The Effect of The Globalization Process
On Tertiary Education
William L.B. Woolrich
Education’s traditional role is now being altered to suit the demands of the market. Larry Kuehn, in Tech High, comments “globalization is also about turning the purpose of our schools into being primarily about the relationship to the economy, of converting community values to the values of the market” (Moll and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. 1997, p. 71). Henry et al. propose that “what is needed is a different form of policy entrepreneurship, one which considers how education can best contribute to democratic nation building and which puts social capital back on educational policy agendas” (1999, p. 96).
The undermining of autonomy by supranational forces largely working in the interest of trans-national corporations has effected a change in the purpose of educational institutions. The separation of business and education used to mean that universities had the power and finances to guide education in critical directions that may not have a market imperative. How has this process taken place and what implications does it have for education? It happens through a number of mechanisms. First, and already briefly discussed above, ideology reinforced by propaganda creates conditions that decrease resistance against corporate influence. The autonomy of universities has also decreased because big businesses are large sources of funding. Trans-national corporations often get to dictate how programs are run because they provide the needed monies for infrastructure that supports programs geared toward the creation of employees needed for the market. Thus, universities cater the programs to create conditions for the maximum amount of funding.
have also lost a degree of academic integrity because post-secondary
education is now seen as a business and therefore must use the strategies
of business. Morrow Torres argues that:
Merging business with university administration reinforces the notion of universities as corporations. For instance, many members of York University’s Board of Governors are also involved in industry, e.g., CFO of Royal Bank of Canada, President of The Body Shop, and owner of Bad Boy Furniture. Even in light of the dominance of business models, it is amazing that people rarely see a conflict of interest.
Finally, university education that is not market based is devalued and results in decreased enrollment. The arts are often derided as anachronistic and hopelessly impractical. Yet, the function of universities was not always to provide job skills, but rather to provide education. In this way, universities are not fulfilling their originally envisioned role.
Related but different to the marketization of education is the commodification of education. That is, the emphasis on providing freedom of choice (both intra- and internationally) regarding where people attend university. Education, in other words, is defined as a corporate service that must obey the laws of supply and demand. Marginson comments on this when she writes: “the last decade has seen major growth in the use of information technologies and the rise of the inter-net [sic] and other global communications. These technologies facilitate the growth of global market exchange–-especially trade in money in all its forms--and speed the translation of knowledge into transmittable information so the knowledge is more readily turned in saleable commodities . . .” (1999, p. 21).
However, in the U.S., private universities receive the bulk of funding because they are more responsive to corporate interests. Moreover, alumni are more likely to provide a private university with large donations because the wealthy primarily send their children to private universities. Thus, there is a cycle of funding where private universities provide better education (or at least the illusion of it) because of the funding that they receive and the people who provide the funding are more likely to send their children to those private universities. Hence, “. . . there is a hugely differential provision between government and private schools, as well as within the marketized government sector, as the public/private distinction becomes somewhat elided” (Henry 1999, p. 93). With scarce access to private donations and decreasing public support it is little wonder that tuition has risen substantially over the last decade. This dovetails with the notion of accessibility, which was one of the driving principles behind the strike. Marginson states “questions of access and exclusion remain crucially important because of the power of education in allocating life chances” (1999, p. 28).
Harris Tories are strong advocates of deregulating education and making
it available on the marketplace. Bill 132 is their effort to enshrine
deregulation into law. This legislation passed on December 19 and
legally paved the way for the introduction of private universities
to Ontario. It is interesting to examine this passage from the Office
of the United States Trade Representative First Comprehensive Sectoral
Negotiating Proposals in WTO Services, The introductory section on
education and training services states
while the Harris Tories respond to ideological and political pressure
from supra-national bodies to allow free market
access to education, those same supra-nationals solidify their position
by codifying it in WTO trade policies. International students are
another valuable source of funding. Many universities, both publicly
and privately funded have began advertising for that lucrative segment
of the market. Again this problem of unequal resources in the free
market grab for funding becomes apparent. Henry et al. comments on
this when they write:
In the end, ensuring vulnerable people in our society the ability to afford a university education was the most important issue for me when I walked the picket line for 11 weeks. Tuition at its current level is completely unaffordable for a large segment of our society and with public financing being eroded because of globalization it is unlikely, baring active resistance, that the situation will improve in the near future.
drain called a wash.” Canadian News Facts 34(10): 6061.
J. and J. A. Newson (1998). Universities and globalization : critical
perspectives. Thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage Publications. Fook, J.
with/against globalization in education.” Journal of Education Policy
Marginson, S. (1999). “After globalization: Emerging politics of education.” Journal of Education Policy 14(1): 19-31.
Mishra, R. (1999). Globalization and the welfare state. Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA, Edward Elgar Publishing.
Moll, M. and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (1997).
Tech High : globalization and the future of Canadian education : a collection of critical perspectives on social, cultural and political dilemmas. Ottawa, ON Halifax, NS, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ; Fernwood Publishing. Representative, U. S. T. (2000).
First Comprehensive Sectoral Negotiating Proposals in WTO Services, Executive Office of the President of the United States. 2001.
 After completing some preliminary research, I concluded that the distinction was actually somewhat artificial. Labour and education actually share common paths of analyses. It is, of course, with an examination of class. The power (or lack of power) of organized labour can profoundly effect peoples quality of life, including the ability to afford post-secondary education.
Anecdotal evidence from a personal friend who has
spent a great deal of time in developing countries lends support
to the hypothesis that much of the developing world heavily emphasizes
professional degrees, e.g., MBAs.