The Impact of Globalization: A Case of Mongolian Universities
Sodnomtseren, Altantsetseg, International Educator
THE CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZATION HAVE HIT MONGOLIA at a time when the country started reforming the entire education system. During the 1990s, the Mongolian higher education sector was fully shaped in terms of ownership, governance, funding, and academic curriculum. By 2004, there were 183 higher education institutions, of which 47 were public, 129 private, and seven foreign. About 82 percent of private and 61 percent of public institutions were not accredited. The government of Mongolia found higher education the most promising sector for cost sharing and shifted a part of its fiscal burden to institutions and recipients of services (i.e., students). Direct funding of universities and colleges ceased in 2003. Currently, 95 percent of the institutional budget relies on the tuition fees of students. About 60 percent of students obtain loans and grants on the basis of merit and needs.
In this changing environment, higher education institutions have been challenged to embrace global forces and compete for resources, particularly for research funding, qualified faculty, and students.
Opportunities and Challenges of Globalization
A positive impact of globalization is increased awareness about Mongolia and widened access to resources. Since 1990, more than 70 Ph.D. dissertations and master's theses have been completed at U.S. institutions on topics related to Mongolian studies. More than 50 ongoing research projects have been identified (see www. mongoliacenter.org).
Taking advantage of these developments, the government of Mongolia implemented 49 foreign-funded projects in higher education and human resources development. The university administrators have been able to expand internationalization from interuniversity partnerships to regional networking. Visible trends of internationalization are demonstrated in the forms of collaborative research, joint academic programs, programs in English, enrollment of foreign students, and growth of student and faculty exchange. For example, the National University of Mongolia set up a "sandwich" program-Bachelor of International Commerce with the Agricultural University of Hebei in China-and summer programs in Mongolian studies, biodiversity, anthropology and archaeology. The growth of foreign students averages 15 to 20 percent a year, and the annual contribution to a university budget is about $200,000 (U.S.). Currently, 20 foreign faculty members are working on a long-term basis and about 60 joint research projects are ongoing. Every year, approximately 200 foreigners visit the university.
Inevitably, globalization has heightened competition. The penetration of foreign educational institutions into Mongolia has threatened local universities that are far behind the global higher education market leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, as well as behind some innovative Asian universities. In the mid-1990s, Russian universities set up their branches in Mongolia. Later, Dutch and Australian universities established MBA programs in affiliation with Mongolian institutions. Recently, South Koreans invested in the foundation of three private colleges. Parallel to foreign investment, an increasing number of Mongolian students have left for overseas studies. According to the source, 740 students were studying in the United States in 2003, an increase of 29 percent compared to the previous year. Three hundred other students studied in Japan, and 184 were enrolled in graduate a programs in Korea.
While institutions from overseas compete for recruitment of students through educational advisory centers, embassies, and alumni, those who physically entered and set up branches in Mongolia compete for local funds, scholarships, acquisition of land, and other real estate. With private support, South Korean Khuree University started construction of a new campus, and another Buddhist organization got land for building an educational center in the most expensive zone of the city near Bogd Khan Mountain, a mountain registered as a Biosphere Reserve in UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Program. …