W12: Internationalization of Online Learning

I recently read a book by Jeffrey Selingo, who is an editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education, titled College Un:Bound. The book speaks about the current state of higher education in the United States and what it means for students and the higher education system in the future. Selingo’s main argument is that with the advent of technology and the increasing financial burden on students, higher education and the college experience will become un-bundled or unbound as Selingo refers to it. The un-bundling of higher education means that the path to obtaining a degree will become less concentrated to one campus; rather he believes that students will take a less direct route in obtaining their degrees and will be able to customize their education based on their budget. Institutions, such as community colleges, for-profits institutions and online education providers, will increasingly play a larger role in higher education because they can offer courses at a lower costs compared to a regular four-year institution.

Although, Selingo takes on American perspective, this trend of the un-bundling of higher education is also an international trend which is made clear in this week’s reading. From the “Bridges to the Future” excerpt, one of the topics it touches on is the ever-increasing role technology is playing in education. Under the heading of the diversification of higher education, the author talks about how online education providers such as Khan Academy, Udacity and edX are able to enroll thousands of student from all over the world and offers them a path towards obtaining a degree.  One of the main issues of internationalizing higher education is the issue is the issue of access and that not every student has the opportunity to travel abroad. The expansion and internationalization of online education is a very viable solution to this access problem because it is the most cost effective for the student and the institution. Also, with the way many of these courses are created, they can be as interactive as a traditional face-to-face course.  However, Wildavsky’s article about MOOC’s, are access issues with online education as well. Not every country has reliable internet connections and computers that support web-based education, such as parts of Africa that are not as developed. However, the internet has become a necessity in life and reliable internet and affordable computers will slowly be available everywhere.  Online education has the most potential to be internationalized because it can solve the issue of access.

W11: Studying Abroad

Last week, a colleague shared a short New York Times article with my academic advisement department titled “Study Abroads Seven Deadly Sins”. I thought to myself what a strange title and why is it so dramatic. Not everything can be considered a deadly sin, of course. But, after I read the article I understood the drama. The article is about the 7 faux-pas’s american youth that study abroad commit; many of which are obvious. For example, american youth that study abroad in Europe or Asia where the drinking age is much lower or nonexistent, seize the opportunity to legally binge drinking.These types of experiences are not the same experiences that study abroad programs are meant to give students. If students are going to study abroad with the idea that they are going for fun and trying to get away from their parents, then study abroad programs are not achieving what they claim to be doing for those students in particular. Also, if American students are committing these “sins”, then it is a poor reflection and representation of American youth and our higher education system, which could hurt future partnerships and collaborations.

In relation to the articles we had to read for this week, this Times article reveals the unspoken reality of how many students use study abroad opportunities not for the same reasons administrators claim. The survey that was conducted by the International Association of Universities indicates that the “most significant expected benefit(s)” to the internationalization of higher education is heightening student knowledge and the appreciation of international issues. In addition, according to the survey, one of the top priority internationalization activities institutions want to work on is increasing outgoing mobility opportunities for students.However, I believe that institutions might want to work on internationalization at home first before creating new outgoing programs for students. If the student’s first exposure to a different culture is studying abroad they might not have the cultural awareness capacity to get the learning experiences and outcomes that administrators want. The institution should firstly internationalize their curriculum at home, so that students are familiar with different cultures and have an appreciation for other cultures. Having  some level of cultural appreciation and those soft skills  prior to studying abroad, might prevent some of these deadly sins from happening.

W10: Governance models in higher education

It is important to understand that every country organizes and categorizes higher education institutions in different ways. As noted in the Fielden article on global trends in university governance, there are several different governance models that vary in degrees of state involvement. Some countries have state controlled governance models, where the Ministry of Education considers higher education institutions as state corporations and have the most control over decision making. On the other hand there are other countries which have very “independent” governance models where the only relation higher education institutions have with the state is with its funding. Fielden also mentions that the trend in higher education governance is to move towards a more autonomous model, which is consistent with the Varghese and Martin article on governance reform in Asia. The Asian countries Varghese and Martin mentioned were more centralized models with heavy state-involvement. However, reforms over the years have given much of the influence and power over to the institutions now. One of the main reasons why institutions are reforming is because autonomy would allow for academic freedom, which is important in academia and education. Maybe as information and knowledge becomes more free flowing people will understand internationalization and why it is necessary for higher education across the globe to internationalize.

