Brazil’s new Latin American and global integration universities launched

As 2009 drew to a close, Brazil’s Senate granted official authorization for the establishment of a new, very different kind of university in Brazil – the Federal University for Latin America Integration, otherwise known as UNILA.

Unanimously passed on December 16th 2009, the Bill now enables UNILA to formally announce itself as a university, instead of a fledging project under the banner of the Institute for Advanced Studies, with oversight by the University of Parana, in the Brazilian state of Parana.

UNILA is one of three regional integration universities launched by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2006 to advance Brazil’s interests within the region and globally. The other two university projects are UNILAB – the Afro-Brazilian University of Integration, and UNIAM – the University of Amazonian Integration.

These Brazilian initiatives were the latest addition to a rapidly changing higher education landscape around the globe, and one that is set to continue in 2010 (as implied in a recent NY Times report about the implications of the collapse of Dubai’s overheated economy for branch campuses such as Michigan State University and Rochester Institute of Technology).

Dubai’s spectacular meltdown in December was matched by a stunning $61m launch party for Saudi Arabia’s ‘House of Wisdom’ – the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST which Kimberly Coulter covered for GlobalHigherEd.

As Kris Olds wrote in his introduction to Coulter’s entry:

KAUST is a unique experiment in how to organize an institution to facilitate innovation in scientific knowledge production, a secure and efficient compound (hence Saudi Aramco’s involvement), a defacto sovereign wealth fund, a demonstration effect for new approaches to higher education in Saudi Arabia, and many other things (depending on standpoint).

So what do these initiatives have in common? Money aside (KAUST has an endowment of around US$11bn), but like KAUST, Brazil’s three new universities reflect a shared ambition: to use international higher education networks to advance cultural, political and economic projects.

However while KAUST is aimed at developing a world class national university in Saudi Arabia via the recruitment of global talent (academics and students), state of the art buildings and cutting edge development projects, UNILA, UNILAB and UNIAM are aimed at creating a ‘supranational’, ‘global’ and ‘regional’  university respectively, drawing upon staff and students from within the wider region, or from across south-south networks (UNILAB) – though each,  as I will show below, have distinctive visions and territorial reaches with UNILAB the most global.

In August of 2009, I had the privilege of attending the official launch of UNILA.  Close to the fabulous Iguacu Falls,  in Foz, Parana, UNILA is being developed on a 43 hectare site granted by Itaipu Binacional, the bi-national energy company running the huge hydro-electric dam providing energy to Paraguay and the southern cone of Brazil.

The objectives of UNILA are to pursue inter-regional trans-disciplinary research and teaching in areas of joint interest of the MERCOSUL member countries (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay) focusing, for example, upon use of natural resources, trans-border biodiversity, social sciences and linguistic research, international relations as well as relevant disciplines for strategic development.

Unlike KAUST, however, whose model is US-oriented (in becoming the MIT of the East, the ‘Stanford by the Seashore’), UNILA’s mission and approach to knowledge is shaped by a distinctive Latin American commitment. Each course has a Patron and a Founder.

The first Patrons have been chosen for being Latin American names who have left relevant academic-scientific contributions associated to a field of knowledge , while course founders have been appointed for the high academic prestige in their respective fields of knowledge as well as renowned international competence in their specialities.

10 Professorial Chairs have been appointed to UNILA. Each Chair has a mandate to develop courses in ways that are inspired by, and advance, the intellectual legacy of the Patron. For instance, in the area of science, technology and innovation,  founding Chair, Hebe Vessuri, will draw inspiration from the patron Amilcar Herrerra (1920-1995) – an Argentinean geologist who valued inter-disciplinary knowledge and who have argued that the solution to problems lay not with science as progress, but in the interface with policy and politics.

These patrons are clearly not the organic intellectuals of the ruling classes. Many of these patrons, such as the Chilean writer Francisco Bilbao (1823-65), and Paraguay’s Augusto Roa Bastos (1917-2005), have spent years in exile.

The target student population for UNILA is 10,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and post-graduate programmes leading to MA and PhD degrees. Entrants will be required to sit a university entry examination that will be offered in two versions: one with a Portuguese language requirement for Brazilian citizens and a Spanish Language for the foreign candidates of eligible member countries. Lectures will be offered in both Portuguese and Spanish, as it is expected that half of the teaching staff will be from the regional member countries.

By way of contrast with UNILA, UNILAB is the most global in ambition. This unilateral Portuguese-speaking Afro-Brazilian University of Integration will have  campuses in various  Portuguese speaking countries (Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sâo Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor). Expected to open for enrolment in the beginning of   2010, UNILAB is hailed as a political-pedagogic innovation project (see here for information on UNILAB developments).

The principal aim of UNILAB is to encourage and strengthen co-operation, partnerships, and cultural, educational and scientific exchanges between Brazil an member states of   the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) listed above. UNILAB will also focus on collaboration with the African countries of the CPLP,  aiming to contribute to these nations’ socio-economic development, including reducing ‘brain drain’ problems currently experienced by African countries.

UNILAB is intended to become an integrated multi-campus institution with campuses in all the   African member countries of the CPLP. Each of these campuses will also be integrated within the regions where they are located. Its main campus will be established in the city of Redenção in Brazil’s North-Eastern state of Ceará, approximately 60 kilometres from the city of Fortaleza. Redenção has been selected to host the main campus because it was the first municipality that had abolished slavery in Brazil, and because the region currently does not yet host a university. The main campus is also expected to function as an instrument for the strategic social-economic development of the North-East of Brazil.

In a report carried by the Observatory for Borderless Higher Education on these initiatives, Brazil’s Minister of Education, Fernando Haddad, commented:

We will not offer traditional programmes, but instead we will construct a common identity between the countries, that makes it possible to contribute to the social-economic development of each of the countries involved.

