Rethinking Globalisation: Contextualising Globalization of University Education Held on September 28, 2019, Saturday at Bengaluru

Globalisation has caught our attention in India for around 25 years now. It had an impact on our lives and still continues to impact us. There are completely diametrically opposite views that exist today on how to deal with globalisation. Though there are different views on what globalisation is, most of us clearly recognise the fact that contemporary globalisation is more to do with its economic dimension. Given this situation, the question we confront is not about defining globalisation or about debating what is right or wrong about this phenomenon of globalisation. It is the question of how we sail in the boat of the globalisation which is inevitable. If one starts in this direction, then we would inevitably formulate our enquiries towards how do we deal with a massive phenomenon like globalisation when one has little control over it. In order to take such question, we start our journey with a humble acceptance that this globalisation has both good and bad consequences. With all this awareness, we take a futuristic view and ask, how do we see globalisation by 2040 which is the 50th year of globalisation India. Here, we affirmatively look forward towards setting agenda for ensuring that globalisation is turned as an advantage for us after 50 years of inception.

Globalization is a multidimensional process, has affected almost every sphere of our life including education in general and the University education in particular. The march of globalisation into education led to stirring debate on GATT, Internationalisation of Education, Commercialisation and privatisation of Education, Entry of foreign institutions into Indian higher education landscape, expansion of gross enrolment ratios to knowledge economy. If these are the issues of debate, the education infrastructure would tell us a far richer and more complex story. For example, in 1950, India had 370 colleges and 27 universities. This was slowly expanding until 1990. But today the education landscape consists of so many institutions and the unprecedented diversity. Higher education in India has witnessed a huge expansion in the number of universities and colleges, with around 800 universities and about 40,000+ colleges today. The Indian higher education ecosystem is now an extremely heterogeneous combination of institutions. It consists of state Universities, Monofaculty Universities like Language University and specialised universities like folklore, rural development, petroleum, technology, medical, Ayurveda and many more disciplinary Universities. There are agriculture Universities, horticulture Universities, Animal Husbandry Universities. There are autonomous colleges, affiliated colleges, Cluster universities, there are Central Universities,

ICSSR institutions, CSIR Labs, deemed to be Universities, Private Universities. Other than these institutions we have IIT’s IIM’s, IIIT’s, TIFR, NCBS, IISC, IISER and NICER. The description of this landscape is still incomplete but nonetheless it gives a broader picture of how the education is expanding. There is a range of regulatory bodies that manage the institution and most of these institutes have come into being in lost 25 years. One must recognise how globalisation has led to such a change here. For example, of around 40000 colleges in India around 1000 colleges are located in Bangalore which is an IT hub. And a vast majority of these colleges came into being in past 25 years. This shows how globalisation drives the expansion of education.

In nutshell, the process of globalization has affected the structure, accessibility, funding, research, teaching pedagogy, curriculum, and content etc, of university education in India. It has changed the role of the state and increased private sectors’ participation in higher education. It has led to the creation of army of skilled labourers. The idea of research, access to laboratory today have crossed the regional and local nature and they have become multinational and transnational in its nature. Globalisation, for instance, forces many states like India to forge multilateral and bilateral research initiatives through various agreement which have very little to do with education per se. This has created multiple opportunities and also posed numerous challenges in a country like India. People who believe that globalization has positively affected the educational system in their country argue that it has increased accessibility to international level education, funding opportunities, research collaborations, job opportunities abroad, and participation of private sector ensured skilling the human resources that are demanded globally. The critics of globalization, on the other hand, believe it has affected their traditional educational system, increased the gap between rich and poor, made higher education inaccessible, privatization of education converted education into a market where the rich can buy education and poor are deprived of the same. Another important issue raised by the nationalist scholars is that there is brain drain because of globalization. A few scholars even claim globalization of education is disseminating American ideology, culture, symbols, images etc. Higher education in most parts of the world, until recently was public-funded. Now India is experiencing rapid increase in the number of private educational institution. Banks’ funding education through education loans also has surged to a greater extent. Involvement of market in the educational pursuit has commercialised research and academic goals. Academic goals are forced to comply with the demand for marketable skills, research and commoditized innovations. Few studies even claim that the privatization of education has reduced the quality of education. The profit motive of the private educational institutions is encouraging them to invest in those skills and knowledge that is demanded in the global market leading to instrumentalization of curriculum. In 2003, India Government appointed a task force to take measures to stop commercialization of education. Accessibility and affordability of international standard education have created a highly aspiring middle class that takes all financial risks to enable their children equip with the extremely demanded skills and compete with the worlds’ elite in the highly paid job market. All this together are making ‘higher education’ a business, like any other capitalist investments. Having highlighted the challenges, we cannot ignore the benefits experienced with the technological penetration and opportunities resulted because of the global flow of knowledge. We must also recognise that Globalisation has one of the most insidious effects that we are yet to comprehend. Let us take the case of migration of the most educated and talented lot of India to USA. Between 1990 and 2015, the greatest peaceful migration known in human history occurred when nearly 2 million Indians migrated to the US. In 1980, there were about 210,000 Indian immigrants in the US; in 1990, they were not even a blip on the charts of the ‘diaspora’ communities; in 2000, there were just over a million Indians in the US; from 1,780,000 in 2010, they had grown to 2.390,000 by the time we reach 2015. Currently, they rank under the Mexicans and constitute the second biggest immigrant community (5.5%) in the US. By 2000, they had already become the ‘Indian Diaspora’. Its growing prominence within the US prompted Forbes to confer them the honorific of ‘the new model minority’. In February 2008, the Forbes Magazine carried a column, titled, ‘Indian Americans: The New Model Minority’.

