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Book Review
© Journal of International Students
Volume 9, Issue 4 (2019), pp. 1191-1195
ISSN: 2162-3104 (Print), 2166-3750 (Online)
Doi: 10.32674/jis.v0i0.618
Tannock, S. (2018). Educational Equality and
International Students. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave
Minghui Hou
Old Dominion University, USA
As an international student, until recently I had never thought about educational
equality for international students because it seemed impossible for an international
student to have the same opportunities or resources as domestic students. Educational
Equality and International Students, recently published by Tannock (2018), explores
and highlights how to conceptualize and promote principles of educational equality
for both international and domestic students in the United Kingdom. Tannock’s book
includes empirical research consisting of 60 interviews with higher education staff
and students, as well as the use of higher education institutional documents and
secondary statistics collected from universities and national higher education
organizations around the UK. Tannock addresses the contradictions between the
missions of higher education institutions (universalistic principles of human rights in
equal education) and their practices regarding international students as “cash cows”
that keep the university afloat (p. 110).
Speaking from personal experiences, educational equality should ensure all
individuals have the same opportunities to access educational institutions and
educational achievement and success, and the principle of equality should be for the
public good in society as a whole and be central to educational practice, policy, and
Marketization of Higher Education
Chapters 3 and 6 of this publication address the competing forces of
marketization, immigration restriction, and international students as “cash cows,as
well as their function in extending “soft power.” For example, in 2008, international
students needed to be sponsored by an education institution having a state-granted
Tier 4 sponsor license in order to have a Tier 4 visa to come to the UK. The Tier 4
regime has led to a fundamental change among the state, universities, and
Journal of International Students
international students in the UK. The Home Office with extensive power over policy
and practice has become “a major regulator of higher education in the UK” (Tannock,
2008, p. 48).
Notable among the points made in this section is the analysis of immigration
policy in the UK. The National Union of Students has taken some measures across
the country, seeking “to provide protection for international students at educational
institutions that lose their Tier 4 reduce the required bank balance levels”
in order to build a welcoming country to attract international students (Tannock,
2008, p. 56). It is essential for universities and international student organizations to
take efforts to protect international students from the government-led immigration
This also provides an instructive example for the United States. During the
current presidential administration, an unwelcoming environment has been built for
international students, including the tightening of visa regulations, increasing visa
fees, and three versions of the Trump travel ban (Executive Order 13769). President
Trump initiated an Executive Order that prohibited the entry of citizens from certain
Muslim countries in January of 2017 as the original travel ban. The second travel ban
was reinstated by the Supreme Court, in which international students, employees, and
scholarly visitors to universities were exempt from the ban in June of 2017 (Stein,
2018). The third ban restricted the entry of tourists or business or student visas from
the Muslim-majority countries of Iran (except student and exchange visitor visas),
Libya (on tourist or business visas), Somalia (on immigrant visas for nationals), Syria
(on immigrant visas for nationals), and Yemen (on tourist or business visas). The ban
also includes North Korea (on all travel for nationals) and Venezuela (on some
government officials). This unwelcoming environment, along with policies of the
Trump administration, have affected “racialized students, faculty, staff, and campus
visitors” (Stein, 2018, p. 894).
The question of whether international students ought to be charged higher
university tuition fees than their native counterparts to ensure educational equality is
also discussed in this section. According to the University of Sunderland (as cited in
Tannock, 2018), international students are charged higher tuition fees than home
students because the UK government provides subsidies for home students through
domestic taxes. However, Tannock claims that UK law does not require international
students to pay higher tuition fees than home students, but only requires “international
students not receive a public subsidy for their education” (p. 132). Higher education
has been putting too much emphasis on “opening up markets for foreign study,
increasing flows, and maximizing the market potential of foreign study” (Altbach,
2015, p. 2) without considering how international education serves for the public
good in both home countries and international countries.
