ERIC Number: EJ1043385
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Apr-7
From Arab Spring to Academic Blossoming? Transforming Nations after Their Liberation
Halfond, Jay A.
New England Journal of Higher Education, Apr 2014
Many countries are challenged by the need to build both capacity and quality simultaneously in order to meet the accelerating needs of their society. Should what already exists be renovated, or should new institutions be created? Innovate from within or from without? Or perhaps some combination of both? In the U.S., postsecondary institution-building was accelerated in the mid-19th century with a land-grant movement that created flagship universities in each state. In recent years, many states launched an innovative competition among elementary and secondary schools through charter schools. In both cases, governments invested--without micromanaging. Current struggling nations--stymied by the task of creating reputable and effective universities to serve an exploding demand for higher learning--now need to experiment with new institutional models. For example, Libya's two major universities (Tripoli and Benghazi) already have about 100,000 students each, as a consequence of their free tuition and open access. Countries like Libya are now spending as much to send their best students abroad for higher education as they are to fund their own public institutions. This is an unsustainable model. In this article, Jay Halford suggests that new fledgling institutions could be chartered by the state. These would be empowered to launch new degree programs, charge modest tuition, hire faculty, raise donations, partner internationally, set admissions and academic standards, and create curricula that respond to the dynamic needs of their nation. He asserts, however, that cultivating a dedicated, modern and reputable faculty would be the major challenge for these new institutions. To address this issue, he proposes an innovative master-teacher structure, where lead faculty design curricula and quality standards, create online course content and connectivity, and oversee a team of teaching assistants to interact with small groups of students. He goes on to suggest that two Western features, each potentially controversial, would be key: (1) a mix of professional and liberal education; and (2) English as the medium of instruction. Halford concludes that fostering more schools that are loosely regulated--rather than a monopoly of a few mega-institutions--has proven to be a critical component of the American success story. This is an important lesson to export to nations struggling with their own transformation.
Descriptors: Capacity Building, United States History, Educational Development, Higher Education, Educational Innovation, Developing Nations, Reputation, Universities, Tuition, Access to Education, Equal Education, Study Abroad, Foreign Countries, Models, Academic Standards, Admission Criteria, Curriculum Design, Partnerships in Education, Program Development, Academic Degrees, College Faculty, Educational Quality, Online Courses, Teaching Assistants, Professional Education, Liberal Arts, English (Second Language), Second Language Learning, Language of Instruction, Social Change
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Libya
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A