This week’s readings about the future of the International Higher Education summarized the great deal of topics, changes, successes and challenges we have discussed in class over the semester. I also found it thought provoking, as it brought up concerns the new generation will have to face and resolve. Both readings had a number of common themes when it comes to the future of international higher education, and some of those that stood out include the growth of enrollment numbers in the last decades and how this will affect the future, especially in countries like China, quality of massive higher education, the inequalities of access, and the role of rankings/global citizens and global institutions.
Both readings referred a lot to the fact that overall enrollment numbers, especially in Asian countries like China and India as well as in African countries have increased exponentially over the last few decades. Although it seems like a good thing, it also created a challenge of quality of education for the students, as the classes grew in size, taking away from that needed relationships between students and professors. In addition, the nations are having trouble placing all of those graduates to jobs, causing more distress in the country. This seems to be an issue for many developing countries that have seen a growth spurt in higher education, which should be addressed immediately by the countries’ leaders, as it can lead to bigger problems for the national and even international economies.
Similar to the Asian and African countries, where the quality has been diminished due to the sudden increase in enrollment, already developed countries are also concerned about quality, but due to the popularity of mass and online education. More and more student chose this option as it might be more practical and convenient; however the quality is not the same as in person higher education experience. Although with advancement of the technology, it will be difficult to stop the trend, the institutions and professors should be more creative in attracting student with things that cannot be replaced online – the network, the mentorship, and opportunities.
Despite the increase in the overall enrollment, majority of the countries still see the inequality of access to higher education, in many countries that gap keeps growing even further than it used to be. This seems as a major concern that needs to be addressed not just on institutional level, but most importantly on a government/national level. Given the increase of importance of international rankings (not just national or local anymore), institutions, especially those with research or large endowments, concentrate on becoming global institutions, which brings more prestige, wealthy students and more partnerships around the world. Although the strategy might seem harmless as it does help students to become global citizens and enhance their experiences, it is highly concentrated on the wealthier students, leaving those in middle class and lower income families outside of reach increasing the gap even further. In addition, the cost of even public institutions has gone up tremendously, limiting access to higher education for many families. The Atlantic Magazine recently summarized the inequalities in the article mainly in the Unites States, however as already mentioned, these inequalities exist all over the world.