Dr Rahul Choudaha writes about the franchising trends of the British, Australian and American Higher Education on his blog. This presents two interesting pieces of statistics: First, the British HE classroom is far more global than the American (15% international students in the system compared to USA's 3%,), and the second, a fact which is becoming apparent now, that more international students study for a British Higher Education degree outside Britain than inside it. In fact, this is a recent trend: In 2010, for the first time, the number of offshore students exceeded the number of students studying for British Higher Education degrees in Britain. However, the number is large: Out of a total 814, 495 international students studying for a British qualification, 408,685 was offshore, which is about half the number (slightly higher). Australia, despite a higher proportion of international students in country (21% as opposed to Britain's 15% mentioned earlier), has less students studying offshore (31% of total international students compared to Britain's 50%+).
The success in British degrees delivered offshore has come with the opening of international campuses, first in Malaysia and Hong Kong, then China, and now spreading into other countries like Sri Lanka and India. Much of this expansion has come through franchising, where a local partner puts up the money and infrastructure, and the British university allows them to deliver their degree through validation or franchising (a distinction I shall return to soon), though some of the Malaysian campuses have been funded by the universities themselves. However, this successful commercial model raised many concerns, primarily from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which seems to have grown a dislike of the validated programmes, first admonishing University of Wales (UoW) and then Leeds Metropolitan University over the last summer, for their activities in Thailand and India respectively. Dr Choudaha also points to an article by Phiip Altbach, where he talked about 'McDonaldization' of Higher Education, primarily referring to the franchise model so favoured by British universities.
Dr Altbach has been an astute observer of the global growth of Higher Education, and indeed, of its fastest growing phenomenon, the For Profit sector. His observations are right on the money: The franchise model, which will only grow further as getting a student visa to Britain becomes more difficult (the Home Office reported a 13% drop in 2011, and a more dramatic drop is surely on its way as the visa regime further tightens in April 2012). His observation that while taking out a McDonald's franchise (and for that matter, any good brand name franchise) cost a significant amount of money, in terms of infrastructure and franchise fees (hovering around $1 Million), the university franchising is very cheap, requiring only some rented space and some fees and expenses paid to the university.
Here, an important distinction must be made to the two formats of franchising the British universities have done so far. One model is franchising, where a degree, offered by the university, is also delivered by the franchise partner in an offshore location. The university sets the curriculum and the term dates (though there may be some flexibility subject to discussion), oversees the delivery of the programme through 'link tutors' (members of the faculty who do the academic coordination) and sets or approves the assessments. The university also sets the admission criteria, though these are usually accompanied with a catch-all 'widening participation' clause, which allows the partner to take in people who may otherwise be left out. In most cases, the university sets a minimum number per course, but more often than not, they forget to put any maximum.
There are indeed some inherent limitations of this franchising model. This is what Dr Altbach primarily refers to in his McDonaldization essay: This model is about literally delivering courses what the university delivers in their home country. One could argue that this is the essence of the offering, that offshore students want to do a British degree. However, questions can be raised how much value a degree set in local context of Britain (with its attendant readings and assessments) offer to the students studying at an offshore location, often in a surrounding much unlike the university and taught by people steeped in a different cultural environment.
Some of these issues are addressed by the other model of validation, which has found favours with some universities. With this model, university assumes the role of quality assurance and oversight of the programme, but the curriculum is written by the partner, often contextualised to their local environment and built with inputs from local tutoring team. The partner sets the term dates and admission criteria in discussion with the university, and can propose various Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) arrangements. The university has oversight of the delivery, but are more closely involved in assessments, whereby any assessment carrying more than a certain weight is approved by university appointed external examiners and overseen by a moderator. All award boards are also attended by external examiners and moderator, and decisions and reviews are made through Joint Study Boards (JBS).
In many a sense, this is what Dr Altbach alludes to in his essay, as a model akin to Intercontinental Hotels. This has worked very well for many partners and universities, and the University of Wales (UoW) made millions out of this model (despite pricing themselves wrongly) before it all came tumbling down as they lost control over the channel. The problem is, while validation is possibly a better model for international expansion, with various scandals, QAA has taken a deep dislike of this: With UoW suddenly admitting guilt and overturning the validation model in favour of franchising (which will come in play in September 2013), and Leeds Met getting lambasted for their validation activities by QAA, the universities are expected to move away from this model altogether. So, despite this being a more potent form of arrangement, we are likely to see a greater growth of franchising, and faster McDonaldization, than there should have been.
This is problematic, because the universities tend to be quite bad at franchising in the first place. Apart from their inability to set the qualifying criteria for the partners right and failure to protect their brands when a partner fails to do their part (For example, the TASMAC failure, which I wrote about before), they are quite bad at setting the prices and adapting to a risk-based, shared revenue model. Usually run by respective faculties and their staff members, the franchising operations of the universities are unable to navigate the business realities of the franchised operations, have very little ideas or concerns about the partner's commercial model and financial exposure, and very little resources are dedicated in monitoring the partner's activity or to support the partner with training or information. Finally, most British universities, despite their student mix, are surprisingly outdated in their world view, and view most of the other countries with a sort of colonialist's perception, which leads them to overlook important trends and opportunities.
So, what we get in the end is an inefficient model, but with all the problems that a successful 'McDonaldization' will mean. George Ritzer's four aspects of McDonaldization of society mar the McDonaldization of education, too: Efficiency, defined in a very specific sense at the expense of everything else, gets defined as student completion, resulting in the creation of a degree sausage machine; Calculability comes in the form of the invoice that the university sends out, the more the merrier even if there is no space to sit in the classrooms; Predictability takes away the joys of learning and exploration, so much a core proposition to undergraduate student experience, and is delivered in terms of standard, but out of context, readings and assessments; and finally, control is exercised by the University and its representatives, often a faculty member not fit to teach on the University's home programmes and who loves his/her curry and yearly shopping trips to exotic locations, to ensure that 'heathens' are following the rules. Quality and the experience are bandied about, but are conveniently kept vague.
It is a strange success. We need more transnational partnerships in education, not less. We need opening of the minds and building of the bridges. But this needs to be a two way process, not one. We need a radically different approach than McDonaldization: Not a standard model implanted elsewhere where people will pay for it, but an eclectic adaptation of the best things of British education for the culture and context of the host country. It makes interesting reading to see how the Founding fathers of the first American colleges, Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton, followed the Oxbridge model in their architecture, but rejected the faculty-run model and built a strong central administrative control and a powerful Presidency. They contextualized model and created the foundations of a Higher Education system which will become the best in the world. Indeed, this needs to start with the recipients, with a debate in host countries what kind of education they need. The British HE has much to offer to the rest of the world; the McDonaldization is only undermining its value.
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.
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
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: 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
It's not often that I get to do things I like, but, as it happens, the lockdown came with a little gift. I was asked to develop, by an Indian entrepreneur with a strong commitment to education, a framework for a Liberal Education for one of his schools. And, as a part of this exercise, I was asked to develop a critique of Indian Education, if only to set the context of the proposal I am to make. I claim to have some unusual - therefore unique - qualification to do this job. I am, after all, an outsider in all senses. I have lived outside India for a long time, but never went too far away, making it my field of work for most of the period. I have also been outside the academe but never too far away: Just outside the bureaucracy but intimately into the conversations. I worked in the 'disruptive' end of education without the intention to disrupt and in For-profit without the desire for profit. Along the way, the only thing I consistently did is study educatio
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
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.