W4 – ACE Report (U.S.)

Focusing this week on internationalization of US higher education in the ACE companion piece to the global perspective from earlier weeks was revealing and highlighted certain key differences in the US approach to internationalization versus other global regions and players.  While mobility is a constant in internationalization policies, the US differs in not focusing on cross-border education and not having a comprehensive national policy due its decentralized government and highly diverse and large higher education structure.  Rooted in values of public diplomacy, national security, foreign language competency, scientific advancement, and global economic competiveness, the US has robust programs such as the Fulbright scholars but is generally individual focused rather than institutional as is more common in European countries.  With the likelihood of a comprehensive US national policy low, and government funding not high, the future of internationalizing US higher education will require advocacy and institutional attention to build on some of the current momentum.

For me, an interesting aspect of this week’s readings was again related to India and its internationalization relationship with the US.  As we read about last week, and I focused my blog on, Indian regulation at the national government level does not make for easy cross-border relationships and there is perhaps a need to loosen some of the regulations without compromising the integrity and quality of internationalization programs in higher education.  Perhaps not due to high regulation, but an overall lack of focus on it, the US too does not do much in the area of cross-border education and instead focuses on individual student and scholar mobility.  It struck me then that one of the countries the US does seem to partner with, particularly in cross-border efforts, is India.

Our reading this week gave two such examples.  The first is the one that is jointly funded by the US and the Indian government:  the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) which serves to “promote mutual understanding between the nationals of India and the U.S. through educational exchange of outstanding scholars, professional and students” (see http://www.usief.org.in/About-USIEF.aspx).  The second is the Indo-U.S. 21st Century Knowledge Initiative which is supported by USIEF but supported by the US State Department.  This initiative is somewhat remarkable in that the US has chosen to focus any attention it does on cross-border education to India, a country that has its own regulatory hurdles toward building strong cross-border relationships.  It can also be viewed as a milestone initiative in the US shifting its internationalization focus from individual mobility support to institutional partnerships and collaboration.  According to ACE, the initiative “provides institution-level grants to U.S. colleges and universities for the purpose of developing partnerships with Indian counterparts” and has invested approximately $250,000 since 2011 (see ACE Report, p. 22).  With a public health focus, the initiative encourages collaborations in the area of curriculum design, research collaboration, and team teaching to “develop expertise, advance scholarship and teaching, and promote long-term ties between partner institutions.”  (see http://www.usief.org.in/Institutional-Collaboration/Obama-Singh-21st-Century-Knowledge-Initiative-Awards.aspx)

The above examples shed light on perhaps the changing posture of US policies toward a more collaborative and institutional approach to internationalization with State Department support and funding as well as an opening of Indian regulatory postures toward internationalization.  These examples perhaps bring together themes of the two ACE companion pieces we have focused on in the last several weeks and articulate some reason for optimism in higher education internationalization for two countries that have productive programs in place but still work to do in this space.

W3-Ace Report (Part II)

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.