Foreign brands in higher education
International universities and higher education
With the tag value of his degrees and more, most of the doors of prospective
employers opened up without the slightest of effort. He was soon
flooded with attractive offers from international agencies, autonomous
bodies, corporate affiliates and administrative service. And after some
weighing and comparing, he settled in a cosy career path with
possibilities of speedy rise to higher management positions – a win-win
Nov 09: An ordinary youth from an affluent family was able to enroll in an Ivy
League institution. Earning degrees in political science and public
administration, he returned to seek appropriate career options.|
A brilliant lad with humble background, who
had topped all the way to the higher secondary school, entered into a
well-known local university. He became a sought after student by the
faculty members by virtue of his bubbling talent, promise and merit.
After completing some of the most challenging academic exercises as his
dissertation, he bagged his well-deserved degrees in the same
discipline. But when he began trying his luck for a befitting gainful
employment, he found out that merit and attainment alone are not
After knocking at different doors in vain, he finally
accepted a mundane position in a line government department - to
eventually work up as a ranker. A different brand emblem of the
institution and its western location would have added far more to his
It is an undeniable fact that the various brands that
exist in the realm of education have a direct bearing on the future
prospects of the concerned students. An unwritten praxis is normally
found in this respect. The prestigious institutions of higher learning
located in New England or Californian shores in the United States are a
celebrated mention. Other locations in that country also have plenty of
universities which trademark their alumni with certified success in
Historically established campuses in
Oxford, Cambridge and elsewhere in the United Kingdom are another
assorted mention. Most of the cities and counties in Britain have
well-established campuses that now potray motley of educational brands.
Similarly the ancient campuses in Benelux countries, Germany, France,
Spain and Italy have a credible existence in the domain of knowledge.
educated from these institutions make it big in professional circles,
the corporate world or even within self-employed pursuits. One fact is
stark clear. Those educational degrees with a plausible brand name have
the charisma to lead their holders to cradles of success. They are able
to preponderate the folks with native degrees, individual merits and
talents notwithstanding. Several aspects need to be closely examined in
this state of affairs.
Top institutions across the world used
to entertain the highest merits, often without regard to origin,
colour, caste, creed or even the students' financial background.
Generous scholarships and inviting approaches used to ensure that the
high achievers were inducted as a norm. The reason for this was simple.
The academic performance of an institution is largely dependent upon
the quality of intake. Whereas the admission criteria is still based on
merit, it is found that the rules of admission are often bent in favour
of the rich and powerful. No wonder some of the leading universities in
the world - especially in the West - have the kin of the princes,
sheikhs, tycoons and business magnets abroad.
attract such high-paying clients to maintain their financial health.
With a rising middleclass that is conscious of educational brands, many
South Asian countries including Pakistan make up an excellent
opportunity for middle range and even lesser-known universities from
the West. One finds a brand race during admission seasons in the form
of educational fairs where western campuses sell their merit points to
attract students who become paying clients. The overseas students
constitute a multi-billion dollar fortune which is an overwhelming
business prospect for such campuses. Strange nomenclatures are also
spotted in the company of well-known university brands. Some obscure
institutions try to stand side-by-side distinguished brands.
only facet that they attempt to market is their location in the same
British county or Australian city where a famous university may be
present for centuries. A few simpletons do fall prey to their traps and
end up sending their children without confirming the status and
credentials of the institution. Tales of unfortunate folks who brave
the odds in the form of unaccredited faculties or non-recognised degree
programmes are abounding.
A new wave of brand marketing has
hit our towns. Several private sector and public sector institutions in
Pakistan offer joint degree programmes in association with western
universities. Different combinations are offered. In sandwitch
programmes, the partner western university offers a portion of the
programme at its home campus. This is a useful prospect as it ensures
exposure of enrolled students to its faculty, resources and other
learning opportunities. Many local institutions have acquired the
rights to conduct programmes from foreign schools at their own
campuses. The faculty and resources are arranged by the local outfit
while examinations are conducted by the foreign affiliate.
education, computer science and law are the more visible disciplines in
this respect. Mixed results are obtained which are entirely dependent
upon the intent and approach of partnering institutions. However, one
fact remains beyond doubt. Each of these arrangements is cobbled
together for raw profiteering. It makes a very lucrative enterprise for
collaborating institutions to benefit from the enthusiasm of affluent
students and their guardians. The real level of educational attainment
from such venues in comparison to local institutions requires an
objective research study.
With very few exceptions, the
leading educational institutions across the world make concerted
efforts to maintain quality and standard. This fact is visible from
several perspectives. Flexible conditions to hire the best faculty
members; generous research grants to induct researchers; unrestrained
access to state of the art technology; peaceful environment for
learning; excellent support services for educational assistance and
general tolerance towards academic freedom are some of the factors that
with the passage of time help educational standards reach new heights.
the degrees awarded to these pupils are true to the prescribed status
of learning. Besides, the society must recognise merit beyond tag
names. Corresponding approaches are needed to properly weigh the local
or foreign qualifications.
Obtaining quality education from an
established institution in the developed world is a virtue, not a vice.
Those who accomplish this meritorious task and return to serve the
nation must be welcomed with open arms. A few pre-requisites have to be
kept in view. Our young professionals find many handicaps, shortcomings
and barriers in local working conditions. This is especially the case
in pure and applied sciences. Such professionals must be patient and
innovative to bring about a change in the status quo. Instead of
becoming cynical, they must adopt a positive and resilient approach to
contribute to the respective sphere of their specialisation.
challenges, in other words, must be transformed into opportunities.
Tides can surely be turned by persistent hard work and optimism. And
this perhaps is the only way society can benefit from the high-value
education obtained by the privileged souls. Dawn
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