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Stefani Relles

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Globalization: Part III by Simon Marginson

Next up in our globalization series: Simon Marginson joins the discussion.

About the author: Professor Simon Marginson is a Professor of Higher Education in the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. He took up this position in July 2006. His inaugural professorial lecture on ‘The global positioning of Australian higher education: where to from here?’ was delivered on 16 October 2007.

Global Rights

by Simon Marginson

International students, persons who study outside their own country, are denied human rights.

The full set of human rights goes to the exercise of personhood in all domains of life. It includes legal, civil, financial, consumer, industrial, welfare and political rights. It includes the right to free speech, and freedom of association, and to live without fear or discrimination.

Now we live in a world of nation states. These rights can only be exercised by citizens able to access their own national jurisdiction. International students residing outside their own nation of citizen cannot access their own national jurisdiction and are dependant on the rights regime provided by the country of education. But in the country of education international students are legally defined as outsiders without rights.

In a recent study of international students in Australia published by Cambridge University Press (International Student Security, by Simon Marginson, Chris Nyland, Erlenawati Sawir and Helen Forbes-Mewett) we compared the rights and entitlements of local citizen students with international students. We found 25 areas where international students have inferior rights, from access to transport concessions and childcare subsidies and welfare support to postgraduate scholarships, translation services, and many more. No international student had utilized anti-discrimination legislation. International students pay taxes. This has not led to the granting of reciprocal rights by the nation taking those taxes.

Global mobility is a reality and growing all the time, and not just in education. Full human rights can only be accessed by international students if the national government in the country of education accept them as quasi-citizens with rights and entitlements in all areas – except for a very small number of domains in which an exception might be justified, such as the right to vote in national elections. No country provides such access to its jurisdiction. Nations such as the USA, UK and Australia are happy to accept revenues from international students to boost the national economy, but deny those same students human rights.

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