Higher Education

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 305-323

First online:

Impact and adjustment: foreign students in comparative perspective

  • Philip G. AltbachAffiliated withComparative Education Center, State University of New York at Buffalo

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Foreign study is a multifaceted phenomenon - its impact is felt on academic institutions in both the ‘host’ and ‘sending’ countries, on the economies of nations, and of course on the individuals involved. With more than one million students studying abroad, foreign study has assumed considerable importance in higher education planning. This article considers the many aspects of foreign study and discusses the interrelationships of these elements. The policies of the ‘host’ nations, for example, have an impact on higher education planning in the sending countries. The non-return of foreign students, traditionally referred to as the ‘brain drain’, is considerably more complex than was once thought since Third World graduates settled in the industrialized nations often retain contacts with their home countries and increasingly return after a period abroad. This article also considers the various ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors which determine the constantly changing flow of foreign students.