Public debate about the purpose and practice of higher educatation is currently dominated by a discourse of employability which privileges the financial rewards of achieving a HE qualification over the personal and social rewards associated with the experience itself. Critics of this discourse argue that attempts to isolate preparation for employment from other aspects of personal and social development are unhelpful because they fail to take into account the interrelationship between personal, educational and professional development.
In 2011 HECSU [Higher Education Careers Services Unit] conducted a survey in which graduates were invited to reflect on their experience of higher education. We found that graduates who believed their participation had contributed to their personal and professional development demonstrated an awareness of the broader purposes of HE, while those who perceived their education to be of little or no value were more likely to view university as a means to an end.
'I wouldn't be where I am today without the experiences and knowledge I gained from my time at university'
Graduates who believed that participating in HE had contributed to their personal development explained how studying for a degree helped them to develop confidence in their own ability, giving them the courage to volunteer and defend their own ideas, and challenge the opinions of others. They also felt that attending university had given them the opportunity to engage with, and learn from, people they might not otherwise have met, prompting them to reassess their priorities and think more critically about their own ideas and ambitions. Describing the social and intellectual rewards of HE, these graduates explained how the experience gave them confidence in their ability to make sense of new ideas and unfamiliar concepts, and understand, manage, and summarise complex information. They explained how studying for a degree taught them how to appraise other peoples' work and apply their own knowledge, and their description of the way studying for a degree taught them to evaluate their skills and knowledge suggests that participating in HE also prompted them to adopt some of the behaviours associated with career self-management.
These graduates felt that achieving a degree demonstrated that a student had the intellectual ability to engage with, and understand, unfamiliar concepts and ideas. They were determined to achieve success within the labour market, and encouraged current students to make the most of opportunities to engage with academic knowledge, gain work experience, participate in extracurricular activities, and develop their social skills.
'I do not feel my degree benefited me at all. I thought it was a waste of time'
While many graduates agreed that participating in HE contributed to their personal development, some argued that it was of little or no value because it had not enabled them to secure a particular kind of job. These graduates had struggled to find what they considered to be a "graduate" job and felt that universities were no better at equipping students with transferable skills than schools or colleges. They believed that achieving a degree demonstrated that a student had acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to perform a particular role, but were pessimistic about their chances of achieving success within the labour market, arguing that nepotism was rife and that they did not have the contacts to secure a job in their subject area. They felt many students would be better off pursuing professional or vocational qualifications that are designed to prepare them for employment, and wished they had done the same.
'Don't think it's just about what employers want. University is a great opportunity to learn what you can do as an individual'
Students' orientations towards higher education are important because they influence their understanding of, engagement with, and ambitions for academic learning, extracurricular activities, and employment. They also inform students' understanding of the relationship between education and the wider world. Our preliminary findings suggest that the current discourse of employability is preventing some students from engaging in HE in a way which facilitates the personal and social development which will enable them to secure fulfilling employment and make a meaningful contribution to the economy. It is a timely reminder that universities and policy makers need to do more to remind students of the broader purposes of higher education if they want students to participate fully in university life.
This is an excerpt from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit's spring edition of Graduate Market Trends. The full article can be viewed at hecsu.ac.uk.
By Peter Scott. The long-running Bologna process on European higher education has provided a flag around which reformers have rallied, and been a catalyst for innovations, says Peter Scott. Last week ministers of education from 47 European countries met in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, to agree the next steps in the long-running Bologna process, the crab-like progress towards creating a European higher education area (EHEA) spanning half the globe, from Reykjavik to Vladivostok.
The original aim of Bologna was to introduce the bachelors-master's course pattern across Europe and make degrees portable. But a lot more has been added since – for example, on lifelong learning and PhDs. The number of countries signing up to the EHEA has almost doubled, from 25 to 47. No, don't turn the page. Europe matters. Not much happened in Bucharest, any more than it did at earlier ministerial jamborees, or even at the original meeting in 1998 in Bologna (home to the world's oldest university). The only whiff of controversy was an amendment to strengthen the "public responsibility" for (funding?) higher education. But beneath the suffocating weight of E-acronyms, transparency instruments, action lines and the usual Euro-babble, a quiet revolution has been under way in European higher education – stimulated by the spirit of Bologna.
