IAU Sao Paulo Conference, July 25-29, 2004 12th General Conference: The Wealth of Diversity Parallel Workshops – Session IDraft: Not for quotation without permission of AuthorDiversity under ChallengeRichard Braddock, Director [International Relations], Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.E-mail Richard.email@example.comIntroduction.The nature of Higher Education in all countries is changing. Private education is growing in relationto public education, foreign providers are challenging local ones, and there is now much moreemphasis on immediate labour market needs relative to research and scholarship. There is anaccompanying increase in commercialization and managerialism which is often forced via governmentfunding considerations. The great richness we have in diversity of systems and cultures, each with itsown institutions and discourses, is being challenged by powerful, potentially overwhelming, forces. Inthat process the least robust are the less prosperous nations, the smaller and the developing countries,but they are offered both promises and challenges (which can be significant threats).However, these changes are very much a response to various market-related demands. Industry andbusiness are calling for graduates with the qualifications to meet their special needs. There is alsosignificant pressure on tertiary institutions to accommodate steadily increasing percentages of schoolleavers who want and expect some form of higher education. With this increased intake, morestudents are looking for specifically career-oriented qualifications as a pathway to a good job.The competition between suppliers of education to fulfill and profit from these new demands frombusiness, industry and the public has caused a dramatic diversification of higher education institutionsor perhaps more accurately education providers. Traditional universities are now in competition witha burgeoning number of private universities and colleges, while in many countries established foreignuniversities, particularly in the most developed economies, are drawing local students abroad, ormoving across national borders to establish local campuses. Moreover, advances in information andcommunication technology have made it possible for “virtual”, distance-learning and “open”universities to make significant inroads into the education marketplace. Higher Education has becomea rapidly changing market in which alternative suppliers are jockeying for position, which whileopening up new and alternative pathways with greater possibilities of access is at a cost that may welldiscriminate against the least advantaged.These changes raise urgent questions about the role of the state and government in the funding andregulation of higher education. How can the interest of the country as a whole be best served? Whileincreased - and increasing - diversity among education suppliers at present is an established fact, thechallenge it poses is whether (a) it is sustainable, and (b) can the random diversity created by themarket be replaced by a rational diversity controlled by state and government planners?Rational initiatives from the State/government in most countries are needed to address a number ofurgent questions raised by the rapid diversification of tertiary education suppliers.The role of traditional universities in the educational hierarchy.Where do traditional universities fit in, with their emphasis on knowledge creation and research? Thegeneration of research is obviously valuable - for example, in medicine, agriculture, the creation ofnew technologies, etc. But it is also expensive. Should all tertiary education institutions do research,
or should there be a “hierarchy” of institutions, with some emphasizing research, some devoted toprofessional and occupational training, and so on? (An informal hierarchy normally already exists,with recognized “prestige” universities employing better qualified staff and placing more emphasis onresearch. But there is scope for planners to allocate functions to different institutions according to arational analysis of a country’s needs.) Another relevant factor here is that with higher percentages ofschool leavers being taken into the tertiary education system, we can expect a greater variation in theabilities of incoming students. In a hierarchical system these students would be appropriatelychannelled according both to their abilities and the career outcomes they are looking for.COMMERCIALISATION and ACCESS:"We are now in a new era of power and influence. Politics and ideology have taken a subordinate roleto profits and market-driven policies. Now, multinational corporations, media conglomerates, andeven a few leading universities, can be seen as the new neocolonialists - seeking to dominate not forideological or political reasons but rather for commercial gain.” Altbach p9.Specifically, Altbach [Altbach 2004 p9] notes the high inducements of "involvement in the largerworld of science and scholarship and of obtaining perceived benefits not otherwise available” temptsthose in the developing world to yield to the terms of those offering aid, exchanges etc, so that “Theresult is the same-the loss of intellectual and cultural autonomy by those who are less powerful."Similarly, educational globalization and the internet increase access to knowledge “ but in manyrespects, existing inequalities are only reinforced and new barriers erected." [Altbach 2004 p7]INAPPROPRIATENESS OF DISCOURSE – CULTURE BASED, INSTITUTIONAL RELIANCE:The increasing flow of international students to institutions in the developed world has the effect ofmaking them carriers of an academic, business, and societal culture that reflects the norms and valuesof the host economy as reflected in its universities. In many ways that culture will have little relevancein the developing world, and the knowledge transferred may be predicated around a particular(developed) economies institutional structure. This is a serious concern for most developingcountries.With particular reference to the outreach of Australian universities, Turpin, Iredale and Crinnin makesome relevant observations. Namely thatWith increasing numbers of full-fee-paying students, and universities relying more and more on thissource of income, they point out (vide pp.333-4) that there will be an economic advantage if studentintake and ‘throughput’ (my word, not theirs) are increased at the expense of academic standards.They now point out wider problems for the ‘client’ country, apart from the issue of academicstandards. They argue that a high proportion of these students, most of whom come from families whocan afford to pay for an overseas education, are enrolled for business degrees. This suggests that thesestudents represent an elite whose aim is personal advancement; hence the education they are getting –which may serve to launch them on career paths overseas and/or will be largely channelled into theprivate business sector - may well not advance the wider and deeper needs of their home country. Hence, it costs the country dearly because of the flight of capital overseas.More importantly, local tertiary institutions, which may well have limited ability to competitivelyprovide similar education, or provide it as cheaply as overseas ones, are losing the financial andhuman capital needed to sustain themselves. This capital could be helping the development ofknowledge-building capacities and research aimed at local issues and problems. Such countries thenbecome even more dependent on knowledge generated by overseas institutions.Maintaining educational standards.