Fragmentation and Issues in Internationalization
Chapters 4, 5, 7, and 8 demonstrate the fragmentation and issues of educational
equality in internationalized universities. Chapter 4 categorizes fragmentation of
equality into institutional fragmentation, spatial fragmentation, and temporal
fragmentation. Institutional fragmentation refers to the tendency for “equality” and
Journal of International Students
“international” staff to work in different departments. University equality offices tend
to focus on equality issues for university staff. The widening access offices handle
the main equality issues in higher education academic policy and practice literature
for students. International offices focus on the issues that concern international
students. Spatial fragmentation refers to home and international students being
charged differently based on “a combination of their nationality and residency”
(Tannock, 2018, p. 74). In the context of temporal fragmentation, international
students are treated differently than home students in the context of the academic
environment even though they are considered to have equal rights as home students.
For instance, international students are subject to mandatory attendance monitoring.
In sum, international students are singled out and excluded from educational equality
due to institutional, spatial, and temporal fragmentation.
Chapter 5 provides the rationale for the fragmentation and how absent global
equality structures impact international students. Chapter 7 explores the extreme
inequalities in international education, particularly the inequality of curriculum.
Chapter 8 examines international students exclusion from UK students in academic
attainment. University College London is only concerned with the gap between the
academic attainment of white and black or minority ethnic British students. One
rationale is that researchers have demonstrated variation in academic achievement
between home students and non-EU international students. Comrie found that home
and EU students were likely to achieve a higher level than non-international students
overall, while non-EU international students tended to achieve a higher level than
home students in the field of accounting and finance.
In light of market-centric competition, nation-state equality legislation has
provided equality and justice protection for international students in the UK to attract
more international students. For instance, an All-Party Parliamentary Group for
International Students has formed to emphasize the importance of international
students to employment and educational market. Some alternative agendas have been
made to promote equality and justice. Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships are
funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to provide financial
and institutional support for individuals from other countries and equality legislation
protecting international students from discrimination and unequal treatment (“About
Chevening, 2015). These policies could act as forces to ensure educational equality.
In addition, Tannock touches on the terminology of Stier (2004)
instrumentalism, idealism, and educationalismto help international students adapt,
adjust, accommodate, and succeed in the UK higher education system. Idealism refers
to how higher education contributes to “the creation of a more democratic, fair and
equal world” (Steir, 2004, p. 88). Instrumentalism refers to higher education as a
means “to maximize profit, ensure economic growth and sustainable development, or
to transit desirable of ideologies of governments, transnational corporations, interest
groups or supranational regimes” (p. 90). The ideology of educationalism implies that
internationalization is a response to competence demands and to be used to “an
unfamiliar academic setting” (p. 90) and to enrich the academic experiences of
students and staff alike. In particular, Tannock emphasizes how the various
internationalized curricula should be used in UK universities in the name of
educational equality and justice, and how they ought to provide British students with
Journal of International Students
international education. In the process of the internationalization of the curriculum,
international students have become a part of the curriculum (as cited in Tannock,
2018). Furthermore, through this type of activity, UK universities promote the
concept of “global citizenship” for both international and home students.
Finally, this section examines inequalities and exclusions in UK universities due
to economic, political, social, and cultural obstacles, underscoring how international
students have been excluded from research and policy discussions. To do so, Tannock
draws on examples from national legislation and institutional internationalization to
suggest transformations of higher education pedagogy, curriculum, and pedagogy
practice for the benefits of both international and home students in the UK.
Ongoing Issues and Conclusions
Tannock concludes his analysis by situating this publication as a “starting point
for a broader and more far-ranging conversation, not an end point and not with any
claim of comprehensiveness or conclusively” (p. 217). Indeed, he explores two other
broad issues: How typical are internationalized universities in the UK when compared
with other countries? How can the situation of educational equality in the UK
contribute to global equality and justice in education around the world? Tannock not
only poses the importance of educational equality but also provides analysis, answers,
and examples.
