I participated in a discussion on International Students in British Universities yesterday, organised by the Society of Research in Higher Education (SRHE) Policy Network. This was at the London Metropolitan University, which is where Policy Network events always happen: However, the university being at the eye of the storm of the immigration debate over the last few months, the event assumed a particular, if unspoken, significance. As usual, it was very well organised - one tends to meet very interesting people and gets to hear perspectives never previously thought of - and presented a friendly and open environment for everyone, a fairly mixed audience, to participate.
This post is not so much about what was discussed. I am in no position to write any comprehensive summary, and have no intention to report on what was primarily an open and frank conversation. However, there are a number of broad issues that came up and are worth considering within an wider audience.
First, there was a clear concern for the sustainability of the British universities in its current form, with the rise in fees starting to hurt and international student numbers starting to fall. There is indeed a bit of a chain reaction being felt this year from Russell Group universities dropping their grade requirements, pushing the mid-ranked universities to drop theirs and so on and so forth, until the universities at the lower half of the league table have nowhere to go. Indeed, they are being squeezed by the new private providers, which are both cheaper and offer a no-frills education in the most popular subject areas, from the bottom.
Second, despite the Tory rhetoric of getting the 'best and brightest', the International students are not going to come back. There is a worldwide competition for them, and the British universities are not particularly generous in rewarding them to come to Britain. Besides, the British universities are so used to the idea of international students as a source of revenue to cross-subsidise the 'home' students, whose fees are still capped, albeit at a higher level, that they are unable to adjust to the new paradigm of international students, wherein they would be welcome in the institutions to enable a different kind of knowledge creation, required, arguably, for this 'global' age.
Third, a point made very succinctly, if slightly counter-intuitively, at the meeting is that there is something inherently problematic how the whole sector viewed international students. This permeates into this talk about British universities becoming unsustainable as the international students stop coming, because they make up almost 20% of the total student numbers and 78% of the students in Taught Masters programmes. In fact, this mode of internationalisation has corrupted the sector's ability to compete at home, argue in one voice for public support, and, like American universities, find and create alternative sources of revenue on the face of disappearing state support. Besides, this has also spawned some of the most scandalous trends in the British academe, unrestrained franchising (leading to McDonaldization, as Phil Altbach argues), employment of agents who tend to find marginal students rather than 'the best and the brightest' and a management practice which cares less about academic values and integrity and more about marketing strategies to sell irrelevant education to unsuspecting and uninformed students.
In summary, this was an insightful session to look beyond the woes of UKBA induced curbs, and an opportunity to examine the practices of British Higher Ed sector in general with regard to institutional students. It is a rare opportunity, because the discussions in British academic circles are usually extremely inward-looking, almost in denial of the exciting possibilities and developments in the International Higher Education (the corruption through 'soft' international revenue being a very plausible explanation). Besides, discussions such as these explore adequately the rhetoric of market economy, which is pushing us into a 'market society' by stealth, introducing the logic of the market not just in areas where economically minded transactions bring best value, but also pervading practices which were traditionally in other domains. The possibility of 'Mode 3' knowledge creation, that of creation of knowledge not just with social capital but also with the investiture of transnational academics (and of students) at the heart of the process, is indeed perverted when the international students as seen as money-balls only to be served for fees and excluded promptly at the end of their 'course' is possibly a great illustration of how the market society thinking fails in imagination.
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
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
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.
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,
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
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
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
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.