With so many new education suppliers on the scene, many of them driven by a profit motive, there is aneed for across-the-board quality control by a central body. Australia now has the powerful butintrusive government audit of both domestic and international programs, and similar processes arebecoming more prevalent in many countries, as well as regional and international accreditation. Thefundamental questions however remain, particularly as we move towards free trade in education. Arestudents getting their money’s worth? Will their diplomas and degrees be given due recognition?Will graduates be well placed to embark on their chosen careers given the content of what they havebeen taught? Different economies will have different needs, and what is applicable in developedcountries will not always be relevant to, or serve the needs of, the developing world.Local effects of “foreign” suppliers.Are “foreign” suppliers helping to address local needs? The lower cost at which large institutions indeveloped countries can offer programmes, precisely because of the large numbers involved, couldallow a reduced number of institutions to acquire leading positions and act much like multi-nationalcompanies. This would pose severe challenges for local institutions and hence is a serious threat todiversity in higher education. [Clarke, Thomas & Wallace] Similarly, the global dominance of Englishadvantages the developed English speaking nations, which “tends to orient those using it to the mainEnglish-speaking academic systems, and this further increases the influence of these countries."[Altbach 2004 p11] Moreover, those major institutions are already in positions of considerabledominance due to their resources & information databases, as well as via Internet delivery of theirprogram globally. "The result is [in each case] the same - the loss of intellectual and cultural autonomyby those who are less powerful." [Altbach 2004 p9]There are different issues here: (i) The presence of foreign institutions could discourage thedevelopment of local colleges and universities by replacing them in function. Or, in a very differentscenario, they could help to develop local institutions by supplying them with well qualified graduates,sharing their teaching and research expertise, and engaging in staff exchange schemes. Regionalnetworking is a valuable agent in that process. (ii) Another danger is that foreign institutions mayattract the “best and brightest” of local students overseas, where they might settle permanently (thebrain drain). As Altbach (2004) has observed, the money spent abroad by students from somedeveloping countries more than incoming foreign aid, and the flow of academic talent at all levels isbasically from the developing world to the most developed where often a dependency on such “inputs”has emerged. Of course the “official” aim of foreign institutions in the developed world may well be tosend their international students back to their home countries with skills and abilities that they canapply and disseminate locally. There can be no doubt that this happens, even if with some lag. Butwhat can be done to ensure less of the former negative effect, and more of the latter positive one?Funding.How should the responsibility for higher education funding be distributed? Traditionally, a highproportion of tertiary education has been paid for (or subsidized by) the State. With increasedenrolment numbers this is no longer feasible, especially in developing countries where there are manycompeting needs, but new economic considerations are also affecting the developed economies. Whatproportion of the cost should be carried by business and industry, with their new demands forindustry- and business-specific training, and with the great benefits to business and industry that thistraining carries? Finally, what proportion of the cost should be paid by the student (directly or vialoan schemes) which often applies the discriminatory market criteria that the recipient of sucheducation is at the beginning of a prosperous career? What are the effects of this on those in areas ofscholarship that may entail less lucrative returns, but are necessary to support a research culture orproduce future elites to underpin future development?Academic Freedom & Research.
