The Economist writes:
Higher education is now international in a way it has not been since the heyday of Europe’s great medieval universitiesand on a vastly greater scale. Numbers studying abroad were statistically negligible only two decades ago, says Andreas Schleicher, of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based think-tank. Now growth is soaring: 2m university studentsapproaching 2% of the world’s total of 100m, according to the International Finance Corporationwere studying outside their home country in 2003. Since the late 1990s the higher-education market has been growing by 7% a year. Annual fee income alone is now an estimated $30 billion. Private, profit-seeking institutions are still a minority, but almost all universities are beginning to compete for talent and money. That is breeding independence of government, both financially and psychologically; inexorably, the state’s role is shrinking.
The two big trends, of internationalisation and competition, feed each other. The more that universities tailor their offers to foreign students, the more attractive they become. And the more that students hop between countries, the more their choices count rather than the wishes of a particular government.