The third, more regional, initiative, Universidade Federal da Integração Amazônica, or UNIAM, will be established as a public multi-campus university, with a main campus in the Brazilian city of Santarém, and three satellite campuses in the cities Itaituba, Monte Alegre and Oriximiná, all located in Brazil’s state of Pará.

The main aim of UNIAM will be to encourage social-economic integration of the Amazon region, which includes not only parts of Brazil, but also areas of eight surrounding countries.

UNIAM’s  main campus will be established in the Brazilian city of Santarém, and three satellite campuses in the cities Itaituba, Monte Alegre and Oriximiná, all located in Brazil’s state of Pará. The aim of the new institution will be to encourage social-economic integration of the Amazon region, which includes not only parts of Brazil, but also areas of eight surrounding countries.

While it is unclear at the moment when the new university will open for enrolment, by 2013 UNIAM is expected to offer 41 programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral levels.  The Brazilian government will reportedly cover the US$107 million budget that will be needed to pay for the establishment and personnel costs of the new university until 2012.

Described by the Brazilian Ministry of Education as particular ‘political-pedagogic innovation projects’, these three new universities are intended to enhance national, regional and global integration, and demonstrate to the world that it may be possible to unite different countries through education.

These are fascinating initiatives likely to liven up the global higher education landscape in 2010. They reflect not only emerging regionalisms, but potential shifts in the sites and stakes of global and regional knowledge production and power.

Susan Robertson

Measuring the economic value of Canada’s international education “industry”

FAITcdnYesterday, Canada unveiled a report assessing the economic contributions that international students make to the country. Entitled Economic Impact of International Education in Canada, the report was presented by Stockwell Day, the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, at a meeting of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Highlights from the report include the following:

  • In 2008, international students to Canada contributed $6.5 billion (CAD) to the national economy, provided 83,000 jobs, and contributed $291 million (CAD) in government revenue
  • This estimate is based on tuition fee payments, accommodation costs, and discretionary spending for international students from the K-12 to post-secondary levels
  • While all provinces receive incoming students and report financial gain, Ontario and Quebec receive the lion’s share, with nearly two-thirds of all international students coming to Canada going to these two provinces
  • Nearly 40% of all revenue comes from the top two source countries: China and South Korea
  • The total value of international education is higher than the value of national exports in coniferous lumber ($5.1 billion) and coal ($6.07 billion)

Three other entries have recently been made on this blog on similar research conducted in different national contexts: Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. That Canada has joined these countries in the calculative process of determining the economic value of international education is significant for a few reasons.

First, while the state has multiple rationales underlying its promotion of international student mobility – ranging from international diplomatic and academic exchange ideals, to generating both short and long-term as well as direct and indirect economic benefits – the public discourse in Canada has hitherto tended to emphasize education as a (largely) publically-funded sector. In commissioning a report that emphasizes the economic contributions of international students, and the relative economic contribution of education services (e.g., see Table 15 from the report below), the Government of Canada seems to be showing a growing willingness to frame international education as an emerging export industry.

Table15

Second, education is a provincial responsibility in Canada, so policies and initiatives have tended to be decentralized. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (DFAIT) interest in developing a national agenda for international education has been manifest in the past few years, most clearly evidenced with the launch of the “Education in-au Canada” branding campaign last year. In commissioning a report that quantifies the overall export industry’s value, one can assume that this report serves in part to support the continued inclusion of education as a component of DFAIT’s Global Commerce Strategy. Moreover, the report prominently displays the financial contributions that international students make to provincial government revenues, a distinction that I have not seen made in other reports. One can further speculate that this inclusion is due to continued debates within and between various levels of government on the value of supporting the expansion of international education. (It should be noted that the report also says the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia had previously conducted similar research on their own.)

Lastly, it is worth reflecting on the fact that the report was commissioned by DFAIT but prepared by Roslyn Kunin & Associates, Inc., a private consultancy firm. As GlobalHigherEd has noted in previous entries on this topic (e.g., on New Zealand), other jurisdictions have adopted similar arrangements, but this still raises questions about private firms acting as knowledge brokers for the state, producing reports that can act both as analytical devices and lobbying tools. Given that each of the national reports reviewed on GlobalHigherEd are drawn from very different data sources and based on different modeling techniques, it also raises questions about the international comparability of such figures, and their potential role in benchmarking a country’s position vis-à-vis “competitor states” in the global international education market. For example, Canada’s report (that was produced from secondary data sources) cites annual contributions as $6.1 billion (CAD), whereas the US returns (as noted in a previous entry) are calculated to be $15.5 billion/yr (USD). Considering that some estimates put the United States as receiving 22.8% of all internationally mobile students, while Canada receives just 3%, there are clearly different data, assumptions, and perhaps intentions, underlining these reports.

Kate Geddie

Editor’s update: link here for the press release of the newest US report (‘International Students Contribute $17.6 Billion to U.S. Economy‘) which was released by NAFSA on 16 November 2009. The report was produced by Jason Baumgartner who wrote a 13 May 2009 entry (‘Economic benefits of international education to the United States‘) in GlobalHigherEd.

Indian students in Australia: how did it come to this?

mbpc2fvp7mybEditor’s note: this contribution, by Christopher Ziguras examines the complex factors shaping ongoing debates, and recent crisis, about Indian students in Australia.  Christopher Ziguras (pictured to the right) is Associate Professor of International Studies in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT, Melbourne. His research focuses on international education policy, particularly related to higher education in the Asia Pacific region. Dr Ziguras teaches within the Global Studies discipline at RMIT University. He was a founding member of the Globalism Research Centre and has continued to be closely involved with the Centre since its establishment in 2002. He manages the Learning Cities program within RMIT’s Global Cities Research Institute, and established RMIT’s Research in International and Comparative Education (RICE) network in 2007.  Our thanks to Chris for his illuminating contribution.

