10 June 1983 - 12 June 1983

Higher Education: Problems of Access and Financing: A Dimension of Overseas Policy

Chair: The Rt. Hon. the Lord Thomson of Monifieth KT PC

The first conference of the year to enjoy summer weather was on the weekend 10-12 June, its subject being "Higher Education: problems of access and financing: a dimension of overseas policy” Lord Thomson of Monifieth was in the Chair. The title was a little opaque. It was in fact about coping with international student flows and interchange. There was considerable enthusiasm for the conference from both sides of the Atlantic. Participants came from the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Canada, Australia, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the O.E.C.D. and the European Institute of Education. On the Sunday H.E. the High Commissioner for Kenya joined the conference and was able to make a valuable contribution from his direct knowledge of African students' experiences and interests. Many of the participants had met one another previously in their dealings with international student problems, but it was interesting to note that Ditchley afforded them a chance of comparing notes in a way which their specific business on other occasions had not permitted or permitted only rarely.

As often happens, the presence at the table of many experts on the subject led to the discussion being launched without some basic assumptions being clearly defined or challenged. The extent to which the greater part of study abroad is financed by private family money was mentioned, but not at first given much weight. Little was heard of the erratic nature of student flows (for example, dis-proportionate numbers of Iranians and Taiwanese in the U.S.A.) and the implications of this for would-be planners and controllers. An uninformed listener might have had the impression at times that the process under discussion was wholly amenable to the control of governments and university administrators. The debate was punctuated by occasional reminders of the primary importance of individual students' or scholars' interests and the importance of not allowing "learning" to be eclipsed by "economic development", but the government officials and university administrators present seemed fairly consistently confident of knowing what was best for young people, for young countries and the wider world. As always happens at Ditchley, unrealistic assumptions were in the end eroded and the difficulty and indeed undesirability of trying to achieve any comprehensive control of international student flows was accepted.

Much respect was shown for the rights of that romantic figure “the wandering scholar", even when his disguise was momentarily very much stripped off and he looked fleetingly like a member of the university teaching staff; but it was generally agreed that his interests could be left to the private market, subject only to open-door attitudes by governments and classical academic exchange arrangements subsidised to some extent from public funds.

As regards government-assisted student flows, it was accepted that it was best from most points of view if they were arranged at post-graduate rather than undergraduate level. Nevertheless, where inadequate arrangements existed in a developing country for tertiary education, it would be right for a while for aid plans for that country to provide for undergraduate students to be sent abroad. The utility and growing popularity of sandwich courses for undergraduates, involving short stays abroad during a degree course at home, were much commended. As regards student welfare, this was regarded as being largely a matter for individual universities and polytechnics, backed by their local communities. It was noted that (according to the results of careful research) while overseas students needed to be helped across a certain threshold of welfare, what really mattered to them was the quality of their courses and the teaching they received. This seemed an appropriate lesson to absorb on the day after a British election which had given rise to much talk about Victorian values.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

Conference Chairman: The Rt. Hon. the Lord Thomson of Monifieth KT PC
Chairman, Independent Broadcasting Authority; Chancellor, Heriot WattUniversity; a Director, Royal Bank of Scotland Group; Joint Vice-Chairman, The Ditchley Foundation Council of Management


Professor D A Low

Smuts Professor of History of theBritish Commonwealth, University of Cambridge and Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge

