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Globalisation in education – coming ready or not

natisni E-pošta

prof-radbourne

 

by Professor Jennifer Radbourne
Deakin university, Melbourne, Australia

 

 

Introduction

In the English speaking world there is a game children play called "Hide and Seek". One player covers his or her eyes and counts while the other players go away and hide. When the agreed counting number is reached the player uncovers his eyes and calls out to the others "coming, ready or not". Those who are not ready are immediately visible and cannot win the game. Using this metaphor, I hypothesise that a higher education institution that has not embedded the concept of globalisation into their vision, programs and students will not win in the competitive market economy of employable graduates. They are not 'ready' for what is 'coming'.

 

Background

I am an academic working in a university in Melbourne, Australia. I live and work a very long way from Ljubljana, but the physical distance between Ljubljana and Melbourne, between Slovenia and Australia, is overcome by technology and an individual desire to travel and experience the culture of another country, possibly also a desire to do business in Slovenia. I am writing about the impact of globalisation on countries, on people, and on identities. If we did not desire to visit, to see and learn about other countries, we would be hypocritical about the values of education, and the impact of globalisation on our lives.

Education is not a parochial, local or national activity, based in one country, on the ideas and values of a national literature or discourse. Educators rely on the research of academics all over the world for ideas, new theories, new paradigms and critical analysis. We are also in contact by email, phone or social media, with colleagues somewhere else in the world on a daily basis. What this means is that we have to be responsive to cultural differences, decision-making styles, communication styles, individual psychological differences, national identities and learning contexts to maintain a valid sharing of ideas. We must learn to promote our own values and expectations, but be responsive and flexible in evaluating difference. This is truly the core of education.

An international business curriculum may include subjects in internationalisation of companies, factors of international competitiveness, regulations and risks in international business, financing international business, international marketing and trade, pricing, logistics, management, and the influence of globalisation processes on business, much the same as an international business degree in the United Kingdom, the USA or Australia. The difference is the student and the way students learn and act on their learnings. How does a student in Slovenia (or Australia) understand a case study from the United States. The student will most likely be evaluating this from their own value orientation, based on inherent values in Slovenian society - family relationships, group behaviour norms, business dealings, language and vocabulary, non verbal behaviour, attitudes to religion and ethnicity, and power and control forces. The higher education institution must establish the readiness of students for global understanding, and develop programs that immerse them in the new knowledge as a way of thinking and doing. Education, learning, research and discovery engage students in new cultures, new value systems, and a new dimension of oneself. Mostly we are proud of our own identity, our own culture and our own country, but when faced with a curriculum that is 'international' we must set ourselves the task of embracing 'international' and being a global citizen.

 

Internationalisation and globalisation

While internationalisation involves reaching out to other nations and exchanging ideas and content to deepen understanding, globalisation signifies seeing oneself and one's nation as part of the global community, not separate, not individual, not representing an identity to be showcased for acceptance. The dangers of globalisation lie in homogeneity, of suppressing an identity for the good of the whole. The values of globalisation lie in the departure from egocentric practices and a vision and realisation of goals that are accepted in all regions (Radbourne and Fraser 1996). This was written in 1996, but in 2010 the intent is unchanged, that is, the differences between internationalisation and globalisation. What has changed in the intervening years is that globalisation has become the major force driving curriculum and programs in higher education, and that educational institutions have been redefined as a result of this, and are now clearly linked to a global market with a social and cultural responsibility for students as global citizens.

The popular media commentator, Thomas Friedman, tells us that globalisation is inevitable and irreversible, and the forward march of technology makes it so. He identifies the market economy as the core of globalisation and dismisses arguments that small countries are severely disadvantaged in the wealth of trade that brands countries active in the global economy (Friedman 2005). The transformation that has occurred as money, goods, people, technology and ideas move across borders at an accelerated pace, has created both opportunities and problems for international business and for higher education. Globalisation has created vast new markets, knowledge, interdependence and wealth. And at the same time, it has the potential to stultify the individualism, identity, control and culture of a small nation. The problem of homogenising or massifying education is significant, particularly when the political and economic drivers are export, international exposure and market development. As we embrace globalisation, we must also preserve those attributes that are unique to the country and its culture, for theses constitute the attractiveness of our education and institutions to the globally mobile student as consumer of an international experience.

 

Higher education

University and higher education institutions are concerned with creating and transmitting knowledge. In one sense they are engaged in what we do not yet know, as well as what we know. That universities have been successful in this is shown by the degree to which contemporary governments and societies pay them so much attention. "These enduring elements of success explain why, in the world of globalisation, universities are now regarded as crucial national assets. Governments worldwide see them as vital sources of new knowledge and innovative thinking, as providers of skilled personnel and credible credentials, as contributors to innovation, as attractors of international talent and business investment into a region, as agents of social justice and mobility, and as contributors to social and cultural vitality (Boulton and Lucas 2008). Deakin University and the Ljubljana International Business School are located in different cultural milieus, but share a belief that permits us to collaborate across geographic distance and cultural divides in the task of educating the rising generation of global citizens.