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Eventually something had to give. The number of Indian students coming to study in Australia had been growing for several years at extraordinary rates, and nobody expected the bubble to last. But it was difficult to predict what would trigger the collapse.

In 2002 there was just over 11,000 Indian students in Australia, and by 2005 this number had grown to over 27,000. Australia is accustomed to such sudden surges in demand from particular countries, and this number was still a very small proportion of the total international student population of around 400,000 in 2005. However, by last year enrolments had grown even more rapidly up to nearly 100,00 students, and most of the growth was in private vocational colleges where enrolments of Indian students increased at a startling rate, from 2,600 to 47,400 in three years.

Indian Students in Australia Chart

  • VET = Vocational Education and Training (postsecondary certificate and diploma programs from one to four semesters duration)
  • ELICOS = English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students
  • Higher Education = degree level and graduate programs
  • Other includes private higher education and public and private primary and secondary schools

(Data source: Australian Education International)

Up until around 2005 most Indian students seeking permanent residency in Australia undertook masters programs, usually in information technology and accounting. This was a perfectly rational response to the key planks of Australia’s skilled migration framework, which seeks to identify those occupations where graduates are in high demand in the  labour market, and prioritises applicants with Australian tertiary qualifications, who in the past have been shown to been more successful in the labour market than migrants with overseas qualifications. So Indian students quite rightly reasoned, “I would like to live in Australia and Australia wants accounting graduates so I will do an accounting degree and stay on in Australia”. Enrolments of international students in programs that enabled students to obtain residence (subject to various other conditions), grew very rapidly. In 2004-05 three quarters Indian students graduating from Australian university programs obtained permanent residency.[1]

The only problem with this had been that many international graduates in these areas of migration demand were not subsequently employed in the fields for which they had studied. Migration requirements were tightened to mandate higher levels of English proficiency and professional experience, and these had the effect of dampening demand somewhat for some university programs.

In 2005 the Australian government increased the number of points international graduates needed to obtain permanent residency, meaning that many international students had to undertake further studies in an area of migration demand that would provide extra points. A number of trades (including hairdressing) had been included on the occupations in demand list for some time, and soon after raising the number of points required cooking was added to the list of occupations for which extra points would be awarded. Private colleges responded quickly be developing new cooking and hairdressing programs that would give students enough points to get through. Some private colleges are very high quality institutions with a wide range of programs for local and international students, but there are low quality providers who cater almost exclusively to international students seeking fast and easy qualifications to support migration applications.[2] By last year, 14,400 Indian students were studying in private colleges in programs grouped under the ‘food, hospitality and personal services’ classification, accounting more than a quarter of all students in these programs.

For several years many in the Australian international education industry have been warning that the rapid growth of private colleges providers focused on migration pathway programs posed serious threats to vulnerable students, who were sometimes willing to pay hefty fees and tolerate poor facilities and teaching in return for a piece of paper that would assist them to gain residency. There was also a concern that the actions of these colleges could bring the entire Australian education system into disrepute internationally. The industry group representing private educational institutions, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, was the most outspoken voice calling for more active investigation and prosecution of substandard providers, recognising that the organisation’s members had most to lose from the actions of rogue providers.[3]

Enrolments in migration oriented programs in private colleges continued to grow, with no sign of slowing, however, the numbers of students in certain programs was beginning to far exceed Australia’s workforce requirements in those occupations. The head of the Professional Hairdressers Association complained last year that private colleges were “bastardising the industry”, by taking in large numbers of international students intending to apply for permanent residency, very few of whom intended to work in the industry.[4] This situation has been compounded by rising unemployment in Australia, as elsewhere. A significant tightening of the student migration policy appears inevitable, but would be devastating for tens of thousands of young people who had invested heavily in study in Australia only to return home with qualifications of very limited value in their home country after wasting much time and money chasing permanent residency.

Australia’s Indian student bubble appears now to have been popped, but by thugs rather than by government. After the terrible attacks on Indian international students, and the extensive media coverage in India, the number of Indian students coming to Australia is expected to drop dramatically.

Last year there were several cases of violent attacks on Indian taxi drivers, which led to highly publicised street protests. At around 3:00 am on 29 April 2008 a 23 year-old Indian international student, Jalvinder Singh, working as a taxi driver in Melbourne was stabbed by a passenger. The following night Indian taxi drivers staged a 24-hour protest blocking one of the city’s most prominent intersections, calling for improved security for drivers, including security screens to be installed in all taxis, and for improved security around suburban railway stations.[5]

The state government agreed to phase in security screens and to fully investigate all attacks. A 45 year-old man was charged with attempted murder. On 18 May 2008 in Adelaide an Indian international student, Balraj Singh, driving a taxi was assaulted late at night by two 24 year-old men, who were subsequently charged with aggravated assault and robbery. Hundreds of taxi drivers staged protests in Adelaide, with similar demands to the Melbourne protests.

There has been a long history of violent attacks against taxi drivers in Australia, but what has changed is the ethnic composition of the workforce. A very large proportion of taxi drivers are now Indian, and the more experienced drivers, who are usually from more established migrant communities, tend to work day shifts while Indian students who study during the day and have less ability to pick and choose their shifts, are left to work night shifts, especially on weekends, which are notoriously dangerous. After the Adelaide attach the head of the Cab Drivers Association told local media, “We’ve got drivers out there that are not properly trained that the government refuses to recognise this – it’s a critical issue in inflaming these assaults. We are exploiting our immigrants by getting them to become cheap labour in the taxi industry…. I mean we should have the decency at least to train them properly, to skill them on what sort of situations they could face out there and we should have more interest in the work environment.”[6] These attacks led to discussions between the Indian consul general, South Australian government and police, as well as taxi industry, and drivers’ representatives.[7] However, while some branches of government were working hard to try to improve driver security, many international students driving taxis were in fear of immigration authorities who were carrying out inspections at taxi ranks to ensure that international students were not working more than the 20 hour limit imposed by student visas.[8]

