Consuls and universities

Consuls and universities

My last three posts had to do with consuls and business. Now I’ll talk about them in the area of education.

If you think there’s a big leap from one area to the other, you’d be wrong. International education is a major contributor to the global economy today. Just consider for a moment that between 2008 and 2012 foreign students contributed $21.8 billion in tuition alone; this is according to a study done of 118 U.S. metropolitan areas. And then there was the $12.8 billion these students spent on living costs.

In my book, The Foreign Consuls Among Us: Local Bridges to Globalism, I cite one of the researchers who conducted the above study: recruitment of foreign students is a significant way to “shore up our local economies and businesses.” There is, indeed, money to be had by our universities.

But what’s the connection between consuls and these institutions? Couldn’t I just have covered this in the three posts on them and business, since I began this post with talking about the financial contributions of foreign students in the U.S.?

Well, yes, but I believe that the area of “consuls and universities” deserves a much broader treatment than just a mention of dollar-figures. To give a broader perspective to the economic benefit of universities being receptive to foreign students we must take a step back and consider the role and functions of a consul.

Although the Convention on Consular Relations doesn’t include the term “education” (among any kind) among the four sub-areas of consular functions (“commercial, economic, cultural, and scientific”) it fits nicely under those broad umbrella concepts. Also, consuls are charged with sharing information with persons interested in those areas. It’s not difficult to envision consuls serving as initial conduits to U.S. higher education.

I believe, if the convention delegates were to meet today it wouldn’t be too long before they (or at least some of them) sought to include “education” to better reflect globalization in this area too. As we’ll see in my next posts, this is a multi-faceted concept as far as the role and functions of a consul go.