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Globalization An Opportunity for Higher Education by anamaulida


									Globalization is a hot topic in the media and in business these days. The
Levin Institute at the State University of New York defines globalization
as "a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies,
and governments of different nations, a process driven by international
trade and investment and aided by information technology" [1]. The
Internet has been one of those information technology innovations that
has ushered in a new era of global communications and commerce. It has
enabled call centers in India, for instance, to service calls for clients
originating anywhere in the world at hyper-competitive rates.
Globalization has redefined entire industries and the web has lead the
revolution in many cases.Now consider what the Internet has done for
higher education. Today, it's possible for someone to complete an entire
degree program from practically anywhere on the planet as long as there's
access to a computer and a network connection. Whether you're a busy
professional or a stay-at-home mother, there's no reason why you can't
have access to a decent college education. This should come as no
surprise unless you have been living isolated from technology. Why does
this warrant another look? The cost of education is growing at an
unsustainable pace. This inflationary pressure has given many reason for
pause and reflection causing some to fore-go college altogether. This is
especially troublesome for the knowledge economy that depends on a highly
educated work force.According to the College Board, in the United States
2011-12 school year, the average cost of in-state tuition at a four-year
public university is $8,244 USD, or a 7.0% increase from the previous
year. Based on this estimate, assuming one graduates within 4 years, the
total cost of a college education will be $32,976 USD (or $41,220 USD for
5 years). Tuition has increased at an average rate of 5.6% per year above
the general rate of inflation in the United States during the last decade
and shows no sign of abatement [2]. The global recession has forced
governments everywhere to implement austerity measures to compensate for
lost tax revenue; higher education has been a victim of those cuts. It's
happening all over, even in Europe where entry has been purely merit-
based requiring the student to pay little, if any, of the cost. The
United Kingdom has recently seen the introduction of fees. The cost of
maintaining these institutions of higher learning is being passed on to
students in the form of higher tuition and student loan debt, which will
cripple future economic growth. Traditionally, brick and mortar
institutions have been limited by physical classroom space and in order
to ensure access to the best and brightest, admission standards were put
into effect. But tougher admission requirements translates into reduced
access. In contrast, cyberspace has changed this dynamic enabling nearly
unlimited access and the potential for leveraging economies of
scale.Let's look at a few online degree programs developed by
institutions around the world and their estimated costs in United States
dollars (USD) (at today's exchange rate, some programs are at a fixed
exchange). It shouldn't be implied to be an exhaustive or even
comparative list of degree programs. Its purpose is to get one thinking
about possibilities of online programs in a global rather than regional
context.Western Governors University (United States)
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology - Estimated Total Cost:
$18,210 USD ($3,035 USD per term for 6 terms)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Estimated Total Cost: $25,500 USD
($4,250 USD per term for 6 terms)Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh
Business School) (Scotland, United Kingdom)
Master of Business Administration (General) - 9 Courses - Estimated Total
Cost: $13,005 USD ($1,445 USD x 9 Courses)
Master of Business Administration (with Specialism in Marketing, Human
Resources, Strategic Planning or Finance) - 11 Courses - Estimated Total
Cost: $15,895 USD ($1,445 USD x 11 courses)Central Queensland University
(Australia)Bachelor of Accounting - Estimated Total Cost: $10,275
USDUniversity of South Africa (UNISA) (South Africa)Certificate in
International Marketing - Estimated Total Cost: $1,100 USD
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Financial Management - Estimated Total
Cost: $10,000 USDAs you can see from this short list, there is a diverse
offering available in all hemispheres. If you simply begin searching, you
are sure to find many more reputable and affordable colleges and
universities all within reach online.Ignoring national boundaries for the
sake of higher education may not be the solution for all of the ills of
the global higher education system. The curriculum of many fields aren't
easily transferable into an online program; most especially those
disciplines which require time in laboratories such as Chemistry or
Medicine. There is something to be said for face-to-face classroom
contact, too. The value of peer discourse is incalculable. However, the
potential of delivering academic programs online has yet to be fully
realized. As learning management systems evolve and methods for online
collaboration expand, the ability to interact with peers in real-time
will become more common, thereby making the world our classroom. If we
are to think and act globally, shouldn't we also learn globally?Faced
with budget cuts, colleges and universities have no choice but to either
cut costs or to raise new revenue. The need to remain competitive makes
replacing (or increasing) revenue a more favorable option. Some
universities have been successful at commercializing their research
through intellectual property licensing, their publications and by
developing curriculum for executive education programs. As many brick and
mortar institutions have brought their curriculum online, it has not
resulted in the reduction of tuition because the delivery system remains
labor intensive and the revenue model has not changed to focus on
profitability. Western Governors University, University of South Africa
and Heriot-Watt University all have different curriculum delivery systems
and revenue models that merit further study.Heriot-Watt University, for
example, is delivering some of its curriculum in an asynchronous self-
study model which significantly lowers labor costs. Their distance
learning program at the Edinburgh Business School and a satellite campus
in Dubai (another campus is planned in Malaysia) are generating revenues
that are repatriated back to the home campus in Edinburgh. Major capital
improvements to infrastructure (new student housing, classroom space,
curriculum localization and translation, etc.) and reinvestment in the
community make the students the benefactors of these profits. Their
distance learning delivery system has the potential to scale to hundreds
of thousands, perhaps even millions, of students worldwide. This
scalability takes advantage of economies of scale that maximizes profits
for the institution. At the same time, it provides expanded access,
flexibility and tuition at more competitive rates. [3]Assuming consumers
are willing to participate in this global education market, the problem
then becomes the criteria by which one evaluates programs at colleges and
universities on an international level. The quality of the materials,
accreditation, notable alumni, peer interaction and, most importantly,
the integrity of assessments are all factors that should be considered.
The quality of the materials can be evaluated by ensuring the authors are
recognized experts in their field. Accreditation by a local governmental
agency and/or internationally recognized accreditation body is important
for ensuring continuity and consistency. For instance, Heriot-Watt
University is accredited by Royal Charter issued by the British
government and Western Governors University is regionally accredited by
the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an approved
accreditation body of the US Department of Education. Notable alumni may
also be an indicator of quality and rigor of an international university.
Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are both alumni of the
University of South Africa. The ability to interact with your peers may
provide a lifeline when difficulties arise from studying unfamiliar
material. This is one of the drawbacks to distance learning but if it is
possible to communicate with peers, then it may be possible to get the
answers you need. Probably one of the most important considerations is
the integrity of the assessments. At no time should it be possible to
refer to notes or receive assistance while an examination is conducted,
or this should be an immediate cause for concern. The integrity of the
testing facilities is very important to the validity of the degree. If
assessments are administered without controls, it is impossible to
ascertain whether one has mastered the material. Examinations at Heriot-
Watt University and the University of South Africa are proctored at
testing centers all over the world. These are often the same testing
facilities that administer the GMAT, GRE and other standardized admission
tests that require a high level of security.The higher education
establishment must be challenged both internally and externally to create
a more efficient market. Tuition cannot continue to grow at this rate
without serious economic consequences in the future. Globalization
represents an opportunity for higher education to expand into new markets
and generate new revenues; enabling it to weather adverse budget
conditions, stabilize tuition costs and stimulate local reinvestment. It
also represents an opportunity to expand student access and reduce the
burden of student loan debt which creates cash flow for stimulating
economic activity. A side benefit will be increased awareness and
appreciation for global issues.References[1] Levin Institute,
globalization defined:
globalization/[2] College Board, US 2011-12 college cost trends[3] The
story of the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University as told
by Dr. Keith Lumsden:

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