Tannock makes a pivotal contribution to international educational equality with
this contribution to the literature. However, Tannock does not address the difference
between educational equality and equity. Corson noted that equity is related to
fairness or justice in education and it takes various circumstances into consideration,
while equality usually refers to the same treatment by “asserting the fundamental
or natural equality of all persons” (as cited in Espinoza, 2007, p. 345). Equality means
that international students and domestic students should have the equal access to
universities, which indicates the same requirements for application and the same
tuition. Equity means that international students need to have an individualized
curriculum to help them better adapt to a foreign environment to be successful. Future
research about international educational equality and equity will be needed.
About Chevening. (2015). Retrieved from
Altbach, P. (2015). Foreign study: Patterns and challenges. International Higher
Education, (30).
Espinoza, O. (2007). Solving the equityequality conceptual dilemma: A new model
for analysis of the educational process. Educational Research, 49(4), 343363.
Stein, S. (2018). Racialized frames of value in US university responses to the travel
ban. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 17(4).
Stier, J. (2004). Taking a critical stance toward internationalization ideologies in
higher education: Idealism, instrumentalism and educationalism. Globalisation,
Societies and Education, 2(1), 128.
Journal of International Students
Tannock, S. (2018). Educational equality and international students. Cham,
Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
MINGHUI HUO is a graduate assistant in the Batten College of Engineering and
Technology at Old Dominion University. Her major research interests lie in the
areas of internationalization, international education equity, immigration policy, and
international student mobility. Email:
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Background Over the past four decades there have been a number of controversies arising from the discussion of ‘equity’ and ‘equality’. These concepts are often invoked by policy analysts, policy-makers, government officials and scholars in order to justify or critique resource allocation to different levels of the educational system.Purpose By creating a new equality–equity goal-oriented model, which allows the combination of different dimensions for each concept with different stages of the educational process, this paper aims to achieve two purposes: (1) to clarify among researchers, educators, evaluators, policy analysts, and policy-makers the notions of ‘equality’ and ‘equity’; and (2) to encourage researchers and evaluators to critically examine and synthesize equality/equity-based research.Sources of evidence A review of the literature concerning the meaning, goals and assumptions of the concepts ‘equity’ and ‘equality’, and their implications for social and public policy, is presented.Main argument A survey of recent and earlier debates on ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ among scholars and researchers reveals disagreement and confusion about what those concepts really mean and what they involve in terms of goals and results. It is debatable whether we can have ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ in a society that prioritizes efficiency in resource management over social justice. Certainly, such questions have shaped and guided many discussions and theoretical debates among scholars, policy analysts and policy-makers.Conclusions Most of the definitions of ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ are frequently used by many researchers, evaluators, policy-makers, policy analysts, scholars and educators as if they were interchangeable. Instead of arguing for a unique or simple conception of ‘equity’ and ‘equality’, a set of definitions of those concepts as well as a discussion related to theoretical and policy issues associated are presented. In order to avoid that confusion, the equality–equity model developed in this paper suggests several new directions for analysis and research. It provides some ideas about how ‘equity’ (i.e. ‘equity for equal needs’, ‘equity for equal potential’ and ‘equity for equal achievement’) and ‘equality’ (i.e. ‘equality of opportunity’, ‘equality for all’ and ‘equality on average across social groups’) could be treated and measured in future research in relation to different features of the educational process (availability of resources, access, survival, output and outcome).
In an increasingly globalised educational landscape, this book examines whether the principle of educational equality can be applied across nation state borders. Exploring the tension between the theory of educational equality and the reality that most educational institutions are rooted in local communities and national frameworks, the author thus probes the consequences for institutions, individuals and communities as the number of international students grows exponentially. A topic that has previously received limited attention, the author draws upon theoretical literature and an empirical study of how universities in the United Kingdom conceptualise and promote principles of educational equality for international as compared with home students. This pioneering work will be interest and value to students and scholars of international education, international students, educational equality and globalisation, as well as practitioners and policy makers. © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018. All rights reserved.