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Emerging issues in global education: A) International race for accreditation; B) International higher education space; C) GATS’s role in development

The following three articles from the Center for International Higher Education in Boston offer analysis on emerging issues within the global education context:

A) The international race for accreditation
– Jane Knight – Awareness of the need for quality assurance and accreditation has led to several new developments in accreditation.  Some of these developments are aiding the domestic and international recognition of qualification and others are only serving to hinder and complicate matters.  In addition, market forces are enhancing the importance of an institution’s or provider’s profile, reputation, and courses thereby introducing a strong commercial dimension to accreditation practices.  Other key issues discussed by Knight are:

  • Traditional higher education institutions are no longer the only deliverers of academic courses and programs. New private and public bodies are increasingly engaged in the provision of education.  A related accreditation issue is how to assess the label when provided by different types of bodies or agencies.
  • The world has seen an increase in the number of self-appointed accreditors that simply sell false accreditation labels, and thereby weaken the accreditation field.

Additional efforts are needed at institutional, national, and international levels to inform the different stakeholders of new opportunities for education and professional mobility while keeping them aware of “false friends”.

More from Knight on accreditation 

B) Quality and an international higher education space – Judith Eaton – The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) held its fourth international commission meeting earlier this year.  The ongoing negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations influence the international space for higher education with questions such as what quality has to do with nationality.

Three characteristics of the international higher education space became clear from conversations a recent CHEA International Commission meeting:

  1. movement not only toward international structures for quality assurance and accreditation but toward developing regional structures as well; 
  2. a preference to retain—rather than eliminate—national structures for quality assurance and accreditation even while developing regional and international structures; 
  3. continued dialogue and debate on a number of difficult questions, the answers to which will involve the ultimate nature of an international higher education space.

More from Easton on an international education space 

and higher education’s role in development – Olve SØrensen – Norway will not remain passive in GATS negotiations for fears that doing so would allow only a few influential countries with special interests in trade in education services to shape the framework of the future global education system.

Norway's decision to play an active role in the GATS negotiations on education grew out of another conviction, that GATS would benefit trade in education, which in turn would assist in the global effort to provide education for the millions in Third World countries that lack adequate capacity to provide education services.

Norway views the negotiations as a way to involve developing countries despite the challenges that the process involves. The challenge perhaps also illustrates the dangers of the basic lack of transparency in GATS. Such conditions call for a serious analysis of the issues in the wider community and the gradual development of a blueprint for the benevolent regulation of trade in education.

More from SØrensen on GATS and development

International Higher Education No 40 Summer 2005 Boston College