BRICS, the acronym fashioned by Jim O'Neill to signify a special set of 'emerging' economies that would drive global growth, had better days. There was a time, in the immediate aftermath of the Global Credit Crisis, when these economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, for the uninitiated - held strong and showed promise. However, as the commodity prices and global demand slumped, the economies started fluttering; political mismanagement and corruption caught up as well. While the Russian and Brazilian economies went into recession, and South Africa teetered on the brink of Sovereign Debt crisis, China seemed to be heading to a hard landing and Indian government of the time lost the will and initiative. By 2014, people were writing obituary of the BRICS idea. Even Mr O'Neill moved on to the 'Next 11', smaller, faster growing countries, which are less diverse and politically more amenable, eventually settling down for another smart acronym - MINT - for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.
Call it the O'Neill curse if you like, but Mexico, Turkey and Nigeria did not have great time since the acronym came in vogue. BRICS, however, became a formal grouping of nations, with annual summits and ambitious projects, such as a BRICS Bank. Despite the difficulties, the relatively large population and size of the economies made the BRICS countries too important to ignore, for global policy-making as well as for investment decisions. Some countries did better than others: China kept growing and proved many doomsayers wrong, and India powered ahead with its young population and expanding domestic demand. At a time when the lack of global demand seems to be the key issue for the policy-makers to focus on, the strength of the BRICS demand - current or projected - keeps the grouping relevant and provides impetus for policy coordination.
The question now is if and how this could extend to Higher Education. The case in point is the argument that the BRICS countries could benefit from the 'nationalist' turn in the Developed economies, as Bruno Morche argues in his article in the University World News. BRICS countries, along with a few other South Asian and West African countries, supply most of the students studying internationally, and this 'demand contribution' is set to go up. Of the next 100 million people reaching college by 2020, 45 million of them are likely to be in China and India, and this trend will continue for at least a decade thereafter. So, it is indeed worthwhile to explore what role BRICS could play in the next expansion of Global Higher Ed.
As is pointed out in the article above, the BRICS-to-BRICS student flow remains limited and collaboration between BRICS universities have proved rather illusory. Language difference is cited as the main reason, though a number of internationally minded universities, in all the countries but definitely in India, use English as the language of instruction and research. The point about Nationalist Turn is indeed very valid, particularly here in Britain, where the Government has actively vilified International Students, treating all of them as potentially illegal migrant and making life very difficult for anyone who may want to come and study in the UK. This has certainly impacted the number of students coming to the UK, the second most popular destination after the United States, and the number of students from India, Nigeria and Pakistan has nearly halved; however, the overall number so far held up because of a healthy growth of numbers from China, more as a consequence of enormous expansion of the number of students there. The same is likely to happen in the United States, as the Trump Administration starts its own tinkering of the immigration system.
When the British Government systematically started dismantling the International Higher Education ecosystem in this country in its illusive quest to reign in migrant numbers in 2011 (a project that eventually reached its nadir in the Brexit vote in June 2016), I counted on this to have a positive impact on the quality and diversity of Higher Education systems of China and India, for example. The common sense logic was that once the door on migrating for education was slammed close, more aspiring students would stay local and look for better education at home. My other assumption, which I bet my career on, was that this would mean a proliferation of online and other modes of education towards a British qualification. The argument that the Nationalist Turn would mean an expansion of BRICS-to-BRICS exchange and collaboration is based on somewhat similar view of the world.
However, as I learnt over the last few years, my straightforward assumptions were certainly too simplistic. I overlooked, for example, the crucial role that the domestic regulatory structures play. Often, the BRICS countries have an intrusive regulatory structure built around punitive measures, which discourage change and innovation. Also, these economies are often starved of expertise, as the more able researchers and teachers often move abroad. The 'nationalist turn' in Britain did not impact the quality of India's Higher Ed, as I had hoped, despite its huge expansion around the same time. Its immediate impact was in the growing influence of some of the regional hubs, such as Singapore and Malaysia, but also increasingly Dubai and Mauritius, which saw a growth in International student numbers (as well as Indian students choosing Canada more than before, and Australia, which lost ground after 2008, regaining some popularity).
Coming back to the issue of flow of students among the BRICS countries, one may think that a similar pattern will hold. The nationalist turn in developed countries would perhaps make the universities in the UK and USA less cosmopolitan, but this would not be directly offset by a BRICS to BRICS flow. Rather, the impact would be more complex and diverse, with regional hubs emerging - and China indeed is already a Regional Hub and India wants to be one.
However, at the same time, BRICS to BRICS flow may represent an opportunity at an institutional strategy level. The International Higher Education, so far, has mostly been a 'metropolitan' affair, with a few countries attracting most of the globally mobile students, but this model is facing a severe disruption right now. While BRICS may not represent a relevant category in policy terms in this context - the countries are simply too diverse - as an accepted category in Global Economic terms, it may still be possible for individual institutions to build attractive programmes and partnerships around BRICS. Despite the diversity, there is some commonality across the BRICS nations - they are big, diverse, ambitious and populous nations - and they represent a certain category in global economic and political thinking, which students can engage in, with profit. So while I do not necessarily see a tremendous opportunity of BRICS Higher Education, I believe this makes abundant sense for institutions to look at this as an emergent opportunity.
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
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.
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
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
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
As India's democracy reaches a critical juncture, with a very real danger of a authoritarian take-over, Rabindranath Tagore's birth anniversary is a perfect occasion to revisit the founding idea of India once again. There are many things in his politics that we may need to dust up and reconsider: Tagore's political ideas, because of his inherent aversion of popular nationalism and enthusiasm about Pan-Asianism and universalism, were outside the mainstream of the Indian National Movement, seen as impractical and effectively shunned. He was seen mostly as the Poet and the mystic, someone whose politics remains in the domain of the ideas rather than action. Tagore himself, after a brief passionate involvement in politics during the division of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905, withdrew from political action: He never belonged to the political class, despite his iconic status and itinerant interventions, such as returning the Knighthood after the massacre of Amritsar in 1919.
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.