conference to explore the challenges individual institutions
and national higher education systems are facing in a global
environment, in response to the pressures of an emerging knowledge
society and economic growth is being organized by UNESCO and
the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research in Oslo,
Norway from 26-27 May 2003.
conference, entitled "Globalization and Higher Education:
Implications for North - South Dialogue" is a follow
up to the Global Forum on International Quality Assurance,
Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications launched
as part of UNESCO's
mission to respond to the ethical and political challenges
of globalization. This Conference will focus on how policy
makers and higher education institutions can develop a common
platform on policy guidelines, frameworks and instruments,
and UNESCO's role in this context, with a special focus on
sharing responsibilities between the North and the South.
Globalization and Higher Education:
The Implications for North-South Dialogue
including higher education, is vitally important to all nations,
given the critical role of education in economic, cultural
and social development. Therefore, education is considered
to be a national responsibility.
This has been reasserted by the 1998 UNESCO World Conference
on Higher Education, in the Declaration adopted by its 5,000
participants from 182 states with 30 Ministers of Education
which underlined that "public support for higher education
and research remain essential to ensure a balanced achievement
of educational and social missions" (Article 14).
While it is true that higher education has always been formally
designed as a structure for the production, transfer and dissemination
of advanced knowledge, the emergence of a knowledge-based
society and economy has placed new pressures on it. The need
for a flexible and versatile workforce, one that is constantly
learning and upgrading its skills, has led to a continual
demand for courses in which employees are re-trained and updated
on a lifelong basis. Students now have to be prepared for
a labour market in which they can be expected to change jobs
many times, and they need to acquire appropriate skills that
are transferable and portable across sectors, countries and
some countries, higher education has already changed from
elite to mass or even universal education. In other countries,
the demand for higher education is increasing much faster
than the growth in educational capacity. Crossing national
borders to obtain a degree has been part of higher education
for a long time. Recently, private higher education institutions
have been set up in many countries to meet the demand, some
are branches of foreign institutions or private companies,
and some are transnational operations. They may or may not
co-operate with the educational authorities in the country.
education institutions have to take account of the strategies
and activities of new highly competitive suppliers, both nationally
and internationally. In addition, new forms of information
and communication technology are eroding the national borders
of higher education systems with important consequences for
quality assurance, the protection of consumer and intellectual
property rights, cultural maintenance and national identity.
in higher education are a growing activity which is branching
out into: (1) the new providers of higher education (2) new
modes of delivery, such as distance learning via the Internet,
radio, and television; and (3) new activities, such as educational
support services and educational testing services. Other changes
in the domestic and international structure of higher education
markets have promoted the development of "other"
higher education services that support educational processes
or systems, such as educational testing services, student
exchange program services, and study-abroad facilitation services.
In 1999, the international market for global higher education
was estimated at U.S. $30 billion. Currently, more than 1.5
million students study abroad and this number is growing.
recently higher education was largely neglected in the debates
on the consequences of trade liberalisation and the establishment
of regional trade agreements. Initially this was also the
case in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on
services. However, more and more higher education stakeholders
have become aware of the possible effects of the General Agreement
on Trade in Services (GATS). A main emphasis in the debates
has been on the consequences of WTO/GATS for individual institutions.
However, in addition to the institutional interests also the
national or public interests should be discussed publicly.
are the challenges for individual institutions and national
higher education systems in this global environment? How can
the role of education in economic, cultural and social development
be secured in both the industrialised and the developing nations?
How can the pressures from an emerging knowledge-based society
and economy be met? How do trade agreements, global as well
as regional ones, affect the control of national governments
on their higher education system? How should quality assurance
and accreditation issues be addressed at the national, regional,
supranational and global levels? How can policy makers and
higher education institutions develop a common platform on
policy guidelines, frameworks and instruments, and what should
be UNESCO's role?
discussions will be based on the Action Plan proposed by the
Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation
and the recognition of Qualifications (Paris, 17-18 October
2002) and within the overarching theme of the Conference "
Higher Education and Globalization " will focus on the
Conference participants will represent a wide range of stakeholders
in higher education; governments, higher education institutions,
researchers, students and teacher associations as well as
new transborder providers of higher education.