HE Internationalisation: Why Awareness Of Cultural Conflict Matters (Opinion)

Sharon Rieger's picture

When University of British Columbia Fulbright scholar Rumana Manzur travelled to Bangladesh to see her family in May 2011, her husband refused her permission to return to Canada to complete her master's degree. He accused her of cheating; when she argued back, he attacked her viciously, gouging out her eyes in front of their young child — a daughter who will now bear her own emotional scars for a lifetime.

This shocking assault on a promising female student highlights an aspect of the internationalisation of universities that rarely comes up in policy discussions and news coverage of higher education.

Internationalisation is not simply a neutral exchange of ideas and people, a seamless movement of excellent ideas and scholars from one nation to another. The less examined, negative and contradictory side of internationalisation seems to flare up in conflicts that we don't know how to resolve, conflicts of culture that inevitably affect lives and raise serious ethical concerns.

A recent example is that of Australia, where Indian students have suffered racially motivated attacks and consequently the number of Indian applications to Australian universities has dropped. This has a direct effect on the economy. Canadian universities are now courting students in India to take Australia's share of the market.

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