Last year the attacks seemed confined to taxi drivers, but in 2009 a series of serious assaults against Indian students in a one-month period in Melbourne and Sydney resulted in street protests in both cities and a media storm in India, with serious political repercussions in both countries. On 9 May Sourabh Sharma, 21, a hospitality management student was beaten up on a train by a group of teenagers. He was returning home in the evening after a shift at KFC.[9] Four teenagers were charged over the assault. Security video footage of the attack, made public later in May, was broadcast extensively in Australia and India, showing a group of teenage boys who appeared to be of diverse racial backgrounds repeatedly punching and kicking Sourabh, who sustained a broken jaw and extensive bruising from the attack. On 25 May Baljinder Singh, 25, an Indian cookery student, was stabbed in the stomach in an attempted robbery while leaving a suburban railway station.[10] The following day four Indian students were attacked when a birthday party at their home was gatecrashed by two teenage boys. One of the students, Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 25, who studied automotive technology in a private college, was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver by one of the intruders, putting him in a coma. A 17 year-old has been charged with attempted murder.

Photographs of Kumar and Singh, one unconscious in hospital with head bandaged and tubes protruding from his nose and mouth, the other on a hospital bed displaying a large bandaged stab wound, were shown prominently on Indian television and in newspapers. Television current affairs programs and newspaper editorials speculated about the root causes of this apparent “wave of racist attacks”.  Was this caused by Australian resentment at India’s growing status in the world and the newfound affluence of Indians abroad, some asked. As stories of previous assaults on Indians in Australia emerged others asked whether the Australian media had been covering up these racist attacks.

The political response in India was fast and furious. On 29 May Australia’s High Commissioner to India was summoned to a meeting with Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, who urged Australia to ensure the events were not repeated.[11] India’s High Commissioner to Australia travelled to Melbourne to convey her government’s concern to Victorian police, government and educational representatives. The Prime Ministers and the Foreign Ministers of the two countries discussed the issue with their counterparts, all expressing their abhorrence at the attacks. On 30 May Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan announced he would turn down an honorary doctorate from the Queensland University of Technology that he had previously agreed to accept.[12] On 6 June Bollywood’s largest union, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees called on its members to stop filming in Australia, its leader proclaiming, “We prefer to call it a non-cooperation movement because we feel what is happening in Australia is painful and shameful. The Australian government is just not taking adequate steps to find the culprits”.[13] This comes after a string of big-budget Bollywood films have been filmed and set in Australia in recent years.

In Australia, the response was quite different. Violent attacks by young men against other young men are not uncommon occurrences, and as around one in three people living in Melbourne and Sydney was born outside Australia it is very common for either the victim or perpetrator to be a foreigner. In Australia debate hinged on whether the attacks were racially motivated, that is whether some young men (of various ethnic backgrounds) were targeting Indian students, or whether Indian students were finding themselves in the wrong places at the wrong times. For example, one senior editor with the Australian newspaper criticized the Victorian government for downplaying the racist character of the attacks, while other articles in that newspaper have pointed to the diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds of the perpetrators of the attacks. While there are some young Anglo-Australian men who are xenophobic and who have mounted ugly demonstrations against the “invasion” of their suburbs by immigrants (most famously in Cronulla in Sydney), there has been little indication that these particular assaults were motivated by such white racist backlash, though some surely are. The “survival tips” put forward by an Indian graduate from an Adelaide university paint a frightening picture of the threat posed by violent white teenagers.[14] The student’s advice, titled ‘Adopt their culture without compromising on yours’, concludes that “Mostly all matured Australians are quite friendly with a great sense of humour. The whole Australian community should not be judged just because of the behaviour and the manners of some of the most ill bred Aussie teenagers.”

A major incident in early June in Sydney highlighted the complexity of the racial issues. On 8 and 9 June Indian students staged large protests in a low-income neighbourhood where in recent years Indians have surpassed Lebanese as the largest ethnic group. The protests were sparked by an attack on an Indian student by a group of young men of Middle Eastern background. Indian students claimed that the police were not doing enough to protect them from Lebanese gangs. Indian protesters attacked three uninvolved Lebanese men and police brought in the reinforcements to control the crowd.

Harmony Walk Ziguras 1

(Students at a Melbourne private college participate in the city’s ‘Harmony Walk’, held in response to attacks on Indian international students, photograph: Christopher Ziguras)

But why Indian students? Nearly half a million international students studied in Australia last year, but Indian students seem to be suffering the most from violent attacks. Some research has suggested that many of the Indian students who are attracted to vocational programs in private colleges are from less affluent backgrounds, and have lower levels of English language proficiency, compared with those who enrol in university programs. These students are able to obtain loans with which they can pass the financial means test to obtain a student visa to Australia, but they are understandably reluctant to draw down on those loans and instead seek to earn enough in Australia to pay their tuition fees and living expenses. Compared with other international students in Australia, students from India appear to be more dependent upon income from shift work, such as driving taxis, stacking supermarket shelves, and working in convenience stores and as security guards. They are more likely to be living in outer suburbs with cheaper housing, and therefore travelling late on trains more often, and in areas where street violence is more common. Gender is an issue too, as assaults against strangers on and around public transport are generally perpetrated by young men on other young men, the vast majority of Indian students are male whereas East and South East Asian students are evenly split by gender. As a result one would expect a greater rate of assaults against Indian students.

In a subsequent post I will discuss the responses of Australian federal and state governments, which have been diverse and ever-expanding. What started with a damage-control response to publicity about violence against students from India may well lead to significant changes in international education policy, with most attention being focused on some private colleges and their overseas agents, and many people asking how Australia’s major cities can better ensure the safety and security of the hundreds of thousands of young people from abroad who study in Australia each year.

