Alex. papers gm c. scholz


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Alex. papers gm c. scholz

  1. 1. ESIB - The National Unions of Students in EuropeZavelput 201000 BrusselsBelgiumT : +32-2-502 23 62F : +32-2-511 87 06International Association of Universities (IAU) Conference:Sharing Quality Higher Education Across Borders: Role of Associations andInstitutions15. - 16. November 2005, AlexandriaPlenary Session:Responding to the challenges of cross-border higher educationESIB Policy Paper on Transnational EducationChristine ScholzESIB – The National Unions of Students in EuropeCommittee on Commodification of Educationchristine@esib.orgFirst of all I would like to thank the International Association of Universities on behalf ofESIB – The National Unions of Students in Europe to invite us to your conference andcontribute our student perspective to this debate on cross-border education. Both theInternational Association of Universities as well as ESIB have been working on this issuefor quite some time now. You will find in your conference papers the result of ourreflections – ESIBs policy paper on Transnational Education dating back to the year2002. I have been asked by the organizers of this conference to explain the rationale forthe drafting of this paper, the impacts and implementation on national and internationallevel as well as ESIBs position regarding these issues. Finally I will also reflect on therole of students, associations of universities and individual HEI in ensuring the highquality provision of education across borders.1. Who is ESIB?Speaking at a conference of the International Association of Universities you might notbe familiar with ESIB and ESIBs work. So as a brief introduction - ESIB – The NationalUnions of Students in Europe was founded in 1982 to promote the educational, economic,cultural, social and political interests of students in Europe. Through our 44 members 1
  2. 2. from 34 countries we currently represents more than 10 million students in Europe.2. The Rationale for drafting ESIBs Policy on Transnational EducationEuropean higher education has been subjected to various changes within the past decades.While international cooperation in Higher Education has been existent before, e.g. informs of bilateral agreements or development projects, this has changed especially in thelast decade of the 20th century, when an enormous expansion of TNE has taken place.With the objective to closely monitor and analyze these developments, ESIB has initiateda project on Transnational Education more than 3 years ago – the rationale being to movefrom perception to reflection to policy development to proactive student representation.And the results being the mentioned policy on Transnational Education as well as acomprehensive “European Student Handbook on Transnational Education.”3. Reflections on the background of Transnational EducationOne part of our findings was that the way that higher education is viewed by itsstakeholders – be it on national or international level- is changing.The traditional view of higher education sees it as primarily a public good benefiting thewhole society and as something defined by the higher education institutions themselves,funded mainly by the public authorities and with an emphasis on internal (institutional oracademic) and political decision making.The new view of higher education sees it as primarily a private good benefiting theperson acquiring it and also as a means of generating profit, funded by the internal/directbeneficiaries (i.e. student) and external/indirect beneficiaries (e.g. employers, state) bothlooking for particular gains to be achieved through acquiring higher education. It laysemphasis on market mechanisms and means of facilitating those mechanisms (e.g. tradeagreements). Education has to some extent become a commodity.The economic role of higher education has increased, as knowledge and innovation havebecome the key competitive factors of societies. At the same time, participation in highereducation has expanded to numbers unseen ever before. The notion of higher educationbeing primarily a means of elite reproduction has changed into mass higher education;with participation rates over 50 per cent in certain countries, it has changed into universalhigher education. Massification of higher education and new ideology of the “New PublicManagement” have lead to increased accountability of the higher education institutionstowards their primary source of funding, the public authorities.Parallel to the decline of public funding has been the increase in alternative fundingsources, namely funding from different private sources, industry and customers. Thehigher education institutions themselves have also strived to broaden their funding base,for example selling their expertise in the field of education and research, by startingvarious programmes for professional development and by establishing special unitsdedicated for customised research. The emerging global market for higher education hasalso provided the higher education institutions with the possibility of raising revenue by 2
  3. 3. selling their education and providing Transnational Education in countries with marketpotential for higher education.4. Transnational EducationAs the demand for higher education has in many countries in the world been considerablylarger that the supply by the national higher education system, the world has in the lastten years witnessed an enormous expansion of Transnational Education. TransnationalEducation is provided both by international institutions and other new providers such aspublishing companies or multinational corporations, but also by traditional universitiessetting up branches around the globe and exporting their education to other countries.Arrangements for exporting and importing of educational services have been developedin several countries and many European and non-European countries have madeinvestments in marketing their own higher education. In recent years, several virtualuniversities have emerged and traditional universities are also beginning to offer degreesonline.Both benefits as well as dangers can be identified in connection to TransnationalEducation.a) The benefits of Transnational EducationTransnational Education can contribute to increasing variety of higher education and thusincrease students’ possibilities for choice. Increasing competition between providers canenhance quality and be a wake-up call for national providers to better their quality,flexibility and responsiveness to the demands of students and societies. TransnationalEducation can offer a chance for internationalisation at home for those students that forsome reason don’ t have a possibility for physical mobility. Transnational Education canalso in some cases be the only means of acquiring higher education in transitional ordeveloping countries, and thus prevent brain drain as