Themes

Building nations and connecting cultures: education policy, economic development and engagement

While the Millennium Development Goals emphasise access to primary education, without investment in higher education, national economic and social developmental goals, necessary for creating socially engaged and just societies, will not be achieved.  It is for this reason that governments and the private sector in countries such as China, Brazil, India, Singapore, South Korea and the Gulf states are funding universities, research and innovation globally to be developed at home.

WITH STRONG CROSS-BORDER NETWORKS, INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION IS FAST BECOMING A SIGNIFICANT AND POWERFUL PLAYER IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

Whilst governments have long been aware of the role education can play in international relations and developments, providers of higher education have found themselves having to answer to a greater number of interest groups throughout the 21st century. Apart from managing the demands of local and national governments, universities and colleges are having to answer to bilateral and multi-lateral agencies, as well as local, national and multi-national businesses, whilst continuing to meet the demand for skilled graduates and relevant research and innovation.  For decades Europe and North America have invested in this area, but in recent years this trend is now being followed by the world’s emerging economies, in turn, raising further questions around the internationalising education debate.

In Africa global inequalities continue to prevail; conflict persists and social and democratic participation is patchy, ‘South South’ engagements compete with ‘North North’ or ‘North South’ encounters; emerging markets are in the ascendancy, but few countries yet have universities that meet international quality standards and curiosity and scholarly endeavour are differentially recognised and rewarded.  However, innovation towards ensuring our shared sustainable future is no longer confined to conventional sites of global research leadership, but is emerging across the globe. 

A SIGNIFICANT QUESTION ON THE FIRST OCCASION THAT GOING GLOBAL COMES TO AFRICA IS: WHAT DOES ALL THIS IMPLY?

Going Global 2016 asks if international education is destined to be dominated by competitive drivers for economic growth and international standing; by student fees, skilled graduates and research funding or whether it can also be informed by building partnerships to address collective concerns. Can this endeavour be supported by the post-2015 commitment to universalism, which signs up all countries (and not just aid recipient ones) to the Sustainable Development Goals? How do we reconcile the need for locally relevant national development and priorities alongside a commitment to international education for the global good?

What does all this mean for colleges, universities and national education systems; their missions, strategies and operating models? What risks and opportunities do these new trends present for students, staff and the communities with which they engage? 

Going Global 2016 examined these questions through the following lenses:

  • Education policy: local priorities, national systems and global drivers
  • Economic development: skills, enterprise, research and innovation
  • Engagement: democracy, social justice and international relations