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Palgrave Macmillan

International Education Programs and Political Influence

Manufacturing Sympathy?

ISBN 9781137366283
Publication Date April 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Many national governments fund carefully selected foreign citizens to live, work, and study in their countries by creating exchange and mobility programmes. They often do this in the hope that mobility will improve international relations. Drawing on a wealth of research, International Education Programs and Political Influence questions whether mobility brings the kinds of benefits politicians have come to expect. It shows that the experiences of mobile scholars, the reflections of longstanding alumni and the expectations of senior administrators can differ quite significantly. The idea that hosting foreign visitors necessarily brings diplomatic influence may, in fact, be distracting us from the real benefits of educational mobility.

Iain Wilson is Chrystal Macmillan Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

1. Political Expectations
2. Can We Infer That Mobility Has Political Impact?
3. How Strong is the Evidence of Political Impact?
4. How Could We Detect Short-Term Impact (and what would that mean)?
5. Short-term Impacts of ERASMUS Mobility
6. Varieties of Experience
7. Individual Perspectives
8. Impact Over Decades


"This book critically tests, by means of archival research, in-depth interviews and statistical analysis, the impact of particular scholarship exchange programmes on their participants. The testing methodology is a fine riposte to those who continue to question the ability to effectively analyse exchange programme impact, in either the short or long term." – Giles Scott-Smith, Ernst van der Beugel Chair in the Diplomatic History of Transatlantic Relations since WWII, Leiden University, The Netherlands
'International relations scholars have paid increasing attention in recent years to the operation of 'soft power.' They have also recognised how extraordinarily difficult it is to measure its effects. Iain Wilson's timely study makes a major contribution to the systematic empirical analysis of the effects of one of the alleged sources of a state's soft power—the extent to which it promotes a positive image of itself abroad by educating students from other countries. Using a carefully designed set of panel surveys of participants in international student exchange programs, Wilson shows that the presumed 'transformative effects' of such programs are far more limited than has hitherto been thought. This is a well-written and sophisticated analysis that challenges conventional assumptions with solid empirical evidence. It deserves the attention of all scholars and practitioners who wish better to understand the operation—and potential limitations—of soft power.' - David Sanders, Professor of Government, University of Essex, UK
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