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Globalizing Canadian education from below : a case study of transnational immigrant entrepreneurship between Seoul, Korea and Vancouver, Canada Kwak, Min-Jung


This study explores a form of transnational economy that involves cross border movements of students, families and business people that are motivated by education. A main objective of the study is to explore the interplay of structural factors and the agency of migrants in the development of this industry. Using interview data collected in Seoul, Korea and Vancouver, Canada, this study demonstrates that the globalization of the international education industry is not simply an economic process but a by-product of complex relations between many economic and non-economic factors. The intensification of globalization in general, and the rise of neo-liberalism in particular, have introduced macro structural changes in the political economies of both Korea and Canada that have had important implications for growth in the education industry. The role of nation-states is critical in that both Korean and Canadian national governments have delivered more relaxed policies regulating international migration and educational flows between the two countries. At the local level, both public and post-secondary educational institutions in Vancouver have become actively engaged in recruiting fee-paying international students. Ordinary migrants, both permanent residents and temporary visitors, play an important role in promoting Canadian education in the global market as well. The successful recruitment activities of local schools (and school boards) have been facilitated by Korean international education agencies operating in Vancouver. Relying on close social and cultural linkages between Korea and Canada, the transnational entrepreneurial activities of Korean immigrants demonstrate how globalization actually works in practice. With strong motivation and spatial mobility, the rising demands of Korean students and their parents have also been an important precursor of recent industrial growth. This seemingly smooth growth of the international education industry between Seoul and Vancouver, however, masks more complex dynamics of the process. I provide four critiques on taken-for-granted approaches towards neo-liberalism and economic globalization. Exploring immigrant participation at the heart of the knowledge economy (education), this study also asks if the entrepreneurial opportunities that are being cultivated by Korean-immigrants represent an innovative shift from traditional and low-level ethnic niche economies toward more lucrative opportunities.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International