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Showing posts from February, 2012

Video: Adrian Sannier of e-College

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The Era of Global College

College, except the rhetoric, remains an intensely local affair. One may talk about globalisation of education, of jobs and of knowledge, but only 2% of world's students study outside their home countries. Over the last 150 years, during which the universities were revived - and rightly, this was a revival as John Ruskin meant 'revival is of things that did not exist before' - the nation state has claimed it fully. Mostly in the name of teaching the 'useful arts', primarily in United States but also elsewhere in Europe, the state claimed the universities and turned them, rightly, into the instruments of making citizens. Indeed, this meant a two-, or a multi-tier system, that of making the rulers and the ruled, and alongside newspapers, the university education was essential to the making of modern state.
Now that the state is in retreat, the college is somewhat left on its own. Besides, the great mythology of meritocracy, that everyone had the same chance in life …

Quality and Profits: What's Next for UK Private Colleges?

2012 is set to be a defining year for private sector colleges in the UK. To start with, most of them will disappear. Traditionally, the sector thrived on international students: They charged one-third of the fees that an university will charge the international students, and weened away the market from them. But the UK government effectively killed this market, for now. A set of abrupt changes in the student visa regime, whose burden fell disproportionately on the private colleges, have deeply affected the market. Many private colleges have already found it impossible to keep going and folded: Others have been out in the market in search of a buyer, and holding on to find one. The Private Equity players are out in the market buying private colleges on the cheap, with a strategy of bundling them together and selling these on when the 'real' payday for private sector education - predicted to be around 2015 - comes.
This change is good in a way. At the end of this cycle, the ow…

Quality and Profits: Reforming International Recruitment

This has been a difficult year for the private sector HE in the UK: The visa regulation changes have started to bite, and the International students have more or less decided to abandon the private sector colleges in the middle of all the uncertainty. The fact that the students can not work part time if they are studying in a private sector college, even when they are studying an university level course (such as an MBA) but can work if they go to a public sector university, is hurting the most. Seen together, the legislation is a cynical attempt to force the private sector colleges to close. The government has been reasonably successful in attaining this goal: A number of private colleges have indeed closed leaving their students unserviced. This has created further uncertainty among the students and the student recruitment for the private sector has completely dried up. This has now taken the shape of a self-perpetuating cycle: Private colleges are closing because they can't rec…

A Terrifying Prospect: Student-As-Consumer Meets British Universities

The student as consumer is an old thing. Between 1869 and 1909, Charles Eliot drove a number of innovations at Harvard, aligning the curriculum with vocational needs, allowing greater student freedom in terms of accommodation and social life, and even giving in, reluctantly, to College football: However, it is one innovation that he tried but failed to get through, that of reduction of credits required for college graduation, is possibly the most significant precursor of trends in Higher Education. Eliot was indeed criticised for his attempt to reduce the number of credits so that students can attain graduation within three, and not the customary four, years. The Faculty Board turned it down, a momentous defeat for a powerful college President at the height of his prestige. In fact, Eliot's successor as Harvard President, Abbott Lawrence Lowell would say, "May we not feel that the most vital measure for saving the college is not to shorten its duration, but to ensure that it…

India 2020: Why India Does Not Innovate?

Nirmalya Kumar asks the question and comes up with an interesting answer - that innovation happens within the global value chain, and while Indians remain innovative, their innovation is often concealed within the end product. He cites iPad, among other things, where different components from different countries, with software written in India, come together: The end product is an example of innovation made in the USA, but within it, the innovation made in the UK, China, India, all combined together.
This is indeed true. However, we must also remember that in iPad value chain, little is left for component innovation. In fact, for all the talk of China's great strides in manufacturing, and this potentially altering the balance of power one day, one needs to note that global value chains leave very little for the sourcing countries. Yuqing Xing of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, has done some remarkable work analysing such global value chains: His illustration…

Social Media in Higher Education

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Quality and Profits: Virtual Learning Environment and Real Engagement - A Conversation with students and tutors

Background
This study was carried out in a Private Business College based in the City of London, which offers MBA degrees validated by the University of Wales. The college decided to implement a VLE supporting its campus-based students in October 2010, with the goal of improving its ‘student engagement’. The college, following a common practice in the sector, used Adjunct Lecturers rather than Tenured ones, and the Management was concerned that this affects the Tutor availability and consequent engagement of the students with the programme or the institution.
The Study
This study looked what, if any, impact the implementation of the VLE has had on the student engagement one year after it was rolled out. Two focus groups, one consisting of five students from across two cohorts, and another consisting of four Tutors and Course Administrators, were arranged. Also, three separate interviews were also conducted, two with Tutors using the VLE to deliver their courses and one with a technical …

Purpose of Education: Noam Chomsky on Learning without Frontiers

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India 2020: The Brahminic Backlash

As India grows richer, a threat to its democracy is becoming apparent. The Indian upper classes, as Devesh Kapur has memorably illustrated, whose earlier generations mostly left for greener pastures overseas or withdrew into gated communities of modern Delhi, may want to come back. This is a tension which the current discourse on Indian diaspora may not capture. The diaspora almost gave up the country, because it was poor and offered few opportunities, but also because democracy challenged the position of the traditional elite in the society. However, India's emergence as an economic powerhouse and its various opportunities are now engaging this diaspora, now people with money, with the country yet again. And, this, startlingly, may hinder democracy rather than spurring it.
Kapur contrasted India and Pakistan, and noted that the flight of India's skilled elite allowed Indian democracy to prosper, whereas Pakistan's land-based elite couldn't go, and actively blocked th…

Quality And Profits: Virtual Learning Environment and Real Student Engagement

“Students At the Heart of Higher Education”
At the time of writing, the Higher Education system in the UK is at the cusp of a revolutionary change. The change, brought about by a mixture of financial necessity and ideological persuasion of the government in power, is designed to ensure ‘substantially more money will flow via students and less via HEFCE’ (Willetts, 2011). The Ministers claim that this will ‘reduce central political control, put more power in the hands of consumers and promote innovative delivery methods’ (Willetts, 2011). This market-based and consumption-driven system has been presented with the claim that this will put ‘students at the heart of Higher Education’.
Whether or not the new system will create a better Higher Education system is still being debated. However, highlighting students as the primary beneficiary of the Higher Education system, rather than the communities or the nation, imply a shift of emphasis and has called for new discussions and initiatives. …

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