Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Global Higher Education System in India and Nalanda University

Universities are both ancient and modern institutions. The origin of universities in keeping with the ancient western model goes back to medieval Europe with the establishment of Bologna (1088), Paris (1150), Oxford (1167), and Cambridge (1209). The University of Nalanda was founded in the 5th century B.C. and was destroyed in 1100 A.D. The oldest universities in the United Kingdom (UK) such as Oxford and Cambridge were founded as Church Universities with a view to training of clergymen and teachers. However, the university in its modern sense started in the later part of the 19th century. They had a more secularized curricula and a teaching and research were their main objectives. The first such university was the University College of London established in 1826. It was referred to as the first godless university in England. The industrial revolution, expansion of universal franchise and the rise of professional societies contributed to the establishment of civic universities such as Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, and Bristol in Britain.

Colonialism was a main force in spreading university education in developing countries. The colonial masters particularly the British established universities in their colonies. Other countries that did not have any colonial experience such as Japan, Thailand and Ethiopia established the western model of universities. The medium of language of university education also changed with the expansion of the university system. Initially Latin and later German dominated scholarship and science whereas English is the academic language now.

Higher education is not an isolated phenomenon subject to the vagaries of external and internal pressure. However, there is a strong belief that universities and cemeteries are not willing to change or move but both have to change due to internal and external forces. Let us take the external pressure. They are due to globalization and internationalization and multi-nationalization of university education. Globalization comprises broad economic, political and other trends and it also involves Information Communication Technology (ICT), the use of English, the rise of the private universities, the marketisation of higher education, and related aspects that are more or less inevitable results of the rapidly diversifying and changing global environment.

Internationalization means a package of policies that government or education institutions develop to cope with the global environment such as providing academic programme in foreign languages and sponsoring students to continue their studies abroad. Multinationalization means offering country’s programmes in other countries. It covers the application of another country’s education programmes, IT initiates, and courses and syllabi in a country’s responding to the needs and desire to be part of globalization. Multinationalization functions by means of branch campuses, franchising, joint degree offering called twining, online programme, distance mode of delivery and e-learning. As a result, well established universities are setting up offshore or branch campuses in other countries. Australia is very active in the process of branch campuses and Singapore has been particularly respective for branch campuses. It is referred to as the McDonalization of higher education.
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