International students in neighbourhood schools: A fickle commodity

Year: 2007

Author: Arber, Ruth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

That school communities are under pressure from various discourses - marketisation, neo-liberal liberalism and globalisation - has been much discussed recent literature. However, little discussion has taken place in relation to the impact of these discourses on the ways school communities understand their world and their students. This paper explores these discourses at work as Victorian Government schools, desperate for one of the few funding opportunities open to them, complete for international fee-paying students within an increasingly competitive and regulated market. Real attempts by school representatives to understand the academic and pastoral needs of students and parents become confused as they are negotiated in relation to Government demands for economy and accountability, student demands for international and western education and the marketing and educational imperatives of the school. In this paper I explore the impact of international students in local government secondary schools. I argue that a consequence of the drive to accept international students had been the commodification and objectification of the international student. International students become a fickle commodities much sought after when they are profitable, no longer wanted when they are not.