Mr Guy Barnett MP

Member of Parliament (Labour) Greenwich; Opposition Spokesman on Overseas Development
Mr R H Bird CB
Deputy Secretary, Department of Education and Science
Mr Michael H Caine       
Chairman, Booker McConnell pic; a Director, IBEC Inc., New York; a Member of the Council, Bedford College, London and of the Governing Body, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University; Chairman, UK Council for Overseas Student Affairs
Sir Reginald Hibbert GCMG
The Director of the Ditchley Foundation
Mr Guy Hunter CMG
Author, and consultant; Overseas Development Institute; a Member, Council for International Development (ODM) and of the Board of Governors, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University
Mr Martin R Kenyon
Director, Overseas Students Trust; Managing Trustee, Fund for International Student Co-operation; Treasurer, UK Council for Overseas Student Affairs
Mr J E C Macrae
Head of Cultural Relations Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Roy Manley
Deputy Director, National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Professor Sir Roy Marshall CBE
Vice-Chancellor and Hon. Professor, University of Hull; Visiting Professor in Faculty of Law, University of Sheffield; Chairman, Commonwealth Standing Committee on Student Mobility; Member, Council, Association of Commonwealth Universities
Sir Edward Parkes
Vice-Chancellor (designate), University of Leeds; Chairman, University Grants Committee; a Member, University and Polytechnic Grants Committee for Hong Kong
Mr R S Porter CB OBE
Deputy Secretary (Chief Economist), Overseas Development Administration, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dr Raymond Rickett
Director, Middlesex Polytechnic; Chairman, Committee of Directors of Polytechnics (Chairman, London and SE Region); Member, UNESCO Advisory Committee, European Centre for Higher Education; a Member, Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas, the West Africa Working Group, Educational Credit Transfer Steering Committee, Department of Education and Science.
Mr Trevor Rutter OBE
Assistant Director-General, The British Council
Mr Alan K Smith
Director, Office for Co-operation in Education, European Institute of Education and Social Policy, Brussels
Professor P R C Williams
Head of Department, Department of Education in Developing Countries, University of London Institute of Education
Mr Gordon Wilson CBE
Chairman of Overseas Students Trust.

Mr. Bernard F. Trotter

Executive Director, Communications and External Liaison, Queen’s University at Kingston; a member of the Board of Directors, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Mr. William W. McNeill
Executive Director, World University Service of Canada, Ottawa

Mr M Malhoutra

Assistant Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat

Professor Fran
çois Davoine
Conservatoire Nationale des Arts etMétiers, Paris; Consultant on ScientificAffairs to General Directorate ofCultural Relations, Ministry of External Relations, Quai d’Orsay
Professor Maurice Gauthier
Chargé de Mission, InternationalRelations Branch, Ministry of Education;Head of English Language Faculty, University of Paris IV

Ministerialdirektor Dr. Eberhard B
Director General for Higher Education and Science Policy, Federal Ministry for Education and Science, ex officio member Board and main committee Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Board of German Academic Exchange Service, High Council of European University Institute, Florence
Herr Dr Heinrich Pfeiffer
Director-General, The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Herr Dr Karl Roeloffs
Secretary General, German Academic Exchange Service

Mr G S Papadopoulos

Deputy Director for Education, Directorate for Social Affairs, Manpower and Education, OECD, Paris

H E. Mr. Bethuel Abdu Kiplagat

High Commissioner of Kenya in London

Dr. Richard Beal

Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Crisis Management and Support and Planning, The National Security Council, The White House
Mr Frank J Cummiskey
IBM Director, IBM World Trade Europe/ Middle East/Africa Corporation5 IBM Consultant
Ms Rose Lee Hayden
Executive Director, National Council on Foreign Language and International Studies, New York
Mrs. Alice S. Ilchman
President, Sarah Lawrence College, New York; Member, Council on Foreign Relations, National Council on Foreign Languages and International Studies
Mr Richard M Krasno
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (President-Elect), Institute of International Education, New York
Professor Martin Meyerson
Chairman of the Board of the Institute of International Education; Vice President of the Board of International Association of Universities; Member of Board, International Council for Educational Development; Chairman, The University of Pennsylvania Foundation, President Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania; Honorary Chairman, American Association of University Students; Overseas Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, England
Ms Cassandra A Pyle     
Vice President, Division of International Education and Director, Council for International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright Senior Scholars Program); a Member, National Association for Foreign Student Affairs and Society for International Development
Mr John F. Reichard       
Executive Vice President, National Association for Foreign Student Affairs; Member, Board of Directors, International Student Exchange Program and Advisory Board, International Student Service
Mr David Smock             
Vice President, Program Development and Research and Director, South African Education Program, Institute of International Education
Dr Leo Sweeney              
President, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Washington DC

Mrs Bronwen Astor
Lady Hibbert
Sir Frank Roberts

President, European Atlantic Group; Chairman, Fund for International Student Cooperation
Sir David Wills CBE ID DL
Founder and Chairman of the Council of Management of the Ditchley Foundation
Lady Wills JP
A Governor of the Ditchley Foundation.
Miss Catherine Wills
Member of the Programmes Committee of the Ditchley Foundation