Studying in a foreign nation with a strong history is often thought to be a positive experience which would allow the student to enhance their understanding and interactions with the greater world.
The media has highlighted a number of assaults on international students. This experience suddenly doesn’t sound as enticing or as enriching as it could have been. Are Australians far too ethnocentric, meaning they are restricting the experience of international study?
International education is not the rich intercultural experience it could be. – Marginson (2012:1)
Marginson’s aforementioned quote undoubtedly raises concerns on international education in Australia. An experience which should be a period of learning, development and appreciation for the global community, international students are being faced with a larger number of difficulties which can restrict their overall experience. Students who are non-english speaking are faced with the task of learning a new language. There can be a misconception from local students who may view international students in a negative way due to their difficulties learning the language. Learning the new language enables an understanding of local culture and furthers the enriching experience as the individuals are immersed into the global work force. Marginson brings to light the strong motivation and determination that international students hold in order to try and assimilate into a foreign country. International students often display the intent to be an active global citizen, however it is not always reciprocated.
Globalisation is leading to a “smaller” global community, meaning local students must display cultural competence to become global citizens. Contrasting to conflict, we should be encouraging and interact with international students to benefit from their intercultural experience. Australian can often be considered ethnocentric. At times, we believe we are superior to the rest of the world. However, in a globalising age, we must learn to look past this attitude and include rather than exclude. There are immense benefits associated with acceptance, namely becoming literate global citizens.
Due to the emergence of globalisation, the world has undoubtedly become smaller. With this in mind, we must try and attempt to become more ideal global citizens by embracing other cultures. There is a lot to learn which can be accomplished if we can accept and integrate with other cultures rather than having an ethnocentric view. The global workforce is changing and individuals require skills which will enable critical thinking and understanding. We are able to become globally aware through interactions with each other, and undeniable benefit across from the global community. Ultimately, the greatest resource we have to learn is each other.