Impact of Globalization Trends on Education Structures and Policies
Globalization is a widely discussed and contested topic. The process of globalization has profound impacts on the capacity of a nation to formulate its policies. It is accompanied by a seemingly endless process of change within education (Peters, 1992).
Globalization is one main issue that is increasingly attracting the attention of most academicians, researchers and policy makers. It has gained relevance in the context of higher education. Education is an important driver of growth and poverty reduction. Education policies have been in existence for quite some time and have played an important role in the development policy. The most recent wave of globalization is likely to have profound effects on education structures and policies across the world.
What is globalization?
‘Globalisation’ is a term that describes the process of integrating societies by removing legal, political and geographical constraints (Trowler, 1998). Vulliamy (2004) describes it as a process which is rapidly integrating the world into one economic space via an increasingly networked global telecommunication system. A study by Tikly (2003), suggest globalization as an inevitable and largely irresistible phenomenon that contains opportunities and threats for national development. Globalization is therefore seen to be concerned principally with integration into global and regional markets underpinned by technologies
Although internationalization is not new to education policies, the forces and tensions under the umbrella concept of globalization constitute dramatically different environment in which education institutions and policy makers operate in (Marginson, 1999). The changes to which education structures in UK and around the globe is exposed are complex and varied (Marginson, 1999). Nonetheless, the globalization concept indicates that these changes are somehow interrelated. For the purpose of this analysis, we will stress the following tendencies within the overall force of globalization:
• Restructuring of the economic world system due to rapid integration of the world economy resulting from a transformation to a post industrial knowledge economy and increasingly liberalized trade and commerce.
• Rise of network society due to technological advancements and the expansion of the internet
• Increasing virtual mobility of people, knowledge and capital resulting from the development of new transport facilities, expansion of the internet and increasingly world integrated community
• Complex cultural developments whereby we have an increasing cultural exchange and multicultural reality on the one hand of homogeneity and cultural differentiation and segregation on the other hand.
• Erosion of the nation state and a widening of the gap between socio-political regulation and economic activity.
Such is the nature and complexities of forces associated with globalization. These forces define the social environment in which education structures and policies operate in (Green, 1999). Further, these forces condition the context in which education policies and structures have to operate and profoundly alter people’s experience of both formal and informal education (Green, 1995). For example, most institutions are transformed to become targets of corporate expansion and sites for branding. A more detailed explanation will be discussed below.
Impact of globalization on education structures and policies
Globalisation has profound impacts on education structures and policies. The impact is profound but also diverse, depending on the locality within the global arena. While there is often a danger of oversimplification and generalisation when dealing with globalisation, diversity has to be recognised and promoted to a certain extent. Various views have been expressed in literature with regard to the impact of contemporary globalization on the processes and structure of education worldwide.
1. Direct impacts on both the curriculum and pedagogy
Carnoy (1999) suggests direct impacts on both the curriculum and pedagogy. There is little evidence however to support such an assessment. Whilst attempts have been made to inject global awareness on school curricula in western industrialized countries, these have generally remained very low status add-ons. Carnoy (1999) continues to argue that whilst the direct impacts on pedagogy and curriculum are limited, the more general influences of economic restructuring and political ideologies are immense. For instance, globalization is putting considerable premium on highly skilled and flexible workers in an organisation hence increasing the demand for university education.
2. Emerging ‘bordeless’ higher education market
The most visible manifestation of globalisation in the education sector is the emerging ‘bordeless’higher education market. Globalization leads to huge increases in worldwide demand for higher education through opportunities created by the internet and new communication technologies which in turn shape an environment in which providers can expand their supply of educational facilities (Breier, 2001). Universities from Australia, North America, Europe and England are reaching out their educational provisions to the international market by actively recruiting international students through establishing branch campuses or via distance education, e-learning and other transnational activities (Breier, 2001).
These increasing demands bring new providers into the market. The business of borderless education comprises various forms and developments including the emergence of corporate universities, professional association that are directly active in higher education, and media companies delivering educational programmes among others (Alao & Kayode, 2005). These new providers extensively use the Internet and ICT as a delivery channel.
3. Erosion of national regulatory and policy framework
Globalization is also associated with the erosion of national regulatory and policy frameworks in which institutions are embedded (Slattery, 1995). The policy framework is subject to erosion in an increasingly international environment marked by globalizing professions, liberalized market place, mobility of skilled labour, and international competition between institutions (Slattery, 1995). Most institutions acknowledge this and thus develop consortia, partnerships and networks to strengthen their position in the global arena. Schemes such as the European Credit transfer system and mobility programmes such as UMAP and SOCRATES can be developed to stimulate internationalization in higher education with respect to the various national policy frameworks (Dearden et al, 2002). There is need for an international regulatory framework that transcends the eroded national policy framework and steer to some extent the global integration of higher education system.
4. Create new and tremendously important demands and exigencies towards universities as knowledge centre’s
Consequently, globalization creates new and tremendously important demands and exigencies towards universities as knowledge centers (Dearden et al, 2005). Research and development is crucial in any knowledge and information driven society. Globalization of research and development leads to a more mobile and highly competitive international market of researchers. Moreover, universities are called upon to take up responsibilities in the society, deepen democracy, act as mediators and to function as centre’s of critical debate. These higher demands placed upon them create tensions in institutions and stimulate other organizations to engage in such kind of activities.
5. Increasing demand for higher education worldwide
Finally, the continuing trend of globalization is expected to increase the demand for higher education worldwide. In the developed world, the society will always ask for highly qualified and flexible workers. Modernization, economic development and demographic pressure increase the demand for higher education in most parts of the world (Blanden & Machin, 2004). Governments and local institutions generally lack enough resources to deal with the increasing demand hence leaving an unmet demand to the international and virtual providers. This demand not only grows quantitatively but also becomes more diverse. The internet together with new technologies are increasingly providing new opportunities for more flexible delivery of higher education, thus increasing demand in some countries and meeting demands in others where traditional institutions have failed. These developments brought by globalization underpin the assertion that higher education will emerge as one of the booming markets in future (Blanden & Machin, 2004).
The need for an international regulatory framework
There is a big difference in the way countries deal with private universities and transnational higher education. Greece and Israel, for instance, rarely recognize their diplomas and degrees (Blanden, Gregg & Machin, 2005). While other countries residing in the developing world such as Malaysia recognize their incapacity to meet the increasing demand and thus welcome foreign providers (Blanden, Gregg & Machin, 2005). Principally, there is no reason to oppose a positive and open attitude towards transnational higher education and private universities.
In modern policy approach, it must be recognized that private and transnational institutions are also capable of fulfilling public functions. Despite the fact that traditional higher education institutions have a specific tradition and academic culture to defend, it should be amenable to competitors from diverse backgrounds. It therefore becomes imperative to have in place international and sustainable policy framework that deals with private and transnational providers.
The globalization trends are leading to a wide spread changes that are impacting on education worldwide. Nation states acknowledge this and have developed reforms to their educational systems in response to modernizing ideas and international trends. It should be noted that globalization represents a new and distinct shift in the relationship between states and supranational forces and that its impact on education is profound in a range of ways. Whilst this analysis does not present an exhaustive listing of the impact of globalization on education, it does bring out key dynamics and highlight important areas of action for academicians and policy makers with respect to globalization.
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