Others have noticed. I remember being at a meeting when the state commissioner for education in Wisconsin asked, only half-jokingly, how Wisconsin could join the Bologna process. Across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia there is a belief that something is stirring in Europe. Only in Europe is the Bologna prophet less honoured, and especially so in England; the Scots are Bologna fans. With one or two honourable exceptions, the English higher education policy class – ministers (both main parties), civil servants, quangocrats, vice-chancellors – is Eurosceptic to the core. Our "top universities" are the best in the world, alongside the Americans. As pacesetters, we are also embracing the brave new world of the "market" – high fees, cut-throat competition. In contrast, universities in the rest of Europe groan under state control – and masses of disaffected students. Their entrepreneurial instincts, if they have any, are undermined by an out-of-date welfare-state affection for the "social dimension", code for being anti-market.
So what have we to learn from "them"? The famous (fictitious?) newspaper headline "Fog in Channel – Europe cut off" comes to mind. We only go through the Bologna motions to be polite, while reassuring ourselves that the original intention of Bologna was to make the rest of Europe more like us. But doubts begin to creep in. Maybe our view of (continental) European universities is an absurd caricature. What about ETH in Zurich, alma mater of Einstein and a pocket-sized Imperial College? Or what about the decisive contribution of German universities to classical scholarship? The Germans have even colonised classics at Oxford. And, if our universities are so much more entrepreneurial, why are French or Dutch graduates just as employable in the global knowledge economy? As for scientific citations, the top performers, in proportion to population, are small countries such as Finland and Switzerland, not the UK.
The Bologna process has been key to this success of European higher education – in spirit if not substance. It has provided a flag around which reformers have rallied, and been a catalyst for innovations that had little to do with the action lines agreed at successive EHEA ministerial meetings. More important still, Bologna has opened up a space for dialogue on difficult policy issues. Finally, it has heightened consciousness of the common legacy of European universities, the contemporary challenges they face and their future promise – as rivals in other world regions have quickly recognised. Our universities have always been at the heart of Europe. Our politicians, sadly, have not. The problem is that nowadays higher education is seen more as a bundle of funding, structural and managerial issues, rather like the bad side of Bologna; and less as an academic enterprise, whether in terms of transforming student lives or shaping new ideas, the good side of Bologna.
Another problem is that markets divide and constrict. Is it in our interests to help strengthen a European higher education brand if it compromises our UK brand? Collaborative and interdisciplinary research muddies the waters when it comes to the stark ranking of global league tables. FEC-ing (full-economic-costing) joint programmes is a nightmare. But perhaps Bologna is even more important as a metaphor, going beyond higher education. There are two roads ahead for the European project. One, the most travelled, is represented by the euro – rule-bound now with added Teutonic discipline, top-down, exclusive (and determined by the cabinet diplomacy of a Paris-Berlin axis). The other, less travelled, is represented by Bologna – with few (enforceable) rules, shaped by stakeholders (notably autonomous universities) and open to pretty much everyone. Wisconsin is interested in joining; only Belarus has stayed out. Do we really want to join them (in spirit if not in fact)?
Called the 'London statement', the document sets out an ethical framework consisting of seven items relating to ethical behaviour and a set of seven principles. It urges agents to make their business dealings more open by providing written agreements, promising to offer honest and accurate information and adhering to high standards of professionalism. The forum is known as the Roundtable on the Integrity of International Education and consists of senior education officials from Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States. It is backed by the British Council. The roundtable meets to “share knowledge and experience, and identify common areas of practice and concern, as well as scope for collaboration”, according to the documents outlining the code of ethics. Following talks in London last month hosted by the council, education officials from the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand issued a joint statement of principles for ethical international student recruitment.
“At the initial meeting of the roundtable in 2010, Australia proposed developing a joint international code of ethics for international education agents,” says a release from the forum.
