Globalization and Learning Across the Higher Education Sector - At the Other Extreme

Owen HICKS
The University of Western Australia, Australia
ohicks@iinet.net.au

Abstract

Commonly the analysis of higher education and globalization distorts the concept of higher education by presenting it with a strong bias towards the research function of institutions and by presenting arguments only significant for a small proportion of considerably well-resourced institutions around the world, the so called 'world class universities'. Following a brief critique of the use of the term 'globalization', the paper reviews the size and distribution of the higher education sector globally, highlighting the inadequacy of the image of the sector as presented through prominent ranking systems, while noting where most growth in student numbers actually appears to be occurring.

Through observations drawn from three institutions, well outside 'world rankings', the paper then presents a quite different understanding of the interaction between globalization and higher education. A consideration of the issues faced by these institutions (one in Timor Leste, another in China, and the third in Vietnam) challenges our current thinking on globalization. The not uncommon reality is one of institutions having severely limited resources and an extremely challenging teaching and learning environment in which their staff and students have to function. When considering the full spectrum of higher education institutions, globalization appears at most partial. Its interaction with many institutions around the world is limited and in some situations harmful.

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