S.M. SAIFUDDIN **             Executive Secretary, Association of Universities of Bangladesh                              ...
in provision and quality especially between developing and developed countries andbetween urban and rural areas. It may be...
knowledge and it also reflects the mirrors of their respective society.       International student flow should also be di...
management continues to be an issue of considerable concern at all levels in       Member-states. In a number of countries...
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Alex. papers gm s. m. saifuddin


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Alex. papers gm s. m. saifuddin

  1. 1. S.M. SAIFUDDIN ** Executive Secretary, Association of Universities of Bangladesh Introductory Speech Parallel Working Group B Cross-Border Education Expansion: What opportunities? What challenges? For whom? What Services are needed for Member Institutions? Global Meeting of University Associations Alexandria, Egypt 14-15 November 2005Mr. PresidentDistinguished ParticipantsLadies & GentlemenMay I first of all express my deep appreciation to the International Association ofUniversities for inviting me to present a short introductory statement on what servicesare needed for Member Institutions.I would like to congratulate the Secretary General of the International Association ofUniversities and her very hard working staff. This conference certainly manifests IAU’scontinued commitment to higher education and its crucial role in development. Theirforesight to convene the conference at a time when most Associations of Universitiesare in the process of reforms to face the challenge of cross border education expansiondeserves special thanks.Standing here in front of a galaxy of intellectuals, I am a little concerned. My shortpresentation might not sound academic from the practical point of view. I seeAssociations and Institutes from a different angle. Having spent more than 30 years asan academic, a UNESCO official and Government official, I live with the impression thatlearning is always a right.I would like to begin with a quotation from Madam Eva Egron-Polak, “Universities areplaces for the creation and sharing of knowledge.” Universities have many developmentroles in local, regional and international setting. But today, higher education is oftencomes second to commerce. Earning and not learning has become the right. There is acut in quality, equity, research and scholarship and on top of this, student polities in thedeveloping countries tend to vitiate the academic atmosphere in the university. Studentenrolment demand cannot be met, public financial support is not expanding or is in thedecline and infrastructure is often inadequate. There are many cases of increasing gapsIAU Global Meeting – Alexandria 2005 1
  2. 2. in provision and quality especially between developing and developed countries andbetween urban and rural areas. It may be mentioned here that one of the importantsources of inequality of income in developing countries like Bangladesh, is the inequalityin the access to education, particularly, pertaining to ICT, science, etc. If universities areto address successfully the problem of limited resources and other factors it is crucialthat Institutions with requite experience in the International higher education must bewilling to share with others. In developing countries like Bangladesh, there is a growingdemand for quantitative expansion in higher education. In the majority of cases thegrowth in the number of higher education students have not been accompanied byincrease in the allocation of resources in recent times thus forcing many institutions tomake cut backs in their budgets, study programs, modernization of their infrastructure,library and academic staff. Thus, funding constraints have affected all types of highereducational institutions. The students are demanding jobs after their graduation. Theincrease in graduate unemployment in the developing countries is largely due to thedrastic fall in demand from the major employer of graduates-the state-as a result ofinternational competition and new political and economic approaches. The privatesector is in no position to absorb the supply of surplus graduates. World Bank studiesshow that graduate unemployment is increasing. Higher education cannot be heldwholly responsible for graduate unemployment nor for the co-relation that showed toexist between training, study programs and demand for labor. The great challenge willthus be to create a stable relationship between higher education and market and highereducation and society through partnership.Universities have now become bureaucratic centered. This means an education systemdominated by bureaucrats would place an institution on the same footing a as multi-national company. Strategy for change cannot work unless higher education adapts tothe challenge of the knowledge explosion. The university must teach people to think, touse common sense and to give free rein to the creative imagination. Professionalsmove around because they need jobs and to work in the best possible workingconditions. Hundreds of people, both students and professionals, are crossing theborder and the figure has been rising. International student flows have increasedconsiderably often due to the belief that the quality of education is better in developedcountries. They further believe that studying abroad is almost a passport toemployment. But sometimes those who get degrees (even genuine ones) do not getrecognition of their degrees when they return home and do not get employment becauseof non-recognition of their degrees. We want to see cross-border education serve theinterest of all and must make a positive contribution. Support from IAU is needed forregional, national and international programs to encourage mobility, networking andquality monitoring in higher education. IAU and other agencies, if necessary, shouldtake the lead in the search for solutions to the complex issues like quality assurance andthe recognition of studies and qualifications. The IAU effort to introduce a highereducation database and the international directions would help the learners know moreabout the genuineness and quality of higher education providers. We are happy to learnthat IAU and UNESCO are already working in this respect.Please allow me to submit some of the issues that I deem to be of importance forfurthering education services for institutions that I would like to share with you forreaching a consensus. • The crossing of borders opens up an opportunity as diversity of students and staff brings the wealth of their experience and values in the pursuit of theirIAU Global Meeting – Alexandria 2005 2