people don’ t have to travel abroadin search of higher education.b) The downsides of Transnational EducationTransnational provision of higher education can lead to the withdrawal of publicresponsibility for education. It can result in problems in quality assurance, equal accessand access to information regarding education. Division between public and privateproviders can prove problematic, and Transnational Education can lead to increasedstratification of people and countries. It can jeopardise the national cultural and socialgoals and higher education policy-making and impair the national tools for it.Transnational Education can also lead to increased brain drain. It may subject students tothe position of mere consumers and destroy the sense of community traditionallyassociated with higher education.All different forms of Transnational Education cross national borders and thus posechallenges and questions to national education systems and international cooperation withregards to equal access to higher education, quality assurance and accreditation as well asrecognition. 3
  4. 4. 5. Challenges connected to access to Higher EducationSince some countries face difficulties to meet the demand for Higher Education by theirown national systems Transnational Education can be understood as a means to meetsuch lack in capacity and therefore to broaden access. However such activity at the sametime might also endanger the capacity for building up or developing the own nationalsystem.Transnational Education programmes are based on different approaches. While someview it as cooperative development projects, it is for others primarily a means forgenerating income. Firstly this has necessarily implications on the level of competition asopposed to cooperation and capacity building with the existing Institutions in therespective Higher Education System. Secondly the aim of producing financial revenue tofinance the Higher Education system in the sending country of the TransnationalEducation programme leaves in question, whether such programmes actually fosteringaccess to Higher Education in the respective receiving country.Furthermore the provision of Higher Education by alternative providers such asTransnational Education programmes also strengthens trends to reduce publicresponsibility for tuition free Higher Education.6. Challenges connected to quality assurance and recognitionThe application of Quality Assurance mechanisms is generally difficult in cross-borderprovision of Higher Education. This is especially true for Transnational Education, whichis lies outside any national Higher Education system, such as international institutions,offshore institutions or corporate universities, as these raise problems of control andpublic accountability.Furthermore the responsibility for the Quality Assurance of such programmes is unclear.Should the responsibility lie with the sending or the receiving country? Since QualityAssurance systems work on the basis of social, cultural and educational values specific toone country, these might not be applicable in the cross-border provision.In the receiving country however a quality assurance system might not yet be fullyoperational, we may ask who then has the responsibility for assuring the quality ofimported Transnational Education. In addition the rigour of Quality Assurance Systemsvaries considerably between different states. The fact that education provision is part of anational recognized framework does not necessarily guarantee its quality.Transnational Education providers, in addition to not being subject to any externalQuality Assurance regime at present, do not necessarily have any internal QualityAssurance mechanisms. The lack of functioning Quality Assurance mechanisms makes ithard to separate good from bad Transnational Education.The advice and the information about the quality of Transnational Education to the publicare insufficient. This allows for rogue providers to offer their fraudulent qualifications toill-informed citizens. This clearly shows the need for institutions, which monitor the 4
  5. 5. activities of Transnational Education providers or report bogus institutions to appropriatenational or international authorities. Proper student influence and protection with clearinformation and codes of good practice are at present not in place, concerns as to how itis delivered, organised and recognised need to be addressed. Many internationalisationpolicies and practices have been developed without very much concern for quality. Thisleaves big gaps between policy and reality. Also, the development of transnational virtualdelivery of HE via distance education and virtual, web-based universities raises newquestions regarding quality assessment.7. Challenges connected to recognitionThe recognition of institutions and programmes for academic and/or professionalpurposes is a very complex subject involving conflicting interests at several levels,between the protection of traditional diplomas and professions and the needs in relation tomobility and market. This is even pressing with the recognition of TNE qualifications. Itis clear that from a recognition point of view the problems are especially those connectedto imported Transnational Education. But attention also needs to be paid to the exportedTransnational Education. There is also great difference between the problems ofrecognition of different forms of Transnational Education, recognition is very oftengranted to qualifications earned by programme articulation, franchising or branchcampuses but almost never granted to corporate or virtual universities. The different typesof TNE present different characteristics. Some are acceptable for recognition, some not.The problems are to distinguish the good Transnational Education from the bad in termsof quality, which means finding reliable information. The main problem connected to therecognition of Transnational Education is that no legal/normative instruments exist andalthough UNESCO and Council of Europe developed a code for good practice forTransnational Education provision, it has not really been extensively employed. TheLisbon Convention on the recognition of academic qualifications, by UNESCO andCouncil of Europe, only applies to qualifications issued by recognized educationproviders of signatory states. It does not cover all Transnational Education. Howeverthere is nothing to prevent the wider application of the principles of the convention. Thelink between recognition and quality assessment must be strengthened. The difficultiesencountered in the recognition of Transnational Education qualifications are due partly tothe lack of specific national regulations but, also to the absence of common guidelinesand approaches to quality control aspects.8. ESIB viewESIB believes that Transnational Education can benefit students and countries, providedthat the following preconditions are met.General principles 1. Higher education should always contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of a country, despite the method of provision. HE should contribute to increasing equality between individual, countries and regions of the world. 5