Christopher Ziguras


[1] Birrell, B. (2006). Implications of Low English Standards Among Overseas Students at Australian Universities. People and Place, 14(4), 53-64.

[2] http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/schools-in-for-stayers/2007/07/03/1183351209855.html

[3] http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/canberra-failing-to-regulate-colleges-industry/2007/03/14/1173722558926.html

[4] http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24373848-5013404,00.html

[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36c6NGZQM3c

[6] http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/taxi-drivers-protest-bashing-of-indian-cabbie-in-adelaide_10050257.html

[7] http://overseasindian.in/2008/may/news/20083005-124114.shtml

[8]

[9] http://www.theage.com.au/national/scarred-scared-and-wanting-to-go-home-20090515-b64p.html

[10] http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25551722-661,00.html

[11] http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25558985-25837,00.html

[12] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Amitabh-Bachchan-turns-down-Australian-doctorate-as-mark-of-protest/articleshow/4597284.cms

[13] http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/bollywood/a158572/bollywood-union-vetoes-australian-shoots.html

[14] http://getahead.rediff.com/report/2009/jun/01/adopt-their-culture-without-compromising-on-yours.htm

The US – India ‘knowledge’ relationship: the sleeping giant stirs!

gore Editor’s Note: This entry has been kindly prepared by Tim Gore, now Director of The Centre for Indian Business, University of Greenwich, London, UK.  Prior to this, Tim was Director of Education at the British Council in India, where he was responsible for growing the knowledge partnership between India and the UK. Tim also led the establishment of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) that is profiled in an earlier blog entry.

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How will President Obama’s ambitious plans for a new diplomacy translate into practical international relations and how will this impact on the education sector? An early example of this may prove to be relations with India and some clues may be in the newly released Asia Society Task Force report: Delivering on the Promise: Advancing US Relations with India.  goreasiasociety2goreasiasociety1

The high level rhetoric for the US-India relationship may not have changed that much after all President Bush declared ‘the world needs India’ on his 2006 visit to the Indian School of Business (ISB) – Hyderabad –  a school touted by the new report as an example of what can be done with good US-India cooperation. The School works in partnership with Wharton and Kellogg and prompted a Bush accolade ‘You’ve got a great thing going’!

However, the tone of the report is a substantial departure from the Bush years. Democratic colors are now firmly fixed to the mast and references to ‘reciprocity’ and ‘understanding India’ abound, while the ‘world needs India’ has changed to ‘the USA needs India as an ally in its foreign policy issues’.

The education agenda is a little buried in this report. It has been classified under the second track ‘Joint Public-Private Partnerships for Complex Global Challenges’. Is this code meaning that there will be little Government funding available (seed-corn funding is mentioned briefly)? After all, educational relations between the two countries have flourished over the years, despite a relative absence of visible policy and public sector involvement. There are over 80,000 Indians studying in higher education in the US every year and the US dominates the ‘market’ for doctoral studies. Also, many commentators (see, for example,  Anna-Lee Saxenian’s book The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy) have pointed out the seminal role of talented Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere and research links with the US are strong and growing.

There are also quite a number of US tertiary collaborations with India (although surprisingly bearing in mind the respective sizes of their tertiary sectors, not more than the number of UK collaborations). However, the use of ISB as a beacon of attainment highlights the key issue with US-India educational relations and the nuances of policy that the US will need to get right.

goreisb ISB is an exceptional institution, undoubtedly in the top tier of such institutions globally, in terms of how hard they work their students if nothing else! However ISB, with its powerful private sector Governing Board and influential international links (US presidents don’t drop into every management college with a foreign badge on the gate), is not accredited in India by the relevant regulatory body the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Similarly, the campus of the US Western International University run by the influential Modi family has no official status in India. If pressed, officials will say that it is ‘not legal’.

Australia, New Zealand and UK have a multilateral forum with India on quality assurance, regulation of cross border education and other issues of mutual interest, The US approach thus far has been to lobby for liberalisation of the sector. Alienating the Human Resources Ministry may not matter in trade relations, but it will matter in education and knowledge partnerships.

The report shows little understanding of the education sector. It claims that direct investment in education is not allowed in India. This is not really the case as a recent MoU to establish a campus of Georgia Institute of Technology in Andhra Pradesh (near the ISB) demonstrates. Regulation of foreign provision in India is unclear with the relevant legislation frozen in parliament but accreditation can be achieved. The UK’s Huddersfield University has both invested in, and achieved, official recognition of its joint venture in ‘Hospitality Management’ with the Taj Hotel Group in India.

Similarly, the report claims that the higher education sector is overwhelmingly public which is again not the case. Over 50% of higher education provision in India is private and the vast majority of audiences the US would like to address at secondary level will attend private schools which dominate the urban areas. This brings me to a second point.

The ISB example, while interesting, also misses the point raised, as the main way the US can build an educational relationship with India is claimed to be partnership in meeting the training requirements for India’s large population. ISB and similar Tier 1 institutions will never address this demand with their tiny elite intakes. More relevant are the 1800 engineering colleges with Tier 2 aspirations that are currently achieving less than 30% employability according to the IT industry body Nasscom. Here the community colleges and Tier 2 US institutions could play a bigger role (briefly touched upon in the report). And here, also, the private sector becomes very relevant with the enormous number of Tier 2 private institutions springing up all over India.

Finally, the potential of the partnership is less than fully explored here. The US already has a substantial knowledge partnership with India which transcends the main objective in the report; of helping India to produce its next generation workforce. The complex research and innovation links with US through entrepreneurs and highly qualified graduate technicians and scientists are of immense value to both countries but largely ignored in this report. The overall impression is of a hastily prepared report to encourage the new administration to focus on India.