  3. 3. knowledge and it also reflects the mirrors of their respective society. International student flow should also be directed to and from those countries that are in greater need than ever to reap the benefits of International co- operation. Support is needed from IAU for regional and national programs to encourage mobility, networking, quality and monitoring in higher education. There is need to develop a plan of action for co-operation between IAU and Member-states especially related to key issues as relevance, quality, management and finance, etc. • Time has come to set-up a Regional Office in view of the expansion of universities in Member-states for which a close contact is necessary. Regional co-operation among the Member-states can make significant contribution in addressing major policy problems, strengthening national capacity and facilitating the sharing of important expertise and experience. This contact can be strengthened through the establishment of regional networks for research and training. Similarly, staff exchange program, student and staff mobility can be processed through regional offices. IAU can also facilitate interaction among the institutions by providing an extensive link system to different Associations active in the area. • IAU, with the co-operation of Member-states, can prepare update reports on the state of knowledge on higher education in the Member states. The steps may also be taken to promote innovative projects of the Member-states especially on the training and research. The center of excellence in Member-states can also be strengthened through the joint efforts of IAU and the Associations. • In making full use of information and communication technology (ICT) for educational purpose. IAU should try to give attention to removing the grave inequalities which exist among and also within the Member-states with record to access to new information and communication technologies and to the production of the resources. What is required is a system of training individuals in the innovative and efficient use of ICT to begin the mechanism for sharing and learning experience. The mechanism for sharing resources- among developed and developing countries should be encouraged in order to improve efficiency of the system. IAU can facilitate capacity building of all categories of persons who are involved in the use of ICT in higher education delivery. Associations/Institutes should be a place where government and other public institutions can go for scientific and reliable information which is increasingly required for decision making at all levels and which also promotes public participation in the decision making process. IAU can facilitate exchange of information and establishing a database on successful experiences and innovations that can be consulted by Association/Institutions confronted with problems. At the same time IAU can facilitate capacity building of all categories of persons who are involved in the use of ICT in higher education delivery. The Associations/Institutes should be a place where governments and other public institutions which is increasingly being required for decision making at all levels and which also promotes public participation in the decision making process. • At the regional level, it would be essential to organize regular meeting/interaction among the teachers in higher education and in upgrading the skills in higher education through technology transfer. The visits of the faculty members among the Universities, both developed and developing, could help generate information about curricula, methods of teaching, university governance, etc. • Gender inequality particularly among students, academic staff and seniorIAU Global Meeting – Alexandria 2005 3
  4. 4. management continues to be an issue of considerable concern at all levels in Member-states. In a number of countries, at the undergraduate level, female participation has exceeded 50 percent enrolment, but generally female students are concentrated in traditionally female disciplines to enhance their active involvement in decision-making. • The devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on human resources and on the development of those peoples which are gravely affected by it. I feel that the education system should contribute to raising awareness of this scourge. Higher education research in particular, should include HIV/AIDS among their priorities, thus allowing for both teachers and learners at all levels to contribute to the elaboration of true policies of HIV/AIDS eradication. • Co-operation at the national, regional, and international levels is essential as, today, no institution can expect to attain he highest standard in every field by itself. It is necessary that IAU encourage the universities through associations to promote genuine co-operation and benefits to all partners. • Joint action plans must be formulated by International and regional Organizations dealing with inter-university co-operation and strengthening of global networks by all association of universities higher education institutions in strengthening networks and building global networks. • There is need to encourage student academic and professional mobility to develop mutually accepted standards for the recognition of their studies. • Associations are facing challenges but there are opportunities too which they must grasp by taking services from IAU. I am an optimist. I am hopeful. The challenges facing the associations/institutes of the member-states mean that they must re-think their roles and relations with IAU. Accordingly, priorities have to be set up. I emphasize the issue and it is for the IAU to deal with the issues that arise there from. I would certainly appreciate hearing the views of our higher education partners on this matter.** BionotesProfessor S.M. Saifuddin has been the Executive Secretary for the Association ofUniversities of Bangladesh since 1997. He has an M.A. from Dhaka and Edinburgh,U.K. He has worked as the Director of the Bangladesh Commission, and as JointEducation Advisor for the Ministry of Education in Bangladesh.More recently, he was the Director General of the Directorate of Non-Formal Educationwith the Government of Bangladesh (1989-1992) and the Secretary of the BangladeshNations UNESCO Commission (1984-1986 and 1992-1995).IAU Global Meeting – Alexandria 2005 4