Students are one part of the Catholic university’s international engagement, but there are other dimensions. If your goal is truth, establishing, explaining and justifying any truth is effective the more cross-perspectives are brought to bear, the more open the discussion, the richer and more diverse the argument. Truth responds to interrogation and questioning from multiple angles, and this suggests that research and scholarship requires not just peer approval but the broadest cross-cultural, cross-national discussion and support.
Secondly, Catholic faith has a particular story in each nation. In Australia, for example, the story is of French and Irish missionary Orders, teaching and nursing, service in the bush, an excellent settlement with the state, new ecclesial and youth movements and contribution from immigrant nations, the growing theological literacy and pastoral involvement of the laity. It is easy to see this as the whole Church context for an Australian Catholic university. But it is only the local end of our context. The more direct experience universities can offer of faith in other lands, the richer grows our understanding and that directly affects thinking and action on the Church and the university’s place within it.
In terms of service, Catholic universities contribute much to the welfare of Australia, but this by itself is not enough. The Church overseas is often the Church in need; particularly in the lands and islands of Oceania there is constant need for service and sacrifice to help the Church where it has less than we have in Australia.