Higher Education

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 465–482 | Cite as

Higher education in a world market

An historical look at the global context of international study
  • Mary E. McMahon


Recognizing that academic, scientific and technological strengths have become increasingly important in international relations, this study hypothesizes that the flow of knowledge resources among nations is interconnected with global political, economic and cultural relationships. As a means of validating this premise, this study analyzes one component of academic interaction - international study at the level of higher education. This article outlines changes in international study patterns in the decades following World War n and explores how the postwar context affected international exchange relationships. International exchange during the 1960s and 1970s indicated strong participation by students from Third World nations and the popularity of five industrialized host nations. These relationships are explored through a statistical study of the flow of students from 18 developing nations out to the world and to the United States in particular. The findings assess the importance of key economic factors (such as involvement in global trade and concentration of trade), educational variables (including national emphasis on education and the availability of domestic opportunities) and political arenas (such as international assistance and scholarship dependency) in determining international study patterns. As current shifts in our postwar world order unfold before us, better understanding of historical factors underlying international exchange may be instrumental as we anticipate its future within the context of new geopolitical alliances.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary E. McMahon
    • 1
  1. 1.Education Abroad ProgramUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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