Although that proposal was presumably agreed to by the six member countries, only the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand have signed up to the statement of principles. The participating countries will each work to implement the principles with the agents they use, and will share information about their efforts at another international forum next year. How the countries implement the principles will be decided by each, although this is likely to be incorporated into training and communications with agents. In many countries, some agents and consultants have been accused of unethical or even illegal conduct, causing problems for students and institutions, and damaging the reputation of their profession, said Pat Killingley, the British Council’s director of higher education. Killingley said the issuing of the statement of principles was not about getting tough with bad agents but about promoting and encouraging the very good practices that many already follow.
“Our schools, colleges and universities have got some very good agents out there. This is about supporting the vast majority of responsible agents and setting out clearly what our expectations are, to help ensure that international students receive a good service and sound advice when they consult an agent,” she said.
“The next step will be to talk to the agents’ representative bodies in countries that send many students to study overseas such as India and China, to get them to sign up to the statement.”
Increasing numbers of students now move across national borders seeking education and training opportunities in order to gain internationally recognised qualifications, the forum media release notes. It says there are indications that the demand for international education could rise to almost eight million students by 2025.
“The growth in the number of international students has been accompanied by an increase in the number of education agents and consultants who provide services to them. Education agents and consultants are integral and important stakeholders in international education.”
Uni-Pay, a British company handling thousands of tuition fee transactions between overseas students, universities and English language schools every year, welcomed the release of the code of ethics and the "London statement". Managing Director Simon Read said the statement represented significant progress towards standardising the practices of agents: “Every year, hundreds of thousands of international students seeking places at English language schools and universities make their applications through agents,” Read said.
“Most provide a good and valuable service, but a minority have been accused of unethical or even illegal conduct. Even among the good agents, there currently exists a myriad of different ways in which educators and agents interact to complete student applications and fee payments.”
He said the new statement of principles should provide a firm foundation for creating a more uniform system that was easier to understand and less expensive to administer. A report on what the four nations have done to achieve the aims will be presented to a roundtable meeting next year.
The "London statement"
The "London statement" says the principles are based on an underlying ethical framework of:
- Integrity – Being straightforward and honest in all professional and business dealings.
- Objectivity – Not allowing professional judgment to be compromised by bias or conflict of interest.
- Professional competence and due care – Maintaining professional knowledge and professional service, and acting diligently.
- Transparency – Declaring conflicts of interest to all clients, especially when service fees are charged to both the education provider and the prospective student.
- Confidentiality – Respecting and preserving the confidentiality of personal information acquired and not releasing such information to third parties without proper authority.
- Professional behaviour – Acting in accordance with relevant laws and regulations and dealing with clients competently, diligently and fairly.
- Professionalism and purpose – Acting in a manner that will serve the interests of clients and the wider society even at the expense of self-interest.
- Practise responsible business ethics.
- Provide current, accurate and honest information in an ethical manner.
- Develop transparent business relationships with students and providers through the use of written agreements.
- Protect the interests of minors.
- Provide up-to-date information that enables international students to make informed choices when selecting which agent or consultant to employ.
- Act professionally.
- Work with destination countries and providers to raise ethical standards and best practice.
Nowhere is this trend more obvious than in the evolution of branch campus partnerships. Initial planning and business-case development for branch campus initiatives has tended to focus on supporting internationalisation strategies of parent institutions, exploring market opportunities and complying with governmental regulations. Less emphasis has typically been placed on planning for collaborative approaches to tackle learning, teaching and curriculum issues, even though addressing these is crucial if a new branch campus is to achieve excellence in educational outcomes within an international context.
The sustainability of branch campus initiatives relies on developing an engaging student learning experience that is relevant to – and enriched by – the national and social contexts of both the parent institution and the branch campus. In turn, this relies on branch campus academics being empowered to contribute to the development as well as to the delivery of teaching programmes in ways that can strengthen their academic career paths. Branch campus student populations may be made up of diverse cohorts of local and foreign students and include visiting students from the parent institution. Their motivations for studying at branch campuses and their expectations concerning learning experiences there have been little studied, but anecdotally vary widely, and so a ‘one size fits all’ approach involving transplanted curricula is unlikely to result in engaged learning.