Across the world universities and higher education institutions have much in common. There are government regulations governing quality of recruitment, student entry, curriculum, examination, teaching and services. The new generation of students are more apt to behave like consumers and demand attention and quality. There are significant developments in infrastructure that institutions must supply through technology, new learning spaces and knowledge media.  Competition with other institutions and the need to respond to demand but maintain quality, require institutional leadership in management and marketing. The curriculum must meet academic standards so that credit for study is transferable and understood by employers. Students are mobile and want to study at their own time, in their own place, balancing work and study with the social aspects of their life. And particularly, students expect to be challenged and motivated to realise their aspirations of working in their chosen profession.

Alongside these areas common to the sector, are external influences we share, such as the impact of the global financial crisis, natural disasters in another country, migration, trade and political alliances or war. All of these have an outcome in education, and institutions must be resilient, flexible and financially stable. Such circumstances challenge nationalism, identity and economy, as the nation braces itself in the global environment. Is this globalisation in education?

If we acknowledge that higher education institutions face the same issues across the world, it does support a plan for partnerships and the development of a global experience for students. All of our institutions must embrace the following four criteria to maintain out integrity in the global environment.

  • Quality of curriculum (is the content relevant, challenging, engaging, responsive to change)
  • Quality of teaching (are teachers trained to an international standard, experienced, engaging)
  • Quality of graduates (knowledge, skills, attributes, globally aware)
  • Employability of graduates (will graduates get a job).

The theme of internationalisation runs through these criteria. Does our curriculum contain international case studies, examples, or study abroad experience? Are our teaching staff from diverse international backgrounds and experiences? Could our students get a job anywhere in the world (visas permitting), or work for a global corporation? Is language a barrier? Is cultural understanding a barrier? Is international accreditation a barrier? Students at a university or higher education institutions have chosen to go beyond secondary education for a specific reason. A university education makes them more competitive, more prepared for the job market, gives new knowledge and skills. Higher education gives a global outlook on your nation, your national education, your own cultural identity.

 

Deakin University

Deakin University was founded in 1977, named after Alfred Deakin, Prime Minister of Australia between 1903 and 1910. It has approximately 34,000 students of whom about 6000 are international students from 100 different countries. The university is spread over four campuses, from the city campus in Melbourne, to the regional campuses in Geelong and Warrnambool. Our mission is "to be a catalyst for positive change for the individuals and the communities it serves" with objectives to be relevant, innovative and responsive. The university is comprised of four faculties: Business and Law, Health, Science and Technology, and Arts and Education. International relations are taught in Arts and Education in the School of International and Political Studies, while international business is taught in the Faculty of Business and Law. The university's headquarters are located in Geelong, but the largest cohort of students and staff is at the Melbourne campus. Melbourne is a vibrant business and culturally oriented capital city of four million people with a strong European history, and a growing multicultural population embracing citizens of Asian, Indian, Muslim and European backgrounds.

I would describe Melbourne as a global city and at Deakin University we offer students a global experience. Perhaps it is because Australia is so far from the rest of the world, that Australians are great travellers, and we encourage all students to have a global experience in their degree. Some student choose to take an international internship; or join a study tour (China, Japan, India); or study their language (Mandarin, Indonesian, Arabic) in-country in Indonesia, Jordan or China; or study abroad for a semester at an international institution; or do their teaching practicum at a school in India, China, Vanuatu or Europe; or develop an international research project that requires data collection in another country. We also have many international students in our courses in Melbourne. We have partner institutions in many parts of the world and students may do a half of a double degree in their own country and then come to Deakin to complete the second degree. Students visit us for a semester and have that study credited to their degree in their home country. We have arrangements where students articulate into our Masters degree from their undergraduate degree in their own institution. Of course we teach all our courses in English so students have to meet the basic IELTS English language requirement. We also have a very strong international office, support program and residential accommodation for international students.

These two 'import/export' international study options meet our expectation of globalising the curriculum, the classroom and the student. Without exception all students who visit us, or our students who study overseas, say that the experience was unequalled in learning about another people, culture and nation. They have new confidence, resilience, knowledge and skills, and this is added to their curriculum vitae and adds value to their employment application.

If we fail to play the game, that is, remain hidden in our own country or institution, then we cannot be a winner in the game of globalisation. The opportunities and benefits far outweigh the costs and personal tests that the globalisation experience provides to students.

 

References

Boulton, G and Lucas, C. 2008. "What are universities for?" League of European Research Universities. Amsterdam.

Friedman, T.  2005. The world is flat, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Radbourne, J and Fraser, M. 1996. Arts Management - a practical guide, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.