One of the greatest things about going to university is that you get the chance to meet people whose paths you might never otherwise have crossed: kindred spirits from all over the world who will change and shape the way you think about life, the universe and everything.
This can be especially true when you find yourself studying, socializing and even living with students who have come from different countries and cultures. When I was at university, the courage of these students used to amaze me, particularly those who came from far away, and for whom English was a second language. I could not imagine leaving everything familiar behind and committing to such a new and different experience. Despite this, the presence of international students at a UK university didn’t surprise me: it seemed natural to me that students would want to study here, the centre of my universe.
What’s more, a good deal of research suggests that the global centre of education is shifting. I found myself wondering whether it might soon be as usual to be a British student in, say, China as it is now to be a Chinese student in the UK. What draws international students to the UK? And what draws British students elsewhere? And why might that elsewhere increasingly be in Asia?