Rankings and Policy Choices
The global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008 once again put the spotlight on the competitive importance of higher education’s role in human and knowledge capital development. As governments struggled with problems of bank solvency, credit availability, investor and consumer confidence and steep declines in international trade, on a par with the Great Depression of the 1930s, the OECD pleaded that investment in education was critical for beating the recession, arguing that it provided returns on investment at the individual, societal and governmental levels (Gurria, 2009). Similar pleas were made by other countries and supra-national organizations; the Australian and New Zealand governments warned a meeting of Pacific nations that ‘slowing or stopping reform because of the global recession will mean that countries will be less competitive and slower to benefit from the return to global growth’ (Government of Australia and Government of New Zealand, 2009, p. 21; see also Obama, 2009; Education International, 2009). Levin highlighted the shifting balance of power represented by massive investment in Asia which recognized ‘that overhauling their higher-education systems is required to sustain economic growth in a post-industrial, knowledge-based global economy’ (Levin, 2010). Because of the unevenness of the crisis and different national contexts, UNESCO cautioned that the ‘economic crisis could lead to cutbacks in education budgets and delay the recruitment and payment of teachers, curtail the construction of new classrooms, and restrict the scope for targeted spending on vulnerable groups’ (Matsuura, 2009).
KeywordsHigh Education International Student High Education Institution Global Financial Crisis Policy Choice
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