The case of Australia
Using Australian transnational education partnerships as illustrative examples, branch campus websites commonly promote the delivery of an ‘Australian education experience’, but are less specific about whether this implies identical curricula, internationalised curricula with an ‘Australian flavour’ or Australian (=Western?) approaches to learning and teaching. Branch campus students may therefore expect to receive a learning experience that is largely identical to that at Australian institutions and delivered by Australian nationals.
In reality, while ‘fly in’ Australian academics may contribute occasional guest lectures, most teaching is undertaken by branch campus academics, typically from a range of national origins but including few Australian nationals. Branch campus academics understandably seek to bring their own diverse expertise and perspectives to their teaching. Where content and delivery are constrained to be the same as in the parent campus, branch campus students may find themselves studying material developed in Australian contexts that has limited relevance to their interests and their likely career outcomes.
As a consequence, branch campus learning experiences are evolving to include region-specific, ‘contextualised’ units of study, discipline specialisations and even whole programmes that are accredited in Australia but may only be offered in the branch campus location. If we take a constructivist view of curricula as involving not only planned learning opportunities but also the learning experiences that students actually encounter within their learning environment, then it is inevitable that curricula experienced on branch campuses must be influenced by local contexts. Further, the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of branch campus students and academics provide the potential to produce internationalised curricula that develop faster at branch campuses than in their parent institutions.
In this context where branch campus curricula are inevitably becoming contextualised, transnational education quality assurance approaches that previously relied on Australian content and assessment being transplanted into branch campus classes are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Australian universities with branch campuses are now required to demonstrate ‘equivalence of learning outcomes’ by the new Australian national regulator TEQSA, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, and typically by host country regulators also. This provides scope for branch campus academics to contribute to the development and delivery of contextualised, internationalised curricula – as long as academics at both the parent institution and the branch campus can agree to collaborate on learning outcomes and moderation of assessment tasks and standards, and receive appropriate academic development support in doing so.
When negotiating new branch campus partnerships, this evolution in approaches to curricula highlights the need to be explicit in setting mutual expectations about branch teaching and learning approaches. The outcome, assuming that parent universities can cope with sharing curriculum control with their maturing branch campuses, has the potential to produce engaging, internationalised curricula that enrich the learning experience ‘across borders’ at both branch campuses and parent institutions alike.
* Professor Margaret Mazzolini is pro vice-chancellor of learning and teaching at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.
* This article is based on a presentation given at the OBHE Global Forum 2012, “New Players and New Directions: The challenges of international branch campus management”, held in Kuala Lumpur last week.
* The reflections draw on the outcomes of the Learning without Borders project, a collaboration between members of the Australian and Malaysian campuses of Swinburne University of Technology and Curtin University. The project website contains online professional development modules, together with recommendations and checklists designed to support the roles of transnational education academics and promote internationalisation of the curriculum.
Juan Luis Manfredi*. La crisis no cesa. Tenemos que encontrar una alternativa económica que genere empleo de calidad, prenda la mentalidad emprendedora y nos internacionalice por la vía rápida. No parece que vaya a ser sencillo, pero es la única salida en un entorno global.
¿Qué alternativa puede plantear España? En mi opinión, tenemos que reforzar aquellos sectores estratégicos que crean valor añadido y que pueden facilitar la diferenciación. IE, IESE y ESADE, las tres grandes escuelas de negocios españolas responden a ese perfil y cuentan ya con una larga trayectoria internacional. Además, España recibe ya más de 150.000 estudiantes de español cada año con un saldo de 370 millones de euros de facturación para el sector y unos 6.000 puestos de trabajo. Además, genera una industria auxiliar complementaria que dota de servicios al estudiante (viajes, ocio y alojamiento, por ejemplo). En tercer lugar, España es el destino preferente de los estudiantes Erasmus, el programa europeo de referencia en materia de internacionalización de los estudios universitarios. Cada año, unos 27.000 estudiantes aterrizan en nuestras universidades.
Con esos mimbres, España puede convertirse en un hub de educación internacional. Tiene que ser una apuesta de gobierno en la medida que aúna los intereses de la recuperación económica, la diplomacia pública y la marca España. Es urgente que se comprenda que la Universidad y las Escuelas de Negocios son activos en la promoción del país, en la reconstrucción del prestigio exterior y en la captación de inversiones.
