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This edition of the International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies ...

This edition of the International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies ...

IJAPS, Vol. 4, No. 1

IJAPS, Vol. 4, No. 1 (May 2008)Peter Kell & Gillian Voglexisting research into global student mobility. Most of the existing andcurrent research into global student mobility falls into two broad categories.The first, is research that explores the international trends and flowsof global student mobility and this research generally emerges from UnitedNations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), theOECD and at the national level the government collections of the AustralianBureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Department of Education, Science andTraining (DEST) (OECD 2006; ABS 2007; Marginson 2004). At presentthere is a reliance on statistical material that is based on a range of narrowcriteria such as countries of origin as this research is most often used toanalyse market trends. The comparability of this data is hampered bydifferent definitions of mobility and international student by various nationsand organisations. This large-scale data also lacks an ability to explore theexperience of global student mobility through such criteria as class, gender,ethnicity, locality and tends to concentrate on the students in isolation fromother external factors, such as the tensions in the post September 11 thenvironment. This has also created some metaphors around "flows" and"movements" which are aligned with analogies to market trends and thesetend to obscure the motivations and aspirations of individuals and alsopresent the international market as uniform and benign. Some of thecontributions in this edition suggest that this instrumental approach that isreliant on system theory inadequately captures the full complexity anddiscursive nature of the phenomena of global student mobility.The second trend in global student mobility research uses acombination of phenomenology, ethnography and narrative to explore theexperiences of individual international students. While these researchprojects make useful starting points for research, much of this research seesstudents as isolated individuals and as passive participants in a globalmarket setting, and does not assign students any capacity for agency. Theresearch concentrates on adjustment issues and poor services of hostinstitutes. Much research is inclined to stereotype Asian students and seesthe principle question as being how students adapt to their new environmentand "assimilate" to the cultural values of their host nation, institute and theprotocols associated with academic learning. The research is ofteninstrumental and concentrates on methods of how to develop more effectivemethods at "managing" the needs for international students. The research islimited as it does not have a long-term perspective beyond the "instant" andalso does not attempt to explore transnational links between families, nation,communities, work, migration and citizenship. The existing research oftenfails to explore the global connections that arise as a consequence of globalstudent mobility and how these connections influence a sense of belonging,viii

IJAPS, Vol. 4, No. 1 (May 2008)Editorialwell-being and security as well as a developing notion of global citizenship(Kell et al. 2005).Global student mobility is also framed by contradictory claims aboutthe risk that international students pose to the perceived integrity of thenation state. The claims, usually made by conservative sources argue thatinternational students pose a series threat to domestic labour markets and areresponsible for eroding or evading legitimate processes of immigration.International students are often seen as using their student status as a"cover" for what is seen as illegal work and eventual permanent residence.In the media, public debate is characterised by hysteria over students usingeducation "back door" to immigration. Since September 11 th the linkbetween terrorism and threats to the nation state and the presence ofinternational students has triggered anxieties that have seen increasingpreoccupations with the state monitoring of those mandated as being the"other". This has led to increasing state regulation of not only the conditionsof entry of students to countries but also many aspects of their private livesand study. This increased surveillance and scrutiny of students has alsoresulted in a changed relationship between the state and universities wherethere is intervention and micro-management of the internal operations andprogrammes of universities.International students are also placed in a contradictory andsubordinate position where they are expected to accept and conform to localcultural, and academic conventions and behaviours. International studentsare also expected to accept political conditions and social arrangements inwhich they find themselves without question. Involvement in domesticpolitics issues is dissuaded and active agency is not encouraged. Passivityand compliance to local customs and practice are assumptions that positioninternational students as subordinate to the social norms of the communitiesin which they live and study. In a one-way relationship internationalstudents are seen as largely the beneficiaries of their presence in their hostcommunity. Expectations are that international students should be the"same" but they are subject to differential and discriminatory practices thatidentify them as different. This imbalance amplified by the fact thatinternational students possess few legal provisions and entitlements thatpreserve their rights. Codes of practice, consumer rights and the codificationof international educational practices rarely mention or specify the needs ofinternationals students. The rights of the state, and providers and theprotection of their interests is favoured rather than any protection ofinternational students who are increasingly seen as the other, and treated asaliens and foreigners.ix

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