Many of us have wondered what would happen if the sleeping giant awakes and the US take a more pro-active and coherent approach to its knowledge and education partnership with India.This report may be the alarm clock going off..!!

Tim Gore

The UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI): reflections on ‘the complexities of global partnerships in higher education

gore221This entry has been kindly prepared by Tim Gore, Director of The Centre for Indian Business, University of Greenwich, London, UK. Tim has worked closely with educationalists, institutions, companies and governments to improve bilateral and multilateral educational links in Hong Kong, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and India over a 23 year period. His most recent role was Director, Education at the British Council in India, where he was responsible for growing the knowledge partnership between India and the UK. Tim also led the establishment of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) that is profiled in this blog entry.

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Building sustainable global partnerships

Partnership is a word that is often used but difficult to define. Many claim to have meaningful partnerships but in reality I suspect good partnerships are rare. Partnerships between academic institutions across national and cultural frontiers are especially challenging. In the first place, the institutions themselves are complex, multi-dimensional and resistant to being led in the traditional sense. On the other hand, there is language, the subtle nuances of unspoken cultural expectations and distance! UKIERI – the UK India Education and Research Initiative – was established with the aim of rebuilding the lapsed educational relationship between the UK and India. It was to focus on building academic partnerships that were meaningful and sustainable.

India and the UK

India emerged from its colonial period according to some commentators with the newfound national pride as the growth of their economy and their nuclear and space sciences established their national credibility (see Mohan, 2006). Since the economic reforms of 1991, India had opened its doors and witnessed a dizzying growth. But to fuel this growth, education became more important and with it an interest in partnership with amongst others the UK. The UK also recognised the need of knowledge to fuel its growth and set up several institutions such as the Science and Innovation Council to achieve this. India and China were obvious partners with their rapidly growing academic and research capabilities.

ukierilogoThe UK government put the initial funds into UKIERI to start it up closely followed by industry sponsors and later as trust was built, the Indian Government. A number of consultations in India and UK gathered views from the sector about how to achieve the goals. The result was a carefully balanced funding mechanism that encouraged competitive bids across a range of academic collaborations but with similar criteria of impact, relevance, high quality standards and sustainability. The funding was mainly mobility money to break down the difficulty of distance and encourage partners to spend time together. Bids needed to demonstrate that the activities of the partnership were of strategic importance to the institutions involved and that matching funding was available.

The concept of ‘strategic alliances’ has quickly evolved over the last few decades from a position where they were little mentioned in strategy textbooks. Michael Porter, for example, in his work on market forces in the seventies and eighties was more concerned with firms as coherent entities in themselves made up of strategic business units but conceptually sealed from competing firms in the market. Since then, alliances have become crucially important to the extent that a product such as the iPod is the product of a very complex set of strategic relationships where its brand owner, Apple, does not directly produce any part of the iPod or its content.

A variety of writers have looked at alliances from different perspectives. Economic and managerial perspectives see alliances as ways of reducing risk or exerting power and influence in a market. However, social capital and network analyses are far more subtle and see alliances as ways of accessing complex tacit knowledge that is not easy to build or acquire in other ways. Here, the concept of trust plays a big role and we come back to human interaction.

Academic institutions could be concerned with market share and can definitely be concerned about costs. So an analysis such as’ resource based theory’ or ‘transaction cost analysis’ may describe their motivations for partnership well. However, such institutions are complex and exhibit complex goals.

Studies in Norway (see Frølich, 2006) have shown that academic ambition and status is the main driver for researchers seeking overseas links rather than financial or institutional inducements which are merely facilitative. In this analysis, knowledge is power. Knowledge is difficult to acquire and especially those parts of knowledge that are not easily coded and where even the questions are difficult to frame let alone the answers that are sought. Trading in knowledge of this type is done only under conditions of trust.

However, this is only part of the picture. Institutions do have a role. In studies of the success of innovation in the Cambridge innovation cluster, the success was attributed to two sorts of social capital – structural and relational. The individual researchers can easily create the relational capital at conferences and other academic encounters but the structural capital comes by virtue of institutional links such as shared governors on a board. If we can create conditions of both structural and relational capital we can expect a more robust and productive alliance. It is this that UKIERI was trying to achieve.

Buying a stake in the process

bangalore-015UKIERI insisted that institutions buy a stake in the process at the same time as encouraging academics to create their partnerships. Funding was deliberately limited so that the institution had to contribute or find extra funding from a third party. This ensured that the strategic interests of the institution were taken into account. Many universities asked all their staff with an interest in India to attend a working group and prioritise their own bids into UKIERI. At the same time, UKIERI looked for evidence of synergy within the teams and evidence that the partnership would yield more than the sum of the parts. UKIERI arranged a two stage process of peer review to look at the academic strengths followed by a panel review to look holistically at the partnership.

Trust was built at many levels in the Initiative. The Indian Government demonstrated their trust by co-funding the second year after having satisfied themselves that there was genuine mutuality. Many partnerships had to deal with trust issues especially over funding which was channelled through the UK partner in the first year according to UK audit requirements. In a few cases trust broke down and partnerships did not work out but in the overwhelming majority the partnerships are doing well and producing strong research and academic outputs. The Initiative has been favourably reviewed by a number of institutions including the UK’s National Audit Office and a Parliamentary Select Committee.

‘Good’ communication sustains partnerships

In my experience, many partnerships run into difficulties because there is not enough contact between the partners, communications are sparse and often responses are slow or do not happen at all. Universities can give the appearance of being rather fragmented in their approach to partnerships as authority for the various components lies in different parts of the university.

Additionally, very often aspects of the partnership are agreed but then need to be ratified by academic councils or other internal quality processes and this again can cause delays. Very often, the partner is not told about the reason for delays and from the outside it is hard to understand why responses are so slow. This is accentuated when we are dealing across cultures and delays can be interpreted as lack of interest or even a lack of respect. In some cultures, it is not normal to say ‘no’ and a lack of response is the way of communicating lack of interest! All these communication issues erode the trust in the relationship and can be damaging.