Se requieren algunas medidas urgentes que favorezcan este proceso. La primera consiste en la apuesta no por la llegada de extranjeros, sino por la internacionalización. La diferencia radica en que la internacionalización integra de manera natural a los extranjeros en la vida académica española. Basta echar una ojeada a los claustros de las universidades para comprender que no somos capaces de atraer talento, bien porque la oferta no es interesante o bien porque la burocracia lo impide. Hay que levantar esa barrera. Lo mismo sucede con los estudiantes internacionales. Llegan muchos, pero no se integran en el grado, sino que asisten a cursos y actividades paralelas. Hay que cambiar esa dinámica para que cursen los estudios completos.
La segunda recomendación es apostar por China, sin ningún género de duda. Avanzan a pasos agigantados como exportadores de alumnos. Pero su estrategia educativa no pasa por un programa Erasmus al uso, sino que buscan la inmersión en los países destinos. La reciente decisión de la Universidad de Sidney de aceptar los resultados de los exámenes chinos de acceso a la universidad son una buena pista. ¿Cuánto talento podríamos captar con una política educativa menos restrictiva? ¿Cuántos empleos se podrían crear con estas nuevas ideas? Los países asiáticos ya han abierto el carril de ida. Nos toca abrir el de vuelta.
La tercera es la renovación de la misión del Instituto Cervantes. No basta con enseñar la lengua y la cultura española, sino que hay que ampliar sus funciones hacia el área de formación superior, la integración del conocimiento científico y la promoción de las instituciones educativas como termómetros de influencia.
La cuarta idea gira en torno a la situación de España en el mundo. Tenemos que definir nuestra posición y comprender la posición de privilegio en las relaciones multilatinas. En la línea de lo referido por Javier Santiso, aunque hemos tenido éxito en la captación de sedes corporativas, el potencial de crecimiento es todavía importante. Veo esta idea en dos vertientes. Por un lado, la promoción de España como país que puede formar a los directivos con esa visión global por el idioma y la cultura compartida. Por el otro, es la apuesta por la cantera por la vía del emprendimiento latino internacional y la creación de redes de trabajo desde el inicio.
De la crisis no vamos a salir por el mismo camino que hemos entrado. Hay que pensar alternativas y apostar por la internacionalización. La educación de calidad, ligada a nuestro país como destino relevante, es una alternativa sólida. Toca ponerse a trabajar.
* Juan Luis Manfredi es periodista y profesor en la UCLM. Es doctor en Comunicación por la Universidad de Sevilla, donde se licenció en Periodismo e Historia. Es International Executive MBA por IE Business School, así como Máster en Gestión de Empresas Audiovisuales y en Administraciones Públicas. Escribe regularmente en diferentes medios y ayuda a entidades a organizarse en el mundo digital.
By Maria Di Mento. Grant makers need to get a lot better at speaking out about social problems and telling their stories, said speakers at Tuesday’s closing session of the Council on Foundations annual meeting in Los Angeles.
In a session that was designed to resemble a form of speed dating—experts had just five minutes to sum up what was wrong with philanthropy—Andy Goodman, a marketing consultant to charities and foundations, criticized foundations for focusing too much on numbers and data. None of that matters if the people a foundation wants to reach are not open to what the data show, he said.
“All the data in the world is not going to change people’s minds,” said Mr. Goodman. “If you want to change what people think and if you want to create change, the first thing you need to do is change the story in their heads.”
Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, chided foundations for not living up to their missions. While grant makers like to describe themselves as “change agents,” they don’t take bold actions often enough. He showed a slide of a man in a suit with his head stuck in the stand, and asked, “What are foundations doing?”
One sign of how little foundations interact with the public, he said: Just 50 of the roughly 76,000 foundations in the United States participate in Glasspockets, a Foundation Center project designed to make it easy for anybody to find out what foundations do with their money.
He said foundation unwillingness to interact regularly with the public has persuaded too many Americans to “think we really don’t care.” And as a result, grant makers are ignored. “If your foundation is not being asked to speak on your mission,” he said, “then you have work to do.”