International students’ contribution to a nation’s graduate output

The recently published OECD Education at a Glance 2007 provides lots of interesting snapshots of the global higher education scene (see also our earlier report on this). One table worth pondering over is the contribution of international students’ to the graduate output. As we can see below, in countries like Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, more than 30% of what are referred to as tertiary type A (that is, graduating from a second or advanced degrees) students are awarded to international students. This is all to the good, if we are counting the income these students generate for the receiving institution and host country.

However, as the Report notes, the presence of the international students in these figures inflates the graduate output numbers, concealing, in the process the ‘true’ domestic graduate output.

If a national economy is going to be dependent on the production of highly educated graduates, it will need either to ensure that it can retain this talent through preferential work visa treatment if it doesn’t already, or at least to recognise that output figures need to be treated with some caution in terms of the assumption that this labor will be available for the high skilled end of the labor market, in particular R&D.

The Australian Government is clearly aware of this issue; they offer visas for exceptional talent and immigration points to students who are already studying in the country. More recently the European Commission has announced that its Member States will also offer visas to talented scientists to remain in Europe. However, it will be interesting to see to what extent the Member States take the international component of their graduate outputs into account when meeting Europe’s Lisbon objectives of greater numbers with higher degrees.

Susan Robertson

One thought on “International students’ contribution to a nation’s graduate output

  1. My name is Lorraine Kamara and I am a second year Journalism and Media Student studying in Coventry. I wanted to know if it would be possible for me to interview you about international students and how the immigration cap will now affect Coventry and its intake of international students in Coventry. I know that you are extremely busy but it would be a privilege to have you as a part of my work. The interview would only take 5 minutes maximum .
    Please email me on as soon as possible or call me on 07903206699

    Yours Sincerely
    Lorraine Kamara

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