Bureaucratic Myopia and Self-Formation

The internationalisation of education has become a lucrative business transaction for Australia as the globalisation of education continues to march forward. Higher level international education today currently involves “…twinning arrangements between universities from different countries, foreign university branch campuses, e-learning programs for students located in other countries, study abroad components and student exchange across national borders” (Sidhu & Dall’Alba 2012 p. 413). Australia has made higher level international education into an industry for profit, not only in money, but also in “…sourcing skilled workforce through its immigration policy, especially through the international students, who are undertaking study in Australia relevant to Australia’s long-term skill shortages” (Shams & Gide 2011 pg. 92). To keep up with the issues generated by this sourcing of skilled workforce, the government occasionally changes its legislation regarding the international education industry (IEI) and the immigration policy, which has resulted in the formation of a bureaucratic myopia (Shams & Gide 2011 pg. 92). This bureaucratic myopia is emphasised by the government who, with their racialist tendencies, pick and choose who has access to international education “…according to their countries of origin, ethnicities, and religious and linguistic backgrounds” (Sidhu & Dall’Alba 2012). On top of this, potential international students who are thinking of staying on in their host country after they complete their PhD have to wait a total of four years before they can attain Permanent Residency, and because of this, Australia is steadily losing international students to other countries such as Canada whose Permanent Residency requirements are much more easily attained (Shams & Gide 2011 pp. 93-94).

Another part of the bureaucratic myopia that affects international students is that because international education has become an industry, the intercultural experience of living in a country different to their own is depleted. The challenges international students face outside of the IEI is the adjustment to another countries culture, it is here however that international students flourish as they engage in a process of self-formation. Marginson says that students engage in cross-cultural experiences to start the process of self-formation, they engage in strategies of multiplicity and hybridity to combine identity resources from their own country and the ones they find here with differing cultural and relational elements, mixing them together to create cultural personas which allow them to better understand and interact with the host countries culture (Marginson 2012 pp. 6-8). These cultural personas are not fixed, they improve and grow with each experience and thanks to hybridity, do so without threat of fragmentation or contradiction to the students identity (Marginson 2012 pg.8). International students prove that they have the capacity to live in this country by being able to acclimatise with our culture by creating persona that allow them to engage with the surrounding society, in terms of the IEI, it is all up to the international student. Because of “…the failure of setting a direction for international education” and the fact that “Australia depends on the IEI seriously in terms of revenues from export earnings,” it does not look likely that the situation international students are facing now will improve shortly, a better option for international students may be to study in Canada where the promise of Permanent Residency is real (Shams & Gide 2012 pp. 92-93).


Aspire Education 2013, 5 Students Sitting on Grass Sharing a Joke Over Academic Text Books, Aspire Education, viewed 24 August 2014, http://aspirebig.blogspot.com.au/

Marginson, S 2012, Morphing a Profit-Making Business into an Intercultural Experience: International Education as Self-Formation, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

Shams, S M R, Gide, E 2011, ‘Contemporary Challenge of the Australian International Education Industry: Analysis of a Bureaucratic Myopia’, International Journal of Research Studies in Education, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 91-98

Sidhu, R K, Dall’Alba, G 2012, ‘International Education and (Dis)embodied Cosmopolitanisms’, Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 413-431


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