This week’s reading in the ACE Report focused on a myriad of issues concerning Internationalizing Higher Education Worldwide and highlighted additional key elements to build upon our previous readings. For example, in the context of cross-border education, the concept of mobility as a cornerstone of international higher education policies was discussed as well as the crucial role of “other influencers” and the central role of national governments. Cross-border education has been defined as “the movement of people, programmes, providers, curricula, projects, research and services, across national or regional jurisdictional borders” (ACE Report, p. 38). This week’s reading highlighted the “importance of jurisdictional boundaries when it comes to policy frameworks and regulations” (ACE Report, p. 38).
While in previous readings, I had focused on the role of regional governments, particularly in Asia, this week emphasized the key role national governments play in regulating cross-border educational activity. I was particularly intrigued by the regulatory policy example of India. As the reading details, while India is one of the largest exporters of students seeking higher educational opportunities outside of India, the country has a definitive international higher education policy regulating cross-border activity within its own boundaries. This fact was somewhat surprising to me and I wonder if it fosters notions of reciprocal benefits and common values in the internationalization arena or stymies those goals.
For example, the ACE Report explains that India’s policy toward international higher education is not static, but instead “debated intensely” such that it does not allow independent branch campuses on Indian soil. India requires that international higher education programs be carried out through partnering with Indian higher education institutions. And these partnerships are themselves highly regulated such that there are “specific parameters” to govern them. Most interesting to me was the requirement that Indian law requires foreign educational institutions to be accredited and been offering educational services for at least twenty years. In addition, there are specific ranking requirements that must be met to for an international higher education institution to operate in India. (See generally, ACE Report, p. 41-42).
These various requirements seem like smart ones and would appear to mitigate against sham operations and ensure quality of educational services in the cross-border context that may be otherwise difficult to monitor. However, do such specific requirements thwart flexibility in internationalization efforts and a lack of agility to develop robust and innovative partnerships? An interesting question that has been framed for me in the ACE Reports analysis of India’s regulation in the cross-border context is how does a country’s national government ensure quality and standards in educational services against flexibility and reciprocal benefits in the cross-border context.
The ACE Report suggests that India may be moving toward more lax rules to make way for independent branch campuses and allow for foreign curricula and teachers. But current criticism remains regarding stringent rules and the politicization of higher education in India (see https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/philip-altbach-indias-passage-might-not-be-simple-but-it-can-climb-to-elite-tier). And there are no definitive calls for change to policy among the Association of Indian Universities’ International webpage (see http://www.aiu.ac.in/International/International.asp).
With respect to the role of national governments in cross-border issues and internationalization, India appears to be an interesting case study as a nation that heavily regulates in this space but may be at the cusp of certain, more open policy reform to make entering the Indian higher education market easier and more dynamic. If such changes take place, it will be interesting to see how the internationalization trajectory in India develops and whether it can balance quality against collaboration and flexible regulatory requirements.