I would recommend that each partnership always has a clear lead person who leads on communications and keeps in touch with all the processes on both sides of the partnership. It is important to be transparent about internal mechanisms and how long processes are really likely to take as well as what the processes are. The lead person can also coordinate visits to and fro and ensure that these are fairly regular. If there is a gap, there may be a relevant academic in the area who could take an extra day visiting the partner and keeping the relationship ‘warm’.

We often forget in our efforts to be both effective managers and academics that human relationships are at the core of all our enterprise and that these relationships need nurturing. Without this basic trust effective management of a project and high quality standards will not be enough.

Additional Reading

Frølich, N. (2006) Still academic and national – internationalisation in Norwegian research and higher education, Higher Education, 52 (3), pp. 405-420.

Gore, T. (2008) Global Research Collaboration: Lessons from Practice for Sustainable International Partnerships, October, London: Observatory of Borderless Higher Education.

Heffernan, T. and Poole, D. (2005) In search of the ‘vibe’: creating effective international education partnerships, Higher Education, 50 (2), pp. 223-45.

Mohan, C.R. (2006) India and the balance of power, Foreign Affairs, 85 (4), pp. 17-32.

Muthusamy, S. K. and White, M. A. (2007). An empirical examination of the role of social exchances in alliance performance, Journal of Management Issues, 19 (1), pp. 53-75.

Myint, Y, Vyakarnam, S. et al (2005) The Effect of Social Capital in New Venture Creation: the Cambridge High Technology Cluster.

Tim Gore

International education activity in Australia up 23 per cent from previous financial year

Australia is continuing to see rapid growth in the export of education (including higher education) services, and the associated generation of export income.  Today’s Australian Education International‘s AEI eNewsletter, which is well worth subscribing to if you are interested in GlobalHigherEd (which you must be if you are visiting this weblog!), includes a link to a new Research Snapshot (November 2008) that notes:

International education activity contributed $14.2 billion in export income to the Australian economy in 2007-08, up 23.4 per cent from the previous financial year. Over the 10 years to 2007-08, education exports have grown at an average annual rate of 16 per cent, compared with an average annual rate of 7 per cent across all services exports.

Here is a copy of a relevant table from the new Research Snapshot:

ausserviceexports

This document updates some data we profiled in our 24 June 2008 entry titled ‘Analysing Australia’s global higher ed export industry‘.

The international comparability of export earnings data is something we intend on focusing on this year. If readers of GlobalHigherEd entry have insights on this topic, or would like to prepare a guest entry on it, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kris Olds

Canada’s new branding effort: “Education in/au Canada”

An international “brand” for Canadian education was recently launched, marking the latest national government’s effort to gain market share in the global education sector. Similar in motivation to recent campaigns developed by other countries such as the Netherlands, Malaysia and New Zealand, Canada’s new brand represents one pillar of the federal government’s strategy to recruit greater numbers of international students to Canadian institutions and to promote Canadian education overseas in the increasingly competitive international education marketplace.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), there were over 156,000 international students in Canada in 2007, which translates to roughly 5% of total foreign student numbers (see the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2008 for up-to-date comparative data). In comparison, the US, UK and Australia together receive 45% of all global flows.

Canada’s new logo (pictured to the left) is a jaunty red maple leaf with the bilingual caption “IMAGINE: Education in/au Canada.” According to the CMEC, it is intended to complement existing provincial and institutional efforts by establishing a more easily recognizable national umbrella image, particularly for use in recruitment fairs and exhibitions. Unlike many countries focusing on the university-level market, Canada’s new logo is intended to be used by all levels of education, from primary through to further and higher education.

The fact that Canada has pursued an education brand is noteworthy as it signals a new, perhaps unprecedented, form of collaboration across the different levels of government in relation to international education. As Glen Jones explained in another GlobalHigherEd entry, education remains an issue of provincial and territorial jurisdiction in Canada, meaning that international education policies have generally remained decentralized and uncoordinated. This new brand, however, was developed through collaboration by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (DFAIT) Edu-Canada Initiative, the provincial and territorial ministries of education and the CMEC, as well as several stakeholder and sectoral representatives. And while provincial responsibility for education is not at question, this multi-scalar and multi-sectoral initiative represents a new structural response to concerns of competitiveness in the international education industry and for the potential labour force gains that foreign students who choose to remain in Canada, post-graduation, represent.

Kate Geddie

China: from ‘emerging contender’ to ‘serious player’ in cross-border student mobility

Last year we carried a series of reports (see here, here and here) on the global distribution of student mobility. While the US and the UK had the lion’s share of this market, with 22% and 12% respectively, we noted China had made big gains. With 7% of the global market and in 6th place overall, it was an ’emerging contender’ to be taken seriously, with trends suggesting that it was a serious player as a net ‘exporter’ and importer of education services.

So it was with great interest I read today’s Chronicle of Higher Education report by reporter Mara Hvistendahl, on China now being ranked in 5th place (behind the US, UK, France and Germany) as an “importer” of foreign students. See this OECD chart, from its new Education at a Glance 2008 report, to situate this development trend and China’s current position [recall that China is not an OECD member country].

As the Chronicle report notes, this is a far cry from China’s 33 overseas students in 1950.

Given, too, that in 1997 there were only 39,000 foreign students whilst in 2007 there were some 195,000, this 5-fold increase in numbers in 10 years (Chinese Ministry of Education and the China Scholarship Council) represents a staggering achievement and the one that is likely to continue. So, how has China achieved this. According to the Chronicle report:

To attract students, China offers competitive packages, replete with living stipends, health insurance, and, sometimes, travel expenses. In 2007 the China Scholarship Council awarded 10,000 full scholarships — at a cost of 360 million yuan ($52-million) — to international students. By 2010 the council aims to double the number of awards.

