Our increasing inability to view globalised higher education from any perspective other than that of competing nation states in a transnational system, and of universities as competing capitals inside that world-view, is highlighted by Matt Lingard’s report on the Universities UK event, Open and online learning: Making the most of Moocs and other models. Critically, Lingard highlights how MOOCs are being utilised to catalyse further marketisation of education in the global North with the on-line space being used less as a socially transformative experience, and more as a space for public/private partnership, in order to lever global labour arbitrage and strengthen the transnational power of specific corporations: ·
Universities have failed to recognize the pent-up demand for learning as the economy has diversified and society has become more complex and interconnected. As a consequence, the internet has contributed by creating a shadow education system where learners learn on their own and through social networks. MOOCs reflect society’s transition to a knowledge economy and reveal the inadequacy of existing university models to meet learner’s needs. ·
Despite so many fat years, universities have done little until recently to improve the courses they offer. University spending is driven by the need to compete in university league tables that tend to rank almost everything about a university except the (hard-to-measure) quality of the graduates it produces. Roger Geiger and Donald Heller of Pennsylvania State University say that since 1990, in both public and private colleges, expenditures on instruction have risen more slowly than in any other category of spending, even as student numbers have risen. Universities are, however, spending plenty more on administration and support services (see chart 2). ·
The chance to get a degree is of course important, but the means of getting a degree (boring lectures, assignments, exams) often comes as something of a disappointment, and for many widening participation students an uncomfortable reminder of where they have failed in their education up to this point. Too often Universities repeat the circumstances which give rise to habits of failure. ....
But why is it that meaningful feedback about individual student's development rarely happens? Why is it that the work students engage in on their course is so often mundane and irrelevant to their lives? These questions boil down to the ways students are assessed. Yet, since the advent of modules and outcome-based education, all assessments are conducted against a set of learning outcomes. There is no reason why individual learners shouldn't produce work which is personal and meaningful to them, whilst also meeting the specific learning outcomes for each module. ·
‘Private equity’s undisclosed business model is value capture through financial engineering focused on the enrichment of a managerial elite, with mass investors mainly involved in providing the cheap debt which makes the whole thing possible.’ Julie Froud and Karel Williams, Private Equity and the Culture of Value Extraction, New Political Economy, 2007 ·
Higher education institutions are expected to provide education and training relevant to labour market demands, conduct research activities that will build a knowledge-based economy, as well as contribute to social cohesion, regional development and global well-being. They must also strive constantly to fulfil their multiple missions, improve the quality of the education provided, increase their efficiency and demonstrate their contribution to society. The 2012 Conference will focus on the challenges of attaining and sustaining mass higher education, in an increasingly competitive and international context. ·