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Historically, international agreements between countries on higher education matters have been developed through bilateral agreements or through organisations like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Increasingly, there is a trend on the part of some highly developed countries to define higher education as a service like any other. Higher education is viewed as a major industry that could yield potentially good returns on private investments. In this context, higher education has become an issue for the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is becoming a forum for brokering agreements on higher education matters.