An increasingly important source of revenue for universities is their engagement in industry-fundedresearch whose purpose is its application to revenue-generating industrial projects. The sale of theirresearch facilities and expertise is an important source of income for universities. The danger is thatthe knowledge market will give agents outside the university an undue say over the general directionof university research, while sidelining the research interests and projects of individual academics andscientists. It is important for the development of knowledge that researchers have the freedom topursue their own creative paths and to ensure that avenues of pure research which they regard asexiting are not neglected. State and government planners should work towards striking a balance, onthe one hand, between the need for applied research that addresses the needs of industry (and at thesame time brings money into the university), and on the other, the need to maintain the ideal ofacademic freedom, and the production of “elites” with creative talents to lead their nations.Internationalism and shared values. The internationalization and exportation of knowledge has obvious benefits. Apart from its overt aimof carrying valuable knowledge and skills across international boundaries, it can also be expected tofoster international understanding, shared values, and the development of like-minded leaders who are“citizens of the world”. On the negative side, however, ways should be sought to prevent foreign andinternational educational influences from having a homogenizing or crushing effect on local cultures.Educators in transnational institutions need to develop the difficult skills of focusing on truly universalconcerns, while avoiding the imposition their own parochial assumptions and respecting the culturaldifferences of their students.“However, it would be untrue to describe internationalization processes as solely driven by moneyissues. That force has also enabled the rise of the educational internationalist, with a genuine missionto create institutions providing a truly internationalized teaching and learning environment. Thisrequires a universally applicable syllabus, an internationalized curriculum which, whilst containingcountry specific units of study (e.g. Australian Law, Chinese History, American Politics, or AfricanEconomic Development), nevertheless prepares its students to take their pace in a globalised world, aswell as an internationally focused institutional culture and ethos. This is an environment in which localstudents benefit as much, and often more, then cross-border students.” [Braddock 2004]It is in fact part of the traditional role of the university that it be an international and internationalizedresource of scholarship and teaching.“Internationalisation is the outcome of many forces. For the reasons mentioned above governments seethe recruitment of international students as the way of funding their universities. Governments mayalso see internationalisation as a way of "modernising" their university systems, which have forsometime enjoyed a high degree of isolation and insularity from the latest trends in higher education.Finally, governments accept the need for their institutions of higher education to provide teaching,learning, and research which is not only of world-class but internationalised in the sense that theirgraduates are equipped to take their place in a globalised world. In the past the emergence ofuniversities was characterised by great city universities with significant links whereby knowledge wasshared despite the tyrannies of time and distance. Would be scholars travelled from other lands tolearn at the feet of the most learned scholars, and significant scholars travelled to share and extendknowledge1. The great university of the past was not only a national centre of learning and knowledgebut also in essence an international resource2” which facilitated the spread of knowledge via sharedscholarship. [Braddock 2004]Obviously, there is a question of degree and national priorities which must be appropriately recognisedand included. 1 Anthony R. Welch The peripatetic professor: the internationalisation of the academic profession, Higher Education 34: 323-345, 1997 at page 337. "for many centuries the itinerant scholar, like the wandering minstrel, has been a recognised motif in literature: seeking new knowledge, or students, or seeking refuge for more hostile environments, academic and political.” 2 "teaching and researching in a different cultural context can heighten perceptions of difference, but can also provide a forum for their resolution’ Welch, A R (1997)
In my personal vision “the truly internationalised University [in a developed economy accepting theresponsibility to provide all its students with a relevant education] would have …. links, cooperativepartnerships, and/or a physical presence in any number of other countries. Its doors would be open tostudents from anywhere in the world. It would select its staff by international competition and itscurriculum would reflect both national studies …. and internationalised studies at the frontiers ofknowledge and applicable globally. Local and international students, as well as staff, would interact inteaching-learning and research. Perspectives from which these activities would ensue wouldnecessarily and unavoidably reflect the backgrounds and cultures of both students and their teachers3 (who would need to be interculturally sensitive and possess a degree of international knowledge andawareness). Thus there would be a variety of approaches and understandings4. In this the Universitywould fulfill its role as a place of scholarly discourse and debate, respecting differences inbackgrounds and perspectives but subjecting interpretation and reasoning to critical objectiveanalysis5. In this sense the institutional culture and ethos would be international.” If such a missionwas truly embraced by major educational providers threats to diversity would not be removed butmight be of a lesser order.The Role of the State.There is a need to embed a consideration of the need to encourage diversity into whatever broad policycontext is being pursued at any particular time by the policy makers of the day. Overly specific policyrecommendations made for encouraging diversity are unlikely to be useful because public policy isseldom dictated by a single consideration. [Clarke, Thomas & Wallace p1] Thus the developing worldis left with only the PROMISE OF DIVERSITY [ or is it a THREAT?]