I'm a cash cow.
Didn't you know that? In the United States where full funding is the norm, PhD students are an expense. If they're UK/EU citizens studying in the UK, where full funding is rare, they are an expense there as well; even at full sticker price, they are not paying anywhere near the full cost of their education. But international PhD students are a different story entirely. For example, as an overseas student in the University of Cambridge, my fee liability is roughly three times that of a domestic student
. This makes me, questions of "merit" and "research fit" aside, roughly three times more
desirable than a domestic student from the perspective of my cash-poor department and university.
"But Casey," you ask, "didn't you say that you're fully funded?" Yes, I am. However, I am funded by my college, not my department or university, and due to an Oxbridge quirk, Trinity College's money is not the same as the University of Cambridge's money. From a departmental and university perspective, I might as well be self-funded, so as long as the money keeps rolling in, everything else pales by comparison. As a consequence, there is far less investment in my long-term professional development and much more interest in just making sure I do not become a liability by not graduating on time.
Therefore, I was not impressed by the new THE World Rankings, which will be ranking universities, at least in small part, upon the internationalization of their student body
. Using international students as cash cows is a burgeoning problem at public universities in the US, but due to public divestment of higher education in the UK the chickens have already come home to roost. The way international students are treated in UK universities can be appalling, and the low standards bring everybody down, staff and students, citizens and non-citizens alike. How is it possible that anyone in the UK--let alone a UK-based higher education periodical!--believes that this particular metric points to anything other than an institution's skill at taking advantage of rich families in foreign countries?
It sounds cliché, but it's true: International students are people too and should not be treated like your personal money tree. In an ideal world internationalization would
be a sign of merit, for it shows global commitment to human betterment. But as things stand now, no, you ain't foolin' anyone.