Student Mobility, Globalization to be Topics of International Forum on Oct. 16

Release Date: September 24, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Higher-education leaders from more than 15 countries -- including presidents from 10 overseas universities -- will gather at UB next month to discuss how globalization and government policies are creating opportunities and barriers for international students who wish to study in the United States or elsewhere in the world.

Being held in conjunction with the investiture of John B. Simpson as UB's 14th president, the "International Forum on Student Mobility and the Globalization of Higher Education," will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 16 in the University Inn & Conference Center, 2401 North Forest Road, Amherst.

According to forum organizer Stephen Dunnett, vice provost for international education and a co-chair of the presidential inaugural committee, forum participants will include approximately 40 delegates from more than 20 international institutions of higher education with which UB has partnered over the years in faculty and student exchanges, joint research and scholarly collaboration, international conferences, offshore academic programs and other cooperative endeavors.

Presidents from other SUNY campuses and universities that are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) also have been invited.

"The investiture of President Simpson affords us the opportunity to organize a unique event that will involve the presidents of our partner institutions overseas," said Dunnett. "President Simpson wanted his fellow presidents to take an important role in the inaugural events as a way of both highlighting UB's position as a leader in international education and strengthening the university's affiliations around the world.

"The topic of international student mobility is especially suitable since it is one of great interest to internationally active universities and their leaders around the world," he added.

The forum will be moderated by D. Bruce Johnstone, former SUNY chancellor who is University Professor of Higher Education and director of the Center for Comparative and Global Studies Center at UB. Dunnet, and Barbara Bunker, professor of psychology and chair of UB's Council on International Studies and Programs, will be co-moderators.

Among the topics to discussed are how barriers to access -- such as post-9/11 U.S. student-visa policies -- are affecting international student mobility; how globalization is improving student access while creating global competition among institutions; the intellectual, social and economic benefits of international student mobility; the marketing of higher education abroad, and the role of technology in enhancing and complementing student mobility.

Dunnett noted that the conflicting influences of greater globalization and increased concerns about homeland security have brought many changes to international education and student mobility, especially as it pertains to international access to U.S. higher education. He said that many of the international delegates attending the forum are troubled by recent U.S. policy toward international students and will appreciate the opportunity to share perspectives on how increased mobility not only can enhance their institutions, but support the cause of peace and improved understanding around the world.

"The establishment of the World Trade Organization and the lowering of trade barriers worldwide has increased the accessibility of educational services in many countries and reduced barriers to students coming from other nations," Dunnett said.

"On the other hand, the United States finds itself going against the trend toward greater openness and accessibility," he added. "The three years since 9/11 have seen the erection by the federal government of one barrier after another to international education and exchange, all in the name of homeland security."

According to Dunnett, the United States has much to learn from the visiting delegates, whose institutions and countries are in many ways ahead of the U.S. in promoting mobility and globalization.

"It is no longer true that the rest of the world needs to come to us to learn and adapt our ideas," he said. "Increasingly, we need to learn from others around the world."

Among the delegates attending the forum will be several from Europe, which has undertaken a very ambitious program to increase mobility by standardizing and integrating curricula and degree programs across the 25 members countries of the European Union, Dunnett said.

"We also will have delegates from China and India, both of which have rapidly expanding systems of higher education and increasingly sophisticated capabilities in science and technology that eventually will rival that of the U.S.," he added. "For these countries, mobility is no longer a one-way street and merely a matter of brain drain."

In contrast, the U.S. has seen a dramatic leveling off of international enrollments and is risking losing some of the more than $12 billion dollars that international students contribute to the U.S. economy, and -- just as important -- is risking the knowledge, intelligence and skills that international students contribute to U.S. academic programs, research endeavors and, in some cases, the workforce.

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