Although, higher education systems like the US are independent in Feilden’s spectrum, they may not be as autonomous as one might believe. For example, CUNY’s latest battle with Governor Andrew Cuomo over his decision to cut nearly $500 million worth of state funding shows how dependent the university system is on state funding and how restricted it is due to its reliance on state appropriations. As one women said, these cuts would not be sustainable for the future of CUNY. The situation ended with the governor stipulating that CUNY and SUNY would need to work with a financial management consultant in order to find savings and to cut overhead. However, it could be problematic because it would essentially be the state intervening on the financial decisions and budgets of the senior colleges. So, although the university system is for the most part independent in its operations and academics, state control over funding could limit its autonomy in the long-run.


W9: Brazil

As seen in this week’s readings, higher education systems across the world take many forms and some are very different from our own. I found the reading about the BRIC universities and how each country has shaped their higher education systems very fascinating because it shows how higher education can exist in many forms and shapes. Brazil was the most interesting because I thought it was the most unique compared to the United States and the other two countries. The section on Brazil emphasized how the private for-profit institutions are dominating the higher education market, as opposed to the public institutions which really dominate US higher education. As the author mentions Brazil has a very small public higher education sector compared to its private sector. Private institutions educate almost three fourths of the undergraduate population in Brazil, and many of them are for-profit organizations that have set up campuses around the country. Public institutions in Brazil are more research oriented than instruction oriented, therefore most of the funding and faculty are directed towards research projects rather than instructing undergraduate and graduate students. As result, public institutions take in fewer students which make them highly selective institutions. On the other hand, the growing number of private institutions essentially does not have any admissions controls because there are more seats than students and admits everyone.

One of the major issues that Brazil is facing is how to improve quality in these private institutions that essentially admits everyone who applies and is not pressured to improve their quality. I find the state of Brazil’s higher education very intriguing because it is considered an emerging country and economic force (not as of recently), but it is struggling with capacity and quality issues. US schools that are looking to enter Brazil’s market should be aware of these issues and needs in order to work out partnerships that will benefit both parties. Mutual understanding of the partner or the host country’s culture is imperative in the success of a partnership or a branch campus, and it should be something that is achieved before agreements are struck.

W8: Global Strategic Planning

As many have mentioned in class and on the blogs, colleges and universities straddle on the line between a charity and a business. It occupies two very distinct categories; but without either one, it would cease to exist as an institution of higher education. On this week’s topic of strategic planning, this really falls on the more business side of things.  In Brewer’s paper about strategic planning and best practices, a few of her principle focus on the management and organizational behavior aspects of the institution. Also, according to the readings the success of a strategic plan is contingent on organizational strengths of the university in dealing with implementation and large-scale change. In Jiang’s study on the issues of implementing a strategic plan in higher education, one thing that signaled to me that strategic planning resides more in the business-sphere is the issue of choosing suitable international markets. Picking the right country to pursue is important for any company or school because it is such a huge investment and it carries a lot of risk. As we mentioned in class, many of these decisions are not made with the intentions of the institution or of the student in mind. They are made out of external influences or out of convenience more often than not, and they may not be the most rational business step for the institution.

In looking into Baruch’s global strategic plan and at the current global initiatives and partnerships in comparison to Brewer’s case study of Rutgers University, forces one to wonder why Baruch or CUNY does not follow the same steps. Rutgers was able to create a coherent center for the advancement of internationalization that was effective in involving all constituencies on campus. However, based on Baruch’s plan, it seems like the school is still trying to work out who should be involved in the process and which team/ department should be leading the efforts. In the Rutgers case, it is clear that the GAIA centers were the leaders in the change. Baruch suggested that each dean from the three schools should appoint someone as a representative to lead the initiatives in addition to their regular positions and responsibilities. There is not “center” for the college as a whole, like Rutgers. So, organization is a huge issue when reading through the Baruch plan. As others have said in class, Baruch’s strategic plan does seem like it is still in the works because it has many missing elements of an effective strategic plan in addition to no clear leadership.