Focus on Higher Education

See the
six main themes
proposed in this special folder.

Recent IIEP publications on this theme

Globalization of higher education and cross-border student mobility
by N.V. Varghese
2008, 29p.
(English, PDF)

Download >

GATS and higher education: the need for regulatory policies
by N.V. Varghese
2007, 22p.
(English, PDF)
Download >

For information on IIEP publications, contact us.

Higher education and development

IIEP Newsletter
January-March 2007
(English, PDF)

Download >

Globalization and Higher Education

Knowledge has become a crucial element for promoting economic growth and development.

National competitiveness today depends on the capacity to produce and absorb knowledge. The higher education sector plays an important role in the production, distribution and absorption of knowledge. Therefore, an expanded higher education sector has become a necessary condition for increasing national income and improving global competitiveness.

Knowledge has become an international service traded between countries.

With technological advances, it transcends national boundaries faster than physical capital and people. This makes knowledge and economies based on knowledge production global in their orientation, scope and operation. With globalization and cross-national trade, the production of knowledge itself has become a process dependent on market forces. Consequently, the products of institutions producing knowledge became a commodity to be traded as part of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Trade in higher education attracts capital investment, invites competition, produces a profit that is sometimes higher than in other sectors and globalizes higher education.

With globalization, skills requirements in the global labour market have increased.

Educational systems in many countries were not in a position to produce the required number of highly-skilled professionals and as a result, this encouraged the migration of highly-skilled workers from other countries. As competition for skilled workers and the ‘battle of brains’ has grown in the global labour market, countries have encouraged cross-border education to produce the required number of graduates of expected quality. In the process, cross-border education has become an important means of globalizing higher education, as complementary to the globalization of economic production.

Countries are interested in promoting their profiles internationally and institutions are keen to engage in cross-border education since the income earned from this continues to be attractive.

For example, in 2005, four countries (Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA) received more than US$25 billion in cross-border education. Institutions are interested in cross-border education since it is a new source of income, especially in the context of declining funding support from governments. It is estimated that the income from students abroad accounts for more than one-third of the institution’s total income in some Australian universities. Students are interested in investing in cross-border education since private returns to investment continue to be attractive. In other words, there seem to be coinciding interests among those who seek and provide cross-border education.

The four modes of cross-border higher education, according to GATS, are the mobility of:

a) programmes and course materials;
b) students;
c) providers; and
d) teachers.

IIEP has been carrying out research on all forms of cross-border mobility in the context of globalization of higher education, as can be seen from the list of research papers/publications. While some studies on the virtual university indicate movement of courses and programmes within and outside national boundaries, others focus on the trends in cross-border mobility of institutions, teachers and students.

List of IIEP papers/publications on Globalization and Higher Education >>

Themes of Focus on Higher Education >>


Forthcoming international events:

Related links: