This week’s readings was a great wrap up to all that we’ve read and discussed this semester. With the International Higher Education essays having various views from various scholars about the issues to face higher education in the coming two decades and the Bridges to the Future chapter examining trends and issues to internationalization and what is means to be a global citizen (a term we’ve encountered multiple times this semester).
With the primary elections approaching to a close, I have been increasing alert to the promises that the candidates have made on the Democrat side (since there’s not much of a race left on the Republican side). The idea of free college as proposed by Bernie Sanders, or even the free community college previously put forth by President Obama, has always been something that interested me, especially when I learned how many European countries offer tuition-free higher education to its students. And taking this course has given me the opportunity to see how and why free college is a thing in certain places. To tie it by to the readings, I was reminded again of this idea when I was reading one of the IHE essays: “Sustaining Quality and Massification: Is It Possible?” by Marcelo Knobel.
While the essay does not specifically touch upon tuition-free higher education, it reminded me of the idea when the author mentioned how despite the rapid increases in enrollment to higher education around the world, it remains restricted to selected populations and not to everyone overall. The idea of providing tuition-free higher education is to increase access especially for those who are underprivileged and to relieve the financial burdens that can come with higher education in some countries. But many critics say it is either impossible or will mostly benefit the wealthy and more privileged individuals. Sanders alludes to European countries like Germany and Finland to give examples of countries who offer tuition-free higher education to their residents, but one thing that has been mentioned in class is that countries like Germany and Finland are very different from the United States, whether it be size or types of higher education institutions available.
The second article I link mentions that Sanders’ plan will most likely benefit the wealthy more than the intended group of people because there is so much more than tuition costs that would keep a low-income student from going to college, i.e. housing, textbooks, fees, and etc. And the article also mentions how removing tuition at public institutions would potentially move all those more well-off students from attending private institutions to public ones and thus competing with students who can only afford to go to the public institutions. There are so many things that need to be considered in order to make tuition-free higher education plausible. (Although it is important to note that in combination with some of the things that Sanders has also proposed, his plan for free-tuition may just work.)
Going back to Knobel’s essay, he mentions how the funding sources influence the quality of education provided, which is not surprising especially with for-profits as we have discussed in class. And Knobel also mentions that by expanding access to higher education, countries need to be exercise care when dealing with increasingly diverse groups of students, particularly the potential gaps in their previous education, which is definitely a big challenge the US faces. Thus, while I am all for tuition-free college, there is so much more that needs to be addressed or changed (i.e. the gaps in quality of primary and secondary education, other fees like books and healthcare that students face besides tuition, etc.) in the US in order to successfully implement this plan.
This week’s readings covered what internationalization in the U.S. looked like in 2012 and a global survey of various higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world and the challenges and trends faced in internationalization of higher education in their institution and countries. It was interesting to read about how issues faced in the U.S. are issues faced around the world in other countries, which is not too surprising since we’ve gone over the similarities in certain aspects pertaining to internationalization of higher education in previous discussions. One aspect in particular that interests me is how other countries and the U.S. take on internationalization at home.
In a University World News article, the authors explicitly redefined the term to give more clear meaning to internationalization at home (IaH) and what actual constitutes as IaH. The article defines IaH as “the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students, within domestic learning environments“. In the CIGE report, it seems the U.S. in 2012 did include the importance of foreign language requirements and co-curricular programs that included a international theme, as well as stressing the important of determining student learning outcomes for assessment. There’s also mention about funding for faculty to gain experience and learn how to internationalize their curriculum. But the report also mentions that while there is some efforts to internationalization, a majority of the efforts still lie in mobility and while the institutions say they are also including internationalization efforts at home, it is not reflected in the general curriculum required for everyone. Internationalized tracks are great but they only reach a limited number of students. There needs to be more efforts to utilize IaH since there still remains a large majority of students that are not able to actually go abroad to get international experience.
Even in the IAU Global Survey, a foreign language still ranks first while integrating the contributions of international students into the learning experience, which would be a form of IaH, is ranked second to last in importance. For regional level results, only in Africa and in Asia and Pacific was professional development of faculty to enhance their ability to integrate an international dimension into their teaching, which is potentially a form of IaH depending on if they teach domestically or elsewhere. And consistent with the CIGE report, the IAU Global Survey found that in North America there was a focus on offering programs or courses with an international themes, but as pointed out above, that can only reach a limited audience. There’s still much to do to fully integrate IaH, but I still think it can be a cost effective way to allow mass amounts of students gain exposure to global themes and cultures.
This readings talked about the governance of higher education and the different models and frameworks used in a number of countries, specifically Cambodia, Japan, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Having studied Japanese language and culture in high school and in college, I was interested in learning more about the governance of higher education in Japan.
The IIEP on governance reforms and university autonomy in Asia mentions the switch in Japan from a state controlled national university system to national university corporations in 2004, which increased institutional autonomy on various levels from organizational structure to the hiring of faculty and staff. After the switch, there was also a surge in private universities because the requirements to being recognized as a university in Japan were relaxed when reforms passed to change the national universities into national university corporations. In the same paper, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, Amano Ikuo, talks about the various trends that pushed Japan to reform and change its higher education system to the way it is today and the unique factors affecting Japan. It was interesting to learn about how the bubble economy burst at the beginning of the 1990s continues to have effects on the higher education system in Japan. This coincides with the intense round of reforms mentioned in the IIEP report how the Japanese government began to change the public universities to meet the knowledge economy demands, and there was also the formation of the various evaluation systems, ranging from self-evaluation in the beginning to ultimately the formation of a national evaluation agency (NIAD-UE).
One of the factors Amano Ikuo mentions in the his paper is the dramatic changes in population composition from 1980 to the present (which in the case of the paper was 2013). In the span of a decade, from 1980-1990, there was a sharp increase in the population of 18-year-olds from about 1.5 million to just over 2 million. This also led to an rapid increase in the formation of more universities to meet the demands (public universities also enjoyed pretty much a monopoly on higher education), but immediately after the initial decade, Japan experienced and continues to experience a decline or stagnation in the population of 18-year-olds, which resulted in the loss of enrollment and the struggle of the universities to change their ways of attracting and recruiting students. And with the switch in governance in 2004, the funding sources also changed and became more of a competition for research funding and public funding amongst all the various types of institutions. While it seemed like a good idea to make sure the institutions kept up their standards and quality, Amano Ikuo mentions that many of the institutions struggle to get enough funding and increasing turn towards conducting revenue-generating activities, which we’ve learn from previous classes could cause negative impacts on the quality of education offered.
Another thing mentioned by Amano Ikuo is the strive for internationalization and how Japan lags behind on that aspect, and in order to improve its global rankings, Japan has increasing put more emphasis on internationalization of its higher education system. Because Japan previously had a self-reliant system (or “closed” system) in terms of technological advances, this has caused the country to fall behind other OECD countries in joining the evermore globalized world and economy. This goes back to what was mentioned in a previous class discussion about Japan’s constant efforts to be a global hub for knowledge and technology, and how those efforts continue to fall short. Overall, Japan is admirable for its consistent efforts to ensure quality, but there is still much room for improvement if it wants to go up in the global rankings.
This week’s readings included global strategic plans of a U.S. state public research university and a community college, as well as the article that examines the higher education system of 4 BRIC countries and comparing the political influences that drive the policies and reforms in their country’s respective higher education systems.
What stuck out to me the most was in Ohio’s global strategic plan and how they mentioned that “few [students] have an understanding of the state of the world within which we live nor an appreciation of the extent to which global forces are impacting on national and local development and vice versa”. This also made me think about how while many of the global strategic plans we have read in class definitely cover how they plan to globalize the curriculum and get more faculty and staff on board, but other than getting more students to study abroad, there seems to be little mention of getting the students on board with the internationalization strategies. And with the increase in fear of international students taking away jobs and also even spots at the universities, it is ever more important to also get the local students on board with the plans the institution has to globalize their campus, because the students are a large group of stakeholders at play.
When mass media consistently spreads fear of the influx of foreigners on college campuses and in job markets, it is not surprising that it causes increasingly resistant local students to the inclusion of international students and the potential benefits the international students bring. As mentioned in class discussions before, reaping the benefits of a more diverse student body requires work on the part of the institution. The institution needs to be able to not only successfully mesh the international students into the local environment and culture, but also to get the local students to be receptive of the international students and the cultures and perspectives they bring.
While this issue of resistance does not seem to be something that can be changed on the policy level, since policy cannot directly dictate what the students should do and how they should react to the situation, there are things that can be changed in the primary and secondary schools to expose students early on about the benefits of have a more globalized curriculum and be more accepting of other cultures and traditions. All in all, it is great that both strategic plans read this week show a great amount of support on the administrative and faculty side, but there is still the question of how the students will receive it and how to better include the students in the plan.
This week’s readings covered the issues that occur when implementing internationalization strategies in higher education institutions along with various principles an internationalization strategy should address to be more effective. The readings also discussed the strategic plans of specific institutions, and when you compare University of Kentucky’s (UK) strategic plan to Baruch’s strategic plan, it would seem UK has much more detail on the specifics on what was expected and who would be involved and how. The university utilizes all the various trends that were previously discussed in class, from internationalization at home to plans for joint/dual degrees with partner institutions abroad. There’s also a more defined timeline on what is to be accomplished at certain milestones throughout the course of the strategic plan. The strategic plan of the University of Kentucky definitely addresses the 12 principles listed in the AIEA reading in a better manner than Baruch’s global strategic plan. What I find most fascinating is that the University of Kentucky details larger goals with smaller, more specific goals and expectations to show how the larger goal is to be achieved. Whereas in Baruch’s strategic plan, there seems to be more loftier (and thus less concrete) goals that are established and as a student, it does not seem like there’s that much going on in terms of implementing the global strategic plan. The reading also mentioned how the University of Kentucky addresses funding issues in their revised strategic plan in 2014 and pinpoints ways faculty and staff can look for funding within their department or request from central administration for funding support and it seems there is a push to find ways to internationalize curriculum while also minimizing the need for extra funding.
And in the case of Rutgers’ strategic plan, the reading suggests that like the University of Kentucky, Rutgers heavily utilized many members of the university community to strategize ways to internationalize their campus and institutional goals. As a result, more ideas were presented that were not realized before and there was definitely a lot more buy-in. The reading also mentioned how the global strategic plan eventually became a part of the New Brunswick campus’s overall strategic plan. In comparison to Baruch, Rutgers and the University of Kentucky definitely seem to have internationalization as a more top priority than Baruch. Which is interesting since Baruch consistently refers to itself as a global leader with a diverse student body that speaks over 150 languages (as mentioned at an event I recently attended on study abroad at Baruch), yet it is clear that Baruch has much room for improvement in terms of becoming more globalized.