The Political Economy of International Education

A Critical Discussion


  • Wenxi Wu The Chinese University of Hong Kong


international education, political economy, Western-centrism, elitism, political constraints


As educational sectors and stakeholders are increasingly engaged in the practice of international education, there have been many discussions regarding two persisting issues with the practice, which can be summarised as Western-centrism and elitism. Applying concepts from the study of political economy, this paper analyses major political constraints underlying these two challenges. The paper suggests that the origin of these political constraints is a Western-dominated neoliberal world order, with powerful effects on the educational choices made by advantaged groups in non-Western societies. The analysis highlights a political-economic cycle based on the West’s export of educational products in exchange for human and economic capitals, which sustains the current ecology of international education. The paper also discusses possible ways to redress the political constraints for international education to be more inclusive and equitable. It concludes with notes on new challenges underway and their effects on the future directions of international education.

Author Biography

Wenxi Wu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Wenxi Wu is a PhD student in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy, Faculty of Education, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research areas include comparative and international education, international schools, and cultural studies in education. Her dissertation looks into the local characteristics of international schooling in Mainland China.