  6. 6. 2. Higher education should not be nationalistic but aim at cultivating open- minded and tolerant people and societies. 3. Transnational Education providers should be sensitive to the need of the local community. This responsiveness should be assured through a process of consultation with the local stakeholders such as the national and local policy makers and administration, employers and students. Co-operation with local higher education providers should be favoured. There should be clear goals stated for higher education provided transnationally. 4. Academic key values such as quality, diversity, equality and academic freedom should be upheld in all higher education, despite the method of provision.Principles regarding regulation 5. Transnational providers should not take advantage of possibly inadequate local legislation regarding e.g. student and staff rights, safety and quality regulations and immaterial property rights. 6. Provision of higher education should always be transparent and all information given should be accurate and up-to-date, in order to facilitate students, officials and the general public to assess it. 7. Private providers of education should be treated equally whether they be domestic or foreign. The public providers should be prioritised and protected from harmful competition. 8. Problems related to quality assurance and recognition need to be addressed urgently.Principles related to specific student perspective 9. Any change in the provision of a course (e.g. in relation to twinning arrangements) should not disadvantage the students. 10. Adequate student services should be guaranteed despite the method of provision.9. The role of students’ representatives, Associations of Universities and individualHigher Education InstitutionsTo conclude my speech I will shortly reflect on the role of students’ representatives,Associations of Universities and individual Higher Education Institutions in promotingthe high quality provision of cross-border education. As has been highlighted earlier onthe main challenges hereby lie with the equal access to higher education, qualityassurance and accreditation as well as recognition. Consequently any improvement in thequality provision of cross-border education must address these issues. Naturally I cannot 6
  7. 7. give final answers to this end, but rather ideas for further discussion later on in theworkshops.The role of the students - information source for individual students on the issue of cross-border education, commodification of education and GATS - gather, analyze and disseminate information regarding cross-border provision of education among different national and regional student organisations - develop and represent policy on issues connected to cross-border provision of Higher Education, i.e. Transnational Education, GATS, commodification of education - coordinate joint actions against commodification of education and GATS of national as well as regional student organisations - inform local as well as national student organisations about existing mechanisms to improve the quality provision in cross-border education, share good practise in the area of quality provision of cross-border education, e.g. IAU strategy for quality provision in cross-border education - participate actively in policy development and political processes on national, regional and international level that aim at improving quality provision of (cross- border) education, improve transparency, comparability and compatibility as well as the recognition of qualifications, degrees and Higher Education Systems, e.g. UNESCO-OECD guidelines, Bologna Process, TUNING project, Lisbon Recognition Convention - co-operate with other stakeholders in Higher Education on national, regional and international level to gather information, communicate about respective policy and coordinate action on the issue of quality provision of cross-border educationThe role of Associations of Universities - information source for universities on the issue of cross-border education, GATS and related issues - provide a platform for discussion of good practise in cross-border education - develop policy and good practise, e.g IAU strategy for quality provision in cross- border education - disseminate information on existing tools and best practise to ensure or improve the quality provision of cross-border education, e.g. IAU strategy for quality provision in cross-border education, UNESCO-OECD guidelines, UNESCO code of good practise in cross-border education 7
  8. 8. - co-ordinate and support activity of universities concerning quality initiatives in the provision of cross-border education, on GATS or other related issues - actively participate on national, regional and international level in the development of instruments to improve the quality provision of cross-border educationThe role of individual Higher Education Institutions: - collect and analyze information on existing instrument, codes of good practises, mechanisms to improve the quality provision of cross-border education of the own Higher Education Institution, e.g. IAU strategy for quality provision in cross- border education, UNESCO-OECD guidelines, UNESCO code of good practise in cross-border education - collect and analyze information on processes of internationalisation with an impact on the provision of cross-border education, e.g. GATS, Bologna Process - develop policy on internationalisation and cross-border provision of education of the own Higher Education Institution - evaluate the existing quality assurance mechanisms in the cross-border provision of education of the own Higher Education Institution based on the adopted policy - co-operate with Higher Education Institutions and relevant governmental authorities in the education sector in the country of origin as well as of provision of cross-border education of the own Higher Education Institution to improve the quality of Higher Education provided - disseminate information on existing instruments to improve quality provision, processes of internationalisation with impact on the cross-border provision of Higher Education as well as initiatives taken by the own Higher Education Institution to improve the quality of cross-border education to all stakeholders within the own Higher Education Institution as well as in programmes provided across-bordersWith these suggestions I would like to close my presentation and hope they might serveas a fruitful contribution for the further discussion in the upcoming workshops.For more information on the work of ESIB in the area of Transnational Education as wellas for ESIBs policy on the issue please refer to our 8