In its updated report of 2013 on the Asian Americans, based on figures from 2010, the Pew Research Center claims that in terms of educational achievement, median personal and household incomes, Indians rank higher than all other Asian Americans, who, in their turn, score much higher than the US national averages, and that in terms of poverty status the share of adult Indian Americans living in poverty is lower than the shares of all Asian Americans and that of the US population overall. In any case, this picture must tell us that globalisation is taking the best of the talent from our country and it is not available for our use. Then the question is how do we make use of this most productive talent in the world for the betterment of India? Why is that there is no such policy framework on these issues even today? Can we invest in education to lose the most significant talent from our nation? These are the most significant questions that warrant urgent answer.

Thus, it is high time now that we reflect upon the existing situation and search answer of a few critical questions: What role does the state need to play? What are the consequences of globalization- led changes in the educational system at the micro and macro-level social life? What are the probable directions educational system can take since today it is standing at the crossroad? What measures can ensure the benefits of globalization of education reach everyone equally?

Hence the symposium, Rethinking Globalization: Contextualising Globalization of University Education aims to have three sessions to engage ourselves discuss these critical issues.

1. Status Review of the Education landscape: Before we go further on any analysis of the situation to deal with the problem, it is necessary to rethink the existing situation of the University Education system. In this session, we review both the nature of the expansion of University Education and the kind of institutional challenge it is producing. The first part of this session would make an attempt to look at the issue of how the University Education has changed in terms of the number of institutions, the possibility of the courses, Gross enrolment ratio, diversity of the education and also some qualitative growth issues, development of accreditation system, autonomous institution, monofaculty Universities and so on. The second part of the session would emphasise on how do we deal with institutional challenges, political interference, non-appointment of staff, quality concerns, adequate manpower, research culture and so on which have been a negative factor in this expansion of the education landscape.

2. STEM and Arts Education and it's Future: This session would look at the development of research, technology transfer, skilled manpower and industry relation with the natural sciences along with dwindling natural sciences situation. In the same session second part would focus on the status of humanities and Social Sciences, Liberal education, ideologies in the Universities, Americanisation of the universities and so on.

3. University Education in 2040 and the future possibilities: The third session would focus on the future challenges, here there will be discussion on linking the research institutions with the state universities, developing research culture in the Universities, technology transfer and Industry relations and so on as the future goal for policy and the second part would focus on how to deal with the talent migration, brain drain and retaining India’s intellectual capital back in India and the possible future policy analysis in that direction.

This symposium aims to bring the debatable aspects which are ignored so far in the discourse of globalization and university Education. The need of the hour is to stop the blame game and find a way out to achieve not just ‘growth’ and ‘development’ but a place where people have appropriate access to the education of their choice for the betterment of their lives.

Awareness in action (AiA) is a non-profit think tank, which is keen on achieving social transformation by bringing awareness and knowledge about our social world into action. From the past 15 years, awareness in action has been actively involved in bringing common people, experts, policymakers together to ensure that brilliant ideas are put to use for the betterment of the world. As a part of our ongoing initiative of bringing various stakeholders in different domains of the society to see tangible outcomes for social change, we are organising this symposia series across India, throughout the year and this symposium is the fourth one on rethinking globalisation where our focus is on University Education.

The AiA Symposium is planned on “Rethinking globalisation: Contextualising Globalization of University Education” on September 28, 2019, at Bangalore. The outputs of the AiA symposium would certainly focus on bridging a gap between civil society, state, industry and policy. Our further focus is to support/encourage, research and development along with connecting various stakeholder groups, as we believe that their combination would boost the research sector and in turn would facilitate Nation’s Development.


Prof. P.V. Krishna Bhatta

Member, ICSSR, Chancellor,
Odisha Central University

Prof. M.K. Sridhar

President, Centre for Educational andSocial Studies &
ICSSR Senior Fellow at ISEC

Prof. KRS Murthy

Former Director, IIM Bangalore &
Former Chairman, BOG, ISEC

Prof. H A Ranganath

Former VC, Bangalore University
Former Director, NAAC

Prof H P Khincha

Former VC, VTU

Prof. D Venkat Rao

Professor, EFLU

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