For this week’s dose of higher education sector news, we focus on the ethical dilemmas faced by education partnerships, the law China has passed to enable universities to establish themselves as for-profit and how Sweden is aiming for internationalisation. Read on to find out more…
An ethical dilemma for providers
The recent military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has sparked conversation around global partnerships in the wake of what the United Nations has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” A few weeks back, the EU cut ties with Burma’s military as a response to the crackdown. The ethnic cleansing has raised questions over the ethical implications of continued higher education partnerships in countries with a history of human rights violations.
Myanmar has strong ties to the UK’s higher education sector, in part because the country has been so open to foreign providers establishing operations in Burma. However, higher education in Burma is often the subject of political wrangling, with management from several ministries alongside the Ministry of Education.
The question of whether to continue partnerships with Myanmar has been met with resistance by those who believe that withdrawing would be symbolic, at best. At worst, it would punish the country by halting much-needed education reform. However, the role that higher education institutions would play in bolstering the legitimacy of the military presents an ethical dilemma for providers.
It is not the first time that universities have had to toe the line between internationalising higher education and the ethical implications of partnering with countries that have poor human rights records. The role of higher education remains fiercely contested by stakeholders.
To read more of the Times Higher Education coverage, click here.
Private Providers: a pulse on Chinese market needs?
Two weeks ago, we covered the move toward alternative providers in the UK’s higher education sector. The story this week is that China has passed a law enabling universities and high schools to establish themselves as for-profits. The move is an opportunity for China to close gaps between skills and industry. Private education providers are few and far between in China, now.
Demand for higher education outstrips supply in China, with higher tertiary enrolment figures than the global average. An expansion of private providers will alleviate pressure on public universities which have primarily been a resource for top performing students.
Swedish higher education aims for internationalisation
Shifting gears from the highly internationalised education system of China, this week the Association of Swedish Higher Education Conference shed light on Sweden’s lack of international students and research collaborations. The countries for international collaboration included the United Kingdom.
Agneta Bladh, a consultant appointed by the government, stated that “Less than 1% of the world’s mobile students are coming to Sweden and 99% of research in the world takes place outside of Sweden.”
International student enrolment in Sweden decreased significantly after the government introduced fees for non-EU/non-EEA students in 2011. However, the numbers have seen a bounce back in recent years, with the introduction of English taught programmes and international scholarships.
The United Kingdom has experienced a 6% decrease in students from Sweden from 2013-2016, per HESA data.
Click here to read more on the call for internationalisation in Sweden’s higher education system.