New policy study reveals best-engaged countries

 Wednesday 4 May 2016

Our new index that charts levels of government support for international higher education in 26 countries shows Germany and Malaysia leading the pack.

The Shape of Global Higher Education’ provides the first comparative framework through which the relative strengths and weaknesses of different countries’ higher education policies can be judged.  

Intended as a guide for policy-makers, leaders and education professionals, the study identifies the national environments most conducive to international collaboration, research, partnerships and future economic growth.

The 26 nations, including the UK, USA, Brazil, China, India and Russia, were scrutinised and each was measured against 37 qualitative indicators.

This study provides the first detailed snapshot identifying the nations best equipped to thrive in the future, highlighting where their strengths lie and with which other nations they can look to collaborate.  

The study was launched today at Going Global, our annual conference for higher education leaders, being held this year in Africa for the first time.

Professor Jo Beall, Director Education and Society, British Council, says: “There is hardly a country left unaffected by the global flows of students, teaching and research, so the value of a greater understanding of national higher education systems has never been more important. The future of higher education will depend on successful, sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships.”  

To allow users to analyse the study’s data for themselves, the British Council has also produced the Global Gauge - an interactive tool designed for policy-makers which can isolate specific measures within the data, giving users the opportunity to explore the relative strengths of individual national systems.

Janet Ilieva, Director, Education Insight, and report author, says: “To be relevant and active in higher education, UK institutions need to be internationally engaged – not just in terms of recruiting international students, but through collaborating with foreign partners in teaching and research projects.”  

Key findings of the study include:

  • Of the countries covered in the study, Germany and Malaysia have the most balanced portfolio of national policies aimed at international higher education;
  • Student mobility is one of the best-developed areas of national-level policies in international higher education. The majority of the countries studied have introduced student-friendly and welcoming visa policies; a much smaller number (Australia, Germany and more recently Russia) have widened access to their labour markets for international students;  
  • Quality assurance of Higher Education emerges as an area of weakness for the shortlisted countries. The countries faring well are those with an established record of delivering transnational education programmes such as Australia, Malaysia, Germany and the UK;  
  • Universities are the major drivers of International Higher Education in a number of countries;  
  • International research collaborations are increasingly becoming a policy preoccupation.