More Than Sex Sells Schools

March 17, 2010

One of two ways potential students from China are recruited includes “…shapely models in tiny silver dresses who paraded back and forth along a lit catwalk, waving scarves covered in red maple leaves and the word “Canada””, as reported by Mark MacKinnon in his article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail article. While Recruiting Chinese Students: A Work In Progress, and readers’ comments take voice many concerns, there are two that have received little or no attention: a) globalization of ideas (e.g. race, citizenship, modernity, etc.) according to neoliberal market schemes for education, and b) accountability of actors like Jin Jielie Group, that is “specializes in matching Chinese students with foreign schools”. The former is far too lengthy and complicated for me to think through and present here. The latter does not preclude responsibility of schools, governments, communities that support services of recruiters, and do not follow-through with products that can be likened to those flashed to would-be buyers, by Jin Jielie Group.

Someone must be paying Jin Jielie Group. Someone is not paying or saving from the incredible international tuition fees that Chinese and other foreign students must pay to attend school in Canada.

And while we’re at it… How about the “multicultural” ads for universities that are just not much (of anything) more than a bunch of local residents’ “next step” after high school. If universities are in the game of business (and they are), where and with whom can customers (misled as they [likely] may be) able to seek counsel? Who is accountable?!

Generally speaking, private high schools and larger universities provide excellent “customer service”. Positive student/parent experiences provide long-term outcomes and branding… here and abroad. It is the quick and dirty practices of smaller, financially insecure, reputably weaker institutions that are disconcerting. They grant admission to just about any foreign student (e.g. required LSAT score is very low, encourage non-degree status with empty promises, discriminate against them for on-campus job opportunities). These smaller schools push the photo of token multiculturalism, but after first installments of international student tuition is banked, students are left to fail and go home in shame.

In consideration of school reputations worldwide, small & weak Canadian schools have sought low levels to compete. It’s a sexy sham.

My advice: small or large university, stick to those with better research reputations. They are less likely to cheaply sell themselves (unfortunately, it’s because they need good students in their puppy-mills to support research outputs, but hey! at least there’s something in it for students too).

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