Internationalization of Academic Programs in Education

Manila Bulletin, February 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Internationalization of Academic Programs in Education


ANOTHER word for internationalization that is used in academic publications is the word globalization, which describes the worldwide consciousness in education at present that barriers between sovereign states are coming down.

Instead, cooperation among educational agencies is being sought after especially by more affluent institutions in the First World which are initiating exchange programs between students and faculty of cooperating universities in different countries. More than exchanges, however, are funded cooperative programs among two or more institutions in a specific program usually at the graduate level where each institution contributes its strengths for synergy. The European Commission, the Japan Foundation, and private institutions such as the Ford Foundation, are encouraging such cooperative programs.

In the same vein, International Area Studies have once more claimed center stage so that universities in the West have established Asian Studies Program; in turn, in Asia, International Studies on North America, Latin America, and Europe have been initiated. These area studies usually involve curriculum focusing on language, culture, history, economics, politics, laws, and literature. Both in Asia and in the West, one-year studies abroad are being encouraged especially among students specializing in area studies and in the studies of different countries giving rise to European Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Asian Studies all under the general rubric of International Studies.

In this way, higher education students of different countries are preparing themselves to work not only within the context of their respective countries but to take on an international outlook and consciousness and be willing to work and thrive in a foreign country as part of the internationalization effort.

Even without these academic programs, the possibility of e-mail and Internet Services has made our people globally conscious with facilities for easy and immediate communication with all parts of the globe. Library resources have become available to the world of Internet, needing only mastery of an international language, in this case, English. There are likewise numerous organizations of universities of international character.

A two-edged sword

However, there are positive and negative aspects to globalization and internationalization, as some students of geopolitics and world economics have forewarned us.

The World Trade Organization is a fine concept but in joining WTO a country runs the danger of immiserating itself if it does not enjoy comparative advantage to be able to get a niche in the market for itself. In a poor country such as the Philippines, for example, free trade has made it possible to gain access to cheaper products but many of our own products (both agricultural and manufactured) are no longer competitive in the market because of countries such as China which are able to sell their products much cheaper. In the process, our own economic strategies have had to undergo drastic revision and we have to find new products which have comparative advantage to be able to earn precious reserves which we need for purchasing equipment for our own development.

In our country, for example, we have had to revive our dying agricultural industries to ensure that we can feed ourselves; in the field of manufacturing, we have yet to determine what we can do better than others. The indications are that we are competitive only in areas demanding quality manpower and service, such as tourism and overseas workers competence.

This once more puts a focus on education and our educational system which must stress language competence (English and other foreign language) and quality (in knowledge, attitude, and skills).

The positive aspect of globalization is the enrichment of the quality of life by having access to what is the best especially knowledge, science and technology, which will enable us to restructure ourselves for the demands of a knowledgeeconomy in this century. …

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