CGHE Seminar

CGHE series on international and global higher education – seminar 1: International development in higher education

  • Thursday, 14 Nov 2019 12:00 - 14:00
  • Room 802, UCL Institute of Education
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What is the international or global space in higher education and how do we understand it? Scholar-researchers apply a range of disciplinary lenses and methods. Geography plays a key role in many but not all studies of student mobility or global science. Others analyse these dynamics through an economic or policy studies or linguistic frame. Some are hunting for an elusive universal perspective, others are very mindful of national or cultural differences. Some are especially attentive to the challenges facing education in emerging countries. Some look for signs of their own country everywhere they look, others are fascinated by what they see as foreign exotica, others are post-colonial. Many who research ‘internationalisation’ as student mobility and other cross-border connections, or work on ‘global competences’, don’t necessarily research comparative education in a rigorous manner, or take account of the literature on development education. The interesting and productive differences between an ‘international’, ‘comparative’ and a ‘global’ perspective are rarely discussed.

These differences shape the contents and impacts of higher education research and scholarship. The contrary knowledge produced in this field shapes our global imagining in fragmented ways – is the diversity always fruitful? Should we work to develop a common view? This series will explore six different approaches to imagining and investigating international higher education, highlighting similarities and differences between them, and drawing the participant audience into active discussion.

The four-week CGHE Seminar series on international and global higher education starts with Maia Chankseliani and Tristan McGowan on international development in higher education. Chair: TBC.

Book your place at seminar 1 here.

Details of other seminars in the series here.

Higher education contributing to local, national and global development: Voices of academics from the Caucasus and Central Asia
Maia Chankseliani

This paper examines the contributions of higher education to global, national, and local (glonacal) development, i.e. to the agency-based process of self-realisation of individuals, institutions, and nation-states that expands individual and collective freedoms and ultimately leads to the collective outcomes enshrined in the SDGs and goes beyond those outcomes. The study used open-ended online surveys to understand how academics in Georgia and Kazakhstan view the contributions of universities to addressing global, national, and local challenges; and how universities work with the government and the private sector for realising their glonacal development potential. Most participants elaborated on their national manifestations of the developmental role of universities. However, some participants felt that ‘the problems [they] have identified are so global that contributions of [their] university are insufficient to solve them’. The study synthesizes various theoretical approaches to discuss the assumption underpinning academics’ views on the contributions of higher education to development: the human capital approach, the modernisation approach, the rights-based, human capabilities and liberation approaches. Using the construct of five freedoms and juxtaposing the national with global development missions of universities, the paper raises questions on the possibility of delinking higher education from the immediate human capital and modernisation needs of their nation-state and becoming concerned with the global where, as noted by Marginson (2011), ‘university is its own purpose’.

Non-state public higher education: a new model for a planet in crisis?
Tristan McGowan

In response to the increasing pressures on public finances, higher education systems globally have sought alternatives to state provision. The private and hybrid public-private models that have emerged in response have been successful in garnering the funding necessary to maintain the rapid expansion of the systems, but in most cases have failed to ensure equitable access, consistently high quality of provision, responsiveness to local communities, and the ability to address global challenges. This presentation assesses an alternative model of higher education that can be termed non-state public. While not created, controlled or in some cases even funded by the state, it displays three key characteristics of the public: openness, shared construction and public benefit. These movements to the local also resonate with calls for localisation in the context of the climate crisis. Examples of community-based universities in Brazil and Mexico are analysed to explore the possibilities and challenges of this model. Finally, implications are drawn out for higher education in the international sphere, and its ability to address global frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals.


All seminars are free and open to the public. No advance booking required.


You can register to watch the livestream of this seminar.

Maia Chankseliani

Maia Chankseliani

Maia Chankseliani is Associate Professor of Comparative and International Education at the University of Oxford. Her research on tertiary education for (inter)national development examines the societal and institutional forces that shape tertiary education and the potential of tertiary education and research for transforming societies.

Tristan McCowan

Tristan McCowan

Tristan McCowan is Professor of International Education at the Institute of Education, University College London. His work focuses on higher education and international development, particularly in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, including issues of access, quality, innovation and impact. He has recently been involved in multi-country research projects on higher education, pedagogy and the public good in Africa, and on indigenous education in the Brazilian Amazon and Mexico. He is the author of Rethinking Citizenship Education (Continuum, 2009) and Education as a Human Right (Bloomsbury, 2013), and is editor of Compare – a Journal of International and Comparative Education. In January 2019 he started as Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education. His latest book, published in 2019 by Palgrave Macmillan, addresses the question of higher education and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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