To paraphrase Dickens, this is the best and the worst of the times for Global Higher Education.
There has never been a time of greater demand and greater desire for it. As millions join the ranks of middle classes in Asia and Africa, the West, its lifestyle, income levels and culture define the shape of the dream - and global higher education represent the pathway to it.
On the other hand, these students were never less welcome in the metropolitan centres of Europe, Australia and the United States. For all the high-minded rhetoric of borderless knowledge, the West feels overcome with migration, the modern-era exodus through the heart of Europe being its most visible manifestation. It is under an intellectual seize, with extremist rhetoric and isolationist tendencies on the ascendance. Global education, in the form we came to know it, has never been more difficult to attain or costlier.
One crucial factor that opens this chasm is the nature of the new middle classes. In a sense, the middle has shifted. While the label of middle classes was slapped on a vast multitude of people defined by their aspiration to do better than their parents, this new class has nothing in common with the settled, economically secure middle classes of the West, who have had their political victories and left their time scraping at the bottle of the barrel behind long time ago. The new middle class falls short of even the minimum global benchmark of earning an average of $20 a day, which will make them poorer than even the poorest of the West. And, yet they are united in aspiration, even if only by Facebook memes and Twitter gossip, and Global Education, in its current incarnation, has captured their imagination.
The peculiarity of the new middle classes complicate things. They are the engine behind the expansion of Higher Education globally, but their aspirations, interests and abilities are miles apart from those of the traditional middle classes. Consequently, they also upset the neat formulation that we may be tempted to make about who is for and who is against the Global Higher Education. Apparently, those right-wing politicians in Europe, North America and Australia, who wants to curb migration, want to create a global consumer class and a global labour market, and hence, are for Global Higher Education. And, those progressive, left-wing educators, who are for free movement of people and ideas, are often enthralled by values and commitments of the traditional Western middle classes, and would have none of the vocationalism of newcomers, or their apathy towards the cultural assumptions behind education (think of the debate about plagiarism).
This renders most of the Academic discussions about how to rise to the challenges of internationalisation out of date. The context of most of the conversation makes an unspoken assumption about the shape of the middle classes, which fall apart at the first contact with reality. The time-tested formats, student exchanges, franchising, international campuses, falter, and do not meet expectations, as they were built for a middle class that did not exist. The colonial clusters of cultural supremacy wither away, as the fancy education at metropolitan centres fail to redeem and lead to debt.
The For-Profits of Global Education, which has grown in this vacuum, fall short in their own way. Their strategies may be perfectly aligned with vocationalism and global labour markets, but they fail to recognise that the global labour markets are clustered - the interconnected economy does not mean everyone is doing the same thing, but people are specialising on different things at different places - and the quest for scale is often fraught with disappointment. Their favoured form, Online, struggles with the variability of Internet. English and other metropolitan languages, the great enablers of scale, become barriers, as localised consumer markets often unite in the form, but not in taste.
This fragmented reality of Global Higher Education is well-acknowledged. While the talk about Glocal Education has gained traction in blogosphere, it has hardly been well-defined or translated into a coherent strategy. Except indeed for a natural hierarchy of institutions arising out of the melee, just as it did when the industrial middle classes came to Higher Education, creating the tiered system of Higher Education that see today. While a global hierarchy is now well entrenched, the picture is complicated by four different forces - automation-led redefinition of work, the global spread of consumer markets, aging of the Western workforce and increasing cultural and political self-assertion of emerging country governments. These trends, taken together, mean a loss of influence of the Western and Western-inspired traditional middle classes, increased emphasis of local production and consumption while establishing underlying global uniformity of norms and practices, reconfiguration of the defined disciplinary boundaries and critical revaluation of all culturally supremacist assumptions. Almost all this happens outside what we are calling Higher Education today, and in the end, these would reset what we mean by Higher Education. It would mean that we shall move away from the conception of Global Higher Education as the white professor on stage (or on computer screen) or the degrees from Western universities, and would arrive at a point of local/ global talent exchanges.
This would be different from hierarchy of universities and would represent globally visible exchanges for talent. Even the top-down world of Glocal would be challenged by local platforms eclectically engaging globally, enabling and then opening up talent exchanges for global and local work. For all the international engagements, the universities have done little to create information interfaces with the varieties of talent markets, and instead concerned themselves solely with culture and preservation of privileges of a middle class. Now, this class starts to lose its ground demographically and politically to the newer middle classes, economically to intelligent machines. The new Global Higher Education models would emerge from this reality - and my contention is that it would look very different from what we have on the table as of now.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
A week into lockdown and things are beginning to change. Mornings are late, afternoons are lazier and evenings never end; meditations are filling out the time for Yoga routines and Netflix profiles are strewn with half-finished movies. This state-mandated, state-funded period of idleness is being likened to being called up to serve, but is nothing like that: Such a comparison is really an affront to the idea of service. Instead, this is just one long streak of panic; of the centre not holding and life not going on as usual. With the usual patterns and rules in suspended animation and business talk - and business - being rendered meaningless, space is opening up for unusual questions: Is Capitalism about to end? Is this the death of globalisation? Does it get uglier from here? My grandfather's generation would have scoffed at us. They saw through wars and pandemics. But, in fairness, we haven't had a life-ending crisis of our own. Notwithstanding the experiences of th
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.