. Clearly, diversity should be ina form that is beneficial to its local stakeholders, but (following Altbach 2004) the need is not tosimply encourage diversity generally but to identify what types of diversity are beneficial and then toboth promote and sustain those particular types. Some expert observers take the optimistic positionthat“With much room for initiative, institutions and governments can choose the ways in which they dealwith the new environment. While the forces of globalisation cannot be held completely at bay, it isnot inevitable that countries or institutions will necessarily be overwhelmed by them or that the termsof the encounter must be dictated from afar. Internationalisation accommodates a significant degree ofautonomy and initiative. (Knight 1997; Scott 1988; de Wit 2002) " [Altbach 2004 p6].In this process, governments need to tread a tightrope between maintaining culture and nationalobjectives on the one hand and ensuring that their educational systems reflect good (but appropriate)practice, access to knowledge is maintained, and local scholarship and knowledge creation issustainable. Nevertheless, "Any discussion of globalisation cannot avoid the deep inequalities that are part of the world systemof higher education. Globalisation has added a new dimension to disparities in highereducation."[Altbach 2004 p8]However, even accepting those “deep inequalities” as realities, it is hard to see how many developingeconomies, especially the least endowed and the smallest ones, can - from within their own resources -find optimal or even reasonably viable paths which will sustain cultural integrity and appropriaterecognition of specific needs in the face of an invasive and overwhelming international dominancefrom - particularly the English speaking - developed economies. Of course, there are those that see the 3 "while many faculty believe they are teaching comparative thinking” but do so “ within a single domain" & "implicit-and occasionally explicit-in every academic discipline is the method of thinking about the discipline itself. These are called intellectual skills or competencies, and usually include critical and creative thinking. One only needs to attempt to teach them in Central and Eastern Europe to understand this.” Mestenhauser 1996 p24. See also Welch 1997. 4 “our (US or Western) academic tradition of critical thinking visually supports discourse, openness, divergence in respect for opposing views. In line with this thinking, international education does not even have confronted not mainstream curricular issues that lie beyond disciplinary boundaries. The assumption that knowledge is universal has several major implications for international education” Mestenhauser 1996, See also Welch 1997. 5 Vide “ When confronted with a fresh and wholly different perspective, we are forced to inspect those assumptions, and we may find that they contain the seeds of flexibility and personal growth (De Carbo 1987 quoted in Welch 1997)” and "problematic situations occur when it histological, pedagogical and other assumptions are not re-examined.” (Welch, 1997)
collapse of “other cultures” in the advance of a dominant culture as merely the inevitable process ofSchumpeterian “creative destruction”! However, those of this opinion should heed Schumpeter whoconcluded that an “inferior” system at a point in time may prove “superior” in the long run! There isno one model that is ideal in all circumstances, one size does not fit all!The Role of Regional and International Organisations.These can provide considerable support via data-gathering, and policy support and the disseminationof “good” practice models which by adaptation might offer useful solutions. At the International levelgroups such as UNESCO via the WCHE and subsequent follow-ons, and indeed the IAU via this 12thConference, provide invaluable airing of issues, a sharing of assessments and interpretations, and thepotential to help economies facing similar problems network and share a useful degree of policyformulation re education at the systemic level and the institutional level. This was recognized at theUNESCO Experts’ Forum in 2001 by all participating international and regional organizations.It is the regional organizations that can focus most clearly on local issues in policy formulation,networking regional partners. With appropriate international agency support these regional groups canshare ideas and (to a degree) harmonise responses6, avoiding the potentially damaging consequencesof disparate reactions that might be counterproductive. In this respect the UNESCO conception of“academics without borders” would help by providing access to knowledge resources to all.If diversity is to be valued and maintained in our higher education systems international support“without strings” to assist governments in the smaller and/or most needy countries to find regulatoryand financial formulas that will sustain independent local institutions that can address their longer termneeds. This should not involve rejection of the valuable resources in many senses that can be providedby the developed economies and their institutions7 but partnerships on appropriate terms that preservelocal culture and inter alia address identified needs. It is a difficult and complex problem that can onlybe resolved with international help in a spirit of goodwill, with support from “honest brokers” such asmajor social and educational agencies, and a pooling of resources via regional association. 6 parallels with the European post Bologna initiatives are not intended. 7 This does not imply a presumption that developed countries or their institutions intentionally behave with any predatory intent, but refers to the appropriateness of the services they may provide, and inherent cultural, societal, and institutional bases or overlays that those services contain, which may have undesired consequences for the less advantaged nations. Nevertheless the creation of knowledge in the developed world and access to that resource, is fundamental to development and global participation. It is questions of access and the means/terms of access (i.e. “the contents of package”) that is the crucial issue!
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