Tag: globalization

UNESCO working towards global recognition of higher education qualifications

unescoIn recent years, mobility of students and workforce has created increased attention on instruments that would make cross-border recognition of educational qualifications easier. This has frequently been presented as an issue and can understandably be a quite frustrating process to have your hard earned foreign diploma not recognized in your home country. While a number of regional initiatives have emerged world wide – are we now witnessing a more global effort in this area?

Lisbon Convention

UNESCOs convention on recognition of qualifications for the European region was adopted in 1997 in Lisbon, and is signed by all of the 47 countries in the Council of Europe with the exception of Greece and Monaco.

It introduced a rather novel idea at the time as it states that qualifications are to be recognized between the countries that have signed the regional convention unless the recognition granting institution can prove “substantial differences”. Basically this means that the process of recognition is turned around – by default one does not need to prove equivalence of degrees to assure recognition, but one has to prove that there is substantial difference for degrees not to recognize a qualification. This is also one of the reasons why Lisbon Recognition convention has been essential in the context of the Bologna Process.

Increased focus on cross-border mobility and recognition in Europe

Recognition and cross-border mobility seems to be a topic that is increasingly gaining focus, also in difficult economic times when mobility of labour force and students is perhaps more relevant than ever and the inherent benefits of mobility are frequently emphasized in political documents and official statements.

Guest blogger: Explaining postdoc internationalization at US universities

Dr. Brendan Cantwell (Michigan State University)

Dr. Brendan Cantwell
(Michigan State University)

This guest entry is written by Dr. Brendan Cantwell who is currently employed as an assistant professor at the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. His current research interests include higher education organization, governance and policy, with focus on comparative education, political economy and theory. 

Since the 1990s over 50% of all postdoctoral researchers (‘postdocs’) working at universities in the United States (US) have been temporary visa holders, or ‘international’. This makes postdocs the most internationalized group at American universities.

The fact that over 50% of postdocs are international is especially striking when compared to student enrollments; international students accounted for only 3.7% of total enrollments in the US during the 2011/2012 academic year. Why, then, do most postdocs come from abroad?

Over parts of the past five years I have studied the employment of international postdocs, primarily in the US but also in the United Kingdom. One of my objectives was to understand why so many researchers work as postdocs abroad. I began this research qualitatively by interviewing international postdocs and their supervisors. I examined the experiences of international postdocs, the role international postdocs play in the production of knowledge, and the process by which postdocs become employed internationally.  From these studies I drew two main conclusions.

first graph

First, international postdoc mobility requires demand for postdocs from aboard, as well as the supply of internationally mobile researchers. Global expansion of higher education, and especially rapid growth of higher education systems in Asia, produced a large supply of PhD researchers looking for jobs abroad. But professors also had to be willing to hire international postdocs. In other words, postdoc mobility would be impossible if there were not individual professors and universities interested in hiring international postdocs.

NOMA summer school: higher education and human development challenges

We will hereby start to publish a selection of the sessions from the NOMA summer school in January 2013 that examined project management, research policy nexus and application writing.

In this session, the Vice Chancellor of University of Western Cape, Prof. O’Connell gave an inspiring introductory lecture to the summer school. Reminding of the often injust and imbalanced global context, he identified seven human development challenges that universities must address.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Report: Waiting for the coming avalanche?

avalancheThe Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a UK based think thank, has published a new report on the future of higher education.

The report is written by Michael Barber, Katelyn Donnelly, Saad Rizvi, all of whom have extensive experience from Pearson and have worked in various advisory roles related to education world wide. The foreword for the report is written by Lawrence Summers, who is a Professor and President Emeritus of Harvard University.

The key argument made is that current pressures on higher education are so profound that the strategy of avoiding radical changes would not work, as expressed in the foreword by Lawrence Summers: “the one thing you don’t do in the path of an avalanche is stand still”.

The authors do recognize that changes do in fact take place within higher education, but cast doubt whether the changes are sufficient in both nature and pace in the new global context. Therefore, the question becomes – on what basis can one argue that current pressures are more profound than ever before, and what does this me an for higher education?

New patterns in internationalization of science

A few weeks ago, Nature took up the topic of increased and changing internationalization patterns in research. As a part of this, the results from a study examining the internationalization patterns in research were highlighted. The survey covered 17 000 scientists in 16 countries (including four areas: biology, chemistry, Earth and environmental sciences and materials) and the questions were for the most part about country of origin, attractive countries to work in and reasons for migration.

A number of the results were not very surprising, for instance, that United States has a very large number of international researchers (38%), whereas a particularity of the US is their lack of outward mobility. On the other hand, Switzerland has en even higher level of international researchers (58%), but one in three researchers with Swiss origin works outside the country. Of course, in the case of Switzwerland, one has to consider the impact of for instance CERN.

When the respondents were asked about the current stronghouses of research, again the usual suspects were mentioned – with USA, UK and Germany topping the lists. However, when asked on who was seen as having the greatest impact in 2020, the country that emerged on top was China – potentially a somewhat surprising result considering the short time span. Nevertheless, only a fraction of the respondents from the study would consider moving there.

Of the reasons why one would consider to move to another country, the two aspects that received highest support were general quality of life and opportunities for research funding. Other factors, such as salary level, or opportunity for more senior positions were considered important incentives, but not to the same extent, hinting towards more intrinsic motivation linked to the discipline.