Two-fifths of the 2007 grants went to students in Asia. In a separate scholarship program that reflects its global political strategy, China is using its strengths in science and technology to appeal to students in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, forming partnerships with governments in those regions to sponsor students in medicine, engineering, and agriculture.

But there are other factors as well pushing China up the ladder as an education destination. China is increasing regarded as a strategic destination by American students and the US government for study abroad. Figures reported by Institute of International Education fact-sheet on student mobility to and from the US show an increase of 38% in US students going to China in just 1 year (2005/2006). This also represents a profound shift in Sino-American educational relations.

In sum, these figures reflect the outcome of an overall strategy by China (perversely aided by the US’s own global trade and diplomacy agenda):

  • to develop a world class higher education system;
  • to internationalize Chinese higher education;
  • to stem the tide of students flowing out of China;
  • to attract half a million students to China by 2020; and
  • to advance Chinese interests through higher education diplomacy.

If realized, this would put China at the top of the exporting nations along with the US. It will also register China as a global higher education player with global impact. Without doubt this will change the geo-politics of global higher education.

Susan Robertson

Graphic feed: growing global demand for higher education (2000-2025)

Source: Brandenburg, U., Carr, D., Donauer, S., Berthold, C. (2008) Analysing the Future Market – Target Countries for German HEIs, Working paper No. 107, CHE Centre for Higher Education Development, Gütersloh, Germany, p. 13.

Update on ‘Will shifting currency exchange rate differentials (2005-2007) redirect flows of foreign students?’

This 11 October 2007 entry (‘Will shifting currency exchange rate differentials (2005-2007) redirect flows of foreign students?’) has always attracted a lot regular visits, perhaps from university students considering international options for their education, and from university and ministry officials.

In response to a reader’s request for an update, I got curious so quickly updated the currency exchange rate differential graph and have inserted it underneath the original, so you can see what has happened since 11 October.

I’ll place both graphs below too.

As you can see the most notable diverging currency in 2008, at least with respect to the US$, is the AUS$. Also see this recent entry (‘Analysing Australia’s global higher ed export industry’) for more information on the Australian scene.

I am curious how long the strong inflow numbers to Australia can continue given the rising strength of the AUS$ against that of the US, the world’s No. 1 foreign student destination, and location of most of the world’s highly ranked universities. But then again students and parents think about much more than exchange rates.

For example, the trends evident in ‘Analysing Australia’s global higher ed export industry’ should be related to these figures on tremendous increase in the number of Asian students, a social and demographic transition that Australia has managed to hook into, such that many students are angling for landed immigrant status above all. Thus, despite some critiques of the level of quality of higher education services on offer (partly spurred on by structural changes profiled in graphs like these), and the currency exchange rate differentials noted above, Australia’s export promotion machine appears to be chugging along.

Kris Olds

Ministers of Education and fora for thinking beyond the nation

One of the features of the globalization of higher education and research is the bringing together of ministers of education from various countries to think beyond the nation at regional, inter-regional, and global scales, as well as in a comparative sense. Thus we are seeing the nation-state creating internal competencies for statecraft via extra-territorial fora.

This is, of course, nothing new in some ways: ministries of trade and industry, or ministries of immigration, have done this for decades. But this is really the first era when ministers of education have become much more involved in strategizing about how to adjust education systems, especially the higher education and research elements, so as to engage with broader shifts in economy and society.

Here are links to some recent meetings, with associated reports:

Let me know if you know of any more that I should include – I am happy to add them to the list above.

Scaling up need not only work at the regional or interregional scale. In Latin America, for example, five higher education ministers from Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Nicaragua, Venezuela signed the Cochabamba Declaration to further ALBA – the “Bolivarian Alternative for the peoples of Our America”, a regional intergration initiative that is anti-capitalist in nature, for the most part.

Or in Canada, the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada (CMEC), made up on all provincial ministers of education (as education, including higher education, is a provincial responsibility), frames its international activities along a variety of other regional, interregional, and multilateral axes:

CMEC’s international activities have traditionally involved three major international organizations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Commonwealth. While other partnerships have been formed with the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Education Forum, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Summit of the Americas process, both OECD and UNESCO, as well as the Commonwealth, continue to play a prominent role.

Assessments of the efficacy of such fora in facilitating new ways of thinking, innovative forms of statecraft, and extended networks of support, are lacking.  Yet it is clear that some, such as the biannual Bologna Process summit (the London 2007 event is pictured to the left), are effective in facilitating action.

In conclusion, we are seeing, via the lens of such fora:

  1. Enhanced extra-territorial agendas and networks being built up by ministries that have not traditionally been so interested, nor obligated, in thinking beyond the nation, nor even beyond the province/state scale, in some countries.
  2. Meeting agendas and joint concluding statements that are framed around adjusting education systems to mediate and especially advance economic interdependence.
  3. Evidence of the enhanced intertwining of higher education with regional and interregional R&D strategies (especially with respect to science and technology).
  4. The desire to continue advancing longstanding social and cultural agendas (given the core nation-building function of higher education), though these socio-cultural agendas brush up against economic and international migration dynamics.
  5. The inclusion of some associated voices in the ministerial-centred deliberations, and the exclusion, by design or accident, of others that have clearly not started to think beyond the nation. On this point I see the voices of some students (e.g., the European Students’ Union) included, but faculty voices (via associations, unions, etc), are remarkably absent.

In the end, it is uncertain how far these initiatives will go. The addition of new mandates is perhaps to be expected in these globalizing times, but the challenges of thinking beyond the nation for the nation (and the region) is not a simple one to face, conceptually nor organizationally. This said, these are noteworthy events, and well worth engaging with on a number of levels.

Kris Olds