THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Internationalisation of higher education in any country should be customised to the needs of the local colleges and universities and it should become strategy-based, according to Prof Jane Knight, a pioneering researcher on higher education and Erudite Scholar-in-Residence of the Mahatma Gandhi University.
“It’s different from globalisation and regulation on the lines of trade laws would not work,”she added, while delivering a lecture on ‘Trends in the internationalisation of higher education in the 21st century’ ,organised by the Kerala State Higher Education Council (SHEC) here on Thursday.
She felt that in countries like India with divergent cultures and languages, intra-nationalisation would be more adaptable and feasible in the higher education front rather than internationalisation. A trend is fast catching up with the internationalisation of education wherein ‘foreign degree mills’ and ‘visa factories’, especially in the US, the UK and Australia which are over-reliant on the intake of international students are cashing in. She said that India should look forward to emphasise on student learning outcomes by developing inter-cultural competencies and international understanding among students and teachers.
Maximising the benefits and minimising the risks should be the thrust of internationalisation of education, when cross-border delivery of programmes and providers is attempted. India is the fourth nation in the world, next to the US, the UK and France which has the highest number of branch campuses abroad (17).
China has just one campus abroad whereas it has allowed 17 campuses of foreign institutes/universities to be set up in their coun try.
“India does not encourage foreign campuses in the country fearing public backlash and also questions raised on foreign funding. Also, there are just 29,000 foreign students in the country, as per statistics available for 2010, whereas even in a little country like Malaysia, it is 80,000,” Prof Jane remarked and pointed out that the largest and complex education systems existed in India and China.
“Internationalisation of higher education is complex. We need to be proactive and direct the change. There are many benefits,” she said.
Responding to the points, former diplomat T P Sreenivasan, vice-chairman of the SHEC, said that international collaboration in the higher education sector is good if it is basically in the area of academic research. Why India is hesitant to accept foreign students in large numbers is that it is lagging in infrastructure.
Even when the Education Bill comes, doors are likely to be opened for foreign institutions of higher education learning only to promote academic interactions and not to promote profits, he said.